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Bloomberg's Campaign Manager Kevin Sheekey Discusses Strategy to Win Democratic Nomination; Rep. Devin Nunes Faces Possible Ethics Investigation; GOP Pushes Debunked Conspiracy Theory Ukraine, Not Russia; Meddled in 2016 Election; Former GOP Official & Farmer Considers Run Against Rep. Jim Jordan; Uber Loses License in London Over Safety Concerns. Aired 11:30a-12p ET

Aired November 25, 2019 - 11:30   ET




We'll run a campaign against the president. We'll run a campaign to try to make Mike the Democratic nominee. We'll try and bring those together.

Both of those things are happening right now. Obviously, he will talk about in Virginia the elections that occurred there recently.


SHEEKEY: Mike, listen, really led a campaign to elect Democrats to the House of delegates down there. It's a very long time that Democrats hold both Houses and the governorship.

It's been a fight for us for a very long time because of all the illegal guns that come out of the state of Virginia and flow to the rest of the country, an issue for the environment.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: But Bloomberg has talked about the impact from a private sector, from the outside in on political process. Just in September, eight weeks ago, when I asked him, he said truth of the matter is when you look at the layout of who is going to vote and where the country is, I would be very unlikely to get elected.

That was eight weeks ago. What's changed?

SHEEKEY: We're focused on defeating Trump. If you look at the polls -- and people can't focus on this -- the general election is in six states, Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Florida and Arizona, and that's the whole general election.

Right now, Donald Trump is winning. He is winning that election. It's very tough for people who don't live in New York or California to understand that, but that's what's happening.

Mike was doing everything he could from the sidelines and finally decided it wasn't enough to sit on the sidelines and he needed to do what he could to alter that dynamic. So that's what we're going to try to do.

BOLDUAN: To get to those states to take on Donald Trump, you have to win the primary. You're getting in -- you're skipping the first four nominating contests, there's no example of that ever working to actually secure the nomination --


SHEEKEY: So let's talk about those first nominating conventions. We have a campaign in early states where we try to pick a nominee through a small state in the upper Midwest and northeast and that's it. Then you largely have a frontrunner, someone trying to catch them. The rest of the country is left out of that.


BOLDUAN: It's about the momentum.

SHEEKEY: No, it's not.

BOLDUAN: It's about the momentum being in those states.

SHEEKEY: No, it's not.


SHEEKEY: You can say it's not been done before but it's never been tried before. We're not going to talk to people in one state, second state, third state. We're going to talk to everyone in the country at once and particularly those people who need to vote in the swing states ultimately to vote against Donald Trump.

When we launched the campaign yesterday, we didn't launch it in four states that have 4 percent of the available delegates as part of that process. We launched it in 16 states which have 40 percent of the available delegates. We have to bring all Americans together. They have to engage.

BOLDUAN: Getting in is also a statement on the state of the race.

SHEEKEY: No question.

BOLDUAN: Getting in now is about the state of the Democratic Party. How he has said that the reason he wouldn't get in is because he and Joe Biden would split votes. He has said that.


BOLDUAN: How is this not a complete vote of no confidence in the Joe Biden candidacy?

SHEEKEY: Let's take a step back. The president -- three things in my view are going to happen unless we can change the current status of politics in America: Impeachment, acquittal and re-election. Right? That is what's happening. The "New York Times" released a poll beginning this month that has

Donald Trump not winning one of those swing states I talked about. "New York Times" released a poll having him win all six states. He only needs to win Florida, Michigan, maybe one other state.

BOLDUAN: What you saw in Joe Biden?


SHEEKEY: What we see is a process, right, which is not involving Americans from one end of the country to the other and is allowing President Trump to run the election that he wants to run in those states, in those congressional districts around the country.

The best analysis I saw today, the most rational analysis, comes from one of the most frightening people you can think of, Steve Bannon. Steve Bannon focused on the idea that there are 31 congressional districts in this country, which fundamentally swing.

BOLDUAN: You're not getting -- I saw that. You're not getting the endorsement of Steve Bannon but him giving you the analysis you want to hear is not something you want to run on.

SHEEKEY: No, what Steve Bannon is actually focusing on -- I don't know Steve Bannon. I've never met Steve Bannon. But Steve Bannon said, listen, at the end of the day, this election is about 31 congressional districts. It's like everyone else chasing a soccer ball. And it's losing those campaigns.

And Mike Bloomberg is going to get in, focus on his record on the environment, focus on his record for gun control, focus on --


BOLDUAN: How does he respond to Bernie Sanders when he says that is why multi-billionaires like Mike Bloomberg are not going to get very far in this election because we do not believe that billionaires have the right to buy elections.

SHEEKEY: Bernie can run his campaign. We're going to run our campaign. We're going to get our message out. I have the respected in the world. He's raising money. The other candidates are raising money.

BOLDUAN: How can you not raise money?


BOLDUAN: Are you accepting contributions?

SHEEKEY: We'll respect the process. Mike will accept no contribution.

BOLDUAN: You're not going to make the debate stage?

SHEEKEY: Not until the DNC changes their rules. And we'll respect them until they do.

BOLDUAN: Good to see you. Good luck.

SHEEKEY: Thank you. Thank you so much.


BOLDUAN: Thank you so much. I really appreciate it.

SHEEKEY: Thanks.


BOLDUAN: Coming up for us, the top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee is facing a potential ethics investigation. What's behind the allegations of one of Trump's biggest defenders in Congress right now? That's coming up.


BOLDUAN: So an attorney for the associate of Rudy Giuliani, who was recently indicted, he tells CNN that he is ready -- Lev Parnas -- and willing to testify before Congress that the top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee met last year with the former Ukrainian official at the center of the impeachment inquiry. The purpose, according to the attorney for Lev Parnas, digging up dirt on Joe Biden.


To put it another way, this attorney says Devin Nunes took a taxpayer trip to Vienna to ask for the same dirt that the president has asked for in that now-infamous phone call to the president of Ukraine.

This is the same Devin Nunes who is the top Republican on the House committee investigating the president, remember.

What does Devin Nunes have to say about this? Listen to how he answered a pretty direct question on FOX Business yesterday.


MARIA BARTIROMO, FOX BUSINESS HOST: Bottom line, were you in Vienna with Shokin?

REP. DEVIN NUNES (R-CA) (voice-over): You have to -- look, Maria, I really want to answer all these questions and I promise you I will come back on the show to answer these questions. But because there is criminal activity here, we're working with the appropriate law enforcement agency. We're going to file all this.


BOLDUAN: Here with me now, former Republican congressman from Pennsylvania, Charlie Dent.

It's great to see you, Congressman.

As you know well, it is not hard to say no to a direct question like that if you so want to.

You are, importantly, for this conversation, former chairman of the House Ethics Committee. At least one Democrat is calling on House Ethics to look into this now. If this reporting is true, what does it mean and what should Congress do?

CHARLIE DENT, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, Kate, again, if true, then I would say Representative Nunes has a very serious problem, because one cannot use official resources or taxpayer resources for a campaign purpose. Now, granted, he's not using it for his political opponent but the president's political opponent.

So likely a complaint would be filed. And I suspect the committee, Ethics Committee would take up the matter at some point. So I think it's pretty serious, if true.

BOLDUAN: What did you think of this allegation in general, of what -- he sat in this committee hearing for two weeks, right, kind of helping to oversee these impeachment hearings. If this is sitting in the background, if true, what does it mean?

DENT: Well, I'll tell you what, I -- Devin Nunes and other members of the Intelligence Committee have oversight responsibilities with respect to this Ukraine scandal. And now, again, if true, Devin Nunes is part of this whole mess that he's supposed to be overseeing.

I think that certainly puts him in a very difficult spot in terms of his oversight responsibilities as ranking member on the Intelligence Committee. And that would be an issue for, you know, Representative McCarthy to deal with as the leader on the Republican side.

And I have known Devin for years. He was a pragmatic member in 2013 when he was one of the guys who coined the term "lending suicide vests" to explain extreme elements in the Republican Party during the government shutdown. Now he's kind of moved over completely into the Trump orbit.

I think this is a very serious problem, again, if true.

BOLDUAN: Speaking of conspiracy theories, one at the center of the impeachment inquiry involves Ukraine, not Russia, meddling in the 2016 election, rather a conspiracy theory that's been debunked that Ukraine was involved. It's a theory Trump's former Homeland Security adviser said, point blank, has no merit and needs put to rest.

But some Republicans can't let this go. I mean, let me play for you one Senator, Republican Senator John Kennedy, what he said just yesterday.


CHRIS WALLACE, FOX NEWS HOST: Senator Kennedy, who do you believe was responsible for hacking the DNC and Clinton campaign computers, their emails? Was it Russia or Ukraine?

SEN. JOHN KENNEDY (R-LA): I don't know. Nor do you. Nor do any of us. Ms. Hill --


WALLACE: Let me just interrupt to say the entire Intelligence Community says it was Russia.

KENNEDY: Right, but it could also be Ukraine.


BOLDUAN: On its face, this goes way beyond defending the president in the face of impeachment, Congressman. I mean, what do you do with this?

DENT: Well, look, it's clear, according to the Intelligence Community, Russia are the ones who meddled and caused all the problems.

These guys keep referring to this CrowdStrike conspiracy theory. It's nonsense.

The reason why they're doing this is because they're trying to simply muddy the waters.

The facts are so bad for the president as it relates to the quid pro quo and the abuse of power and misconduct in office that they are simply grasping at anything, even these phony conspiracy theories.

And, you know they complain about Adam Schiff. They pound a shoe on the table, say they've been treated unfairly procedurally. That's all they can do.

The fact is that they should not be pedaling in this conspiracy theory. They're questioning the authority and, frankly, the integrity of the Intelligence Community, which has been very clear about this from the get-go.


BOLDUAN: And in another way, as Fiona Hill would put it, promoting and repeating Russian propaganda, which Fiona Hill say this is all coming from.

Good to see you, Congressman. I can't wait to see what next crackpot conspiracy theory we'll have to debunk together.

It's good to see you. Thank you.

DENT: Thank you.

BOLDUAN: Coming up for us, speaking of Republicans, he is a lifelong Republican who voted for President Trump in 2016. Why then is this Ohio farmer leaving the Republican Party and planning to run for Congress against potentially one of the president's biggest allies? He joins us next.



BOLDUAN: He is one of President Trump's fiercest defenders on Capitol Hill. Now Republican Congressman Jim Jordan may be facing a new battle back at home for his congressional seat as one of his constituents is considering challenging him.

His name is Christopher Gibbs. He's a farmer. He's a former Republican county chairman. He's also someone you know from this show. Watch.


CHRISTOPHER GIBBS, FARMER & POTENTIAL CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE: The president -- you played a clip that he said that we were patriots. I tell you what, to me, that's just a design to make me continue to be quiet. And I'm not going to be quiet.


BOLDUAN: Gibbs is now launching an exploratory committee as we speak. And he joins me now.

It's good to see you. Thank you for joining me, Mr. Gibbs.

GIBBS: Hi, Kate. How are you doing?

BOLDUAN: I'm doing well, thank you.

We have talked many times. We've talked about the trade war. Why now do you want to run for Congress?

GIBBS: I tell you what, the two-party system has failed Americans. Right now, these parties are moved into just fortresses where people cast dispersions and attacks from one side to another, and people are just literally tired of that.

You know, I came up in the party of Reagan, of Bush, where we're talking about a shining city on the Hill. We were talking about a thousand points of light. We were talking about conservatism, compassionate conservatism. And all of that is gone. That's gone.

What we've got now is just two sides warring against each other and it's just not working out, and that's why I've declared my independence.

BOLDUAN: But is it something about --


GIBBS: You know, populism is -- go ahead.

BOLDUAN: Is it something about President Trump, because we know you have stood up to him when we have had our conversations, or is it something specific about Jim Jordan that's pushing you to throw your hat in the ring?

GIBBS: Now, this is bigger than that. Listen, populism, the destructive nature of populism has crept into both of these parties. And I'm just not a populist.

I describe populism this way. It's nothing more than a perennial search to find the villain to slay and then never a plan of what to do with the body.

So let me give you an example because populism comes in two flavors, on the far left and the far right.

On the far left, who's the villain? Anybody that you perceive that has more than you do. Because obviously they cheated to get it. Obviously they stepped over somebody lesser to get it. Obviously they don't deserve it. And obviously they should give three-fourths of it away.

What are you going to do once you slay that villain? Who's going to be the job creators? Who are going to be the persons who are philanthropic? Who's going to be the idea creators? Who knows?

On the right, it's much more insidious. Who's the villain? Anybody that disagrees with you, our allies, Mexico, Canada, Japan, our institutions, the FBI, our intelligence service, our servicemembers, our career service people, servicemembers who wear Purple Hearts. They're all villains.

What are we going to do when we slay all of those? What's the plan after that, after we've discredited our neighbors and so on and so forth?

So I've declared my independence from the party. We can do better as a people. We can do better. People need to be listened to. And that's why I've declared my independence from the Republican Party.

BOLDUAN: Jim Jordan, it's an uphill climb. He won his last reelection, he won with 65 percent of the vote. What's going to be your final deciding factor here if you're going to actually launch an independent run?

GIBBS: Well, we're going to move out on a listening tour because that's what's been missing in this district and certainly across the national as well, is somebody who will listen to concerns. And so we're going to do that over the next month or so and listen to people in the district.

Because, you know, unless -- in this district, unless you're from the far right, unless you accept all of that ideology, you're not represented.

And the first place I'm going to stop is organized labor. I'm going to talk to those folks. I'm going to talk to nurses, and so on and so forth, down the line. People need to be listened to, and I think it will make a big


BOLDUAN: We'll see. I'm very interested to see what your decision is.

Chris, thanks for coming in. I appreciate your time.

GIBBS: Take care.


BOLDUAN: We'll be right back.


BOLDUAN: This morning, one major city is telling Uber it can no longer operate on its streets anymore. London transit officials refusing to renew Uber's license.

CNN business reporter, Alison Kosik, joins me with more on this.

Alison, what is happening?

ALISON KOSIK, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: OK, the difference that's happening now is because this has happened before. It's turning into a matter of confidence.

This is the second time Uber has had its operating license in London taken away. And now the transportation regulator is losing confidence in the company. And the city is questioning whether Uber has the processes in place to avoid another serious safety breach in the future.

The regulator is saying there are egregious things Uber is doing, listing a pattern of failures that put passenger safety and security at risk.

The breaches including stunning vulnerabilities in the app. There have been 14,000 trips involving unauthorized, uninsured drivers, who have actually uploaded their photos to the accounts of other Uber drivers allowing them to pick up passengers as if they're the booked driver.

Now Uber is calling the decision wrong. It's appealing this decision. Meantime, Uber can continue to operate in London while the case is being heard.

But this is a major gut punch for Uber. If this ban winds up sticking, some analysts are saying this could be a seismic blow to Uber's European operations. Right now, we're not seeing a huge movement in the stock. The stock is down only about 1 percent.


BOLDUAN: Because that's a huge account.