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Trump Delivers Dramatic and Divisive State of the Union; Trump- Pelosi Feud Erupts At State of the Union; Errors with App Caused Delay in Caucus Results; Iowa Releasing More Results; Thunderstorm Threat in South. Aired 6:30-7a ET

Aired February 5, 2020 - 06:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[06:30:00]

GOV. GRETCHEN WHITMER (D-MI): The truth matters. Facts matter. And no one should be above the law.

It's not what those senators say, tomorrow it's about what they do that matters.

JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: But, in the end, the bitter rivalry between the president and Pelosi taking center stage. The White House and Trump's GOP allies slamming the House speaker's gesture.

SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX): It was disgraceful. It was disgusting.

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): You can tear up the speech, but you can't tear up the accomplishments. And that's what this race is going to be about in 2020.

JOHNS: Some Democrats insisting outrage should be directed at Trump for using the State of the Union as a campaign rally.

REP. STENY HOYER (D-MD): Let's hope we didn't distract you from the lack of factual accuracy in the speech, the divisiveness in the speech, and the blatant appeal to his base and very similar to his speeches in his rallies. It was a State of the Union designed to appeal to the base, not to bringing our country together.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

JOHNS: So that other big moment of the week up on Capitol Hill, the expected acquittal vote of the president in the United States Senate. That's scheduled for around 4:00 p.m. Eastern Time. Still not clear on whether we'll hear from the president after that.

John, back to you.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: All right, Joe Johns at the White House. Joe, thank you very much.

Joining us now, CNN political commentator Michael Smerconish, host of CNN's "SMERCONISH."

There was a lot going on last night, Michael. There were things happening at multiple levels. Primarily, this was the president's State of the Union Address which he used as something of a re-election speech.

What did you take away?

MICHAEL SMERCONISH, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I give the president five Skutniks. I don't remember anything that he said, but I remember lots of things that I saw. That Army family reunion. Rush Limbaugh getting the Medal of Freedom. The fourth grader from Philadelphia. The great grandson and the great grandfather, I think he was a hundred years old. It was -- it was all visual.

And, you know, it began really on Ronald Reagan's watch when he awarded recognition to Lenny Skutnik, who was an American hero. It's progressed to this point. Say what you will about President Trump, but he's a master of the visual. It was a reality TV moment for 78 minutes long.

And as for the back and forth between he and Speaker Pelosi, I'm sure, as today's news cycle plays out, it will be a Rorschach test where both parties will see it entirely differently.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: For sure.

BERMAN: Yes, exactly.

CAMEROTA: You're right, Michael, about that, because, I mean, my point is, she knows her stagecraft too. She knows that the cameras were trained on her right behind him as she quietly did that and tossed it aside. And that's all great for stagecraft from both of them.

They both know the art of that. But I guess they haven't buried the hatchet. And I guess that when the president's aides talked to "The New York Times" yesterday and said the president was going to reach across the aisle and looked forward to working with Democrats on big things, such as infrastructure and health care, I guess that wasn't true.

SMERCONISH: I don't know. If those subjects -- I don't mean to demean the subject, but if those subjects were addressed, there were no visuals that went with them, so they're not standing out in my mind right now.

BERMAN: Michael needs charts.

CAMEROTA: Yes.

BERMAN: Michael needs charts --

CAMEROTA: Visuals. Show and tell. I get it.

BERMAN: And pictures. I get it. I get it. It's hard to read pictures without books. I mean books without pictures. Michael, the Nancy Pelosi thing. It is interesting. You say it is a Rorschach test. And I guess it really is because you heard Ted Cruz and Lindsey Graham outraged. Oh, my gosh, I can't believe Nancy Pelosi did that. But then there are Democrats who will look at it and say, you know, Democrats always play by the rules and Republicans play to win, right? You can imagine a scenario if this were reversed where a Republican speaker won't even have invited the president of the United States to deliver the State of the Union Address in the chamber. I mean the Republican Party is the party that didn't have a hearing on Merrick Garland, didn't have witnesses in an impeachment trial, but Nancy Pelosi ripped up a speech.

SMERCONISH: Look, I am one who believes that there are -- there are certain moments on all of our calendar that demand we put aside partisan difference.

I'll give you a great example. I remember well during the president's inauguration, there were some Democrats who sought -- who sat it out and did not attend even before he began. And I thought that was in poor taste. I thought that the moment demanded that everybody rise to the occasion.

I would typically put the State of the Union in that category. But it's hard to overlook that from the president's eyes, you know, today there will be a vote, even though we all know the conclusion, of whether he will be removed from office. Even though the remarks didn't address that, it was certainly on his mind when he walked into the chamber last night.

CAMEROTA: Yes. I mean I guess my point is, beyond the visuals, Michael, is there a sense that he and Democrats are going to be able to put this chapter behind us and move on to doing the country's business, whatever that looks like.

[06:35:03]

And last night you did not get that sense, that this was over and they were going to bury the hatchet.

SMERCONISH: No. And I would -- and I would answer your question, no. And the reason why is because I think politically speaking, you know, the country be damned, but politically speaking, I think they -- they regard it as being to each of their advantage to perpetuate the fight.

I mean look at the amount of fundraising that each side is able to do just based on impeachment alone. They want that to progress all the way to November so that they can each drive their respective base. That's not in the nation's best interest.

BERMAN: Yes, that's the part of it that I think is notable and people should really think about is that both these sides think it's in their interest to be this divisive.

Michael Smerconish, great to have you on this morning. Really appreciate it.

SMERCONISH: See you guys.

BERMAN: And you can watch "SMERCONISH" every Saturday morning.

CAMEROTA: As I do.

BERMAN: Lots of pictures. Lots of visual aid.

CAMEROTA: I only need that one.

BERMAN: That's the best one right there. Why is that man smiling? 9:00 Eastern Saturday mornings only on CNN.

CAMEROTA: All right, the meltdown in the Iowa caucuses is being blamed on an app used to count the votes. More on the back story of how this happened and what went wrong.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[06:40:10]

CAMEROTA: OK, breaking overnight, we have more results from the Iowa caucuses. Seventy-one percent of precincts now reporting and Mayor Pete Buttigieg maintains an narrow lead over Senator Bernie Sanders. Senator Elizabeth Warren is in third place, and former VP, Joe Biden, is in fourth place.

At the center of the caucus debacle is an app that was designed to deliver results faster and more efficiently, but that didn't happen.

CNN's Alex Marquardt is live in Washington with detail on what went wrong.

What's the back story, Alex?

ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it's a real debacle.

Good morning, Alisyn.

And as we await an official winner in Iowa, it has become clear that really the loser here was the state of Iowa with this new app that the Democratic Party there tried to use. Rather than making reporting the results of the caucuses more streamlined, the software caused confusion all across the state. Caucus chairs have told CNN there was no training for the app. Many couldn't even download it.

And then when it didn't work, the phone hotline was jammed. The whole system, overwhelmed.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MARQUARDT (voice over): Excitement and expectations for the first in the nation caucus quickly flaming out as concerns grew over no results.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: What's taking so long? MARQUARDT: The prime suspect, the new app in its first big rollout by

The Iowa Democratic Party, designed to make reporting caucus results fast and seamless. It was anything but.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Some of them couldn't install it. Some of them could not bring it up and use it. I didn't hear about anyone else having the keyboard issue I had, but there were a variety of other issues.

MARQUARDT: The chair people in charge of the caucuses loaded the seemingly simple app onto their personal cell phones. It was supposed to tabulate voters and delegates for each candidate. One county chairman told CNN, there were problems already last week as they got ready. Some caucus chairs said they were confused. Others reported errors and being unable to report the results.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I would give everybody an "a" for the idea. I would give them a failing grade for implementation.

When you see things like that, that tells you it's a systemic failure. And you can't just blame it on the app.

MARQUARDT: Precinct captains flooded the phone lines. Many left on endless holds on the overloaded backup phone system, often giving up.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have been working day and night to make sure that these results are accurate. The one thing I will say is that the underlying data, the raw data, is secure. It was always secure. This was a coding error in -- in one of the pieces on the back end. But the raw data, the data that has come in, is secure.

MARQUARDT: The company behind the app, called Shadow, apologized on Twitter, saying, we sincerely regret the delay in the reporting of the results of last night's Iowa caucuses and the uncertainty it has caused to the candidates, their campaigns, and Democratic caucus- goers.

State and federal officials insist there was no foul play, no hacking involved. But the Department of Homeland Security, which playing a crucial role in securing the presidential election, says Iowa Democrats didn't take them up on an offer to test the app for flaws.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So our cyber security and infrastructure security agency has offered to test that app from a hacking perspective. They declined. And so we're seeing a couple of issues with it. I would say right now we don't see any malicious cyber activity going on.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MARQUARDT: Now, a similar software by the same company, Shadow, was supposed to have been used in the next caucuses in Nevada on February 22nd. The Democratic Party there now saying that's not going to happen. They've cut their ties with Shadow and they may not use any apps at all. They are able to use a simple paper system and they're telling CNN that they're evaluating their options.

John.

BERMAN: One of my sons suggested maybe just a group chat on their iPhones. They might be safer there tabulating the results.

Alexander Marquardt.

Alex, thanks so much.

The Democratic race is now in New Hampshire with Iowa's results still uncertain. Who does that help? Who does that hurt? We'll discuss, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[06:47:45]

BERMAN: So, overnight, the Iowa Democratic Party released still new results from the botched caucus count. Seventy-one percent of precincts are now reporting. And with 75 percent of precincts in, former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg maintains a narrow lead over Senator Bernie Sanders.

Joining us now to discuss this is Krystal Ball, co-host of "Rising" on Hill TV, and CNN political commentator and Democratic strategist Paul Begala.

Now, both of you think this stinks to high heaven and neither of you are particularly pleased we have only 71 percent of precincts in and are talking about this. But to the extent we can, I am curious about what this means for the race going forward.

So, Paul, you say partial results are like partial truths, it doesn't count. But what's your main takeaway from the 71 percent we see right here?

PAUL BEGALA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I think -- first, you're only going to get 71 percent of my answer. I think -- no, look, the big thing -- and I do think a lot of us have taken our eye off the poll. We're seeing history being made. In 2008, Barack Obama was the first African-American to win the Iowa caucuses, and that was history. I supported Hillary, but I was really moved by that. And, by God, he gave one of the greatest speeches of his life that night.

In 2016, Hillary Clinton was the first woman to win any primary or caucus in American history. Gosh, that was exciting.

It looks like Pete Buttigieg is the first LGBTQ-plus American to win a state, to win a primary or a caucus. That is historic. And I think Americans ought to step back, in either party, and really honor that and look at that history. And it's a pretty impressive thing. He has been robbed of that historical moment, as we all have been, but he's also been robbed, frankly, of the political momentum that he deserves. And so I think that's -- it's really been desperately unfair.

BERMAN: And, Krystal, for you the story is still the process, yes? KRYSTAL BALL, CO-HOST, "RISING" ON HILL TV: I mean there are a number

of stories here, but the process is horrendous. I mean how can you feel good about a situation where party elites decide to selectively release partial results that disproportionately benefit one candidate. And Paul's absolutely right, if Pete ends up being the winner of the state delegates, he's been completely robbed by this.

But let's not miss the fact that we don't actually know if that is the case.

[06:50:03]

BEGALA: Right.

BALL: And Bernie Sanders very much leads in the popular vote here as well. So I think it's been interesting too, the media narrative that has come out of this. I heard you talking earlier about how Bernie didn't meet expectations. He literally won the most votes, at least that's what it looks like right now. I'm not sure what other metric you were supposed to judge by.

BERMAN: Well, look, I was in Iowa, Krystal, and as you well know, every Iowa caucus prior to this, the winner is declared by the state delegate equivalence. It's a caucus. It has been deemed that the state delegate equivalents are the way to take away from that.

BALL: Sure.

BERMAN: And as far as the popular vote goes, and I don't know if we have that chart, he is leading in that with 71 percent in, and we'll see if that sticks.

But the Sanders campaign --

BALL: And -- and, John, I just would add --

BERMAN: But the Sanders campaign -- the Sanders campaign, the feeling was, being there, they were spinning that they were going in with a clear win. He was going to bring all kinds of new voters to the polls and the turnout wasn't high. We know that.

He himself said he was disappointed at the turnout. So these were expectations the Sanders campaign itself was setting. And to only come out of there with -- you know, the best case scenario for him is a narrow win in delegates over Pete Buttigieg, I don't think that meets what the Sanders campaign itself established as their expectation.

BALL: I mean this is a guy who's been dismissed throughout this entire campaign. Asked by the media when he's going to drop out. Caricatured as angry and divisive and he has a low ceiling and he can't possibly win. He actually got the most votes in the state after Democrats have been running around for four years talking about how the popular vote is supposed to be what matters. I don't see how you look at that and say that he has a bad night.

On the other hand, probably the biggest story coming out of this, and the biggest beneficiary of this whole debacle is Joe Biden, whose support has completely collapsed.

And here's a metric that hasn't gotten a lot of attention. Yes, Iowa's an overwhelmingly white state, but I don't want to erase the voters of color who are, in fact, there. It looks, at this point, that Joe Biden did not win a single majority African-American precinct. And Bernie Sanders was actually dominant with voters of color, 43 percent of voters of color went to Bernie Sanders, far outpacing any of his rivals. So when you look at who has the coalition to go the distance, those early indications look like demographics are lining up well for Senator Sanders.

BERMAN: Paul, I only got a minute left. If I can, 30 seconds on Joe Biden and what's next for him, because I want to go back to Krystal with one last thought.

BEGALA: Well, I think it's certainly a stumble. The question is whether it's a fall. He's going to have to put it back together. He looks, to me, from the published reports, that he's underfunded. When you have been the vice president of the United States for eight years, when you're in your third race for the presidency and you finish 11 points behind the former mayor of the fourth largest city in Indiana, you know it's kind of bad.

But I do want to say something about Bernie. He set this up. Not just the expectations with reporters like you. Sanders supporters in the Democratic Party insisted on keeping caucuses. Caucuses are anti- Democratic. They seem to have hurt Bernie in this case.

But let's just agree that we should just have one person, one vote, not caucuses, just primaries, and that we -- have them, frankly, we begin in places where they're more diverse so we don't have to look at just 4 percent African-American participation or just 16 percent turnout, which it looks like we had in this caucus. That's a -- that's the bigger, structural problem that I really do hope that Sanders supports will start of support.

BERMAN: Krystal, I hope you don't mind me asking you this.

BALL: Sure.

BERMAN: Look, Rush Limbaugh has advanced cancer. And I think everyone wishes him the best in his recovery.

Rush Limbaugh received the Medal of Freedom last night at the State of the Union Address. And he is someone who has smeared you and lied about you on his radio broadcast.

And I just want to know what your feelings were when you watched this last night.

BALL: I'm going to be honest with you and -- and just so your viewers know, I know you're kindly not putting out there what he said about me was that I posed nude when I was 14 years old. Not a thing that happened. I didn't watch last night. I started getting texts of friends saying, just, are you OK? I am. I'm fine. You know, I'm a big person. I can take it. It doesn't -- it's not a great feeling. And I mean it -- it's hard for

me to think about and to watch. For the other people that he smeared, women in particular, I'm sure it's a horrendous thing to watch.

But, to be honest with you, it's the least of my issues with this president. He can give Rush Limbaugh a Presidential Medal of Freedom every freaking day if he keeps us out of war with Iran and ends institutionalized cruelty at the border. So, to me, it's the smallest of issues I have with him.

BERMAN: Krystal, we appreciate you being with us this morning.

Paul Begala, always nice to see you as well.

Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: All right, President Trump is expected to be acquitted in his impeachment trial just hours from now. So how will the president respond when that happens? Some believe he has learned his lesson. We discuss that coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[06:59:33]

CAMEROTA: Millions of Americans across the southern U.S. are facing a severe threat of thunderstorms.

CNN meteorologist Chad Myers has our forecast.

How's it looking, Chad?

CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Alisyn, it's already started. The main threat will be wind damage on the west side of the storm. The main threat will be snow and ice.

This weather is brought to you by Jared. Dare to be devoted.

So let's get to it.

Yes, there will be wind damage. There may even be a few tornadoes across the south. But, for now, we're watching the snow in Oklahoma and Texas.

[07:00:00]

A terrible commute this morning out there.