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Botched Iowa Caucus Puts Spotlight On First-In-The-Nation Status; Interview With Rep. Veronica Escobar (D-TX) In Response To The President's State Of The Union Address; Acquittal Doesn't Mean Exonerated. Aired 7:30-8a ET

Aired February 5, 2020 - 07:30   ET

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


[07:30:01]

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: The chaos and confusion from Iowa, the caucuses there continues this morning. About 30 percent of the votes have yet to be reported. We still don't know conclusively who won the Iowa caucuses.

Joining me now is Howard Dean, the former chairman of the Democratic National Committee, a former Democratic presidential candidate, former Governor of Vermont. Governor, thank you very much for being with us.

My question to you is, how can the Democratic Party -- how should the Democratic Party restore the faith in the 2020 nominating process which seems to have been shaken?

We've heard people from all different angles in the Democratic Party questioning this now.

HOWARD DEAN, FORMER CHAIRMAN OF THE DEMOCRATIC NATIONAL COMMITTEE: Well, first of all, I don't think that -- I think there will be a vote total in Iowa that will be reliable, it just didn't happen right and it wasn't done right.

Secondly, the problem with the New Hampshire primary and the Iowa caucuses for a long time has been they don't represent the state. New Hampshire has made it worse by passing a law under the Republicans that restricted college students from voting unless they had a New Hampshire driver's license and all these other things -- the usual voter suppression the Republicans engage in. And now this was Iowa.

So I suspect here's how it works out. If the Democrats win, nothing will be done about it, because no Democratic incumbent is going to want to take on the voters and the problems and the politics of changing this.

If we lose, I think you can expect a major study into this. And I think you can expect some major changes.

You can't have two states that are 90 and 95 percent white representing a party that is, you know, 40 percent or 50 percent white.

BERMAN: You're looking at the long term. I'm talking about right now, the next few weeks because we've heard from people who are supportive of Bernie Sanders saying this whole thing is rigged, saying it's all rigged that the party in Iowa and the National Party have chosen which 71 percent of precincts to release.

They are somehow trying to fix this to make Sanders look bad, and you've heard supporters of Pete Buttigieg say he was robbed. He was robbed of a victory. That right now at least he is leading with 71 precincts in.

So how do you get Democrats on the same page today? Tomorrow?

DEAN: You don't. I mean, you know, there's always conspiracy theorists in every group. And there's, God knows there's a lot of conspiracy theorists in the Republican Party.

I think we're headed for a very unpleasant, difficult election in November. I think Trump will say that he was robbed if he loses and we will be robbed if we lose, because that's what they do, it is cheat.

And so we're in a very difficult, unpleasant part of American evolution, at which actually challenges the survival of the democratic system in this country because Trump is an avowed crook who is about to get blessed by his entire majority in the Senate.

The Republicans have given up on any kind of sensibility and respect for the Constitution of the United States. So, yes, we're going to have to undergo some very, very difficult times.

This is nothing compared to what you're going to see in November, no matter who wins.

BERMAN: Does the Democratic National Committee Chair, Tom Perez need to be more prominent in the response here? To an extent he's let the Iowa guys take the fall here? Yes, it was an Iowa issue, but the Democratic National Committee, of course, sanctions the overall process.

So Tom Perez put out a paper statement, but we really haven't seen him.

DEAN: Well, Tom doesn't have anything to do with running the caucus and each state runs their own primary in a different way and their own caucuses. This is run entirely by the Democratic Party in Iowa. And Tom had nothing to do with arranging any of this as far as I know.

BERMAN: If you were Mayor Pete Buttigieg this morning, and you were leading with 71 of the precincts reporting, and your only political experience was being a mayor of a city with 100,000 people, but it looks like you might be beating Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, the former Vice President of the United States, yet you weren't allowed to celebrate your victory on election night? How much would it bug you? And how would you try to fix it with six days ago before New Hampshire votes?

DEAN: Look, everybody is in the same boat. When Bill Clinton came in second in New Hampshire, he touted himself as the comeback kid, and it worked just fine, and he went on to win the nomination.

You have to make -- look, when you're running for President, and believe me, I know how this works, is you have to make the best of all the curveballs that come your way, and that's what all these candidates are doing.

They did declare victory much in the way Clinton declared victory after coming in second. I think it's worked for them.

I think the only -- I actually don't think that anybody has been harmed by this. Now, I did think in the beginning that Bernie and Buttigieg were harmed some because they're obviously leading, and they don't get the balance.

But you know, the truth is, if you checked 5:38, I saw Harry Enten on yesterday.

[07:35:02]

DEAN: There's only about a half a percent balance anyway, I saw one of the folks on your program earlier said oh, this is a -- you know, people would rise 18 percent. That's just not the facts.

The facts are there's a half a percent balance if you look at all the primaries, going from Iowa into New Hampshire over the last 30 years -- 40 years.

BERMAN: Harry, we will have Harry on. We are going to have Harry on later in the show, and I will say one of the things --

DEAN: Yes, he's great, and he knows -- get him to be sober minded about this, because the facts are not what everybody says they are.

BERMAN: Harry is always sober.

DEAN: There are always conspiracy theories. He is.

BERMAN: He is always sober, or at least he's always on when he's on. One of the things that Harry does say, though, is you get an extra bounce when you exceed expectations. And that clearly is one of the things that it looks like Mayor Pete Buttigieg do.

So again, I don't know what kind of bounce he would have had or will get out of this. But it certainly is debatable.

I want to talk about Michael Bloomberg for a second, the former mayor of New York City, he is trying to exploit this I think for his own political gain. He announced after the Iowa debacle, he is going to try to double some of his spending in Super Tuesday states.

It's going to be hard, frankly, because there's not enough TV space to buy in advertising.

DEAN: That is true.

BERMAN: He is serious. He has already spent $300 million, and he wants to double it in some states. I don't know where it's going to go. I don't know what you advertise on to double that spending.

He picked up the endorsement of Rhode Island Governor, Gina Raimondo early this morning. So, you know, he's really trying to make something of this in a way that no one ever has before. Do you think it's more realistic every day?

DEAN: I think you have to take Mike Bloomberg seriously as a candidate. He has all the money he needs and he ran the largest city in the state.

New York City is bigger than all but eight states or maybe, maybe all but seven. And so you know, this guy is essentially the governor that you know, most people think New York -- the Mayorship of New York City is the second hardest job in the United States.

So of course, you have to take him seriously. Obviously, this is a very odd campaign when you don't build a field organization and you don't get into the early four states.

But, you know, anything can happen in politics. And if that weren't true, we wouldn't have the person in the White House that we have today.

BERMAN: Governor Howard Dean, thank you so much for joining us today. Always great to have you on.

DEAN: Thank you.

BERMAN: Alisyn?

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Okay, John. Congresswoman Veronica Escobar gave one of the Democratic responses last night after the State of the Union. What does she think President Trump got very wrong?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[07:41:45]

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We are advancing with unbridled optimism and lifting our citizens of every race color, religion and creed very, very high.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CAMEROTA: That was President Trump making his case for reelection last night to women and minority voters. That was during the State of the Union address. So how did his message resonate? And was it truthful?

Joining us now is Congresswoman Veronica Escobar. She delivered the Democratic response to the President's address for the Spanish speaking audiences last night. Congresswoman, thank you very much for being here. Let's just start

with what President Trump said there. So he's saying that he has lifted every race very high. Is that how Hispanics in El Paso feel?

REP. VERONICA ESCOBAR (D-TX): Good morning. Thank you so much for having me on today.

No, absolutely not. Now, of course, you know, I don't speak for every single member of the Latino community. I don't speak for every single El Pasoan but, you know, one of the things that I mentioned in my speech last night was the painful reminder of the August 3rd massacre here in El Paso.

We know that a gunmen, a domestic terrorist drove over 600 miles and he confessed to doing it so that he could slaughter Mexicans and immigrants in my community.

That language -- that language that he had used in a screed that he published online, mirrored the President's language.

The President who I had hoped, had learned his lesson and heeded the call to contain his language about Latinos and immigrants, he is right back where he was before, using xenophobia and using -- trying to divide our country and trying to use immigrants and Latinos and others as the bait.

CAMEROTA: And yet some of his policies are working with some Hispanics. His approval rating at the moment, I believe, is 26 percent. This was in the Quinnipiac's most recent among Hispanics. This is the most recent poll from Quinnipiac.

And so his -- I mean, I know that's not huge, but it's higher than some of the Democratic candidates right now. Of course, he has much more name recognition and a bigger platform. But my point is, is that his argument is that unemployment rates for black Americans and Hispanic have never been lower. So does that resonate with the community?

ESCOBAR: I think what I'd like communities all over the country to take a look at is the kind of economy that we have, and I mentioned that in my speech as well, last night.

We really have an economy that's creating two Americas, and I know, many young people, for example, who are employed, but they're employed in jobs that offer no benefits, no retirement, and so they end up having to be on public assistance.

Then you have the President boasting that the number of people who require public assistance has been reduced, but it's not been reduced because of the economy. It's been reduced because he's kicked them off.

So, you know, we've got to take a closer look. When I hear members of the media, when I hear other politicians talking about the economy. We've got to talk about the type of economy that we have. It is not an economy that works for everyone. It's an economy that's

creating two Americas where the top one percent benefit from things like his tax cuts and his tax giveaways, and where the rest of the country because of tariffs or because of an economy that doesn't work for everyone, everyone else is left behind.

[07:45:21]

CAMEROTA: In terms of the economy, one of the things that President Trump talked about last night was the drain that he feels illegal immigration is on the economy and healthcare in particular.

And he was saying that, you know, Democrats want to provide free healthcare to people who are here illegally, and that that doesn't work for most Americans.

And the poll numbers suggest in fact that most Americans do not like that plan. I think the numbers are 59 percent disagree with providing health insurance to undocumented immigrants. So does he have a point?

ESCOBAR: I'm glad you mentioned healthcare. That was the central point of my speech last night. It's why I held the speech at a community clinic. Because while the President is trying to distract again, with lies and by race baiting and by targeting immigrants as people to be feared, people to be hated using language, ramping up language that creates division or deeper division.

He is asking the American people to take their eye off the ball, and here's what's really happening with regard to healthcare.

We have a President who is working to take away our healthcare. He is not trying to grow it. He is not trying to protect our preexisting conditions. There's a lawsuit going on right now. A lawsuit that the President and his administration supports to take away Americans protections for preexisting healthcare.

Democrats are trying to protect that. We're trying to save your healthcare. We're trying to expand healthcare. We're trying to lower the costs of healthcare and lower the costs of prescription drugs, not the President.

CAMEROTA: So that part was not true. I mean, when you say that the lies that he was peddling that part that he was protecting preexisting conditions is not true, demonstrably not true. We have all the facts.

But in terms of what I was asking about providing healthcare for people who are here illegally, he seems to be in the majority and Democrats, at least in some of their debates were not.

ESCOBAR: I'm sorry, what's your question?

CAMEROTA: They protected -- they provide healthcare for people who are here illegally, undocumented immigrants is not popular with Americans and he talks about that.

ESCOBAR: It's not. Right. And what he does, though, and here's what's important -- and here's what I'd hope the media zeroes in on and here's what I want the country to see.

Undocumented immigrants are not our enemy. Undocumented immigrants are not to be feared or hated. The reason why he uses -- why he tries to scare people that Democrats are trying to give away free healthcare to the undocumented in our country, he's doing it so that we can try to resent people.

Instead of trying to address the challenges that we have in a realistic, strategic, thoughtful way, the American way with compassion, and with insight, he wants to divide the country.

And so you're right, most Americans don't want to see undocumented immigrants receive healthcare. But let's take a step back and talk about what are we going to do with 11 million people living in the shadows, who number one are working in agricultural fields to make sure that we have food to eat, who are working in meatpacking industries, construction industries.

These are people who are raising families. We've got to address that challenge. But what he wants to do is to make us fear or hate immigrants. That's wrong. We are better than that.

CAMEROTA: I take your point that solutions are what a lot of Americans want to hear. Congresswoman Veronica Escobar, thank you very much for explaining the perspective from the Democratic side to what you heard last night --John.

BERMAN: We're just hours away from the Senate voting on whether or not to remove the president from office. We know what the result will be.

The President will claim he is exonerated. Is that really true? John Avlon with the reality check, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[07:53:48]

BERMAN: In just hours, the Republican controlled Senate will acquit President Trump in his impeachment trial. What should the takeaway be from the last several months? John Avlon with a reality check -- John.

JOHN AVLON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Hey guys, remember this? Acquittal is not exoneration, and that's especially true in the impeachment trial of President Trump.

His acquittal today in the Senate is a foregone conclusion. But impeachment will be in the first paragraph of his obituary, putting him in a presidential hall of shame.

And unlike the impeachments of Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton, it's one about violating the Tenure of Office Act by firing a Secretary of War or lying under oath about an affair. Instead, it was about something the founding fathers feared -- foreign interference in our elections.

Even Steve Doocy said it was wrong at one point.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

STEVE DOOCY, FOX NEWS CHANNEL HOST: If the President said you know, I'll give you the money, but you've got to investigate Joe Biden. That is really off the rails wrong.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

AVLON: Yes. And while the President and his legal team argued that he did nothing wrong, at least a half dozen Republicans now admit, the evidence does not exonerate him.

They settled on saying that Trump's conduct was improper, but not impeachable. Don't be fooled. It's definitively both.

George Washington warned that foreign influence is one of the most baneful foes of a Republican government. John Adams wrote, "As often as elections happen, the danger of foreign influence recurs."

James Madison argued for impeachment at the Constitutional Convention saying that a President might betray his trust to foreign powers.

[07:55:14]

AVLON: This isn't subtle. Okay, but what about Trump team's argument that a crime has to be committed or the abuse of power isn't a legitimate cause for impeachment.

Alexander Hamilton put the kibosh on that idea, saying that the impeachment was for the misconduct of public men from the abuse or violation of some public trust.

Republicans also argued that obstruction of Congress was an absurd charge, citing George Washington's executive privilege fight with Congress over the Jay Treaty.

But Washington specifically wrote that Congress had no reason to see his papers, except that of an impeachment.

Okay, but what about this argument from Alan Dershowitz?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ALAN DERSHOWITZ, MEMBER OF PRESIDENT TRUMP'S LEGAL TEAM: If a President does something which he believes will help him get elected in the public interest that cannot be the kind of quid pro quo that results in impeachment.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

AVLON: Well, not so much. When William Davey argued at the Constitutional Convention, "If he be not impeachable whilst in office, he will spare no efforts or means whatever, to get himself reelected."

And that's really what's at stake today because President Trump hasn't admitted wrongdoing despite all the evidence, and the Republicans lack of interest even in witnesses could open the door to a massive expansion of presidential power, including foreign interference in our elections, at exactly the same time we know that foreign powers are trying to interfere in our elections.

The last test, the Senate votes to censure the President as Democratic Senator Joe Manchin has proposed. Now it requires only a simple majority vote to formally say that this is not acceptable for Presidents of either party to act this way.

But don't hold your breath that Mitch McConnell will let that vote come to the floor because it might upset the President.

Republicans say the founders never intended for there to be a partisan impeachment. That's probably true. But the real lesson is that they didn't imagine how hyper partisan polarization could short circuit our system and cause the Senate to forget first principles.

And that's your Reality Check.

BERMAN: They didn't even anticipate the rise of political parties which breaks the system they set up.

AVLON: That's right. And Washington didn't want it.

CAMEROTA: You are really down on the founders.

BERMAN: I think -- yes, I don't think they created a structure that can handle what's going on right now.

CAMEROTA: Founders friend or foe? We're going to do that.

AVLON: ... that can't handle the truth.

BERMAN: I have one other question for John Avlon, which is given what Steve Doocy said, is the President going to orchestrate a primary challenge against Steve Doocy?

AVLON: It's an extensive lobbying effort that's more difficult than a typical statewide run.

BERMAN: Thanks very much.

CAMEROTA: Thank you, John. All right, the Iowa caucus may have been a fiasco, but it was perfect fodder for the comics. Here are your late night laughs.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TREVOR NOAH, LATE NIGHT SHOW HOST: The app that the Democrats commissioned to make vote counting easier ended up malfunctioning and screwing up the entire night. And I guess what do you expect? I mean, the average age of the party leadership is like 85 years old. Right?

What do they know about apps? The only thing they know about apps is that you get one for free with the early bird special. That's it. SETH MEYERS, LATE NIGHT SHOW HOST: Hey, what was the name of the

company that built this app anyway? Vote Tracker? My Caucus Pal? Shadow. People already think this process is shady. That's like releasing a dating app called axe murderer.

STEPHEN COLBERT, LATE NIGHT SHOW HOST: All through the evening, every district was officially reporting at zero, or as Tom Steyer would say, I'm tied for first.

We've known for the last three years that this is the most important election of our lifetimes. And on day one, the Democrats down in Des Moines shake it. They can't even count farmers holding their hands up in a high school gym. What is happening? Where are we? Is this hell?

KEVIN COSTNER, PLAYING RAY KINSELLA "FIELD OF DREAMS": It's Iowa.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CAMEROTA: That was good.

BERMAN: If you build the app, they will come -- or not in this case. Thanks to our international viewers for watching.

For you, "CNN NEWSROOM" with Max Foster is next. For our U.S. viewers, two days after the Iowa caucuses and still no official winner, NEW DAY continues right now.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: With more than 24 hours since the crucial Iowa caucuses, we still do not have a clear winner.

SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We came out of Iowa knowing it is a tight three-way race.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're in the process of making sure that we get these results out.

PETE BUTTIGIEG (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It validates for a kid somewhere in a community wondering if he belongs that if you believe in yourself and your country, there's a lot backing up that belief.

AUDIENCE: Four more years. Four more years.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The State of the Union is deeply divided. That was on display tonight.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Our economy is the best it has ever been.

GOV. GRETCHEN WHITMER (D-MI): Strong for whom? Strong for the wealthy who are reaping rewards from tax cuts they don't need.

ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Alisyn Camerota and John Berman.

BERMAN: Good morning and welcome to your NEW DAY. It is Wednesday, February 5th. It is eight o'clock in the East and a spinal tap might say these go to 71 -- and maybe spinal tap would have done a better job running the Iowa Caucuses.

But we now have 71 percent of the precincts in Iowa now reporting.

[08:00:10]