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Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) is Interviewed about Impeachment; Fact- Checking the State of the Union Address; Midweek Grades on Presidential Candidates. Aired 8:30-9a ET

Aired February 5, 2020 - 08:30   ET



REP. ZOE LOFGREN (D-CA): Well, it was a very long speech. And it was disappointing in a lot of ways. It was more campaign speech. It was very divisive in a lot of ways.

You know, we -- there were some points -- I mean everybody loves a soldier coming back to be reunited with his family, or a 100-year-old Tuskegee airman. Who could not like that? But the policy stuff was really, number one, false, and really designed to be further divisive in the country, which is not really what we need.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: You keep using the word "divisive." What message does it send when the House speaker, your fellow California member of Congress, Nancy Pelosi, rips up a copy of the speech? What message does that send?

LOFGREN: Well, I don't know what was in her mind. There was a lie on every page, so, you know, maybe it could have been worse. But I do think that the president missed a big opportunity to, you know -- I mean, to say he's for prescription drug control at the same time, you know, we've got a bill to do that and Mitch McConnell won't move it. To say he's -- wants to protect pre-existing conditions in health care, when they're suing to undo that very same thing. It's very frustrating to hear someone just stand up and just not tell the truth.

BERMAN: Nevertheless, you felt the need to go.


BERMAN: You felt the need to be in the House chamber for this State of the Union Address. So there is some ceremony that you feel important. And I'm just juxtaposing that with tearing up the speech.

LOFGREN: Well, I went primarily because I'm one of the impeachment managers and I thought it was especially important for the managers to be there for this speech.

We've done our duty under the Constitution, but we're a part of this great government. It's a late night here in Washington. It starts at 9:00. Not everybody, both Republicans and Democrats, go because it is -- it's late. But I felt it especially important to be there this evening -- last evening. BERMAN: So as a House impeachment manager, you, no doubt, have a keen

interest in everything that senators have been saying about why they will be casting their votes. And by all accounts they will vote to acquit the president later today.

Susan Collins, the Republican from Maine, has suggested that she doesn't like what the president did but he's learned a lesson. She says, I believe he will be more cautious in the future.

What would you say to Susan Collins?

LOFGREN: Well, I don't see any basis for reaching that conclusion. Certainly we hope that he stops violating the law and stops cheating in the election, but there's been no indication that we should hope for that. You know, I -- the senators -- I have not listened to all those speeches. Honestly, it's disappointing that they found time for each one of them to give a speech but not time to listen to a relevant witness, which would have taken far less time.

BERMAN: I wonder what emotion it evokes when you hear some of the senators, like Susan Collins for instance, who say, yes, you know, the president did it, and it was bad, but I don't think it's worthy of removing him from office. Or the president did it, and it's bad, or in the case of Susan Collins, I don't think he'll do it again. Some of them, to an extent, seem to be saying you proved your case, but, dot, dot, dot.

LOFGREN: Right. Dot, dot, dot.

BERMAN: So what feeling does that give you?

LOFGREN: Well, one, you know, it's nice to know that our overwhelming evidence was heard and that we did prove our case. The other thing is really alarm because this really, if we say this behavior can go on, unsanctioned, then it really does change the nature of the three branches of government, the power that the presidency has as compared to the legislative branch. And that's not necessarily good news for the future of the country.

You know the founders wrote a Constitution to prevent authoritarianism. They'd just thrown off a king and they didn't want any of the branches to grab all the power. And certainly this president is challenging that basic premise of our government.

BERMAN: What about the idea of a censure?

LOFGREN: Well, I mean, the Constitution provides the remedy of impeachment. That's the tool they gave us. Any -- either the House or Senate could write a bill that says censure. It's not in the Constitution, but it's not prohibited.

I don't know that the Senate looks like they're willing to do that. I did not have a chance to talk to Senator Manchin about it, but he was quoted in the news as saying that he floated that idea with Republicans and they said no.


So, apparently, even though they say they don't approve of what the president has done, they're not really willing to say that.

BERMAN: And, finally, I'm just wondering what message -- I've asked you several times about what's the message does this send. The president's approval rating by Gallup yesterday came out at 49 percent. It's a high water mark for him. So at the end of the impeachment process, all the investigations, all the revelations, and in some cases the facts that even Republican senators say you've proved --


BERMAN: To see the president's approval rating at 49 percent, a high water mark, what does that tell you?

LOFGREN: Well, I think the high water mark, which has never been up to 50 percent of the American public, tells you a lot. You know, the polls and pollsters will tell you, you need to look at polls over time, not just any one. You average them out. And the president has never had the approval of a majority of Americans. And that continues to be true.

BERMAN: Zoe Lofgren, we've appreciated you talking to us throughout this impeachment process and the trial. Your experience here is invaluable. Thanks so much for being with us this morning.

LOFGREN: Thank you very much.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: OK, John, so House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called President Trump's State of the Union Address a, quote, manifesto of mistruths. We fact-check the president's speech, next.



CAMEROTA: In the State of the Union Address last night, President Trump made several claims about his administration, many of which were not true.

Joining us now is CNN reporter and fact-checker extraordinaire, Daniel Dale.

Daniel, great to see you. So let's start at the beginning. It's getting a lot of attention. This is the one where the president claimed that he protects people with pre-existing conditions.

So listen to this.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I've also made an ironclad pledge to American families, we will always protect patients with pre-existing conditions. (END VIDEO CLIP)

CAMEROTA: Is that true or false, Daniel?

DANIEL DALE, REPORTER: That's false. I don't even usually fact-check promises like this, but this one is so egregiously dishonest that I make an exception. Trump has repeatedly supported Republican bills that would significantly weaken protections for pre-existing conditions. And at present, he is supporting a Republican lawsuit that seeks to get the entirety of Obamacare tossed out by the courts. And he's presented no replacement to protect those people with pre- existing conditions if that suit succeeds.

In addition, before he endorsed the entire lawsuit, he specifically asked the courts to declare the protections for people with pre- existing conditions unconstitutional. So, yes, this is a promise of future action, but there's no basis for it whatsoever.

BERMAN: Yes, not even close. That's a heck of a rating from Daniel Dale.

Let's talk about the border wall, because the president made a claim about how much of it has been built.



DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: A long, tall and very powerful wall is being built. We have now completed over 100 miles.


BERMAN: Oh, really? True or false, Daniel.

DALE: So, yes, there are more than 100 miles of something, but it's important to note what those 100-plus miles are. Of 115 miles reported by the government as of the end of January, 104 of them were replacing barriers that existed before. Ten of them reinforced existing barriers. Just approximately one mile, that's what they say, approximately one mile was built where no barrier existed in the first place. So that's the important context.

CAMEROTA: That's really helpful.

OK, now the president's claims about job creation.

Let's listen to this.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Since my election, we have created 7 million new jobs, 5 million more than government experts projected during the previous administration. (END VIDEO CLIP)

CAMEROTA: True or false?

DALE: So I'm still trying to figure out who these government experts are. I don't want to declare it false at this point because they may exist and I just haven't found them yet.

The number of 7 million is just about right. It's just above 7 million. If you go back to Trump's election, as he likes to, if you start at his inauguration, it's just shy of 7 million. But we don't have numbers for January of 2020 yet, so that number might bring the number under him, himself, right up to that 7 million mark.

BERMAN: Right, the president, there's a claim he likes to make all the time about oil and gas production.



DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Thanks to our bold, regulatory reduction campaign, the United States has become the number one producer of oil and natural gas anywhere in the world, by far.


BERMAN: True or false, Daniel?

DALE: So, yes, the U.S. is number one, but, no, that is not because of anything Trump has done. The U.S. took the number one spot under Obama, in 2012, even though Trump repeatedly accuses Obama of perpetrating what he calls a war on American energy. The U.S. has been number one in natural gas production since 2009, number one in petroleum hydrocarbon production since 2013. It is crude oil production in particular in which it took the number one spot under Trump. But, no, this overall number one spot is not because of him.

CAMEROTA: Really interesting.

President Trump also made claims about how his administration has been responsible for getting people off of food stamps and welfare.

Listen to this.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Under my administration, 7 million Americans have come off food stamps and 10 million people have been lifted off of welfare.


CAMEROTA: True or false?

DALE: So, on food stamps in particular, this seems to be a slight exaggeration, but we don't have present numbers. Through October 2019, the federal -- the reduction the federal government reported was 6.3 million, but due to a methodological issue, it's probably somewhere closer to 5 million.

Now, it's important to note that this is largely as a result of the improving economy. But Trump has also put forward changes that will remove people from the rolls without improvements to the economy. In December, he rolled out a rule on work requirements for food stamp recipients that the government itself estimates will kick out about 688,000 people from receiving food stamps.


So, yes, this is a measure of economic improvement but it's not all the economy.

CAMEROTA: Daniel Dale, really great to always get the facts after speeches like this with you. Thank you for working overtime to bring them to us.

DALE: Thank you.

CAMEROTA: Here's what else to watch today.


ON SCREEN TEXT: 10:15 a.m. ET, House Democrats speak on Capitol Hill.

4:00 p.m. ET, Senate votes on Trump impeachment.

8:00 p.m. ET, CNN Democratic presidential town hall.


BERMAN: So which 2020 candidates have the momentum heading into the New Hampshire primary? Now just days away. Chris Cillizza here with the "Midweek Grades," next.


CAMEROTA: From caucus chaos on Monday, to the State of the Union last night and President Trump's impeachment trial coming to an understand today, it's been a month of a week.


Let's get the "Midweek Grades" from CNN politics reporter and editor at large, Chris Cillizza.

Hello, Chris.


CAMEROTA: I know you like to start at the top of the class. CILLIZZA: Yes, I do. I like to focus on the positive. And he's a 2020

candidate we don't talk as much about him because he's not running on the Democratic side but Donald Trump. Top of the class, A.

This is, I think, arguably, but certainly in the argument, his best week or one of his best weeks of his presidency. He's got 49 percent job approval in Gallup. The highest it has been in this entire presidency. The Iowa caucus debacle makes Democrats look like they can't get their stuff together. Donald Trump, obviously, makes a point of pointing that out on Twitter. And then his State of the Union speech last night, was vintage Trump. Now, what that means is that 50 percent of the country hates it, 50 percent of the country loves it, but it was the showman on display. And I think he feels, and I think rightly so, he feels as good as he has about his re-election chances right now. So A for him.

BERMAN: Another person getting a very high grade from you, who is almost as if the world was conspiring for him not to even receive a grade this week.

CILLIZZA: Yes. Yes. And so I give Pete Buttigieg, John, an A-minus. The reason for that is, to your point, if Pete Buttigieg had gotten the news he got Tuesday afternoon on Monday night which was with 71 percent, I think we're up to, 71 percent of precincts reporting, he is ahead in the Iowa caucuses, he would be getting an A. He didn't get that. He got it the next day. It's still good. I think it will still help him. But it's an A-minus for the timing and for the fact there's still 29 percent of precincts still out there. So it's not a done deal.

CAMEROTA: I mean it's not his fault. The timing isn't his fault. But I see you're docking his grade for that.

BERMAN: That's what I always told my teachers, it's not my fault.

CAMEROTA: I know. It's not --

BERMAN: It's not my fault I got it wrong.

CAMEROTA: The dog ate his homework, OK.

Number three, where is Mike Bloomberg in your grade?

CILLIZZA: OK. So Bloomberg -- I mean if I had to look at this week to date, I would say the three best weeks, Bloomberg, Trump and Pete Buttigieg. And Bloomberg, not even on the ballot. Why do I say that? Well, because Mike Bloomberg's entire candidacy is premised on February essentially being a wash for the Democratic race. That these four early states don't really wind up telling us all that much and leave an opening.

Well, the Iowa caucuses certainly did that. And I would say Joe Biden, who is currently running fourth, that's great news for Mike Bloomberg, who wants to step into that pragmatic establishment space come March 3rd in Super Tuesday. And, let's remember, he's worth $60.5 billion. He's not going to be running out of money to run those ads any time soon.

CAMEROTA: Does he get an A for that? I'd give him an A for that.

BERMAN: You'd give him A for that. I bet.

All right, lightning round.


BERMAN: Walk me through the other three candidates that you have.

CILLIZZA: OK. Here we go.

Bernie Sanders gets a B. The reason for it is, I think the expectation was he was going to win Iowa and maybe win it going away. He may wind up winning, we don't know, 29 percent still reporting -- still out. But if he does, it's going to be narrow, which I think is going to make it a little harder for him to New Hampshire. Still, he's in the top two. He's ahead of Elizabeth Warren. He's ahead of Joe Biden. So I think he gets some credit there.

Now, I mentioned Elizabeth Warren, C, I gave her, because sort of a, meh, performance in Iowa. Not the worst. Not the best. She looks like she's in third. She's going to be -- I think Joe Biden is going to wind up being closer to Amy Klobuchar than to her. That's not terrible news. But Bernie Sanders is sort of ascendant still among liberals and that's a problem for Warren.

And last but certainly -- well, maybe least, Joe Biden, I mentioned him, D. I honestly could have gone lower. I actually -- I think the story here is a little bit underplayed. This is the former vice president of the United States. Eight years as Barack Obama's vice president. He is now in fourth. And as I mentioned, according -- with 71 percent of precincts reporting, he is closer to fifth place, Amy Klobuchar, than he is to third place, Elizabeth Warren.

I know they were downplaying expectations. I get that. But the frontrunner has to win things. That's why you're the frontrunner. So I don't give Joe Biden a pass here. I think it's a hugely problematic finish in Iowa and I think he really now has to do something in New Hampshire because I know the South Carolina number is sitting out there and he's still strong among non-white voters, but I can see that fading if you see two poor performances.

BERMAN: Ten seconds or less, what grade do the Red Sox get for trading the best player in baseball to the Dodgers?

CILLIZZA: I don't understand how that trade goes through. I mean maybe -- maybe Caruso, the guy they're getting back, is great. But Mookie Betts was the MVP in 2018. It makes no sense at all. And I don't like it from a Nationals fan perspective, because the Dodgers don't need any more good players. They already got plenty.

BERMAN: I don't like it as a human being and as an American. It's an outrage.

CAMEROTA: I mean isn't Tom Brady the best player in baseball?

BERMAN: Yes. Yes.


CAMEROTA: Isn't that what you think?

BERMAN: Yes. Yes, but Mookie Betts is the second one.

CILLIZZA: I love sport.

BERMAN: All right, Chris, thank you very much for that. Great to have you on this morning.

CILLIZZA: Thanks, guys.

BERMAN: Time now for "The Good Stuff."

A beloved middle school teacher in Nebraska getting a surprise gift from the students. Trey Payne (ph) had his Nike basketball shoes stolen from his classroom.


CAMEROTA: Oh, my gosh.

BERMAN: Which is an outrage.

So a group of students pooled their money to replace them, and his reaction was priceless.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, my goodness. My goodness. Are you serious?


You're going to make me cry.


BERMAN: That's awesome.

CAMEROTA: Payne says the gift is much more than a pair of shoes. It's about doing things to build up everyone around you.

BERMAN: See what kindness can do?

CAMEROTA: That was beautiful.

BERMAN: See? I keep on telling you.


BERMAN: Try it.

CAMEROTA: If you would get me some new shoes, I might feel that way.

BERMAN: Absolutely.

CAMEROTA: That was beautiful.

All right, the final vote in President Trump's impeachment trial is a few hours away.

CNN's coverage continues next.