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Deadline Extended For Candidates To Challenge Iowa Results; Trump Re-Tweets Call For Key Witness To Be Removed ASAP; Four Family Members Tested For Coronavirus On Ship Docked In New Jersey. Aired 1- 1:30p ET

Aired February 7, 2020 - 13:00   ET

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


[13:00:00]

JOHN KING, CNN HOST: We'll see.

Thanks for joining us in Inside Politics. I hope to see you back here up early. Get up early with us. I'll give you a wake-up call 8:00 A.M. Sunday.

Don't go anywhere, a busy news day. Brianna Keilar starts Right Now. Have a great afternoon.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: I am Brianna Keilar live from CNN's Washington headquarters.

Underway right now, an acquittal in the Senate, a debacle in Iowa, another jolt in the economy, what a historic week means for the president's hold on power. And as for the crowd of people who want his job, the stakes are especially high tonight for two top tier candidates in New Hampshire.

Plus, he is a key witness at the center the of Ukraine scandal who called it crazy to withhold U.S. military aid. And in just minutes, Bill Taylor reacts to the president's acquittal in his first interview.

And on edge, a cruise ship carrying some Chinese nationals docking in New Jersey as passengers get screened.

But first, the Iowa caucuses should be in the books. The results, though, they are in, according to the Iowa Democratic Party, but CNN has seen some problems with their count. Plus, the chairman of the DNC says he wants to take another look, though that is actually a question for the candidates, and the deadline for candidates to ask for a re- canvass that would have been, well, right this moment has been extended to Monday at noon. But they mostly seem ready, if not anxious, to move on.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-MN), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We actually left Iowa with a lot of enthusiasm.

And now the point is I'm here in New Hampshire. PETE BUTTIGIEG (D-IN), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: What I'll say is nothing can take away what happened on Monday.

And now we're looking ahead to New Hampshire and beyond.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think we should -- we've got enough of Iowa. I think we should move on.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KEILAR: And our Jeff Zeleny is still in Iowa, which is very bizarre, Jeff Zeleny, the Democratic Party there in Iowa setting two new deadlines for candidates. Tell us about this.

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: They are, Brianna. Just a short time ago, the Iowa Democratic Party told campaigns that they're going to have a little bit more time to request a canvass or a recount. And this is what they're asking. Yes, there are inconsistencies in some of these many precincts across the State of Iowa. So they're telling campaigns, look, if you see anything that you think is not accurate based on your own reporting from that evening, show us evidence of this by tomorrow at noon here, Central Time. And then by Monday at noon, request a re-canvass or a recount.

So those are the two new deadlines. They extended that deadline, of course, because the final counting just came in last evening. Now, there are 100 percent of precincts finally reporting, and that gives Mayor Pete Buttigieg just a slight edge over Senator Bernie Sanders, just a very slight edge of 0.1 of 1 percentage points in the state delegates.

But, Brianna, the reality here is it is up to the campaigns if they want to request this re-canvass or not. And both candidates last night here on CNN basically said, look, they are ready to move beyond this. They are both declaring victory, both accepting victory, so it's unclear if they actually want to go back into these delegate counts or not.

Now, the future of the Iowa caucus, of course, very much in question. That will be decided down the road at some point. But at least for now, the deadline for re-canvassing all of this, which would basically just going through the numbers to see if everything adds and if everything matches up, that is on Monday at noon.

It is likely to not change the overall outcome that Bernie Sanders and Pete Buttigieg or vice versa won the Iowa caucuses, followed by Elizabeth Warren and then Joe Biden getting fourth and then Amy Klobuchar. But, certainly, any recount or re-canvass is not going to restore the reputation of the Iowa caucuses. That will have to be decided later. But for now, at least, the deadline extended until Monday, Brianna.

KEILAR: All right. Jeff Zeleny, you're probably spending a little too much time in Iowa, thank you so much for that report from Des Moines.

And meanwhile, all eyes are really on New Hampshire as the Democratic race shifts there to the northeast. The debate may only be hours away but Bernie Sanders is already on the attack, giving a preview of what we could see tonight.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SANDERS: I'm reading some headlines from newspapers about Pete Buttigieg. Pete Buttigieg has most exclusive billionaire donors of any Democrat. I like Pete Buttigieg, nice guy. But we are in a moment where billionaires control not only our economy but our political life.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KEILAR: Let's go to CNN National Correspondent Kyung Lah, who is in Manchester. And, Kyung, the pressure is really on, especially for the former vice president and for Senator Elizabeth Warren because of their Iowa performances. How are the candidates here trying to make ensure they have a good finish?

KYUNG LAH, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: What they're trying to do is to turn the page on Iowa but yet have a good tale to tell out of Iowa. When you look at what the former vice president is saying, he's certainly looking forward to South Carolina further down the road, Elizabeth Warren really trying to push the narrative that she's going to do better further down the road as well.

[13:05:07]

And then if you look at Amy Klobuchar, who came in fifth in Iowa, her tale is that, look, she's only 3.5 percentage points behind the former vice president, who is much better well known, that she finished in double digits. That's ahead of where polling had put her. But the reality is when you look at all of these candidates, Klobuchar, for example, she's still fifth. And she had the essential argument that she was from the Midwest, and if she can't win there, how is she going to do it here where she doesn't have the geographic advantage. Here is what she told us.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KLOBUCHAR: I think we have five candidates, I think this race is going to go on for quite a while, and I think that we only have two women now left on the stage, on the debate stage, at least, and then we only have two Midwesterners. And I happen to be both. And I hope that the people of New Hampshire will see my strength as a candidate.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LAH: So, the senator having a lot to prove there. Expect to see some movement from her, some attack in this debate tonight. She is known for being a very strong debater, Brianna, but the reality is, again, fifth place in Iowa. Even if she does better than fifth here in New Hampshire, it is going to become much tougher for her ahead in Nevada, South Carolina on Super Tuesday. Brianna?

KEILAR: Kyung Lah, always great to see you. Thank you. And here with me now to talk about the state of the race and the Democratic Party is former Democratic National Committee Chairman and former Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe.

So I want to start first of -- thank you so much for coming in studio, and I want to start with Iowa, because you weren't exactly a fan of this caucus format before this even happened. And now, we're seeing some inaccuracies with the count. We should say it's very unclear. It seems like it might not change the outcome of the race. That's important to note. But I wonder if you think this should be -- is this like the nail in the coffin, do you hope, for the caucuses?

TERRY MCAULIFFE, FORMER DNC CHAIRMAN: Yes, I have long-time call for end of caucuses. They are not Democratic processes. Look, we only had 170,000 people show up in the Iowa caucus. There're 3.1 million voters there, 745,000 unaffiliated voters, about 316,000 Democratic vote or 615,000. So I have 1.3 million, 1.4 million, only 170,000 folks show up, it's hard. You have to go three or four hours. I like primaries. You go in, you vote, you leave. You make it simple, but to go in and argue with your neighbors in a room.

And the other thing I haven't liked about the Iowa caucus is it's a state that's predominantly white, as is New Hampshire. And you have the Democratic Party which gets support from the African-American community 95 percent of the time. 75 percent of Hispanics support our party and yet they're not represented in the first two contests.

So when I was chair in the national party, I brought up, as you remember, New Mexico, I brought up Nevada, I brought up Arizona, I brought up Michigan, I brought up South Carolina to show some diversity in our party.

But I think we should have a regional type start with a balance of the country and who our party is ought to be representing in the first contest. This is inexcusable what happened on Monday night.

KEILAR: You hope this is the end of the caucuses, but do you really think it will be?

MCAULIFFE: I do.

KEILAR: You think we won't -- in four years, you think it will not begin with the Iowa caucuses?

MCAULIFFE: I don't think it will. Put what happened Monday night, which is inexcusable. I mean, here, we're trying to take on Donald Trump and we're trying to say we can run the government and yet we can't count 170,000 votes. We're just playing on Trump's turf, which we should never cede. But the bigger, broader issue is we need to start with states who are representative of who our party is, the African-American community, the Hispanic community. And that's not who we have today. As I say, I did what I could as chairman. We say, it's up to the representative. But we've got to move forward.

I'm not for recounting votes or any of -- I'm not for any of that. But let's put it aside, on to New Hampshire. Let's not look back. We have to look forward.

KEILAR: Okay. Let's look forward to New Hampshire. As we look back a little bit, these two things are linked. The former vice president, Joe Biden, said Iowa gut punch. So New Hampshire is very important to him, but it's also looking like it might not shape up to what he really would need to help him. If he didn't do well in Iowa, doesn't do that well in New Hampshire, can he weather this?

MCAULIFFE: Well, he always said South Carolina was sort of his base (ph).

KEILAR: Sure. But even with that ahead, having had these two wallops (ph) --

MCAULIFFE: I think he has to show good support in New Hampshire, as well in Nevada, which will be in 11 days. I think he has to show strong support there. I would remind you, Senator Sanders got 60 percent of the vote in New Hampshire four years ago, so you've got to put this all in perspective.

I think the big story out of Iowa was Mayor Pete. I mean, nobody thought he was going to win. He showed he could win it all over the state. And I think for Warren, I think for Biden, I think for Klobuchar, they've got to show something Tuesday night, because, Brianna, what happens is you just run out of financial support and political support.

[13:10:02]

People start leaving your campaign and going to another campaign, and you can't allow that.

KEILAR: If Biden is not the top moderate candidate coming out of New Hampshire, would you start thinking this is the beginning of the end, even if he's going to make a good showing in South Carolina?

MCAULIFFE: Well, the big challenge then under that scenario, we've got South Carolina and then three days later, as you know, is Super Tuesday. Brianna, we have 34 percent of the delegates that one day, we've got 14 states, six southern states in there, large population of the African-American community. And you've got Michael Bloomberg sitting there with a billion dollars. We've never experienced this before in our party. We've got Michael Bloomberg sitting there. We still have Tom Steyer, who is self-funding a lot of his operations. We've never experienced this before. I will say this. This thing is going to go on for a while. This is not going to be a short nominating process.

But the one thing I would say -- that's why I don't want to talk about Iowa again. I want to talk about -- and the candidates have to get back to, what are we doing for you? They want you, the candidate, to tell them, how are you helping me with my prescription drug costs? What are you doing about infrastructure? I've got healthcare needs. And every second were spent talking process, we've got to get back to the big picture, beating Trump and talk about issues that matter to Americans. MCAULIFFE: Okay. So something that is not doing that is this feud that we are seeing play out between Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton. You, of course, are very close to the Clintons. So let me just sort of tick through what's happened here.

There was this renewed feud. We saw Hillary Clinton, her name was booed at a Bernie Sanders event, and that actually was encouraged by a Democratic congresswoman. That occurred after she said in a documentary that nobody likes Bernie Sanders, he didn't get anything done, and he's really been a career politician. She's also called his promises unrealistic. She's lamented the level of vitriol from his supporters and Ellen DeGeneres asking her about these comments. Let's listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ELLEN DEGENERES, HOST OF ELLEN: You're getting some heat for some stuff you said about Bernie Sanders. It must feel good that you can say whatever you want now, but do you want to talk about that moment?

HILLARY CLINTON, FORMER FIRST LADY OF THE UNITED STATES: You've got to be responsible for what you say and what you say you're going to do. We need to rebuild trust in our fellow Americans and in our institutions. And if you promise the moon and you can't deliver the moon, then that's going to be one more indicator of how, you know, we just can't trust each other.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KEILAR: Considering how Bernie Sanders is doing right now and the fact that he could be the nominee, even though I know there is bad blood. Look, I covered Hillary Clinton, I covered Bernie Sanders. It went a long time and she really thought he should have gotten out of the race a lot sooner. Should she just not weigh in at this point in time? Do you think she's letting that kind of color, what she says,?

MCAULIFFE: Well, I don't like any of this. I don't want to re-litigate 2016. We're in the 2020. This is about Trump and that's what we have to focus on. And you make a valid point. And that's why I've tried to encourage these candidates, don't go after one another, you can go after politics, that's fine, and again, different, but don't make it personal. Because you're right, in five months, we're going to be in Milwaukee and we're going to have to bring this party together.

Donald Trump is not going to be easy to beat. He's going to have a lot of money, he's got his core base. We have to be as unified as we have ever been as a party. And to have this warfare going on today is really not helpful. I'm -- keep out of the personal stuff. Focus on issues.

KEILAR: Do you think she's doing that because she would rather see Joe Biden win, that she actually doesn't think Bernie Sanders should represent the party, and that she really just doesn't like -- I mean, is she just representing this kind of moderate --

MCAULIFFE: Well, if she wants, then she should come out and endorse Joe Biden and whatever. I mean, my only point is you've got to be big, bold. The American public is counting on us. They want us to win this election. We're the only ones that can screw this up. But if we're fighting each other, you know, we're not going to be a unified party. Whoever the nominee is, whoever it is, Brianna, we as a party have to come together. We're going to be sitting there in Milwaukee and we've got to have good feelings around to get everybody come out like a booster rocket to go into that general election against Donald Trump.

So my message to all these folks, stay focused on the issues. The American public is sick of the fighting, they want us to talk to them about issues that matter in their everyday lives. And every second we're not doing that, Brianna, we're playing on Donald Trump's territory and he's loving it.

KEILAR: Governor, thank you so much.

MCAULIFFE: You used to be in Virginia. Come back.

KEILAR: That's right. I know. I'm a District of Columbia resident. I might be here to stay.

MCAULIFFE: Virginia is for lovers.

KEILAR: I know it is. It's a beautiful state. I love Virginia. Thank you, sir, so much.

In a fallout of his acquittal, the president re-tweets a call for a key impeachment witness to be removed ASAP from the White House. Is this witness retaliation?

Plus, speaking of witnesses, Bill Taylor, former ambassador, joins CNN in his first interview since he testified before the House in this scandal. You will hear what he called unconscionable.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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KEILAR: CNN has learned that Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman has told colleagues he expects to leave the White House's National Security Council in the coming weeks to return to the Defense Department as soon as this month. Now, that would be well ahead of the scheduled end of his time at the White House. President Trump was asked about this as he departed today.

And a short time later, the president re-tweeted an argument from the president of Judicial Watch made back in November. This is what it said. Vindman's behavior is a scandal. He should be removed from the Donald Trump White House ASAP to protect our foreign policy from his machinations.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told reporters today that she is stunned by reports of Vindman's expected departure from his job in the White House.

Let's try to understand this more with Joshua Geltzer. [13:20:01]

He is a former Senior Director for Counterterrorism on the National Security Council.

And the question here is we know he is leaving, but would this be his choice or would this be the choice of the White House? And let's consider that he's in a different position than other people who may be on the National Security Council, being essentially on loan from the military.

JOSHUA GELTZER, SENIOR DIRECTOR FOR COUNTERTERRORISM, NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL: Based on the reports we have so far, it seems like it's not his choice. As you say, somebody who is at the White House, on loan, on detail from the military tends to have a set of time that they're supposed to be there for. And it's particularly hard to change that for a service member. There is something else awaiting him or her, it's often scheduled in blocks. It's not nimble the way it might be for others of us who served on loan and might decide to end it earlier.

So does this abruptly call to an end his tour of duty at the White House? It seems likely to come from the White House, not from him.

KEILAR: Because if it were him, right, it would have been a much more difficult process. And I guess one of the reasons I would just tend to think it may not be him or a sign that it may not be his request is that it would essentially be a career ender, right, if he were to request to come out of this position?

GETLZER: It would certainly be looked on askance, I think. People are expected to serve their tour of duty, whatever that duty is. Here, this is his duty. I think another reason to come at this and think that it's the White House's choice is that the president has been saying such awful things about this person who stood in front of the Congress and the country and tried to speak the truth. And so for a president to bash him like that suggests that the White House may be trying to act against him.

KEILAR: It is difficult to see how he would remain at the White House and be able to do his job, like he did before. I think everyone agrees on that no matter what the reason for his exit is. But what does this going to mean ahead for him, do you think, and what has it cost him testifying before Congress and raising concerns?

GELTZER: I think how that plays out will be a test of his superiors, because they are put now in a very awkward position, like so much of the military, the civil service, the foreign service right now, they know what the president wants of them, which is to punish somebody the president doesn't like. That's how this president operates. He wants loyalty to him, not to the country.

They also know what's responsible and how it should be that they treat somebody who has done his job by all accounts, who has done above and beyond by being called to testify in ways he never expected when he was sent to the White House. And so whether they do the right thing versus what they suspect the president wants, that's a real test of moral character, ultimately.

KEILAR: Yes, he'll be up for review, right, to see if he goes on to be promoted to be colonel, so we'll be keeping an eye on that as well. Josh, thank you so much, I really appreciate you being with us.

GELTZER: Thank you.

KEILAR: Speaking of witnesses, we have a CNN exclusive, Bill Taylor, former ambassador -- pardon me, former top diplomat to Ukraine, giving CNN his first interview. We'll talk about how he is reacting to the president's acquittal.

And passengers right now are being screened for the coronavirus on a cruise ship in New Jersey. We're going to take you there.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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KEILAR: The deadly coronavirus is showing no signs of slowing down and now there are new concerns as more Americans are becoming infected. Four family members arriving on a Royal Caribbean cruise ship in New Jersey this morning are now in a hospital after health officials say they reported feeling sick.

Let's go to Polo Sandoval. He is at Port Bayonne, where the ship is docked. And, Polo, I understand that this family recently visited mainland China. What else can you tell us?

POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And that's what first raised concerns here, Brianna. A total of about 27 passengers aboard the cruise ship that docked here behind me were initially assessed by New Jersey health officials as well as CDC officials. Most of them were released, allowed to disembark along with the rest of the passengers. But that family of four that you mentioned, there was a concern that two of them were feeling a bit sick during the course of that cruise. So as a result, they were taken to a nearby hospital where they are currently undergoing testing.

But what's really important to point out here, Brianna, is that, at this point, they do not suspect that they are infected, they simply want to take that precautionary step, which really does speak to what we're seeing not just at seaports but airports across the country or any and all people who have been to mainland China recently are particularly being screened. And in this case, we understand that this family of four have recently visited mainland China, however, not the specific province that is considered the epicenter of this outbreak.

So, again, this is merely precautionary, very different to what's being experienced half a world away in Japan, where another cruise ship had to go into (ph) quarantine. That's certainly not the case here, Brianna.

KEILAR: All right. Polo, thank you. Polo Sandoval from New Jersey.

A better than expected jobs report and the first report showing how the president performed in his first three years.

Plus, a key impeachment witness gives his first interview in a CNN exclusive, what he says about Rudy Giuliani, the president and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

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