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Emboldened Trump Seeks Revenge Post-Impeachment Trial; House Intel Republicans Boycott Hearing; Buttigieg Presidential Campaign Co- Chair, Rep. Anthony Brown (D-MD), Discusses Buttigieg's Campaign, Challenges in States with More Non-White Voters, Racism & Douglass Plan; Former DNC Chair, Terry McAuliffe, Discusses Warren & Biden Taking Fourth, Fifth in N.H. & Fundraising. Aired 11:30a-12p ET

Aired February 12, 2020 - 11:30   ET



KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: And then, in quick succession, he has attacked the judge and prosecutors handling the criminal case of his long-time friend and ally, Roger Stone.

All of this in the week since the Senate vote. And Senate Republicans saying that they think that Trump had learned his lesson.


SEN. SUSAN COLLINS (R-ME): I believe that the president has learned from this case.

I believe that he will be much more cautious in the future.

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Are you confident the president is not going to simply ask another foreign power to investigate a political rival again?

SEN. JOHN THUNE (R-SD): Yes. I think that there are lessons that everybody can learn from it.

SEN. ROB PORTMAN (R-OH): I think the message has been delivered. Again, if you listen to not just what I have said, but what so many other Senators have said on our side of the aisle, as well as obviously the whole process of impeachment, I think it's clear now where that line is.


BOLDUAN: To be fair, they were talking about lessons learned over potential abuse of power and pushing a foreign government to investigate a political rival. But do you think Republicans will be saying the same today on this topic?

CNN caught up with several Republican Senators this morning already. Manu Raju working the hallways and he put the question to many of them. They didn't want to answer. They are dodging the questions right now.

Joining me right now, CNN senior political analyst, John Avlon, and, White House correspondent, John Harwood.

Good to see you guys.

John Avlon, what is the takeaway this week with this president?

JOHN AVLON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: The president is not remotely restrained. The Senators that said that were wishing and hoping, naive in the extreme, willfully blinded by partisan self- interest. And they'll be too afraid to condemn the president now for something that they would condemn a Democratic president on a dime for doing even one-quarter of this.

This is a president who is angry. He is unhinged. And he is unaccountable.

Because his attorney general seems to believe his job is to act as the president's personal attorney, that is a very dangerous circumstance that, frankly, the founders and the framers didn't anticipate.

BOLDUAN: Or he's hinged and this is exactly what his hinge is. He knows exactly what he is doing with what he was trying to do here.

AVLON: I wouldn't say control -- self-control is a real hallmark of this president.

BOLDUAN: Nor does he want it.

John Harwood, what is the message then that folks there where you are getting from this?

JOHN HARWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, they're getting the message that this president is going to proceed on the course he wants to proceed on.

Hogan Gidley, the deputy White House press secretary, was just out in the White House driveway telling reporters the president had every right to talk to Bill Barr, even though he did not do so, but that he could. He's the chief law enforcement officer of the United States.

That is correct, but, of course, interfering in cases like this and seeking retribution is contrary to American traditions of equal justice under law and nonpolitical interference in the Justice Department.

So I think members of the White House staff, even if privately they would like to restrain him, know that the president, who is impulsive, who's headstrong, who doesn't listen to aides, who try to impede what he wants to do, is going to do precisely what he wants to do. And the last few days have just given us a taste of it.

BOLDUAN: And two areas that can offer restraint would be Congress and also the inspector general of, say, the Justice Department in terms of what we have seen of late. Republicans so far, they're dodging the question on it. I've seen some

of the interviews that Manu has been asking and some of the questions he's been asking them.

Do you -- I do not want to ask the question because I think we all know the answer of, what do Republicans do now.


BOLDUAN: But in doing nothing, is it just at this point like outrage fatigue and a shoulder shrug?

AVLON: I think it's more than that and it should be.

Look, democracy is not a spectator sport. Part of the strategy of a blizzard of lies is to overwhelm people. It's to overwhelm our ability to take in the outrage of the day.

There's a lot of fake outrage in politics, but then there's the stuff that really stands out if you use anything resembling historic standards.

BOLDUAN: A lot of folks are telling you what has happened since yesterday is part of that?

AVLON: Is absolutely part of that. The idea of impartial justice is gore core to the credibility of the Justice Department.

And right now, what Republicans are backing themselves into is advancing the Nixon, standard, if the president does it, it means it isn't illegal. That is contrary to all of our best intentions. Especially, from anyone who had the pretense of calling themselves a constitutional conservative.

BOLDUAN: John Harwood, real quick, any indication that this president unleashed goes beyond a direct response to impeachment or anything relating to the Mueller investigation?

HARWOOD: I don't think so. But you can certainly imagine it doing that. The president certainly not going to be constrained by his moral sense on that because, by his words and actions, he has indicated he doesn't have a very active moral sense. He's going to do what he thinks is in his short-term best interests.

If that, in the future, goes to things like punishing people who vote against him on legislation, nobody would be surprised to see it.

BOLDUAN: Not a lot of surprise left, if you will.

Good to see you, Johns. I really appreciate it, boys.

This just in, Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee have announced that they are boycotting a public hearing today. CNN got a copy of a letter signed by all nine Republicans in explaining why. And they claim that Chairman Adam Schiff has, quote, unquote, "strayed from conducting business relevant to the committee." [11:35:11]

They want him to address the inspector general report that identified problems with the FISA warrant application targeting Carter Page, which, of course, takes us back and dates back to the Mueller investigation and investigating the investigators.

So instead, they are protesting, not showing up for a hearing on emerging technologies and national security. We'll keep you updated if that changes. Just wanted you to know.

Coming up, another big night for Pete Buttigieg. Will he get a bounce heading into Nevada and South Carolina? North Carolina is a little later. We'll talk about that when we get back.



BOLDUAN: Pete Buttigieg is riding high after winning Iowa and finishing a close second last night, though the road does not get easier from here. He knows that. As it now heads to more diverse states, Nevada and South Carolina and beyond. States where support from non-white voters is critical.

Here's what Buttigieg said this morning.


PETE BUTTIGIEG, (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE & FORMER SOUTH BEND MAYOR: Certainly there's another hill to climb each time, and we've got more work to do to demonstrate the breadth of our support.

But just as we came from zero to the top-two finishes in the first two states, we believe we will be able to develop, build, and grow a fantastic base of support in states like Nevada and South Carolina. And, of course, Super Tuesday is not far behind.


BOLDUAN: Joining me right now, Democratic Congressman Anthony Brown, of Maryland. He's the first member of the Congressional Black Caucus to endorse Pete Buttigieg. He's a co-chair of the campaign.

It's good to see you, Congressman. Thanks for coming in.


BOLDUAN: Of course.

So going forward, Pete Buttigieg needs to win over non-white voters to get over the finish line. Is that appeal to communities of color different today? Is it different from what folks have already heard from him in Iowa and New Hampshire? BROWN: Yes, I think, first of all, when you look at what we did in

Iowa and New Hampshire, we built these broad coalitions, generationally diverse, geographically diverse. So we have to bring the same message, the messenger, and the organization as we are approaching Nevada, South Carolina, as you point out, much more diverse racially and ethnically.

But Pete is the guy that's demonstrated that he's electable. He's right on the issues, whether it's health care, job creation or public safety. So we'll deliver that message, we'll harness the energy with a sound organization, and we'll do very well in Nevada and South Carolina.

BOLDUAN: Where Mayor Pete is right now with black voters is, in a recent Quinnipiac poll, very recent, his support for Pete Buttigieg among black primary voters stands at 4 percent. That's nationally. Whereas, Biden has support 27 percent. And Mike Bloomberg is right now seeing support among black voters nationally at 22 percent.

Why hasn't Pete Buttigieg been making a connection with black voters?

BROWN: Yes, I think in the case of the vice president, he's served in national office for decades, and even in the case of Senator Sanders, his campaign nationally, certainly the last presidential cycle.

What we know about Pete is when communities, African-American communities and others get to know more about him as a person, but more importantly, where he stands on the issues and how he's going to improve voters' quality of life and the quality of life for their families, that's where we earn and gain the support. That will be true in the African-American community as well.

BOLDUAN: So do you think it's just they need to get to know him more? It's not that he needs to speak more about how he will be helping them? Because I want to hear what the message is that is different, because it hasn't connected so far.

BROWN: Sure. And as you know, Pete rolled out what we call the Douglass Plan, a comprehensive approach at addressing systemic discrimination and racism, whether in --


BOLDUAN: That was months ago.

BROWN: -- or public safety.

It was months ago. And now as we turn our attention to South Carolina and Nevada, you're going to see those numbers move in his direction.

BOLDUAN: If he doesn't improve the number that I just listed out, does he have a chance in these states like Nevada and South Carolina?

BROWN: Yes. No, we do. We certainly have demonstrated the ability to pull together a coalition of voters, who, number one, want to see a Democrat beat Donald Trump and, number two, they want to see a leader who has the ability to pull people together.

When you look at, demographically, how Pete has done in Iowa and New Hampshire, older Americans, younger Americans, those who live in rural communities and urban communities, we've been able to pull more and more Americans together than any other campaign.

That's what voters in South Carolina want to see, as well as in Nevada, someone who can win and then someone who can govern in the era of the post-Trump era.

BOLDUAN: I want to make sure I understand you correctly. My question was, if he does not improve that number, which I listed out, his support amongst black voters was at 4 percent, if he doesn't improve upon that number, you think he can still pull out a win in Nevada and South Carolina?

BROWN: First of all, it's hard for me to accept the fact that he won't improve. When you and other networks were reporting on his support in the African-American community, it was at zero. So there's movement that we've seen. We're going to build on the momentum coming out of New Hampshire.


Americans, no matter what community you come from, like a winner. We've demonstrated the ability to win in Iowa and demonstrated the ability to win in New Hampshire. I believe you're going see numbers moving in the right direction.

BOLDUAN: Movement in the single digits as compared to 27 and 22 percent I think is kind of the comparison I was trying to make there.

What does it -- what is it like for you, as the first member of the Congressional Black Caucus to endorse him, that, right now, he is not getting that groundswell of support that you have seen him gain elsewhere among black voters, and he has been in the race now for more than a year?

BROWN: Look, one of the things that attracted me to Pete Buttigieg was his record in South Bend, Indiana, as a mayor working with a very diverse multi-cultural community, which comprises 25 percent African- American.

They made a lot of progress in terms of affordable housing, reducing black poverty by 40 percent, black unemployment by 70 percent. So that's what I look at. I think that's what voters in South Carolina are going to look at.

That coupled with the comprehensive plan that we call the Douglass Plan, that's what's going to move the numbers for Pete. And that's what attracted me to his candidacy.

BOLDUAN: We will soon find out.

Congressman, thank you for coming in. I appreciate it. We'll see you on the trail. BROWN: Thank you.

BOLDUAN: Coming up for us, Joe Biden and Elizabeth Warren each took a big hit in New Hampshire. Is a comeback in the cards? We'll talk about it.



BOLDUAN: Joe Biden had a rough night, finishing in fifth place in New Hampshire. But he is vowing to fight on.

Biden and Elizabeth Warren, a Senator from the neighboring state of New Hampshire, both are getting exactly zero delegates from last night's contest. Now both are focused on South Carolina, Nevada and beyond.

What does that look like for these candidates?

Joining me now, Terry McAuliffe, the former Democratic governor of Virginia and the former chairman of the DNC.

Good to see you, Terry.


BOLDUAN: Biden is entirely focused on South Carolina. They call it their firewall. Does he need to win huge or just win to stay in this now?

MCAULIFFE: He needs to win. I'd make the argument the same for Senator Warren. They need to win in Nevada and South Carolina.

The problem is, Kate, if you're putting everything on South Carolina, that's on February 29th. Three days later is Super Tuesday. You have 15 contests, big contests, California, Texas, North Carolina, Virginia.

You can't raise money -- if you have a win on the 29th, you have Sunday and then Tuesday, there's no opportunity for you at that point to raise any money, go on TV.

So they have to begin to show momentum. The debate will be important to both of them. They need to raise money. They need to show they can raise money by TV in these March 3rd states.

But you can't just ride in South Carolina. There's not enough time to turn and put your operation in place.

BOLDUAN: That's an excellent place.

Let's talk about cash. You're a money guy. What happens? A big unknown that is out there, hanging out there --


MCAULIFFE: Don't tell my wife that.


BOLDUAN: I won't, don't worry. Just you and me here talking. Nobody's listening.

MCAULIFFE: OK, thank you.

BOLDUAN: What happens when Bloomberg and his millions and millions and millions drops into the race officially after South Carolina?

MCAULIFFE: None of us have ever seen this before, Kate, in our party. I think it will have a big impact. There's no way a billion dollars or whatever his number is -- he has over 2000 staff. He's paying them all the way through November.

I live in northern Virginia, in McLean. There's an ad every three seconds up in northern Virginia. So that's going to have an impact.

It's fascinating. Usually, after Iowa and New Hampshire, this thing is beginning to be winnowed down. It's not. We have five, six candidates that are going to seriously play on Super Tuesday.

I mean, you think of Amy and Pete and Bernie. Joe still in and Elizabeth in. Then, you have Steyer and Bloomberg, the two billionaires.

But after March 3rd, we're down to two, if three. My guess, with Bloomberg, with his money, he will still be around. Bernie is going to be consistently getting his 25, 30 percent.

And then it will be a battle when you have more moderate candidates fighting each other to continue on as we go forward.

BOLDUAN: You talked about Biden, and you mentioned Warren. What is a Warren campaign reset? What does it look like after Iowa and New Hampshire? Is it clear to you?

MCAULIFFE: I think it's harder for her. Biden has made it clear. And he's leading with the African-American community. So that's a big opportunity for him in South Carolina.

You know, it's harder for Elizabeth. I think she has to have a big moment, I think, in the debate.

Listen, Amy Klobuchar had a huge moment in the last debate. Pete Buttigieg would have won in New Hampshire. But I think Amy -- a lot of people, folks in New Hampshire said, I'm either voting for Amy or Pete. And she had a great debate. She needs a great debate moment.

I give her tremendous credit. No matter what happens to her, she changed the policy debate. All the candidates have looked to her and she has led on these. But at some point, you have to begin to win states. And now we're

coming to a whole slew of states coming up. In the next three weeks from today, Super Tuesday will be over. We will have a much clearer idea.

But we have a big muddled field. We have a lot of folks in this thing. This thing could go on for a very long time. Which I don't like. I'd rather see us get behind a nominee and focus on Trump.


BOLDUAN: At some point, it becomes a money problem, right? If don't win, people aren't going to be putting money in your campaign. And you cannot, no matter what kind of smiley face you put on it, you can't continue if you're just racking up debt and you cannot continue to put things on the airwaves --

MCAULIFFE: You can't pay your staff. You can't put anything on the air.

BOLDUAN: That's exactly right.

MCAULIFFE: And look at California, Texas, North Carolina, Virginia.


MCAULIFFE: D.C. is the media market. You can't buy TV. You cannot communicate.

BOLDUAN: That's right, expensive one.

Good to you, Governor. Thank you.

MCAULIFFE: Can't buy CNN TV ads.

BOLDUAN: That's right. Top dollar.

Coming up, what about last night's top finishers? Can Sanders, can Buttigieg, can they hold their frontrunner status. Well, they have now Amy Klobuchar nipping at their heels.