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Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) Wins The New Hampshire Primary; Trump Congratulates Barr For Intervening; Joe Biden Faces Uncertain Future After Iowa And New Hampshire Losses. Aired 7-7:30a ET

Aired February 12, 2020 - 07:00   ET

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


[07:00:00]

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN NEW DAY: Former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg finishes a strong second. Sanders was expected to do well. He is from a neighboring state, of course. Though this time, he won with a smaller margin than the blowout victor he posted in New Hampshire in 2016.

Sanders and Buttigieg each one nine delegates last night, and Amy Klobuchar is getting a lot of props for her big third place finish, which was a surprise. The Minnesota senator is riding a wave of support off her strong debate performance last week.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN NEW DAY: Elizabeth Warren finished fourth despite the fact she lives next door in Massachusetts. And Joe Biden, the former vice president of the United States, finished a distant fifth and wasn't in New Hampshire last night. He moved onto South Carolina hoping that once non-white voters actually make up a significant part of those voting, it might turn his campaign around. He's going to need it.

Joining us now is CNN Political Analyst David Gregory, Wajahat Ali, CNN Contributor and Contributing Op-Ed Writer at The New York Times, and Paul Begala, CNN Political Commentator and a Democratic strategist.

Paul, I want to start with you, you're big takeaway from last night.

PAUL BEGALA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, for Bernie Sanders, a win is a win is a win, but it's a weak win. If you find (INAUDIBLE) candidates race, I don't have a preference, to be honest about it, but if I work for Bernie, I'm happy that I won.

But, holy smokes, last time around, they ran against Hillary Clinton, who had lots of money, lots of support, lots of legacy brand name identification and he crushed her by 22 points. He got 60 percent of the vote. So when you go from 60 percent of New Hampshire being for you to last night's 74 percent voting against you or for somebody other than you, it's a win. But I think he is probably, my guess is, a very uneasy frontrunner right now. I'm actually surprised at the weakness of his victory, as you've been saying, the lowest percentage any winner in New Hampshire has ever gotten. He still won, but, you know, if he's not pulling away from these candidates in the states where he is the strongest, the whitest and the most liberal, the most northeastern, that's his base. I think he's got problems strategically long-term.

CAMEROTA: Wajahat, your takeaway?

WAJAHAT ALI, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: I'm going to make very bold predictions about the Democratic nominee after two of the whitest states have gone in New Hampshire and Iowa. I mean, look, the base of the Democratic Party is people of color. And I think we should just cool our heels for a second and wait until South Carolina. Joe Biden desperately needs South Carolina if he has any chance. The fact he finished fifth is very disappointing for him.

I think with Bernie Sanders, it's a clogged race this time. He is very competitive. I think people can sleep on Bernie Sanders. He has raised the most amount of money. He has a five-year campaign and brand name. He's been consistent on message. He is crushing it with the youth. I do believe still, as we saw with Amy Klobuchar's rise, I mean, that bump came as a result of the debate. People still really haven't made their decision yesterday. However, with Buttigieg and Klobuchar, if you're not winning people of color, you're not going to go far.

So that's why I'm saying cool the jets for a second and also we've got to give respect to Andrew Yang, who dropped out, another person of color and most likely Deval Patrick is going to drop out. So wait until South Carolina, people.

But one thing I'll say is the majority of voters in New Hampshire, you know what they like, college free tuition and Medicare-for-all. So maybe that's not that radical, guys.

BERMAN: It is interesting. First time voters, Pete Buttigieg actually won first-time voters, which is something I don't think the Sanders campaign anticipated. I do think that it is also worth noting the flipside of that is that Bernie Sanders did the best among non-white voters. Limited as they might be in New Hampshire, he did do best among that group, and maybe of the first three candidates, David Gregory, the best position with that group going forward. If Joe Biden is in fifth place, if Joe Biden fades from this race, there are a lot of African-American voters up for grabs in South Carolina, and Bernie Sanders has at least been registered among that group.

DAVID GREGORY, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Right. And I think what Wajahat needs to understand is that the hot takes and instant analyst cannot wait. We cannot be cool. It's an important admonition.

Look, I think there's a couple of things about Bernie Sanders. One is, I think, just as in 2016, you can lull yourself into a complacency saying, yes, but this guy can't win and he keeps winning. He's won the first two contests. You got to give him his due because he is the voice of the liberal Democrats right now. He seems to have consolidated support on the left. We were talking a lot about Elizabeth Warren, who has faded even in essentially her own state, her neighboring state. So Bernie Sanders has done that.

I do think the question about the ceiling is real. You do have a bigger field. And you have something like 44 percent of more centrist Democrats between Buttigieg and Klobuchar. So the ultimate test is going to be as we get to a more diverse part of the party. But I think Bernie Sanders has had time to court voters of color within the Democratic Party.

[07:05:00]

So we'll look at Nevada. We'll look at South Carolina to see just where that goes.

But I think that, you know, late-breaking voters in New Hampshire, those who were tuning into the debates, went somewhere besides Bernie Sanders. So he's got a core of the progressives in the Democratic Party. I think there's a lot more out there. And I do think there's going to be moderate who is are afraid this morning, who look at Sanders and they may say, yes, like Paul does, he's a weak frontrunner, or they might say, look, this guy is on the ascent and that's not who we are. So we've got to get out there, start paying attention, and mobilize them. That's why the waiting for voters is what's going to be the most destructive (ph).

CAMEROTA: So, Paul, if you were advising the Biden campaign this morning, as you say, you don't have that horse (ph) race, what would the mood be? What would your advice be?

BEGAL: Just grim, grim. It's 17 days from now to South Carolina. And Joe has had the lead in South Carolina for quite some time. He has earned by his relationships and his record support of a lot of African-Americans in South Carolina. But, gee whiz, I just don't know that they're going to stick with him. I literally don't think. I don't think they will, to tell you the truth.

And the interesting thing is where do they go? You know, if you asked me a week or two ago, or probably any pundit, if Elizabeth Warren goes from first, where she was over this summer in New Hampshire, to fourth, where does her voters go? We'd all say, well, Bernie. He's the other kind of leftist in the race. Bernie didn't gain a single percent from Elizabeth's collapse. And I don't know if Joe fades with African- Americans, where those voters go. That's the great thing about this business. And, actually, voters are smart and make up their own minds. I wish they would wait for instruction from me, but the truth is we've got to this thing play out.

BERMAN: If we can keep these vote totals up on the screen, Waj, there's a tendency or a temptation to look at those numbers and add up Buttigieg and Klobuchar and say, well, they make up 44 percent of the vote. You add Joe Biden up there, centrists or moderates are making up 50 percent of the vote. It's hard to do that. You don't know for sure. Elizabeth Warren voters may have gone to Amy Klobuchar. We heard from some of them who said that.

So it's hard to make that one-for-one analysis, but I do think you can say, based on the exit polling, in terms of what voters wanted, they continue to say the number one they want is to beat President Trump. They continue to say, the number one characteristic they used to describe themselves is angry. And so there does seem to be space for the non-Bernie Sanders candidate, whether that's Buttigieg or Klobuchar, who, as you said, have shown no real ability to connect yet with African-Americans is unclear, but maybe it means Michael Bloomberg has a chance.

ALI: That's exactly right. You said it. Michael Bloomberg, that's going to be the dark horse who is actually rising. He spent $300 million. He's probably going to spend a lot more because he is filthy rich. And if you look at his support, it has increased with African- Americans. Well, let's see what happens after that Aspen clip came out from 2015. But he is spending money like crazy, he is buying talent, he is flooding the airwaves.

And in that congested middle lane between Biden, Buttigieg and Klobuchar, they could cancel each other out. We should not be surprised if it ends up being maybe, who knows, let's see, Bernie versus Bloomberg, maybe versus Buttigieg.

To quote William Goldman, the famous Oscar-winning screenplay writer of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, nobody knows anything yet. Let's wait until South Carolina because the Democratic base is people of color. And you've got to see how they're going to vote after South Carolina. I think that's going to give us some more clear window. And this is going to be a congested race for a a little while. So let's just cool our jets.

But the main thing, I'll keep saying this, if you are watching and you do not like Trump, support the Democratic candidate. Because every single one down that list and that list to my right-hand sound right now is a moderate compared to the extremism of Donald Trump, who is weaponizing the DOJ.

CAMEROTA: David, in my small sample, when I recently interviewed a panel of black South Carolina voters, the word they kept using was pragmatic. They wanted us to know that they are pragmatic. They want to beat Donald Trump and they will go, I mean, as we're hearing, whoever the nominee is. But if they had their druthers back then when I asked them, they weren't choosing Biden. But they were willing to go for Biden and vote for him if that was the pragmatic choice. And so I don't know where that leaves us today.

GREGORY: Well, it leaves us in a position where we just -- we don't know the outcome. We have to live in a little bit of this tension, Wajahat is saying. There are different views in the Democratic Party. That's what's playing out here. There's pragmatism among those voters you spoke to. There's also a lot of idealism.

Joe Biden basically said, vote for me, I can beat Trump, that's all you should care about, forget about your concerns. Well, that hasn't panned out so far. Bernie Sanders is saying, I can beat Trump because I've got the kind of boldness, a vision to restore some of your faith in institution, and I can speak to the parts of the country that are in pain where he won who voted for Obama as well, I'm that guy.

[07:10:01]

So there's a difference of opinion about what's actually appealing to people.

And I've talked to voters who say, look, Pete Buttigieg has a good speech, a good story, a good personal story. He's an outsider. So there's a lot here. And I don't think there's an overwhelming star in the Democratic Party right now which is creating some of this muddle, which is why Mike Bloomberg is making it the gamble that he can wait this out and emerge.

BERMAN: The star might well not be Donald Trump. And I think that's what each of these candidates is banking on. They just want to be that person that's not Donald Trump in the end and hope that's animating enough to get there.

Paul, I want to quote Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. You just keep thinking, Paul. That's what you're good at. If we can put up the calendar here, we have Nevada in a week-and-a-half, South Carolina a week after that and then Super Tuesday. Look, it's hard to imagine any candidate besides Bernie Sanders who has the resources to compete across the board in all of those states at this point, aside for Michael Bloomberg.

I know Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar had great nights last night. They have advice (ph) in Nevada. But then they go to states that takes not just a little money, but a lot of money to compete in. How does this work?

BEGALA: It takes a lot of money, a lot of organization. That's where Bernie's experience. I know his voters want change. Bernie's experience is actually very valuable for him. If California primary was held today, I'd bet on Bernie, but it's not held today. And you can't discount Bloomberg. And we're talking about Bill Goldman, and God bless his soul. He also wrote, All the President's Men. And that line he put in there, follow the money, right?

Bernie can raise money. Mike Bloomberg, he can raise money. Bloomberg fundraiser is Bloomberg writing a check. A big Bloomberg fundraiser is Bloomberg writing a bigger check. So he can compete there too. And that's going to be the challenge. But, first, I think Waj is right. Watch Nevada, which is a caucus, which I don't like because it's anti- Democratic. But at least there's strong labor movement. The culinary union in Nevada is really powerful. And there's a lot of Latinos, finalmente. We're getting a few people of color voting in my party, but then South Carolina.

Bill Clinton lost all four of the first four states, all four, and he won the nomination because people of color decided he was the best candidate. And some of it was pragmatism. Some of it was though even we were losing, we're able to raise money. We had this little foul- mouthed (INAUDIBLE) jerk named Rahm Emanuel, who raised all that money. I don't know what happened to Rahm. But he's one of my best friends. I'm just saying that to give him static. But we were able to raise to money despite losing the first four.

I don't know the folks who have fallen into the lower tier, by which I mean Elizabeth, by which I mean Joe. I don't think they can raise any more money. I could be wrong, but that's what we should follow. CAMEROTA: Important historical context. Paul, David, Waj, thank you all very much.

Coming up we have Pete Buttigieg and Andrew Yang. They will join us live on New Day to talk about New Hampshire and what they see in the road ahead.

BERMAN: Really, what's ahead is just for Pete Buttigieg at this point.

CAMEROTA: Well, I am curious about what Andrew Yang is going to do and what other campaign he will support.

BERMAN: I do think that's a really interesting question. Because his voters, it's a different group of voters. And it's possible that they would not support anyone other than Andrew Yang unless he gets behind someone strongly.

So, moments ago, President Trump congratulated -- yes, you heard that right -- he congratulated the attorney general for intervening in the sentencing recommendation of his friend, Roger Stone. This comes after all the prosecutors in the case quit in protest. You will hear people say they have never seen anything like this before. Why? Because there never has been anything like this before. That's next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[07:15:00]

BERMAN: All right. We have a developing story for you this morning. Just moments ago, President Trump congratulated the attorney general, Bill Barr, for intervening in the sentencing of the president's long- time friend, political adviser, his confidant, Roger Stone. Roger Stone was convicted on several counts of witness tampering, lying to Congress, misleading investigators. So the attorney general intervened and all the prosecutors in the case, as a result, resigned in protest.

This is what the president wrote moments ago. I should say in this tweet moments ago, he also made accusations about Robert Mueller, unfounded accusations.

Joining us now is CNN Chief Legal Analyst Jeffrey Toobin and CNN Legal Analyst Jim Baker, he is the former General Counsel at the FBI.

Jeffrey Toobin, just give us the significance of this move.

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: Well, there are three aspects of this case that are totally unprecedented. One, you have a president injecting himself into a pending case and demanding better treatment of his friend. It hasn't been done. It wasn't even done during the Nixon era. That's one thing. Second, you have the Justice Department jumping to follow the president's recommendation like within 12 hours. And third, you have four prosecutors resigning in protest, which just doesn't happen in the Justice Department. You have three of them leaving the case, one of them leaving the Justice Department all together. It is a breakdown of the system that is like nothing I have ever seen in my career and nothing am aware of historically.

CAMEROTA: Jim, when Jeffrey says that the Justice Department jumped to acquiesce to President Trump's, you know, demands, is that Bill Barr? Is that the person who is doing this?

JIM BAKER, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, we don't know. I mean, the president just congratulated him. So one would presume that at least the president thinks that that's the case, but we don't know. And this cries out -- it cries out for further review from the inspector general, from the judge, who's going to be sentencing Roger Stone relatively soon here, and also I think from Congress.

[07:20:09]

I mean, the attorney general needs to go up and explain what happened. The attorney general, the deputy attorney general, others, Senate- confirmed officials, need to go up to Congress and explain what happened here. Because as Jeffrey was saying, this is highly, highly unusual. It's just outside the bounds of anything that I'm familiar with.

You know, people in DOJ argue over cases and policy all the time. But the place operates by consensus and people try to work out disputes and arguments. And for this kind of thing to happen is just -- it's -- I can't think of a similar example.

BERMAN: And the president is still arguing about the conviction itself. He's not even arguing about he sentence. The president is suggesting these 12 jurors got it wrong still. And, Jeffrey, why doesn't the president historically do this type of thing?

TOOBIN: Because the power of prosecution is so great, the power of prosecution is to lock people up. I mean, it is sort of the ultimate power that the government had. And there have been norms that have been established over time that say these decisions have to go to people who make these kind of decisions all the time over years over years, that, you know, we don't change who we lock up based on who's the president of the United States, based on the political party, much less who is a friend of the person who happens to be president. And that's the departure here.

Now, the one complexity -- I mean, there are many complexities of this case, is I'm familiar with these sentencing guidelines and how particularly these kind of cases work. The recommendation struck me as very high as well, seven to nine years. They are part of the guidelines, the probation department which sets the original guidelines and the Justice Department responds to them, apparently agreed with the Justice Department on this.

But I can see why people thought this was an excessive sentence. But the way to do that is in front of the judge, not the president of the United States reaching in from the outside telling Justice Department to change their policy.

CAMEROTA: Jim, is there any way this morning for people to interpret this, in any other way, than there are a different set of rules for President Trump in his palace than other people who lie to investigators, like to Congress and tamper with witnesses?

BAKER: It certainly appears that way, right? And the appearance of how justice system works and how Americans think about it and perceive it is critically important in addition to what actually happened. So we don't know precisely what happened. People need to review this.

I think the judge is the first one who's going to be able to really get the facts out in front of him when the sentencing actually happens. I would hope that the judge would do that. But the appearance of justice, Department of Justice attorneys talk about that all the time, especially with respect to ethical issues.

And you want to make sure that there's not even an appearance of impropriety. Why, because the system is so critical, as Jeffrey was just saying, I mean, that the prosecutors have so much power, including up to putting people to death, arguing for the death penalty.

And so critically important that the system be apolitical and that people have confidence that things are not being done for the wrong reason. And this really undercuts that ethos so substantially that I'm afraid the American people are at risk of losing something that's so pressure and they may not fully understand it.

TOOBIN: And keep an eye on Judge Amy Berman Jackson, who is the very independent judge who's in charge of this case, who very well may say, I'm not going forward on this sentencing until I get an explanation in this courtroom from what the hell happened here, not from, you know, the prosecutor who happens to show up but from the bosses who made the decision. She has the power to demand that. Let's see if she can do that.

BERMAN: So I'm conscious of the fact, the reality that we're talking about this a few weeks after the president was acquitted and impeached for abuse of power. But what does this episode tell you, Jeffrey, about how the president is willing to use his power? You talked about the norms which have restricted past presidents. What norms?

TOOBIN: Well, yes. I remember everybody got very excited when Loretta Lynch had a conversation on the tarmac with Bill Clinton. No one even knows what they talked about. They both said they talked about grandchildren. This is so far past that in terms of political interference in the justice system that you almost can't compare the two. But what's at stake here is the independent administration of justice, which is something that Democratic and Republican presidents have honored, certainly since the Nixon era, and in many respects, well before that.

BERMAN: I'm wondering at this point that you think it's still at stake and may not be a past tense.

[07:25:00]

TOOBIN: Well, we shall see.

CAMEROTA: Jeffrey Toobin, Jim Baker, thank you both very much.

Former Vice President Joe Biden is coming off of two major losses in Iowa and now in New Hampshire. Can he turn his campaign around? We speak with the former chairman of the DNC, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We just heard from the first 2 of 50 states, two of them, not all the nation, not half the nation, not a quarter of the nation, not 10 percent, two, two. Now, where I come from, that's the opening bell, not the closing bell. And the fight to end Donald Trump's presidency is just beginning, just beginning.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CAMEROTA: That was former Vice President Joe Biden speaking to voters last night in South Carolina after coming up short in New Hampshire. Second straight defeat is raising questions about his future in the race.

Let's bring in Howard Dean, he's the former Chairman of the DNC and a former Democratic presidential candidate himself, and we have a lot of candidates to talk about.

[07:30:00]

So, Governor Dean, thanks so much for being here.

HOWARD DEAN, FORMER DNC CHAIRMAN: Thank you.

CAMEROTA: Let's start with Biden. So he is making the argument that his sights were always set on South Carolina.

END