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Trump Reshapes American Justice After Impeachment Acquittal; Michael Bloomberg Spending Hundreds Of Millions On Ads; CDC: 14% Of Americans Struggle To Pay Medical Bills. Aired 7:30-8a ET

Aired February 13, 2020 - 07:30   ET





SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL (D-CT): Attorney General William Barr ought to be ashamed and embarrassed and resign.


ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Some top Democrats are calling for the resignation of Attorney General Bill Barr. They are stunned that the Justice Department intervened to try to get a lesser prison sentence for the president's long-time ally, Roger Stone.

Joining us now to talk about this and more, we have Democratic Senator Tim Kaine. He's a member of the Armed Services and Foreign Relations committees. Good morning, Senator.

SEN. TIM KAINE (D-VA): Alisyn, good to be with you.

CAMEROTA: Do you agree with your colleague, Senator Blumenthal, that Attorney General Bill Barr should resign?

KAINE: Well, Alisyn, I wish it were that easy. I voted against Bill Barr for attorney general for exactly this reason. It was very clear to me based upon his past record that President Trump wanted him as just his all-purpose flak jacket to, you know, cover for the president in every way possible.

This is not a bug in Bill Barr the action that the Justice Department took yesterday. This is exactly why President Trump hired him. And it's exactly why he wanted the job. And it's why I voted against him.

CAMEROTA: Yes, so now what do you do about it?

KAINE: That it's so -- well, it's very tough. I mean, I think we got to have the Judiciary Committee in the Senate call Barr before our committee just as he's going to appear on March on the House side to really quiz him about this improper use of his political sway to squash local prosecutors. I mean, the worst thing that can happen to a U.S. attorney is to have Maine Department of Justice in D.C. come into the work that they've done and squash one of their cases because, well, this is a friend of the president's. That is so destabilizing to the rule of law and so demoralizing to our career professionals who do --


KAINE: -- good work all around the country.


CAMEROTA: Lots of prosecutors were saying they've never seen anything like this. There's a lawyer from the Obama administration Department of Justice who puts it in very stark terms. And so I'll just read to you what she says.

This is Joyce White Vance, former U.S. attorney. She says, if a president can meddle in a criminal case to help a friend, then there's nothing that keeps him from meddling to harm someone he thinks is an enemy. That means that a president is fully above the law in the most dangerous kind of way. This is how democracies die.

Senator, is she being hyperbolic? Or is this the way --

KAINE: No, no. She is --

CAMEROTA: -- democracies die?

KAINE: -- Joyce is stating it exactly correctly that president believes he's above the law. This was a real concern after the impeachment was over last week that the president would view acquittal as just a carte blanche. He can do anything that he wants. And certainly, the actions that he's taken this week in this case, but also in the firing of Colonel Vindman, the -- apparently that they're going to sack this DOD official, Ms, McCusker, who was very appropriately raising concerns about the hold on aid to Ukraine.

Anybody who was just trying to do their job and not fighting against the administration or being inappropriate were just raising questions is now being mowed down with the sickle of this president who's out for revenge. And --

CAMEROTA: But, I mean, do you think this is how democracies die?

KAINE: Yes, I do. This -- unless people snap back and say, that's not what we want. I mean, at the end of the day, the only guarantor of democracy in this country is the American people saying, we want and deserve better than this. And certainly, in the last few years in Virginia, we have elections every year, we've seen tremendous energy in the electorate to say, we want and deserve something better than this, and I hope that that's what the American public will show in November as well.

CAMEROTA: Is that to say that Congress can't do anything about this? KAINE: Well, Congress can do some things. But look, I'm very skeptical about whether the Senate -- the House is different, but about whether the Senate will act to check this president's abuses of this kind. That was one of the things that made me decide to vote for conviction in the impeachment, was I decided, you know, we have a toxic president. And evil spreads like a virus. And now this toxicity has infected the institution of the Senate.

And so the Senate has not been willing to hold -- yet, has not been yet willing to hold the president accountable for these kinds of politically motivated actions. I hope that we might be and it would start in the Judiciary Committee.

CAMEROTA: I want to ask about something that will be voted on in just a few hours. It is your War Powers resolution. And it -- what you're trying to do is limit President Trump's authority to launch attacks against Iran.


CAMEROTA: The president doesn't like --

KAINE: Yes, and --

CAMEROTA: -- the president doesn't like this idea.


CAMEROTA: He has tweeted yesterday. He says, if my hands were tied, Iran would have a field day. It sends a very bad signal. The Democrats are only doing this as an attempt to embarrass the Republican Party. Don't let it happen. He's calling on Republicans not to vote for this. Do you think you have the bipartisan votes, Republicans included, this morning?

KAINE: Yes, Alisyn, and that's the key. This is not really about President Trump. It's about Congress. Will Congress take seriously the responsibility that we shouldn't be at war without a vote of Congress? And, yes, we had one vote yesterday where we got eight Republicans to join with every Democrat for the proposition that we shouldn't be at war with Iran without a vote of Congress.

However, the president always has the ability to defend the United States against imminent attack. And we would not change that. The president needs that power. We're not tying the president's hands. We are just saying, war is the most serious thing that we do. It should only be done after serious deliberation. No one person should make the decision on their own.

You saw last week, we just lost two more soldiers in Afghanistan. They were 28 years old, Sergeants Gutierrez and Rodriguez. One of them had been deployed 10 times. The other had been deployed twice. One left four children aged two and seven by.

And we have been at nonstop war for 19 years. It's time for Congress to start exercising the kind of oversight needed and carefully deliberate, lest there be more Sergeants Rodriguez and Gutierrez who were killed with Congress standing on the sidelines and not paying careful attention to whether we should be at war.

CAMEROTA: Yes. Well, I mean, look, we don't often see, as we know, Republicans cross the president. It will be interesting to see what happens if --


CAMEROTA: -- those eight Republicans do vote today.

Senator Tim Kaine, thank you very much for your time --

KAINE: Absolutely, Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: -- and sharing all of your thoughts on this. John.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: So, Democratic presidential candidate, Mike Bloomberg, he has money to burn. Where he's spending it says a lot about his campaign strategy, we have a closer look next.



BERMAN: So with most of the Democratic candidates spending the next two weeks focused on Nevada and South Carolina, former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is spending his time and money, like a lot of money --


BERMAN: -- on Super Tuesday states.

CAMEROTA: Who said that?

BERMAN: Here to break down the numbers, CNN's disembodied voice.

ENTEN: I just couldn't wait for my turn to start talking.

BERMAN: Harry Enten.

ENTEN: I'm interrupting you and we're back together. I missed you two --


ENTEN: -- greatly yesterday.

BERMAN: You'll stay on that side. But go ahead.

ENTEN: Yes, whatever. I'll be on that side soon enough.

So, look at this. I just want to point this out, money, money, money, money, money.

BERMAN: Liza Minnelli.

ENTEN: Yes, there you go. I love Liza. I preferred her version of New York, New York. 2020 ad spending in the Super Tuesday states, look at this. My friend, David, riding our political unit focus (ph) $129 million. Holy cow. Oh my goodness gracious. Steyer next at 25, that's pretty much all in California. Bernie is at 7 million. Look at this.

CAMEROTA: I don't understand that. Why are they at zero?

ENTEN: Because they don't have the amount of money. They're going contest to contest to contest.


CAMEROTA: They don't have enough money to start spending for Super Tuesday yet.

ENTEN: They are going into these -- I mean, Joe Biden is having enough money to keep his ads on the airing (ph) South Carolina. You know, they're getting money by the day, they're going contest to contest to contest. Michael Bloomberg is all focused in on Super Tuesday. And in the four most rich delegate states overall, he spent, look at this, $114 million. Holy cow.

BERMAN: Can I ask you, and it's important, how many days between South Carolina and Super Tuesday?

ENTEN: Three.

BERMAN: So the point is if you're not spending money on Super Tuesday now --


BERMAN: -- you're not going to --

ENTEN: That's exactly right. And that's the game plan that Michael Bloomberg is playing, is essentially these folks are not going to be able to catch up. And look at this, I want to give you an idea of how much this money is moving this race right now.

So look at November of 2019, the Harry's average of polls, when Bloomberg got in, he entered the race in November of 2019. Bloomberg was at just 3 percent. Ten days ago, he was at 9 percent. Then of course, Iowa and New Hampshire happened, and look at this, he jumped up to 14. He actually got a larger share of the pie after Bloomberg -- after Biden fell from 27 to 20 than either Bernie did who just gained a point, or even Buttigieg who gained three points. He gained five points. So when Biden fell, Bloomberg was the one who really got it.

CAMEROTA: The power of TV, that's just the power of TV, right? TV ads.

ENTEN: I got a message from a friend who was a teacher in Louisiana, a student of hers just randomly texted her and said, who's Michael Bloomberg. That's how far his ads are penetrating. People who were not normally into politics know who he is. He is buying name recognition. BERMAN: You're hearing kids anecdotally, kids who live in some of these Super Tuesday states are able to recite word for word the words in the Michael Bloomberg ads because they're seeing them so much.

All right, the last few days, there have been questions about statements that Bloomberg has made about African Americans. He was mayor of this city for 12 years. What do we know about African American support for Bloomberg?

ENTEN: You know, look at this. He's in second place in the Quinnipiac University poll at 22 percent to Biden's 27 percent. So he's actually in second place, moved all the way up.

Now, there is some question about whether the new information will necessarily move voters. But I'll point out that in New York state, Bloomberg who's, you know, we think the most well known, among African-American voters in New York state, his favorable rating is 58 percent. It's actually not that bad. So the more you get to know Michael Bloomberg and get to know what he's all about, I'm not necessarily sure that these past statements will necessarily move the numbers. But of course, we'll have to wait and see.

CAMEROTA: We have some live pictures right now of Mayor Michael Bloomberg. He is doing an event there in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. So we'll watch that as you continue to tell us about endorsements.

ENTEN: Yes, another thing that I would sort of point out here is, you know what, we talk about the party side's (ph) endorsements from Congressperson, governors, and major city mayors. Look at this in total, Biden who's supposedly the candidate of the establishment, Bloomberg is just a little bit behind at 19. And this month, look at this, Bloomberg at 6. He's actually has more endorsements than Joe Biden has, so he may be going in and sort of getting that establishment label. And especially if you go to a contested convention, he might actually be in a decent position.

BERMAN: All right. Bernie Sanders won in New Hampshire. Normally, that means, what, and what does it tell us about Sanders now?

ENTEN: Right. So, look at this, so take a look at the Dem national primary poll leader by polling share after the New Hampshire primary. Bernie is down at just 26 percent right now. And if you look since 1992, which is the first year in which all contests were proportion with the 15 percent threshold. After that, after New Hampshire, normally the polling leader really jumps up. But Bernie is just down at 26 percent. Bill Clinton was the next closest at '92 at 39 percent.

That to me is a real suggestion that this race remains wide open. And someone like Bloomberg really could come in and basically buy his way to the nomination.

CAMEROTA: What's the mystery tab or shouldn't I ask?

ENTEN: You know what, I'm all about mystery.

John, what do you think of my childhood dog?

CAMEROTA: Oh my gosh.

ENTEN: This is me and Cody. I love Cody. Cody is my favorite.

CAMEROTA: And as you know, John likes to do, I guess, commentary on dog styles.

BERMAN: Well, it's dog shows.

CAMEROTA: Dog shows. That's the word.

ENTEN: Yes, John?

CAMEROTA: Go on, John. What are you thinking?

BERMAN: I prefer mutts --

CAMEROTA: What's your problem?

BERMAN: -- and mixed breeds. I'm just saying. Nothing against your dog. I'm sure Cody was very nice.

ENTEN: Cody was the soul of me.

BERMAN: I'm glad you have the (INAUDIBLE).

CAMEROTA: I'm really most interested in how cute you were.

ENTEN: Thank you. I'd like to think I'm at least a little still cute.

CAMEROTA: Moving on. Harry, you're wonderful. Thank you very much.

ENTEN: Thank you.

CAMEROTA: We really appreciate it.

OK, a jury is now deciding the fate of one-time Trump nemesis, Michael Avenatti, who is on trial for extortion. We have more on the meteoric rise and stunning fall, next.



BERMAN: It is time for CNN business now, really the tale of two economies. Some Americans are struggling to pay their medical bills while for others their 401(k) balances have hit new records.

Keeping us for (INAUDIBLE), Christine Romans is here. With all that, Romans.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: More like a contradiction in personal finances in America. Let's begin with health care, a key issue in the election. Tens of millions of people struggling to pay their medical bills, a brand-new study from the CDC found 14 percent of Americans in 2018 couldn't afford their health care expenses. This had been improving in the years after Obamacare made coverage easier, but improvement has stalled.

Now, the study concluded not paying those bills affects the quality of life for the entire family. Now, the rates are worse for the uninsured, but people with insurance also having trouble keeping up. Women, children and African Americans were more likely to struggle than others. Among people over 65, those jointly enrolled in Medicare and Medicaid were more likely to struggle than people with private coverage.

Now, the president's budget this week includes deep cuts to Medicaid and other safety net programs. Meanwhile, new data from Fidelity shows record high 401(k) balances. The average 401(k) now holds 112,000 bucks up 7 percent in the fourth quarter, up 17 percent from 2018.

Now, for workers, those of you who've had your 401(k) for 10 years straight, the average balance reached $328,200.


Now, Fidelity says 33 percent of workers upped their contribution rates last year. That's good. Investors also benefiting from what has been a 10-year long stock market rally. Just over half of Americans own stocks either directly or through mutual funds or retirement accounts. Millions, of course, don't. But a low jobless rate and solid stocks in election year seem to be an advantage for President Trump. A brand-new Gallup poll found 61 percent of Americans say they are better off today than they were three years ago, 62 percent give Trump credit for improvement in the economy.

Just want to give you some breaking news this morning as well. Brand- new America's second largest newspaper company, McClatchy, has filed for bankruptcy. The owner of the Miami Herald and the Kansas City Star says the plan is to stay in business as it works through the courts, Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: Let's hope that it can do that. Thank you very much, Christine.

All right, the fate of Attorney Michael Avenatti is now in the hands of a New York jury. They are deliberating in his extortion trial. It's been a roller coaster ride for Avenatti who burst onto the scene representing porn star, Stormy Daniels.

CNN's Brynn Gingras has more on his rise and epic fall. Brynn.

BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, and he's got more legal battles ahead, Alisyn.

Before 2018, you likely wouldn't have recognized the name Michael Avenatti. Of course, like Alisyn said, that changed when he represented an adult film star who took on the president. Ironically, in his own federal trial, he didn't take the stand in his defense, partly because a judge wouldn't allow any questions about his former client to be admitted. We'll see if that helps or hurts him. His fate, though, now is in the hands of a New York jury.


GINGRAS (voice-over): It's rare to see Michael Avenatti make no comment when surrounded by cameras. But lately, that's been the case as the man who quickly rose to fame defending adult film star, Stormy Daniels, in her lawsuit against the Donald Trump --

STORMY DANIELS, ADULT FILM STAR: My attorney and I are committed to making sure that everyone finds out the truth.

GINGRAS: -- became defendant in his own trial.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This was an old-fashioned shakedown.

GINGRAS: New York federal prosecutors say Avenatti tried to extort sports giant Nike for more than $20 million, threatening to publicly accuse the company of illegal recruiting tactics if it didn't pay up.

MICHAEL AVENATTI, STORMY DANIELS' ATTORNEY: I'm not (INAUDIBLE) around with this and I'm not continuing to play games. You guys know enough now to know you got a serious problem. And, it's worth more in exposure to me to just blow the lid on this thing.

GINGRAS: Recordings by the FBI served as key evidence in the nearly month-long trial.

AVENATTI: I will never stop fighting --

GINGRAS: The fight started long before his own legal woes, when Avenatti introduced the world to Daniels in 2018.

Daniels hired the California-based lawyer to help her get out of a non-disclosure agreement she signed in 2016, preventing her from talking about an affair she said she had with Trump a decade earlier. Trump denies it.

AVENATTI: I saw the case as Donald Trump and Michael Cohen rigging the 2016 election by covering up his relationship with Stormy Daniels. And, based on my legal and political experience, I recognize the campaign finance violations from the very first meeting that I had with Stormy Daniels.

If Michael Cohen is such a stand-up guy.

GINGRAS: And Avenatti spared no time flooding the airwaves.

AVENATTI: You know, this is a cover-up.

GINGRAS: Boasting his message.

AVENATTI: OK. This is a president that demands and values loyalty but provides none.

GINGRAS: More clients and headline-grabbing cases followed, involving then Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh, and singer, R. Kelly. For as fast as his celebrity skyrocketed, it fell even faster, with the arrest last year on the New York charges and also in Los Angeles.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Avenatti then used his clients' money.

GINGRAS: Federal prosecutors there accuse Avenatti of cheating his own clients out of their money, including a paraplegic man.

NICK HANNA, UNITED STATES ATTORNEY, CENTRAL DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA: A corrupt lawyer who instead fights for his own selfish interests.

AVENATTI: We're going to let the system play out.

GINGRAS: Similar allegations are being made in a separate New York case by the woman who helped make Avenatti a household name, Stormy Daniels, who since dropped him as her attorney. Avenatti's denied all charges against him.


GINGRAS: And jurors deliberated for five hours Wednesday they'll return to the room today. He's facing 42 years just on this case. He's also set to go to trial on the New York case involving Stormy Daniels this April. And then next month, another court date is set for the 36 charges in California. Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: Brynn, it is remarkable to be reminded of all of those twists and turns in this story. Thank you very much.

And thanks to our international viewers for watching. For you, "CNN NEWSROOM" is next. For our U.S. viewers, NEW DAY continues right now.