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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES

U.S. Officials: A.G. Barr Privately Ordered Re-Examination Of Michael Flynn's Case; Justice Department Drops McCabe Criminal Investigation; Billionaire Ex-New York City Mayor Blasted Over Record. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired February 14, 2020 - 21:00   ET

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


[21:00:00]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Good evening. Chris Cuomo is off tonight.

We have some heavy political hitters in the hour ahead, including former Presidential candidate and one-time front-runner here, to talk about the campaign with two pivotal contests coming up.

We begin, though, with a flurry of developments, most of them, pointing in a single ominous direction, one in which the President of the United States tightens his grip on federal law enforcement in ways never seen before, what former FBI Director - Deputy Director, Andrew McCabe, in our last hour, called an absolute abrogation of everything we know about the criminal justice system.

CNN's Shimon Prokupecz joins us now with details.

Shimon, I mean, the timing here, yesterday, you have Attorney General Barr asserting that no one, not even the President, tells him what to do. Today, he's doing exactly what the President wants.

SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE REPORTER: That's right. And just think about this, Anderson, we started this week by something else really interesting from the Department of Justice.

On Monday, the Attorney General, in a press conference, confirms that he is sending the material that Rudy Giuliani collected in Ukraine to prosecutors in Pittsburgh to take a look at that material.

And then, just from there, throughout this entire week, day after day, what we have seen, are really interesting, weird things coming out of the Department of Justice.

You have the Attorney General saying he was unhappy with the sentencing that Roger Stone was getting, and that sort of just set off a whole chain of events, mutiny really, inside the U.S. Attorney's Office here in Washington D.C. And then, of course, it's just continued from there.

And now, we have word, coming on the end of the week, another thing that, certainly, the President is probably very happy with. And it's another investigation of the investigation, and that has to do with Michael Flynn.

The Attorney General, privately, really, they have not made any kind of public announcements, really through sources that we're learning that the Attorney General wants prosecutors to take a look at the investigative steps that were undertaken in the Michael Flynn investigation.

Certainly something that's going to make the President very happy because, as he has said publicly, he feels bad about Michael Flynn, and he feels that he's been treated unfairly.

COOPER: The one thing that - that hasn't gone the President's way is the DoJ dropping its criminal investigation of Andrew McCabe.

PROKUPECZ: Right. And that came very suddenly. You know, we were not expecting that today.

For months, we have been trying to find out what's going on with that investigation. I mean, Andrew McCabe's own attorneys were trying to get answers from the Department of Justice, and they were not getting those answers.

And of course, the President has attacked Andrew McCabe, saying that he's been part of this witch-hunt that the FBI undertook in investigating him. So that, certainly, is something that he is not happy with.

The timing of that is also very interesting because that's also coming out of the same U.S. Attorney's Office here in Washington D.C. that a lot of people inside that Office are very unhappy with how the Department of Justice has been conducting some of the - interfering in some of these investigations, Anderson.

COOPER: Shimon Prokupecz, appreciate it, thanks.

Joining us now, CNN Senior Political Analyst, David Gergen, CNN Legal Analyst, Carrie Cordero, and Axe Files Host, David Axelrod, he's a former top Adviser to President Obama, currently is CNN's Senior Political Commentator.

David Axelrod, I mean, the way Attorney General Barr is sort of writ large handling these cases, in which the President has such a personal interest, do you see it as the Attorney General running interference for the President?

DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, it sure looks that way.

And it feels as if what happened yesterday was kind of a head-faint as he proceeded along a road to try and undo some of the - some of the work that had been done before him, relative to Flynn and Stone and others. And - and, you know, the President's been pretty open about it.

You know, I did a podcast the other day with Adam Schiff. And Adam Schiff said the thing about this is that's so chilling is that it's all done out in the open like this. The President's very blatant with his tweets and his comments, and it - and it normalizes that.

Because - and I'll leave it to Carrie, who is more qualified to speak about this than me. I mean, there is no law that prevents a President from directing the Justice Department to do things.

There are norms that have been in place for generations, since Watergate, that have prevented Presidents from doing such things. And he has - he's blown them up.

[21:05:00]

COOPER: Carrie, I mean, the President has said, you know, that he has the right. He tweeted about this, the legal right to get involved in criminal cases, he's just chosen not to.

CARRIE CORDERO, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Right. So, I think very early on in his presidency, he obviously was advised about the scope of Executive power, and was presented with a very broad view of Executive power. So, there is certainly an argument.

The Justice Department is part of the Executive branch. He is the Head of the Executive branch. So, there is an argument that he can have influence over investigations.

But David is exactly right. It breaks through every norm and established protocol across administrations of different political parties.

And I can't stress that enough that it has been the tradition of the Department and the interactions with the White House, over many, many years that the White House and the President stays out of criminal investigations.

And so, it's one thing for a President to be briefed, for example, about national security investigations or to be briefed on a major development, but for the President to constantly be putting pressure on the Department.

And - and David's point about the President doing it out in the open is so significant because it doesn't really matter, at this point, whether the President gives the Attorney General an order to do something.

The President puts it out there, every day, that he wants the Department of Justice and criminal prosecution to be used for political purposes.

COOPER: Yes, I mean, David Gergen, the Attorney General Barr, you know, made a point in that interview, with ABC yesterday, of saying "Well the President's never called me and, you know, never told me to - to something specific about a criminal case."

To Carrie's point, he doesn't have to call anybody. He's just he's sending it out.

DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: That's right. COOPER: Everybody knows. You could ask a kid in kindergarten--

GERGEN: Yes, he--

COOPER: --what the President thinks about Roger Stone and he could tell you if he, you know, watches the news.

GERGEN: Absolutely right. It may turn out - I think we have to give A.G. Barr a little time here and to see if he's honest. I don't think - I'm very skeptical that he wants to be truly independent.

But it's very clear that the President of the United States believes that he has the right, and he will exercise it, to take a sword to his enemies through the Department of Justice, and - and build a shield for himself and for his friend through the Department of Justice. That's what we call weaponizing the Department.

The same thing we saw in Ukraine. He - he weaponized our diplomacy. And now, he's doing it for law-and-order purposes.

And, to go back to this, I remember well after Watergate, where the whole effort was to clean up the Department of Justices to end - to create the most independent agency within the Executive branch. And that has been done by every administration since then.

They have had a code within the - within the Department of Justice. You do not put your finger on the scales of justice, particularly if you're the President of the United States or someone in the White House.

COOPER: But - no - but--

AXELROD: And Anderson?

COOPER: Go ahead, David, yes, David, go ahead.

AXELROD: Yes, I was going to say, as a - as a member of the Obama Administration, we were instructed, explicitly, you do not have discussions with the Department of Justice. The - the White House Counsel will speak to the Department of Justice, will speak to the FBI Director, unless you're directed to by them.

There was real, really scrupulous attention paid to that. So, this - this is so far out of the norm. And I think this was true in most administrations. Let me just make one point.

I think what the President's ultimate goal here is to muddy the waters about all of these convictions because I think we're headed for a pardon-palooza after the election. Whether he wins or loses, I think you are going to see--

GERGEN: Yes.

AXELROD: --a number of these people pardoned. And he wants to lay the predicate that there was something wrong with the - with the case in the first place. GERGEN: Yes. Yes, and he wants to--

CORDERO: With respect to and--

GERGEN: --lay the predicate that he won the election fair and square.

COOPER: Yes. Carrie?

CORDERO: With respect, though, to - to Bill Barr and the Attorney General, you know, it goes beyond, I think this issue, what we're seeing, goes beyond what David is describing, in terms of the rules about contacts between the White House and the Justice Department.

And there was actually a hiccup in the Bush Administration, and it was Attorney General Mukasey who tightened up those rules. And then, those rules stayed consistent throughout the Obama Administration, as well.

So, again, it goes across parties. But what we're seeing here is different because Bill Barr has a credibility problem. And it goes back to April 18th of 2019, when he misrepresented the findings of the Mueller report, and many statements that he has made since then.

And so, I think David Gergen is being generous to Bill Barr in his interpretation of his interview this week, because I think that Bill Barr was really struggling to try to present a impartial approach to the building itself, to the Justice Department workforce itself.

GERGEN: True.

[21:10:00]

CORDERO: And that was his audience for the interview. And all he was complaining about was the President's tweet. He's not - tweets - he's not indicating at all that he's going to change his conduct--

COOPER: Right.

CORDERO: --which is consolidating control within his Office for any investigation that is of interest to the White House or that touches these related matters, whether it's Flynn, whether it's Stone, or others.

COOPER: Yes. Carrie, we mentioned today that charges were dropped against former Deputy Director of the FBI, Andrew McCabe. He's been a favorite target of the President and obviously the Right-wing. He is now a CNN Contributor.

I spoke with him in the last hour and I just want to play some of what he said for our viewers.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Aside from being understandably angry about all of what you've been through, has it been in a way surreal?

I mean, in the past couple of minutes, while we've been on with me - while you've been on with me, on Fox, there is a banner - banner font calling you a liar. I mean, did you ever expect in any way to be dealing with anything like this?

ANDREW MCCABE, FORMER FBI DEPUTY DIRECTOR, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Anderson, I spent 21 years in the FBI as a part of an institution that prides itself on fidelity, bravery, and integrity.

And to be removed from that organization and, unfairly, branded a liar because that was the desired outcome by the President, has just been one of the most sickening and demeaning experiences of my life.

It's horrendous. And it is unfortunate that having listened to propaganda like Fox News, there's a - you know, there are many people in this country that will believe that forever.

I can't do anything about that, except continue to live and to speak out in the way I've tried to do over the last year, to stand up for what I believe in, and to tell the truth, however inconvenient for the President or anybody else.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Carrie, I wonder what you happened - what do you make of what happened to McCabe? I mean, have you seen anything like that?

CORDERO: Well, you know, I read the Inspector General report when it came out a long time ago. And I was underwhelmed by it. And so, I understand there was the criminal referral that came out of it.

But I don't think it should've taken this long for the Justice Department to come to a decision that there was obviously nothing prosecutable about Andy McCabe's conduct in that matter.

And, you know, what has happened to Andy McCabe really makes me sick. He - Andy McCabe is somebody who's spent his years in the FBI, one of his jobs as the Head of the Counterterrorism apparatus of the FBI, is probably the most bone-crushing job in government.

This is a guy who just spent years protecting this country. And the way that the President has treated him, and the way that the Justice Department dragged this out for him, really is a disgrace.

COOPER: Yes, David Gergen, I mean, so much has happened in only a week and a half since the President's acquittal. I mean, are there any checks or guardrails left on this presidency? I mean is this all just a preview of what's to come ahead, ahead of the election?

GERGEN: Yes, that's - that's a really good question. Let me just put a footnote to Carrie. The - the most vile, vindictive thing the Administration did was to fire McCabe on the eve of him retiring.

AXELROD: Right.

GERGEN: And cost him his entire savings with the government.

But be ordinary (ph) - we need to wrap up here, Anderson, for the night. But nonetheless, look, I think the big question is, is the President so emboldened that no one will stop him? Or what mechanisms do we have?

Certainly, the Democrats do not want to go down a new rabbit hole and conduct all sorts of hearings and, you know, have a semi-impeachment kind of deal. That just is not in everybody - anybody's interest.

How do we now have checks and balances, put checks and balances into place, so this President stays within the guardrails?

COOPER: Yes, well a question to be answered or let's hope some way.

GERGEN: Yes.

COOPER: David Gergen, thank you.

GERGEN: Yes.

COOPER: Carrie Cordero, David Axelrod.

GERGEN: Thank you.

COOPER: Again, quick reminder, Lead Impeachment Manager, Congressman Adam Schiff is David Axelrod's guest on the latest edition of The Axe Files podcast, so check that out.

Next, the campaign, the Bloomberg effect, and the controversy over one of his policies as New York Mayor, we'll talk about that and more with one of this top adviser, former Philadelphia Mayor, Michael Nutter.

Also tonight, can Joe Biden survive politically? We'll look ahead to South Carolina, Nevada, and beyond when we continue.

[21:15:00]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: One of the central figures in the Democratic presidential campaign won't even be formally competing in the next two big contests, the South Carolina primary and Nevada caucuses.

Yet, Michael Bloomberg, his polling bump, and massive campaign spending are looming large, in both places, and across the entire primary race.

That said there are certainly challenges, namely, the controversy over the policy he once endorsed, and enforced, as Mayor of New York, stop- and-frisk. Yesterday, he talked about it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MICHAEL BLOOMBERG (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: There is one aspect - approach that I delete - deeply regret, the abuse of a police practice called "Stop-and-frisk."

I defended it, looking back, for too long, because I didn't understand then, the unintended pain it was causing to young Black and Brown families and their kids. I should have acted sooner, and faster, to stop it. I didn't. And, for that, I apologized.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Joining us now, the former Mayor of Philadelphia, currently Bloomberg Campaign Co-Chair, Michael Nutter.

Mayor Nutter, you hear Mayor Bloomberg trying to diffuse some of the criticism over stop-and-frisk. It certainly has not been enough to satisfy his Democratic opponents, though he is polling comparatively well, nationally, with African-American voters.

Is there more he can or should do to - to address that because I mean, I think, back in 2018, he was still supporting stop-and-frisk.

MICHAEL NUTTER, CO-CHAIR, MICHAEL BLOOMBERG CAMPAIGN: Well, Anderson, as you well know in this work, first of all, you're in a campaign. So, opponents are going to seize on anything that they can. But I think, more importantly, yes, there are things that Mike can do.

He will continue to talk about this, as you played the clip. That was literally last night. There are conversations still to be had with folks who were affected, negatively, by the policy and practice in New York City.

[21:20:00]

And I know for a fact, talking with Mike, I mean, he has a much deeper understanding and a personal feeling about the fact that he supported a policy that was already in place, focused on reducing violence, focused on saving people's lives, mostly Black and Brown men, but that he caused pain, and that is painful to him.

And so, he'll continue to talk about this. But also, he's not running for Mayor of New York City. He's running for President of the United States of America. And so, in that regard, it's also about what can you do to try to alleviate some of that pain?

The Greenwood Initiative is certainly one, trying to help triple wealth for African-Americans, a 100,000 new businesses with employees, a million new Black homeowners, our proposals regarding infrastructure and putting people to work, working with banks to make sure that they're acting properly, criminal justice reforms, the proposals for the Latino community that were announced most recently.

So, there are things that you can do. But I think, mostly, what people want to know is do you get it? Do you understand the pain that was caused?

COOPER: Right.

NUTTER: As he said, no one's been able to change the past. But you can take future actions. And he's been doing those things--

COOPER: Right. But-- NUTTER: --since leaving Office--

COOPER: To the--

NUTTER: --six years ago anyway.

COOPER: To the notion of, you know, does he get it, I mean, if, in 2018, he is still backing stop-and-frisk, and now, he's suddenly, you know, a late entrant to the presidential campaign, and now he's apologizing for something that, a year ago, he was backing, I guess, the question is, you know, is that a - does he really get it? Or is it just he knows he's got to apologize because he's running in the Democratic Party?

NUTTER: Well, you know, that will always be left to individuals.

I believe that he does get it. And there are so many of us who have worked with Mike over a lot of years. I've known him for a dozen years. And I have a pretty good sense of what's not only in his head but what's in his heart.

And so, it's a rare occasion that an elected official, or a former elected official, upon reflection, stands up in public, and on more than a couple occasions now, admits that they were wrong.

COOPER: Well that's certainly true.

NUTTER: Identifies where they had a blind spot. You know, Anderson. You've been in this work a long time. You don't normally see that happen. And maintain that posture, but also again, looking toward the future, "What can I do to make things better?"

And the fact of the matter is, and many African-Americans are talking about this, no one is talking about doing more with and as a partner with the African-American community than Mike Bloomberg, and has the evidence from his Mayoral time to back it up.

He did a lot of things--

COOPER: How--

NUTTER: --to help African-Americans and people of color while he was Mayor of New York, notwithstanding the bad things that happened under this police policy.

COOPER: How concerned are you about, you know, obviously, look, TV and radio ads are one thing, and he's been spending a huge amount. And he - you know, it's been effective in - in poll numbers.

You know, he - if he is, indeed, on the debate stage in Nevada next week, it would be the first time he's been on a debate stage in quite a while, and certainly, at the presidential level, with candidates who have been through numerous debates already, and who have been out, you know, honing their message and been on the campaign for - trail for a while.

Everybody always says about running for President--

NUTTER: Right.

COOPER: --it's a, you know, it's a marathon, it's a gauntlet, and it makes you a better candidate.

NUTTER: Yes.

COOPER: And hopefully, a better President. He hasn't been through that. Are you confident in his abilities, you know, on an - in a national debate format and the scrutiny that that entails?

NUTTER: Well, first of all, I am quite confident about Mike Bloomberg.

But there is no question that, you know, the other candidates, they've been in the ring, if you will, maybe use a boxing analogy, they've been in the right for a long, long period of time. Each has taken their own shots and blow. And he will have to get used to that.

On the other hand, he has run for Office a few times. And he's a pretty tough guy from New York City. So, you know, I think folks will certainly try him and test him. You know, the long knives may certainly be out if he makes it to the debate stage.

But I think he is very, very sharp. He knows his business. And I think people may be surprised, if you come at him, don't be surprised that he comes back at you.

COOPER: Mayor Nutter, appreciate it. Thank you very much.

Straight ahead--

NUTTER: Thanks, Anderson.

COOPER: --as Joe Biden confidently tells supporters that he will win in South Carolina, we'll look at his chances. And we'll take you to Nevada, and a group of African-American voters to find out who they say they will back in the state's upcoming Caucus.

[21:25:00]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Joe Biden says he's confident his presidential campaign will pick up speed. The former Vice President told a group of his supporters at a Manhattan fundraiser that he will win in the upcoming South Carolina vote.

Before that takes place, however, he has to navigate Nevada, where our Gary Tuchman has been talking with African-American Evangelical voters to gauge their presidential preferences when the voting takes place in about a week.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

(FOUNTAIN OF HOPE AME CHURCH, LAS VEGAS, EVANGELICAL AFRICAN-AMERICAN MEMBERS SINGING)

GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is the Fountain of Hope AME Church in Las Vegas, an Evangelical, African- American church.

TUCHMAN (on camera): The eyes of the nation are now on Nevada. Right?

(FOUNTAIN OF HOPE AME CHURCH, LAS VEGAS, EVANGELICAL AFRICAN-AMERICAN MEMBERS SAYING YES)

TUCHMAN (voice-over): We asked church members attending an Evangelism Conference to talk to us about the upcoming Nevada caucuses, the first nominating contest in a diverse state.

TUCHMAN (on camera): How many of you are leaning towards Joe Biden? One, two, three, four, five, six, seven.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): Joe Biden is one of three candidates who did well among this group.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): But he wasn't number one.

TUCHMAN (on camera): How many of you are leaning towards Elizabeth Warren? One, two, three, four, five, six, seven.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): Elizabeth Warren tied with Biden. So, who is the candidate who gets the most support here?

TUCHMAN (on camera): How many of you are leaning towards Tom Steyer? One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight. What do you like about Tom Steyer?

JANET GLOYD, CHURCH EVANGELICAL LEADER: I like the fact that he's got fire in his belly.

[21:30:00]

TUCHMAN (voice-over): Tom Steyer and groups supporting him have spent around $14 million on TV ads in Nevada, compared to under a million for both Biden and Warren. And Steyer has spent considerable time on the campaign trail in the state.

REV. GREGORY MCLEOD, SENIOR PASTOR: He seems to be passionate about the people. And he seems to be real about what it is that he's setting out to do.

DAVID JONES, CHURCH MEMBER: Tom is direct and to the point. And I believe that he can do and - and claim what Donald Trump really is and that's a fraud and a failure.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): As for Joe Biden, his supporters tout genuineness.

LASHELLE LELEWIS, CHURCH MEMBER: I think that he honestly cares about helping not just a small group of people, but the majority of the people, not just African-American people, but all minorities and all people in general.

SANDRA MACK, CHURCH MEMBER: I will probably caucus for Joe Biden.

TUCHMAN (on camera): But based on Iowa and New Hampshire, are you worried that he might not be electable now?

MACK: I'm not worried because I don't think Iowa and New Hampshire are reflective of the country.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): And for Elizabeth Warren.

GAIL GHOLSON, CHURCH MEMBER: I like the way she handled Trump with the Pocahontas thing. She didn't let it get to her. And she has that dismissive way, like Nancy, of putting Trump in his place.

DEAN ISHMAN, CHURCH MEMBER: My heart says Elizabeth. And now, my mind kind of tells me Bloomberg.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): Michael Bloomberg got some interest here, even though he's not on the Nevada Caucus ballot.

DEMADELINE RICE, CHURCH MEMBER: I like Bloomberg because he has the money, he has the experience, and he knows what kind of person Trump really is.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): President Trump has a lot of support from Evangelical Christians. So, we thought he could have some support here.

TUCHMAN (on camera): How many of you are leaning towards Donald Trump for President?

TUCHMAN (voice-over): But that is not the case.

TUCHMAN (on camera): Is it important to you to get a candidate who you feel can beat Donald Trump?

(FOUNTAIN OF HOPE AME CHURCH, LAS VEGAS, EVANGELICAL AFRICAN-AMERICAN MEMBERS SAYING YES)

TUCHMAN (on camera): Is that more important than a candidate who shares your principles who you might think may not be?

(FOUNTAIN OF HOPE AME CHURCH, LAS VEGAS, EVANGELICAL AFRICAN-AMERICAN MEMBERS SAYING YES)

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: OK. Gary joins me now.

Gary, the people in your group, they indicate Tom Steyer, Elizabeth Warren, Joe Biden are their top candidates. What's your sense of where the other candidates stand? TUCHMAN: Well, Anderson, coming in fourth place was Bernie Sanders. Three people said they would caucus for him. And there was one woman who said she would caucus for Pete Buttigieg. Another woman who said she would caucus for Amy Klobuchar. And four of the people were undecided.

What's notable, Anderson, despite the fact that seven different names were mentioned by this group, there were no serious complaints about any of the Democratic candidates, only about the Republican candidate, President Trump.

And that's an important point. President Trump and the White House have both made points of saying they are making inroads with African- American voters. But among this group, right now, they're 0 for 31.

COOPER: Gary--

TUCHMAN: Anderson?

COOPER: Gary Tuchman, thanks. Thanks to the group for - for doing that.

Coming up, money to buy television ads certainly means a great deal when it comes to presidential politics.

I want to talk about it with Nevada voters with - about Nevada, whose voters make their choices a week from tomorrow, with former Democratic presidential candidate, and Vermont Governor, Howard Dean, right now, and Karen Finney, former Senior Spokeswoman for Hillary Clinton, and CNN Political Commentator.

Governor Dean, you heard Gary's piece. I'm wondering what you make of the support for Tom Steyer in Nevada. He's certainly put a lot of resources into Nevada, as well as South Carolina.

HOWARD DEAN, FORMER DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You know, the most interesting thing about that piece, for me, was African-American voters, in that piece, were indistinguishable from any other voters.

That's exactly what - almost every voter on the Democratic side is going through. I thought that was absolutely fascinating.

I mean, if you hadn't told me that was African-American voters that you could have done that with any group of Democrats, no matter what they looked like, I think that's where people are.

Sure, there's support for Steyer because he's spent a lot of money, and he certainly is a thoughtful guy, and he's spent a lot of money on television in those states. But I - I was struck by how similar African-American voters are to every other voter despite the best efforts of the press to pretend they're a whole different group.

COOPER: And, Karen, you know, I mean in race it's--

KAREN FINNEY, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes. COOPER: --there's not one but two billionaires. A lot of talk about buying an election, $14 million in ads on Steyer's behalf, at least in Nevada, and possibly in South Carolina, has done well for Steyer, absolutely Mike Bloomberg, as well.

What do you make of where things are in what you heard?

FINNEY: Well, you know, I thought that one of the most important things in that piece were the - was the woman who said that, you know, basically said, "Well, Iowa and New Hampshire don't reflect, you know, who we are and where we are."

DEAN: Yes.

FINNEY: And I think that's such an important dynamic, Anderson, because, you know, for voters, as we're trying to figure out where voters are, voters in Nevada and South Carolina, and - and future states, and - and it does matter, you know, to Black and Brown voters.

We do come with some different concerns and issues. And we're not going to be told what to do by mostly-White states.

And so, you know, the other thing with Tom Steyer, he certainly has the money to compete. But also, he - if you, you know, notice him at the last debate, I mean, he was the person who brought up African- Americans, and racial bias, and that matters.

[21:35:00]

I mean, you know, as - you know, we want to hear candidates speak to the issues that matter. So that, I think, is an interesting dynamic.

We know that both Mayor Pete and Amy Klobuchar are going to have to make their case to Black and Brown voters because their case, so far, has been very focused on, "Hey, I can get these people in the middle." Well, now, you got to make a different argument.

COOPER: Governor Dean, just in terms of how long this race may go on for, if it goes all the way to the Convention, you know, I hear a lot of Democrats concerned down the road, if it's Bernie Sanders and one other candidate, will Sanders' supporters, you know, if it's not Bernie Sanders, will they support whoever the nominee is?

Bernie Sanders says, absolutely, he will. I think there's a lot of concern about some of his supporters.

DEAN: The vast majority will. The vast majority of Bernie Sanders' supporters voted for Hillary Clinton in the last election.

There is a corps, a small corps of people who are - who it's Bernie or - or nobody. And, you know, the - we're not going to get them anyway and we never have gotten them.

But the vast majority of Bernie's voters, especially with Bernie's leadership, would support whoever the winner was, if it weren't Bernie. So I'm not really worried about that. There would be a lot of noise, a lot of stories in the media because

noise always gets stories. But I really think the stakes are so big in this country that very few people are going to be that selfish.

FINNEY: You know, Anderson, if I could also mention, Governor Dean won't mention it. He was the DNC Chair in the 2008 cycle. I was his Communications Director. And people were saying the same thing as that primary got--

DEAN: That's true.

FINNEY: --very heated, remember, between Hillary and Barack Obama where how is it ever - how are you guys ever going to be able to bring it back together? And, you know, with the DNC, we were getting attacked for everything. It all - it really does settle itself out because we really do come--

COOPER: Essentially.

FINNEY: --back together.

COOPER: And, Governor Dean, Senator Klobuchar seeking to capitalize on, you know, momentum coming out of the New Hampshire primary, what do you think the path ahead looks like for her?

DEAN: She's got to raise some money and she's got to do well in these primaries. Look, I think there's six or seven very legitimate candidates still left in the race. This has just barely begun.

And as the Congregation pointed out, in your piece, we have seen two fairly atypical states. The good thing about Nevada and South Carolina - I mean in - about Iowa and New Hampshire is they're small states, and you get to see the voters up close.

The not so good thing is they really aren't representative. So, they're early test for organization and money-raising, but they really aren't tests for how you do with the American - the Democratic side of the American public.

Our core base is under 35, female, and people of color. If those folks come out and vote, we win, no matter what Trump does. If those folks don't come out and vote, we lose no matter what we do.

So, it's very clear what we have to do here. And these - this is the next big test to see if you can mobilize our core base in these two really important states.

COOPER: Karen, do you agree with that?

FINNEY: I do, absolutely. And that was part of the reason and, you know, remember, it was the aftermath of 2004, where people said John Kerry wasn't tested enough, and that is exactly why we added Nevada and South Carolina, both because of ethnic diversity but also regional diversity.

The issues that people will talk to these candidates about in Nevada, different than South Carolina--

COOPER: Yes.

FINNEY: --different than New Hampshire. And that matters.

COOPER: Yes, Karen Finney--

DEAN: Let me just add one thing.

COOPER: Yes, go ahead.

DEAN: We have not talked about - we have not talked about Asian- Americans, which represent a--

FINNEY: Yes.

DEAN: --very large proportion of the - of the folks in Nevada. And that's now become a core group supporting Democrats because of Trump's anti-immigration stuff.

COOPER: Yes. Governor Dean, appreciate it, Karen Finney, as well.

FINNEY: Thanks.

COOPER: To be continued.

When we return, Pete Buttigieg sexual orientation and Rush Limbaugh's problem with it, we'll talk about what the new Presidential Medal of Freedom winner said, and the possible campaign impact of it.

[21:40:00]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Fresh off the heels of his Medal of Freedom honor from President Trump, conservative radio host, Rush Limbaugh, is now generating negative attention, after mocking the electability of Democratic candidate, Pete Buttigieg, because he's gay.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RUSH LIMBAUGH, CONSERVATIVE POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, RADIO HOST: They're sitting there and they're looking at Mayor Pete, 37-year-old gay guy, Mayor of South Bend, loves to kiss his husband on the debate stage.

There may be some Democrats who think that's exactly what we need to do Rush, get a gay guy kissing his husband on stage, you know, ram it down Trump's throat, and beat him in the - in the general election.

Really? Having fun envisioning that!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Perspective now from David Brody, who is Chief Political Analyst at CBN, they're Christian Broadcasting Network, and a Host of "The Pod's Honest Truth with David Brody." David, you said that - that Mayor Buttigieg is - is probably the most- electable Democrat. I know you're skeptical of Bernie Sanders. Why do you see Buttigieg as - as that?

DAVID BRODY, HOST, "THE POD'S HONEST TRUTH WITH DAVID BRODY": Well, there are quite a few reasons, Anderson.

First of all, let's start with this. So, I don't want to bury the lead, but he's not a socialist. And, you know, that's a big deal, especially in a general election, but as it relates to the Democrat voters.

Look, they're progressive and young, and they're for Bernie. But the last time I checked, a lot of folks, especially the older folks, are the ones that actually get out and vote. And Buttigieg does well with those folks.

COOPER: I mean there are obviously allies of the President who have already been mocking him on his sexuality.

Rush Limbaugh, you know, commenting yesterday about a "37-year-old gay guy kissing his husband on stage, next to Mr. Man, Donald Trump," those are Limbaugh's words.

Yes, I mean, is that indicative of a larger strategy among the President's supporters?

BRODY: Well, I don't know about a strategy.

I will just say that it could be a reality, and I put that in quotes, a reality that the Buttigieg campaign could face going forward in a general election. I don't think it hurts him at all in the Democratic primaries at all.

But, look, I mean, there is a visual aspect to this. And we - we need to ask ourselves, as a country, is America ready for a gay President?

[21:45:00]

COOPER: It seems like, you know, a lot of Evangelical leaders who support Donald Trump, once used to kind of claim the moral high ground in terms of what they were looking for in a candidate, and were very critical of anybody who had what they believed were moral lapses.

That seems to now have - no longer be a criteria that concerns them. I mean, with Donald Trump, they are fine with an adulterer in the White House. They are fine with any manner of rudeness, you know, awful comments, poor choice of words, and - and sort of moral lapses.

BRODY: Well, no, I think you make a great point. And, as a matter of fact, I think at this point, Evangelical leaders and, writ large, Evangelicals really can't say anything, at this point, in terms of "I'm not going to vote for Buttigieg," for example, "Or support Buttigieg because he's gay."

I mean they can't - they just can't do that. That is not something they'll be able to do. What they can say is whether it'd be he's pro- choice and some of the other public policy positions, they can go there and not vote for him.

But on the - on the moral issue, I think you're right. I think that's going to be an issue for them for sure.

COOPER: It's - it's interesting, though, because it does seem like they are still willing to, you know, cast aspersions onto Buttigieg because he is gay, but, again, turn the other way with Donald Trump.

I mean, I believe in, you know, for those who quote Leviticus, I think, adultery, you know, rates pretty highly in Leviticus as a punish - something punishable by death.

BRODY: Well, of course, that is in the Bible. But then, we can go into a theology lesson and get into all of that, I guess, at another time. We'll bring in a theologian for that.

You know, I'll just simply say that ultimately, Evangelicals aren't going to be able to necessarily point to Pete Buttigieg and say, "Look, he's gay. Don't vote for him," I mean, because they can't say that, especially--

COOPER: I mean, people will though, I mean, they--

BRODY: --in this age of Donald Trump.

COOPER: There are plenty of people who have radio shows who will say that.

BRODY: Yes, no, for sure. No, I - I understand that. But, you know, ultimately, that's just not going to be a winning hand.

I will say this. Conservative White Evangelicals, 81 percent, as you know, went to Donald Trump in 2016. But Barack Obama won 26 percent of those White Conservative Evangelicals in 2008.

Hillary Clinton did not. She won 16 percent. Why did she do that? She didn't engage at all with the community. Buttigieg has an opportunity to do that, to win, potentially, younger Evangelicals, and also some of those Never-Trumper Evangelicals.

And remember, Anderson, you win elections at the margins. As you know, Florida, North Carolina--

COOPER: Yes.

BRODY: --could make a difference.

COOPER: It also seems that, I mean, Buttigieg is able to speak about his faith very comfortably.

It will be interesting to see if that has any impact on Evangelical voters. Again, I mean, they are supporting a President who has never asked for a forgiveness because he believes he's never done anything he needs to ask for forgiveness for. BRODY: Well, Pete Buttigieg, for sure, speaks with conviction and fervor when it comes to his faith.

And that's exactly what Barack Obama did in 2008 and look how well it worked for him. And Hillary Clinton didn't do it in 2016. And she had a faith story to tell. But she didn't do it.

And so, Buttigieg is there. And there are some folks for the taking there, once again, at the margins, though, Anderson, you bet (ph).

COOPER: David Brody, always good to talk to you. Thank you, David.

BRODY: Thanks, Anderson.

COOPER: Coming up next, more on the questions, what lessons Pete Buttigieg can learn from a past Presidential candidate who broke down barriers to win the White House.

We have a major player from the Obama team with valuable perspective on this year's race next, next.

[21:50:00]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: The 2020 race is well underway, about to encounter much more diverse electorates in Nevada and South Carolina.

Earlier, I sat down with someone who knows a lot about the challenges candidates are facing, Valerie Jarrett, the former Senior Adviser to President Obama.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: What do you make of the state of the Democratic race today?

VALERIE JARRETT, AUTHOR, "FINDING MY VOICE": Exciting, don't you think?

COOPER: Yes.

JARRETT: And we're finally having some of the early elections after a year of a campaign. And so, I think it's--

COOPER: Is it exciting? Or, I mean, I've talked to a lot Democrats who are, you know, find it nerve-racking.

JARRETT: Oh, it's that too. I mean, it's exciting, it's nerve-racking. We have no idea what's going to happen.

It would be a lot more fun if we knew it was going to end well. But I feel pretty good about the caliber of folks who are in the Democratic primary, and I'm excited about getting into the general election.

COOPER: When - I mean you've been through - through this with President Obama. What do you think of having Iowa and New Hampshire come first? I mean--

JARRETT: I think it's a bad idea.

COOPER: Yes?

JARRETT: And I think, for a number of reasons, two I'll give you.

First of all, I don't think that either Iowa or New Hampshire reflect the rich diversity of the Democratic Party.

COOPER: Right.

JARRETT: And I think we should start with a state that does. I think symbolically that's really important. I also don't think anyone should have a monopoly on going first. Why don't we rotate it around and mix it up a bit?

COOPER: Would you see - Terry McAuliffe suggested even - I think it was Terry McAuliffe suggesting, you know, a number of states going on the - all at once in the first - first day.

JARRETT: Well one reason why I might lean against that is because it's really expensive to compete in a bunch of states. And so, candidates who don't have a lot of resources might have a harder time doing that. And after that--

COOPER: Right. That's one of the benefits people say, who have campaigned in Iowa and New Hampshire is, you know, even if you don't have a lot of money, if you spend a lot of time there, you can--

JARRETT: Yes. And I will--

COOPER: --surprise people.

JARRETT: --and I will say this, particularly about Iowa.

It's a state where the electorate is very engaged, and they're interested, they do their homework. They want to lift up your hood and kick your tires, and that is unique. But maybe that's only because it's been first for so long. And so, I would mix it up.

COOPER: What do people not understand about campaigns about - about being--

JARRETT: Just the--

COOPER: --in the midst of one.

JARRETT: Just the sheer exhaustion.

COOPER: OK.

JARRETT: And your ability to have to replenish yourself every single day. You are on 24/7. Every single word that comes out of your mouth or your surrogate's mouth can come back to haunt you. And so, you're on a high wire act the entire time. But I think that's as it should be because I think it's really--

COOPER: It makes you a better candidate.

JARRETT: It makes you a better President.

Because let's face it, no matter how hard a campaign is, and it is hard, it is nothing compared to that first day you walk in the Oval Office, and you're making decisions that are truly life or death, whether or not to send our young men and women into harm's way.

[21:55:00]

And so, giving the American people time to get to know you, to lift up your hood, and kick your tires, to see how you react when things go your way, and more importantly, when they don't, I think is really important that test of a long grueling campaign makes you a better President.

And it gives the American people time to - to decide do they really want to get behind you, not just to vote for you, but to support you once you're in Office.

COOPER: It's also interesting to me, candidates who have done it before, or had been in the public eye before, but something about, you know, them, either this time is different, or just something about their organization.

I mean, you look at Vice President Biden who has certainly run for President before, who certainly knows what's it like to be in the - in the public eye, and on that kind of a schedule.

And yet, he's not performed certainly as much as well as he would like, or his supporters would like.

JARRETT: It's hard. And I - and I guess that's the answer to your question. It is really, really hard. It's a grueling pace. The news media and social media today is very different than it was even when President Obama ran in 2008.

COOPER: Right. Yes, I mean, that whole talk about 24-hour news cycle, that - that's antiquated.

JARRETT: Totally antiquated.

COOPER: Yes, yes.

JARRETT: Compared to the split-second news cycle.

COOPER: Right, yes.

JARRETT: So, I think there is a lot that you have to - to get your sea legs on in this new environment. And we're in - this is the first real election where technology played as important of a role, well perhaps in 2016, but certainly now much more so than 10 years ago.

COOPER: Yes. Valerie Jarrett, thank you so much. JARRETT: Thank you.

COOPER: Appreciate it.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Make sure to catch the Season Two premiere of "Race for the White House," a CNN Original Series, Sunday at 9:00 P.M. Eastern. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)