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Trump's Attitude after Impeachment; CDC Prepares for Outbreak; Bloomberg Apologizes for Stop and Frisk; Fleeing Violence near Syria- Turkey Border. Aired 9:30-10a

Aired February 14, 2020 - 09:30   ET

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


[09:30:00]

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: Yesterday, Doug Heye, that shows how much power the president thinks he has. And this is interactions with the New York Governor Andrew Cuomo. They have a dispute going on there about access to Global Entry. But here's -- look at this, the president's saying. He must understand that national security far exceeds politics. New York must stop all his unnecessary lawsuits and harassments and start cleaning itself up, et cetera.

All lawsuits and harassment. Of course it is a -- it is a New York -- New York attorneys who are prosecuting the president on a number of fronts. There is a president telling the governor, stop investigating me and maybe we can deal?

DOUG HEYE, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, normally I'm all in favor of any politician making "Godfather" references, but probably this is not the venue for the president to do so.

But, again, this is how unencumbered and liberated he is post impeachment.

JACKIE KUCINICH, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Exactly.

HEYE: We're now in an election year where Trump's numbers are the highest they've ever been in his presidency, which you wouldn't think following impeachment. And given that impeachment wasn't broadly popular, to put it mildly, throughout the country, Democrats really can't threaten to do this again. It's going to have to be sorted out by the voters. So they're -- Donald Trump, of course, is going to do this and continue to.

KUCINICH: Yes, the voters ultimately --

SCIUTTO: But it's not just about the voters. I mean, here's the thing, it's because we have systems, do we not, that depend on more than the -- than the results of election? I mean is the rule of law dependent on what happens in November? I mean is that -- because that -- that's what you hear constantly on all these questions.

KUCINICH: There haven't been any electoral repercussions for -- or any repercussions for this president. And -- which is why he has so much power, because, in the Senate, and in -- in the -- I mean the House --

SCIUTTO: Yes.

KUCINICH: But the Congress is not impose any guardrails on him. And so, to Doug's point, that's why it's up to the voters ultimately if they think that this is OK, be it, you know, the president or the elected officials that are not placing any boundaries on him.

SCIUTTO: Right.

Doug, you're plugged in to -- and, again, we're nine months away from folks going to the -- going to the polls. You talk to candidates. You talk to the party. Are Republicans feeling emboldened in races that this is going to have a positive impact for them? Is it mixed? What do Republicans feel the picture is going into November?

HEYE: Yes, it's really two pictures right now. One on the presidential level, they feel very, very confident. I would say, though, over the past three years, the number of times I've talked to, you know, folks with the Trump campaign or super PACs where they say we just won the election last night and it's, you know --

SCIUTTO: Yes.

HEYE: June of 2017, it's a little early to say that. But with the economy where it is, the president's campaign rightly feels that they're in a strong position, especially as the Democrats are really trying to struggle to figure out who they are right now. How that's going to affect down ballot races, I don't think we really know yet.

SCIUTTO: We'll be watching.

KUCINICH: Yes, I think that's one thing with this administration, you never know what's coming around the corner.

SCIUTTO: Yes.

HEYE: And I would say, when I was at the RNC in 2010, we picked up 63 seats, we won the House. We were not predicting -- we didn't think we would do that in February. We really didn't know that until after Labor Bay.

SCIUTTO: Yes. OK. It's early. We'll settle on that.

Doug Heye, Jackie Kucinich, thank to both of you.

Health officials here in the U.S. are preparing now for a worst case scenario when it comes to coronavirus. A warning from the CDC coming up next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[09:37:27]

SCIUTTO: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is preparing for a potential widespread outbreak of the coronavirus right here in the U.S. The director of the CDC telling CNN that the coronavirus will likely be around throughout this year. The warning comes as the agency confirms a 15th case of the illness so far here in the U.S.

CNN's chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, joins me now.

Dr. Gupta, we've been talking about this for some time. Where is this virus trending now? Is it the deadlier, perhaps less transmissible direction, like a SARS, or more an H1N1 direction, and, therefore, how serious?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, well, I -- you know, I think it definitely seems to be trending towards a more transmissible, less lethal sort of scenario. But it's still a very novel virus.

Jim, it was a fascinating interview sitting down and talking to Dr. Robert Redfield about what's going on. And we're seeing some very aggressive containment policies. Some things that we haven't seen in 50 years in this country. Really wanted to get an idea of the thinking behind this, the strategy. Here's what he had to say.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DR. ROBERT REDFIELD, DIRECTOR, U.S. CENTERS FOR DISEASE CONTROL AND PREVENTION: You know, this is going to, you know, obviously be a significant investment.

GUPTA (voice over): On the same day the CDC confirmed the 15th U.S. coronavirus case, I went inside the agency's emergency operation center with Director Dr. Robert Redfield.

GUPTA (on camera): How good is the public health infrastructure at reporting in?

GUPTA (voice over): To give you an idea of how rapidly the situation is changing.

GUPTA (on camera): By the way, the numbers changed, I can tell you that.

REDFIELD: Fifteen.

GUPTA: It's actually 15 there.

GUPTA (voice over): It's a lot to keep up with.

GUPTA (on camera): What is the worst case scenario here in the United States?

REDFIELD: So far we've been able to contain it. But I think this virus is probably with us beyond this season or beyond this year. And I think eventually the virus will find a foothold and we will get community-based transmission. And you can start to think of it in a sense like seasonal flu. And the only difference is we don't understand this virus.

GUPTA (voice over): Which is exactly why the CDC wants to be on the ground in China. It's probably Redfield's biggest frustration.

REDFIELD: Right now there's no evidence to me that this outbreak is at all under control. It's definitely not controlled. And the sooner we can help them get it under control, the better for the whole world.

GUPTA (on camera): So I guess that does raise the questions, why are we sitting here in Atlanta talking about this versus the CDC being in China collecting some of this data?

REDFIELD: I don't think it's a medical decision that we're not being invited in.

GUPTA: What do you think it is?

REDFIELD: Well, I think it's above the medical --

GUPTA: You think it's a political decision?

REDFIELD: I think it's above the medical. I don't think the director of the CDC is making that decision.

[09:40:01]

GUPTA: You think it's a political decision?

REDFIELD: Well I think it's -- all I can say is, I think it's above the director of CDC, because I know he would love to have us assist them.

GUPTA (voice over): China has accepted help from the World Health Organization. The CDC is waiting to hear whether it's going to be a part of that team.

In the meantime, Redfield says his priority is to keep Americans safe.

REDFIELD: Our whole issue right now is, as I said, aggressive containment to try to give us more time. But it's going to take, you know, one to two years to get that probably developed and out, to prepare to -- the health systems to be able to be flexible enough to deal with the potential second major cause of respiratory illness.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

GUPTA: Jim, I think one of the big points the director was making there was, look, this is a tiny virus. It doesn't respect boundaries or geography or borders. It's going to get into these other countries. So these containment policies are really to buy time, to buy time to figure out good strategies to deal with this, possibly develop some therapeutics in the form of antivirals and then, obviously, the thing that everyone keeps asking about, the possibility of a vaccine. But that takes months, maybe a year, Jim, to get a vaccine.

SCIUTTO: Yes.

GUPTA: So that time matters.

SCIUTTO: Understood. Well, it's good to see folks out ahead of it, no question.

Dr. Sanjay Gupta, thanks very much.

GUPTA: You got it. Thank you.

SCIUTTO: Well, he's not one of the two frontrunners in the race for the Democratic nomination, but President Trump is sure acting like he is. Up next, a senior adviser from the Bloomberg campaign on the escalating feud between Bloomberg and Trump.

Plus, the world has watched their every move. Now CNN presents the story of the world's most famous royal family. "The Windsors: Inside the Royal Dynasty" premieres this Sunday night at 10:00 Eastern only on CNN.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[09:46:11]

SCIUTTO: For the first time on the campaign trail, Michael Bloomberg is apologizing for the New York Police Department's stop and frisk policy, something he'd repeatedly defended in the past.

Have a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MICHAEL BLOOMBERG (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: There is one aspect, approach that I deeply regret, the abusive 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)

SCIUTTO: Joining us now is Tim O'Brien, a senior adviser to Michael Bloomberg's presidential campaign.

Mr. O'Brien, thanks so much for taking the time this morning.

TIM O'BRIEN, SENIOR ADVISER, MICHAEL BLOOMBERG PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN: Hi, Jim.

SCIUTTO: I want to ask you, what do you say to people who say, Mike Bloomberg is only apologizing now for stop and frisk, a policy he's defended in the past. You're aware of the audio that came out from a 2015 speech.

O'BRIEN: Yes.

SCIUTTO: Why now, just because he's running for president?

O'BRIEN: Well, Jim, he didn't just begin apologizing now. Last night wasn't the first time he's apologized for this. But I think the timing of the apology isn't the most important thing. SCIUTTO: Only in recent weeks, though, to be fair. He did go to a

church, but that's since his candidacy became an issue.

O'BRIEN: Well, look, I mean Mike -- Mike will always have to apologize for this. It was a mistake. He held onto it for too long. He defended it for too long. And it was deeply damaging and painful to people of color in New York. And I think Mike will have to spend the rest of his career, his public career, proving to people that stop and frisk does not represent who he is as a person or a politician.

Having said that, stop and frisk hardly represents the totality of his time as mayor. You know, he lowered the incarceration rate when he was mayor of New York. He diversified the NYPD. He started a model program for integrating young people of color into job networks that Barack Obama modeled My Brother's Keeper on. This is a much more complex, compassionate and thoughtful man than that one policy would suggest.

SCIUTTO: OK.

O'BRIEN: I also think it's -- I also think it's interesting, Jim, that, you know, there is other policy out there that's been very, very brutal for the black community that white politicians of all stripes have embraced, like the 1994 Crime Bill --

SCIUTTO: Right.

O'BRIEN: That hasn't gotten the kind of attention this has. And we welcome the attention because we think it opens the door to an important conversation about racial justice and the criminal justice system.

SCIUTTO: OK.

O'BRIEN: And we'll continue talking about it and we'll continue apologizing for it.

SCIUTTO: Question for you, why has Michael Bloomberg not sat down for more interviews, face-to-face with reporters, to answer hard questions on this?

O'BRIEN: Mike has been campaigning in 24 states. He has sat down with lots of reporters to talk about this. And it comes up every time everyone else on the campaign does interviews, as it should. I think it's a core question that needs to be addressed. But it's not anything we're dodging, if that's what you're suggesting.

SCIUTTO: OK. Well, listen, he's always welcome on this network and on this broadcast.

I want to ask about the money here because Michael Bloomberg has been spending money, but multiples of what other candidates, except, of course, Tom Steyer, $350 million so far. That's nearly ten times what Bernie Sanders, who, of course, is not using, does not have a personal fortune to back that up.

Is that good for the political process? What does it say to Democratic voters if part of the message here is that we're the party of the small man and woman, when you have a billionaire using resources that only a billionaire can use?

O'BRIEN: Well, Jim, you tell me, what's the right price to save democracy from Donald Trump right now?

[09:50:01]

You know, if you come up with that figure, then you let me know.

The reality right now is the DNC has about $8 million in the bank. Donald Trump and the RNC have $180 million and we expect about $900 million more in dark money is going to flow into this campaign. Had Mike Bloomberg not entered this race, the Democrats would be severely back on their heels organizationally and financially.

As you know, Mike has vowed to put the entire machine we're building and this fortune that he's pouring into this campaign at the service of the party, or whoever the nominee is ultimately, even if it's not him.

The reality here is, you can buy exposure --

SCIUTTO: You're saying he will support -- he will support, including with his fortune, whoever the Democratic nominee is, even if it's not himself?

O'BRIEN: We've said that multiple times. And I think you can buy exposure, you can't buy an election. If you could buy an election, Tom Steyer wouldn't still be polling at 1 percent or 2 percent.

Mike Bloomberg is polling well because we're on the ground talking to people in different communities about the problems that need to be solved. He's on the ground himself. People see us in multiple forums. This is a very robust campaign that isn't only ad driven.

SCIUTTO: OK.

O'BRIEN: If it was only ad driven, he wouldn't be moving up in the polls.

SCIUTTO: Final question, if I can, because he is, of course, waiting to formally compete really until the Super Tuesday states. Help explain the math to us in terms of the delegates. And as part of the plan, in effect, a contested convention, to get to the convention with enough to be a contender, but unlikely to have the necessary number of delegates to be the nominee at that point?

O'BRIEN: No, the plan from the very beginning, Jim, was that this is a clearly splintered field, voters are fielding it. See -- they want a candidate that can beat Donald Trump in November. They want a pragmatic progressive who cares about everything that Bernie Sanders cares about, but he wants the math to add up. They want a candidate who can unify the disparate parts of the Democratic Party and bring this battle to Donald Trump's doorstep. That logic never changed. It's just become much more apparent to

voters after Iowa and the way the field is still splintered that Mike Bloomberg is someone who can unify the party. That's been the logic of it. We expect to get to the convention in very strong shape. It was never built on the idea that there would be a brokered convention.

SCIUTTO: Is the --

O'BRIEN: It was built on the idea that Mike's a great candidate.

SCIUTTO: As you're -- as you're aware, Mike -- Michael Bloomberg has attracted the attention of President Trump and you've seen that in the tweets, of course. Michael Bloomberg has swung back. Is that public feud good for the Democrats in this race?

O'BRIEN: We're not going to -- you know, we're not feuding with other Democrats. We have not had a bad word to say about any of our competitors in the Democratic field. Donald Trump, as you know, begins his workday at about 11:00 a.m. and during the three hours that he works, he appears to spend about two hours of it tweeting at Mike Bloomberg and thinking about Mike Bloomberg.

We are more than happy to go toe to toe and tweet for tweet with Donald Trump if he wants to turn the Oval Office into romper room. But we're also focused on the policy issues that voters care about.

SCIUTTO: Tim O'Brien, we appreciate having you on the broadcast. Just to reiterate, candidate Bloomberg welcome on this network at any time.

O'BRIEN: Thank you for that, Jim.

SCIUTTO: Another story we're following, and prepare yourself for this because it is gut-wrenching. Innocent people are running out of places to take shelter as the humanitarian crisis worsens along the Syria/Turkey border. A Syrian military helicopter was shot down within just the last few hours as Turkish troops continue to clash with Russian-backed Syrian forces in the region. The U.N. says some 800,000 civilians have fled Idlib and western Aleppo since December as a result of the violence.

Our senior international correspondent Arwa Damon, she's in the midst of it. She has been all day, from northwest Syria. The only western journalist in the region right now.

Arwa, the pictures, the images you're showing us from there, moving, heartbreaking. Tell us about the situation on the ground.

ARWA DAMON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: You know, Jim, a lot of the times people don't know where to go. The road that we're on actually leads up to one of the main camps here. But it's completely full. And even there people don't feel safe.

We just met this family. They arrived a few days ago. But they're thinking about moving again. And we've been talking to Suad (ph) here. It's her family. Just -- I'm going to translate for you what happens when I ask her how she's feeling because she's so emotional. (SPEAKING IN FOREIGN LANGUAGE)

They don't have any options. We can only thank God. We can only thank God to keep us patient.

She has actually been watching the traffic going by on this highway, because quite often it will get clogged with trucks piled high with people with their belongings. This is the family that has come out. This is her son.

(SPEAKING IN FOREIGN LANGUAGE)

[09:55:03]

Are they safe here?

He says, no, we're not safe here at all. Because there's been so much bombing in these areas. We would have stayed in our area, but we couldn't and then we ended up having to leave.

(SPEAKING IN FOREIGN LANGUAGE)

If we can leave from here, we would leave from here. The kids are freezing. Temperatures are unbearable.

You can now see some more trucks. The vehicles coming by. People packing their stuff up. Some of them say that they would rather be dead than end up having to be like this. That's a van filled, families crammed inside it.

Oftentimes when these bombings happen, Jim, entire villages empty out and then the men will go back and try to salvage whatever they can. But as this family has been standing here, watching this traffic going by all day, you begin to get a little bit of a sense of just how painful this is, Jim, on so many levels.

There is the fear of the bombing, the fear of the regime coming in and everyone is convinced if Bashar's army reaches them, they will be massacred.

SCIUTTO: Yes.

DAMON: There is the fear of children dying from the cold. That has been happening as well. There's no way for them to run away from it.

SCIUTTO: Listen, they're running for their lives.

Arwa Damon, it's good to have you there. Be safe. It's an important story.

We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)