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John Bolton Criticizes White House "Censorship" Ahead Of Book Release; Poll: Senator Bernie Sanders Opens Up Double-Digit Lead; Boys Scouts Files Bankruptcy After Sex Abuse Lawsuits; Soon: Jury Deliberations Begin In Harvey Weinstein Trial; Why Does Donald Trump Keep Pumping Up Senator Bernie Sanders? Aired 7.30-8a ET

Aired February 18, 2020 - 07:30   ET



VIVIAN SALAMA, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Tomorrow when he speaks at Vanderbilt University with Susan Rice President Obama's National Security Adviser. Alisyn it is going to be interesting?

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN HOST: Thank you very much for being Vivian for our eyes and ears in that room.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN HOST: Joining us now CNN Political Analyst David Gregory and Jonathan Swan National Political Reporter for Axios. Good to have you both this morning. You know Jonathan first he said let the court decide in the House Impeachment Inquiry then let the Senate decide.

And then no audio from the Duke Event there and in effect saying read my book, right, look at chapter 14 when it comes to Ukraine and other issues. I just wonder in terms of impact here, did Bolton miss his moment.

JONATHAN SWAN, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, AXIOS: Of course he did in terms of effecting the impeachment trial. I'm still very, very curious about this book. I actually think this book will be the most interesting book so far in the Trump Era, largely because I have read John Bolton's previous books, I obviously covered him during his time in the White House.

And what I know from people who attended meetings with him was he, unlike any of the other principals in the room, was sitting there with his yellow legal pad taking copious notes, just filling legal pad after legal pad with notes.

You know, you would have others in the room like Pompeo and Mnuchin and they wouldn't be taking notes, they would just be sitting there talking, et cetera. Bolton was copiously recorded who said what where when and if you've heard his previous account of his time in the George W. Bush Administration you will see it is sort of microscopic in detail in terms of its accounting of meetings, its settling of scores and it's writing of history, sure, on his terms.

But when you don't have anyone competing with those, you know, everyone else in there has loyalty to Trump or at least has to profess loyalty while they are still employed. Bolton knows he is not getting another job while Trump is in charge and in some ways is liberated from that.

CAMEROTA: David, just one last thought before we move to the Democratic side of the aisle in terms of Bolton. If as he fears the White House squashes this book, they can classify things retroactively to keep this book from coming out.


CAMEROTA: Then do you predict we will see Bolton go to a microphone and ever speak in a fulsome way about this?

GREGORY: Well, I think he's leaving all the indications that he wants to and that he wants to get this story out. I think he's being kind of cute about it and he's got this long trailer of interest, even though he's basically sat out all the official proceedings where the importance of what he's saying would have been relevant.

It could still have a political impact although I suspect this will be more of what we already know but it will go deeper. I'm with Jonathan, having covered Bolton what's striking about him is, yes, he is a hardliner in the conservative movement, but he's always been a fixture in that movement, in the foreign policy establishment of the Republican Party.

That's not who he's dealing with in the Trump White House. And that's why he was so at odds and why he's so critical of the President on everything from North Korea to other aspects of his foreign policy.

So I still think this is going to have impact, but I think the way he's gone about this by leaving these morsels is such an invitation for the White House to try to script the book as much as they can.

SCIUTTO: Yes, I mean if John Bolton is your moderating influence it just shows how far that the Trump Administration on so many issues has gone. Okay let's talk politics as we have not one but two polls out today indicative of the state of at least the race nationally but also in the state of Virginia.

Let's look first at the PBS poll, the news from here of course Bloomberg moving into number two, he now qualifies for the debate, big jump in a short period of time with all that money spent, but listen to this Virginia poll as well, Monmouth poll, Bloomberg and Sanders at the top of that poll as well.

Jonathan Swan, that's what stands out at me, that the two men at the top, Bloomberg and Sanders now, are they the two front runners in this race?

SWAN: It sure looks like it and it's astonishing. I mean, look, Bloomberg has always been a laboratory test of money and politics. He came in incredibly late, had to miss the first four contests but this is just pure advertising play and that's why what we're hearing from rival camps is actually they're excited that he is on the debate stage.

It's the first chance they get to rough him up in a live setting, which is not set on Bloomberg's terms. He has been controlling so carefully controlling the way in which he has mediated to the public and this debate now provides them an opportunity to basically try and turn it into a giant dump on Mike Bloomberg.

CAMEROTA: I mean it's not just that they get to go after him, David it's that it gets real now for Bloomberg now he is in a debate. He hasn't been in a debate, he hasn't been in a CNN Town Hall where he has to answer real voters' questions, he hasn't done TV interviews for the most part.


CAMEROTA: So now this is the moment in the sand where it begins - he begins to get tested.


GREGORY: Well, and everybody is going to be targeting him, right? I mean, the moderators his fellow candidates because they have a lot to lose here. You have got Elizabeth Warren, you have got Joe Biden, they're hanging on, they're looking for a way forward. Buttigieg and Klobuchar have got some momentum they want to get back into that top tier.

And of course this is perfect for Sanders who is running against the billionaires in politics and asserting the progressive left and the party. So everything comes together. I think it has the potential to be vicious on the debate stage and, yes, you know, these debates matter because ask Amy Klobuchar.

There is the potential for real moments. How do you handle the stress of being tested by fellow candidates by tough questions by moderators, what kind of poise do you show? All of that is on the line right here.

And what Bloomberg as a Republican has shown is that having a strategy for multiple states at once, which is why Virginia is important and that he's in a tie, but he obviously wants some situation from Sanders.

He's come a long way in coming up in the polls without having competed thus far and so he's got a lot to be happy about. But I think it's overdue for him to now be on a debate stage and get into it.

SCIUTTO: Yes live television, way different from a packaged paid for television commercial in terms of communicating with voters. Here is the other number that I just can't get my head around but it's the amount of spending by Democratic candidates so far.

And just Mike Bloomberg in his own galaxy on this, he has now spent some $420 million almost there, nearly half a billion dollars, ten times as much as the next non-billionaire candidate in Bernie Sanders and they're running neck and neck. Jonathan, how much does that figure and, listen, we have to expect he's going to be willing to spend a heck of a lot more, but he has $60 billion in the bank. How defining is this kind of spending going to be in the Democratic race?

SWAN: Well, it has two effects, one is you know, obviously saturating voters in these states who every time they click their mouse, even when they search for other candidates up pops a Bloomberg ad on Google, on TV, but also the scale of Bloomberg has become a media narrative in and of itself.

And that's part of their strategy. Just by making it too big to ignore they have developed organic media coverage as well. I will just tell you just an observation where I traveled with Mike Bloomberg a couple weeks ago, actually on the day of the Iowa Caucuses through California, and one thing I was very surprised by at his events when I talked to voters.

These were people who hadn't made up their mind, were frustrated with the field, but I asked them how do you feel about a billionaire, multi, multibillionaire being the party standard bearer and what I heard more often than not was great. We need a guy who is really, really rich to beat Trump.

And these were, you know, hard core Democrat voters and I was kind of a little bit surprised by that. It was seen from the voters that I talked to it was seen as a positive more than a negative.

GREGORY: Well, I know.

CAMEROTA: That's really interesting. I'm not surprised. Go ahead, David.

GREGORY: There was a lot of this purity testing that's going on. We're a long way from 2008 when Barack Obama raised so many eyebrows and got a lot of criticism for bowing out of public financing for his campaign because he wanted to compete for Republicans.

I mean, look we are in a different era now. Yes, there are going to be Bernie Sanders supporters, Elizabeth Warren supporters who find this ghastly that Mike Bloomberg is undermining the Democratic Party by spending all of this money and then there's going to be a lot more Democrats who say, really, get over it.

I mean, you want to beat Trump? You know, you do what you have to do. So the argument over money and politics and its corruptive influence and all of that, that's going to be center stage on that debate stage but I think a lot of Democrats are going to be like, look, get over t if you want to beat Trump if that's the top priority I think that's going to go to the side.

SCIUTTO: And we should note it's his own, it's not coming from shadow groups.

CAMEROTA: He made it, he is a self-made man. But also I mean a lot of voters liked that in Donald Trump, that he was a successful businessman. That's a winning argument sometimes.

SCIUTTO: Trump promised to self-finance until he didn't and we haven't heard about that for a while. Thanks to both of you Jonathan and David.

CAMEROTA: Thanks to both.

SCIUTTO: The boy scouts of America filing for bankruptcy protection overnight this in the wake of hundreds of sex abuse lawsuits. So what does this mean for the victims and also for the scouts?



SCIUTTO: Developing overnight the boy scouts of America now filed for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Protection as the organization deals with a surge of sexual abuse lawsuits. CNN's Martin Savidge joins us now with more. I mean, this follows on really hundreds of claims, right, from former scouts, alleging sexual abuse.

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Right, Jim. Yes, this bankruptcy filing was not a surprise, it's been talked about for over a year but it does mark another very sad chapter in this whole development here. And it comes as you point out with the accelerating number of lawsuits that have been brought alleging sexual abuse by the organization, those lawsuits now number in the hundreds, they actually represent thousands of potential or alleged victims here.

And some lawyers have suggested that the boy scouts overall in the end will have to pay out billions of dollars in compensation. So the bankruptcy filing will now bring a hold or a suspend all of the civil actions for the time being.

Some lawyers that represent these victims say that is a tragedy because they say their victims will never get their day in open court to express the horrors that they say were committed against them by this organization. Instead they will go through the very cold kind of mechanical function of filing with bankruptcy court.

And there is another factor here, that is that there is going to be a deadline now for any future cases to come forward and that is the reason that there was an open letter put out by the Head of the Boy Scouts in which he was encouraging people if they feel that they were abused to speak out and come forward now, saying, "I encourage you and all the victims to come forward and file claims so you can receive compensation from this trust".


SAVIDGE: We will provide clear notice about how to do so? And then he goes on, I want you to know that we believe you, we believe you, we believe in compensating you and we have programs in place to pay for counseling for you and for your family.

You know, this was an organization that for millions of Americans at one time came to embody the qualities of American values, that was loyalty, honesty, trustworthiness. There was a time where if you were described as a boy scout it was a compliment, it meant to say that you were a stand-up person, that you would always do the right thing, but now unfortunately, Alisyn, in light of everything that has come to light, it seems so far in the past. Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: Martin, such a great point. Thank you very much for the reporting. So a jury will begin deliberating this morning in the Harvey Weinstein trial, the disgraced Hollywood Mogul is fighting rape and sexual assault charges. If convicted he faces life in prison. CNN's Jean Casarez is live outside the courthouse are more? What do we expect Jean?

JEAN CASAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Alisyn. Well, in a just about two hours the judge is going to give final instructions. He will charge the jury, meaning he will tell them the law, that they must apply in this case, and this is an extremely complex legal case, it truly is, but once they get that they will go into the jury room and they will begin their deliberations.

Defendant and disgraced Hollywood Mogul Harvey Weinstein has sat virtually in silence for four weeks as jury selection, followed by 28 prosecution witnesses and seven witnesses for the defense testified before a diverse jury of seven men and five women.

The looming issue in this trial is did Weinstein commit rape and sexual assault or were the encounter consensual? But at the heart of the prosecution's case are six female accusers of the former Hollywood giant who took the stand one by one to point the finger at Weinstein.

Prosecutors are using testimony from three accusers to try to show Weinstein's pattern of conduct. They hoped testimony by Actress Annabella Sciorra will help them gain a conviction of predatory sexual assault.

But Weinstein's indictment stems from the allegations of just two women, Miriam Haley and Jessica Mann, the statute of limitations has already run out on the other women's allegations. Haley testified while Harvey was mentoring her during her work as a production assistant on one of his shows she was asked to go to his New York City apartment in summer of 2006.

After arriving she testified Weinstein lunged, trying to kiss her. I walked backward because he was pushing me with his body until I got to the bed and I fell backward on to the bed and I tried to get up and he pushed me down.

Next she described a vicious sexual assault. I just checked out and decided to endure it, that it was the safest thing to do at that point. The defense argued that Haley willingly maintained contact with Weinstein, including accepting the gift of a free trip to Los Angeles and Haley testified she did have sex with the movie mogul about two weeks after the alleged assault.

You are not claiming Mr. Weinstein forced you to have sex at the Tribeca Grand, are you? No. Haley, however, testified for the prosecution that her sexual relationship with Weinstein was not consensual. Jessica Mann has a similar story telling the court she had a relationship with her mentor Weinstein but that she, too, was assaulted by him in a New York City hotel room.

Were you able to get out of the room? No. What did you do next? I gave up at that point and I undressed and he stood over me until I was completely naked then he told me to lie on the bed. Mann then testified Weinstein violently raped her.

The defense brought before the jury dozens of emails that could imply a consensual relationship and bond between the two. Mann's testimony was insistent, saying, I know the history of my relationship with him. I know it is complicated and different. But it does not change the fact that he raped me. Weinstein pleaded not guilty to all five counts, including rape and predatory sexual assault.

Now the case is in the hands of the jury. And I have intently watched this jury. I've listened to all the testimony in the courtroom, and the jury is extremely focused. They are so intent. They have been writing notes, and the men on the jury, I think, have written more notes than the females. But all have been focused throughout this trial. I don't see people bored. I don't see people checked out and this will be their responsibility now.


CASAREZ: Juror number 11, very important to remember. She got on the jury. She's currently writing a book that's actually going to be published in July. It's on predatory older men in relationships with younger women. Alisyn?

CAMEROTA: Well, she's gotten a lot of material, I assume, for her book, if it were not finished. But Jean, that's really good insight to note they're so engaged in what's happening during this trial. Thank you very much.

There was this heart-stopping finish to the Daytona 500.

SCIUTTO: The video was harrowing.

CAMEROTA: It is harrowing. I mean, it's hard to see how he survived this. We have the latest on this crash.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Crash into the wall, into the air! Oh, it's Newman




SCIUTTO: NASCAR driver Ryan Newman is in serious condition today after a terrifying crash on the last lap of the Daytona 500. Carolyn Manno has more on the Bleacher Report. So tell us Carolyn, first things first? What's Newman's condition?

CAROLYN MANNO, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Series conditions but not life-threatening conditions which is the key. That's what we know right now a collective sigh of relief from the NASCAR Community.

Everybody connected to this sport waking up this morning on a day that actually holds a lot of significance as well. 19 years ago to the day, it was Dale Earnhardt Sr. who was tragically killed in the same racetrack at Daytona the fiery Daytona crash happening about a football field from the finish line it was Newman leading the race.

He lost control after being bumped from behind and went head first into the wall. His car sent flying. The last hit on the driver's side is the one particularly difficult to watch the car giving up all of its structural integrity very compromised. It was an impact that sent Newman's car skidding on its roof across the finish line into fourth place took emergency crew several minutes to get Newman out of the car.

President Trump tweeted as well that he was praying for Ryan Newman, a man he described as a great and brave NASCAR driver. Trump was the Grand Marshal at the race on Sunday before it was postponed by rain the severity of the crash certainly dampening any celebration of the sport's most important race.

It was Denny Hamlin who won in a photo finish. He took the checkered flag over Ryan in the second closest finish in Daytona 500's history. This is Hamlin's third win in five years. He's one of just four drivers to win the race in back-to-back years but just too quickly put this into context for you.

When that roll cage is compromised, it's all bets are off for these drivers. It's a very dangerous scenario. I just spoke with one veteran driver who said this is one of the worst crashes he's ever seen. It is a miracle that Ryan Newman is alive. He's never seen an impact on the driver's side when the car has been upside down like that. So certainly something we're following yes.

SCIUTTO: Thinking about him and his family for sure thank you.

CASAREZ: Thank you.

CAMEROTA: All right Team Trump cannot seem to stop talking about Bernie Sanders and it turns out there's a good reason for that. John Avlon has our "Reality Check." Hi John.

JOHN AVALON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Hey guys, well, it turns out a very unlikely fan of Bernie Sanders is Donald Trump.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Bernie looks like he's doing very well.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why he is certainly doing well?

TRUMP: I think people like his message. He's got energy. His people have energy. But they like his message.


AVALON: That's despite the fact that Bernie Sanders' message is--


SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (D-VT) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We must and we will defeat the most dangerous President in the modern history of America.


AVALON: That hasn't stopped Donald Trump from consistently pumping up Sanders chances.


TRUMP: Crazy Bernie. I don't know maybe he's really surging. He really is. Bernie is surging. There is no question about it. And Bernie seems to be the one the party wants.


AVALON: Yes, as much as he's also backed up on Twitter. Another surprising Sanders' defender is Donald Trump Jr. who re-tweeted this video of Former New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg appearing to insult farmers. Now Bloomberg claims it was misleadingly edited but also tweeting it out was you guessed it Bernie Sander's people.

And it is not the first time that either Donald rush Bernie's aide with both repeating the charge that the Democratic Primary is somehow rigged against him. Speaking of primaries, it is one of the radio show host Hugh Hewitt went so far to announce that he'd vote for Bernie.


HUGH HEWITT, RADIO SHOW HOST: Because it's Virginia, I get to vote in the Democratic Primary. I'm voting for Bernie Sanders.


AVALON: And that movement has picked up steam with South Carolina Republicans pushing their people to vote for Sanders in their primary. Why are all these Team Trump folks suddenly feeling the burn? Well, as Admiral Akbar might say - and the reason is the "S" word socialism.

Mr. Meghan ropes under the headline "Bernie Sanders can't win" in the "The New York Times." The central message of the Sander's campaign is that the United States it's a political revolution. That may very well need one but most people don't think so.

The numbers would seem to back that up. Donald Trump does best running against a hypothetical socialist, beating him or he by an average of six points according to a poll taken last summer. But he loses to top tier Democrats, including Sanders who actually calls himself a Democratic socialist in a recent CNN poll. According to Gallup, only 39 percent of Americans have a positive view of socialism. Gallup also found that more Americans said they would vote for a gay, Muslim or atheist candidate than a socialist.

Meanwhile, Quinnipiac poll around the same time finds that less than a quarter of Democrats call themselves very liberal. Democrat voters more moderate, blue collar and older than you might think just by looking at the Twitter.

So given all of this, no surprise that Donald Trump wants to run against Bernie Sanders but don't take my word for it. There is an unnamed Trump Adviser told Axios "We're trying to promote Bernie's rise. The campaign has been pumping up the national messaging behind Bernie. When you attack his policies it gets the media to talk about them". This isn't subtle folks.

Sanders deserves credit for firing up the base and shifting the debate within the Democratic Party, but Team Trump understands their path to reelection will be demonizing Democrats as radical socialists to distract from the President's broad unpopularity.

That's why they want to run against an actual radical and self described Democratic Socialist Bernie Sanders. It's a trap. And that's your "Reality Check".

CAMEROTA: Thank you very much, John. We really appreciate that.

SCIUTTO: Great "Star Wars" reference we appreciate that.

CAMEROTA: And thanks to our international viewers for watching. For you "CNN Newsroom" is next. And for our U.S. viewers we have big news in the Democratic race. "New Day" continues right now.