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Senator Bernie Sanders, Michael Bloomberg Trade Jabs Ahead Of Tonight's Debate; Senator Bernie Sanders Says He Will Not Release Additional Medical Records; Disease Expert: "Scared" By What He Saw On The Quarantined Ship; Passengers Disembark Quarantined Cruise Ship In Japan; How President Donald Trump Normalizes Corruption. Aired 7.30-8a ET

Aired February 19, 2020 - 07:30   ET



BRIAHNA JOY GRAY, NATIONAL PRESS SECRETARY FOR BERNIE SANDERS: As you mentioned it is crystal clear that they like Bernie Sanders. Recent polls that just came out yesterday show that Bernie Sanders is now leading with black voters with Latino voters and he is leading with white voters which suggests that Bernie Sanders is, in fact, the candidate that can put together that broad multi-racial coalition that rainbow coalition that's really required to take down someone like Donald Trump.

Moreover, and I think this is really important he's ignited Americans across class boundaries as well. We have the most working class campaign in this race and when you look at our donor base, again, more individual contributions than any candidate in American history. That base is comprised of the people Bernie Sanders has already demonstrated an ability to help.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN HOST: You brought up the polls, there is a number in the NPR/Marist poll that might be of concern to the Sander's Campaign which is that 58 percent of Americans in that poll, a poll by the way that Bernie Sanders did lead. 58 percent had an unfavorable view of socialism. How would you address that?

GRAY: Yes, well the poll also demonstrates that Bernie Sanders has the highest favorability ratings of any candidate in this race.

BERMAN: Yes. But--

GRAY: He has long been one of the most--

BERMAN: But if the issue is socialism, eventually Donald Trump says Bernie Sanders socialist, what does Bernie Sanders say?

GRAY: Well, I don't know if you've noticed, but people have been saying socialism about any number of Democratic candidates for decades including Barack Obama. And most importantly Bernie Sanders has been describing himself as a Democratic socialist for his entire career. He hasn't been hiding the ball here.

So if somebody is waiting for some anvil to drop and completely change people's opinions of the most trusted politician in America, I think that they're going to be waiting a long time. People know who Bernie Sanders is. They trust him as I was saying before. He's been fighting for their rights and has already secured a $15 minimum wage for tens of thousands of Americans through his efficacy and the Stop Bases Act.

He is someone who Americans know they know where he stands. Unlike Michael Bloomberg who is completely un-vetted. And I think as we see them this last news cycle of the last few days has an enormous amount of baggage to contend with. And the kind of baggage I would say is not what we need going into a contest with Donald Trump who has some ire similarities with Michael Bloomberg.

BERMAN: In fact, I have heard you say that before. I know you are not a fact of Michael Bloomberg, but I have also heard Senator Sanders say what will be needed to defeat Donald Trump in the fall is unity. And Senator Sanders has said that he will support any Democratic nominee.

So I am wondering before we talk more about Michael Bloomberg, the negative things you have to say. In what ways do you think Michael Bloomberg will be better than Donald Trump as President?

GRAY: You know, I'm not in the business of advocating or being a Michael Bloomberg's spokesperson, but what I will say is as what Bernie Sanders has said is that we will support the nominee. But this is a primary election. And it's important for voters to recognize it in a primary election, it's our opportunity to not be stuck with a candidate who is a hold your nose candidate or a lesser of two evils candidate.

We saw what the consequences of that were in 2016. What we don't need is millions of Americans staying home because they don't feel like there's a politician in this race that is speaking to their material interests.

BERMAN: Would he be a better President in your mind Michael Bloomberg and Donald Trump?

GRAY: Yes. Again, I'm not the spokesperson for Michael Bloomberg. I'm sure you can find someone to sing his praises. The reality is this is a primary and that we have to keep our eyes on the prize. It would be a disaster I believe for the entire country to be in a position when we don't have a candidate that has clear distinctions between themselves and the current occupant of the White House.

BERMAN: I understand. This isn't a trick question. This is a question that other Democrats have faced on the debate stage. And this is a question that has become important because the idea of uniting the party is important to a lot of Democratic voters.

So I'll give you one last chance to say do you think that Michael Bloomberg would be a better President than Donald Trump?

GRAY: Look. We will start to find out the more robust answer to that question as Michael Bloomberg starts to get vetted for the first time on the debate stage last night. But let's run down some factors that we would have to take into account.

We have to take into account that Michael Bloomberg is someone who has said he is never wants to raise the minimum - has never wanted or supported a minimum wage raise. He's someone who has tried to cut social security and entitled in that programs. He is someone who supported a racist stop and frisk policy that was declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court.

And you can very much expect Donald Trump to compare his own record on criminal justice issues, the sexual harassment complaints that he's experienced or have been targeted toward him, et cetera, et cetera down the line.

He's certainly going to make the case that Michael Bloomberg isn't a better candidate than him. Again, I think it's incumbent on us to make sure we're not in that position.

BERMAN: All right. And I'm sure that will come up on the debate stage tonight and Michael Bloomberg will have a chance to respond to each of those claims that you just made. I do want to bring up something that Senator Sanders said last night in the CNN Town Hall with Anderson Cooper. It had to do with his medical records. Listen to his.


SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (D-VT) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We have released, I think Anderson, quite as much as any other candidate has. They think I'm not in good health, come out with me on the campaign trail. And I'll let you introduce me to the three or four rallies a day that we do.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Just to be clear, you don't plan to release any more records?

SANDERS: I don't think we will, no.



BERMAN: I don't think we will release any more medical records. I have those three letters from the doctors that Senator Sanders was talking about. There's nothing in them other than the doctors saying that he's fit. He had a heart attack. He had a heart attack in the fall. Do you think the American people deserve to know more about his health going forward?

GRAY: I think that the American people deserve to know exactly as much as every other candidate has released in this race currently and historically. And what you're seeing right now is really reminiscent of some of the kind of smear, kind of skepticism campaigns that have been run against a lot of different candidates in the past.

Questioning where they're from, aspects of their lineage, et cetera, et cetera. And it's really telling given that none of the same concern is being demonstrated for Michael Bloomberg who is at the same age as Bernie Sanders who was suffered heart attacks in the past.

And what we're seeing is a kind of smear campaign from the like of Jennifer Ruben is one that's beating the drum a lot. Republicans that if they were honest with themselves don't support Bernie Sanders for the same reasons largely for the same reasons that millions of working Americans do support Bernie which is that he supported social programs that prioritize mainstream over Wall Street and has yes made a lot of enemies in the pharmaceutical industry and the health insurance industry and all of the interest groups whose interests are aligned against those of average Americans.

BERMAN: Briahna Joy thanks for coming on "New Day." We look forward to speaking to you again as the campaign season progresses. See you soon.

GRAY: Thank you for having me.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN HOST: John while you've been speaking to her, we have got some breaking news. There's another high-level official who has been pushed out of the Trump Administration after the President was impeached. So we have the breaking details on who this is next.



CAMEROTA: We do have breaking news for you right now. Another top official at the Pentagon is on his way out the door. CNN has just learned that the Pentagon's top policy official John Rude has been asked to resign. CNN's Chief National Security Correspondent Jim Sciutto joins us with this scoop and these breaking details. What does this mean, Jim?

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: Myself and Barbara Starr reporting this morning. So this is a very senior official in the Pentagon John Rude Under Secretary for policy so involved in all of the key administration priorities.

Countering China, Russia, and Ukraine story notably. I'll get to that. South Korea, North Korea, Afghanistan. Had differences with the administration, has been asked for his resignation. But the clear message here is that he's being pushed out in part because of these differences.

He came in Under Defense Secretary Mattis. And this is another case of where you have someone who you might describe as a contrarian voice in the mix there who is no longer going to be present.

BERMAN: So there are policy differences broadly speaking but there is a very specific episode dealing with Ukraine that people can remember.

SCIUTTO: That's right. So hours after the famous July 25th phone call between Trump and Zelensky where you had this alleged quid pro quo, he wrote Esper - Rude wrote Esper and CNN reviewed these emails and he said about this hold of security assistance, he said the following. Placing a hold on security assistance at this time would jeopardize

this unique window of opportunity and undermine our defense priorities with a key partner in the strategic competition with Russia. So here is Rude, one of those voices who was pushing back against the administration and therefore pushing back against the President on holding key aid to an ally at this time.

CAMEROTA: There's something else very significant that he was involved in. Two months before that July 25th phone call, on May 23rd, he signed a letter. Under Secretary Rude signed this letter that certified that the Department of Defense and the State Department had agreed that Ukraine had effectively resolved for the moment their corruption problem and deserved this money to fight Russia.

So he had signed off on this. That's what got the ball rolling. And then the President decided, it appears, on his own, to ignore that advice.

SCIUTTO: It is a great point. Two months before the call, and this - keep in mind as you know this undermined a key administration and Trump argument here. That corruption was the issue. When in fact, the Pentagon and Rude signed off on this it said. Listen, they're handling corruption. We can't trust them with this, they need the aid. Two months before that phone call with Ukrainian President.

BERMAN: The bigger picture here, heads continue to roll. All right, Jim Sciutto thanks for being with us. We appreciate it. So passengers on that quarantined cruise ship that tested negative for Coronavirus, they are finally being allowed to get off the ship. It comes as the number of confirmed cases has gone up again 79 new cases this morning.

Infectious disease expert who visited the ship says he is scared by what he saw even more than he was with Ebola and Sars. CNN's Will Ripley spoke with him and he joins us now live from Japan. When you're talking about Sars and Ebola, if he's more concerned now, well that's a high bar.

WILL RIPLEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: And this is someone who for 20-plus years has been on the front lines of some of the deadliest outbreaks around the world. He had a hunch that something was wrong on the Diamond Princess Cruise Ship and was able to pull strings and get on board in sort of an unofficial capacity.

He says when he went on; he was shocked because the people running the show were from the Department of Health, the Health Ministry because Japan doesn't have centers for disease control and prevention like the United States. He says there was not a single infectious disease specialist on board coordinating the operation. And he said it was scary take a look.


KENTARO IWATA, PROFESSOR OF INFECTIOUS DISEASES, KOBE UNIVERSITY: Inside Princess Diamond, I was so scared. I was so scared of getting covid-19 because there was no way to tell where the virus is. No green zone, no red zone everywhere could have virus and everybody was not careful about it. There was no single professional infection control person inside the ship. And there was nobody in charge of infection prevention. The bureaucrats where in charge of everything



RIPLEY: We reached out to the Japanese government which is basically dismissing everything he is saying. But, you know, there are more than a hundred Americans still on that ship. They let 800 people walk off that ship today with letters from the government saying that they pose zero risk of passing that infection back onto their communities.

So they can go on a subway, the bus, they can go back to school, back to work. And John and Alisyn said that people walking off that ship, it was such a mess, they could actually catch the virus theoretically just by brushing up against a surface. That's how disturbed he is about what he saw. When he tried to raise that with officials on the ship, they kicked him off.

CAMEROTA: My gosh Will, this is hard. You have done so much reporting on people who have tried to sound the alarm and just keep getting in trouble for it. Thank you very much for this reporting this morning.

Joining us now on the phone is one of the passengers who are still on board that ship, Dr. Arnold Hopland. His wife tested positive for Coronavirus so she is hospitalized right now. Their son Dr. Ken Hopland joins us from their hometown in Tennessee on camera. Gentlemen, thank you, both, very much.

Dr. Arnold, you are on the phone with us because you are still on board that ship. Tell us what's happening, what are the circumstances this morning, and how is your wife who is in a hospital the Tokyo right now?

DR ARNOLD HOPLAND, QUARANTINED ON PRINCESS DIAMOND, YOKOHAMA, JAPAN: Jeannie tested positive so she was taken to the hospital where they did a follow-up test. In one day they had the result back and it was negative. And her CT scan was negative. If she has two negative tests, she will be released into Japan.

The CDC will not allow her to return to the U.S. Now, the hospital has run out of test kits. I just learned that here about an hour ago. I - when I saw the Japanese plan for this quarantine on February 5th, the first day it was announced, I nearly panicked took me almost five days to get communication. Because once the quarantine was announced, of course the Wi-Fi and the phone systems were totally overwhelmed on the ship.

CAMEROTA: Yes, but I know that when you found - when you saw the plan for the quarantine, you were concerned.

HOPLAND: Immediately it was obvious that it couldn't work.

CAMEROTA: Why? Why couldn't it work? HOPLAND: Because - well, there was - they were going to quarantine 4,000 people in tight quarters, supervised by restaurant and hotel workers who had no medical training of any kind. And their crews were not quarantined. And so they would spread it amongst themselves which of course they did do.

Our cabin steward for instance was infected. And I saw that - and I saw that before our first case happened. Then as it unfolded over five days, the first day there were ten cases. The next day, I think 30 some the next day, 60 and then had geometric increases. So clearly it was--

CAMEROTA: Yes. Last night it was 79 new cases the night before that, 80 new cases. So you're right. They're doing something that is not effective in terms of keeping it down.

HOPLAND: It could have been obviously seen by anyone that observed it. However, the U.S. CDC handed off responsibility to the Japanese instead of taking charge of the U.S. citizens. And in spite of alarm when I got in contact with CDC in the U.S., they defended their action as saying these were just cases that we're finding that it's not spreading on board the ship.

And it was patently clear that wasn't the case. And I think to this day they defend that because they have now confined me to another two weeks on the ship. And I'm sitting in a Petri Dish waiting to be infected.

CAMEROTA: Oh, gosh. That must be so frustrating for you and--

HOPLAND: Well, when I get infected, I'll be able to recover from the illness mild illness for most people. And I'll get off the ship quicker if I'm infected.

CAMEROTA: Oh, my gosh. I mean, that is a total catch 22.

HOPLAND: Yes. She's going to be released to the general public as soon as they get another test kit at the hospital. They've run out of test kits.

CAMEROTA: Oh, my gosh. Okay. Dr. Ken, I want to bring you in because you have been trying to navigate all of this for your parents from home in Tennessee. You're also a doctor and I know that you have been wildly frustrated with what you see as sort of the incompetence of this. And so just tell us what you've been going through.

DR. KEN HOPLAND, PARENTS WERE QUARANTINED ON DIAMOND PRINCESS: You're right. There's been a great deal of frustration. Because initially when - like my father, when I heard of the quarantine, the obvious lack of true quarantine, it didn't make any sense.

And so I was all in favor of quarantining everybody on that ship, but I realized that was the absolute wrong location.

[07:50:00] HOPLAND: In a situation where there were American citizens at risk I literally two days after they were declared that they were going to quarantine them, asked for the Embassy to consider transferring all the Americans to American soil to have a correct 14-day or even possibly extended quarantine where it can be done correctly so when it was over, we would know that those people were not an infection risk.

Currently those leaving the ship, I do not believe they know that about them. Just because they're negative today does not mean they're not positive tomorrow. I can't imagine if we had 80 positive cases yesterday, what makes them not think there's going to be 30 positive cases tomorrow. Just look at the numbers, that's crazy.

CAMEROTA: Absolutely. We've seen that I mean the people that they thought were - the Americans they took off the ship, that they thought were negative, they then tested right before putting on a plane, and 14 tested positive. So that does keep happening. But in our short time left, Dr. Arnold, when are you getting off the ship? You're currently not positive. What is your future there?

HOPLAND: I am reasonably certain, we have some heroes in our Congressman Phil Roe and Dr. Cadillac with Health and Human Services in the United States who arranged that first evacuation of negative tested folk, even though some tested positive as they left. And they're currently in quarantine in the United States.

There are 65, I believe, maybe 100 citizens, U.S. citizens on board. And we're being held on board. I think it's not intentional, but we're being held on board until we get infected and then we'll be taken to a hospital, and if we get a false positive, we'll get out in the public quickly.

But the problem is I think Japan has released many, many, many infected people into Japanese population, and they're going to have an epidemic here in the next month. And the infection rate, this is such an infectious disease.

The average infected person infects four more people. And that's the geometric. It could sweep through the entirety of the United States with just this one airline flight into the United States with 14 infected folk quarantined. And that's what would have happened, had we not contacted Dr. Cadillac of Health and Human Services and Phil Roe made that contact possible.

CAMEROTA: Well, we appreciate you guys calling out people who are not doing it right and people who you think are doing it right. And so Dr. Arnold Hopland and Dr. Ken Hopland, you are not just people, passengers.

You're also doctors. And so you know more about this than a lot of passengers on board. We're wishing you the best and we'll stay in touch with you to figure out when you can get off that ship and when your wife can get out of the hospital. Thank you both.

HOPLAND: I did meet with the infectious disease docs that came on board and they were in agreement, too. CAMEROTA: Okay. Thank you both very much. We'll stay in touch with you. Wow.

BERMAN: What an ordeal.

CAMEROTA: I mean, it is - if I may that you just are in this cycle and never know if you're going to be able to get off, unless you get infected, and he's almost hoping for that.

BERMAN: All right. So it was all about corruption, right? Well, President Trump's clemency spree is throwing that all into doubt. We have a must "Reality Check" next.



BERMAN: So remember how some Republicans insisted that President Trump's call to Ukraine was not about the Bidens at all but instead about his passion for fighting corruption? Well, the President just pardoned a bunch of convicted felons who were convicted of corruption sorry the pregnant pause there. You came up with it. John Avlon with a "Reality Check" John?

JOHN AVALON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Hey guys so you remember when Republicans said that Donald Trump really cared about corruption?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, I do. I actually think he's concerned about corruption.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There's a corruption issue there, and, of course, the President honed in on that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The President raised the issue of corruption.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He has talked about corruption all over the world.


AVALON: Well, that was fun. And also complete nonsense. Because the President just used his pardoning power to commute the sentence of former Illinois Governor Democrat Rod Blagojevich who in case you forgot was convicted of trying to sell Barack Obama's Senate seat.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I've got this thing, and it's (BLEEP) golden. And I'm just not giving it up for (BLEEP) nothing.


AVALON: Now Trump suggested this call was nothing out of the ordinary for politicians. He was charged with a variety of public corruption crimes including withholding $8 million in state funds to a children's hospital in hopes of getting a $50,000 campaign contribution like he was impeached before being sentenced to 14 years in prison.

Now GOP lawmakers from Illinois warned Trump not to do this. The Illinois House Republican Leader said this yesterday.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I saw a Governor who was rogue on steroids. He was a person that was not - didn't care about the state of Illinois he cared about his own ambition. Why should he get special treatment? It's wrong and sends a bad message to people in this country.


AVALON: But he was a contestant on "The Apprentice" and his wife appeared on Fox News asking for a pardon which is apparently how things are done in the Trump Era. After all the same day Trump pardoned Former New York City Police Commissioner and frequent Fox News guest Bernard Kerik who was sentenced in a corruption case for tax fraud and lying on White House forms revolves the top procurement officer for Bush 43 David who was convicted of obstruction of justice and perjury in the Jack Abramoff corruption scandal.

And former 49ers owner Edward Debartolo Jr. who failed to report a felony after paying $400,000 to Louisiana Governor Edwin Edwards for a river boat gambling license this list can be added the past pardons of political allies like Dinesh D'Souza.

It's notable that most of Trump's brands of clemency have gone to well-connected offenders who had not filed petitions with the pardon office or did not meet its requirements according to analysis by "The Washington Post."

So to recap, the crimes that Trump pardoned include corruption, obstruction of justice, perjury, tax fraud, wire fraud and bribery.