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Democrats get hostile in latest debate; Democrats face off in Las Vegas; Presidential candidates take off the gloves. Aired 3-3:30a ET

Aired February 20, 2020 - 03:00   ET




CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN HOST: The civility of past Democratic debates is a distant memory. The latest faceoff filled with deeply personal attacks as the clock ticks to Super Tuesday. Good morning and welcome to an early, early start. I'm Christine Romans.

LAURA JARRETT, CNN HOST: And I'm Laura Jarrett. It's Thursday, February 20. It's 3 AM in the East. Easily the most fierce debate yet of the Democratic Presidential race. Six Democrats on stage. No one was completely safe. Bernie Sanders came in as the front runner which would normally paint a target on his back but he got off comparatively easy with his rivals focused on the new candidate on stage. Mike Bloomberg.

Here's two hours of the debate in case you missed it boiled down.


MICHAEL BLOOMBERG (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I don't think there's any chance of the Senator beating President Trump.

SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: A billionaire who calls women, fat broads and horse-faced lesbians and no, I'm not talking about Donald Trump. I'm talking about Mayor Bloomberg.

BLOOMBERG: It's the one thing that I'm really worried about, embarrassed about, was how it turned out with stop and frisk. I thought my first responsibility was to give people the right to live. It got out of control.

JOE BIDEN (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It's not whether you apologize or not. It's the policy. The policy was abhorrent.

BLOOMBERG: If we took off everybody that was wrong off this panel, everybody that was wrong on criminal justice, sometime in their careers, there would be nobody else up here.

PETE BUTTIGIEG (D-IN) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Let's put forward somebody who's actually a Democrat. We shouldn't have to choose between one candidate who wants to burn this party down and another candidate who wants to buy this party out.

SANDERS: If there are a few people who make ugly remarks, who attack trade union leaders, I disown those people.

BUTTIGIEG: Why did this pattern arise? Why is it especially the case among your supporters?

SANDERS: I don't think that's especially the case by the way.

BUTTIGIEG: That's just not true.

WARREN: It's not a plan, it's power point. And Amy's plan is even less, it's like a post-it note insert plan here.

SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-MN) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I take personal offence since Post-it notes were invented in my state.

BLOOMBERG: I have no tolerance for the kind of behavior that the MeToo movement has exposed and anybody that does anything wrong in our company, we investigate it and if it's appropriate, they're gone that day.

WARREN: I hope you heard what his defense was. I have been nice to some women. That just doesn't cut it.

SANDERS: A function of a rational healthcare system is not to make the pharmaceutical industry and the drug companies rich. It is to provide healthcare to old people.

BIDEN: And I notice what everybody is talking about is the plan that I first introduced to make sure that Mike and other people pay the same tax rates their secretary pays that.

BLOOMBERG: Facts are -

BIDEN: Let me finish, thank you.

KLOBUCHAR: They were talking a lot about heart conditions up here. We have a president right now that doesn't have a heart. I -

BIDEN: The only company that you can't go after are gun manufacturers like my buddy here.

SANDERS: Billionaires today if you can believe it, have an effective tax rate lower than the middle class. So maybe just tax code.

BLOOMBERG: Why are you complaining? You wrote the code.

KLOBUCHAR: We have not been talking enough about Donald Trump.

SANDERS: I want workers to be able to sit on corporate boards.

BLOOMBERG: I can't think of a ways that would make it easier for Donald Trump to get re-elected than listening to this conversation. We're not going to throw out capitalism. We tried that. Other countries tried that and it was called communism and it just didn't work.

KLOBUCHAR: I wish everyone was as perfect as you Pete, but let me tell you what it's like to be in the arena.

BUTTIGIEG: Well, maybe leading a diverse city that was facing ruin doesn't sound like an arena to you. I'm used to senators telling mayors that senators are more important than mayors but this is the arena too. You don't have to be in Washington to matter.

BLOOMBERG: What a wonderful country we have. The best known socialist we have happens to be a millionaire with three houses. What did I miss here?

SANDERS: Well, you missed that I work in Washington.

BLOOMBERG: That's the first problem.


ROMANS: OK, let's bring in CNN politics senior writer Zach Wolf, live for us in Washington and Zach, six people on that stage, all training their fire on each other. All six of them saying that they want to beat Donald Trump.


ZACHARY WOLF, CNN POLITICS SENIOR WRITER: Yes. I think at the end of the day Donald Trump might have looked at that and been pretty happy with what he saw since it was pretty clear that they were just going to beat up on each other. Donald Trump wasn't really even mention that much on the debate stage. It was more of a circular firing squad.

Some people took I think a little bit more than others. Elizabeth Warren was the aggressor in a lot of ways. She went after just about everybody but I think Donald Trump had to look at that and say there's nobody who's really going to walk away with this in the coming days and they're going to continue to fight with each other and that's probably good for him.

JARRETT: Zach, you mentioned Elizabeth Warren. She went after everybody sure but she really went after Mike Bloomberg. Obviously his first time on the debate stage with all of these folks. I mean she - she wouldn't hold back even a little bit. She went right after him about the comments he's allegedly made about women.

She was clearly geared up for this. Do you think she landed any punches?

WOLF: She landed a lot of punches against Mike Bloomberg, specifically with allegations that he has - you know his company has mistreated women. There was this devastating moment for him regarding nondisclosure agreement.

She called on him to you know free women who have entered into nondisclosure agreements from those agreements and he wouldn't do it and far from it, he defended them essentially so that's probably not going to land well with him.

You know, he was riding this wave of free media or not. Definitely not free, very expensive media but you know, not stuff that you see on cable news. He's been buying commercial. So are people going to see the Mike Bloomberg that was on the debate stage last night? Are they just going to see the one that pops up in front of their YouTube video?

I think that's a really important question. How much does this penetrate this sort of you know bubble of commercials where he's embracing President Obama, that he's built around himself?

ROMANS: He had a couple of good - good lines about you know capitalism versus socialism. We thought maybe that that was going to be a thing that was going to emerge here but from the Trump team you know, not necessarily within the Democratic Party in this early on.

But he's not that strong debater. I mean - I mean, I really think that his TV ads are very slick and that's where the penetration of who is Mike Bloomberg is going to be for the public.

WOLF: Yes, there was a moment when Elizabeth - one of the moments when Elizabeth Warren was going after him where he was gripping the podium and he rolled his eyes and he just did not look like somebody who wanted to be there at all.

He wasn't having any fun. He wasn't enjoying himself. He you know, he just looked like somebody who would rather be anywhere but on that debate stage.

JARRETT: Zach, it's sort of interesting, given that Bernie Sanders is the front runner in this race right now that he sort of got off easy last night. Obviously you know, there were a few things here and there but certainly the fact that he's not releasing all of his medical records, that you would have thought would have been a prime area for everyone to pounce and only a little bit discussion on that.

WOLF: Given that Mike Bloomberg you know may be in this race in part to keep Bernie Sanders from getting the nomination, it is a gift from heaven for Bernie Sanders that Mike Bloomberg was on the debate stage taking all of the fire that could have been directed at Bernie Sanders.

Elizabeth Warren doesn't want to alienate the Sanders you know, the Bernie Sanders supporter so she just was going after everybody else. It was pretty remarkable and I think you know, you mentioned in the medical records issue. That's something he had promised to do.

It's is a 100 percent look flop from where he was last fall. That is straight out of the Trump playbook to not release records, to not be transparent and it's something he has largely escaped scrutiny on.

JARRETT: Yes. All right Zach Wolf, we'll see you back very soon. Thanks for getting up extra early for us.

WOLF: Thanks. JARRETT: All right, well nearly 70,000 Nevadans turned out over four

days to cast their votes early. Democrats are celebrating the big turnout. Only 84,000 people caucus, four years ago when there was no early voting. One official tells CNN, more than 50 percent of the early votes were first time caucus goers, indicating high interest in the nomination fight.

Democrats are also hoping the impressive early turnout will alleviate stress on caucus day this coming Saturday. They do not want a calamity like we saw in the Iowa caucuses.

ROMANS: Another big night on CNN with two presidential town halls. Joe Biden at 8:00 PM Eastern. Elizabeth Warren at 9:00 PM Eastern, live from Las Vegas tonight only on CNN.

JARRETT: And still ahead, a Trump loyalist with no experience in the Intel community is now the nation's Acting Spy Chief.



ROMANS: All right, welcome back. 14 minutes past the hour. Michael Bloomberg says he would sell his company if elected President unlike President Trump. It has been five years since President Trump promised to release his tax returns. He has not.

During the debate the former Mayor claims he is transparent with his tax returns.


BLOOMBERG: We are preparing it - the number of pages will probably be in the thousands of pages. I can't go to turbo tax but I put out my tax return every year for 12 years in City hall. We will put out this one. It tells everybody, everything they need to know about every investments that I make and where the money goes.


ROMANS: As Mayor Bloomberg allowed reporters to review his tax documents but he didn't publicly released his full tax returns during his 12 year tenure from 2002 to 2013. The Wall Street Journal described the billionaire's 2013 returns as highly redacted and that the documents never offered a full view of his wealth.

Bloomberg has not released his returns since launching his campaign or filed financial disclosures required of candidates to the Federal Election Commission. New York Times reported Bloomberg received a second extension that would allow him to keep the details of the personal wealth under wraps until after Super Tuesday.


He now has until March 20 to file. JARRETT: A staunch Trump loyalist is now the nation's Acting Spy

Chief. Richard Grenell, the U.S. ambassador to Germany tapped by the President to be the Acting Director of National Intelligence.

Even in an acting role, Grenell's lack of experience is likely to rattle the intelligence community. The community has already endured repeated attacks from the President over the Russia investigation and the whistleblower complaint that led to President Trump's impeachment.

ROMANS: Grenell's appointment is even raising concerns among the President's allies. Grenell has zero intelligence related experience and one Trump advisor describes him as out of his league for the DNI job.

One point of reference, the DNI wall was formed for the purpose of coordinating the Intel agencies to prevent another catastrophic attack in the wake of 911 and don't minimize the acting designation. Mick Mulvaney has been Acting Chief of Staff for over a year.

JARRETT: It is sentencing day for Roger Stone. Federal Judge Amy Berman Jackson deciding it's not permitted to delay the process even though Stone says he should get a new trial because of juror misconduct. The long-time Republican strategist and Trump ally was convicted last year on seven counts including that he lied to Congress about conversations he had with Trump campaign officials about trying to get Hillary Clinton emails from Wikileaks.

Well, - first don't have asked for probation but the Justice Department has said he deserves some prison time. All four prosecutors who took the case to trial quit last week. Attorney General Bill Barr softened their stance towards Stone heading into sentencing but the judges agreed to give Stone some time to challenge the sentence after she hands it down.

That means even if she sentences him to prison this week, he won't be detained right away.

ROMANS: All right up next, in surgery and in tune.




JARRETT: Breaking overnight, 10 people killed and the suspected gunman is dead after shootings at two Hookah lounges in the German city of Hanau. That's about 16 miles, East of Frankfurt. Police in Germany tell CNN affiliate RTL, the attacker left a confession letter and a video.

Now terror prosecutors are taking over the investigation. The bodies of the shooter and a second person were found at a home near the crime scenes.

ROMANS: The Duke and Duchess of Sussex plan to return to the U. K., later this month to carry out their final official engagements on March 31. Harry and Meghan will be in a 12-month transition period to establish their non-profit organization.

Until then, the couple plans various events including recognizing wounded and injured service personnel. Buckingham Palace is still discussing whether the couple can continue to use the word royal for their new venture.

JARRETT: The U.S. ranking behind most western industrial - industrialized nations on measures of children's survival health education and nutrition. A report in the medical journal, the Lancet ranks 180 countries, based on a child flourishing index.

The U.S. rated 39 behind most of Europe including Latvia and Bosnia and Herzegovina. At the top of the list, Norway, South Korea and the Netherlands. The report also ranked countries on sustainability for children's futures, based on estimated levels of carbon emissions in 10 years.

On that index, the U.S. ranked very close to the bottom.

ROMANS: Taking commonly prescribed antibiotics during the first trimester of pregnancy can increase the risk of birth defects. According to a new study published in the medical journal BMJ, the increased risk was found women who are prescribed macrolides as opposed to penicillin.

Those drugs are often prescribed to patients who are allergic to penicillin and they are used to treat infections like pneumonia, bronchitis and STDs. For more details log on to

JARRETT: A federal appeals court says the state of Florida cannot bar felons who serve their time from registering to vote simply because they haven't paid all the fines and fees from their cases.

The three-judge panel says the ban amounts to an unfair poll tax that disenfranchises the voters. A spokesman for the Republican governor Rhonda Santa says the state will immediately ask the Eleventh Circuit to reconsider that ruling.

A full trial on the issue is set to begin this spring.

ROMANS: 20-year old rapper Pop Smoke gunned down during a home invasion in Southern California. Police say a group of people including one wearing a mask and armed with a handgun, broke into the Hollywood Hills residence early Wednesday and fatally shot the rapper.

They have no motive for the attack. Pop Smoke was a rising star in the rap world with the success of his first two mixtapes.

JARRETT: The company with the rights, to recover artifacts from the Titanic, wants permission to remove the famous radio used to send an SOS after the ship hit an iceberg in 1912. A hearing is set for today in a Virginia federal court room.

Getting at the Macroni radio would require removing a part of the historic ship deck's house. The company with salvage rights says it's important to recover the most famous radio in history before conditions at the wreck deteriorate further and a piece of history is lost forever.

ROMANS: NASCAR driver Ryan Newman is out of the hospital just two days after his crash on the final lap of the Daytona 500. His racing team tweeting a photo Newman walking out of the hospital in Daytona, Wednesday with his two daughters by his side.

Before leaving, they say, he was joking around with family, friends and hospital staff as he continues to show amazing improvement.

JARRETT: OK, what you are seeing and hearing there is a woman playing the violin while surgeons removed a brain tumor. Yes that is right.


53-year old Dagmar Turner, a symphony violinist was terrified of losing her ability to play, so doctors at a London hospital had her play during the operation. That ensured areas of her brain responsible for delicate hand movement and coordination weren't damaged and it worked.

Surgeons removed more than 90 percent of the tumor and she retained full hand operation. That's just amazing.

ROMANS: Plus the doctors and the nurses -

JARRETT: They got a free concert.

ROMANS: All right, Democrats say they want to beat Donald Trump. They kept beating each other in the latest debate. Fire trained on Mike Bloomberg. Did front runner Bernie Sanders emerge a quiet winter?