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NEW DAY

Dem Rivals Attack Bloomberg, Sanders at Nevada Debate; Tom Steyer Slams Mike Bloomberg's Record; Will Trump Pardon Roger Stone?; Trump Loyalist Named Acting Intelligence Chief; Soon: Roger Stone to be Sentenced; 9 Dead in Far-Right Attacks in Germany; Merkel: Gunman Motivated by Right-Wing Extremism, Racism; Fact-Checking the Dems' Circular Firing Squad; Dem Rivals Attack Bloomberg, Sanders at Nevada Debate. Aired 7:30-8a ET.

Aired February 20, 2020 - 07:30   ET

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


[0730]

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, Mr. Steyer, what did you see in the debate last night?

TOM STEYER, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well I saw the person who won the debate last night whose name is Donald Trump, that's the first thing I'd say--

CAMEROTA: And what do you mean by that?

STEYER: I think that the person who came out--

CAMEROTA: How did -- how did President Trump win?

STEYER: Because I saw so much bickering between Democratic candidates tearing each other down and going after each other and forgetting the fact that what really counts is beating Donald Trump in November of 2020.

CAMEROTA: What about that--

STEYER: I saw people going after each others personality and records, instead of remembering that in fact the Democratic party needs to win in November.

CAMEROTA: And going after Mike Bloomberg's wealth, I mean, that did keep coming up, what do you think about that? Do you think that being a billionaire this year, as you are, is a disadvantage? Is it seen as obscene somehow?

STEYER: Look, I think that unchecked capitalism has failed. I think that people who have been as successful as Mike Bloomberg, or me, should understand that the Democratic party stands for the idea that the inequality in this country is unacceptable. That's why I said, Alisyn, from the very beginning I said about Mike Bloomberg -- you want to run as a Democrat, you have to come out for a wealth tax. I did it long before I was running for president because what's gone on is wrong.

When he is asked whether he deserves to have made as much money as he should -- as he has, the correct answer for Democrats -- but the true answer is, no that's not right. Unchecked capitalism has failed, we need to put this system back in to order. We need to take down these corporations. We need to get this government back working for the people and here's how I'm going to do it. I have a way to do it. I've been talking about that since day one--

CAMEROTA: Yeah.

STEYER: I'm talking about breaking the corporate stranglehold, changing the tax structure completely, giving a 10 percent tax cut to every American who makes less than $250,000. Having a wealth tax, treating passive investment income the exact same schedule as earned income--

CAMEROTA: Yeah.

STEYER: He has to understand that Democrats represent the vast bulk of working people in this country -- and that means Black people, and brown people, and Asian-Americans and Native Americans as well as white people -- and that's his responsibility--

CAMEROTA: So--

STEYER: --I mean, he sounded like he was running in the wrong primary last night.

CAMEROTA: --so, how do you grade Mike Bloomberg's performance last night?

STEYER: Look, I -- honestly I don't think there is a great response out there for stop and frisk, for standing up for redlining. For giving a speech at the Republican Convention on behalf of George W. Bush's reelection in 2004. So, I mean, I think there's a record there that's just really hard to explain away.

But I think there's a different question here Alisyn, I think the question here is who can unite the Democratic party and who can take on Mr. Trump on the economy? Because he's running on the economy.

I mean, we're missing the real point -- those are the questions in front of Democratic voters. We have a diverse party, thank God, that's fantastic. We have a diverse party representing the wonderfully diverse population of the United States of America -- fantastic, prove it.

We have a criminal president, corrupt, dishonest -- whose running on a fake economic record. Fine, who can bring him down? I'm telling you, one of the things no one's talking about. I -- there was a public poll out yesterday that had me at 20 percent in South Carolina. Our numbers have me at 19 percent in Nevada--

CAMEROTA: But I just want to ask -- I want to challenge you on those things (ph)-- STEYER: --there's something else going on here.

CAMEROTA: I hear you, but--

STEYER: Excuse me.

CAMEROTA: --some of those polls are not qualifying polls, and so are you saying--

STEYER: There were no qualifying polls.

CAMEROTA: --so are you--

STEYER: There were no qualifying polls -- excuse me, there were no qualifying polls in Nevada or South Carolina leading up to this debate--

CAMEROTA: --but are you going to make the debate stage-- STEYER: --which is why I wasn't in the debate.

CAMEROTA: --in South Carolina? The next debate?

STEYER: Excuse me?

CAMEROTA: Are you going to make the next debate?

STEYER: Yes. Look--

CAMEROTA: How do you know that?

STEYER: --if they will run polls, I will -- because I'm nowhere (ph) -- all of the polls that have been run that don't qualify actually have me in a position to qualify. The Democratic National Committee said you have to do this well in these two states and I'm way beyond that, but they don't count them as qualifying polls--

CAMEROTA: But in qualifying polls--

STEYER: --take a look, honest to goodness.

CAMEROTA: --you think you're going to show up in a significant enough number to qualify for the next debate?

STEYER: If they run any qualifying polls, yes for sure. Look, honestly in the poll that came out yesterday that's by a very reputable pollster, Joe Biden -- in South Carolina Joe Biden was at 23 percent, I was at 20.

[0735]

CAMEROTA: Our poll of polls, which is the average of all of the qualifying polls has you at 2 percent.

STEYER: That's a national poll, right?

CAMEROTA: Yeah. Yes. STEYER: And I'm saying this, but what's true is, I have spent my time

-- I'm not a famous person, Alisyn, you know that. I have spent my time talking to voters in Nevada and South Carolina that are the first two diverse states. I'm a grassroots person, I've built one of the biggest grass root door-to-door, person-to-person organizations in the United States called NextGen America, that's what I understand -- talking to people face-to-face.

CAMEROTA: OK. This--

STEYER: And in the places where I've had a chance to do that, which are the next two states, Nevada and South Carolina. The most recent numbers are 19 percent in Nevada and 20 percent in South Carolina.

CAMEROTA: And--

STEYER: The DNC literally told us, you know, we don't care about the voters of Nevada and South Carolina. We aren't going to qualify any polls, we're just not going to have any polls there we're going to go on national polls.

CAMEROTA: ..and how are you going to -- just out of--

STEYER: And that's how they changed the rules--

CAMEROTA: Yeah, I hear you.

STEYER: --for Mike Bloomberg.

CAMEROTA: What's your prediction for Nevada, are you going to get any delegates?

STEYER: Yes.

CAMEROTA: How many?

STEYER: Yes -- look, I don't know. I -- because that's not honestly how I focus on it, Alisyn. The way I think about it is how am I going to do as a percentage of the Democratic primary voters in Nevada? And I'm going to do -- I'm going to do very well. And people are (ph) talking about it, but we're doing really well, and we're going to be organized on the ground and we're going to be aggressive because that's what we know how to do--

CAMEROTA: We looked--

STEYER: --we have actually talked to voters.

CAMEROTA: Yeah. We look very forward to seeing what happens this weekend. Tom Steyer, we appreciate you coming on "New Day," thank you very much for your time.

STEYER: Thanks Alisyn, it's nice to be with you.

CAMEROTA: You too. John? JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: So in just a few hours a federal judge will

sentence Roger Stone, that is, if President Trump doesn't pardon him first. We'll discuss, coming up.

(COMMERCIAL)

BERMAN: So a fierce Trump loyalist has been tapped as the Acting Director of National Intelligence, despite not having any intelligence experience. Rick Grenell is currently the U.S. Ambassador to Germany, CNN's Jim Sciutto joins us now with more.

And Jim, again we can't say this enough -- he has no intelligence background, and the Director of National Intelligence it's a job -- it's a role that was created after 9/11 to oversee the entire intelligence apparatus.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR & CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: And to prevent another 9/11, because the issue going in was you wanted coordination among the agencies, intelligence sharing, et cetera.

I'm going to read from the Intelligence Reform Act of 2004, "any individual nominated for appointment as DNI shall have extensive national security expertise." That was the intention of this, because they wanted someone with the experience and the leadership to bring it all together so that the country doesn't face a threat like that again.

And let's look at the list of the folks who've occupied this position before and their experience. These are people who led other intelligence agencies -- people who commanded naval forces in the Pacific, people who served in the CIA for 30 years. James Clapper, for instance, he led 2 of the 17 intelligence agencies before becoming the Director of National Intelligence -- that's the kind of experience that this job calls for.

So I know the folks at home, who -- you know, every day you have a movement or a decision by this president that seems out of bounds with past practice, and folks can probably -- you know, they probably get sick of hearing it after a while, but some of those decisions have real consequences and here is a position that was designed to prevent another major attack on the homeland, and put someone in that position with experience to do so, and that's not Trump's choice here.

BERMAN: He has diplomatic experience. Now -- but that's vastly different than intelligence experience, and there is some evidence that the experience that he has that matters to the president is of a completely different nature, and that's as a partisan loyalist. And again, partisanship has its place -- politics has its place.

Anyone on Twitter knows that Rick Grenell is a bomb thrower, and that may be what the president likes most, and it's also telling that he's only bringing him in as the Acting Director of National Intelligence, what does that tell us?

SCIUTTO: Well, that means there's no Senate voice on this, right? I mean, there's a reason you have Senate-approved positions so that elected members of the Senate can have a voice on these appointments -- acting do not.

When you have an acting position that's the president's choice and they could stay there -- there's a time limit on it, but remember this is a president who has loads of unfilled positions at very senior levels, but also loads of acting positions and therefore the Senate doesn't have a chance to pipe in.

That's crucial in this case because it's our (ph) reporting that even Republican Senators have communicated to the White House that they do not believe Rick Grenell has the experience necessary to do it. Keep in mind, that there were sitting Senators today who were involved in writing the 2004 act that established this position. They know, and they wrote the law so that you put someone in that role who is up to the role.

BERMAN: Jim Sciutto, always appreciate you waking up a little bit extra early--

SCIUTTO: I'll do it for you guys.

BERMAN: --to be on our show (ph). Look, it's important -- it's important to point out, as you point out sometimes we get numb to certain things, but it matters.

SCIUTTO: And it's part of a broader pattern we could (ph) see, particularly in the last couple of weeks since the president's acquittal that you have him putting loyalists in to positions. This is -- you know, look at the big picture here and connect the dots, and I think it's important that we do that.

BERMAN: All right, Jim, thanks so much.

SCIUTTO: Thank you.

CAMEROTA: All right. John, as you know overnight President Trump again floated the idea of a pardon for his long-time friend Roger Stone. A judge will decide Stone's fate today. Stone was found guilty of witness tampering and lying to investigators. Joining us now is CNN Chief Legal Analyst Jeffrey Toobin.

Jeffrey, is there any doubt in your mind that President Trump will pardon Roger Stone?

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: Pretty much none. I think if you look at what he said both about two of the major prosecutions of the Mueller investigation, started by Robert Mueller's team -- Roger Stone and Michael Flynn, he has all but said he is going to pardon them, commute their sentences if they're sentenced to prison.

[0745]

I don't know when he's going to do it, he might wait until after the election -- but I don't think there's any doubt that that's how this story will end for the two of them.

BERMAN: He could do it this morning-- TOOBIN: He could.

BERMAN: --he could do it before 10 am, when the judge actually would issue the sentence.

CAMEROTA: Or right after the judge issues the sentence--

TOOBIN: Right.

BERMAN: Either way the reason I'm speculating about this is because the president tweeted over night Tucker Carlson talking about how Roger Stone should be pardoned, which is notable for many reasons -- one of the reasons is because the president has made a ridiculous claim -- a claim that is bull. That he hasn't even thought about pardoning Roger Stone. This tweet indicates he has thought about it Jeffrey.

TOOBIN: He has, and you know, this is a really unusual sentencing coming up tonight because usually you have a very clear idea of which way a judge is going. But there are incredible variety of options available to the judge. You know, there are federal sentencing guidelines that are not mandatory but most judges follow them.

What set off this whole recent crisis was that the guidelines that the government originally said was seven to nine years, which is very long--

BERMAN: It's the very high end of what the guidelines provide (ph)--

TOOBIN: --right, and how you calculate the guidelines is also sometimes controversial and this was a controversial calculation. However, that's what the guidelines were, the president was outraged, Bill Barr came through and said we don't agree with the guidelines calculation we're going to leave the whole thing up to the judge.

So could be probation, could be nine years -- could be somewhere in between there. The judge has an enormous amount of discretion here, she has not given any sort of sign how she's going. I really do doubt it will be between seven and nine years, I think that's a very high guideline calculation but that's a lot -- there's a lot of room between probation and nine years.

CAMEROTA: Weren't we talking about how -- at one time, how she could also have called in the prosecutors who walked out because of this? And Judge Berman could have asked them what was going on, but she didn't do that though--

TOOBIN: Well she didn't, and you know, the behind the scenes story -- or you know, the public (ph) behind the scenes story of how the government in a very, very unusual way changed its calculations overnight after the president complained about the guidelines calculation that some judges might have said I want a hearing, what the hell is going on here?

The judge, I think is trying to keep the focus on Roger Stone, not on the broader politics of it -- what's the appropriate sentence for him? And she's basically letting this other stuff go by.

BERMAN: She has said she is going to sentence first, but then she's going to consider a defense motion to dismiss--

TOOBIN: For a new trial, yes.

BERMAN: --why? What's going on here, exactly?

TOOBIN: It's very common, in fact it's routine for judges to ask -- for defendants who've been convicted to ask for a new trial. He's already done it once, he's already asked for a new trial on various grounds, that's been denied. After a juror came forward and essentially defended the prosecutors, Stone's lawyers have asked for a new trial again.

I don't think they're going to get it, it's very rare. Judges don't like juror misconduct motions because they don't want to create an incentive for people to investigate jurors. I don't think it's very significant that this motion is still pending, because I don't think it's going to be granted. The real story is what's his sentence going to be this morning? And then what the president does about it.

CAMEROTA: Jeffrey Toobin. Thank you, great to see you.

TOOBIN: Okey-doke (ph).

CAMEROTA: We do have some breaking news, nine people have been killed in an attack at two bars in Germany. Why authorities are calling this a suspected act of terror.

(COMMERCIAL)

CAMEROTA: We have some breaking news, at least nine people killed in mass shootings at two bars in Germany today. The gunman is also dead along with his mother, their bodies were found inside their home near Frankfurt.

Prosecutors are treating this as an act of terrorism. CNN's Nic Robertson is live in London with all of the breaking details, what do we know at this hour, Nic?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Yeah, it's touching a raw nerve in Germany for many, many reasons. One of them, this is the biggest killing there in four years. The German Chancellor Angela Merkel has canceled her events for the day, she's staying put in the capital, Berlin.

She has spoken about this, she said that the man appears to be xenophobic, that this seems to be an act of right-wing extremism that he seemed to have a hatred for immigrants. The two shisha bars that he targeted were in a neighborhood just outside of Frankfurt that had a high number of immigrants living in those neighborhoods.

Indeed the Turkish government says that five of its nationals were killed in the shooting -- that's something we've yet to have confirmed by the German police who are investigating it. It's gone to a federal level of investigation at the moment.

The gunman fled the scene in his car after shooting up these two shisha bars, went to his residence -- and that's where the police later found him dead from gunshot wounds, his mother also, 72 years old, also dead.

This is of a real concern in Germany, we've heard the -- not only the German Chancellor, but the Foreign Minister today link it to two other previous right-wing terror attacks in Germany over the past year.

One a politician with a senior politician in the Chancellor's party killed in a right-wing attack last summer -- and then just a few months ago in the fall last year, two people killed in an attack on a synagogue and a kebab shop in another town in Germany.

So this is a really sensitive issue, it's got a lot of attention in Germany right now. John, Alisyn?

BERMAN: All right Nic, thanks so much. Please keep us posted throughout the morning as we learn more details. You know it was really interesting to hear from Tom Steyer, Presidential Candidate moments ago, who he thought the big winner was from last night's debate. Immediately he said to you, Donald Trump, right?

[0755]

CAMEROTA: He thought they were going after each other way too much on the stage (ph).

BERMAN: That's because he was basically absent from last night's Democratic debate. John Avlon here with much more on our, "Reality Check," John.

JOHN AVLON, CNN ANCHOR: That's right guys, it was a fiery night on the Vegas strip with Democrats perfecting the circular firing squad. Bernie Sanders now the front runner in national polls benefitted from newcomer Mike Bloomberg taking most of the hits.

Elizabeth Warren came out swinging, raising a number of damning issues including stop and frisk which disproportionately targeted Black and Latino men -- Bloomberg once defended it but now says it was a big mistake.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MIKE BLOOMBERG, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: When we discovered -- I discovered that we were doing many, many -- too many stop and frisks, we cut 95 percent of it out.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

AVLON: All right, let's look at the facts. Stop and frisk was a policy Bloomberg inherited but it grew six-fold under his watch, began declining in 2011 and fell to just 12,500 in the fourth quarter of his last year in office. Now it's true that a court order compelled an end to stop and frisk

for when New York was doing it, but the decline began before a judge announced it as a form of racial profiling. And the 95 percent decline Bloomberg bragged about was from his own administration's high, it was (ph) basically flat from when he entered office.

But it's also worth noting that New York City murders fell from 582 in 2002, Bloomberg's first year in office to 335 in 2013, his last year -- so 43 percent decline. And for what it's worth the judge who ended stop and frisk says she doesn't think Bloomberg is racist.

Socialism also on the docket with Bloomberg saying this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BLOOMBERG: We're not going to throw out Capitalism, we tried that -- the other countries tried that, it was called Communism and it just didn't work.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

AVLON: Bernie responded.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BERNIE SANDERS, (I) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Let's talk about Democratic Socialism, not Communism Mr. Bloomberg, that's a cheap shot. Let's talk about Democratic -- let's talk about what goes on in countries like Denmark. They have a much higher quality of life in many respects, than we do.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

AVLON: Obviously Democratic Socialism is not Communism, but what about Denmark and the other Nordic countries often cited by Sanders rather than say, Venezuela. Well, Denmark does have the highest social mobility (ph) on Earth, according to the World Economic Form (ph). Well, the U.S. is 27th. But in 2015 Denmark's Prime Minister said this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LARS RASMUSSEN, PRIME MINISTER OF DENMARK: Denmark is far from a Socialist planned (ph) economy. Denmark is a market economy.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

AVLON: And while it does have high taxes, and an expanded welfare state, it promotes trade liberalization as opposed to protectionism and abandoned its wealth tax as unworkable, along with most other European nations that tried it.

In the closing minutes of the debate, Bernie Sanders was the only person on stage who said he believed the candidate with the most delegates entering the convention should be the nominee even if they didn't have a majority. By that standard Hillary Clinton would have been the nominee going in

to the '16 convention which Sanders strenuously contested at the time. So it's a bit of a self-interested flip-flop, though Sanders disdain for super delegates has been consistent throughout.

Final fact, with Democrats directing fire at each other Donald Trump remained relatively unscathed, with Bloomberg mentioning the most but only nine times -- Mayor Pete and Klobuchar eight, Biden seven. But even with all that fire the Democratic debate had far fewer outright falsehoods than your average Trump rally, and that's your "Reality Check."

BERMAN: All right John, thank you very much. Great to get that analysis. Thank you to our international viewers for watching, for you CNN "Newsroom," is next -- for our U.S. viewers, a new point in the Democratic race for president, it really did take a dramatic turn overnight. "New Day," continues right now.