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ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT
Senator Sanders Briefed by U.S. Officials on Russian Effort to Help His Campaign; Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA) Discusses About Russia's Effort to Help Bernie Sanders in The Presidential Election; Sanders Confirms Briefing on Russian Efforts to Help Campaign; Trump Rejects Intel on Russian Bid to Help Him; Sanders Warns Putin on Effort to Help His Campaign: "You Are Not Going to be Interfering In U.S. Elections". Aired 7-8p ET
Aired February 21, 2020 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: And to our viewers, thanks very much for watching. I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM. Erin Burnett OUTFRONT starts right now.
KATE BOLDUAN, CNN HOST: OUTFRONT next breaking news, a new warning about Russian election interference. Bernie Sanders now revealing he was told Russia is trying to help him win in 2020.
Plus, the purge. President Trump on the hunt for disloyal staffers in his administration.
And changing course, Michael Bloomberg with a major reversal on those controversial agreements to keep complaints against him and his company secret. Did Elizabeth Warren force his hand?
Let's go OUTFRONT.
Good evening, everyone. I'm Kate Bolduan in for Erin Burnett.
OUTFRONT tonight, we have breaking news. Russia is now trying to help Bernie Sanders. U.S. officials have told the Vermont Senator that the Russian government is trying to assist his campaign. That briefing with Sanders said to have taken place last month. Sanders revealed that to reporters tonight. Watch here.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (D-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Let me tell Mr. Putin, the American people, whether you're Democrats, Republicans or Independents, are sick and tired of seeing Russia and other countries interfering in our elections. The Intelligence Community has been very clear about it, whether Trump recognizes it or not or acknowledges or not, they did interfere in 2016.
The intelligence community is telling us they are interfering in this campaign right now in 2020. And what I'll say to Mr. Putin, if elected president, trust me you are not going to be interfering in American elections.
(END VIDEO CLIP) BOLDUAN: Evan Perez is OUTFRONT live in Washington for us tonight.
Evan, what more are you learning about this briefing for Sanders?
EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, it turns out that the Russians never stopped doing some of this activity, Kate. It turns out that the FBI and the Intelligence Community has been watching some of this activity since the 2016 election. And part of it appears to be aimed at undermining the U.S. system, essentially giving voters and the American public reason to doubt that anything that happens from the elections is valid, essentially.
And so part of what happened here, certainly in the briefing that they gave to Bernie Sanders' campaign is what was happening in 2016. We saw that the trolls, funded by the Russians, were trying to assist Bernie Sanders against Hillary Clinton. There were also some activity that was trying to undermine the campaigns of Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz and to help Donald Trump. So some of that activity seems to have just continued and rolled into 2020.
What is surprising is that the Intelligence Committee decided to do this briefing now. We've seen in the past, Kate, that they wait, at least, until there's a nominee chosen by the parties and then you do these defensive briefings. What this tells us is that the Intelligence Community learned from what happened in 2016, when they stayed silent and there's a lot of criticism about how they handled it at that time.
It looks like what they're trying to do is being more proactive so that people can try to at least protect themselves, make the public aware of what is happening.
BOLDUAN: Yes, absolutely. Evan, thanks so much.
BOLDUAN: OUTFRONT with me now, Democratic Congressman Eris Swalwell. He sits on the House Intelligence Committee, of course, and was at last week's briefing on Russia's attempts to interfere in the 2020 election.
Congressman, thank you for coming in. There's a lot to get to tonight.
REP. ERIC SWALWELL (D-CA): Of course, thank you, Kate.
BOLDUAN: Of course. Did Russia's efforts to help Bernie Sanders in the presidential election come up at that briefing you attended last week?
SWALWELL: I can't go into anything about the briefing. I did ask Director Wray at a Judiciary Committee hearing two weeks ago if Russia was still interfering and he plainly said yes. What I will say though and first credit to Bernie Sanders for disavowing what they're doing, for acknowledging that he was briefed and also saying, Putin, I'm not going to put up with it.
The real question, though, is did Donald Trump know that Russia had a preference for Bernie Sanders, because Donald Trump for the past few months has constantly, not so subtly and consistently, been tweeting that his preferred candidate essentially is Bernie Sanders. So the question is, is he taking intelligence that he's getting and then feeding it back to be aligned with Russia, so he gets the candidate he wants to the general.
BOLDUAN: The reporting is, is that Donald Trump was not only was briefed that both he and Bernie Sanders that Russia was trying to assist, both he and Bernie Sanders. That is the reporting that we have this evening and I absolutely understand and appreciate that you don't want to talk about anything that occurred in a classified setting.
But as you mentioned, since Bernie Sanders confirmed that he was briefed, do you have any reason to question the reporting that you all were briefed on this as well.
SWALWELL: Again, I won't go into that other than our committee has consistently, for the past year, been looking at what Russia is trying to do in our elections and we believe that the upcoming elections should be free from interference. The voters voted for that in 2018 when they gave us the midterm election was that they wanted more oversight of the elections.
But again just to, I guess, put a finer point on what's going on here with Bernie Sanders, you can't hold it against Bernie Sanders that this may be a preference of Russia. But you can hold it and ask questions about Donald Trump, if he again is working as an agent of Russia by seeking not only one to tweet at Bernie Sanders and trying to amplify his campaign to get him as a general election opponent.
But two, if he is indeed firing people on his staff who are telling others about Russia's preferences, again, that's Donald Trump trying to cover up things to help Russia.
BOLDUAN: Let me play another part of what Bernie Sanders said about all of this tonight.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SANDERS: We were told that Russia and maybe other countries are going to get involved in this campaign. And look, here's the message to Russia, stay out of American elections. They are trying to cause chaos. They're trying to cause hatred in America.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BOLDUAN: And I know you just said that you give kudos for him in how he's responding to this, but Sanders also did not reveal this information. He says because it involved intelligence. Do you think Sanders should have said something publicly though before now?
SWALWELL: Well, he's in a tough position and the reason he's being briefed about it as he acknowledged is really for his own defensive awareness and I'll leave it to each campaign as to how they deal with this.
BOLDUAN: But this is a different time.
SWALWELL: But naming and shaming is what the U.S. President should be doing.
BOLDUAN: Right, but this is the era post 2016 when everyone said that folks should have been briefed more, people should have known more, the Obama administration should have done more. Do you think that Bernie Sanders should and could have done more in the months since he's been briefed, considering what we know and have learned since 2016?
SWALWELL: Kate, the question I would have is did the briefers tell him he could talk about it publicly or did he feel he could talk about it just because it was now being publicly reported. Because this is such a new era, as you pointed out, that may not have been clear to him and most of us want to be pretty careful anytime we receive information from Intelligence officials.
The United States President though, if he knows Russia is trying to do this, as the leader should call them out on the world stage and say he's not going to tolerate it. The buck really should stop with him.
BOLDUAN: As to the President and for the briefing and that part of the briefing that you were part of, I want to play what the President's response was to the assessment that Russia also prefers President Trump.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I see these phoneys, the do-nothing Democrats, they said today that Putin wants to be sure that Trump gets elected, here we go again. I was told a week ago, they said, they're trying to start a rumor. It's disinformation.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BOLDUAN: He's saying disinformation and he's saying, especially on Twitter, disinformation on the part of Democrats. So this is a disinformation campaign on the part of Democrats. What do you say to that?
SWALWELL: If the President doesn't understand why Russia likes him, let me make it clear for him, you are corrupt. You are corrupt when you tried to do business in Russia. You are corrupt when you lied about trying to do business in Russia. You have covered up all of your dealings with Putin. You kicked an interpreter out, took the notes when you spoke with Putin one on one. You were impeached because of your dealings with Russia. It should be no secret to you or anyone else in the country anymore as to why they prefer you.
BOLDUAN: And in terms of the briefing, though, I hear what you're saying to the President. But in terms of the briefing that you have, sources tell CNN that one takeaway from the briefing was that lawmakers; Democrats and Republicans alike want to see the underlying intelligence that led to the assessment about Trump. That was the latest that we had. This was before Bernie Sanders came out. Is that because people are skeptical of the assessment?
SWALWELL: Well, Kate, I'll tell you, this was not a one off briefing. There will be more and there were briefings before this one on this issue of election interference. And so we're going to continue to try and understand what the Russians are doing. We're going to use the oversight abilities we have, the power of the purse, the subpoena power to make sure that our elections are free from interference. But it's our job to ask questions.
BOLDUAN: Do you want to see the underlying intel in order to accept the assessment? Do you want to see the underlying intelligence?
SWALWELL: Yes, of course. But there has not been a single reason on any briefing I've received around intelligence interference to doubt what the intelligence briefers are telling us and we don't want them to think about politics when they come in and brief us. We just want the facts.
BOLDUAN: You would hope not. Congressman, thanks for coming in.
SWALWELL: That's right. Of course, thanks, Kate.
BOLDUAN: OUTFRONT next, Trump's new Acting Director of National Intelligence, he's a staunch defender of the President.
He is now seeking to see the evidence that Russia is trying to help Trump win. Why?
Plus, if Sanders was briefed a month ago that Russia was trying to help to, why is he only confirming it now, one day before the Nevada caucuses?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SANDERS: Why do you think it came out? It was The Washington Post. Good friends.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BOLDUAN: Plus, a follow up to an exclusive story that we first brought you here. Andrew Yang's wife says she was sexually assaulted by her doctor when she was pregnant. Tonight that doctor is under a new investigation.
BOLDUAN: Breaking news, Bernie Sanders confirming tonight he was warned a month ago that Russia is trying to help his presidential campaign. The news coming just a day after we learned that President Trump and lawmakers were told Russia's election interference campaign continues and is also trying to prop up the president. OUTFRONT now former CIA Chief of Russia Operations, Steve Hall,
Samantha Vinograd who was the Senior Advisor to the National Security Adviser under President Obama and former Director of the Nixon Library, Tim Naftali. Guys, thank you for being here.
There is so much that has happened since I was last on television, it's crazy. Steve, Russia trying to help Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders in the same election. To some that may sound confusing, honestly, does that make sense to you?
STEVE HALL, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Yes, it does, Kate. I mean to a layperson it might sound like, well, wait a second, how can you know Russia be helping both sides.
But really what we've learned over the past two election cycles and we've been talking about it for the better part of four years is that the Russians are really interested in causing division and causing us to go at each other here in the United States.
Putin is not pro Trump. He's not anti-Bernie. He's anti-United States and that's what we're going to continue to see him trying to agitate on both sides. It's pretty much a common playbook for the Russian intelligence services and that's really, I think, what Putin is up to this time around.
BOLDUAN: So Sam, the reporting is that Trump was briefed on both efforts by the Russians and he appeared to reference that knowledge, I guess I would say that's the best way to say that at a rally today. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Does anyone want to see who the Democrat is going to be? Wouldn't you rather have, let's say, Bernie? Wouldn't you rather that Bernie, who honeymooned in Moscow.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BOLDUAN: Seeing that, knowing what we know now, does that change the way you kind of see your judge the way he's talking about this?
SAM VINOGRAD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, I think that anybody should take a step back and recognize that President Trump seems to be actively inviting Russian interference yet again as long as it's not supposedly against him. He has bristled at the news that the Intelligence Committees were briefed that he was Putin's pick. No one wants to publicly be Putin's pick.
But he seems to be inviting Russian interference on the Democratic side of the campaign and as Steve was just saying, the more that changes, the more that stays the same. We have indications that the Russians interfered in the Democratic primary, in the Republican primary back in 2016 and this is not an 'oops he did it again' moment. The Intelligence Community has been on record about Russian
interference in 2016, 2018 and warned about 2020. What we are seeing now is the fruits of their labor, they're interfering with various candidates, trying to sow divisions. And instead of guarding against election insecurity, President Trump is inviting it and so if he's not willing to actually acknowledge the threat or let the IC acknowledge the threat to committees in Congress, what is he actually doing about it?
BOLDUAN: That's a very important question. And Tim, this is the thing that sets him off the most. Any suggestion or any information, any intelligence that could be construed as Russia is helping him actually win, is actually having an impact and he didn't do it all himself, right? So what is this moment? Honestly, it mean then for him and his presidency.
TIM NAFTALI, CNN PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: I've often wondered why people assume that he's a good dealmaker since his tail is so easy to see. If we can predict what sets him off, you don't think that foreign leaders can predict. You don't think that they could take advantage of that to drive a hard bargain when they need to.
The very fact that the President of the United States is willing to spread this information about the nature of an assault on our democracy suggests that when push comes to shove, he's only interested in his own political survival and that is very dangerous for the country. We're watching right now the potential of a purge of our Intelligence Community by one of his political appointees, just because he doesn't like the fact that once again the Intelligence Community has found that Russia is interfering in our democracy.
BOLDUAN: I want to get to that, actually I'm going to bring that up in one second. But Steve, The New York Times is also reporting that the new Acting Director of National Intelligence, essentially on day one, has requested the underlying intelligence that led to this assessment about Russia trying to help Trump. I wonder, does that sound to you like good due diligence? Does that sound like an attempt to undermine? Does that mean that Russia's efforts are already working kind of to Tim's point?
HALL: Well, I think what we're seeing is, again, a pattern out of Donald Trump that has become even stronger since he considers himself cleared now of impeachment and other potentially negative law enforcement actions. He is indeed cleaning house.
And this is something that I'm very familiar with, unfortunately, not because I've lived in the United States, but because I've spent over 75% of my career in places where autocracies where the rule, places like Russia and other locations where there really was no rule of law and no democracy. And this is exactly what people who rule those countries do.
I can't tell you how many times I've seen a new prime minister or a new president in a foreign country comes in and says, OK, who are the bad guys? Who are the people from the opposing party? Let's get them out of there, so I can get the answers that I would like to see. Not as Representative Swalwell was saying earlier, bringing just the facts which is what the Intelligence Community is trained to do and does an excellent job of it.
So this is more of Trump's housecleaning and I think it's going to do a lot of damage, not necessarily only to the Intelligence Community as he tries to bring them to heel or DOJ as he tries to bring them to heel.
But to U.S. National Security when he's not going to get the type of intelligence that this country needs to protect himself better from bad actors like Russia, Iran and China.
BOLDUAN: And Sam, adding to this is another is another layer of this. Trump is now a new head of personnel and CNN has learned - and this is a little bit of what we're alluding to here that he is telling folks in his, essentially initial meeting, to look out for staffers across the administration who are seen as disloyal to the President.
One; every president comes in and brings in new people. This is different than that, obviously. Was there ever a suggestion when you were working in the administration in the White House of this kind of, I don't know, disloyal hunt.
VINOGRAD: If President Obama had an enemies' list, it was composed of people that were trying to attack our country, not people that he perceived were attacking his ego. That's where he focused his efforts. Any firing squad was focused on people who were not doing their jobs.
In this case, the predicate for job security in this administration is so perverse, as this individual is looking at who to fire, he's extensively looking at people that are willing to keep quiet about potential crimes and that are willing to smile and nod about whatever the President says. That kind of activity would have gotten any official under President Obama or President Bush who might also served under would have gotten fired.
But in the first instance, this guy wouldn't had a job in the Obama administration. He was escorted off the White House grounds because of security clearance issues and now he is in charge of vetting who is supposedly qualified to still serve in this administration. Nobody should want to be on the designated survivors' list for President Trump at this point.
BOLDUAN: Tim, final word.
NAFTALI: I was just going to say that a great Intelligence Community tells presidents what they don't want to hear. A great civil servant tells a president something they didn't know. When you have a president who is insecure about his knowledge and who sees any criticism as threatening, you'll never get the kind of information you need to the President, which means we are all at risk.
BOLDUAN: But this is a new reality. This is the Trump administration post acquittal, cleaning house and settling scores, at least in part, because that's the evidence that we've seen to this point.
Good to see you, guys. Thank you very much.
NAFTALI: Thank you.
BOLDUAN: OUTFRONT for us next, Joe Biden, he's just now speaking out about the new warning Russia is trying to help Bernie Sanders win.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Let me put it this way, I know Russia doesn't want me to win.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BOLDUAN: Could this in some strange way help Biden's campaign?
Plus, Elizabeth Warren slamming Michael Bloomberg's decision to release women from their non-disclosure agreements. Why?
BOLDUAN: And breaking news, Bernie Sanders with a stern warning to Vladimir Putin after learning Russia is trying to help his campaign, it's a very different message than we heard from President Trump earlier today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I see these phoneys, the do-nothing Democrats, they said today that Putin wants to be sure that Trump gets elected, here we go again.
I was told a week ago, they said, they're trying to start a rumor. It's disinformation.
SANDERS: Mr. Putin is a thug. He's an autocrat. And what I'll say to Mr. Putin, if elected president, trust me, you are not going to be interfering in American elections.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BOLDUAN: Jeff Zeleny is OUTFRONT from Las Vegas for us tonight. Jeff, you were at the President's rally today, a pretty stark difference in tone and message from Sanders on this very same threat.
JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORREPONDENT: I mean, Kate, it certainly was. The President essentially doing what he's been doing for the last three and a half years or so, essentially mocking the Intelligence Community's assessment that Russia did meddle in the 2016 election and is planning on or is meddling in the 2020 election.
We have seen the President repeatedly do this. If he's standing side by side with Vladimir Putin in Helsinki a couple summers ago or if he's meeting with him in a different location, he never has stood up to him directly and talked about this. He said he is very strong and tough on him, but we've seen no evidence of that.
But it was an entirely different tone and tenor, if you will, from Senator Sanders. He was campaigning in California in advance of the Nevada caucuses here and he was making no bones about the fact. He said that the Russia cannot undermine the American democracy, American election.
So, Erin, essentially what we're left here is what is this U.S. government, what is the Trump White House, Trump administration going to do about this going forward? We know that the Russians are planning to meddle in this election, but the stark response, essentially, the President firing or dismissing his Director of National Intelligence after that briefing on Capitol Hill and Senator Sanders is saying, look, Russia can't undermine the democracy.
So a very big divide here, just in a span of a couple hours here from a president and a presidential candidate.
BOLDUAN: Good to see you, Jeff. Thank you.
OUTFRONT with me now, Alexandra Rojas, Executive Director of Justice Democrats and Democratic Strategist Keith Boykin. It's good to see you guys.
Keith, what do you make of Bernie Sanders' response to this threat that Russia is trying to help him?
KEITH BOYKIN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I liked his initial response when he said that Putin should stay out of our elections, which is what Donald Trump should have said from the beginning, what he should have said in 2016, but he did not. The secondary response after The Washington Post story came out a little different and troubling.
In that response, he acknowledged that he had known about it for a month and he kind of blamed The Washington Post. I didn't think that was a good response. I don't think that's what he should be saying.
Part of Bernie Sanders' appeal is his authenticity, that he's willing to be a straight shooter and speak about what he believes unapologetically.
BOYKIN: So when you have those, that kind of appeal and that's your philosophy.
He can't have this sort of lack of transparency about a major issue that you have information that's been delivered to you.
It's the same question people had about medical records and the same question people had about Sanders' unwillingness to just sort of talk about Mike Bloomberg's money.
BOYKIN: You know, why wouldn't he accept Mike Bloomberg's money?
So I think he's got some questions to answer and I don't think it's threatening to his campaign, but he's got to figure out a way to be more clear and consistent about this and not be consistent with his values of transparency.
BOLDUAN: What Keith is getting at, Alexandra, let me play this moment of the kind of Sanders on the tarmac as he was walking away how this went down. Let me play this for you.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: How do you think it came out now if you had the briefing a month ago?
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I let you guess, about one day before the Iowa -- the Nevada caucus. Why do you think it came out? It's "The Washington Post"? Good friends.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BOLDUAN: I mean, it's kind of a Trump-like play there. Is he really blaming "The Washington Post" for reporting -- look, it's reporting. That's -- this is how it works.
ALEXANDRA ROJAS, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, JUSTICE DEMOCRATS: Well, look, I mean, I think the media has been, you know, since 2016 to not just Bernie Sanders, but I think a lot of the supporters, the outlook has been that they've been unfair and constantly criticizing not just Bernie Sanders, but his progressive ideas.
But I mean, look, at the time if this was a month ago we don't know if the briefing was classified or not and I think the important thing to focus on here is that Bernie Sanders is standing up to Vladimir Putin in a way that Donald Trump never will, and I think it's also really important to recognize that this is the day before the Nevada caucuses and Bernie Sanders is the undisputed front-runner nationally and heading into Nevada, and that the big focus has be and -- and Sanders' foreign policy I think also speaks to -- that Russia does not -- would not be happy with a Bernie Sanders presidency because of how tough he is going to be against authoritarian regimes and autocratic leaders like Vladimir Putin.
BOLDUAN: Well, and -- Sanders' campaign on some level Keith is arguing that the release of this news is designed to purposely damage Sanders and that -- in suggesting that the president -- suggests that President Trump could be directly responsible for it.
I mean, do you buy that? This is why -- this is why this feels so uncomfortable to me. It's such a serious issue and it is so quickly becoming what it looks like.
BOYKIN: It's a serious issue, yes.
BOYKIN: Yes. I don't -- I don't -- I mean, I wouldn't put it past Donald Trump to try to politicize national intelligence like he did with Ukraine to do that again, to weaponize this and to hold against Bernie Sanders.
Is there any evidence for that, though? And without that evidence, it's irresponsible to suggest that there is. So, I think what the responsible course of action was what Bernie Sanders said from the beginning, that Vladimir should stay out of our elections, period.
BOLDUAN: Just stay there, just stay there.
BOYKIN: Period. You didn't have to say anything else. You didn't have to blame "The Washington Post". You didn't have to talk about it anymore.
And, you know, again, going back to that he knew about it a month ago, understanding Alexandra's point, if this was not classified, this is -- if acknowledged (ph) --
BOLDUAN: Yes. If they said you can talk about it, whatever. Yes, yes.
BOYKIN: If he had the permission to talk about it, it would have been -- it would have behooved him to talk about it a month ago because he was going to take a hit for this either way. But you take less of a hit when you acknowledge it and say, this is what happened, this is what I know, and I'm still saying that Vladimir Putin should stay out of our election. So, you know, transparency is part of the essence of what makes Bernie Sanders appealing as a candidate.
So, you've got be transparent. You've got to be different from Donald Trump. You can't be using the same values that Donald Trump would use.
BOLDUAN: Look, and let me play, Alexandra, for you what Joe Biden is saying kind of in response to all of this. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I know Russia doesn't want me to win. As you well know, they've already on Facebook, they've taken down all of the bots and the thousands of bots run by Russians to try to tell lies about me. And so, from the beginning, it's very clear that Putin doesn't want me to be the nominee and Donald Trump doesn't want me to be the nominee.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BOLDUAN: Can I just say, doesn't the focus on who Russia prefers and doesn't prefer, doesn't that completely miss the point here entirely of what's actually happening?
ROJAS: Well, I mean, I don't think Russia wants any Democrat that is not Donald Trump to be elected. It's not going to be helpful for his presidency, and I completely agree at that time focus right now has to be on Donald Trump and defeating him and this issue right now, I think, is about standing -- you know, that Russia should not be interfering at all in U.S. elections and I think every Democrat right now should be focused on what is it going to take to defeat Donald Trump and keep the party unified, as we know, disinformation is gong to be trying to, you know, sow division within the Democratic Party.
BOLDUAN: For all candidates not -- I mean, obviously, this is Kate being super kumbaya and Pollyanna.
But all candidates, no matter what letter is beside their name, linking arms and saying, it's happening now, Russia's trying and this is what we need to be doing, because otherwise, again, the question remains that we've had throughout the show which is if Trump is talking this way, you've got Sanders talking this way, what is actually happening to try to stop Russia who is actively trying to interfere, meddle once again in the election? That question lingers.
Thank you, guys.
Did OUTFRONT next, did Mike Bloomberg cave to Elizabeth Warren tonight saying he will release three women from their non-disclosure agreements?
Plus, Bernie Sanders refusing to turn over his medical records after his heart attack in October. So what do you really know about his health? Sanjay Gupta is OUTFRONT.
BOLDUAN: New tonight, Mike Bloomberg says he'll release the women covered by three non-disclosure agreements detailing complaint against him. That new position comes just 48 hours after Bloomberg said essentially the exact opposite, stumbling through that question on the debate stage in Nevada.
OUTFRONT now, Democratic South Carolina State Representative Todd Rutherford.
He supports Mike Bloomberg.
Thanks for coming in.
TODD RUTHERFORD (D), SOUTH CAROLINA STATE REPRESENTATIVE: Thank you for having me, Erin.
BOLDUAN: Now, we see what's all transpired with Bloomberg releasing the statement. Do you think Mike Bloomberg handled this well with regard to the NDAs?
RUTHERFORD: You know, it looked like he was caught off guard on the stage and it looked like everyone else that, all of a sudden, is reminded of something that they've done in their past that they're embarrassed about. But he also was smart enough to recognize that these were consensual agreements done between lawyers and parties, and that he couldn't just sit on the stage say that it's OK to release people from NDAs without talking to the parties involved.
It looks like they'll do that now and they're going to free the parties up to talk about what happened back then, and I hope this puts this matter to bed. What we need to be talking about is what's going on in November. We need to be worried about how we're going to beat the Trump-Putin ticket that is developing now, and if we're not talking about, we're going to lose.
BOLDUAN: So, first off, I mean, I don't -- I was obviously, clearly not involved in debate prep with Bloomberg, but there was no way that he wasn't aware that this wasn't going to come at him on the debate stage. They've been talking -- they've been talking about this leading up to it for days. There's no way he wasn't prepared for this.
And as to what you said is, you want to -- do you think they should be put to bed, here's what Elizabeth Warren says about it tonight.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: That's just not good enough. Michael Bloomberg needs to do a blanket release so that all women who have been muzzled by non-disclosure agreements can step up and tell their side of the story.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BOLDUAN: What do you say to them?
RUTHERFORD: Unfortunately, Elizabeth Warren simply can't let this go. This is her last grasp of hope. It's not going to get her any vote in South Carolina --
BOLDUAN: Well, I don't know about that, because it is something discordant that he's releasing three people from non-disclosure agreements and then he says in the statement he put out this evening, I've done a lot of reflecting on this issue over the past few days and I've decided that as long as I'm running the company, we won't offer confidentiality agreements to resolve claims of sexual harassment or misconduct going forward. So it is a fair question if you're going to release people and you're not -- and you don't -- you think these nondisclosure agreements are not good, dangerous for people going forward, why not release everybody from non-disclosure agreements that have been signed in the past?
RUTHERFORD: Erin, because the three that he released were the ones that involved him. He has a company with 20,000 employees and it is unfair again to speak for those other employees that were involved in this that simply may not want to address them on either side because that's the benefit of NDAs is nobody has to talk about it moving forward. It minds both parties.
But, again, Elizabeth Warren has not won a single primary that she's entered. She's not going to win South Carolina, and if she doesn't keep this on the forefront, then she's going to be out of camera shot, and that's going to be bad for her. We have got to move on and it's time for people like Elizabeth Warren, those people that are not winning races to simply get out of the race because if they do not, then we can't beat Donald Trump.
BOLDUAN: So, wait, do you think this is just kind of a nonsense issue? You don't think this was an important thing to be brought up, discuss and a good development, as he says?
RUTHERFORD: I know it's an important -- I know it's an important issue and that's why it's been brought up, and that's why Michael Bloomberg released those people that he had NDAs with. But the problem is, we've got other issues like climate, we've got other issues like climate change that we are not addressing. We've got to talk about guns. We've got to talk about nd Russia's involvement in our election, and if we are not doing that, then we are missing the game.
And that is how the Trump-Putin ticket won last time and that is how they'll win this time if we take our hands off the ball, and if we keep looking at things that are red herrings. If Mike Bloomberg were like Donald Trump, he wouldn't have apologized, he wouldn't have said he never did it, he would have lied despite all the evidence, and he would have moved on.
He's not a sociopath like our current president. He's someone that cared, had feelings and wanted to address it and has done so.
BOLDUAN: I hear you. I don't know if a lot of folks would consider this issue though a red herring. But I do want to ask you on something else.
The fact -- well, it's obvious that Mike is not on the ballot in South Carolina, and since that's the case, I'm hoping I can get a candid assessment from you because South Carolina is considered Joe Biden's firewall. A new South Carolina poll released yesterday shows that Biden has a narrow lead over Sanders there at the moment.
Do you think Biden is going to win South Carolina?
RUTHERFORD: You know, Biden may win, but it will be by the narrowest of margins. What I keep hearing in South Carolina now are people that want to vote for Mike Bloomberg and as you mentioned earlier, they can't and a lot of people -- especially in the African-American community who want to vote for Tom Steyer, the problem is, I don't believe that Tom Steyer can take it across the finish line and we can't write in in South Carolina.
But Biden has been weakening by the moment and his inability to apologize for comments made by Dick Harpootlian was distressing.
BOLDUAN: Thanks for coming in. I appreciate your time.
RUTHERFORD: Thank you.
BOLDUAN: OUTFRONT for us next, if Bernie Sanders wins, this would be the nomination of the presidency, he will be the oldest candidate ever elected yet he is still refusing to release his full medical records. So, what do we know about his health? Sanjay Gupta is next.
Plus, an important update on a story that we first brought you about Andrew Yang's wife who says that she was sexually assaulted by her doctor when she was pregnant. Tonight, that doctor is under a new investigation.
BOLDUAN: Tonight, Bernie Sanders is still refusing to turn over his full medical records despite previously committing to do so.
Sanders' health has been in the spotlight especially since he suffered a heart attack in October. And if Sanders were to win, he would be the oldest candidate ever elected to the White House.
Are the few letters from his doctors that have been released enough?
CNN's chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta is OUTFRONT.
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Last October, I visited Senator Bernie Sanders at his home in Vermont shortly after he had a heart attack.
SANDERS: Sanjay, the God's truth is that if you're sitting there and you said, Bernie, did you have a heart attack last week, I'd say what are you talking about? I feel great.
GUPTA: Within a month, the 78-year-old Sanders was back to doing three to four events a day on the campaign trail, but his heart attack did amplify concerns voters may have already had.
An NBC News/"Wall Street Journal" poll from this month found that while 39 percent of registered voters are comfortable with the candidate who's had a heart attack in the past year, 50 percent of voters have reservations.
SANDERS: People do have the right to know about the health of a senator and somebody who's running for the president of the United States, full disclosure, and we will at the appropriate time all our medical records public, for you or anybody else who wants to see them.
GUPTA (on camera): Obviously, you're doing this interview with me. It is a fair conversation to be having go health.
SANDERS: Of course, it is. Absolutely.
GUPTA (voice-over): Instead in December, his campaign released these three letters, including one from Dr. Brian Monahan, the attending physician of the U.S. Congress, who has treated Sanders for the past 29 years. He wrote: You are in good health currently and you have been engaging
vigorously in the rigors of your campaign, travel, and other scheduled activities without any limitation. Monahan noted that since his heart attack, Sanders' heart function had improved enough so that he could stop using some of the medications he was initially prescribed.
Sanders' current daily medication include ones for cholesterol, thyroid and blood pressure, as well as aspirin and blood thinners. The two other letters were from his treating cardiologist. His doctors also said Sanders' heart function is comparable if not better to men his age.
Now, most experts say a full release of medical records wouldn't necessarily shed more light on his health but one test result could help, the ejection fraction. That's the amount of blood pumped from the chamber with each contraction. It's a measure of the function of the heart.
In 2008, then presidential candidate Senator John McCain invited me and several other reporters to evaluate eight years' worth of medical records for several hours. But that has been the exception and not the rule. And Sanders told CNN at Tuesday's town hall what he released he believes is enough?
SANDERS: We have released I think, Anderson, quite as much as any other candidate has and I'm comfortable with what we have done.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Just to be clear, you don't plan to release any more records?
SANDERS: I don't. I don't think we will, no.
BOLDUAN: And Sanjay is here with me now.
I mean, Sanjay, we saw you digging through boxes and boxes of McCain's records. I still remember that when you were doing that back then.
But how much useful information do these full medical records give you versus the letters like Sanders released?
GUPTA: Yes, I can tell you practically speaking, Kate, I mean, nobody really does that. It takes -- it takes hours to go through all these medical records, so if you have a specific question looking at a specific time frame, you know, people will dig through the medical records for that. But to sort of look at them, de novo, trying to make sense of, you know, years and years' worth of papers is not something that typically happens.
I will point out a couple of things. First of all, medical records are protected by HIPAA. That's a medical privacy act. The second thing is, you know, we're not just looking at the letters when you look at these letters, we wan to know wrote them, in this case, Dr. Monahan, who's the congressional doctor, also how long has he been taking care of Senator Sanders? In this case, close to 30 years. So it's the data, the relevant data, who is providing the data,
there's all these different things that go into the letter and this is often how medical professionals communicate.
BOLDUAN: That's absolutely right. It's good to see you, Sanjay. Thank you.
GUPTA: You too. Have a good night.
BOLDUAN: OUTFRONT next, we brought you the emotional story of Andrew Yang's wife, laying out in painful detail how she says she was sexually assaulted by her doctor when she was seven months' pregnant. Tonight, that doctor is facing a new investigation.
BOLDUAN: New tonight, the Manhattan district attorney's office says it's investigating new allegations against the doctor of Evelyn Yang, the wife of former presidential candidate Andrew Yang.
Now, this is just weeks after Yang shared her painful story exclusively with CNN and Dana Bash which prompted 40 women to come forward with their own accounts of sexual assault allegedly by the same doctor.
There are now around 70 women who say they are survivors of this doctor. 70 who never spent -- this doctor never spent a day in prison after prosecutors cut a plea deal in 2016.
Drew Griffin is OUTFRONT with us tonight.
Drew, a new investigation is what these women have been asking for. What do you know?
DREW GRIFFIN, CNN SENIOR INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT: Kate, they have been asking, but some have been asking for years and say the D.A. is only doing this now because of this intense scrutiny and quite frankly, the courage of these women including Evelyn Yang coming forward publicly.
You know, Dr. Hadden is described by one of the attorneys here as potentially the most prolific sexual predator this New York City history. You mentioned, there are upwards of 70 women, these are former patients claiming the doctor had sexually abused them in exam rooms during doctor's appointments at Columbia University Medical Center, yet, he got this sweetheart deal?
Not only, Kate, did he spend not one day in prison, he's never been on probation. He just retired and he went home. Some of these accusers think this is the D.A.'s problem, part of a pattern of the D.A.'s office in New York. They say to let high-profile or financially connected men off the hook in sex cases. They've called for district attorney Cy Vance to resign. As of today, he says he's open to survivors coming forward, talking with prosecutors and potentially having new charges against this doctor.
BOLDUAN: So, has Evelyn Yang said anything about this?
GRIFFIN: Well, she called it a good start. She wants more. She wants more than just the investigation of Hadden. She wants the D.A. to investigate Columbia University Medical Center for as she says allowing this doctor to prey on so many patients over decades when they had indication from multiple sources that he was acting inappropriately.
Kate, Columbia University told us it supports the victims and will cooperate with the D.A.'s investigation.
BOLDUAN: Thank you so much for your work on this, Drew. Really appreciate it.
And thank you all so much for joining us tonight.
"AC360" starts now.