Return to Transcripts main page
Intel Agency Warns Russians Are Interfering in 2020 Election; NFL Owners Agree To Terms Of New CBA Proposal; Nevada Culinary Union Could Determine Bernie Sanders' Fate. Aired 7:30-8a ET
Aired February 21, 2020 - 07:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Sources tell CNN that intelligence officials told lawmakers last week that Russia is, again, actively trying to subvert our election and they have a preference for Donald Trump to win. The president, reportedly, did not like that message.
Joining us now is Nina Jankowicz. She is the Disinformation Fellow at The Wilson Center. She's also the author of the upcoming book, "How to Lose the Information War."
Disinformation fellow -- I've not heard that title before.
NINA JANKOWICZ, DISINFORMATION FELLOW, THE WILSON CENTER, AUTHOR, "HOW TO LOSE THE INFORMATION WAR": I think I'm the only one, perhaps, in the world but definitely in Washington. It's a great title.
CAMEROTA: So, before we get to the politics of this and how the president feels about the information, let's talk about the information. I'm sure it comes as no surprise to you to hear that Russia is at it again. Do you know how they're trying to do this? What do voters need to know right now?
JANKOWICZ: Well, you're absolutely right, Alisyn, it's not surprising at all. The United States government has given Russia no reason to stop its meddling. What we've done is make it a little bit harder with the social media companies, it must be said. They should get some credit. They've made it harder to interfere.
But instead, what the Russians and other bad actors are doing is going underground. They're going into private and closed Facebook groups. They're using homegrown actors to deliver their message, which is something that they've repeated around central and Eastern Europe for the past decade-plus.
CAMEROTA: But that means homegrown actors again sow discord? Is that the strategy here?
JANKOWICZ: Absolutely. That's always the strategy for Russia. They want to make things as chaotic here as possible so that they can point to our issues and say it to their people -- hey, that democracy thing is not working out so well over there in that shiny city on a hill.
CAMEROTA: And from what you've seen for the past three years from the Trump administration, you say that our counterterrorism strategy appears to be a Hail Mary pass.
JANKOWICZ: Yes. Well, I think we've got some really dedicated people across the U.S. government working on these issues at different levels, but from the White House, we don't have recognition that this is a threat. In fact, President Trump has belittled the fact that this is a threat. He's joked about it with Vladimir Putin.
So until we get that signal from the White House, the Russians are going to keep doing what they're doing. We've imposed no costs and we don't have a coordinated strategy across the U.S. government. We've got these little pieces working individually but we don't have that coordinated strategy to inform the American people and protect our discourse.
CAMEROTA: So you're saying that without President Trump's buy-in, the Intel Community can't do its job well enough?
JANKOWICZ: Well, he's undermining their message and he's undermining the costs -- the few costs that we have imposed on Russia and other bad actors that are interfering in our elections.
CAMEROTA: I mean, as you know, his administration says they have imposed costs. There were 13 Russian indicted because of election meddling. There were 19 Russians sanctioned.
CAMEROTA: They hit some Russian entities -- businesses -- with it.
JANKOWICZ: Well, some of that is related to Ukraine, of course -- it's not only related to disinformation. But all of those messages are undermined by the fact that President Trump gets up every day, he tweets. He says things like no collusion, no obstruction, witch, hunt, et cetera, and that's all related to the Russia investigation.
And now, we have this news from "The New York Times" saying that this important briefing that was going on on the Hill last week has, again, been undermined by the president because he doesn't want to hear the fact that the Russians are supporting him.
CAMEROTA: Possibly, the most stunning thing that he's said was July 16th, 2018 in Helsinki. Let me just remind people when he sided with Vladimir Putin.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: My people came to me -- Dan Coats came to me and some others. They said they think it's Russia.
I have President Putin. He just said it's not Russia. I will say this. I don't see any reason why it would be.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAMEROTA: What did that moment mean to the Intel Community?
JANKOWICZ: Well, I think to every American it's shocking to see the U.S. president siding with an adversary -- a strategic adversary of the United States who, you know, for over a year at that point, we had been hearing over and over this is Russia not just from the Intel Community but from folks all around the world -- our allies. Researchers like myself who see this going on on a daily basis.
I was shocked. My jaw just dropped when that happened and it's still one of the saddest moments of the Trump presidency for me.
CAMEROTA: Your reporting this morning is that it's gone beyond the president now and that when the intel officials went over to the Intel Committee in Congress to brief them, as is their job --
CAMEROTA: -- and if the Intel Committee, to receive this information, process it, figure out what to do, that the Republicans -- many Republicans on the Intel Committee didn't -- they also became irate. They didn't want to hear the message that Russia had quote "developed a preference for Donald Trump."
And so, if they are not even receiving the information, where does that leave us?
JANKOWICZ: I mean, it leaves us in a very dangerous situation. I'm not surprised that the issue has become so politicized. We saw this playing out during the impeachment proceedings with the Republicans repeating, essentially, Russian disinformation -- almost wrote about Ukrainian alleged election interference that didn't happen.
So right now, we essentially have an entire party siding with a strategic adversary of the United States and we've got elections this year. The American people are not prepared, our government is not prepared, and we've imposed, really, no cost on the bad actors that seek to undermine our democratic choices.
CAMEROTA: On that alarming note, Nina Jankowicz, we really appreciate your expertise in this.
JANKOWICZ: Thanks for having me.
CAMEROTA: Thanks so much -- John.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Disinformation officer -- I love that.
All right. So, Bernie Sanders has surged in the national polls. What does he have to do, though, to earn the support of, say, conservative Democrats and maybe moderate Republicans -- never-Trump Republicans? Can he win them over if they are wary of the idea of democratic socialism?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We are living, in many ways, in a socialist society right now. The problem is, as Dr. Martin Luther King reminded us, we have socialism for the very rich; rugged individualism for the poor.
MICHAEL BLOOMBERG (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It's a wonderful country we have. The best-known socialist in the country happens to be a millionaire with three houses. What'd I miss here?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: So, that was Bernie Sanders dismissing a recent poll suggesting American voters are uncomfortable with the idea of electing a democratic socialist as president. Michael Bloomberg obviously felt differently.
The question for Bernie Sanders is this. If he is the Democratic nominee, can he attract conservative Democrats? Can he attract moderate -- maybe, never-Trump Republicans to win in November?
Joining me now to discuss, CNN political commentator Ana Navarro. And, co-host of "RISING" on Hill T.V., Krystal Ball.
I want to establish a baseline before we even begin this discussion. Ana, let me start with you on this. Does the Democratic nominee need moderate Republicans or never-Trump Republicans to win in November?
ANA NAVARRO, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: How about a basic question? Does the Democratic nominee need to be a Democrat to win the nomination? And it's looking increasingly like maybe not.
But look, it depends. It depends on the formula you use to get to the 270 electoral votes, right?
If your formula includes places like Florida, I would tell you, yes. If your formula includes some of the places that were lost by less than 7,000 votes, then you have Independents, you have moderate Democrats, and you certainly have disenfranchised Republicans -- never Trumpers -- who could make that difference. Or you need to make it up from being able to take out that Obama coalition to the streets that didn't go out in the same level as they did in 2012.
Either way, you've got to come up with a formula for 270.
BERMAN: So, Krystal, to you. Do you think the Democratic nominee needs to worry about attracting Republicans?
KRYSTAL BALL, CO-HOST, "RISING" ON HILL T.V., AUTHOR, "THE POPULIST'S GUIDE TOLUSE OLORUNNIPA, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, THE WASHINGTON POST: 2020": I think Ana lays it out well. There are a couple of routes to get here but I actually don't think you have to pick either-or.
And with Bernie Sanders -- look, we know that he excites the base. We know he's going to bring out more young people and probably more working-class diverse communities that stayed home in 2016. But we can look at his 30-year electoral history in Vermont to see how he does with those more moderate and conservative voters.
Now look, Vermont, overall, obviously is a more liberal state at this point, but there were 61 towns that voted for Donald Trump. Of those 61 towns, Bernie Sanders won 47 of them.
Now, compare that to Elizabeth Warren in Massachusetts where there were 91 towns that went for Trump. She was only able to win back four of them.
So we can see, actually, Bernie Sanders has outperformed in the kind of deindustrialized towns in Vermont that are very similar to those key swing states in the industrial Midwest.
BERMAN: The question, is it an either-or? And, Ana, I think this is where you come in as somehow who has spent your life in the Republican Party, as someone who has been a lifelong Republican. How comfortable would you be voting for someone who calls himself a socialist?
NAVARRO: Oh, I am incredibly uncomfortable about it. The problem for me is that I am most uncomfortable voting for Donald Trump. That, for me, is not an option.
But I can tell you that there's something -- look, two things about Bernie Sanders. Number one, this is who he is and at 76, 78 -- whatever he is -- he is not going to change, and he can't change because people would question his authenticity.
But in places like Florida and for people like Republicans and moderates -- and I realize people in the Democratic primary don't care. When they say you screwed up your own house -- we'll take care of that -- they've got a point. That being said, when we hear the word socialist that's like communism.
BERMAN: Well, that's -- there's two things, right?
NAVARRO: As did so many Cuban-Americans in Miami.
BERMAN: You're from Nicaragua, there's Cuba --
NARRAVO: As Nicaraguans --
BERMAN: -- there's Venezuela.
NAVARRO: -- there's Venezuela.
There is a reason why Donald Trump is dragging out the -- you know, the Democratic Juan Guaido from Venezuela at the State of the Union because it triggers us emotionally.
And when we see these videos of Bernie Sanders talking about the Sandinistas, and talking about the Soviet Union, and talking about Cuba, it gives us the heebie-jeebies. That's just the bottom line.
At the same time, I recognize that there's a lot of young people who embrace what Bernie Sanders is saying. I have friends who tell me their children were in Iowa -- people from Miami. You don't go to Iowa in January and February if you are from Miami -- because they were there campaigning for Bernie Sanders.
BERMAN: Let me just put up some poll numbers here. This is from the "Wall Street Journal," I believe, and it has to do with if people are comfortable with a candidate being a socialist. Forty-six percent, very uncomfortable; 21 percent, some reservations. That adds up to 67 percent.
Ana used a political science term for this, Krystal, which is the heebie-jeebies.
BERMAN: And you acknowledge that they exist for a lot of voters. Whether Democrats absolutely, 100 percent, need them, I don't know, but they'd sure be convenient if you want to win an election.
BALL: Yes, but if you look at the polling -- I mean, when it's not just some hypothetical socialist, the polling shows that Bernie Sanders is the best candidate in terms of electability versus Trump at this point. It used to be Biden. Sanders has closed that gap now to where he consistently outperforms Biden on that measure of electability.
Look, I think the bottom line is -- and this is core to my own political philosophy -- economic populism is an electoral winner. Why? Because it's a unifying message across the working-class.
Bernie Sanders focusing on health care, on wages, on labor rights, on clean air and clean water -- these are things that are not partisan issues as he loves to say, which I think is a great point. Republicans get sick, too. They care about their health care as well.
And while -- to the point about the Latino community and the importance there, that is an incredibly important electorate with very diverse views and I never want to paint it with a broad brush. But if we look in this primary there's one candidate who disproportionately outperforms with Latinos and that's Bernie Sanders. That's why he's very likely to win the Nevada caucuses.
I mean, we've seen polling that has shown him up over 50 percent with Democratic primary voters in the Latino community. So his strength there is also going to be incredibly important in many of these swing states.
BERMAN: Is he --
NAVARRO: And she hits -- and she hits upon something. Not all Latinos are --
NAVARRO: -- like -- you know, some of us are from the Little Mexico, some of us are from the real Mexico, some of us are from the Mexico surrounded by water and we come to this with different experiences. We come to this from different political perspectives.
And I also -- you know, you also -- look, when you're an American, you're a Latino, you're a woman, you're a union member. You are many, many things that make up who you are and your political philosophy and it's different for people in different places.
BERMAN: Ana Navarro, Krystal Ball, great to have you here with us this morning. Thanks so much.
BALL: Thanks, John.
CAMEROTA: All right, John.
One of the most influential labor unions in Nevada does not support Bernie Sanders because of his signature Medicare for All plan. CNN speaks with workers to see how they would be impacted, they think, by this.
BERMAN: NFL owners agree to the terms of a new collective bargaining agreement, saying up -- setting up a player vote that could include major changes to the league.
Coy Wire now with more in the Bleacher Report. There's a lot in this, Coy.
COY WIRE, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Yes, good morning, John.
The plan could give NFL fans a better chance of their team making the playoffs as soon as next season. Fourteen teams would make the playoffs instead of just 12, according to ESPN. That's if the players sign off on it.
Right now, the two best teams in each conference bet byes during Wild Card weekend, but only one from each conference would automatically advance under the new proposal.
So, for example, under the new format, the defending Super Bowl champion Chiefs would have had to play in the Wild Card round last season against the Steelers, who would have made the playoffs. The Rams would have made it from the NFC. Now, the owners -- they're also trying to increase the number of regular-season games from 16 to 17. It's something they pushed for during the last CBA negotiations in 2011. That included a lockout.
Now, some big-name players not happy with this initial proposal. Houston Texans star J.J. Watt posting on Twitter, "Hard no on that proposed CBA." While Packers star David Bakhtiari questioned the balance of revenue sharing between owners and players in a tweet with the hashtag #KnowYourWorth.
Now, Alisyn, the vote, as John mentioned, will move to the players union -- for an initial vote, I should say. The collective bargaining agreement ends after the upcoming season, so still a ways to go for these two sides.
CAMEROTA: And I now know J.J. Watt because of "SNL."
WIRE: There you go.
BERMAN: There you go. That's really what it's all about.
WIRE: You rocked it out.
CAMEROTA: He was a guest on it. So I actually even knew that sports reference that you called out, Coy. Thank you.
BERMAN: He's so confused.
CAMEROTA: I know he is. That's what -- well, that's my aim with sports.
Meanwhile, Bernie Sanders is the front-runner heading into tomorrow's Nevada caucuses, but the state's most influential union says a vote for Sanders is a vote to end health care as they know it.
CNN's Kyung Lah is live in Las Vegas for us with more. What are they telling you, Kyung?
KYUNG LAH, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, this is really something that's been playing out for several weeks on the ground here Alisyn, and it's only intensifying as people head to the caucuses in the next 24 hours or so. Bernie Sanders has been courting the Latino vote. This battle threatens to blunt those efforts.
LAH (voice-over): Just hours to the Nevada caucuses --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Who's got the power?
LAH (voice-over): -- the 60,000-member Culinary Union, including casino worker Alicia Sosa -- ALICIA SOSA, UNION MEMBER: I'm fighting for my health care.
LAH (voice-over): -- is fighting on the picket line to unionize more workers at another casino.
SOSA: My husband has asthma and we fought for that because we couldn't afford it. Now, I can and he can, and he could be with me longer. We should be able to have that. Our choice -- it's our choice.
LAH (voice-over): She's talking about her union health care. In one building, she gets doctor's visits, prescriptions, and eye care, all covered.
The culinary union warned its members a vote for Bernie Sanders and his Medicare for All plan would mean an end to union health care.
GWYN BROTHERNS, UNION MEMBER: I'm not sure about the Medicare for All, if that's a good idea or not. You know, it sounds good. It always sounds good but I'm not sure.
LAH (voice-over): A union battle spilled onto the debate stage.
PETE BUTTIGIEG (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You're the one who is at war with the culinary union right here in Las Vegas. We can't solve these issues --
SANDERS: We have more union support than you have ever dreamed of.
LAH (voice-over): Sanders then directly addressed the union members.
SANDERS: To my good friends in the Culinary Workers Union, a great union, I will never sign a bill that will reduce the health care benefits they have.
LAH (voice-over): On the picket line, the courting of the union vote was in full swing. One by one, every top candidate on the Nevada ballot, except for Sanders, marched with workers.
But while Medicare for All is not a deal-breaker for every union member --
JULIAN SANCHEZ, UNION MEMBER: We're not going to leave him out yet.
LAH (on camera): You're not going to leave him out? You'd be open to him?
SANCHEZ: Yes -- yes, for sure.
LAH (voice-over): -- it is weighing on Suzanne Poquiz.
SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-MN), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Oh, there you go.
LAH (voice-over): She met Amy Klobuchar at the culinary health care center.
LAH (on camera): Do you believe Bernie Sanders when he says Medicare for All will replace this and take care of everybody?
SUZANNE POQUIZ, UNION MEMBER: No, I really don't believe that. I'm scared because if he ends that, where are we going to go?
LAH: So -- now, while the union did make clear to their members how they feel about Bernie Sanders' health plan, what they did not say is that who they should endorse -- who they should vote for. The union did not specifically endorse one candidate, Alisyn. That's why you've seen so many of these candidates go out directly to union members and try to court them.
So a little bit of mixed messaging and no clear direction from the union. A little hard to say, at this point, what kind of impact it's going to have although it does appear to at least have some impact on Bernie Sanders -- Alisyn.
BERMAN: Look, actually, Sanders' team considered the non-endorsement, in a way, a victory given what could have happened or what could have been.
Kyung Lah, great to have you. Thanks so much.
CAMEROTA: And thanks to our international viewers for watching. For you, "CNN NEWSROOM" is next. For our U.S. viewers, intelligence officials are trying to sound the alarm about what the Kremlin is doing today and President Trump reportedly does not want to hear it. NEW DAY continues right now.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CAMEROTA: Intel officials say that Russians are interfering in America's election again.
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: The House Intelligence chairman Adam Schiff was in the room.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The president is refusing to hear what the intelligence professionals are telling him.
REP. DEVIN NUNES (R-CA): Nobody's going to believe this garbage.
BERMAN: New developments in the race for the Democratic nomination. The Nevada caucuses -- they are tomorrow.
BLOOMBERG: The real winner in the debate last night was Donald Trump.
TRUMP: Bloomberg made a fool out of himself. He choked.
JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: He's advertising himself to be Barack's best buddy. He didn't support Barack or our administration.
MAYOR BILL DE BLASIO, (D) NEW YORK CITY: What we're seeing in poll after poll is Bernie Sanders is the best candidate to beat Donald Trump. (END VIDEO CLIP)
ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Alisyn Camerota and John Berman.
CAMEROTA: Good morning, everyone, and welcome to your NEW DAY. It is Friday, February 21st, 8:00 now in the east.
Russia is interfering in the 2020 election and President Trump does not want to hear about it. CNN has learned that U.S. intelligence officials briefed lawmakers last week on what the Kremlin is doing and when the president found out about that briefing he became irate.
BERMAN: Yes. What they're doing, according to intelligence officials, is working to help reelect the president or, at least, the Intelligence Community believes that their preference is to reelect the president.
And sources tell CNN the president was upset because House Intelligence chairman Adam Schiff was in the room to receive the briefing and the president was worried that the information would be weaponized to hurt his reelection chances.
After that, the president abruptly removed his acting director of national intelligence and replaced him on an interim basis with a loyalist who doesn't have any intelligence experience.
We're going to speak to a member of the House Intelligence Committee in just a moment.
Joining us now is CNN political analyst Maggie Haberman. She's a White House correspondent for "The New York Times." And, CNN chief political correspondent Dana Bash. Both of these terrific reporters have information about how this all happened.
Dana, let me just start with you. Walk us through what happened, what was said, and what upset the president.