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Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) Surging As Democratic Candidates Enter Critical Stretch; Sources Say, Trump Tells Aides He Wants Fewer People Working For Him, Only Loyalists In Key Positions; Weinstein Jury Resumes Deliberations For A Fifth Day. Aired 10-10:30a ET

Aired February 24, 2020 - 10:00   ET

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


JOAN BISKUPIC, CNN SUPREME COURT ANALYST: -- the conservative, Roberts' court majority is exceeding.

[10:00:04]

And that has made the Trump administration only want more.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN NEWSROOM: Understood. Joan, thank you so much for your reporting. I appreciate it.

BISKUPIC: Thanks.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN NEWSROOM: A lot of news this morning in the markets. Good morning, I'm Jim Sciutto.

HARLOW: I'm Poppy Harlow.

Let's begins this hour with the breaking news on Wall Street stocks and a freefall as the number of coronavirus cases jumps outside of China. Take a look at the big board right now, Dow off 750 points. Our business team following the latest.

Let's begin with our Chief Business Correspondent, Christine Romans, and we'll go to Alison at the stock exchange.

The big question here is why and how far spread this will become, and the market finally really digesting this.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: It really is. And I think that they were honestly blase about this. You had stocks up since those first cases of coronavirus. And now over the weekend, something has changed. And here is what's new. IMF has cut again its global growth forecast because of coronavirus. You've got new cases in Italy and big concern about where that began and how widespread it is, new cases in South Korea.

So, already, you had China as a big concern, this huge economy, in some cases, grinding to a halt, because of coronavirus and now you see it spreading outside of Chinese borders. So you've got Japan, China, South Korea, Italy, four of the largest -- 12 largest economies who are grappling in one way, shape or form with coronavirus here. So whether it's leisure companies, travel companies, hotel companies, chipmakers, all different kinds of companies and industries that are tied into China and tied into the global economy, it really shows you how globalization has made epidemics like this or outbreaks like this much more concerning.

SCIUTTO: Yes. Look at the airlines, I mean, major airlines canceling all their routes. Those are busy routes. Christine Romans, and we should note as we've been watching this, the markets are off their lows, they were down as much as a thousand points at the open, so no down just over 700 points.

But, Alison, you're always on the floor over there, and there had been a sense in the markets that they had been too sanguine about all of this, not pricing in the global risk of a global slowdown. What's the feeling now?

ALISON KOSIK, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Yes. I mean, I don't think you've seen that pricing really happened in a big way. Although last week, we saw all the major indices more lose than 1 percent for the week. So we did see some dramatic moves yesterday, clearly, last week not as dramatic as today.

But these losses that you're seeing today, you're seeing, let's say, the Dow. The Dow's losses are wiping out all of the Dow's gains for the year. In fact, you're seeing the Dow in the negative for 2020. In the past three sessions, the Dow has lost 1,400 points.

So Wall Street has been paying attention to this but I think the increase, that jump in the number of cases outside of China really spooking investors because now the realization comes, look, this could mean that the global -- the world economy could take a hit. It means that GDP here in the U.S. could take a hit as well.

And the wild card is really the fact that we don't know what the endgame is for the coronavirus. You sort of make the analogy so what the U.S./China trade war was to the U.S. economy, to stocks. It really was the wild card of 2018-2019. I think the X factor for 2020 is going to be the coronavirus. And we really -- it's that unpredictability that is spooking the markets. Jim?

SCIUTTO: Is it a black swan? We'll be watching. Christine Romans, Alison Kosik, thanks very much.

HARLOW: Meantime, to politics, Senator Bernie Sanders surging after his big win in Nevada over the weekend and looking to capitalize on a splintering field of moderates heading into South Carolina and, of course, Super Tuesday.

SCIUTTO: Joining us now to discuss, Angela Rye, former Executive Director and General Counsel for the Congressional Black Caucus, and Melanie Zanona, she's Congressional Reporter for Politico. Angela, great to have -- well, great to have you both on.

You've covered a couple of campaigns. There is a conventional wisdom here that Bernie Sanders is a weak candidate against Trump, he's too far left. But you look at the numbers, let's look just at swing states, the three big states that really matter in turning this election, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, Sanders actually above Trump in two out of the three there. I mean, is there an argument to be made? I suppose one, are the worries about Sanders overblown, but even could you make an argument that in some respects he's uniquely positioned to stand up to Trump given the strength of his base support?

ANGELA RYE, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Sure, there are a number of arguments that can be made here. In the first argument, I will make, Jim, it is still very early. The South Carolina debate hasn't happened and it certainly means that the South Carolina primary has yet to occur.

So this isn't an argument about the strength of Bernie Sanders' candidacy any more that it is about the fact there is a Democratic primary going on and we have to allow the time for those results to come in.

[10:05:00]

So Bernie Sanders has had a strong showing in Iowa, in New Hampshire and in Nevada. We had two caucuses and one primary. So there is a whole lot of time left and a whole lot of voters who look a lot more like me that have to have their say.

SCIUTTO: Yes.

HARLOW: Fair.

SCIUTTO: Let them vote.

HARLOW: There you go. How dare the media get ahead of things. Fair enough, Angela. When you talk about --

RYE: That's not what I'm saying.

HARLOW: No, I know you're not. But, Melanie, when you talk about who is getting -- going to be the kingmaker here, I mean, I think it's really telling that Jim Clyburn has not said who he's supporting and that he's going to wait until Wednesday morning. And he said Biden needs a strong debate performance to do well and to get his endorsement. How big is that going to be in terms of who takes the state?

MELANIE ZANONA, CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER, POLITICO: It's going to be a huge boost for whoever Clyburn does endorse. And, in fact, my colleagues at Politico are reporting he does plan to endorse Biden. It's not just for practical reasons, but also personal reasons. They're long friends. It's no secret that he has an affinity for Biden. He's been at a number of his campaign stops along the way over the last few months.

But it might be a little bit too late for Biden. We're seeing Sanders is already eating into his firewall of support. There is a new Wall Street Journal poll that just came out last week actually that showed that Biden and Sanders have the same level of support among black voters. So there is a chance that Sanders could really overtake him, even though Clyburn is a kingmaker in the state and could have a big boost heading into the Saturday primary.

SCIUTTO: Angela, there is this emerging --

RYE: If I could just really quickly --

SCIUTTO: Please.

RYE: Sorry, Jim, really quick just on this point. I just want to say that Majority Whip Jim Clyburn has a lot of influence not just in South Carolina but also throughout this country. So just giving credence to the title that he bears in the United States House of Representatives, he hasn't just earned that from his colleagues and the Democratic caucus, but he's also earned vast amount of support and respect from black folks all over the country.

The reason why you're seeing a bunch of support for Sanders, for Biden, for Warren and others is because the black vote is not that anymore. It is black votes. It's not monolithic. And so you have to speak to the issues of the varying bases, demographics, ages and issues of concern to black voters.

SCIUTTO: No question. I mean, listen, to your point, and maybe you have thoughts on this, Melanie, we tend to think of voters, you know, oversimplify in these kinds of silos here. I mean, there's this other emerging narrative that the moderates among Democratic voters are split among Buttigieg, Biden, Klobuchar and Bloomberg, particularly as you head toward Super Tuesday. I mean, is that -- is there evidence of that, right, that they want to coalesce around a single moderate alternative to a Bernie Sanders?

ZANONA: Yes, of course. Voters are really fretting over this right now about who do they want as the alternative. But it's really muddled now. I would, in fact, argue that it's even more muddled after Nevada where you had Biden coming in second place.

The problem is the longer that it stays fragmented and crowded, the more likely it is that Sanders will be the nominee. I think there is going to be intense pressure as we head towards Super Tuesday for some of these moderates to drop out of the race. But as of right now, there are no signs that any of them plan to do that. In fact, it sort of turned into a game of, no, you drop out first, because it is a really fluid race, there have been some surprises, and so as long as these candidates can envision even a very tiny narrow path to a victory, they say, why should I be the one to get out first?

HARLOW: Angela, what do you make of Senator Sanders' tweet on Friday night? Let's pull it up. Quote, I've got news for the Republican establishment, I've got news for the Democratic establishment, they can't stop us.

RYE: Well, I think it's pretty self-explanatory. I think that Bernie Sanders and his supporters firmly believe that he has the heart of the people. I think as evidenced by, again, the three contests that we've seen so far, he has a strong basis for believing that.

There are some more contests coming up and, of course, we still have Super Tuesday. So we will see if the power of the people and the power of their votes can help him to support that tweet.

I think the other thing that is important to remember is this is Bernie Sanders showing his independent card, right? Bernie Sanders is an independent, just like Mike Bloomberg, who really leans Republican, running in a Democratic primary. So what I think they're showing is the fact that the Democratic Party is fractured. It too is not monolithic, that's the word of the day, apparently.

And what you're seeing is that people have to decide where they want to throw their support behind because of the issues and the policies that folks are touting and pushing forward. And that is what time will tell us in this Democratic primary.

SCIUTTO: Yes.

HARLOW: Yes, it will. It's going to be exciting to watch tomorrow night and also we'll see what happens in terms of the big endorsement.

SCIUTTO: Listen, a lot of predictions in this race, they last about two week, right?

HARLOW: Or two seconds.

SCIUTTO: Every front-runner had a shelf life of about two weeks.

HARLOW: Or two seconds.

[10:10:00]

Sorry to cut you guys off there. Angela Rye, Melanie Zanona, thanks you so, so much.

Ahead for us, taking allegiance to the next level, a new report showing the White House is purging people who are not sufficiently loyal to the president.

Also, verdict watch, jurors in the Harvey Weinstein trial back at work this morning. There are signs that there may be a deadlock on some of these charges though.

SCIUTTO: It's remarkable. We're following it closely.

In just a few hours, NBA great, Kobe Bryant, his daughter, Gigi, seven others are going to be honored at a public memorial. Thousands expected to attend. we'll bring it to you live.

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[10:15:00]

HARLOW: Loyalty is key and key positions must be loyal. This is apparently the message that our reporting, sources tell us, the president is telling his aides as he looks to make more cuts to his staff and keep loyalists by his side.

SCIUTTO: With us now, Susan Glaser, she is CNN Global Affairs Analyst, as well as Staff Writer at The New Yorker, and Mike Rogers, he was the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee as a Republican. Thanks very much to both of you.

Mike Rogers, I want to start with you. You were in Congress at the time of the passage of the act that created the director of National Intelligence, the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004. You voted for it. This was, of course, in the wake of 9/11. One, it determined that the DNI should have experience in national security, but, two, you know better than me that part of the intention of this was to take the politics out of intelligence, to prevent cherry-picking, like we saw, for instance, in the run-up to the Iraq War.

What this DNI appointment is showing but also what this new acting DNI is doing, trying to chase away folks perceived as being against the president, is that violating the spirit of that law?

MIKE ROGERS, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY COMMENTATOR: Well, you know, the DNI, there was one other aspect of that. It was also a recommendation of the 9/11 Commission, if you recall, was a bipartisan commission that had a whole series of intelligence reform recommendations.

And the DNI was part of that mainly because you had all of these different agencies kind of run out of the Central Intelligence Agency by the DCI, the director of Central Intelligence Agency, and people thought at the time maybe you need a better kind of more inclusive product, intelligence product, and that might take away any influence and politics going into it. So, I mean, my whole thing is, yes, we need to continue to make sure that politics isn't there.

I will say, Jim, in that meeting, what worried me most was the leak of that information, that brief, about where the Russians were, mainly because what you should have done is going back and say, is that accurate, is there other parts of the story? Remember, the Russians clearly were trying to help President Trump, I think, in 2016, Intelligence Community said yes. But, now, they're also trying to cause division by helping the Sanders campaign. And what the Russians want is division and chaos and Americans not to like each other. And the more we play their game, the worse this is going to get for us.

HARLOW: So, Susan, to Mike Rogers point about that, I thought that the interview that National Security Adviser Robert O'Brien did on ABC yesterday with George Stephanopoulos was striking for a number of reasons. I mean, he called it a non-story in terms of are the Russians trying to help the president and then just the way that he talked about Bernie Sanders. Listen to two parts of that interview.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERT O'BRIEN, NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: Well, there are reports that they want Bernie Sanders to get elected president. That's no surprise. He honeymooned in Moscow. Who knows what happened over at the House and the Intelligence Committee, but I haven't seen evidence that Russia is doing anything to -- attempt to get President Trump re-elected.

And our message to the Russians is stay out of the U.S. elections. We have been very tough on Russia and we've been great on election security. So I think it's a non-story.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARLOW: What was your read on that?

SUSAN GLASSER, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Well, that's a remarkable number of what appear to be false claims on the part of the national security adviser, first of all. Obviously, there is bountiful public evidence from the Trump administration's own government that suggest that Russia, as it did in 2016, is seeking to intervene in the 2020 election.

You know, O'Brien is a very interesting example. He's almost a prototypical Trump appointee at this point, probably the least experienced, least qualified national security adviser ever to serve in the position since it was created. And, again, why was he chosen? It appears, you know, for reasons really of personal -- perceived personal loyalty to President Trump and the idea that American foreign policy and national security at this point has been reoriented not around an ideology, but around the person of the president himself.

There was a story in The Times the other day whose lead was about the new National Security Council and the O'Brien reading tweets out loud from the president to begin discussions of policy, rather than advising the president on what policy should be, giving him the benefit of American intelligence, the Pentagon, synthesizing that government for the president, essentially taking the tweets of the president and trying to retrofit policy around it.

And so that's where personnel is policy in this administration, and many others. The difference is that it's personal loyalty to Trump as opposed to ideology that seems to be the goal.

[10:20:05]

SCIUTTO: And just how glibly there -- the administration's question and intel assessment, whether Russia continues to favor. And he just threw out there, oh, they're all for Bernie Sanders and rightfully so.

Let me challenge a particular claim he made there though, Mike Rogers. He said, we have been great on election security, this administration, when we know it has not been a priority for this president, he's had one cabinet level meeting. We know from, for instance, his former DHS Secretary, Kirstjen Nielsen, that when election security topics came up, Russian interference, the president didn't want to hear about it.

How should Americans at home feel about this administration's efforts to protect the election given that the one thing everybody agrees on is Russia is going to try to interfere again as already started, regardless of who their preference is? Has this government been negligent on that?

ROGERS: This is the irony of this whole thing. So under Dan Coats, the previous director of National Intelligence, confirmed by the Senate, he created a position, by the way, which was the briefer that went to the House Intelligence Committee that -- where all this kerfuffle ended up happening and that position was specifically to haul in and coordinate the efforts for Russian interference in American elections, and other countries, by the way. And Russians aren't the only ones that are going to try some funny games here coming up, unfortunately. And so that's the oddest thing.

And also in 2018, the National Security Agency led by Paul Nakasone did a fantastic job of using their tools outside of the country to make it harder for the Russians to get involved in individual races across 2018.

So there are some real efforts. I don't think the president is necessarily putting his arms around all of that and saying, yes, team, but that is happening. And that's the good news of this. He hasn't stopped it from happening. Do I wish that he would be more vocal about, hey, I'm going to support the team here for the actions that they're taking to try to do this, I wish he would.

And so the political fight here is over -- if it's voting machines versus not voting machines, I think the Intelligence Committee and Republicans and Democrats in Congress have got it wrong. The Russians are going to interfere or try to interfere in the 2020 election.

My argument is what are we going to do about it and stop talking it is to help my team or your team and team America that is going to be under siege going into 2020. We have the tools and resources to do it. Are you empowering them, Congress, to do that and continue to push them to do good things for the -- to stop this interference in 2020.

SCIUTTO: And are they speaking up too? Let's be honest. I mean, because on the Hill, you have people a lot more public about the threat.

ROGERS: Absolutely. And we all should be talking about the threat, everybody.

HARLOW: We will continue to and we'll have you guys back. Thank you so much. Chairman Rogers, Susan Glasser, good to have you.

ROGERS: Thanks.

SCIUTTO: Disgraced Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein, he's back in court today as jurors continue to meet to discuss, to decide his fate. But they appear to deadlocked on two key charges. What we're learning about those deliberations.

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[10:25:00]

SCIUTTO: Jurors in the Harvey Weinstein sexual assault trial are now on day five of their deliberations. Will they deliver a verdict today? Will they deliver a verdict?

HARLOW: Right. On Friday, they sent a note, the tenth note, suggesting they may be deadlocked on the two most serious charges that come with a maximum life in prison. Those charges, predatory sexual assault, each of those carry a sentence of ten years to life in prison.

Jennifer Rodgers is back with us this morning, of course, former federal prosecutor and our Legal Analyst. Day five today, and the possibility that there is not unanimity on the two most serious charges.

JENNIFER RODGERS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Yes. I mean, it's not that surprising. Those are the toughest charges. The predatory sexual assault requires the jury to find two separate rapes, to find one of those charges. So they seem to be having trouble with that. But the note also suggested that they may be unanimous on the other three charges, which carry up to 25 years in prison, two of them, so still serious.

SCIUTTO: I see. And as you mentioned, sometimes jurors say, listen. there are 12 people in the room, they kind of -- I don't know if negotiate is the right term, but they have to get to agreement.

On that issue, just mentioned, predatory assault, that's one of the key issues here, right, because that describes a kind of habitual behavior. And for that to be the case, you need more than one. Is the potential issue that they believe one account but not the other? Find one credible and not the other not as credible?

RODGERS: Yes. It's really hard to know at this point. But the fact that they seem to be unanimous on the other three charges suggest that they believe the two victims for whom there are charges, you know, who were named in the charges.

The two predatory sexual assault counts also include the testimony of Annabella Sciorra. So it could be that they're having trouble with that incident, with that testimony, or it could just be that there are some jurors who recognize that's the most serious charge and think that maybe the lower three charges are enough and they don't want to go for the top charges.

SCIUTTO: One thing that Jean Casarez, our correspondent outside, the courthouse last hour is that of all these ten notes, none of the questions from the jurors have anything to do with Jessica Mann, of course, counts three, four and five all have to do with her allegations.

[10:30:03]

What does that indicate to you?

RODGERS: It may be that they accepted her testimony, and they don't have any problems with it.