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State of the Union

Interview With Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT); Shutdown Deadline Looms; Democratic Presidential Field Grows; Political Turmoil in Virginia; Interview With Mayor of South Bend, Indiana, Pete Buttigieg; Interview With Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY); Top Democrats Demand Resignations of Virginia Governor Northam and Lieutenant Governor Fairfax; Pablo Picasso's "Art Is A Lie That Makes Us Realize The Truth" In This Week's "State of the Cartoonion". Aired 9-10a ET

Aired February 10, 2019 - 09:00   ET




JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Virginia in crisis. The top three officials, all Democrats, refuse to resign, one calling for due process and denying two allegations of sexual assault. The embattled governor says he wants to atone for his past racist behavior. But will that be enough? We will have the latest details.

Plus: On the campaign trail, a growing Democratic field floods the zone in early primary states.

SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D), MASSACHUSETTS: I am in this fight all the way.


TAPPER: Are voters looking for a fresh face?

PETE BUTTIGIEG (D), MAYOR OF SOUTH BEND, INDIANA: A mayor in the Midwest in his 30s.

TAPPER: Democratic presidential candidate Mayor Pete Buttigieg joins us live.

And deadline looming, President Trump heading to Texas to rally support for his border wall.


TAPPER: But with just days to stave off another shutdown, can lawmakers strike a deal he will accept? We will talk to Republican Congresswoman Liz Cheney and Democratic Senator Chris Murphy in moments.


TAPPER: Hello. I'm Jake Tapper in Washington, where the state of our union is focused on 2020. Democrats are hitting the campaign trail across the country this

weekend, traveling to early primary and caucus states, as two major contenders enter the race this weekend.

Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts officially launched her bid Saturday, challenging the system she says is rigged for the rich and calling President Trump a symptom of what's wrong in America.

Senator Amy Klobuchar from Minnesota is expected to announce she's running later this afternoon.

2020 is also clearly on President Trump's mind. Saturday, he lashed out at Senator Warren on Twitter, alluding to her past claims of Native American status, for which she has apologized. The president appeared to make a joking reference to the tragic Trail of Tears relocation and genocide of Native Americans.

One unexpected issue the 2020 candidates have been forced to confront on the trail, the continued controversy surrounding the top three officials in Virginia, all Democrats.

There are now two women accusing Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax of sexual assault. And late Saturday, both women announced they would be willing to testify in any impeachment hearings. Fairfax maintains the encounters were consensual and says he should be given due process.

One 2020 candidate who has had to respond to all of this on the trail, the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, Pete Buttigieg. He's a Rhodes Scholar and Navy veteran who served in Afghanistan and who is running to make history as the youngest president ever elected and the first openly gay man to serve in that role.

And he joins me now.

Mayor Buttigieg, welcome to STATE OF THE UNION. Thank you so much for being with us.

BUTTIGIEG: Good morning. Thanks for having me.

TAPPER: So, I want to start with what's going on in Virginia.

You said you don't see how Lieutenant Governor Fairfax can continue to lead anymore after these two accusations, one of sexual assault, one of rape.

Fairfax is calling for an investigation, adding -- quote -- "I'm asking that no one rush to judgment, and I'm asking for there to be space in this moment for due process."

What is the standard for you to call for someone to step down? Is the accused entitled to due process before he is forced to resign?

BUTTIGIEG: Well, you are certainly entitled to due process in a criminal investigation. When it comes to the question of holding political office, I think

it's really a matter of whether you can effectively lead. And when you have somebody, especially at this very sensitive time for the office of lieutenant governor, when you have somebody facing multiple credible accusations, I just don't see how he can continue to serve.

TAPPER: Meanwhile, Governor Ralph Northam is fending off his own calls to resign, after he admitted to wearing blackface in 1984.

He told "The Washington Post" yesterday that he wants to focus on racial inequality in areas such as housing and health care over the rest of his term.

Is that good enough for you? Is a gubernatorial tone of reconciliation good enough, or do you still think he should he resign?

BUTTIGIEG: Well, it doesn't seem to me that he has the confidence that's required in him in order to continue to lead the state.

Unfortunately, the way he handled those allegations and revelations seems to have made things even worse. And I think that's why you see a pretty strong sense among leaders in Virginia. And, by the way, this is, of course, something for Virginians to figure out. But they seem to be pretty unified that they want a new governor and leadership that can carry that state forward.

TAPPER: Let's talk about some issues.

Several 2020 candidates are backing a new resolution which outlines what is called a Green New Deal. It was introduced by Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in the House and Senator Ed Markey in the Senate.

This plans calls for -- quote -- "removing pollution and greenhouse gas emissions from manufacturing and industry, as much as is technologically feasible" with a 10-year outline.


Obviously, something like that would completely overhaul industries across the Midwest, including in Indiana. Do you have any concerns about how the Green New Deal might affect your constituents or your state?

BUTTIGIEG: Well, like a lot of other things that have come along and have impacted us in the Industrial Midwest -- trade comes to mind -- we have got to make sure, this time around, that it's done in a way that benefits us, that benefits workers, more than it harms them.

Look, there's always going to be change and disruption. As a town that grew up around the auto industry producing Studebakers until the 1960s, we know firsthand what those disruptions can mean.

But there's also tremendous opportunity here. Look, we're not only being disrupted by economic change. We're being disrupted by climate change. We have had multiple cases, two different cases of floods, historic floods here in South Bend, of the kind we're told to expect every 1,000 years or so. And they happened within 18 months of each other.

So, this is a national emergency. And the -- I think the elegance from a policy perspective of the concept of the Green New Deal is, it matches a sense of urgency about that problem of climate change with a sense of opportunity around what the solutions might represent.

Even right now, one of the biggest recent announcements in our county of added union jobs in the auto industry was at a facility making electric vehicles. I think a Green New Deal would promote that. And so that could be good news for us here in the Industrial Midwest.

TAPPER: Do you endorse the Markey/Ocasio-Cortez Green New Deal?

BUTTIGIEG: Yes, I think it's the right beginning.

Look, it's a framework. Obviously, the Green New Deal, as we have seen it so far, is more of a plan than it is a fully articulated set of policies. But the idea that we need to race toward that goal and that we should do it in a way that enhances the economic justice and the level of economic opportunity in our country, I believe that's exactly the right direction to be going in.


BUTTIGIEG: Everybody is going to have their...

TAPPER: Go ahead.

BUTTIGIEG: Everybody is going to have their own twists or features they're going to add.

As a mayor, I would like to see it funding more things that would help our cities become sustainable. And there are other developments that are going to have to come along to establish exactly how we can meet those goals.

But they're the right goals, especially if you come at this from a generational perspective. You know, for me, the question of what the world is going to look like in 2054, which is when I'm going to reach the current age of the current president, that's not a theoretical question. That's a personal question.

And it's very clear that we can't go on like this. I mean, these weather extremes we're experiencing now are what we were warned about to expect in these years in the '70s and '80s by science.

TAPPER: Mm-hmm.

BUTTIGIEG: I shudder to think about the fact that, God willing, I will be alive to see the consequences in the 2050s of the predictions that are being made right now.

TAPPER: You have said that young people don't see as much conflict between the concept of capitalism and the concept of socialism as past generations have seen.

President Trump has been pretty clear that he's going to try to use the idea of socialism as a point of attack against Democrats.

Take a listen to what he said at the State of the Union address.


TRUMP: Here, in the United States, we are alarmed by new calls to adopt socialism in our country.

Tonight, we renew our resolve that America will never be a socialist country.



TAPPER: Are you worried at all that that might be an effective attack against Democrats?

BUTTIGIEG: I think he's clinging to a rhetorical strategy that was very powerful when he was coming of age 50 years ago, but it's just a little bit different right now.

I know, if you grew up during that Cold War period, then you saw a time in politics when the word socialism could be used to end an argument.

Today, I think a word like that is the beginning of a debate, not the end of the debate.

Look, America is committed to democracy, and we're essentially a market-based economy. But you can't -- you can no longer simply kill off a line of discussion about a policy by saying that it's socialist.

If someone my age or younger is weighing a policy idea, and somebody comes along and says, you can't do that, it's socialist, I think our answer is going to be, OK, is it a good idea or is it not?

And that word has also lost its power, especially when you think about the way it was applied to characterize, for example, the ACA, an idea that was invented at the conservative...

TAPPER: The Affordable Care Act, yes.

BUTTIGIEG: The Affordable Care Act, Obamacare, invented by a conservative think tank, relying on market principles, implemented first by a Republican governor.

TAPPER: Mm-hmm.

BUTTIGIEG: And they said that was socialist. So, I think the word has mostly lost its meaning. And it's certainly lost its ability to be used as a kill switch on debate. TAPPER: Earlier on the show, you said that you will be President

Trump's age in 2054. You are 37 years old. You're the youngest candidate in the Democratic field. If elected, you would be the youngest president ever. President Trump is the oldest president ever elected president.

You have said it's time for a -- quote -- "new generation" in American leadership. Does that inherently mean that it's time for the older generation, say, politicians over 70, their time has come and gone, they shouldn't run?


BUTTIGIEG: Well, I think there's an opportunity for different generations to come together.

It's one of the things I saw firsthand when I was in Iowa over the last couple of days talking to voters. The only group that was more interested in generational change than the youngest voters I met were the voters who were about my parents' age.

And I think that shows, if you're from an older generation, you care about the world that you're leaving. If you're from my generation, you're thinking about the world that we're going to continue living into.

I do think that those of us who are from a younger generation have a very personal, very direct stake. And I think it's not an accident that the whole country right now, in terms of our policy debate, is responding to proposals put forward by a member of Congress who is even younger than I am.

TAPPER: All right, Mayor Buttigieg, thanks so much for joining us today. We appreciate it.

BUTTIGIEG: Thank you.

TAPPER: Democrats are hailing a sweeping new proposal to combat climate change, so why is President Trump applauding their efforts on Twitter?

Plus: Lawmakers are working on a compromise to avoid another government shutdown, but will President Trump sign on to the deal?

We will ask the number three House Republican, Conference Chair Liz Cheney, next.

Stay with us.


TAPPER: Welcome back to STATE OF THE UNION. I'm Jake Tapper.

President Trump is heading to the border town of El Paso tomorrow, trying to keep the focus on his border wall just days before the government is set to partially shut down again over wall funding. [09:15:03]

On Capitol Hill, lawmakers are trying to seem hopeful that they can come up with a deal that the president will agree to. The latest negotiations center around about $2 billion for border barriers. That is short of the $5.7 billion President Trump said he wanted.

Joining me now to discuss this and much more, the third-ranking Republican in the House, Conference Chair Liz Cheney. The congresswoman joins us from Casper, Wyoming.

Congresswoman, good to see you. Thanks for joining us.

REP. LIZ CHENEY (R), WYOMING: Thanks for having me, Jake. Great to be with you.

TAPPER: So, the federal government will partially shut down on Friday if President Trump and Congress cannot find a compromise on the president's border wall.

Do you think Republicans in Congress can convince President Trump to sign off on about $2 billion for border barriers, or are you more skeptical? Do you think we're headed for another shutdown?

CHENEY: Well, I certainly hope we're not headed for another shutdown.

I think the president has been clear and the Republicans in the House have certainly been clear that we absolutely have got to secure the border.

You know, I thought it was interesting, when you watched the negotiations that have been going on between the -- our bipartisan and bicameral committee, when the committee members had a chance to go visit the border, when the committee members had a chance to hear from Border Patrol agents themselves in testimony, it really made a difference, I think.

And I think that there's -- there's bipartisan agreement we have got to secure the border. I think there are some members of leadership on the Democratic side, in particular Speaker Pelosi, who is really out there on her own, saying things like walls are immoral and she will only allow $1 for a wall.

The American people want the border secure. So, I'm hopeful that this committee will be able to come up with a proposal that we can all support, that the president can sign. But it's going to have to include funding that will allow us to secure the border, and it will have to include funding for some sort of a barrier.

TAPPER: So, but $2 billion, theoretically -- you're not agreeing right now to anything, but $2 billion for border barriers would be a compromise for you that you would be willing to accept, theoretically?

CHENEY: Well, you're not going to be surprised, Jake. I'm not going to negotiate about it this morning on your show. I think it's going to have to be sufficient funds through an agreement, hopefully, that we can reach that will enable us to know that, moving forward, we will be able to have a wall, have a barrier on those parts of the border where it's really necessary.

And, you know, I think there's been a lot of mistruth out there about this. You have seen the Democrats try to suggest that we want to build a 2,000-mile-long wall. That's absolutely not the case.

But what we're talking about is something that's very practical. Where it's necessary, where it's needed, where our Border Patrol agents say that it will help us control and stop the flood of illegal immigrants across the border, we need to have a border wall.

TAPPER: I want to turn to foreign policy.

Take a listen to President Trump at the State of the Union address.


TRUMP: As a candidate for president, I loudly pledged a new approach. Great nations do not fight endless wars.

It is time to give our brave warriors in Syria a warm welcome home.


TAPPER: So, President Trump said he's probably going to make a formal announcement this week announcing that the U.S.-led coalition now controls 100 percent of ISIS territory in Syria.

You're on the House Armed Services Committee. Why not bring the troops home?

CHENEY: Well, I think several things.

Number one, we have done tremendous work, both in Syria, as well as in Afghanistan. But, in Syria, the issue is not the territorial control. In Syria, the issue is whether or not we're able to ensure that ISIS doesn't reconstitute.

And we have got about -- we have had about 2,200 special operations forces there. They have been doing crucially important work that you can only do from there, providing air support, providing some artillery support, helping to work with the local forces to really help ensure the defeat of ISIS.

It's got to be an enduring defeat, though. And so, when you have a situation like we have now, where you're -- you have seen the caliphate -- as the president is saying, there will be this announcement that the caliphate has been 100 percent taken back. I hope that's right.

But you cannot be -- we can't be fooled into thinking, you know, if we just withdraw the troops now and we come home, ISIS won't reconstitute. We have got to ensure that we do everything necessary to prevent them from forming safe havens.

We know that there are significant numbers of ISIS fighters still in Syria today. And we don't want to have to go back again. I think that would come at much greater cost of lives and treasure.

TAPPER: So, this puts you and your philosophy at odds with President Trump.

You have defined victory in the Middle East as -- quote -- "that we don't have another 9/11," adding -- quote -- "That may require that we're there for a long time."

How do you respond to the president's criticism that your approach essentially means having U.S. service members in Syria and Afghanistan indefinitely?

CHENEY: You know, I think, first of all, President Trump has had tremendous success across the board on a whole range of national security issues.

He was absolutely right to withdraw from the Iran nuclear agreement, absolutely right to withdraw -- to announce that we will withdraw from the INF. He's had tremendous success and has done exactly the right thing in terms of resources for the Pentagon over the last two years.


And so I support very much what he's done there. But I think that, in the same way that we saw with President Obama, you do not end a war by withdrawing from the battlefield.

And, when President Obama did that, and he withdrew our forces from Iraq precipitously, you ended up with civil war in Syria. You ended up with the rise of ISIS. You ended up with the caliphate.

I don't want to see us go down that path again. So I think it's very important for us to remember, you know, the Taliban -- al Qaeda is embedded with the Taliban in Afghanistan. The Taliban will not live up to any negotiated deal that we set with them.

The notion that we're somehow going to have a negotiated deal with the Taliban, that we can take their word that they won't allow al Qaeda to have safe havens again, is, in my view, irresponsible.

And we have got to ensure that our forces are there based on the conditions on the ground, not based on, frankly, what has been Rand Paul's approach, which is, you know what, I have just decided it's too long, we're going to come home.

You don't win wars that way. You don't keep the nation safe that way.

TAPPER: I want you to take a look at something the president tweeted last night.

He wrote -- quote -- "Today, Elizabeth Warren, sometimes referred to by me as Pocahontas, joined the race for president. Will she run as our first Native American presidential candidate, or has she decided that, after 32 years, this is not playing so well anymore? See you on the campaign TRAIL, Liz."

The word trail in all-caps, an apparent reference to the tragedy the Trail of Tears. Just a few weeks ago, the president also made a reference to Wounded Knee in a joking manner when talking about Elizabeth Warren.

You represent thousands of Native Americans in Wyoming. Do you concerns about the president joking about these horrific tragedies?

CHENEY: You know, I have concerns about somebody like Elizabeth Warren -- Warren pretending to be a Native American.

You're absolutely right. I do represent thousands of Native Americans here in Wyoming. And the notion that anybody of any political party would pretend that they were a member of a tribe or would pretend that they were Native American and would do it, as she seemed to have done it, in order to get benefits, that is, in my view, the disgrace.

And so I think she's made herself a laughingstock. You -- I -- I wonder whether or not anybody around her is saying, you know, it's -- it's time to say this just isn't going to work, because I think, at this point, each time she sort of tries to take one more step to show that she wasn't claiming membership in a tribe or claiming that she was a Native American in order to get benefits, we see that it wasn't true.

TAPPER: So, I -- I hear what you're saying about Elizabeth Warren, but what about the language that the president uses and the joking references to genocide against Native Americans?

CHENEY: Look, Elizabeth Warren has made herself a laughingstock. And I don't think anybody should be surprised that that's been the reaction to -- to her and to her continued claims.

And we saw just last week that she -- she said she was a Native American on her application for membership in at least one state bar association. You know, one wonders whether or not that's grounds for disbarment. If you misrepresent yourself on your application to the bar, I would say it probably is grounds for disbarment.

So she -- she's made herself a laughingstock. I think the longer that she's out there, the more that people are going to be talking about this. And -- and it's just -- it's clear that, you know, she's somebody who can't be trusted.

TAPPER: OK, so no comment on what the president had to say.

Congresswoman Liz Cheney, thank you so much for joining us. Hope to have you back again sometime soon. Have fun in Wyoming?

CHENEY: Thanks, Jake. Good to be with you.

TAPPER: Saudi Arabia is denying any connection to the leak of Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos' text messages to "The National Enquirer." So, what exactly did Bezos mean when he referred to a Saudi connection?

We're going to talk to a member of the Senate Foreign Relations next. Stay with us.



TAPPER: Welcome back to STATE OF THE UNION. I'm Jake Tapper.

House Democrats are launching hearings and investigations into the Trump administration and working with their Senate counterparts to unveil sweeping new policies on matters such as health care and climate change.


TAPPER: Joining me now is Democratic Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut. He's also a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Senator, thanks so much for being here.

SEN. CHRIS MURPHY (D), CONNECTICUT: Yes, thanks for having me.

TAPPER: So, I want to start with this crisis in Virginia with the three top officials.

And, specifically, I want to ask you about one that's very pressing this weekend. Lieutenant Governor Fairfax has called for an investigation into the allegations against him from two women, citing the need for due process.

He added -- quote -- "Our American values don't just work when it's convenient. They must be applied at the most difficult of times."

Many Democrats have called for him to step down in light of these allegations of sexual assault of 2004, alleged, and a rape, alleged, in 2000.

What's your standard for determining whether or not somebody should have to resign?

MURPHY: Well, these are very serious allegations, when you're talking about sexual assault and rape.

And the question is whether he can continue to perform his duties while he is trying to litigate these very serious claims. And, you know, I tend to defer to people like Tim Kaine and Mark Warner when it comes to Virginia politics. They've called on him to step down. That certainly seems to be the right move for me.

Again, these are very serious allegations. And it's just not clear to me how he can continue to do his job while he's trying to contest these claims.

TAPPER: I guess the argument he's -- he's making here is, he deserves due process, like anyone else deserves due process.

And I just wonder what the standard is, because, you know, I don't think we've really ever had a national conversation. Obviously, it's great that society has evolved, and now we're taking accusation made by women seriously, and that didn't used to be the case.

But, by the same token, is it just one credible accusation? Is it more than one credible accusation? Where does due process fall into it? I just don't think that there's any one standard.

MURPHY: Well, I think the nature of the allegations do matter. And these allegations are serious.

One of these allegations is an allegation of rape. That's a crime that you can go to jail for, for a very long time. And so I think that you have to look at the circumstances of every case. These are serious.


TAPPER: Meanwhile, the government is just five days away from another potential government shutdown. Democrats have previously vowed not to give the president any money for any wall but there's this group of bipartisan lawmakers working on a compromise that according to sources could include up to $2 billion if not more for border barriers. Whatever you want to call them. A wall, border barriers.

Is it fair to assume that Democrats will end up supporting at least some funding for some sort of barrier at the border at the end of the day?

MURPHY: Well, you know, the budget bill that we passed in the Senate through a committee last year provided for $1.6 billion in new border security money and, of course, members of the Senate have voted in the past for border security money, including barrier funding. I think the problem now is we've only got about seven months left on the fiscal year. So I don't think the president can actually spend much more than $2 billion, but, of course, we're willing to compromise. Of course we're willing to put more money into border security.

I'll be interested to see what the compromise looks like before I commit to voting for it or against it. The real tragedy here, Jake, is that we should be able to do a bigger comprehensive immigration reform bill and the president two years ago had the ability to take 25 billion dollars for border security in exchange for protection for the dreamers and didn't take it. I hope we can have that bigger conversation some time soon.

TAPPER: Well, I think you would argue that it was authorized but not appropriated but I don't want to get into the weeds of all of that.

Back in October, you and the rest of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee invoked a law that requires President Trump to determine whether or not the Saudi crown prince, MBS, was responsible, directly or indirectly for the death of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. That deadline came and went on Friday with no response from the White House. The White House saying that the president -- quote -- "maintains his discretion to decline to act on congressional committee's request when appropriate."

Your response?

MURPHY: This isn't an informal committee request. The law requires that when the chairman and the ranking member of the Foreign Relations Committee ask the president to make a finding as to a human rights violation overseas, he has to respond. He has to respond. That's what the law says. He doesn't have an option here.

Now I understand why he doesn't want to make this determination. His intelligence services are telling him that Mohammed bin Salman was responsible and because either of a personal relationship he has or a business relationship he has with Saudi Arabia, he is declining to make that finding to Congress. But this isn't his general executive discretion. He has to, under the law --

TAPPER: He didn't.

MURPHY: -- make a determination and he didn't.

TAPPER: So what now?

MURPHY: Listen, I assume we can go to court to try to make the president comply with this law. We can raise political pressure as we will this year. Or we can move forward with sanctions. And I think that's probably the most appropriate step.

Congress doesn't have to wait for the president to fulfill his duty. We can just make a determination that Mohammed bin Salman ordered these murders and there should be some kind of penalty and repercussion for that.

MURPHY: Speaking of murky situations with the Saudis. Amazon founder Jeff Bezos wrote an extraordinary essay on Medium this week accusing the "National Enquirer" parent company of trying to extort him over explicit photographs sent to his extra marital girlfriend. In that essay Bezos refers to -- quote -- "the Saudi angle."

He seems to be suggesting he and his team seems to be suggesting the Saudis had something to do with the "National Enquirer" obtaining these explicit photographs. What do you make of it?

MURPHY: I really don't know what to make of it. So I'm hoping that the Saudis have nothing to do with it. It's a very oblique reference so it's hard for policymakers to understand.

But what we do know is that foreign governments are constantly trying to infiltrate the American political process. And one of the reasons why we worry about President Trump not taking a stronger stand on what the Russians did in 2016 is that it seems to be an invitation for others to try to manipulate our political process in other ways. So I don't know anything about Jeff Bezos' sort of oblique claims, but I know that this is a constant problem that we have to be vigilant about.

TAPPER: You co-sponsored a resolution outlining a green new deal in the Senate this week that calls for a sweeping overhaul of the entire U.S. economy in 10 years by -- quote -- "meeting 100 percent of the power demand in the United States through clean, renewable and zero emission energy sources."

A fellow senator who caucuses with the Democrats, independent senator Angus King of Maine as well as Obama's former energy secretary Ernest Moniz say they don't think that this plan is realistic.

MURPHY: I think it's absolutely realistic and I frankly think we need to set our sights high. I think there are a lot of people who said that it wasn't realistic for the United States to get a man on the moon by the end of the 1960s when President Kennedy initially outlined that goal. But we did it. And I think we have to set our sights high.

I have a 10-year-old and 7-year-old. Global warming is an existential threat to the planet. And so if we don't command this country to think big about saving our nation and our world from destruction, then I don't think we're going to get close to meeting the mark.


TAPPER: All right. I have a lot more questions about the green new deal. Hopefully you can come back --

MURPHY: Will do.

TAPPER: -- talk to me during the week or another Sunday. Senator Murphy, thanks so much for being here.

MURPHY: Thanks, Jake.

President Trump wasted no time attacking Elizabeth Warren over her campaign kickoff. Does that mean the president thinks Warren is the one to beat? We'll discuss, next. Stay with us.



SEN. CORY BOOKER (D), NEW JERSEY: It takes a lot of courage to come forward. These are folks with a lot of contemporaneous details. This is a time that I just believe it's time for him to step down.

SEN. KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND (D), NEW YORK: The second allegation has been corroborated. That added to the first allegation, which I personally found credible, leads me to call for his resignation.


TAPPER: Senators Booker and Gillibrand, two 2020 Democrats in early voting states this weekend. Both of them responding to the scandals plaguing Democrats in Virginia. Many of them calling for Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax to resign.


Fairfax says he isn't going anywhere, at least not yet. Let's discuss with our experts here.

Ken, you were the former attorney general for the Commonwealth of Virginia. What's going on in your state, top three officials, all Democrats, under fire?

KEN CUCCINELLI, CNN LEGAL COMMENTATOR: And all within a week all of these things exploding and literally almost in two-day increments starting with the governor, of course, with his blackface pictures was what took this national. It isn't what started it in Virginia and then Justin Fairfax with the first sexual assault allegation.

And you saw two 2020 Democrat contenders there reference the second allegation, but when the first one came out, he immediately came out and was shooting at the accuser, rhetorically speaking, of course --


CUCCINELLI: -- and using "The Washington Post" as a shield. And they immediately called him out on that. So he is really violated rule number one when you're in a hole. Stop digging. And now he's saying I'm not going anywhere. But tomorrow I expect Democrats to submit a resolution of impeachment in Virginia. And that will begin a process that has not been used in Virginia in our lifetimes.

TAPPER: Are you worried at all, Congresswoman, about the effect this is having on the 2020 candidates, on the Democratic Party, on anything having to do with the agenda that you want to put forward?

REP. NANETTE DIAZ BARRAGAN (D-CA), HOMELAND SECURITY COMMITTEE: We need Virginians to have somebody that can lead in that position. And that's my concern.

TAPPER: Which position? There are three people under fire. Governor, lieutenant governor or attorney general?

DIAZ BARRAGAN: I thought you were referencing the lieutenant governor. And we do need people in Virginia who can lead. We don't want to be distracted.

Look, Democrats want to talk about our agenda. We want to talk about lowering prescription drug prices. We want to talk about health care, having access to care. We want to talk about climate change. So we would like to talk about those issues and certainly make sure we avert a government shutdown.

TAPPER: Are you at all concerns, Senator Turner, about the image of impeachment proceedings against an African-American lieutenant governor while the attorney general and the governor who have both admitted dressing up in blackface escape any consequences? NINA TURNER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Very concerned, Jake. I was going to say, I hope that the legislature starts impeachment for all three of these folks. You know, what a hell of a way to start off black history month. Totally (INAUDIBLE).

You know, I'm black 365 but let's just say black history month is in February. We started off with this. We're 400 years from 1619 to 2019.

The first 20 Africans brought from Angola they didn't sign up and jump on the boat or the ship themselves. Brought over to this country to Jamestown, Virginia, as slaves. My message to nonblack people, don't wear a blackface. Look at the rainbow mosaic of the black faces in this country. Those are the only black faces you should be talking about.

(INAUDIBLE) the hypocrisy in terms of this governor thinking he even weighed in on whether or not Lieutenant Governor Fairfax should go. All three of them need to go. And it is not a distraction to talk about racism in this country because it is in the DNA of this country.

It's the first thing that this country was founded on. Racism and bigotry and we've just got to understand that.

TAPPER: So, Congresswoman Love -- yes?


CUCCINELLI: The attorney general himself called for the governor to resign when the governor's blackface pictures came out.

TAPPER: Yes. Knowing that he had his own.

CUCCINELLI: Which tells you he thought he was going to get away with it.

TURNER: Arrogance. Arrogance.

CUCCINELLI: It is arrogance. I agree. And four days later he's admitting it himself and he's still there.

MIA LOVE (R), FORMER UTAH CONGRESSWOMAN: (INAUDIBLE) and arrogance. Look, there is no daylight on this issue with anyone that we've actually seen. That has said these people have to go.

I've always presumed and I will continuously say this. You are innocent until you're proven guilty but can you govern? Can you actually lead the state and start talking about policy issues?

Now remember the first time that we were talking about this governor was on the policy of the abortion issue. The third trimester abortion issue. We've gotten away from even talking about that, and we're going into his contempt for -- like (ph) his contempt people of color and then now we're going into the lieutenant governor. This is just it, which is actually a criminal accusation. So they really have got to just wipe everything clean, start all over so that we can govern and --

TURNER: Jake, can I add --- I just want to add to what the congresswoman is saying. This is not just about people of color. I want folks to understand this.

This is anti blackness. So let's make this clear. This is anti blackness. Blackface in the mid to late 19th century, 1800s was about mocking black people, our humanity. Our beauty, our culture, what we mean to this country.

So this ain't a conversation about people of color. This is a conversation about anti black racism, white supremacy in the United States of America.

TAPPER: So, Governor Ralph Northam came out of hiding and gave an interview to "The Washington Post" saying that he wants to focus on racial inequality during the rest of the time as governor.


Here's what he said -- quote -- "There are ongoing inequities to access to things like education, health care, mortgages, capital, entrepreneurship. I want to heal that pain, and I want to make sure all Virginias have equal opportunity. And I think I'm the person that can do that for Virginia."

TURNER: Too little too late.

LOVE: No credibility. Actually I'm offended by that. I'm offended.

It's almost like let me -- let me fix what's going on here so I -- let me go and focus on something else so that people can stop focusing on the things I did when I was 25.

CUCCINELLI: And he wants to have his repentance as the governor of Virginia. Look. You resign --


CUCCINELLI: -- and you go get your own repentance and you let us continue on in Virginia with actual governance by people who legitimately ought to be in the office.

TAPPER: Let me ask you a question, Congresswoman, as the elected Democrat at the table, if all three of them resign, then I believe the Republican speaker of the house of delegates becomes governor. You don't want that.

DIAZ BARRAGAN: No, but we need to think about doing what's right and what's right for Virginians and what's right overall. I mean, the race issue in today's day and age with the president at the helm who has been one of the most divisive presidents and, frankly, racist himself, is a conversation we do need to have. But looking at just the line of order and saying we're not going to do that because of the consequence is not the right way to do this. And so for me, I would -- I do think we need to have this conversation and we should continue to have this conversation, but it has to be front and center. And we can't forget about the person who is dividing us and who himself is injecting this into the country to live up again and coming out again. We haven't seen it be this bad in recent time until the president has really made this a race issue whether it's about African-Americans, certainly he's doing it all over the board with immigrants, but we need to have this conversation.

TURNER: Jake, I cannot. I just can't. 1984, 1980, Gucci just a few days ago. This is not about President Donald Trump. This is about racism in the United States of America. Congresswoman, I hear you, but on this, we're not blaming President Trump.

DIAZ BARRAGAN: I'm saying he has divided this country --

TURNER: No, let me just say this.

DIAZ BARRAGAN: He is using --


TURNER: I am not going to continue to let politicians use this man as the excuse to deal with racism in this country. It's been going on for far too long in the United States of America. We need some real truth and reconciliation.

Yes, president Trump is a racist. There is no doubt about it. But as we have seen, Democrats delve in racism as well. We've got to stop making this about who is a Republican, who is a Democrat. I want to know who say humanitarian.

DIAZ BARRAGAN (ph): That's right.

TURNER: I want to know who's going to stand up for people's lives, starting with black people's lives. Because when you take care of black lives everybody's life is taken care of. Everyone's life taken care of.

So no more about this -- these three men. It had nothing to do with President Trump. What Lieutenant Governor Fairfax is going through don't have nothing to do with President Trump. Northam wearing blackface don't have nothing to do with Donald Trump.

Herring, wearing blackface has nothing to do with Donald Trump. This is about racism in the DNA of this country. And I am over it.

We are traumatized, Jake, and we are sick of it. Politicians need to stop playing games.

LOVE: What is being said is exactly right. It's about personal responsibility for your own actions and things you've done. When he was 25 years old, it wasn't -- he couldn't blame Trump for his behavior at 25 years old. I mean, you can't --

(CROSSTALK) TURNER: And in medical school.

LOVE: -- take responsibility for the things you do. And I think that that's a problem with Virginia governor is that first he said, oh, I'm sorry. Yes, that was me I'm sorry about the picture. Then it was like, well, I don't really remember.

And his wife is keeping him from actually moonwalking. I mean, this is a person that does not know what were the appropriate levels are. I mean, he cannot -- he can't govern.

So it's absolutely time for him to go and wipe the slate clean. And I appreciate by the way the representative saying that this has nothing to do with what -- you know who is next in line and the risk of Republicans actually taking office. This has to do with right and wrong, and this -- these are clearly the wrong places for these people.

CUCCINELLI: I appreciate those comments as well, but -- and I'm not speaking to you, but they're new on the Democrat side. Ralph Northam got universal calls for resignation when this became the whole Democrat power structure. It got really quiet.

TAPPER: Well, there haven't been --


TAPPER: -- for Herring to resign.

CUCCINELLI: Until -- until the second sexual assault allegation. Then it broke it loose again. But if you look at that timeline it got very quiet, and it was, we might be more accepting of racism or rape than we are of Republicans. It started to look like that.

TURNER: Thank you for telling me truth on that, Jake. I mean, I hate that, you know, Fairfax has to go, too, but when Northam was running in 2017, you recall because of a labor union, he wouldn't put Fairfax's picture on his literature.

CUCCINELLI: That's right.

TAPPER: Thanks one and all for being here.

Coming up, Ivanka Trump vacuuming up bread crumbs.


A new work for performance art getting a thumbs down from the first daughter. That's the subject of this week's "State of the Cartoonion" next.


TAPPER: Welcome back.

Pablo Picasso once said, "Art is a lie that makes us realize the truth." And that's the subject of this week's "State of the Cartoonion."


TAPPER (voice-over): The new performance art piece in Washington D.C. Ivanka vacuuming shows the first daughter cleaning up crumbs. The piece irked the real Ivanka who tweeted, "Women can choose to knock each other down or build each other up. I choose the latter," but it got us wondering what other political figures might make high art.

Edvard Munch "The Scream" could help former chief of staff John Kelly work out his rage. Or a master work to highlight the president's signature style may greet famous bowler hat with Jared Kushner.


Perhaps American gothic might inspire Democrats to get their message out more successfully to voters in the Hartland.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He doesn't seem able to dig himself out of the hole.

TAPPER: A rendition of Rodin's "The Thinker" might be appropriate for Beto O'Rourke as he ponders and ponders and ponders a potential 2020 bid.

REP. BETO O'ROURKE (D), TEXAS: I have been thinking about running for president.

TAPPER: Picasso's "The Old Guitarist" from his blue period could serve as a model for Joe Biden who if elected would be the oldest president ever.

JOE BIDEN, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Am I still in good shape? Do I have all my faculties? Am I energetic?

TAPPER: And then there is that master work, the president might feel like he can't escape the gaze of the Mueller Lisa.


TAPPER: "FAREED ZAKARIA" is next. Stay with us.