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State of the Union

Interview With Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D) Michigan; Interview With Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D) Minnesota; Interview With U.S. Ambassador to New Zealand Scott Brown; Biden On Trump: "Our Silence Is Complicity"; Trump Says White Nationalism Is Not A Rising Threat; Beto O'Rourke All In For 2020 In This Week's "State of the Cartoonion". Aired 9-10a ET

Aired March 17, 2019 - 09:00   ET




JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Darkest days. The world mourns after a devastating terrorist attack on two New Zealand mosques.

JACINDA ARDERN, PRIME MINISTER OF NEW ZEALAND: This is and will be one of New Zealand's darkest days.

TAPPER: The heinous attacks on Muslim worshipers broadcast live on social media. U.S. Ambassador to New Zealand Scott Brown joins us next.

And hate on the rise. In the wake of the New Zealand attacks, President Trump downplays the spread of white nationalism.


TAPPER: But statistics show white nationalist hate is growing. We will talk to Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib, one of three Muslim members of Congress, in minutes.

Plus: middle of the road. He's running, and Beto O'Rourke is hoping to catch fire again, this time in Iowa.

BETO O'ROURKE (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm running to serve you.

TAPPER: But a candidate from the center of her party and the country has the same goal.

SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-MN), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Iowa has picked winners, right?

TAPPER: Presidential candidate Senator Amy Klobuchar joins us in moments.


TAPPER: Hello. I'm Jake Tapper in Washington, where the state of our union is disgusted and horrified after yet another white nationalist terrorist attack.

There are now at least 50 people dead and as many injured in New Zealand after a horrific terrorist attack on two mosques. Overnight, the prime minister of New Zealand promised to take up gun reform, saying -- quote -- "There will be changes to our gun laws."

In the United States and around the world, the tragedy is reigniting questions about rising white nationalism, after a so-called manifesto reportedly from the suspected gunman spewed anti-immigrant hate and white supremacist ideology.

In the hours after the attack, President Trump condemned the killings, but he did not, notably, offer any direct words of support to the Muslim community here in the United States or abroad, and he did not speak out specifically against white supremacy or white nationalism.

In fact, when asked if white nationalism is a growing threat around the world, the president said this:


TRUMP: I don't really. I think it's a small group of people that have very, very serious problems.


TAPPER: When the New Zealand prime minister was asked if she agreed with the president's comments, she said -- quote -- "No."

And statistics and data in the United States and around the world are with her, not with the president.

Joining me now, the U.S. ambassador to New Zealand, former Republican Senator from Massachusetts Scott Brown.

Mr. Ambassador, thanks again for joining us. We really appreciate it.

I want to start with what we know about the terrorist who committed -- committed these attacks. We're learning he's an Australian national. He's traveled extensively, visited countries such as Bulgaria and Turkey.

The prime minister of New Zealand said that, while they monitor various hate groups, this individual was unknown to their security services. Do you know, was he ever on the radar of U.S. intelligence services?

SCOTT BROWN, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO NEW ZEALAND: Jake, first of all, thank you for having me on and thank you for covering this.

No, I have no knowledge of whether he's on any type of watch list for us. And I take the prime minister at her word. I know they have been very thorough, obviously, dealing with the victims and the families and also making sure that the members of the Muslim community are cared for.

But, more importantly, they are doing the deep dive to make sure they get the legal case strong and ready to go.

TAPPER: From what we have seen, Mr. Ambassador, are U.S. and other intelligence and law enforcement agencies tracking dangerous white supremacist terrorists as closely as they are tracking other threats, such as, for instance, Islamist terrorists?

BROWN: Well, I can't comment on what's happening back home, because, Jake, I have been here for a couple years.

And I can just say, being here, and the reason I think that this person may have gone to Christchurch is because of the amazing diversity. As you know, Christchurch had an earthquake which devastated that city some time ago, and they made major efforts to rebuild, and amazing inclusiveness.

So the Islamophobic attitudes of this rotten-to-the-core terrorist really is not something that I have ever seen here in New Zealand. I think that's what's so shocking to the people of New Zealand, that they -- that Muslims, Muslims in this country specifically would be targeted in this manner.

TAPPER: I know that President Trump has spoken with the prime minister of New Zealand. Have you spoken with President Trump about this attack?

BROWN: I speak to the -- obviously, the White House, the Situation Room and all parties to be on a very regular basis.

Certainly, I know there's been contact from the president to the prime minister, and the secretary and the vice president to the deputy prime minister. All the agencies are speaking at a very, very high level.


There's no need for me to specifically speak to the president, because I'm here as his representative and do what I have been doing, which is making sure that, whatever the New Zealand government needs, including the prime minister or any of the other agencies, we make sure it's available.

TAPPER: So, the prime minister of New Zealand, Jacinda Ardern, said yesterday that in her phone call with President Trump, he asked her what support the U.S. could offer. And she told him -- quote -- "sympathy and love for all Muslim communities" -- unquote.

Now, you specifically have made a point, including in this interview, of saying that you are -- quote -- "standing with our Muslim brothers and sisters."

President Trump -- it's been observed by many Muslims and others that President Trump has yet to offer any kind of message or support specifically to any Muslim community.

Would you like to see him do so?

BROWN: Well, as you know, Jake, I'm the president's representative here. And I have done it.

We -- my wife and I brought 49 lilies representing the 49 deaths at that point down to the Islamic center in my hometown. Tonight, we participated in an amazing vigil with over 10,000 people reaching out to our Muslim brothers and sisters.

So, I am the representative. That's how I feel. I would have to refer you to what's happening in Washington, because, quite frankly, it seems like it's 14,000 kilometers away, which it is.

So we're doing everything we can here. There's been amazing reach- out, amazing vigils. And I'm encouraging people to start in their local community.

And I just want to say, I want to commend you for what you and CNN are doing by posting on your -- I believe it's on your dot-com site, of things that people can do to help. That's really important, and I encourage folks to take a peek at that.

TAPPER: Would it make your job easier, though? I mean, the prime minister has specifically said to the president that she would like to see him say something to address the Muslim community.

There are American Muslims who are very concerned, Muslims worldwide who are concerned about this horrific anti-Muslim massacre. Would it make your job easier? Would you personally just like to see the president specifically say that he is standing with our Muslim brothers and sisters, exactly the way you did?

BROWN: Well, first of all, Jake, as you know, as a former U.S. senator and as a diplomat now as a member of the State Department, there's been no time in my political or diplomatic life that I have ever questioned our government, whether it's this government or any other prior government's commitment to end racism, to stop bigotry, to really deal with the Islamophobic attitudes, and not only there, but here, and especially here.

Everything is focused right here, Jake, right now. And what's happening around the world really seems a little bit irrelevant, to be honest with you, because we're dealing with taking care of those Muslim brothers and sisters and family members and community members and friends that are hurting right now.

So, we have to make sure they're safe and secure, their loved ones can be buried properly. And then we can obviously move forward and deal with a lot of the -- you know, the things that we're talking about.

But the biggest priority is to deal with this -- make sure that love over hate, reach out to your local communities and do the things that are important to kind of make this country heal.

TAPPER: I want you to take a listen to what President Trump said when asked if white nationalism is a rising threat around the world. This is President Trump on Friday:

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) TRUMP: I don't really. I think it's a small group of people that have very, very serious problems. I guess, if you look at what happened in New Zealand, perhaps that's the case. I don't know enough about it yet.


TAPPER: Now, experts say that white -- that white nationalism is on the rise. Obviously, right-wing nationalist parties with such tendencies have had double-digit vote totals all across Europe.

The Anti-Defamation League says white supremacists carried out 78 percent of all extremist murders in the U.S. And when the prime minister of New Zealand was asked if she agreed with President Trump that it's not on the rise, this threat, she simply said no.

Do you agree with the prime minister or do you agree with President Trump?

BROWN: Listen, I think they're -- they're -- they're -- they have their own opinions, obviously.

I know what's happening here. And there seems to have been a person who had those types of tendencies, and he went out and murdered, systematically murdered women -- innocent Muslim women, children, obviously, and men, and that's unacceptable.

Specifically, with regard to racism, as I said, I do not condone racism, whether it's white supremacist or any type of racism. And I am the president's representative. So I would refer you to what he's saying.

I, quite frankly, am not focused on it right now. I'm focused on what we're doing here. But, as the representative and someone who has been in the federal government and now works at the State Department, there's never been any doubt that we condemn racism, and all types of racism.

TAPPER: Sure. But do you think it's on the rise?

BROWN: And extremism obviously.

TAPPER: Right. Do you -- but do you think it's on the rise, from what you have seen?

BROWN: Listen, I don't -- I haven't seen -- Jake, I -- I have been here for two -- almost two years. I haven't seen it here. That's why it's a little bit numbing.


I am trying to come up with words. I wish I could actually come up with words as to how I and others feel here right now.

I can only associate -- attribute it to how I felt during Boston and the Boston bombing, being then a New Englander, that same type of, oh, my gosh, what just happened? And that's what's happening right here, right now.

So, is there an uptick of violence? Well, there was here a couple of days ago. And we have to find a way to put that back in the bottle.

TAPPER: Well, we know that the terrorist cited President Trump as a symbol of white identity in his document.

Obviously, the perpetrator is the only one responsible for this horrific massacre, but what did you make of the fact that he cited the president as a symbol of this?

BROWN: Yes, I don't give any -- any credibility whatsoever to the ramblings of somebody who is rotten to the core and, clearly, is an extremist of the worst kind, who could walk into two mosques and without any care whatsoever kill people.

I don't give any credibility to it. I'm not going to read it. I encourage others not to read it. I'm not going to give him the time of day. I hope, as quickly as possible, they can find a way to get this guy convicted and lock him up and throw away the key. That's how I feel.

And I think a lot of New Zealanders feel the same way.

TAPPER: Ambassador Brown, we thank you for your time, and we thank you for your leadership in New Zealand and conveying the loss that we all feel and the love that we're all sending to the New Zealand community, and specifically to the Muslim community in New Zealand.

So, thank you for that.

BROWN: Well, Jake, thank you to you and your viewers.

And, please, help locally. Start locally. Reach out to your Muslim brothers and sisters and push love over hate. That's the only way that's going to work.

So, thank you very much for your time as well.

TAPPER: In the wake of the horrific tragedy in New Zealand, Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib, one of only three Muslim lawmakers in Congress, posted a personal response, tweeting a picture of her family and saying she hugged her -- quote -- "two brown Muslim boys a little tighter and longer."

And Congresswoman Tlaib is joining us now from her home state of Michigan.

Congresswoman, thanks for joining us.

First of all, let me just say, we're all thinking about the Muslim community today and sending our support and our love.

You released a statement after the attack about how difficult this is, particularly as a mother of two young Muslim sons.

How do you talk to them about what happened on Friday?

REP. RASHIDA TLAIB (D), MICHIGAN: Oh, it's so difficult.

I don't know. How do you talk to your child about this? I remember my son at 9 years old hearing me talk about how "USA Today" had depicted Muslims as Nazis. They had done this cartoon, and was talking to his father in the bedroom about how just awful that was and how people are going to want to kill us when they see this cartoon.

And I was just so distressed about it. And my little boy walks in and he says, "You know, mama, don't worry. If anybody asks if I'm Muslim, I will lie and tell them I'm not."

At that moment, I cried even more, realizing my son, you know, who is 13 today, is growing up in a country where he's become a target just for his faith, just for the fact that he's Arab-American.

I can tell you it's very distressful. And now I'm a member of Congress, and I have to speak up and I have to be loud and clear. And I don't care if it's anti-blackness, xenophobia, anti-Semitism. Whatever form of hate, I feel like we need to really be starting to connect together on all forms of hate, against white nationalism.

This is domestic terrorism. It's actually something we should be very, very much at the forefront condemning, being very loud and clear that we're going to go after you, we're going to make sure you're held accountable, and that you will not target a person based on their faith or sexual orientation, based on the color of their skin or even their income status.

I mean, we have gotten people that are being targeted from all forms of all -- over the country right now. It's -- distressed, Jake. I can tell you, as a mother,it's hard to sit your child down to help them understand.

All I can do is some from a place of love and give them a sense of hope. There are more of us than of them, meaning more people that are coming from a place of respect and equality and justice.

And if they truly believe that, then they will feel a little bit more safer in our country.

TAPPER: The president condemned the attack, but he has not yet given a direct message to Muslims in the United States or around the world.

You just heard Ambassador Brown talk about that. He -- he has. He's talked about standing with our Muslim brothers and sisters, in his words.

Do you think President Trump needs to make such a gesture?

TLAIB: Absolutely.

I mean, Ambassador Brown is doing what he needs to do, but he needs to understand President Donald J. Trump is the most powerful man in the world right now. He's in a position, president of the United States. He, from the Oval Office, from that power position, can be able to send a signal very loud and clear.

And we have done this in the past against foreign terrorism. We need to do it on domestic terrorism, against white supremacy that's growing every single day that we stay silent, not myself.


But the leadership, the administration, when they continue to stay silent, it's going to increase. I remember Oak Creek. I remember hearing about the Pittsburgh synagogue very shortly -- I mean, these are constant, from the black church in Charleston.

It will not stop until we send a loud signal and put the resources together to combat it and to stop it, because it is probably the most dangerous element of terrorism, and that's making us less safe in our country, than what we might think about what's happening outside of the lines of our country.

We need to be focused on what's happening from within.

TAPPER: You also said in a statement after the attack that you were angry at -- quote -- "those who follow the white supremacy agenda and my own country that sends a signal across the world that massacres like this are some kind of call to action."

Who are you specifically talking about?

TLAIB: The ones that stay silent and the ones that support the Muslim ban.

Not only once, but twice, three times, did we in this nation say to the world and to everyone in this country that Muslims don't belong here, from the fact that every time we talk about a wall, it's not about a structure, but about xenophobia. It's about racism.

It's a symbol in so many ways of targeting brown and black people in our country. The fact that we continue to stay silent is what's going to make us, as a country, less safe.

And I can tell you, it's not just brown, black people speaking up. It's also white Americans across this country that are very distressed and also feel less safe because we're not speaking up against white nationalism.

TAPPER: President Trump said he didn't really see white supremacists as a rising threat around the world when asked in the Oval Office on Friday and said he called them a -- quote -- "small group of people that have very, very serious problems" -- unquote.

What did you make of that?

TLAIB: Well, I think he needs to pick up the phone and call the Department of Justice.

There's real data and information currently right now of the rise of white supremacy right here in this United States of America. He needs to look at the data and the information and the facts and actually listen and understand the tremendous responsibility he has in being our president, our leader of our country.

He cannot just say it's a small group of people. There's too many deaths, not only from the synagogue to the black churches to the temples to the -- now the mosques. We need to be speaking up against this, and it has to start with him reiterating the importance of real information and data that says it's on the rise.

You can't just say it isn't, when the facts say the complete opposite. He needs to do better by us and the country. He needs to speak up and condemn this very loud and very clearly.

TAPPER: Chelsea Clinton was confronted by an NYU student at a vigil for those killed in New Zealand this weekend over the way that she, Chelsea Clinton, had condemned recent comments from Congresswoman Ilhan Omar.

Take a listen to this confrontation.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: After all that you have done, and all this (INAUDIBLE) that you have (INAUDIBLE)

CHELSEA CLINTON, DAUGHTER OF BILL AND HILLARY CLINTON: I am so sorry. That certainly is never my intention.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This right here is the result of a massacre stoked by people like you and the words that you put out into the world.

And I want you to know that, and I want you to feel that deep inside. Forty-nine people died because of the rhetoric that you put out there.


TAPPER: I don't know if you could hear that. It's a video that's gone pretty viral.

But, basically, this NYU student is saying that because Chelsea Clinton confronted Ilhan Omar, Congresswoman Omar, in the way she did, that the massacre is partly her fault.

I don't know if you saw it. But I'm wondering what your response is.

TLAIB: Well, I just -- I know, you know, Congresswoman Omar and myself have gotten so many death threats.

I think she is probably really -- I actually pray every day for her safety.

I can just tell you the kind of public disagreement and the kind of language that sometimes is being used towards disagreeing with her on a number of fronts, foreign policy issues, people need to be very careful. She's become very much a target. And right after not only the West

Virginia, you know, poster putting her face there with the 9/11 towers in the background -- this is a woman that's a mother, that is an American, that is serving her country.

And we need to be very careful. When we disagree publicly, when we disagree publicly on various policy agreements, we have to be very careful in the language that we use.

And I can tell you, look, I have seen the letters and have seen the various posts from not only Democrats -- from Republicans, but also Democrats, that, when we target or disagree, we need to be very careful, in that it's not feeding into the Islamophobia that is growing in our country.

TAPPER: That's interesting that you raise that, because before the attack in New Zealand, you had said something about Islamophobia in relation to Congresswoman Omar and her comments about Israel supporters that I want to ask you about.


You were asked why Democrats responded so strongly to her comments about supporters of Israel. And this is what you said:


TLAIB: This past week, I feel -- and I know this would be somewhat shocking for some -- but I think Islamophobia is very much among the Democratic Party, as well as the Republican Party.


TAPPER: Obviously, we condemn all Islamophobia. I'm sure you and I would agree on that 100 percent.

And the poster of Congresswoman Omar, the death threats against her, all of that is reprehensible.

But are you suggesting -- just help me understand here. Are you suggesting that Democrats who took issue with Congresswoman Omar's comments did so because of anti-Muslim bias?

TLAIB: I mean, I think that's part of it. But let me tell you why.

I have been there only for a short period of time. And there are members on the other side of the aisle that have been very, very -- using various tropes regarding -- against my Jewish brothers and sisters, using different kinds of -- they have -- so-called tweets and different kinds of rhetoric that they support.

And many of those are the same people that support this president, who doesn't want to condemn white supremacy in our country and white nationalism that's growing.

And I want to say, you know, this is what I saw, is this double standard.

Is it because she's a black Muslimah? Is it because it's around the issue of human rights violations from the country of Israel? I don't know.

But I can tell you, if it was really about anti-Semitism and condemning that, then we need to be able to say to all the members -- and that's what we ended up at the end, condemning all forms of hate, but also holding every single person accountable to the same standard.

And that's what I didn't see. And that's when I think to myself and pause, as a person that ran a racial justice campaign for years, who grew up in the most beautiful, blackest city in the country in the city of Detroit, I pause and think to myself, is it because she's a black American and she's Muslim?

And so that's where I pause and say to myself, is there an issue here? And I guess our mere presence there, the fact that now there's not only one, but now three Muslim Americans serving in Congress, that our mere presence is going to be able to possibly break down any of these kinds of racialized, you know, opinions, these -- this kind of Islamophobia that I do feel like is still very present on both sides of the aisle.

And I think my colleagues are not seeing that as an attack. It's just saying that we just have a lot of work to do.

TAPPER: But you don't think that those Democrats, including Nancy Pelosi, the speaker of the House, who viewed Congresswoman Omar's comments as anti-Semitic, you don't think that they legitimately felt that way? You think that they are -- there is anti-Muslim bigotry that's part of their criticism of Congresswoman Omar?

TLAIB: I think she becomes an easier target, is what I'm trying to say.

I don't understand why some others can say similar, probably things that could be said to be anti-Semitic that are not being held to the same standard. That's what I'm saying.

And I can tell you, I have been there long enough to see that there are some issues there, again, on the other side of the aisle that continue to be held -- they're being held unaccountable.

And so I just want to be able to say, like, when we uplift -- and uplift like people like Ilhan and others and say, we need more people like us to run for office, I realize, again, our mere presence being there, understanding that, for many, they have never met a Muslim before, but also probably the fact we're women of color that is very vocal against, you know, human rights violations, especially in the country of Israel or even Saudi Arabia, that we are coming from a place of personal experiences, as being people of color, with my living grandmother in the West Bank in the occupied territories, that we want to be heard and we want to be seen, beyond whatever these kinds of labels that people like to put on us. And I think we just become an easier target for folks. And that's

what worries me, is that I don't understand why others can say something probably as worse and probably stemmed on white supremacy, can get away with it, but then Ilhan, who is really coming from a place of disagreeing with the policies of the country of Israel, where my grandmother lives currently right now with inequality, is not treated with any human dignity, that, if she speaks up, then it's seen -- and, again, I feel like, because she's Muslim and because she's black, she's an easier target for them to attack and target.

And, again, I am saying this from my experience being a member of Congress, that it is somehow embedded, I believe, in her being someone that was easier to make so-called an example of.

TAPPER: All right, I have a lot more questions for you, but we're out of time.

So, Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib, I hope you will come back on this show or my daily show, "THE LEAD," to talk more about all sorts of issues, including impeachment and Middle East policy.

And, please, again, I would just like to say, our sympathies to you and to the entire Muslim community in the United States and around the world.


Thanks again for being here.

TLAIB: Thank you.

TAPPER: To help victims of these awful attacks, you can go to to Impact Your World.

President Trump punted when asked about the rise of white nationalism. How are the Democratic presidential candidates responding?

Up next, we will go to Iowa, where presidential candidate Amy Klobuchar joins us live from the campaign trail.

Stay with us.


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

After Friday's horrific terrorist attack in New Zealand, Democratic presidential candidates are offering their condolences and reaching out to the Muslim community, and highlighting a contrast between their responses to the international tragedy and President Trump's.

Democratic presidential candidate and Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar joins me now live from Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

Congresswoman (sic), thanks for joining us.

Let's start on that terrorist attack in New Zealand.

Your fellow Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal suggested on Friday -- quote -- "I think the public discourse from the president on down is a factor in some of these actions."

Do you agree?

KLOBUCHAR: I don't think you can actually take each of the murderous acts and say what role Donald Trump played, but I can tell you this. His rhetoric doesn't help.


And many of these people, whether it was the person who tried to bomb Barack Obama or this murderer in New Zealand, have cited Donald Trump along the way.

So, to me, that means, at the very least, he is dividing people. They are using him as an excuse. And he, at the very least, should be giving strong statements, public speeches defending Muslims in this world, because I can tell you, having the biggest Somali population in the United States of America, I know they get hit all the time.

And one of our jobs, as a leader, is to stand up, whether people are Jewish, whether they're Muslim, no matter how they worship, no matter what they look like. We have to remember that they are all part of a country of shared dreams. And that's the United States of America.

TAPPER: Mm-hmm.

KLOBUCHAR: So making that point -- as the leader of the most famous democracy in the world, you have to make that point all the time. And he has not been doing that.

TAPPER: President Trump said after the attack that he did not see a rise in white nationalism around the world. He called it just a small group of people.

Data from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe shows reports of hate crimes are up in many countries worldwide. The ADL says that the rise of white nationalism, white separatism in the United States is also happening here in the U.S.

What would you do as president to fight this?

KLOBUCHAR: We have to make a major effort to figure out what's going on with these groups.

There has been an increase in hate crimes. There has been an increase in very negative rhetoric at groups. And, like the congresswoman said, no matter how someone looks, it happens to them. They could be Orthodox Jews. It happens to them. They could be Hispanics. It's been happening to them.

There was a little girl that went out to dinner with her parents in Minnesota, and these guys walked by -- Muslim family. A guy walks by and says: "You four go home. You go home to where you came from."

And the little girl looks up at her mom -- this is in Minnesota -- and says: "Mom, I don't want to eat dinner at home. You said we could eat out tonight."

Jake, you think of the innocent words of that little girl. She only knows one home. And that's my state. She only knows one home. And that's the United States of America.

So, in addition to the murderous acts that we just saw in New Zealand and that we have seen all across the country, every single day, there are these acts, these daggers for people that are just trying to live their lives and trying to make it in our country.

So, I think it's on all of us to condemn this hate. Our faith groups in my state have come together. The Muslim groups and the Jewish groups and our Christian groups have come together...

TAPPER: Mm-hmm.

KLOBUCHAR: ... with signs everywhere that say, when it's Ramadan, "Happy Ramadan" and teaching people in the Catholic faith what the Koran is about. We have tried to share that. And that's part of it.

But it is also what you do when a crisis happens. People are watching.

TAPPER: The shooter...

KLOBUCHAR: And he does not meet that standard.

TAPPER: The shooter broadcast the attack for 17 minutes on Facebook Live.

And now social media companies such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, they are under fire for failing to halt the spread of that gruesome video, even hours later in some cases.

Should any punitive action be taken against those companies, do you think?

KLOBUCHAR: Those companies for so long have said, we have your back.

Meanwhile, your data is getting shared. You send an e-mail to someone, and the next thing, you see an advertisement about the thing you sent the e-mail on. So that's why I want privacy legislation to basically say, hey, we have a right over our data. Stop messing around with us, and then also put in plain language what your rights are, instead of 50 pages. And then, finally, notify us when there's breaches.

And when it comes to hateful violence like this, they should have to get this off the Internet immediately. There is no place on the Internet for people watching murders.

TAPPER: So let's talk about your record, if we can. From 1999 to 2007, you were the top prosecutor for the county that surrounds Minneapolis, Hennepin County. A study from around that time, from during your time heading that office, by one of your predecessors, then with the Council on Crime and Justice, found wide racial disparities in the justice system at the time you took office.

It preceded you, but they issued this report during your time there. Minnesota Public Radio wrote -- quote -- "The ratio of blacks sent to Minnesota prisons compared to whites is the highest in the country. People who are black account for 70 percent of Hennepin County's drug cases. If convicted, they are sentenced to time behind bars at three times the rate of whites guilty of the same offense."

Now, that was data from the start of your term. When you were the county attorney, did you do anything to try to improve these broad, stark racial disparities? And, if so, what did you do?

KLOBUCHAR: Of course I did, Jake.

In fact, if you look at the data, you will see there was a 65 percent decrease in incarceration of African-Americans when you go from the beginning of my term to the end.


And we worked very hard on several fronts. The first is to diversify the office and to add more people of color to the ranks of prosecutors. And I did that.

The second was to look at how we were handling drug court and make sure that we were doing it in a way that wasn't racist. And you can always do better. I can tell you, you learn in retrospect, when you look back, things you can do better.

The third thing was to up our focus on white-collar crimes. Things that are committed in the boardrooms are just as bad as things that are committed with a crowbar if someone is trying to break in a house.

And so I really made a major effort on that. And then, finally, I was one of the first prosecutors in the country to work with The Innocence Project to do a DNA review on our cases, to do something differently when it came to eyewitness identification, so you would have the police officer who was not involved in investigating the crime show the photos. And you would show the photos one at a time, instead of all at once.

And then, finally, we had videotaped interrogations in Minnesota. We were one of the only states that did it at the time to make sure that suspects were treated fairly, Miranda rights were being read.

And we actually ended up -- I ended up, I remember, debating the Queens DA about that to defend that practice, to protect individual rights. So, I made this a major effort, because I truly believe that our mission is to convict the guilty, yes, but protect the innocent. And there has been racism in our system, and there still is. TAPPER: According to "The Minneapolis Star-Tribune," in 2004, you

attributed falling crime levels in Hennepin County largely to aggressive police attacks on drug traffic.

In light of what we know about how in general crackdowns on drug crime exacerbate these racial disparities in the criminal justice system, what are -- you said you -- on this issue of drugs, you said there are always things you could do better, in retrospect.

What do you think you had -- what do you wish you had done better, in retrospect?

KLOBUCHAR: Well, that's a great question.

I think one of the things that we are starting to resolve is the federal drug sentences. And I was a sponsor of the FIRST STEP Act, a co-sponsor. And that was the important law that just passed on a bipartisan basis that brought down the federal drug sentences, which were much higher than the local drug sentences for nonviolent offenders.

It's called the FIRST STEP Act because there has to be a second step act. And that gets at what you're talking about, which is nonviolent offender drug sentences in localities all over the country. Ninety percent of those nonviolent drug offenders are imprisoned not in the federal system.

So, that's got to be the next step, is that, in Washington, we create incentives for all of the local DA's offices across the country to reduce their drug sentences themselves. And I believe...

TAPPER: Right. But that's what -- that -- you are looking -- what do you wish you had done differently at the time, though? I understand you're talking about what you want to do in the future.

KLOBUCHAR: Well, I would have looked at -- yes.

I would have looked at those drug sentences and seen what we could have done differently at that time. That's one thing.

We had a -- as I said, we had to diversify the office. I did that. I looked at our sentences as much as -- every single case. Now, we had a huge office, over 400 employees. But I would try to make sure we were fair regardless of race.

And I am actually close to the people that ran the study that you talked about from the beginning of my term. And I had met with them and talked to them about that back then. And I knew the changes that we need to make.

Felony DWI, drunk drivers, a lot of those perpetrators were white, people with 20 DWIs. I made that a major purpose, because I don't think you should have seen that differently than you did drug offenders.

TAPPER: Vice President Joe Biden all but declared his presidential run last night in Delaware. Take a listen.


JOSEPH BIDEN, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I have the most progressive record of anybody running for the -- if -- anybody who would run.


BIDEN: I didn't mean...



BIDEN: Of anybody who would run.


TAPPER: So, putting the slip-up aside about would run vs. running -- and he's obviously going to run -- is that true? Does Vice President Biden have the most progressive record of anyone running?

KLOBUCHAR: He has been running things for a long time as a senator and then as vice president.

I'm sure he will be able to point to some major accomplishments -- accomplishments that are progressive. And then he will have to explain things that weren't as progressive.

I think every candidate is going to do that. You just asked me about my record as a prosecutor, and I am happy to talk about that. And I am also happy to talk about things that we have done to address racism when I got to the Senate, as well as things that I'm going to continue to do.


So, I think every candidate is going to have to look back at their positions in the past and look forward to what they want to do as president.

But I think what's most important is that we put someone forward that, one, is going to have the backs of people, two, understands the issues here, from bringing down the prices of pharmaceutical drugs, and, three, is able to get it done.

And that's what I bring to this table, Jake. I'm someone -- was just ranked by Vanderbilt as getting the most done for any Democratic senator on 15 different metrics. And that's because I have been able to find common ground to get bills passed and to respond to my constituents. And I think that's what we need in the White House.

TAPPER: Lastly, Senator, the U.S. ambassador to New Zealand, Scott Brown, just told me that he's not spoken to President Trump in the wake of the terror attacks. But the president has found time in the last few days to attack the

late Senator John McCain on Twitter, twice in just the last day or so, personally attacking him by saying that McCain was last in his class at Annapolis, talking about -- quote -- "stains" against John McCain's record.

I know you and Senator McCain were close. He's obviously not with us anymore, so he can't defend himself. What's your reaction?

KLOBUCHAR: This is just another outrageous action by the president.

John McCain was a war hero. He served our country well. And he died. And the courage he showed in life was matched -- when he was in that cell for five years in Vietnam, as a prisoner of war, was matched by the courage he showed us when he died.

And the fact that the president would be now attacking John McCain for things like turning over a report to the FBI, which was, of course, the right thing to do, for things like serving our country, I cannot even express -- I think back to when I saw John McCain the last time on his ranch. My husband and I went there to see him and Cindy.

And the words he pointed to me are the words that Donald Trump should remember. And those are words from his book, where he said -- because he couldn't speak very well -- there is nothing more liberating than fighting for a cause larger than yourself.

That's because John believed in America. And John believed, as I believe, that when a tragedy happens, like in New Zealand, you do all you can to reach out to that country, and you do all you can to stand up for the simple belief that people are different in our country, but we are all part of a greater America.

And the president chose to take the different road.

That's not what they want to hear here in Iowa. I spent all day here yesterday. And I can tell you, they didn't like how he reacted to that horrible murder.

And I'm going to see them again today at the parade in Cedar Rapids and in cafes all over this state. And they are decent people that want -- expect a president to behave decently when things go wrong.

TAPPER: Senator Amy Klobuchar from the great state of Minnesota, thanks so much for joining us today. Have fun in Iowa today.

KLOBUCHAR: Thank you. Happy St. Patrick's Day, Jake.

TAPPER: Thank you.

Beto O'Rourke is already facing some backlash over his campaign roll- out. Why is he apologizing? That's next.


[09:47:24] (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BIDEN: Our silence is complicity. With these words, the president of the United States has signed a moral equivalence between those spreading hate and those with the courage to stand against it. And in that moment, I knew that the threat to this nation was unlike any I had seen in my lifetime.


TAPPER: Former Vice President Joe Biden describing his reaction to the president equivocating on white nationalism after Charlottesville as the president again downplays the threat of white supremacy after the terror attack in New Zealand. Let's discuss.

I want to start with you, Waleed, you've been very critical of the president since the attack. What's your reaction to him again saying he doesn't think the white supremacy, white nationalism is a growing threat. It's just a few disturbed individuals.

WALEED SHAHID, COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR, JUSTICE DEMOCRATS: I thought Senator Klobuchar's response was a little disappointing. I appreciate Joe Biden's strong words here that the president doesn't feel like he needs to condemn white nationalism or sympathize with Muslims right now because he's sympathetic to white nationalism.

I mean, this is a president and a politician who peddled the birther conspiracy about President Obama, call for a complete and total shutdown of Muslims, said that he was open to closing down mosques in this country after the Paris attacks. Has suggested that he's open to getting rid of Muslims in this country.

I mean, if that's not white nationalism, I don't know what is.

TAPPER: What do you think, congressman?

REP. JIM BANKS (R-IN), ARMED SERVICES COMMITTEE: The president condemned white nationalism and the actions that happened in New Zealand. There's no question about it. None of us can be --


TAPPER: I don't think he specifically mentioned white nationalism -- he condemned the attacks.

BANKS: Yes. None of us can be emphatic enough though in our condemnation of hate in all of its forms. That's why -- that's why we have to step back and talk about what we can do about it.

And I'll give you an example. When white nationalism reared its ugly head in the House of Representatives, the Republican leader Kevin McCarthy stripped Steve King of his committee assignments. Today as we sit here Representative Omar still sits on the foreign affairs committee after her anti-Semitic comments because Democrats and Nancy Pelosi refuse to do anything about it. KAREN FINNEY, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: That's a very shameful comparison to make, congressman. I'm disappointed you'd use this moment to do that. A couple of things. Steve King has, for years, made all sorts of horrendous comments that have gone without, you know, just a deafening silence from your party. And I actually think this is a moment to lift this up.

I mean, you are correct, Jake. The president did not specifically call out white nationalism and the way that we have to combat hate and sexism and bigotry and anti-gay bias, you name it we have to name it. We have to say it. We have to have that courage. And we cannot just resort to -- Ilhan Omar, she apologized and I think it actually ended up by having a resolution to be against all forms of hate, my God, to see what then happened this week was the right thing to do.


TAPPER: Congresswoman Love --

MIA LOVE (R), FORMER UTAH CONGRESSWOMAN: This is years after representative Omar actually made some comments too. Look, all I have to say is, what is our responsibility in all this?

I get so tired of the blame game, it's because of somebody else that we're doing this. When do we take responsibility for our own actions?

When I was in high school, I remember teaching a swimming class. And after six weeks of teaching this little boy he looks at me and he says, I want you to know my parents don't like you because you're brown, but I do, you're my favorite teacher. And what I realized in that moment is that racism is not in your DNA. It's taught.

It's a seed -- it's a nasty seed that grows and poisons the soil around it. And the only thing Martin Luther King said this best, darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.

And I'm waiting for people to actually start talking about love language and get away from -- shedding some light. It cannot -- you cannot sit there and say I'm going to spew out hateful language in reaction to another hateful language. You have to start standing up and saying, you know, what is my responsibility here in the -- what we're doing for the American people.

The American people are tired of it. We need a little bit of inspiration, a little bit of light and a little bit of unity so that we can narrow this gap -- this widening gap that we have in this country.

FINNEY: Briefly, that's why, though, I actually thought the ambassador was quite fantastic in the way he talked about --

TAPPER: Ambassador Brown.

FINNEY: Ambassador Brown this morning. I would have liked to hear our president talk like that. Not because I blame him, because he's -- I mean, we can go into all the ways that he has, you know, kind of played footsie with white nationalists. More importantly when things happen -- yes, you should talk about love. Yes, we should do everything we can to stand in solidarity and say, we love you, we're with you, you're Americans, we're all Americans.

There's no identity politics. There's no this is your issue or that issue. These are Americans issues that we have to deal with together.


LOVE: That's not what's happening in Congress right now. That's not what's happening.

People are actually going on out and they're trying to find these moments on social media that will go viral to make them popular instead of actually talking about the issues that will help solve this problem and heal Americans.

TAPPER: Congressman, I want to bring you back to something that Waleed said about what President Trump has said about Muslims. There was a story that he told on the campaign trail about General Blackjack Pershing. It's not a true story at all but he continually told it about how he handled a group of captured Muslim terrorists. I think in the Philippines.

Here is just a little excerpt from it.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: He took the 50 terrorists and he took 50 men and he dipped 50 bullets in pigs' blood. He had his men load his rifles and he lined up the 50 people and they shot 49 of those people and the 50th person, he said, you go back to your people and you tell them what happened.


TAPPER: So that is not a true story. And he continually shared it. And it was in the Philippines. But the president, I mean, I just think, as a factual matter, talks about Muslims in a way that you don't, talks about Muslims in a way that nobody at this table does, and he has continually done that.

Don't you wish that he would talk about Muslims the way that Scott Brown does, the ambassador to New Zealand?

BANKS: Likewise, I mean, Ambassador Brown was unequivocal in his condemnation of the hateful actions in New Zealand. And again the president -- what the president said yesterday, over the past 48 hours, condemned the actions of this crazy, hateful individual. None of us can do enough, none of us can be emphatic enough in doing that ourselves, that's what I've done, I'm sure that's what each of your panelists today and you have done as well.

TAPPER: Waleed? SHAHID: For years after 9/11 we've heard this call of moderate Muslim leading (ph) to condemn radical Islam terror but I don't think moderate Republicans are doing enough to hold President Trump accountable for his rhetoric. And at the same time if you look at what's peddled on Fox News, on Breitbart you have these billionaires like Rupert Murdoch and Robert Mercer. Any time you read Breitbart or Fox News, it's just conspiracy theories about how Muslims, immigrants, people of color are to blame for this country's and the world's economic problems and no one is standing up to any of these people, no one is standing up to Donald Trump. No one is standing up to Rupert Murdoch.

LOVE: That's not true. That is not true.

TAPPER: That's not true?

LOVE: As a former member of congress, that's exactly what I did. Anytime he talked about s-hole countries, I went after him when he talked about the ban of Muslims.

TAPPER: You came on the show and did so.

LOVE: Yes. We talked about that. There are people that are actually doing that and calling people out. This is why it's so important to make sure that you hold everyone accountable to the principles that you believe in, Democrats and Republicans.

And you can't follow a person blindly because they have an "r" behind their name. I would actually say that we probably been Republicans longer than the president has and I feel like it's important for us to hold him accountable for the principles and the platforms that we believe in, that's what's going to actually save the party.


And I think help heal what's happening in the United States. But to say that there aren't people there coming out and holding the president accountable is not -- is not true. We need more of that but we need each of us holding all of us accountable.

SHAHID: I think Muslims just wake up every morning seeing this president degrade Muslims, and feel like, why is this man still president of the United States?

LOVE: Well --

FINNEY: But I think it's unfortunately with this president not just Muslims, as a black woman I can tell you it -- I feel more unsafe than I ever have in my own country. In my own country.

So I think there is a lot of solidarity around how terrifying a feeling that is, to know that you can't trust your own government. At the same time I hope that in 2020 people take seriously that this is the kind of question we should be asking from the people running for president. What kind of moral leadership will you offer this country? As you put to your guest. TAPPER: An important conversation and one I wish we had more time for. Thank you all for being here. Really appreciate it.

Beto O'Rourke says he's just born to in it. Does that remind you of anyone? That's this week's "State of the Cartoonion," next.

Stay with us.


TAPPER: Welcome back. Beto O'Rourke has finally decided he's all in for 2020. Will this presidential bid give him the meaning he's been looking for? That's the subject of this week's "State of the Cartoonion."


TAPPER (voice-over): Beto O'Rourke launched his presidential campaign with a big flashy cover of "Vanity Fair" magazine followed by gesticulation filled appearances in Iowa venues.

BETO O'ROURKE (D), FORMER U.S. CONGRESSMAN: I see the future of America right here, right now.

TAPPER: Earning the notice of the president.

TRUMP: I think he's got a lot of hand movement. I've never seen so much hand movement. I said, is he crazy or is that just the way he acts?

TAPPER: O'Rourke is ready for the fight. He told "Vanity Fair," "Man, I'm just born to be in it." And he's already framing the battle against Trump as -- quote -- "every epic movie that you've ever seen from "Star Wars."

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I won't fail you. I'm not afraid.

TAPPER: To "The Lord of the Rings." Adding -- quote -- "This is the moment where we're going to win or lose everything."

Running for president is the culmination of O'Rourke's lifelong journey to find himself as you see in his various posts on Medium he sees himself as a kind of political Jack Kerouac, going on the road again, looking for his voters.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved.

TAPPER: But before our political Kerouac can get to Donald Trump, he might face another obstacle or two.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As they say where I come from, get a life.


TAPPER: A new CNN series explores Richard Nixon's rise and his political destruction.


RICHARD NIXON, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES (voice-over): I don't give a goddamn what the story is.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Richard M. Nixon has lied repeatedly.

NIXON: No reporter from "The Washington Post" should ever be in the White House again. Do you understand?

(on camera): The tougher it gets, the cooler I get. I have what it takes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Impeach Nixon now! Impeach Nixon now!

NIXON: I want to say this to the television audience. Because people have got to know whether or not their president's a crook. Well, I'm not a crook.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): This crap about Watergate --

NIXON: Let others wallow in Watergate. We're going to do our job.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): I'm going to kick their ass.

NIXON (voice-over): Nobody's going to package me. Nobody's going to make me put on an act for television. I'm not going to engage in any gimmicks or any stunts, wear any silly hats.

If people looking at me say, "That's a new Nixon," then all that I can say is, "Well, maybe you didn't know the old Nixon."


ANNOUNCER: "TRICKY DICK" a new CNN original series. Tonight at 9:00.