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State of the Union
California Synagogue Shooting; Interview With Rep. Seth Moulton (D-MA); Interview With Counselor to the President Kellyanne Conway; 2020 Election Discussion. Aired 9-10a ET
Aired April 28, 2019 - 09:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Hate crime. Deadly violence at a California synagogue on the last day of Passover. A gunman opens fire on Jewish worshipers, killing one and injuring three.
President Trump denounces hate.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We forcefully condemn the evil of anti-Semitism.
TAPPER: Where are people safe, if not at prayer?
Plus: See you in court? President Trump defies subpoenas from House Democrats, setting the stage for a clash over congressional authority.
TRUMP: We can play the game just as well or better than they do.
TAPPER: Will the Trump administration be compelled to cooperate? Counselor to the president Kellyanne Conway responds in moments.
And friendly fire. The 2020 race has a new front-runner, and he's already facing Democratic attacks.
SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Our disagreement is a matter of public record.
TAPPER: Are voters looking for the face of experience or someone new? Democratic Congressman and new 2020 candidate Seth Moulton is here.
TAPPER: Hello. I'm Jake Tapper in Washington, where the state of our union is horrified again, horrified.
This morning, we're following yet another deadly shooting attack that officials are calling a hate crime. Saturday, a gunman opened fire at the Chabad Synagogue in Poway, California, just outside San Diego.
The gunman shot four people, including the synagogue's rabbi, injuring three and killing one. The suspect has been identified as a 19-year- old white male. He's in police custody and has been charged with first-degree murder. Authorities are now investigating an open letter allegedly written by the gunman referencing the attack on the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh and the mosque shootings in New Zealand.
The violence in California especially shocking coming on the final night of Passover and exactly six months after the massacre at the Pittsburgh Tree of Life Synagogue. For a lot of American Jews, this was a hideous end to a holy week, along with this.
Along with this second fatal synagogue shooting were events less horrific, but still rather upsetting. White supremacists interrupted a talk by author Jonathan Metzl at a bookstore in Northwest Washington, D.C.. And "The New York Times" published a cartoon in its international division that could just have easily appeared in ISIS or neo-Nazi propaganda containing, as the newspaper later acknowledged, anti-Semitic tropes.
The newspaper has since called it offensive and an error of judgment, but has not apologized for the anti-Semitic cartoon. And today, we should note, begins Holocaust Remembrance Week.
Of course, the most horrific of these three events was the deadly shooting in California.
And for that, I want to go to CNN correspondent Nick Watt, who is in Poway, California.
And, Nick, what are you learning about what happened there?
NICK WATT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, we are learning about the victims, Jake.
And I want to first talk about Lori Kaye, the 60-year-old woman who was shot dead inside that synagogue yesterday. She was at the service party to say remembrance prayers for her own mother, who died this past November.
And her husband was also in the synagogue. He is a physician. He saw that somebody had been shot. He ran to help that person, was administering CPR, not realizing it was his own wife. When he did realize, we are told that he fainted.
She leaves behind a 22-year-old daughter. Rabbi Goldstein was also injured. He just told NBC News that he heard a noise, turned and he was face to face with the gunman. The gunman fired, and his fingers were blown off.
The other two people injured were a young girl and her uncle. This young girl had -- Noya Dahan -- had come to this country with her family from Sderot, Israel, a few years ago to try and live a more peaceful life.
Sderot has been in the past target of rockets fired from Gaza. They moved here looking for the life -- looking for a better life. And now her father is telling us that his kids don't want to be here anymore -- Jake.
TAPPER: It's just heartbreaking.
Nick Watt in Poway, California, thank you so much.
At a rally Saturday night President Trump spoke out about the tragedy, condemning anti-Semitism.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Our entire nation mourns the loss of life, prays for the wounded and stands in solidarity with the Jewish community.
We forcefully condemn the evil of anti-Semitism and hate, which must be defeated.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: Joining me to talk about this and much more, the counselor to the president, Kellyanne Conway.
Kellyanne, thanks for being here.
So, this shooting just outside San Diego, it's the latest in a rising pool of horrific events across the country. A recent FBI report showed that hate crimes against religious and racial minorities are climbing, 37 percent increase in anti-Jewish crimes, according to the FBI, 24 percent increase in anti-Latino crimes, 16 percent rise in anti-African-American crimes.
What tangible steps is the administration doing to try to stop this? Because it's obviously -- I'm sure you and I both agree, it's horrific.
KELLYANNE CONWAY, COUNSELOR TO THE PRESIDENT: It is horrific. And, of course, our hearts go out to those affected, particularly the family of the decedent here, Jake.
And whether it is -- they're Muslims in the mosque in New Zealand, whether they're the worshipers in Charleston, South Carolina at the AME Church several years ago, whether you're in Sutherland Springs at a Christian service, whether you're our friends at the Tree of Life Synagogue or now -- in Pittsburgh -- and now in California, we condemn.
And I'm glad that the president, as the leader of this country, is out there condemning unequivocally hate crimes. He called it a hate crime before I think the officials had in California.
And we have to speak out about it and we have to be honest about it. And we have to condemn hate in all of its forms. People in this country should feel safe at all times, but particularly I think there's something particularly onerous about being gunned down in your place of worship...
TAPPER: Yes. CONWAY: ... regardless of your faith.
TAPPER: So, in addition to speaking out about it -- and certainly President Trump did so unequivocally last night -- what more can be done? Because that's not the only solution, right, speaking out against it? Obviously, that's the easy part.
CONWAY: But what we have found over time, as a nation, Jake, is that many places of worship do not want to become barracks, if you will. They don't want to have the metal detectors outside. They don't want to have the armed guards.
Some, in fact, do have armed guards. Some of them pay for themselves. Some ask, I believe, for federal support or state support in that regard. And so I think that local police are also very vigilant.
And what our counterterrorism and our FBI and anybody in our -- in our administration, in our government, which is all of our government, are looking at is to find these -- find these folks where they can. I think there's some copycatting going on, as you see.
CONWAY: People feel influenced by prior acts. And we probably don't always shine a light, which is fine too, on those who are intercepted and caught before they do the horrible bidding and their murderous acts.
But I very much respect those men and women who are in this, particularly the career folks, who are in this type of activity and trying to intercept and stop people before it starts.
But people can't feel impeded to go and worship in their places of worship also.
You talk about copycats. And a letter allegedly written by this shooter mentioned the Christchurch mosque shooting in New Zealand last month. And after that attack, President Trump was asked if he thought white nationalism was a growing threat around the world.
This is what he said. This is six weeks ago.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I don't really. I think it's a small group of people that have very, very serious problems.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: So, this is the second deadly attack on a synagogue in six months in the United States, and it follows a major attack on two mosques in New Zealand.
Obviously, we have seen anti-Christian violence as well from terrorists who are Islamist in nature.
Does President Trump still think that white nationalism is not a growing threat around the world? Is he -- is he reconsidering that?
CONWAY: Well, the irony is that he condemned white nationalism and neo-Nazis and the KKK during the Charlottesville incident.
And more responsible anchors like you and Michael Smerconish yesterday are starting to admit that he wasn't talking about them when he said fine people. He was talking about a monument discussion, that he -- he condemned them.
And I have it right here. And anybody can pull up his exact statements in the -- in the transcript of those conversations almost two years ago. But people have let that lie fly for -- almost two years ago.
He condemned hatred, bigotry, evil, called out the neo-Nazis and the KKK and white supremacists there.
TAPPER: But he said there were -- but he said there were very fine people on both sides.
CONWAY: He was talking about the -- and if you continue the sentence...
TAPPER: I understand.
CONWAY: ... he said, people were there -- people were there who had not signed up with the neo-Nazis and white supremacists who were there about a park being renamed and a statue being taken down.
CONWAY: But when the president of the United States...
CONWAY: ... Donald Trump, condemns white supremacy and neo-Nazis and KKK in the first couple months of his term, and it is twisted around for almost two years for people's political perversions...
TAPPER: But he was talking about the people -- I don't know who he was talking about, though, because here's -- my here's my question.
CONWAY: He made that very clear. What he said over the course of days...
TAPPER: No, no, I understand he wasn't talking about neo-Nazis and white supremacists. I understand that. He said that.
CONWAY: But he condemned them. TAPPER: But he was -- he absolutely did.
CONWAY: Thank you.
TAPPER: But he also said there were very fine people...
CONWAY: Thank you.
TAPPER: Well, I have been saying this the whole time. He also said there were very fine people on both sides.
My question about this incident, since you brought it up, is, who are these very fine people? Because, Friday night, the rally was...
CONWAY: No, no, let me just interject.
CONWAY: No, we've said this many times, but I think people are starting to be honest about it for the first time in two years.
TAPPER: Let me set the stage here.
It was called the Unite the Right rally, and it was formed by people like Richard Spencer, who is a white -- white supremacist. Friday night was the tiki torch march and "Jews will not replace us."
CONWAY: With horrible people.
CONWAY: People could see them...
TAPPER: Saturday, Heather Heyer was killed.
Who -- who are the -- who are the very fine people he's talking about?
CONWAY: Heather Heyer was -- Heather Heyer was murdered. And her murderer...
CONWAY: ... has been brought to justice.
TAPPER: But who were the very fine people?
CONWAY: He's talking -- he was talking about the debate over removing statues and renaming... (CROSSTALK)
TAPPER: So he wasn't talking about the weekend at all? He was just talking about...
CONWAY: He's not talking about white supremacists.
TAPPER: ... the theoretical discussion?
CONWAY: In fact, he condemned them in no uncertain terms, unequivocally. Go and pull the full comments.
He condemned them over time, racism, bigotry, evil, neo-Nazis, KKK.
TAPPER: But are you -- he was talking about people in Charlottesville.
CONWAY: And I'm very concerned -- and let me just say something.
I'm very concerned. I truly am concerned, because I have seen this. I'm very concerned that "The New York Times," of all places, allowed the distribution to I guess millions of people.
You and I both took to Twitter last night and condemned it.
CONWAY: This anti-Semitic cartoon, which I'm not even going to describe the particulars, because it is so...
TAPPER: It's disgusting.
CONWAY: ... odious and offensive.
CONWAY: And they're -- and they didn't even apologize for it.
Apologies usually include words like regret, sorry, and apologize.
TAPPER: Well, you say this, but...
CONWAY: And they didn't do that.
TAPPER: I agree. And we...
CONWAY: I see officials who get a lot of airtime and ink, like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, congresswoman, who tweets many times about the mosque and never once about the...
TAPPER: But, Kellyanne, you brought up Charlottesville.
CONWAY: ... in Sri Lanka.
TAPPER: You brought up -- you brought up Charlottesville.
CONWAY: No, I'm bringing up white supremacy and how this president has condemned it again and again, and people are lying about that.
TAPPER: Does -- let's go back to the original question.
CONWAY: And Joe Biden thinks he should raise it again.
TAPPER: We can bring -- I want to -- we can talk about that in a second.
CONWAY: Well, no, but he brought it up, because he has no vision.
CONWAY: ... be held to account for the Obama-Biden legacy.
TAPPER: My question was, does President Trump think white nationalism is a growing threat around the world?
Because he said six weeks ago: "I don't really. And it's a small group of people that have very, very serious problems."
There are people in law enforcement and elsewhere who think, actually, white nationalism, white supremacy is a growing threat. And now we have had the second fatal synagogue shooting in six months.
I'm not saying it's President Trump's fault, but I'm...
CONWAY: I think there are many growing threats. And that's one of them.
I think there's anti-Christianity. That's why the Sri Lankans were gunned down. They're not Eastern worshipers, Obama and Hillary Clinton.
TAPPER: Of course.
CONWAY: They are Christians.
TAPPER: But Islamist terrorism, nobody disputes that that's a serious threat.
CONWAY: But she wouldn't call it -- wait -- she wouldn't call it radical Islamist terrorism.
CONWAY: Hillary, when she -- at her convention, she wouldn't call it radical Islamist terrorism.
TAPPER: I'm not talking about Hillary Clinton. I'm talking about President Trump.
CONWAY: Well, that's why he's the president.
TAPPER: President Trump said he didn't think -- he didn't think white nationalism was a growing threat around the world.
And I'm saying -- I'm asking, has he re...
CONWAY: He does think it's a threat. And there's no question it's a threat.
TAPPER: He does think it's a threat?
CONWAY: Yes, of course he thinks it's a threat.
TAPPER: Well, he said he didn't.
CONWAY: That's that's why he has condemned it in no uncertain terms.
And people have lied about it, including on this network.
TAPPER: No, he said six weeks ago, "I don't really think it's a threat."
CONWAY: No, you are saying a growing threat. But it is a threat.
TAPPER: Is it a growing threat?
CONWAY: ... particularly a threat -- it's horrible wherever it is, and it should be driven out.
And people like Heather Heyer's murderer should be brought to justice. And, indeed, he was, and good. May he never see the light of day again. Let me make that unequivocal.
But for Joe Biden, who's been in public life, who was elected at 29, to come out and have no vision, no -- no accountability for the Obama- Biden record, didn't even mention President Obama, but mentioned Charlottesville, to try to use that for political purpose, to lie about the president...
TAPPER: President Trump said he thought his response to Charlottesville was perfect.
Gary Cohn, Lindsey Graham, Tim Scott, Cory Gardner, all loyal to President Trump...
CONWAY: See, you just don't want to talk about that, because you want to pretend, respectfully...
TAPPER: You keep bringing up Charlottesville.
CONWAY: No, I didn't. You want to pretend -- no, I was very happy on Friday -- or Thursday or Friday...
TAPPER: You brought up Charlottesville.
TAPPER: I did not.
CONWAY: I was very happy on Thursday or Friday that you finally came out and said he wasn't talking about...
TAPPER: It's not finally. I have been saying it from -- the whole time, the whole time.
CONWAY: But we're talking about white supremacy. We're talking about neo-Nazis. We're about the president has condemned them.
But I'm also talking about hate everywhere.
TAPPER: Was President Trump's response on Charlottesville perfect? Was his response perfect, yes or no?
CONWAY: This president -- I think it was twisted for many years for political purposes.
TAPPER: Was his response -- he said his response on Charlottesville was perfect.
CONWAY: Because he knows -- because intent matters.
And he was talking about people...
TAPPER: Was his response perfect? Gary Cohn doesn't think his response was perfect. Do you think...
CONWAY: Gary Cohn stayed in the White House for many months after that.
TAPPER: But he almost resigned.
CONWAY: I think the president...
TAPPER: Do you think -- just a -- it's a very simple question. CONWAY: No, it's not a simple question. It's a very complicated
TAPPER: Yes or no, was President Trump's response perfect?
CONWAY: When President Trump condemned racism, bigotry, evil violence, and then took it many steps further and called out neo- Nazis, white supremacists, KKK...
TAPPER: Was his response perfect?
CONWAY: ... that is -- that is darn near perfection.
When you're -- when you're calling out...
TAPPER: So, yes?
CONWAY: No, when you're calling out KKK, neo-Nazis, and you're saying there were people there who hadn't signed up for that. There were people there who...
TAPPER: You know that President Trump left an ambiguity...
CONWAY: All white supremacy, all neo-Nazis, all -- all anti- Christianity, all anti-Semitism, all anti-Muslim activity should be condemned dead stop, full. That's the perfect response.
TAPPER: Anti-Muslim activities? The president called for a full ban on Muslims entering the United States.
CONWAY: It looks like -- it looks like you and others, looking at 2020, are worried that this guy can't be beaten fairly and squarely.
CONWAY: Why does Joe Biden come out and not say one thing about his Senate race?
TAPPER: That's -- that's beneath you, Kellyanne.
CONWAY: No, it's not beneath me.
TAPPER: Kellyanne, that comment is beneath you.
CONWAY: Why would Joe Biden bring that up?
TAPPER: That comment is beneath you.
CONWAY: Why is he using Charlottesville to launch a candidacy, as somebody who was in the Senate for decades, who was vice president for eight years, who is oh for two running for president, while Donald Trump is one for one. TAPPER: Do you think President Trump's response on Charlottesville was perfect?
CONWAY: I think that we're going to move on, because I have talked a lot about white supremacy, neo-Nazi, KKK, and this president has denounced...
TAPPER: But it's just a yes-or-no question.
CONWAY: But, see, how is this helping to stop the next shooter, this entire conversation, where I'm saying, the president of the United States, the powerful man in the world...
TAPPER: His response last night was unambiguous and clear and unequivocal.
CONWAY: He said hate crime before he even got on the plane to Wisconsin.
His response to Charlottesville, according to Lindsey Graham, Tim Scott, Cory Gardner, Gary Cohn...
CONWAY: All of whom worked with him after that.
TAPPER: ... was not -- was not unequivocal.
CONWAY: And we're -- and you think...
TAPPER: So, that -- you -- because you brought it up, so I'm pointing it out.
CONWAY: No, I didn't bring it up.
TAPPER: These loyal supporters of the president did not think his answer on Charlottesville was perfect.
CONWAY: I think any time a president is willing to condemn people who hate other people based on their race or their religion, it's a great day for America. And that's what he did.
And he did it several times.
TAPPER: The president called for a ban on all Muslims entering the United States. You...
CONWAY: So, you want to revisit all -- you want to revisit all of that?
He -- he...
TAPPER: I want to revisit a proposal offered by the president?
CONWAY: No, no, no, no, no, because you don't want to talk about things that are going to get -- help this president get reelected, like the strong economy...
CONWAY: ... GDP 3.2.
TAPPER: Let's talk about the economy. Let's talk about the economy.
CONWAY: Even though you had people in your own network saying, it's going to be 1 percent or less.
The 1 percenters think it's always going to be 1 percent or less.
TAPPER: The U.S. economy grew 3.2 percent in the first quarter of 2009 (sic), surpassing expectations.
Some economists do believe, however, that there are some less-than- stellar indicators underneath the top line. President Trump keeps railing against the Federal Reserve. He's worried about them raising interest rates.
Here's the question. The economy is strong, if you look at that top- line number.
CONWAY: Strongest probably ever in modern times.
TAPPER: How -- how -- is the president concerned at all? Is that why he keeps telling the Fed not to raise interest rates? How concerned is he that the economy is not as strong as it appears on the surface?
CONWAY: The president is very concerned that if the radical Democrats in the House get their way or if he -- or if somebody else is president in 2020, that all these economic gains -- we have had a boom, not gloom-and-doom economics.
He's worried about the economic dynamism going away, because...
TAPPER: But I'm talking railing against the Fed.
CONWAY: No, no, no, it's his -- but let's talk about the full economy.
There's not just one top-line number here, the 3.2 GDP numbers, monster numbers.
TAPPER: I just said the economy is very strong.
CONWAY: There are other top-line numbers. There's -- there's record unemployment among African-Americans and Asian Americans and veterans and disabled Americans, Hispanic Americans.
TAPPER: You know that there are issues with productivity and wages. You know that there are issues with productivity and wages. CONWAY: Well, here's -- here's the issues on productivity.
We have about a half-a-million new manufacturing jobs under this president. There were industries that were flat on their back, like warehousing, construction, mining, manufacturing, where those folks were told, gee, these industries are dead, you can't come back to them, we're going to outsource them.
Those are back. Those are roaring back. We have 7.3 million...
TAPPER: So, he's not concerned at all?
CONWAY: He's always concerned about the economy. That's why he's done a fantastic job.
CONWAY: And that's part of why he will get reelected.
And that's part of why, when Joe Biden comes out, he thinks he's going to fight Donald Trump, but he's got to fight the Trump legacy, particularly on the economy.
TAPPER: So, let me ask you...
CONWAY: And let's see if he can even get that far, because Joe Biden had a hard week vis-a-vis the Democratic primary. They don't even realize he voted for Bill Barr for attorney general. They don't even realize he voted for Neil Gorsuch for the...
TAPPER: I think Barr was confirmed, what, 97-0 or something.
CONWAY: And Joe Biden was one of them, saying he would be a -- quote -- "very fine attorney."
TAPPER: So, let me ask you a question.
CONWAY: And he's right.
TAPPER: The House Judiciary Committee subpoenaed White House counsel -- former White House counsel Don McGahn to testify in its obstruction of justice investigation. And Barr has said there is no obstruction, but the House is looking into it.
The president did not claim executive privilege when McGahn spoke to the special counsel. Is the president going to try to block McGahn from testifying before Congress? Is he going to try to assert executive privilege?
CONWAY: Executive privilege is always an option. It's always on the table.
But Don McGahn has already talked under oath for 30 hours. And this is just presidential harassment. And we know that, because the Mueller...
TAPPER: So he is going to block -- is he going to block McGahn from...
CONWAY: I didn't say that.
CONWAY: I said it's his right.
But the -- those who are subpoenaing different individuals are trying to push aside the fact that we have an entire Mueller investigation that lasted 22 months, cost about $30 million...
CONWAY: ... that is the expansive, somewhat expensive, definitive and conclusive investigation.
CONWAY: No crime was charged. No indictment was referred. And if...
TAPPER: Whoa. Whoa. Whoa. Whoa. Whoa. There were lots of crime charged, just not against President Trump.
CONWAY: Oh, come on. That was supposed to be the big fish here. I think this entire investigation, as your graphics said for two years, collusion...
CONWAY: ... conspiracy.
TAPPER: His national security adviser, his campaign chairman, his deputy campaign chairman, his former fixer, and White House campaign adviser George Papadopoulos...
CONWAY: And not the president.
TAPPER: No, not the president, but don't...
CONWAY: I have never met George Papadopoulos. I never met...
TAPPER: You said no crimes were charged.
CONWAY: No, no, you want to -- no, no, no.
TAPPER: Thirty-three people and entities have been charged.
CONWAY: That had already happened before the Mueller report. And you know that. So let's not pretend that the Mueller report...
TAPPER: But it's part of the Mueller investigation.
CONWAY: ... did not land like a big thud and was not incredibly -- excruciatingly disappointing for many people who were hoping that Mueller would finish the job Hillary Clinton...
TAPPER: I'm sure it was.
But I'm just saying you said there were no charges, no criminal charges. That's not accurate.
CONWAY: No, I like -- I like page two of volume one, where they're talking about Russian interference in the election, but they talk about how it was unaided by the Trump campaign and unsuccessful in influencing election results.
You have got Hillary Clinton...
TAPPER: True. They also said that the campaign expected that it would help them electorally.
CONWAY: Not the campaign I ran to a successful conclusion. I would never have talked to a Russian knowingly.
And I -- I was talking to people in the people in...
TAPPER: Yes, but people that were in the campaign talked to Russians knowingly, not you, but people in the campaign talked...
CONWAY: Well, I think that's important, and not Donald Trump and not a lot of folks who are still close to him and helping him in his government.
TAPPER: No, but Jared Kushner and Donald Trump Jr. and Paul Manafort.
CONWAY: That's all -- but, again, that's all in the Mueller report.
CONWAY: And what is the result of that? No crime, no criminal conspiracy, no collusion, no help from the Russians that amounted to anything.
So I think people are upset with Mueller and his investigators, people who were banking on them to do their partisan bidding. And Mr. Mueller, as you have all held him up, nonpartisan, conclusive.
[09:20:00] And the -- and the Mueller report makes very clear that -- including with Don McGahn's testimony, that this president and his administration never obstructed, impeded or interfered with the Mueller investigation whatsoever.
TAPPER: That's not at all what he says.
CONWAY: Oh, he said that they were able to do the -- the Department of Justice felt that they were able to do...
TAPPER: He said he wouldn't -- that's not -- none of -- that's not true about...
CONWAY: That is what the Barr memo says, that they were able to do their investigation.
TAPPER: That they wouldn't charge a sitting president because they're going by the OLC memo.
CONWAY: I think they're upset with Mueller that Mueller didn't interview the president, that only one question in the...
TAPPER: Mueller very clearly, even according to Republican lawyers, conservative Republican lawyers, kicked this to Congress to discuss whether or not there was obstruction.
CONWAY: There's a comment...
TAPPER: You're right. There was no criminal conspiracy proven, absolutely, 100 percent.
CONWAY: That's more than a footnote.
TAPPER: And I will say it a million times.
CONWAY: It's a pretty big conclusion.
TAPPER: But what you just said about obstruction is not accurate.
CONWAY: They didn't kick to Congress. They commented about separation of powers.
Congress doesn't have to take this up. They want to take it up because...
TAPPER: Why do you think he commented...
CONWAY: ... they want to do -- they want to do impeachment, not infrastructure.
TAPPER: Why do you think he brought up the separation of powers?
CONWAY: They want to -- drag the presidency down, not drug pricing.
CONWAY: He was -- he brought up Congress...
CONWAY: ... to -- because he knows that this Congress would be hungry anyway to try to relitigate and reinvestigate.
Look, they have a decision to make. There's -- where's the public appetite, or, indeed, the political currency trying to indict or impeach this president?
TAPPER: The public, according to the latest poll I saw -- and then we have to go -- is, they do not want the president to be impeached, and they also think the president lied.
And, Kellyanne Conway, I'm afraid...
CONWAY: And he didn't. And so -- and -- and he submitted to answering questions. And I think people are upset with Mueller that he ended the investigation when he did...
TAPPER: He submitted written -- written answers on one subject.
CONWAY: ... didn't interview the president, didn't charge a crime.
And people had promised, including on your network days before, that there would be criminal conspiracy, collusion.
Kellyanne Conway, thank you so much.
CONWAY: Thank you. Thank you.
TAPPER: We always appreciate it.
My next guest is a Democratic 2020 candidate who says some of his Democratic opponents are making it more likely President Trump will win another term.
Who is he talking about? What is he talking about? We will talk to him next.
Stay with us.
TAPPER: Welcome back to STATE OF THE UNION. I'm Jake Tapper.
Newly declared Democratic presidential candidate Congressman Seth Moulton has made a habit of challenging his party's establishment, including last year, when he tried to block Nancy Pelosi from becoming House speaker.
Now Moulton is taking on his opponents in the Democratic presidential race, warning that Senators Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders are hurting the party's chances to beat President Trump.
Joining me now, Massachusetts Congressman and presidential candidate Seth Moulton.
Thanks so much for joining us. Appreciate it.
REP. SETH MOULTON (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It's great to be here, Jake.
TAPPER: So, you told Reuters that some of your fellow 2020 candidates, such as Senators Elizabeth Warren, your senator, and Bernie Sanders, Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, are -- quote -- "divisive in the same way that Trump has been so divisive" because -- quote -- "they are pitting different parts of America against each other" -- unquote.
Do you really think that Warren and Sanders are as -- as divisive as President Trump?
MOULTON: No, I don't. And I don't think I even used their names in that quote.
But the point is that we, as a party, cannot go to the extremes, if we're going to beat Donald Trump.
TAPPER: And you see Warren and Sanders as the extremes?
MOULTON: Well, no, not -- look, here's where -- here's where I think we're going too far. On health care policy, for example...
TAPPER: Who are you talking about? If not -- if not them, who are you talking about?
MOULTON: Well, look, I'm the only candidate in this race who actually gets single-payer health care, because I made a commitment to continue getting my own health care at the VA when I got elected to Congress.
And I can tell you plenty of stories about how my health care at the VA, with this socialized government system, is not great. I mean, the first time I got surgery at the VA, they sent me home with the wrong medications.
I have lost two Marines from my 2nd Platoon since they have been back, one of whom died of a heart attack at the age of 30 just from taking the drugs he was prescribed by the VA, because he didn't get the mental health care that he asked for.
MOULTON: This is not a health care system that everybody in America wants. A lot of people want to keep their private health care system. If we
have a system -- rather than just forcing everybody on to Medicare, we have a system where a Medicare for all or maybe a more modern version of Medicare competes with private options, that people are perfectly willing or allowed to keep if they want, that competition will lower premiums, it will lower costs, it will improve outcomes for everybody.
That's a good thing to have in our system.
TAPPER: So let's talk about the VA.
President Trump said he found common ground with Democratic Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez this week in saying the VA is not broken. Ocasio-Cortez was talking about her opposition to privatizing the VA and said, if it ain't broke, don't fix it.
You obviously disagree with President Trump and Alexandria Ocasio- Cortez. It sounds like you're saying that the VA is broke.
MOULTON: I do. I do disagree.
The VA is broken. Now, there are some parts of it that work pretty well. And I'll give you a good example. When -- if I have a prescription at the VA, and I need to get it refilled, I can go online, you know, log in, check a box. It shows up two days later in the mail.
And it doesn't cost much because the VA actually negotiates drug prices with pharmaceutical companies, which is what Medicare should do, but it doesn't. So that's an example of where the VA, a single- payer system, actually works better than some of the other alternatives that we have.
But when people show up at the VA, and they can't even get seen for months, when -- when I get sent home with the wrong medications after having a minor surgery, I mean, that is not a good health care system.
TAPPER: So, should it be privatized more, or at least given more private options?
MOULTON: No, no, what should happen is that there should be more competition in the system.
And if we had a public option...
TAPPER: But I'm saying that with -- with private insurance.
MOULTON: If we...
TAPPER: For veterans, I mean.
If you think the VA isn't working, especially when it comes to seeing new patients, should veterans have the option of just seeing private doctors through private insurance and charging that to the U.S. government?
MOULTON: Jake, my bottom line is that veterans deserve the best health care in the world, period.
TAPPER: Yes, but what about privatizing?
MOULTON: And it's clear they're not getting it. So if we can't do it through the VA, then that should be an option. That should be an option.
And it -- but it also informs your view for public health care.
MOULTON: But it doesn't mean -- it doesn't mean that we should just dismantle the VA.
If you ask veterans, they want to fix the VA. They want to improve the VA. We don't want the VA to go away. We just want it to work better. And it's not working right now. So don't tell me the system isn't broken.
TAPPER: But this is -- so you're -- this also informs your skepticism of, for instance, Medicare for all?
MOULTON: It does, it does, because...
TAPPER: You think they're all -- Bernie and Elizabeth Warren, they're all wrong about Medicare for all, because you're like, we're doing it at the VA and it's not working?
MOULTON: What I believe is what President Obama advocated for.
What he wanted, when he pushed for Obamacare, was to have a public option, a Medicare-like option, but that it competes with private options as well. What some people in our party want to do is force everybody onto a health care plan designed in 1963. And I think we can do better than that in America.
And a lot of Americans that I hear out there on the ground, they know that too. They don't want to be forced onto Medicare if they don't have to, if they don't want it. It should be an option, though.
TAPPER: I want to ask you about your 2020 opponent Joe Biden. He's been coming under a lot scrutiny for his handling of the Anita Hill hearing.
Now, I know that you were 12 or something like that during the Anita Hill hearing, but you're a student of history. You have read up on it.
Anita Hill told "The New York Times" this week Biden needs to apologize to the American people. Biden, the next day, said he was sorry she was treated badly, but he declined to apologize for anything he did during the hearing. Do you think that Joe Biden owes Anita Hill or the American people an
MOULTON: I do. I think she was treated terribly. Joe Biden is a mentor and a friend of mine. He's a great American.
Everybody makes mistakes. I do think that was a mistake, though. And I think he should apologize.
TAPPER: You said your campaign is going to focus on foreign policy, keeping America strong and safe, issues you have said -- quote -- "just haven't had much of a role in this campaign so far."
But what's different about you in foreign policy than -- that I can't find among any of the other 19 Democrats?
MOULTON: Well, I'm not sure what every -- what anyone is talking about.
I think we need to take on Donald Trump, not just in his job as president, but in his job as commander in chief, because that's actually where he's weakest. Michael Gerson, Bush speechwriter, just wrote in "The Washington that we need to question Trump's patriotism.
He's not a patriot. I mean, he's not a patriot.
TAPPER: You don't think he loves this country?
MOULTON: I don't think that someone who encourages our greatest adversary of the last 70 years, Russia, the only country on Earth that could wipe out every American life in about 20 minutes, I don't think a president who encourages Russia to attack us, as he did during the campaign, I don't think a president who disparages American heroes, like John McCain and Captain Khan, I don't think that a president who cozies up to Kim Jong-un, and then sells out one of our most important allies, South Korea -- we're not doing exercises with them anymore.
I don't think that's a president who embodies patriotism. Patriotism is being willing to stand up and serve your country. You know, JFK used his father's connections to get a medical -- to get medically cleared to deploy.
TAPPER: Because he wanted to serve so much.
MOULTON: Because he wanted to serve.
MOULTON: Trump used his father's connections to get a doctor to lie about bone spurs, so he could stay home.
I would like to meet the American hero who went to Vietnam in Trump's place someday.
TAPPER: I think Kellyanne Conway is out there. And she's going to take you on when it comes to questioning the president's patriotism.
Unfortunately, that's all the time I have.
MOULTON: Jake, I look forward to it.
TAPPER: Congressman Moulton, thank you so much.
And congratulations again on the new baby. I hope she's doing great.
MOULTON: Thank you. Emmy is doing great.
TAPPER: President Trump and Joe Biden are now sparring about who has more youthful energy. Or is the answer, D, none of the above?
That's next. Stay with us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I'm a young, vibrant man. I look at Joe, I don't know about him. I don't know.
I would never say anyone is too old. But I know they're all making me look very young, both in terms of age and I think in terms of energy.
JOSEPH BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If he looks young and vibrant compared to me, I should probably go home.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: The 72-year-old president and the 76-year-old former vice president sparring over who is younger and more vibrant.
Is this a preview of what to expect in the general election? Let's discuss.
Kirsten Powers, let me start with you.
First of all, is -- well, you're the youngest person at the table.
ANDREW GILLUM (D), FORMER FLORIDA GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: Wait.
TAPPER: Are you? Is the mayor? One of you two.
So, first of all, we're seeing an example of what this Biden-Trump showdown is going to look like. And it is very personal and very focused.
KIRSTEN POWERS, CNN COMMENTATOR: Yes, well, I think the big question for Democrats is, who can deal with Trump, right?
So it's probably good to right out of the gate have to start dealing with him and showing people how you're going to combat him taunting you or whatever it is. I guess we have to decide whether this is the way to respond, right?
I might say maybe ignore it. That would sort of be my -- my position. But it could be wrong. I mean, Biden could be on to something. You know, kind of getting in, in a back-and-forth with the president might be good for him.
TAPPER: And, in fact, there are Democrats who say that the president took Biden's bait, in the fact that we're now talking about his response to Charlottesville from August 2017, which is not a topic I would think you think, based on what you said at the time, that the president -- is a strong subject for President Trump.
MIA LOVE, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I think that they should just -- he should stay away from it. I mean, it was a -- it was a bad moment for the president when it came to Charlottesville.
But I must say that his response yesterday, in response to the shooting, was actually timely and very good. It's something -- that's meaningful to me, because the Jewish people mean a lot to me and my family. We spend Passover dinner every year with the Green (ph) family out in Utah.
And so I was -- I actually appreciated that timely response. And those are the things that we expect and hope from a president.
TAPPER: What about you? Do you think that President Trump took Joe Biden's bait by talking about Charlottesville?
DAVID URBAN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, look, Jake, we -- I repeatedly say that we should be talking about the economy. The president should be talking about the accomplishments.
The debate has now turned talking about Charlottesville. A week or so ago, it was on Green New Deal, free college, letting felons in prison -- who are still in prison vote, socialized medicine, lots of things that are very favorable for Republicans, to a position that may not be so favorable for this president.
TAPPER: Mr. Mayor?
GILLUM: I mean, listen, the fact that we have to compliment the president on doing what a president should do at a moment of...
TAPPER: Condemning hatred.
Not just condemning hatred, but also, I think, speaking to the American consciousness, that we are a better country than this, to call us all to our better angels. When this president does manage to be able to at least get halfway close to it, we all give him a round of applause.
But what we saw yesterday was indeed horrific. And we have seen these incidences on the rise. And much of that has to do with, I think, what is being sown at the top, a lot of division, a lot of derision, a lot of hatred, a lot of otherizing, a lot of them vs. us.
And I think that -- in my opinion, that's un-American. And I think we can do a better job. And I think we will in 2020.
TAPPER: Do you think that -- well...
LOVE: I just wanted to say this, because this is something that really gets under my skin, is that I can't stand when -- when it's -- these things happen because the president did this.
At some point, we have to take responsibility for the things that we do. I am not going to allow anybody, no matter what position they're in, to dictate my behavior, or to dictate what my children see come out of me.
We are all Americans. We all have a individual responsibility to rise to the occasion, to show the world who we are. If we allow what happens in our country to be dictated by one person, then we might as well just sit back and...
GILLUM: But it is true, though, that the president's behavior and what he gives permission to actually does infect the American people.
I now have to watch what my television is on when the president is coming on. My children repeat, just as they repeat me as well. We recognize that our folks, our leadership, whether they're parents or presidents, set an example.
To act as if that that's not true, I think, would be disingenuous.
URBAN: Yes, but, Mr. Mayor, to somehow ascribe the folks in New Zealand, Sri Lanka -- terrorism is on the rise globally.
It's a terrible thing. We should condemn hatred and bigotry no matter where it comes, whether it's the killing of Catholics in a mass, the killing of Muslims in a synagogue.
GILLUM: I agree.
URBAN: It should all be denounced. And it shouldn't be ascribed to just one person.
TAPPER: All right.
POWERS: Yes, but, in the United States, the problem is white supremacist terrorists. So let's just stay focused on this.
POWERS: And so I think that -- and so the idea that to just lump it in with this global problem. Like, there is a specific...
URBAN: No, it is a global problem.
LOVE: It is a global problem, especially with Russia.
GILLUM: ... of nationalism, of racism.
POWERS: There is a specific problem in the United States with white supremacist terrorists.
TAPPER: So, hold that thought. Hold that thought.
We're going to take a very quick break. We're going to pick up the conversation on the other side of this.
Stay with us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WARREN: Our disagreement is a matter of public record. I got in that fight because they just didn't have anyone. And Joe Biden was on the side of credit card companies.
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Joe Biden is a friend of mine. Joe and I disagree on many, many major issues. I look forward to a issue-oriented campaign.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: Oh, it's on.
We haven't seen a lot of friendly fire in the 2020 Democratic prime primary campaign so far. But now that Biden is formally in the race, it looks like the cease-fire is ending.
And, look, these are -- these are about issues. These are not about personal attacks.
GILLUM: That's right.
TAPPER: But there are very strong disagreements between Elizabeth Warren and Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders.
GILLUM: Yes, I mean, but this is a primary. This is exactly the moment where these disagreements are supposed to come to -- come to light.
I fully believe that we're going to have a vigorous debate over the course of this Democratic primary. Joe Biden clearly becomes the person to look at and the person to beat for a lot of these candidates.
And I just hope that Vice President Biden runs as uncle Joe, that he gets out there, works as hard as he possibly can, and casts a bigger, broader vision for the future of this country. And I think, if he does that, he can be successful.
I don't, however, think that we need to spend our time in futile fights, but issues is exactly in balance for a primary.
TAPPER: What do you think?
URBAN: I will just say, listen...
TAPPER: You have been bullish on Biden, we should point out.
URBAN: I have been bullish on Biden.
But then I watched his performance on "The View," which was pretty anemic, right? That's about as friendly an audience as you're going to get. And he didn't seem to have any passion. There was no -- he was talking about, in the future, we're going to be traveling in flying cars, kids.
I mean, it was no like why I'm going to be president. It's not -- I mean, I watch Mayor Pete. I watch some of the other candidates up there and I'm -- they're inspirational. They connect, I think, better with folks.
And I think the time may have passed Biden by.
TAPPER: And, Kirsten, let me ask you, because you heard Congressman Seth Moulton today say he thinks that Joe Biden owes Anita Hill and the American people an apology for what he did and how he ran the Judiciary Committee hearings back in 1991.
POWERS: Yes, I think that's kind of obvious, actually. And so...
TAPPER: Not to Biden.
POWERS: Right. Well, exactly. That was going to be my next point.
I think, to most people, it's obvious. And he -- the fact that he didn't -- isn't willing to do it, first of all -- because it's not that he didn't prepare for it. He knew it was coming. He made a decision that this is how he was going to handle it, and apparently only spoke to Professor Hill because Barbara Boxer basically said, like, you need to do something about this. So it's -- it's a problem. I mean, it's a problem. It's a problem
for me. I will say -- I will say that much. And I have said that before, as you know, somebody who was really affected by that, as a lot of women in the country were. And he should have a long time ago, frankly, gone to her and apologized and sort of said, look, I mishandled it.
Instead, he's putting himself in this very passive position. Like, these things happened to you.
POWERS: Like, he was this innocent bystander watching it happen.
URBAN: Well, which again he said on "The View," too.
POWERS: Yes. it's not...
URBAN: He said it on "The View."
LOVE: It comes off as very arrogant: I'm going to hold everybody accountable to -- for everything that they have done in the past, except for me. I get to -- I don't -- I need to gloss over this.
Look, you have got -- they're all going to have some issues. You have got Bernie Sanders talking about giving felons the right to vote. You have got so many people talking about different things.
If anybody is going to win this against Donald Trump, they have got to be able to appeal to voters like me, Republican voters...
LOVE: ... right, that are -- and so the only person that's actually talking about something that I think is -- is of some substance is, it's listening to people talk about student loan debt and how they're actually going to fix that.
I mean, if you're going to try and fix it by 70 percent tax, that's not going to work.
LOVE: But if you're going to bring the cost down -- I think Elizabeth Warren was talking about that.
TAPPER: Elizabeth Warren. Interesting.
LOVE: I'm not a fan of hers, but...
TAPPER: But she's talking about...
LOVE: ... talk about something.
POWERS: I think we have an endorsement here.
LOVE: No, no. Let's be very clear.
LOVE: There's no endorsement there.
TAPPER: No, no. Talking about issues.
URBAN: I like our chances.
LOVE: Perking my interest.
TAPPER: All right, an old-timer making a comeback, Joe Biden or Captain America?
That's the subject of this week's "State of the Cartoon-ion" next.
TAPPER: It's a blockbuster weekend. That's the subject of this week's "State of the Cartoon-ion."
TAPPER (voice-over): Former Vice President Joe Biden told participants on a conference call this week, according to Politico, that -- quote -- "World leaders are almost begging me to save the world."
He seems to see himself as an Avenger, like Captain America, swooping in to shield the nation from the villain Trumpos.
BIDEN: We are in the battle for the soul of this nation.
TAPPER: Is he the man for this time? Biden first ran for president 32 years ago. The day of his June 1987 announcement, the number one song in America was Kim Wilde's "You Keep Me Hangin' On."
KIM WILDE, MUSICIAN (singing): You keep me hangin' on.
The number one song when he was first elected to the Senate in 1972?
JOHNNY NASH, MUSICIAN (singing): I can see clearly now. TAPPER: So, like Captain America, Biden may have some catching up to do on where the culture is today.
BIDEN: Now it's all about taking selfies together.
TAPPER: If he sees himself as something like Captain America, one wonders what he makes of the ever-growing field of other Democratic Avengers, such as Loki, the avenger who can never really decide if he's part of the group or not.
SANDERS: Establishment Democrats don't generate excitement.
TAPPER: Along with other Avengers, such as that mild-mannered, studious type who sometimes gets worked up about inequality.
WARREN: I'm mad as hell and I'm fed up.
TAPPER: Or that bookish, surprisingly spry one over there, or the one who most recently has been shrinking, or that tough one, and on and on.
There are so many. And before these Avengers can take on Trumpos, they will fight their own civil war.
TAPPER: Fareed Zakaria picks up next.
Thanks for watching.