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State of the Union

Republican States Target Abortion Rights; Interview With Gov. Steve Bullock (D-MT); Interview With Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT); GOP Representative Justin Amash Calls For President Trump's Impeachment; Joe Biden Calls For "Unity" At Campaign Kickoff Rally; "Game Of Thrones" And Washington In This Week's "State Of The Cartoonion". Aired 9-10a ET

Aired May 19, 2019 - 09:00   ET




JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): A Republican breaks. One GOP congressman takes a bold stand, saying President Trump has engaged in impeachable conduct.

REP. JUSTIN AMASH (R-MI): The president is violating our constitutional system.

TAPPER: Going even farther than many House Democrats. Will other Republicans follow his lead?

Republican Senator Mitt Romney will be here in moments to respond.

And middling. With the 2020 count up to 23, Democratic front-runner Joe Biden makes it official.

JOSEPH BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Consensus is not a weakness.

TAPPER: As a ruby-red state governor enters, saying he's the candidate to win back Trump's voters.

GOV. STEVE BULLOCK (D-MT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We're here to make sure that Donald Trump does not get reelected.

TAPPER: Montana Governor Steve Bullock is here next.

Plus: abortion battle. Alabama passes the most restrictive abortion law in a generation, as part of a multistate strategy to do away with Roe v. Wade. Now 2020 Democrats are seizing on the issue.

SEN. KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND (D-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Reproductive rights are human rights.

TAPPER: Could this be the issue that decides the race?


TAPPER: Hello. I'm Jake Tapper in Washington, where the state of our union is surprised.

The first Republican in Congress has now said that President Trump's conduct meets the threshold for impeachment.

In a long Twitter thread on Saturday, Republican Congressman Justin Amash of Michigan released his principal conclusions after reading the redacted Mueller report. And he accuses Attorney General Bill Barr of misrepresenting the information.

And he states -- quote -- "Contrary to Barr's portrayal, Mueller's report reveals that President Trump engaged in specific actions and a pattern of behavior that meet the threshold for impeachment," specifically -- quote -- "multiple examples of conduct satisfying all the elements of obstruction of justice."

The Republican congressman also takes a swipe at his colleagues, saying: "Few members of Congress even read Mueller's report. Their minds were made up based on partisan affiliation."

This is, of course, just one Republican, one who has a history of bucking the Trump administration, especially on constitutional issues. But the move is significant because he is the first to break with his party on the issue. And his announcement officially makes impeachment calls on the Hill bipartisan.

Republicans are already falling -- firing back.

The chairwoman of the Republican National Committee, Ronna McDaniel, said Saturday night -- quote -- "It's sad to see Congressman Amash parroting the Democrats' talking points on Russia" -- unquote.

Here with me to discuss this and much more is Republican Senator Mitt Romney of Utah. He is also the former Republican nominee for president in 2012.

Senator Romney, always good to see you. Thanks so much for joining us.

SEN. MITT ROMNEY (R-UT): Thanks, Jake. Good to be with you.

TAPPER: So, we have a lot of foreign policy that I know you want to discuss and I want to discuss as well.

But this is the first time you have appeared on a Sunday show since the Mueller report was released.

And you said at the time in a statement -- quote -- "I'm sickened at the extent and pervasiveness of dishonesty and misdirection by individuals in the highest office of the land, including the president. I am also appalled that, among other things, fellow citizens working in a campaign for president welcomed help from Russia."

You and Congressman Amash are the only two elected Republicans, I think, to express any misgivings about the behavior of the president or his campaign team based on the Mueller report. First of all, are you surprised that you two are the only ones that have really said anything condemning of the president's behavior as laid out?

ROMNEY: Well, I think every individual has to make their own judgment.

I think it helps to actually have read the entire document. It's a long document. It took me two full days to get through it. And the second volume is a more difficult one to get through than the first. So, hopefully, more people read it.

But I think there are a lot of people that want to reserve judgment until this has all played out. My own view is that Justin Amash has reached a different conclusion than I have. I respect him. I think it's a courageous statement.

But I believe that to make a case for obstruction of justice, you just don't have the elements that are evidenced in this document. And I also believe that an impeachment call is not only something that relates to the law, but also considers practicality and politics.

And the American people just aren't there. And I think those that are considering impeachment have to look also at the jury, which would be the Senate. The Senate is certainly not there either.

TAPPER: So, you disagree with the call for impeachment. You don't think this necessarily rises to the level of impeachable offenses.

You -- so, you don't think that there's evidence in there, sufficient evidence, that the president obstructed justice?

ROMNEY: I just don't think that there is the full element that you need to prove an obstruction of justice case. I don't think a prosecutor would actually look at this and say, OK, we have here all the elements that would get this to a conviction.

So, everyone reaches their own conclusion. As I read the report, I was troubled by it. It was very disappointing, for a number of reasons. But it did not suggest to me that this was time to call for impeachment.


TAPPER: Do you think it's evidence that the president has disgraced the office of the presidency?

ROMNEY: Well, I think a number of the things that were done were really, really troubling and unfortunate and distressing.

Clearly, the number of times that there were items of dishonesty, misleading the American public and the media, those are things that really you would not want to see from the highest office in the land.

TAPPER: But not necessarily an abuse of power? ROMNEY: Well, abuse of power is going to be at a whole different level, which suggests an impeachment. I -- I don't think impeachment is the right way to go.

I think, in part -- one of the things that is difficult in order to make a case for obstruction of justice or impeachment is whether or not there was intent. And when there's not an underlying crime, I think it's difficult to put together an effective case to prosecute for those crimes.

TAPPER: You personally are somebody who has conducted himself according to a certain set of religious and ethical and moral principles throughout your life.

I know you -- you think about this and you talk about this. You have written about it. Do you think that the president has failed, based on what's in the Mueller report, as a moral leader? If not engaging in criminal conduct, is there is -- is there a moral lacking there?

ROMNEY: Well, I have -- through op-eds and through the things I have said, I have made it very, very clear that I will support the president on policies where we agree. I will disagree with him openly if there's something that I think is wrong for the country or for my state.

But I think he could substantially improve his game when it comes to helping shape the character of the country. I think young people, as well as people around the world, look at the president of the United States and say, does he exhibit the kind of qualities that we would want to emulate?

And those are qualities of humility, of honesty, integrity. And those are things where I think there's been some call where the president has distanced himself from some of the best qualities of the human character.

TAPPER: Let's turn to some of the policy issues.

Right now, there are escalating tensions between the U.S. and Iran. The U.S. claims to have images showing Iranian freighters it believes are moving missiles. Now the U.S. is moving an aircraft carrier strike group into the region.

You're on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. You have been briefed on Iran. From what you have seen, how concerned are you about the threat from Iran?

ROMNEY: Well, I think the threat is real.

And when our intelligence community looks at a series of documents that are showing aerial photographs, as well as listening to interceptions of communication between Iranians and some of their surrogates, like Hezbollah, in circumstances like that, where the intelligence community says there's a great -- greater degree of risk, out of an abundance of caution, you, of course, take people out of harm's way. And you also communicate, as the president has, that we're not going

to sit back and just watch things unfold. We're going to make sure they understand that, if they take action against our people and against our allies and against our friends, that there will be consequence, and the consequence will be far more severe than the initial action taken by Iran.

So, for me, this is -- this is pretty straightforward, and particularly after the experience of Benghazi. If you -- if you see a threat, you don't just brush it aside and say, well, most likely nothing will happen. You take it seriously and act appropriately.

TAPPER: You have said it's close to inconceivable to you that President Trump and his administration would want to go to war with Iran.

But "The New York Times" reported that the White House was reviewing a plan to send at least 120,000 troops there. The president has said, if he does do it, it would be many more.

John Bolton wrote an op-ed in 2015 titled "To Stop Iran's Bomb, Bomb Iran."

Do you think this is all just saber-rattling?

ROMNEY: I don't believe for a minute that either the president or John Bolton or, frankly, anyone else in a serious senior position of leadership in the White House has any interest in going to the Middle East and going to war.

That's just not going to happen. There's no interest in doing that, barring some kind of attack from Iran or something of that nature, which I don't think anyone anticipates. So, going to war with Iran, not going to happen.

And, look, the president made it very clear that he thinks the greatest foreign policy mistake probably in the modern age was the decision by President Bush to go into Iraq. The idea that he would follow the same path by going after Iran, a more difficult enemy, if you will, militarily, that's just not going to happen.

TAPPER: Let's turn to China.

President Trump is dialing up tariffs on Chinese exports in this trade war. Americans are already seeing some effects. Wal-Mart just announced they're going to raise some prices because of the tariffs, because of the imported Chinese goods. Farmers are struggling in individual markets.

You support the president's tough stance against China. What do you say to the American consumers and the farmers who are struggling because of these tariffs?

ROMNEY: Well, of course, the -- the cost of tariffs is borne by the American public. I mean, we're the ones that pay the tariffs. The Chinese don't write checks to the American treasury. Instead, as we buy products, we're paying for the cost of the tariff. That's real.

But it's a sacrifice I think which is essential to keep China from continuing to kill our jobs and kill our businesses and employ people. China's gotten away with murder for years, where we have looked the other way as they have cheated on foreign agreements and on the international rules of commerce.


As a result of them cheating in the way they have, they have stolen technologies, they have stolen intellectual property. And that, by the way, means they have -- they have made it harder for American businesses to compete and for us to create new jobs, good jobs.

So, the president has, I think appropriately, said, enough of this. We're going to say stop. And the tool he has is, of course, an economic tool, a tariff tool. And I think it calls for a recognition that some parts of our society are going to be more harmed than others.

Those that are particularly harmed -- and those include some farmers, whether it's pork or whether it's soybeans -- they're going to need some help to weather the storm, because the president's not backing down on this. China has got to stop cheating, in order for us to be able to trade with them on an open and fair basis.

TAPPER: Do you think it's a mistake that the president went after Mexico and Canada first with steel and aluminum tariffs, as opposed to trying to unite the world against China?

ROMNEY: Yes, I do think that was a mistake.

I think -- my own view is that we should have gone after China and Mexico, Canada, the E.U. Aluminum, steel, all those things should have been put aside until we went on a united basis of pushing back against China.

But the president has his own negotiating strategy. Perhaps it'll work out in the best at the end. The deal that he's worked out with Mexico and China is better than the current NAFTA deal. So, he's gotten some progress.

But, look, for me, all the focus ought to be on China. And I think the aluminum and steel tariffs, bad idea, auto tariffs, bad idea. Look, the only place that I want to see tariffs really pushing against a bad actor is against China.

TAPPER: I want to get your response to this new Alabama law.

President Trump just tweeted last night saying he's pro-life, but he supports exceptions for abortion bans for rape, incest, the life of the mother. Alabama's law does not do that. There are no exceptions for rape or incest.

Supporters say they're trying to bring a case to the Supreme Court that could overturn Roe vs. Wade, ultimately. Do you support the Alabama law? Do you think that this will lead to the overturning of Roe v. Wade?

ROMNEY: I don't support the Alabama law.

I believe that there ought to be exceptions. I'm pro-life, but there ought to be exceptions for rape and incest and where the life of the mother is at risk.

But, look, you're seeing laws on both sides of this argument that are in the extreme. And whether it's New York and Virginia, or whether it's Alabama and Missouri, people have gone to the -- to the wings, if you will.

I don't think that's productive. I think something much more towards the center makes a lot more sense.

TAPPER: Just -- the Virginia law, I think, was tabled. I don't think it actually became law.

But let me ask you about something else. This was very interesting. You did this week -- you broke with your party to become the only Republican to vote against Michael Truncale, a nominee for a federal district judge. He had called your former opponent of 2012, President Obama, a -- quote -- "un-American impostor." He said that in 2011.

It's a pretty rare moment when a politician these days in one party stands against the rhetoric employed against somebody else in the opposing party.

Does there need to be more of that in Washington? Were you surprised and disappointed that more of your Republican colleagues didn't join you?

ROMNEY: No, it's actually a very personal thing for me, which is, I ran against President Obama. I disagreed with him on a whole host of issues. We went after each other very aggressively.

But I completely rejected the whole idea that he was not born in the United States, that he was un-American in some way, that he was an impostor in that respect.

And so, when a judge came forward making that kind of claim in his past, that was just not something I could subscribe to. So, it wasn't a matter of his politics or right-wing, left-wing. It was, instead, this is something which I made very critical during my campaign.

As a matter of fact, during my campaign, when there was an instance when someone said that President Obama was un-American, I insisted they apologize for that and retract that statement.

So, in a setting like this, I had no choice but to say, look, I do not subscribe to this un-American charge against President Obama.

TAPPER: Lastly, sir, you just celebrated your 50th wedding anniversary in March with Ann, your wife. You wrote in Ann for president in 2016. Is she going to get your vote

again in 2020, you think?

ROMNEY: I'm not ready to make an endorsement yet, Jake. We will have to wait and see how she does.


TAPPER: Are you going to support the president, or do you not know yet?

ROMNEY: I have not made any decision that front. So, we will -- we will wait. This is way too early for that.

TAPPER: And you told us that Ann is doing well, and we're glad for that.

Thank you so much. Appreciate your being here.

ROMNEY: Thanks, Jake.

TAPPER: He's a Democrat who won in Montana on the same night that President Trump dominated that state. Is he the man with the formula to take back the White House for Democrats?

We will talk to Montana Governor Steve Bullock live in studio next.



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

Former Vice President Joe Biden making his big pitch to voters this weekend in the great city of Philadelphia, as nearly a dozen of his Democratic opponents are on the trail trying to knock him off his perch, where he's been since he entered the race, on top.

One newcomer to the race this week says he has the best chance to flip those voters who gave Trump the White House, a Democratic governor, and who won a deeply red state on the same night that President Trump won it.

He's Montana Governor Steve Bullock, who joins me now.

Governor, thanks so much for joining us. We appreciate it.

BULLOCK: It's great to be with you, Jake.

TAPPER: So, we just saw former Vice President Joe Biden make his pitch to voters in Philly, calling for unity, offering what he called a different path for the country.

Why you? Why would you make a better nominee than Vice President Biden?

BULLOCK: No, you bet, Jake.

And I think we're at a dangerous point in this 243-year experiment called representative democracy. We actually first have to win. We have to win back places that we have lost. I have done that. But we also have to bridge some of the divides.

I mean, more than just winning -- I was the only Democrat in the country to get reelected statewide in a state where Trump won. In 2016, 25 to 30 percent of my voters also voted for Donald Trump. And we need to make sure that we can win back places we lost.

More than that though, I have also -- I signed my last bill on Monday and announced on Tuesday, that my whole time, I have governed with a legislature that's about 60 percent Republican. Yet we have been able to get progressive things done, like Medicaid expansion, like taking dark money out of our system.


And then we need to bridge divides to make D.C. work. Also, I don't think D.C. will ever really be working as it should be until we attack the thing that's more or less keeping everything back.

And that's the post-Citizens United outside and dark money spending. And I was attorney general before governor. I think I have done more than anybody in this race on that. And that is sort of the initial evil that we have got to address.

TAPPER: The economy's roaring. The unemployment rate is at 3.6 percent, the lowest level since 1969, when you were, what, 3? Wage growth has climbed to 3.2 percent, well above the pace of rising prices. Job numbers grew more than expected last month.

President Trump's been in office for almost two-and-a-half years now. What do you say to voters in Iowa, New Hampshire, Montana who say, economy's doing great, why would I vote for somebody else?

BULLOCK: Yes, and it is doing great for some people.

But if you look over the last 40 years, the average American worker really hasn't even had a wage increase in real terms. You look at today, only half the 30-year-olds are doing better than their parents were at age 30. Back in -- when I was being raised, it was 90 percent; 44 percent of Americans don't have 400 bucks in case an emergency happened.

So the guy that cleans this very building paid more in taxes last year than Amazon did with $10 billion in profit. So, yes, the economy's booming for a whole lot of folks, but for a whole lot of folks, they're not getting a lot better because of what the Trump tax cuts and what President Trump has done.

TAPPER: I want to get your take on one of the biggest stories of the last week.

Alabama passed the most restrictive abortion law in a generation, with the goal of reversing Roe v. Wade. I know you don't support the law, but it has reignited this debate over abortion and abortion rights in this country.

I wanted to ask you, just more philosophically, some lawmakers believe life begins at conception, others at a heartbeat, others at implantation, others at viability outside the womb. When do you think life begins?

BULLOCK: Well, I think that, ultimately, the Supreme Court settled this 45 years ago. And it's not my decision to be making what the decision that a woman needs to make, in consultation with her doctor and her family and her faith, if she so chooses.

TAPPER: I get that that's your political position. But, more philosophically, when do you think life begins, when you think about the process? Do you think it's fetal viability, implantation? I mean, this is just a discussion people have.

BULLOCK: Sure. I would say that life begins at viability.

But, either way, it's not up to people like me to be making these decisions. And I think that's the greater point. And it's not what I think. It's that what does an individual woman need to do with her body and with her health care? And those aren't decisions that I should be making.

TAPPER: Republican Congressman Justin Amash of Michigan tweeted a big Twitter thread last night about the Mueller report.

Part of it says -- quote -- "Mueller's report reveals that President Trump engaged in specific actions and a pattern of behavior that meet the threat hold for impeachment."

That's a Republican congressman. Do you agree with him that President Trump has engaged in impeachable conduct?

BULLOCK: I haven't seen everything behind the Mueller report. I think that Congress needs to be doing its full investigating functions.

I also think that the executive branch, in this great system, has to be responded to.

I just spent three days in Iowa, and not one individual brought up the Mueller report. What they brought up is the fact that they lost their doctor, or they have concerns about the continued viability of their jobs, or what's happening to farmer and ranch prices because of these trade wars.

I think that's where folks are focused. And that's where I'm going to be focused for the next year-plus.

TAPPER: Well, let me ask you about the trade wars, because, when asked what you would do differently in terms of the trade war with China, you said you would try to come to the table, talk about each of the sectors that we're really concerned about. But, with all due respect, that's what President Trump and others have

been -- have pointed out was the policy before and didn't work.

BULLOCK: Oh, by no means.

I mean, what's happened -- excuse me -- and we need to be tough on China. Let's not kid ourselves on that. But what he's doing is essentially, by tweet or just by tariff, thinking that you can make China change its behavior.

And that's going to impact -- 25 percent tariffs on all Chinese products, every American family will be hit by $2,000 in one year in increased prices.

And I think what we need to do is turn around and say, let's bring that community of nations together and make sure that they open up opportunities for trade, make sure that they're not stealing, basically, our intellectual property.

If you look at what China did 25 years ago, right, they essentially built walls around their country. They chose the state-subsidized steel actor, and then they unleashed that on the world. They have done that with steel. They have done it with credit cards. They have done it with -- now they're doing it with tech.

And just going it alone, I mean, we have got from -- America first has become America alone. And it hits producers, farmers and ranchers on both sides. It's hitting all of us.


And we can't do it that way. We need to bring our allies together and some of our adversaries. We need to actually enforce through the World Trade Organization, when appropriate, as well.

TAPPER: Let me ask you. You have said you're an ally of women against sexual harassment. And I want to ask you about this one incident that you wrote about at length a few months ago on Medium.

When you were at the Democratic Governors Association, your former aide Kevin O'Brien, who you fired in 2015 over sexual harassment allegations, he was later hired by New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio. He went on to sexually harass at least two other women.

Now, the New York City Department of Investigation said -- quote -- "The DGA and the state of Montana both affirmatively stated that there was no adverse information on this individual," meaning you did not tell de Blasio, hey, this guy is a sexual harassment.


TAPPER: Now, you have apologized for that. You say you need to do better.

But your spokesman told the AP in January that you -- quote -- "expected that, having been held accountable for his actions, Kevin O'Brien would not repeat the behavior."

Is -- why would you think that he wouldn't repeat the behavior?

BULLOCK: Well, I -- you know, Kevin had worked for me for six years in Montana. I had never heard of any reported incidents.

He goes out to -- when he's working Washington, D.C. When I heard about inappropriate behavior, immediate -- after hours, I immediately said he should be terminated.

And I should have done more. I should have done more and gotten ahold of -- once I learned that he was working for the mayor, I should have reached out.

But I think one of the good things of all of this is, we are now in a time where the expectations of all of us because of the MeToo movement is that we need to do more. And I'm committed to doing more.

TAPPER: But why didn't you, I guess, is the question? Why did -- why did you think his behavior would change?

BULLOCK: That was the first time I had ever heard of him having any sort of behavior like that.

So, when I did, and when I heard that he had gone on to work for Mayor de Blasio, and something happened, I was absolutely sickened.

TAPPER: Some of your fellow 2020 candidates, like Senator Cory Booker, have said that they will, if they become the nominee, choose a woman to be their vice presidential nominee.

If you become the presidential nominee of your party, will you choose a woman to be your vice president?

BULLOCK: I want to choose somebody that will complement what I have, could step in and be president in case something happened, and will actually reflect and represent different life experiences than I have had along the way.

A woman could certainly do that.

TAPPER: All right Montana Governor Steve Bullock, thank you so much for joining us. Really appreciate it.

Good to see you.

BULLOCK: Thanks for having me.

TAPPER: Have fun, and good luck out there on the campaign trail.

BULLOCK: Thanks.

TAPPER: A Republican congressman is now going farther than the speaker, Nancy Pelosi. What does Amash's move mean for Democrats in Congress?

Plus, one state's decision that could be felt across the country and change the 2020 race. That's next.




ROMNEY: Justin Amash has reached a different conclusion than I have. I respect him. I think it's a courageous statement. But I believe that to make a case for obstruction of justice, you just don't have the elements that are evidenced to this document.


TAPPER: Senator Mitt Romney just minutes ago responding to a tweet storm from Republican Congressman Justin Amash in which he said that he thought President Trump had reached the level of impeachable offenses as laid out in the Mueller report.

Let's talk about it. First of all let me start with Congresswoman Jayapal. You're on the House Judiciary Committee.


TAPPER: Some members of the Democratic caucus want to go forward with impeachment but Democratic leaders have been saying, slow your roll. Does the fact that Justin Amash, a Republican, is now supporting impeachment, at least theoretically, mean that the people who want to proceed with that now have more wind at their backs?

JAYAPAL: Well, I think it's a watershed moment. For weeks Speaker Pelosi has saying this needs to be bipartisan if it's going to move forward just from the practical perspective of impeachment moving forward. And I think Justin Amash coming on board means that there is now bipartisan support for really understanding the seriousness of what is in the Mueller report.

And, you know, he says, and I think he's right we -- most of us actually swing district Democrats and progressives, most of the caucus agrees with most of those conclusions that Justin Amash has around what is in the report. We have read the report. It very carefully laid out a case that really is pushing for the House to take on these issues.

So, I think it's not about the impeachment vote. It's about opening an impeachment inquiry and really having the legal -- the legal remedies that are stronger when you have an impeachment inquiry. And I think we're very quickly headed down that path.

TAPPER: Former Congresswoman Love, let me just ask you do you think as someone who served with Justin Amash, and he occasionally would take positions about this party especially on constitutional issues --


TAPPER: -- do you think that this will have an effect against on other Republicans or do you think he's kind of an outlaw (ph)?

LOVE: I don't think so. I think one of the things that -- in working with Justin Amash, he does this from time to time. And when it comes to the constitution, it's really interesting because he's incredibly constitutional conservative except for when it comes to his district or when it comes to issues that deal with Michigan.

So, we have -- I have seen him personally taken a step away from whether it's the House Freedom Caucus or even Republicans and -- there really isn't a rhyme or reason for some of these. So, this doesn't surprise anyone.

I think that this -- it's not going to help him. Especially with the colleagues that he's used to working with and his voting district so --

TAPPER: Bakari, what did you think Mitt Romney point out, Senator Romney, that first of all, he disagreed respectfully, but he also said the American people aren't there, which is true.


Polls show that there is not enough support for impeachment, not majority support or even plurality support. And second of all, the Senate's Republican, that's the jury and they will never vote to (INAUDIBLE) as long as the Republican control (ph) --

BAKARI SELLERS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think it's a more simple question than that because I don't believe that this is a political tool at all. In fact I think this is a constitutional instrument. So either you think the president is above the law or you do not.

I think that -- I appreciate Congressman Amash, but that's not where my issue lies. My issue lies with the lack of courage that the House Democratic leadership is showing.

Now, the body in the -- the caucus members have that. But I need Nancy Pelosi and Jim Clyburn and Steny Hoyer to do their job as leaderships of this caucus and bring forth these impeachment inquiries. The reason being is because the president is not above the law and Mueller laid this out.

We saw the same thing happened with Nixon. What happened over time, the American public -- the more and more came out, the American public got on board. And right now I think that there is an absolute case for obstruction of justice that's been laid out. And so what if it doesn't get through the Senate. The fact is, do your job in the House and we'll worry about that later.

TAPPER: What do you take (INAUDIBLE)?

RICK SANTORUM, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, first of Robert Mueller didn't find obstruction of justice and didn't find collusion and the fact that Justin Amash did, great. But he --

TAPPER: He didn't not find it. He laid out a case and said it's basically up to Congress to decide.

SANTORUM: Well, but that -- again, he didn't find it -- he didn't make the conclusion that it was, so that's number one.

JAYAPAL: But he also didn't say it wasn't. That was very --

TAPPER: He said that he was -- according to the Office of Legal Counsel memo, a sitting president cannot be indicted. He's going to stick to that. That was --

SANTORUM: Yes. The reality is it's very hard to obstruct justice when there was no underlying crime to obstruct.

SELLERS: That's not true.

SANTORUM: Well, I think it is true.


SELLERS: No. I mean, the Department of Justice -- the Department of Justice literally just indicted an FBI agent, former FBI agent for obstruction of justice when there was no crime or --

TAPPER: It does happen. It happened --


SANTORUM: The bottom line is this has always -- in the president's --


SANTORUM: -- purview as leader of the country to do the things that he did. He can hire people, he can fire people. He doesn't have to have -- he doesn't have to have an excuse that fits your excuse to do so.

So the reality is, in my opinion, I think most Americans, there was no obstruction of justice here. And the fact that Amash is doing this, look, we see this in the Senate all the time when Rand Paul joins the Democrats. That doesn't make it bipartisan.

You have a libertarian who's very much outside -- outside of the scope of where the Republican Party is. And he's joined the Democrats. This is not unusual.

What I would say is that he may be doing the president a favor because if the Democrats decide based upon this to go on the impeachment track, that's a bonus for Donald Trump right now.

JAYAPAL: You know, I would just say that this is more of the Barr spin. We saw very clearly a four-page supposed summary that was not a summary coming from the attorney general that attempted to distort the facts that are actually in the Mueller investigation so much so that Robert Mueller had to send two letters to say, this is not an appropriate summary. And, in fact, why didn't you just use the summary -- (CROSSTALK)

JAYAPAL: He said it misrepresented --


JAYAPAL: He said it misrepresented --


LOVE: You have to write another -- you have to write another letter to clarify the letter that you wrote before? I mean, this is the thing that bugs me. We're -- 56 percent of Americans believe that impeachment -- they feel like there was dishonesty. They feel like the president wasn't doing what he should have been doing.

But they're ready to move on. We have all of this -- yes, they are. I'm telling you.

We have all of these things that have to happen right now. We still haven't touched immigration, which a lot of people are waiting for immigration. There are so many different policy issues.


LOVE: And I agree -- I agree with Rick Santorum -- hang on one second. I agree with Rick Santorum and say, if we continue to go down this path, I'm going to make a prediction that we are playing into the president's hands.

SELLERS: But does it --

TAPPER: Final word, Bakari.

SELLERS: Does it matter that Bill Barr lied? I mean, listen, on -- the fact is -- the fact is on April 24th he released his memo. On April 27th he actually got a letter from the special counsel saying that this is not what I said.

JAYAPAL: That's right.

SELLERS: And then when asked on April 10th in the United States Senate, have you heard from Mueller? He said, no. That is a lie.

JAYAPAL: That's right.

TAPPER: All right. Everyone stick around. We're going to talk more about 2020.

Joe Biden says his campaign is all about unity. Do voters think that's the way to beat the guy with the bully pulpit? We'll talk about that next. Stay with us.


[09:43:38] (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BIDEN: I know some of the really smart folks say Democrats don't want to hear about unity. They say Democrats are so angry that the angrier a candidate can be, the better chance he or she has to win the Democratic nomination.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's wrong, Joe.

BIDEN: Well, I don't believe it.


TAPPER: Democratic front-runner and former vice president Joe Biden making his kickoff push about unity. Is that what Democratic voters want? Let's discuss.

Bakari, let me start with you, and we should note for the record that you've endorsed Senator Kamala Harris. When I travel out there, Democratic voters do seem a little angrier than I think the vice president, at least the grassroots?

SELLERS: I mean, I think -- I think there is a certain element of anger. Anger is not a sin as long as you're utilizing that anger to push forward great policies to move the country forward.

But even as a Kamala Harris supporter, I thought that yesterday was the best day of Joe Biden's entire rollout. I thought he was energetic. I thought his rhythm and cadence was awesome. I thought he gave a great speech.

The question is now campaigning in South Carolina, campaigning in Georgia, North Carolina, is he going to roll out the policies necessary? Because voters are angry and one of the things that the Biden campaign has done a good job of is bubble wrap and chill the vice president right now.

So is he going to be taking questions from the national media about his record? Is he going to be taking audience questions and he'll be able to feel that anger that is palpable and how is he going to utilize that anger as he moves forward?

TAPPER: You were joking during the break, Senator Biden, born in Scranton but he represented Delaware for decades.


SANTORUM: He left Pennsylvania in 1952.

TAPPER: Yes. But he's -- he's spending a lot of time campaigning all the way from Pittsburgh to Philly.

SANTORUM: Yes. So much he reminded Pennsylvania is not an early primary state. I'm not sure I understand that idea.

Look, I think Bakari is right in the sense that if I was Joe Biden's team, I would absolutely insulate him. I would run a strategy where you do not let him talk off -- you know, off script. That is his absolute Achilles' heel.

And he can do it. He's sitting there at almost 40 percent in the polls right now. Even with a drift down by people complaining that he's not being accessible. He just -- the only place that Joe Biden should answer a question is at a debate stage and nowhere else.

TAPPER: What's your take. You're out there. You're in touch with grassroots Democrats all the time.


TAPPER: Is he right that people aren't angry?

JAYAPAL: No, I think people are angry. But I think we have to look at why they're angry. We have the worst inequality in this country since the 1920s.

Three people in the country have the same wealth as the bottom 50 percent of Americans -- two of them live in my state, by the way -- bottom 50 percent of Americans. That's 160 million people.

People want to see a planet that they are able to preserve and hand on to their children and grand children. They want health care. They are angry because their life is not better than their previous generation.

And so that is what any presidential candidate, whether it's Biden or Kamala Harris or anybody else is going to have to put forward, bold policies that work for the American people instead of for the biggest corporations. And if they can do that then I think people are going to respond to that.

But they want to see real solutions. And I don't think it's about unity or anger. I think it's about the underlying situation that people find themselves in where they can't make ends meet and they can't provide something for their kids and their grand kids.

TAPPER: You are -- I think it's fair to say, a Trump skeptical Republican.

LOVE: Mm-hmm.

TAPPER: What do you make of Joe Biden's pitch? Does it appealing to you?

LOVE: Well, I think the speech yesterday was a good speech. I think you have to talk about unity. I think that there are so many people that are out there talking about the fact that they are going -- who hates Trump more, who hates -- and I don't think that's how anyone's going to win the presidency.

At the end of the day when you become the president of the United States, you are the president of the United States for all people. So -- for all Americans. So, I think his message of unity is good, but there's got to be some follow-up.

What do the policies look like? How do the policies actually help all Americans? And is he going to be able to speak to some of the Republicans that he needs to pick up in order to --

SANTORUM: Joe Biden's strategy, you see it by him going to Pennsylvania is to say, I can beat Trump. And it's not about the policies, it's not about anything else. He is the guy that can beat -- he can beat him in Pennsylvania.

Unity is a general election message.


SANTORUM: Everything that Joe Biden is doing is geared towards the general election. And if I were Joe Biden, I would keep doing it because he can't -- he can't get into a shouting match with Kamala Harris about how far left we can go.

That's not Joe Biden. He has to stay where he is.

SELLERS: But also Joe Biden is running a different type of campaign. Joe Biden is running a campaign in Pennsylvania, trying to show in Pennsylvania and Iowa, Ohio, that he can go back and get the disenchanted white male voter.

News flash to everyone. We're running this campaign on electability and that isn't it. The last person to beat president of the United States in the last 20 years, he was a Democrat, his name was Barack Hussein Obama, right? It was a black man who went out and made sure the base was excited.

And so I think that when Democrats start having this discussion about electability --

TAPPER: Mm-hmm.

SELLERS: -- we're going down the wrong path. And I think that -- I think that Joe Biden is running a campaign on electability. I think Pete Buttigieg is running a campaign on electability and so is Beto O'Rourke. And that is the class that you're having in the Democratic Party right now.

TAPPER: Congresswoman?

JAYAPAL: This is a really important point because even if you look at some of the swing districts that we won in 2018, we won in part because there was a different electoral base that turned out.


JAYAPAL: That's how Barack Obama won. That's how many of these people, even in swing districts won. They turned out younger voters, black voters, women.

These are the groups that Joe Biden is going to have to energize if he wants to get through the primary. And I don't -- I think it's about electability -- what does electability mean?

TAPPER: Mm-hmm.

SANTORUM: This is a different election. Donald Trump is going to energize those people. Joe Biden -- everybody knows they're coming. It's who can get that swing vote and that's what Joe is (INAUDIBLE).

TAPPER: All right. Thanks one and all for being here.

Donald of house Trump, first of his name, builder of walls, watcher of cable news, eater of Big Macs. How much is Westeros like the West Wing? That's this weeks' "State of the Cartoonion" next.



TAPPER: Welcome back. Tonight we will finally find out who will sit on the iron throne, as another candidate emerges to make Westeros great again and that's the subject of this week's "State of the Cartoonion."


TAPPER (voice-over): "Game of Thrones" doesn't take place in the Trump era but there are resonant moments and I'm not just referring to the time the president invoked the show on Twitter. Or his constant calls for a wall.

TRUMP: We're going to build a beautiful, big strong wall.

TAPPER: After all, the president does not seem to know that the most famous medieval wall from the show the wall of the north notoriously fell.

ISAAC HEMPSTEAD WRIGHT AS BRAN STARK: The wall has fallen. The dead march south.

TAPPER: Author George R.R. Martin has compared President Trump's emotional maturity with that of his creation King Joffrey.

JACK GLEESON AS KING JOFFREY: I am the king. I'll punish you.

TRUMP: But I am not king. I am president.

TAPPER: And Martin has acknowledge the parallel between climate change and the existential threat of the white walker ice zombies, whose existence the ruling Lannister family once denied.


LENA HEADEY AS CERSEI LANNISTER: I don't think it's serious at all. I think it's another bad joke.

TAPPER: "Game of Thrones" like President Trump clearly has a suspicion about political elites who are corrupt such as the Lannisters or stuck in their ways such as the Starks, or corruptible hypocrites such as Khaleesi.

EMILIA CLARKE AS DAENERYS TARGARYEN: They can live in my new world or they can die in their old one.

TAPPER: And of course the whole show, like the presidential race is about who will rule. And how ruthless they are willing to be?

TRUMP: They're not going to win against me.


TAPPER: Are President Trump's moves on trade the beginning of a new cold war with China? Fareed Zakaria has that story next.