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State of the Union

Interview With Mayor of South Bend, Indiana, Pete Buttigieg; Interview With Presidential Candidate Beto O'Rourke. Aired 9-10a ET

Aired June 16, 2019 - 09:00   ET




JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): "I'd take it."

Whatever happened to no collusion? President Trump says he would take dirt on an opponent from a foreign government.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There is nothing wrong with listening.

TAPPER: And tries to dial it back after a storm of criticism.

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): The right answer is no.

TAPPER: Can Americans trust this election will be free of foreign interference?

And on the brink? Two tankers attacked in the Gulf of Oman. The State Department blames Iran.

MIKE POMPEO, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: Iran is lashing out.

TAPPER: One breakout candidate warns about the dangers of escalation.

PETE BUTTIGIEG (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The United States hardly has a foreign policy at all.

TAPPER: 2020 Democratic candidate Mayor Pete Buttigieg is here.

Plus: On your mark. As the president gears up for his official campaign launch, polls show him losing to Democrats in key states. With the stage set for the Democratic debates, one candidate makes the case that he, not the Democrats' front-runner, is best to take on Trump.

BETO O'ROURKE (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm going to focus on the future.

TAPPER: 2020 Democratic contender Beto O'Rourke joins us exclusively.


TAPPER: Hello, and happy Father's Day. I'm Jake Tapper in Washington, where the state of our union is still

able to be shocked.

This morning, a brand-new controversy involving President Trump, Russia and the press, this time over a "New York Times" report that the U.S. government is ramping up cyberattacks on Russia's power grid.

"The Times" notes in the story that the president has not been briefed in detail about the efforts because of broad concerns he might countermand it or discuss it with foreign officials.

Overnight, the president tweeted the story is -- quote -- "not true." And he accused "The New York Times" of -- quote -- "a virtual act of treason," which is an odd charge if the story isn't accurate.

But, beyond that, of course, it is, of course, chilling for the president of the United States to accuse the free press of treason.

"The New York Times" released a statement saying -- quote -- "Accusing the press of treason is dangerous. We described the article to the government before publication, as our story notes. President Trump's own national security official said there were no concerns" -- unquote.

This caps off a week dominated by new fears about the security of the 2020 election, after President Trump said this in an interview with ABC News:


TRUMP: I think you might want to listen. I don't -- there's nothing wrong with listening.

If somebody called from a country, Norway, "We have information on your opponent," oh. I think I would want to hear it.


TAPPER: The comments drew criticism from Democrats and Republicans and a stern statement from the chairwoman of the Federal Elections Commissions, who is a Democrat.

On Friday, the president tried to clean up his comments, saying in another interview -- quote -- "Of course you give it to the FBI."

But the president's remarks drew harsh condemnation from those who also might be the subjects of information from foreign governments, the president's opponents in the 2020 presidential race.


TAPPER: And joining me now is South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg.

Mayor Buttigieg, thanks so much for being here. Appreciate it.

BUTTIGIEG: Great to be with you.

TAPPER: So, the biggest news of the week, arguably, President Trump's remarkable comment in his ABC News interview saying that he would theoretically be willing to accept help from foreign governments in the 2020 election, wouldn't necessarily go to the FBI.

He's since tried to walk back a bunch of his stuff. But what was your response when you heard him say that?

BUTTIGIEG: It is both unbelievable and all too believable.

It is morally wrong, legally wrong, politically wrong. You don't accept help from foreign governments, especially at a moment when America is reeling from the fact that our democracy was successfully attacked and interfered with in the last election by a hostile foreign power.

If you get an offer of material help from a foreign government, you call the FBI. This shouldn't be difficult. This shouldn't be complicated.

TAPPER: Your fellow 2020 Democrat, your opponent, Senator Kamala Harris said this week that, if she's elected president, her Justice Department would have no choice but to go forward with obstruction of justice charges against President Trump.

Would the Justice Department under a President Buttigieg feel the same way, do the same thing?

BUTTIGIEG: My Justice Department will be empowered to reach its own conclusions.

Two things are true and clear. One, nobody is above the law. And, two, the prosecutorial process should have nothing to do with politics. The less this has to do with the president, the better.

Right now, we have a president who seems to think that the president can just dictate what the DOJ is going to do, call for political opponents to be jailed. I believe that the rule of law will catch up to this president. It doesn't require the Oval Office putting any kind of thumb on the scale.

I trust the DOJ to reach the right determination, at least the DOJ that I would appoint and set up. And the less that has to do with directives coming out of the White House, the better.

TAPPER: It sounds like you have an issue with Senator Kamala Harris saying that?

BUTTIGIEG: Well, I'm just speaking to how I view the issue.


But, again, I think we can maintain these two principles, that nobody is above the law and that prosecution decisions should have nothing to do with politics and should come from the DOJ itself, not from the Oval.

TAPPER: Let's turn to Iran.

The United States is blaming Iran for an attack on two tankers in the Gulf of Oman this week. The U.S. says this video that we're showing you right now proves it. The U.S. government said it shows Iranian sailors removing an unexploded mine from one of the tankers.

Secretary of State Pompeo called the attack part of -- quote -- "an unacceptable campaign of escalating tension by Iran."

Do you agree? And how would you respond if you were president right now?

BUTTIGIEG: Well, I think we need a measured assessment of information as it continues to come in.

There's no question that Iran has a pattern of malign activities. There's also no question that there is a pattern that is disturbingly reminiscent of the run-up to the war in Iraq, in some cases being driven by the same people.

I mean, the fact that one of the architects of the Iraq War is the president's national security adviser right now, when the president himself has pretended that he was against the Iraq War all along, this is shocking. And it should be extremely disturbing to all of us.

As somebody who felt five years ago, when I left Afghanistan, that I was one of the last troops leaving, and five years ago, notes that we're still there. And, pretty soon, you're going to be old enough to enlist and be sent over and have not even been alive on 9/11.

I think we have learned as a country in my lifetime just how hard it is to end a war. We'd better be working very hard to make sure we don't start one.

And you when you look at the destabilizing chain reaction that appears to have been initiated when this president withdrew us from the Iran nuclear deal, I'm very concerned about the stability of the region and the possibility that this is a dynamic that even the president won't be able to control, if it continues to move in the direction of escalation and hostility.

TAPPER: But what would you do if you were president? Because whatever you think about the path that the president is taking us, in terms -- taking the nation, in terms of withdrawing from the Iran deal, sanctions on Iran, sending a fleet to the region, to the Strait of Hormuz, this is an act of violence by Iran, if you believe Secretary Pompeo and the Pentagon.

Do you believe Secretary Pompeo and the Pentagon that Iran is behind this? And what would you do?

BUTTIGIEG: So, as president, the first thing I would do is consult with the intelligence community, and not politicize their findings, but try to find out what's going on. I think, at this point, there's still a lot that we need to make sure

we understand about what's going on there. There's no question that the U.S. has an interest in maintaining the security and safety and freedom of movement in those key shipping lanes.

There's also no question that, whatever we do, we need to make sure that we're not contributing to a dynamic that could become more and more unstable, and could lead to something that could get away from the White House itself.

TAPPER: Do you believe Secretary Pompeo?

BUTTIGIEG: Based on what we have -- I mean, what we have seen is video evidence.

But I think we also want to see a lot more context about exactly what's happening. And that's hopefully what's being made available to the president, perhaps in forms that can't be made public. That's the question, the set of questions I would be asking as president.

And, on the public side, we're going to have to see more information come in.

TAPPER: You gave a major foreign policy speech this week where you hit President Trump's foreign policy.

But you also said -- quote -- "For the better part of my lifetime, it has been difficult to identify a consistent foreign policy in the Democratic Party as well."

So you don't think that the Obama-Biden administration had a consistent foreign policy?

BUTTIGIEG: I think that, ever since the Iraq War, it's been difficult for the Democratic Party to really feel out what we believe the limits, the boundaries and the basis of foreign policy can be.

We were so horrified by the wrong steps taken toward Iraq that I think some in the Democratic Party felt pushed in the direction of isolationism, which I also don't think is the right way for us to go.

And so I think now is a moment, given that, in some ways, the politics around foreign policy in this country have been scrambled for my entire adult life, I mean, really, ever since the end of the Cold War, that we establish a new set of foundations for how American values, American interests, and American relationships are going to interact with each other.

TAPPER: You rolled out a major plan to help African-Americans this week. You're calling it the Frederick Douglass Plan.

One major plank of the proposal is cutting the number of incarcerated individuals in United States in half. The vast majority of prisoners in the United States, of course, are not under federal jurisdiction, as I'm sure you know. So how would you make that happen?

BUTTIGIEG: It's true that a lot of this is playing out at the state level.

So the federal government can lead by example with what we're doing in the federal system. But we should also be engaging states, pressing them, and helping them get resources to do this the right way.

You know, at the federal level, it's going to take a commission gauging how we can best use clemency power to help unwind incarceration that's no longer doing and -- not meeting the intended goal and doing more harm than good.

TAPPER: Let's turn to the border.

Border facilities for migrants are dangerously overcrowded right now. Border apprehensions are skyrocketing. The White House has proposed a $4.5 billion spending package. Most of it goes for humanitarian aid for new places for these migrants -- some of them are children, some of them are not -- to stay.

"The New York Times" editorial board says -- quote -- "In short, it is time for Congress to stop dithering and pass emergency funding to deal with this nightmare. Democrats are standing in the way of this. They don't agree with it."


Is it possible that your party, Democrats in Congress, are putting politics above what these migrants need right now?

BUTTIGIEG: I think what we most need is comprehensive, bipartisan immigration reform.


TAPPER: I understand, but I'm talking about the emergency right now. I get the bigger picture issue. We have talked about that before.



I'm not against directing more funds in order to help with the issue at the border. But I think part of the reason why there's such frustration and concern and even resistance among congressional Democrats is that it's not doing anything about the bigger problem.

We have got a president who got elected on a promise to fix immigration, whatever that meant to him. And what we have seen is that all of the issues that were with us then are with us now, and issues at the border, including a humanitarian crisis, created by this president through cruel policies, like family separation, are only getting worse.

Meanwhile, the one thing that would really help the issue of increased migration flows from Central America -- the words of one migrant, who said: "I'm not here to seek the American dream. I'm here because I'm fleeing the nightmare in Honduras." We're actually, under this president, seeing a threat to take funds away from stabilizing those Central American countries. We have got this completely upside down.

And measures that are designed to put out fires in the near term would be a lot more convincing if they were set up in the context of an actual immigration reform, which, by the way, if you're talking about Americans, people on both parties want to -- in both parties want to do it. If you're talking about Congress, not so much.

And I think the real dark fact behind all of this is, if immigration were solved, if we had comprehensive reform, this administration could claim it as an achievement, but it's more useful to them as a crisis unsolved than it would be as an achievement if they actually did something.

TAPPER: Your first wedding anniversary.


TAPPER: Congratulations to you and Chasten, also coming at the same day as Father's Day.

You said you hope to have children in the future, but that your presidential bid has slowed that down a bit.

Do you think, if you are elected president, hypothetically, that you will plan to start a family in the White House?

BUTTIGIEG: I don't see why not.

I think it wouldn't be the first time that -- that children have arrived to a first couple. But, obviously, that's a conversation I had better have with Chasten before I go into it too much on television.

TAPPER: All right. Well, happy anniversary. Thanks so much for joining us.



TAPPER: As the 2020 Democratic candidates prepare for their first debate, Beto O'Rourke is already throwing some shade at the front- runner, arguing for generational change.

So, why are the top three Democratic candidates over 65 years old?

2020 candidate Beto O'Rourke will join us live next.

Stay with us.


[09:16:29] TAPPER: Welcome back to STATE OF THE UNION. I'm Jake Tapper.

The Democratic presidential candidates have been split into two groups for the debates later this month, prompting lots of speculation about who might stand to benefit.

The front-runner, former Vice President Joe Biden, will take the stage with a target on his back, with several of his opponents already criticizing his record, including my next guest, Democratic presidential candidate and former Congressman Beto O'Rourke, who joins us now live from South Carolina.

Congressman, thanks so much for joining us.

On Friday, you learned your draw for the Democratic debate later this month. You're going to be debating on the first night.

You had a splashy entrance into the race, but, since then, it seems as though you have been struggling to gain support.

What do you think went wrong? And what are you going to do to try to fix it?

O'ROURKE: Look, we have got a ways to go to be able to meet everybody, bring folks into this campaign, and make them aware of why this is the election of our lifetime.

So, if I were to rely on polls right now, it would be as though that was going to decide the future of not just our race, but the country. And we can't allow that to happen. I have never relied on polls running for Congress, running that race in Texas for the United States Senate. I won't rely on them now.

And, as president, I won't rely on polls to do what is right. So we're going to continue to show up for everyone everywhere, bring them in, and make sure we're up for the greatest challenges of this country's history.

TAPPER: President Trump made headlines this week by saying that he would be willing to accept a foreign government's dirt on his Democratic opponent.

You said after those comments that the message Congress is sending to the president by not impeaching him is that he can act with complete impunity, and that there were -- quote -- "no consequences" for his actions.

So are you saying that the Democrats are essentially enabling President Trump's willingness to take foreign information by not impeaching him?

O'ROURKE: Yes, if there are no consequences, if there's no accountability, if there is no justice, then we will have set the precedent that it is OK to accept help from a foreign government, it is OK to obstruct the investigation into the interference in our election, and that this and any future president can continue this kind of behavior.

So, impeachment is incredibly important to get to the facts, to discover the truth, to make sure that there's accountability for the undermining of our democracy, but also to send the signal that this can never happen again, to send the signal to Russia, to send the signal to Donald Trump, to send the signal to this country that we will save this democracy.

It's the only way that we're going to be able to meet the challenges that we face. It's the only way that we're going to be able to maintain our system of government.

So it is now time for the House of Representatives to act, to look beyond the polls and their prospects in the next election, and look to the future of this country and the generations that follow, who are counting on us to do the right thing today.

TAPPER: But you say look beyond the polls, and that's, I assume, an acknowledgement that the polls indicate that the majority of the American people do not support impeachment.

Does it not matter what the American people support? Is that not an important part of this?

O'ROURKE: It kind of gets to your -- to your first question.

If we rely on polls and what is immediately popular, then, why do we need people in elected positions of public trust?

Your main responsibility, as a member of the House, is to do what is best for this country. And given the fact that our democracy is under attack, unlike any time in the last 243 years, it's essential that you do your job.


Now, that might not be popular. It might not be easy, but it is the only way that we're going to get to the truth. It's the only way that we're going to save and restore this democracy.

And it's the only way we're going to prevent these kinds of attacks going forward.

I think the president's admission this week that he would take help from a foreign government going forward is all you need to know about the importance of impeachment, and that impeachment beginning now.

TAPPER: "The New York Times" reported this weekend that the United States government is escalating its cyber-campaign against the Russian power grid.

"The Times" reported that two administration officials said they didn't believe President Trump had been briefed in detail on the efforts and that -- quote -- "Pentagon and intelligence officials described broad hesitation to go into detail with Mr. Trump about operations against Russia, for concern over his reaction and the possibility that he might countermand it or discuss it with foreign officials."

Now, I know you have no faith in President Trump's leadership. But, taking a step back, isn't it troubling that there are apparently Pentagon and military officials who are taking these serious actions against Russia without briefing the president in full?

O'ROURKE: This is a dangerous set of circumstances, but it's completely understandable, given this president's behavior.

In 2017, he shared classified intelligence that we obtained from an ally and a partner with the Russian government. He's invited the help of foreign powers. He sided with Vladimir Putin on that stage in Helsinki, Finland, instead of our own intelligence community.

So it's no wonder that there is a lack of trust between military leaders, our intelligence community, and the president of the United States, the commander in chief.

And this dynamic imperils the United States. It makes us less safe than we would otherwise be, as his national security adviser and his Cabinet push us into what perhaps will be another war with Iran.

This president has made a mess of our foreign policy and has significantly diminished the national security of this country.

TAPPER: I want to talk about some domestic issues too.

Your fellow Texan and 2020 candidate Julian Castro's immigration plan calls for the repeal of a law that makes it a crime to enter the United States illegally.

Do you agree with that? Should that law be repealed?

O'ROURKE: I don't know if it should be repealed, Jake, but I think that we should acknowledge that most of those who are arriving at our border right now, especially from Central America, are at their most desperate and vulnerable moment. They pose no threat or harm to this country.

And we have proposed a family case management program, so that they are not held in detention, at a fraction of the cost and at an improved rate of showing for their court date or their appointments with ICE officials. We help them to follow our own laws. And we treat them like the human beings that they really are.

So, policies of caging kids or separating families or metering, where we have migrants and asylum seekers wait in Mexico, where they are prey to criminals and to those who would take advantage of the most vulnerable, that cannot be this country.

We have to live our values and ensure that our laws reflect our reality and our true interests in this country.

TAPPER: OK, but just to get a straight answer on it, it sounds to me like you think the law that makes it a crime to be in this country illegally, it sounds like you think that that should stay the law. O'ROURKE: I think what I'm saying is that, in the vast majority of

cases, there's no need to incarcerate or to detain migrant families, and especially children.

But if somebody is attempting to smuggle human beings into the United States, if they are attempting to cross illegal drugs into this country, I want to make sure that we have the legal mechanism necessary to hold them accountable and to detain them to make sure that they do not pose a threat to this country or to our communities.

But the bigger picture..

TAPPER: But you disagree with -- you disagree with Julian Castro; you don't think that it should be repealed?

O'ROURKE: Yes, I have answered the question.


O'ROURKE: I do not think that it should be repealed.


O'ROURKE: But I'm trying to get to the heart of the issue, which is that we...

TAPPER: Got it.

O'ROURKE: ... treat people humanely, that we improve our security, not through walls and through cages, but by making sure that those who are at their most vulnerable who are trying to follow our asylum laws are able to do that, and that we then rewrite this country's immigration laws in our own image.

Having people come out of the shadows demonstrably makes us safer. Having folks trust local law enforcement, because they have no fear that it will lead to their deportation, makes our communities stronger, more secure and safer.

And then it allows this country of immigrants and asylum seekers and refugees to truly live our values, to the benefit, not just of those immigrant families, but to the entire United States of America.

TAPPER: All right, thank you. I appreciate -- appreciate that.

The Democratic front-runner, former Vice President Joe Biden, has been taking some heat for -- for changing some of his previous positions, from expressing regret over his Iraq War vote, to flip-flop on the Hyde Amendment.


You said this week that you're not sure what Biden believes. What did you mean by that?

O'ROURKE: Well, I mean, you're giving us some examples here. Within the same campaign, he said that he supported the Hyde

Amendment, which would prevent middle- and lower-income women, particularly of color, from being able to make their own decisions about their own body and having access to the health care that would make that possible, changed his position on that.

He's dismissed China as not a real threat to the United States of America, at a time that they have grossly violated the rules of trade, made it harder for the American worker to be competitive on a national stage, threaten our interests and those of our allies in the Pacific, and especially in the South China Sea.

China is a very real threat. And we need a president and a commander in chief who recognizes that.

And I also just think it's -- it's incredibly important that we meet the challenges that we face, whether it's those that we just mentioned or climate change, with the urgency that they demand, with new ideas, new leadership, and a different way of bringing people in and together to meet these shared challenges.

TAPPER: Before I let you go, today is Father's Day. I know you hope to end the day back in El Paso.

I want to ask you about your kids. We're showing a picture there, Ulysses, Molly, Henry.

In a documentary on HBO about your run for the Senate, your son said about the campaign -- quote -- "I'm ready for it to be over."

How they have been handling the presidential campaign so far?

O'ROURKE: You know, it's tough. But we are reminded that there are folks, there are families who have it much harder.

There are fathers who today are deployed overseas, putting their lives on the line for this country, badly missing their families. There are dads here at home in the United States whose daughters and sons are making that same kind of sacrifice right now.

So, in our family, we have a conversation about this defining moment of truth for this country, and making sure that all of us stand up to it, stand up to be counted, stand up together, and stand up to make sure that my kids and your kids and the generations that follow are proud of the decisions that we made in this year and the year that follows.

That's why I'm running, running for everybody's kids, everybody's families, running for everybody in this country, to make sure that we live up to our potential and to our promise.

TAPPER: All right, Congressman, I hope you get back to El Paso before -- before bedtime for those kids. Happy Father's Day to you, sir.

O'ROURKE: Happy Father's Day. Thank you.

TAPPER: Ah, we were so naive back then.

Remember that escalator ride that upended U.S. politics? What's changed in the last four years?

We will discuss next.




TRUMP: I am officially running for president of the United States.


TAPPER: Exactly four years ago today President Trump descended on the now famous escalator ride and announced his bid for the White House. Fast forward and now President Trump is preparing to kick off his 2020 campaign in Orlando on Tuesday.

Let's discuss. Only four years, Amanda.



TAPPER: It feels like 20, 25 years. How much do you think the world has changed just based on this one man?

CARPENTER: Oh, gosh, I mean everything has changed in the terms that way people campaign but especially the media. Trump has forced the 2020 election to be a media-centric election and I think the Democrats we see them doing more interviews now, but nobody is going to flood the zone like Donald Trump.

And so if there is any Democrats that expect to be competitive that have any hesitation, they really need to knock those kinks out right now. And I do think that is part of the rise of Elizabeth Warren. When she came to Capitol Hill very early as a senator she was resistant to talking to the media.

I think she's warming up now. She's very much more comfortable in town halls but we need to see her more out front with the one-on-ones if she's really going to take it to Trump.

TAPPER: Speaking of Trump, we have some new sound bites from his interview. Here is one in which he's talking about how he has the right to fire anyone because of the powers bestowed upon the presidency in the constitution.


TRUMP: Article II allows me to do whatever I want. Article II would have allowed me to fire him.


TRUMP: But I wasn't going to fire him. You know why? Because I watched Richard Nixon go around firing everybody and that didn't work out too well.


TAPPER: Interesting comparison.


KAREN FINNEY, FORMER CLINTON CAMPAIGN SENIOR ADVISER: Yes. It was an interesting comparison. Obviously that is not true. But that is the way Donald Trump has tried to change the presidency with this idea that he can do pretty much anything he wants.

He can sort of -- seems to govern (ph) so he can pick and choose whichever laws or rules or norms he wants to follow or choose not to follow. And he's wrong. And, again, I found it interesting that he's reminding us about the Mueller report and about obstruction of justice.

RICK SANTORUM, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think we've seen several presidents pushing the envelope on presidential power. Certainly President Obama pushed the envelope presidential power and I think Donald Trump is going along with that -- with that view of the presidency and I think he realizes to be the disruptive force that he is, and he is, whether in politics or whether as a president, he's a disruptive force. He is someone who is shaking things up and he's going to -- he's going to push the limits of presidential power and, again, from the standpoint of Republicans, he's done a great job.

He's done a great job on pushing policies on regulations and the ability for conservative ideas to get advanced more than anybody, more than George Bush, the Bushes combined. He's been -- he's been a great force.

JENNIFER GRANHOLM, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: He's been a great force in taking lying to -- making it an art form. He's been a great force in saying that the president is above the law.


The thing that concerns me about the launch, Jake, of this new -- of his re-elect, he has already raised $100 million. His campaign manager Brad Parscale, who was the guy who ran the digital campaign last time around said that this time this campaign is going to be bigger, better and badder.

The badder part really worries me. Because last time the efforts that the Trump campaign combined with the Russians to do voter suppression, if nothing else --

TAPPER: Voter discouragement. They weren't --

(CROSSTALK) GRANHOLM: Well, call it by another --


TAPPER: They were discouraging people from voting.

GRANHOLM: They were discouraging people --


GRANHOLM: -- from voting and it had an impact and that effort is going to be done again in spade this time. When he said he wants to move to Oregon, et cetera, as he expands the map, he either expands his map or he suppresses the vote. He's going to do the second.

TAPPER: And let's -- and let's talk about the fact that President Trump did make headlines this week when he told George Stephanopoulos that he would be willing to accept dirt from a foreign government or foreign individual. Stephanopoulos specifically mentioned Russia and China. He did try to clean it up. Take a listen.


TRUMP: I think you might want to listen. There is nothing wrong with listening.

TRUMP (on the phone): Now, if I thought anything was incorrect or badly stated, I'd report it to the attorney general, the FBI. I'd report it to law enforcement, absolutely.


TAPPER: This isn't normal though to say that you would accept dirt from a foreign government about your opponent. I can't believe that you would ever do such a thing.

SANTORUM: No. But that is not how it would come. I mean, no foreign government could come to your campaign and say I'm the Russian government and here's some information.

CARPENTER: They did.


SANTORUM: No, they didn't. No, they did not. No, they did not.


SANTORUM: They did not. They did not.

TRUMP: A Russian government lawyer went to Don Jr. and said that they had dirt.

SANTORUM: Again, I mean, someone who says that -- oh, I'm representing the -- you get people saying all sorts of crazy things in the campaign that come at you. And the idea that someone who says they represent the Russians actually does, they may or may not.

TAPPER: But that is not the right answer. You agree --

SANTORUM: I agree. That is not the right answer. I'm not -- I'm not suggesting that's the right answer.

CARPENTER: Here is what I don't understand --

SANTORUM: But it's not the same thing.

CARPENTER: Trump has broken the laws in many respects. He's saying he would do it again. So what are the Democrats going to do about that? I do not understand --

TAPPER: Are you talking about what laws --


TAPPER: Are you talking about obstruction of justice?

CARPENTER: -- talking about obstruction of justice and the campaign finance violations which were documented --


TAPPER: With Stormy Daniels.

CARPENTER: With Stormy Daniels.


CARPENTER: No. Let me finish --


TAPPER: Let her finish. Let her finish --

CARPENTER: It is a very clear, and they could be approached in a sober way. But everybody said why does Trump get away with it? It's because Congress let him.

The stance that Nancy Pelosi has taken that we are not going to pursuing any impeachment, any kind of accountability because we can't win in the Senate just says we're going to let him get away with it again. So don't be surprised when he says those things --


GRANHOLM: I think what she said is we have to build the case. Her point is -- separate from impeachment, the Democrats in the House passed an election security bill. It sits on Mitch McConnell's desk.


GRANHOLM: This week Senator Warner passed a bill, or proposed a bill saying you shall not accept foreign interference. (CROSSTALK)

GRANHOLM: Mitch McConnell and Marsha Blackburn said no. Said no. And they refused to pass it.


GRANHOLM: It sits in the election graveyard of Mitch McConnell.

FINNEY: It wasn't clear to President Trump.

GRANHOLM: Obviously not.


SANTORUM: -- you have to see (ph) commissioners who are on this network just the other day saying it is clearly --


GRANHOLM: They were on and then he gets on and said, yes I think I will --


TAPPER: The Warner bill said that if anybody comes to your campaign with information, that you need to go to the FBI.

CARPENTER: Be verified for campaigns.

TAPPER: Right. But you need to go -- you need to go to the FBI and report it and to the FEC. You don't have a problem with that theoretically right?

SANTORUM: Yes, again --

GRANHOLM: Answer. Answer.

SANTORUM: The reality is that is not how it happens.

GRANHOLM: OK. But do you have a problem with --

SANTORUM: You get all sorts of -- this is fraught with peril with someone coming and bringing -- everybody does opposition research. Everybody gets --


GRANHOLM: Not just general opposition research.

SANTORUM: And the idea that we're not going to criminalize that I just --

GRANHOLM: It is not criminalizing opposition research.

FINNEY: As you know there is a very different thing between opposition research and what we saw --


SANTORUM: Yes. Like the Steele dossier where they paid the foreign agent to go out and find --


CARPENTER: And Christopher Steele went to the FBI with that information.

FINNEY: We're starting with a Republican --


GRANHOLM: And he wasn't representing a foreign country.


TAPPER: Everyone, hold it. Hold it. We got to take a quick break. We're going to be right back.

The latest campaign trail controversy has one of the 2020 Democratic candidates drawing comparisons to President Trump and that story is up next.




MAYOR PETE BUTTIGIEG (D-IN), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: When you got that many people on the stage with you, being one of 10, what you really got to focus on is your own story, your own message, and your own plan.

BETO O'ROURKE (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm grateful that I get a chance to debate. I'm grateful that I get to run with all these extraordinary people.





TAPPER: Lineups are set for the first presidential debates and the mixing and matching and a crowded field has only raised more questions about preparation and performance for these 2020 candidates. Let's discuss. But I want to start there's a brand-new poll out from FOX News this morning showing nationally where the Democrats are, not surprising it is familiar Biden, Sanders, Warren. But there is a head-to-head match-up. Biden, 49 percent. Trump 39 percent. With a margin of error plus or minus 3 percentage points.

I hate national polls. Just in general. Especially this early. It doesn't say anything and that is not how we elect presidents and that's not how we pick nominees for the Democratic or Republican Party. It is state by state by state. But it does say something that Biden is so ahead of Trump in this poll.

You are -- you don't think that Biden is particularly strong as a candidate and as opposed to your fellow Pennsylvania Republican David Urban who thinks that Biden is the strongest that Democrats could put up.

SANTORUM: Yes. I don't think he's the strongest -- I think he's the strongest in Pennsylvania. Look, Democrats win when they nominate someone who is optimistic, and aggressive, and has a vibrancy to them.


And not necessarily a long track record. I mean, that's -- that's -- if you look back, I mean, the people who have won, the Jimmy Carters, the Bill Clintons, the Barack Obamas are not the Joe Bidens. Those are the Al Gores. Those are the John Kerrys. Those are the folks who lose.

And so I'm all for them nominated Joe Biden because I think Joe Biden would be a disaster as a presidential candidate against Donald Trump. They wouldn't be the contrast that I think the Democrats need to energize their folks. I think it would be a slam dunk for the president.

FINNEY: You know, what I do think this poll indicates though -- I disagree in that -- we are in totally abnormal times. Everything you said was true before the election of 2016. Now I think it's anything goes.

And I think what this poll -- I agree with you, Jake, national polls this far out really don't tell you much. They are great for fundraising. I'm looking at some of these numbers thinking, the emails write themselves.

But I do think it tells us that there is a growing mood in this country, we saw it a little bit in 2018 in the midterms, that people are done with Trump. I know there is still that one third that loves him and would do anything with him. But I think what this shows me is you're continuing to see more people moving away from Trump. And at least open to hearing from a different candidate.

CARPENTER: I just have a hard time seeing how Biden and Sanders easily get around Elizabeth Warren. I feel like I need to apologize. I've been at this table months before ready to write her off. But if you watch her now, she is so smooth with her answers. You can see why students like her as professor because she's so good at explaining things and, yes, that girl has got a plan for everything and I think a plan to win this thing.

SANTORUM: More money.

CARPENTER: Because she is rolling it out one by one. But she's also the only one playing big and bold. She is drawing contrast with other people in the field.

She was the first I think to come out for impeachment. She drew a line in the sand about going on FOX News and she's also drawing contrast on how to raise money. I don't see other people making those choices and imposing those risks.

TAPPER: You know what she's good at? She's good at explaining.


TAPPER: She's a really good communicator. I mean, I don't know how strong of a candidate she'd be against President Trump. But she -- of all of the candidates -- like, she explains why Amazon is a behemoth and needs to be broken up in a way better than I think any other Democrat --


GRANHOLM: Her having been a teacher and professor obviously give her the ability and she also is able to draw in her personal story from Oklahoma and explain why she's proposing this policy in terms of real story.

Can I just give -- I just have to say that I know the DNC has gotten a lot of flack about the debates and how they've been lined up. I just think the DNC has done an amazing job with (ph) this (ph).

TAPPER: You do?

GRANHOLM: Yes. Because they set forth the rules months and months ago. So everybody knew what the threshold were. They said they didn't want to have everybody packed into one night so they divided up those who earn 2 percent over those who did -- who earned less and they divided them up in a random drawing without making it too structured. I just think they have done an amazing job so my hat is off to the DNC for being transparent.

SANTORUM: As someone who went through the fiasco of 2016 with the debates the Republicans did, I would agree the Democrats have learned from the mistakes the Republicans did. The fact that they did separate them up and randomly as opposed to picking the -- the big boys table and the little kids table.

It really gives the voters an opportunity for them to decide instead of the elites deciding who the principal candidate should be. So Tom Perez, and I'll --



FINNEY: We should stop right there. And I think it also gives each of these candidates -- I mean, obviously we're talking about well is it kind of the J.V. -- the, you know -- or comparing the various nights but it really does give each candidate each night to a fair shot to make their case, to have a moment and --


GRANHOLM: Their 60 seconds. Yes.

FINNEY: Yes. Better that and if you've had 20 people on the stage. And the point is --


FINNEY: Sorry. And the point is you have got June and July and if by those two times you can't strike fire with people, and you've been out campaigning, it also helps create a way for this process to, as they say, land the plane, right

TAPPER: Mm-hmm.

FINNEY: As the criteria will get a little bit tougher as we go along, you know, people are going to have to show that they could hack it.

SANTORUM: And I think the fact that they're all out there saying they're going to play nice, at least, that is what I was hearing from the interviews --


SANTORUM: -- that is a huge mistake.

TAPPER: I don't know. Beto --


TAPPER: Beto took a lot of shots at Joe Biden I thought in that interview, talking about China --


SANTORUM: Well, I'm just talking about how they -- you know, talking about what their opportunity is --


TAPPER: Oh, just a second ago.

SANTORUM: Yes. I mean, if they are out there and just do biopics for the minute, they are not going -- they're not going to register. They have got to mix it up and --


SANTORUM: -- that will make it fun if they do.

TAPPER: All right. Thanks so much, everyone. Happy Father's Day to you.

GRANHOLM: Happy Father's Day. Yes, dad.

TAPPER: Iowa has got a lot of wide open spaces but with all the Democratic candidates it is starting to get a little crowded so what if they decided to car pool as Mayor Pete recommended. That is this week's "State of the Cartoonion."



TAPPER: Welcome back.

Democratic Mayor Pete Buttigieg recommended that all the candidates carpool together across Iowa. But that poses some questions, who gets to drive, who call shotgun, who has to sit in the way back? It's the subject of this week's "State of the Cartoonion."


TAPPER (voice-over): The Democratic presidential candidates are spending so much time in Iowa that South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg had an idea.

BUTTIGIEG: We're going to get to know each other better and better. We might as well carpool.

TAPPER: Perhaps a jam-packed Prius driven by Mayor Pete himself using his learner's permit. Though Joe Biden might want to enjoy his front runner status and load all the candidates into his Trans Am.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Come on, get in the car.

TAPPER: There's no way the Democrats would agree to that, however, though, of course, it might end up a little too close for comfort in that Prius. No doubt the candidates would fight over control of the radio.

SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D-CA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Check the rhyme, A Tribe Called Quest.


SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The complete works of Ludwig Van Beethoven.


TAPPER: And they'd fight over directions when it's Biden's turn to drive, they would accuse him of trying to go backward.

O'ROURKE: We cannot return to the past but we got to be bolder.

TAPPER: Some might complain that Bernie Sanders is veering too far to the left. Of course, the youngest candidate himself might want a more hi-tech car after all.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You've got to come back with me.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Back to the future.

TAPPER: He might end up going in a completely different direction.


TAPPER: A very happy Father's Day to all the dads out there, especially my dad in Philly and my father-in-law in Texas.

Next up, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's advice to the 2020 Democrats. Stay with us.