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State of the Union
Bernie Blowout in Nevada; Interview With Former Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean and Former Presidential Adviser Mark McKinnon; Interview With Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT). Aired 9-10a ET
Aired February 23, 2020 - 09:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST (voice-over): Bernie blowout. Senator Bernie Sanders wins with a broad coalition in Nevada.
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Let me thank the people of Nevada for their support.
TAPPER: As his opponents try to slow his momentum.
PETE BUTTIGIEG (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Senator Sanders believes in inflexible, ideological revolution.
TAPPER: But are they too late?
And pivotal point, candidates setting their sights on South Carolina and Super Tuesday.
JOSEPH BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We are alive, and we are coming back, and we're going to win.
TAPPER: With a huge number of delegates up for grabs, can anyone catch up to Sanders?
Former Democratic presidential candidate and party chairman Howard Dean and political adviser Mark McKinnon join me.
Plus: Russian rerun? Intelligence officials brief lawmakers about Russia's interference in the election again.
SANDERS: They are trying to cause chaos. They're trying to cause hatred.
TAPPER: Is it working? Democratic Senator Chris Murphy joins me to discuss in moments.
TAPPER: Hello. I'm Jake Tapper in Washington.
Welcome to the special Nevada caucus edition of our show, where the state of our union is watching voters feeling the Bern.
Senator Bernie Sanders has taken one more step closer to the Democratic presidential nomination after an overwhelming victory in Nevada's caucuses last night. The votes are still coming in, but, right now, the Vermont senator's victory is not just impressive numerically, but demographically.
And it's one he promised to replicate across the United States.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SANDERS: In Nevada, we have just put together a multigenerational, multiracial coalition, which is going to not only win in Nevada; it's going to sweep this country.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: Former Vice President Joe Biden appears to be in second place behind Sanders in Nevada, so he lives to fight another day, and he now looks to South Carolina voters to revive his campaign.
But with early momentum and a half-dozen candidates splitting the non- Sanders Democratic vote, Sanders could be on track to winning a prohibitive number of delegates in just the next two weeks, a possibility that former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg warned voters about in stark terms last night.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BUTTIGIEG: Before we rush to nominate Senator Sanders in our one shot to take on this president, let us take a sober look at what is at stake.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: CNN reporters are covering the Democratic campaigns from coast to coast this morning as they move on to the next voting states.
Let's start with CNN national correspondent Athena Jones in Austin, Texas, with the Sanders campaign.
And, Athena, Sanders gave his Nevada victory speech last night in San Antonio, Texas.
ATHENA JONES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Jake. It's pretty remarkable.
That is a sign of a confident candidate and a confident campaign, the fact that he had already moved on here to Texas, which is one of the biggest delegate prizes on Super Tuesday, now in a couple of weeks away. And it showed that he was confident they would do well in Nevada.
He lost Nevada, the Nevada caucuses, to Hillary Clinton back in 2016. But he came out way ahead last night. He did very well among Latinos, winning Latinos, and also adding to his support by about five points among black voters.
And so the interesting thing about Nevada, about Texas is that these are among the first big, diverse states. And so that was one of the big questions facing not just Bernie Sanders, but all of these candidates, was, can he expand his coalition?
Well, he said, look, on the ground, they were able to do it. They were confident in their organization. They did a lot of Latino outreach. They're going to do or they're planning to do and hoping to do the same thing here in Texas, where there is a huge black and Latino population, which makes up about half of the electorate here in Texas.
Early voting is an important thing to mention here. And that is -- that began last Tuesday. It goes until Friday. And so the fact that he's done now it's going to be four rallies by the end of today in some of the biggest cities in Texas, he's trying to get that energy, draw out what he calls a multiracial -- a multiracial, multigenerational coalition to help him get over the finish line here in Texas as well, and to do a lot of that work during early voting -- Jake.
TAPPER: All right, Athena Jones in Texas.
CNN senior Washington correspondent Jeff Zeleny is in Charleston, South Carolina. That's the state former Vice President Joe Biden has called his firewall.
And, Jeff, Biden was polling strongly in South Carolina a couple months ago. Does it remain his firewall? Can he count on winning there?
JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jake, there's no question that he must win here.
The next six days are the most important for Joe Biden's political career. And this is why. If he does not revive his candidacy here in South Carolina with a win, and a convincing win, his candidacy will not be able to go forward.
The question of a firewall is an open one. He's going to be making that argument as he travels around South Carolina for the next several days. He flew here overnight from Nevada. He will be meeting with voters on Sunday afternoon and throughout the week.
And the question is, can he make that argument that he is the strongest candidate to win in the fall? It's an open one, because the race has changed. This was not what Joe Biden was expecting.
He was always hoping that South Carolina would launch him onto Super Tuesday. And it still might. But now the question is, even as a win here, is that enough for him? I was talking to one of his top supporters last evening, who says that
there is still a path for Joe Biden, no question. Sixty percent of the Democratic electorate in the primary here is African-American. So, Joe Biden is going to be counting on that.
But he does not have as much money as his opponents. He is not advertising as much as his opponents. So it is very much an argument that he is going to be making without the resources that others have, and the fact that Super Tuesday comes three days after the South Carolina primary a challenge for him as well.
But, Jake, if Joe Biden is going to revive himself, it is going to happen here in South Carolina. He will start that argument here today -- Jake.
TAPPER: All right, Jeff Zeleny in Charleston, South Carolina, thanks so much.
Let's dig now into the state of the race.
Joining me now, former Democratic presidential candidate and former DNC Chairman Howard Dean and former presidential adviser Mark McKinnon, who worked for George W. Bush.
Thanks so much to both of you for being with us.
Governor Dean, let me start with you.
You have said that -- quote -- "Any attempt to derail Bernie that I have ever seen has always blown up in the face of the derailer."
You and he have a history going back decades, obviously, in Vermont.
Do you think Bernie Sanders is going to be the Democratic nominee?
HOWARD DEAN, FORMER DEMOCRATIC NATIONAL COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: Look, I think it's much too early to tell.
I do think his win was incredibly impressive, not so much because of the margin, but because you really -- our core base are young people, people of color and women. And he really nailed two of those.
I haven't seen the breakdown on gender, but he -- so, he's on his way, but he's -- we got a long way to go here. I mean, I don't think we're going to have any cogent idea of who's really going to end up at the convention until after the Tuesday past Super Tuesday.
So, three weeks from now, we're going to have a really good idea who the players are. Right now, we have six viable candidates.
TAPPER: All right, Mark, let me ask you.
Sanders has now won the popular vote in Iowa, as well as outright winning the New Hampshire primary and the Nevada caucuses. Realistically speaking, Mark, do you think there's any way to stop him? MARK MCKINNON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Actually, I don't, Jake.
The is, the Sanders train has left the station, impressive win in Nevada across the board, as -- as the governor said, kind of across all demographic groups. This is a 78-year-old man attracting young voters.
So there's something going on here that defies the conventional wisdom.
And I think -- disagree with the governor a little bit here, which is to say, he's going to come out of South Carolina in pretty good shape, it looks like. And now he's got tons of resources through Super Tuesday across the board.
So I think, in pretty short order, not only is he going to be prohibitive front-runner, but I think he's running up margins that make it much harder for anybody else to go into the convention and say, listen, even though you don't have a majority, we should -- we should contest this, because he's just running up the numbers in such -- such a fashion beyond expectation, I think it gives them a much stronger hand in Milwaukee.
TAPPER: Governor, are you afraid of what it mean for the Democratic Party in terms of winning the White House in November or winning down- ballot tickets if Bernie Sanders is the nominee? Does that concern you?
DEAN: Not at all.
I will tell you why. He certainly is a polarizing candidate, but we have a incredibly polarizing person the other side. Our -- as I said before, he showed last night that he can energize our core base.
I am a believer in the theory that it isn't swing voters that's -- the definition of a swing voter is somebody who votes or doesn't vote, not somebody who's going to go back and forth between Republicans and Democrats.
So, my definition of a swing voter, if he continues to do this, I do think he's going to be the nominee.
But I'm not ready to say that. There's five other competent people who are all -- and there's going to be another debate. We're going to see more there.
But, certainly, I think I'd probably rather be where Bernie is than anybody else.
TAPPER: Mark, I have heard some people who are skeptical of Bernie Sanders in November, some Democrats, say that the only way to stop him is for other non-Sanders candidates to drop out, so it's really just ultimately a choice between Sanders, and whether it's Bloomberg or Biden or whatever.
What do you think of people who are theorizing about that? What do you think about those theories?
MCKINNON: Well, I think there's some practicality in that theory.
There needs to be a coalescing on the moderate lane of this primary. And it's probably going to happen here in short order. I think Amy Klobuchar is likely to drop out, and maybe others after Super Tuesday.
But the fact is that you have got Biden and you have got Bloomberg who are likely to go a pretty long way down the line. But, at the end of the day, the problem is that Bloomberg had such a poor debate performance, he's not in very good standing to say that, even he has a lot of delegates, that he should be the nominee.
And Biden just doesn't have the resources.
TAPPER: Governor, Pete Buttigieg took aim at Senator Sanders last night in his speech. He called Sanders' campaign -- quote -- "an inflexible ideological revolution that leaves out most Democrats."
Is he wrong?
DEAN: No, look, I -- I'm happy to have that debate. That is what the debate about this primary is.
Look, this is a contest for the most powerful office in the world, so people are going to say things like that. And they should. I mean, that's what the debate is about. And that's what the Democratic Party gets to decide in this process leading up to Milwaukee. I'm very comfortable with that.
There are not any of these candidates that I would be worried about getting our nomination. I think this is an amazing year, when you have six people still left in the race. When I was there, there were three people, and that -- one of the lowest of which was me, and I lived along until Wisconsin, before I finally dropped out, leaving it a race between Kerry and Edwards. And Kerry came in first in every one of those.
So, this is a really unusual year. We have got a lot of talent. And I'm not worried about what people say. But, look, the voters will punish people if they don't like what they're saying.
TAPPER: And, Mark, let me ask you, because I remember a different insurgent Democrat from Vermont running for president in 2004. His name was Howard Dean.
And there were a lot of people in the Democratic establishment fretting about whether or not he could beat George W. Bush. But I also know that there were people in the Bush campaign that were worried about Howard Dean getting the nomination because he might be able to energize young people and grassroots Democrats.
What do you think?
MCKINNON: Great point.
Well, I can tell you for a fact we were much more worried about Howard Dean than we were John Kerry.
MCKINNON: Why? Because the principled, clear convictions.
DEAN: Oh, don't tell me that now!
MCKINNON: And I think there's a lot of that in Bernie Sanders too.
I think, again, it's conventional wisdom that, because of where he is ideologically, that it would be easier for Trump and Republicans to beat, but he's creating a passion among voters, the same kind of passion you see among Trump voters.
So again, I think you can just throw out the playbook. I think Republicans may regret what they asked for in the end of the day, because Sanders has got a narrative. And his narrative is very much like Trump's, ironically, which is, the system is rigged, you're getting screwed.
He just has a different prescription and a different cause.
TAPPER: I want to give you, Governor, the last word there.
I mean, you -- you would have been able to pose a starker contrast with Governor Bush in 2004.
DEAN: Yes, I would have.
But the problem is, I was not all that well-organized, and I said a few things that it probably would have been better if I hadn't said. So, what -- it is what it is.
And, again, there's an example, though. You can't tell who's going to win. I was something like 20 points ahead about three weeks before the Iowa caucuses, and I didn't win the caucuses.
And so we don't know what's going to happen yet. Let's not all get -- this is a democratic process. I happen to think it's a really good process. Everybody complains about how long it is and all that. Again, if you're...
DEAN: This is -- I used to say this all the time. Now it has a new meaning, but if you're not tough enough to get through this process, what are you going to do when Putin asks for Alaska back?
Well, unfortunately, we have a president who would give it to him today. But, hopefully, that will change.
TAPPER: Alaska still -- still part of the United States, as of right now, just for the record.
DEAN: Yes, that's right.
TAPPER: Governor Dean, Mark McKinnon, thank you so much. Appreciate both your time.
MCKINNON: Thank you, Jake.
DEAN: Thank you.
TAPPER: My next guest said, our democracy is like a frog, slowly being boiled to death, but slowly, so we can't tell.
Senator Chris Murphy joins me next on President Trump's intelligence community crackdown and new claims about Russian interference in the 2020 election.
Stay with us.
TAPPER: Welcome back to the STATE OF THE UNION. I'm Jake Tapper.
We learned this week that the U.S. intelligence community has warned lawmakers that Russia is already trying to interfere in the 2020 presidential race.
Senator Bernie Sanders confirmed a "Washington Post" report that he was briefed by officials that Russia is trying to aid his campaign in the primaries as part of Russia's overall disruption campaign, while President Trump and a top aide are now denying what an intelligence official told lawmakers in a briefing, that the Russians have a preference for President Trump.
A national security official tells me that the briefer may have overstated and mischaracterized the intelligence regarding Trump, which, as of now, does not suggest the Russians have a preference, though they do believe they can work with President Trump.
Joining me now, Democratic Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut. He's a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
Senator, thanks so much for being here.
I want to ask about something that National Security Adviser Robert O'Brien was asked about on a different show about Russia interfering in the 2020 election, specifically the Bernie Sanders elements of it. He said -- quote -- "There are these reports that they want Bernie
Sanders to get elected president. That's no surprise. He honeymooned in Moscow" -- unquote.
What's your response to that?
SEN. CHRIS MURPHY (D-CT): Well, our national security adviser should stay out of politics. And that is a political statement.
What we know is that the Russians never stopped interfering in American politics. They don't just get involved in elections. They are involved every single day.
And analysis of what they have been doing on Twitter since 2016 has been pretty clear. They are weighing in over and over again in support of right-wing causes, in support of Donald Trump's political agenda.
And, of course, it stands to reason that they want Donald Trump reelected, because he has been a gift to Russia. He has essentially ceded the Middle East to Russian interests. He has accomplished more in the undermining of NATO than Russia has in the last 20 years.
And he continues to effectively deny that they have an ongoing political operation here in the United States that, by and large, is intended to support Donald Trump and his allies.
TAPPER: So, the Trump people would push back. They would say that he has actually gotten NATO members to spend more on defense than previous presidents have been able to do, which is factually correct, that he is spending more on the U.S. military than previous presidents, which -- which is also correct, and, in fact, that all of this is hostile to what Russia would want.
MURPHY: So, what we know is that NATO is weaker today than ever before.
The fact that Donald Trump has questioned whether or not the United States would even come to the defense of a NATO ally in the future is an invitation to Russia to continue to probe at our borders.
And, of course, the entire impeachment scandal was over the Trump administration's weakening of Ukraine, taking that country and turning it into just another political actor in the United States, which is going to once again send a message to Russia that they can try to move on countries on their periphery without any real consequences from the United States.
TAPPER: Which they have not done, we should -- we should note.
I want to ask you, Sanders' campaign manager cited this quote from O'Brien that I read to you in a tweet. And he suggests in his tweet, the Sanders campaign manager, that the Trump administration leaked classified intelligence without context to weaponize against Bernie.
That's a very strong charge. Do you agree?
MURPHY: Well, I don't know how that information ultimately came out.
What I am worried about is the politicization of intelligence by this administration. The new acting head of intelligence has no background in intel. He is a Trump loyalist.
And I think we all worry about this administration controlling massive amounts of intelligence, massive amounts of classified information, and leaking it out to the press when it advantages them.
I have been very worried about the kind of information the Trump administration keeps classified. There have been multiple instances of the Trump administration keeping classified information that might be politically embarrassing to the president, but actually doesn't hold any true national security classified information.
So, the weaponization of classified information, I think, is something that we are more worried about, especially with this new acting director of intelligence.
TAPPER: What are you talking about when they say they're keeping information secret because it might be damaging? You talking about the John Bolton book? What do you -- what do you mean?
MURPHY: The John Bolton book certainly is an example of information that may not actually need to be classified, but it's simply embarrassing to the president.
The information regarding Mike Pence's meeting in -- regarding Ukraine that was kept classified during the impeachment proceedings involved no classified information. The only reason that that was classified was because it would have hurt the president's case during the impeachment trial.
TAPPER: I want to ask you about your recent meeting last weekend, I guess, with Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif in Munich.
President Trump said this week that he thought your meeting was illegal. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I saw that there's a -- Senator Murphy met with the Iranians. Is that a fact? I just saw that on the way over. Is there anything that I should know?
Because that sounds like, to me, a violation of the Logan Act.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: The Logan Act, as you know, but our viewers might not, is a law that bars unauthorized citizens from negotiating with foreign governments.
Did you tell the president or the State Department you were going to meet with Zarif? And, if not, why not?
MURPHY: I did.
TAPPER: You did? OK.
MURPHY: I alerted the State Department ahead of time.
It is, of course, my job, as a member of the Foreign Relations Committee, and as the top Democrat on the Middle East Subcommittee, to meet with regional leaders, even our adversaries.
And the fact of the matter is, it's dangerous that this administration is not talking to the Iranians. The Trump policy on Iran has been a total disaster. Iran is more powerful today than they were at the beginning of the Trump presidency. They have restarted their nuclear program. They're shooting at U.S. troops. They're offering up more support for proxies.
I'm not negotiating with Iran, but it does make sense for somebody to be listening to them and to be engaged in some level of outreach, as perhaps a means of trying to avert crisis and disaster down the road.
TAPPER: We only have a couple minutes left, but I do want to ask you about the 2020 campaign.
One of the issues that you're known for the most is pushing for further regulation of firearms, guns. During the 2016 campaign, Senator Sanders was asked about whether the victims' families in the Sandy Hook Connecticut shooting should be able to sue gun manufacturers.
This is what he said:
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
SANDERS: Do I think the victims...
QUESTION: The right -- the right -- yes.
SANDERS: ... of a crime with a gun should be able to sue the manufacturer? Is that your question?
SANDERS: No, I don't.
I think there are grounds for those suits, but not if you sold me a legal product.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
TAPPER: You responded on Twitter, saying -- quote -- "Bernie's a friend, but this is really bad. Democrats can't nominate a candidate who supports gun manufacturer immunity."
Now, since then, he has changed his position. But do you still have concerns about Senator Sanders' position on guns?
MURPHY: None. None.
Senator Sanders has stood with us over and over again on expanding background checks, on taking these dangerous assault weapons off the streets.
To the extent that he had made statements in the past questioning whether or not victims' family should be able to sue manufacturers...
TAPPER: Not just statements. He voted against it.
MURPHY: ... he has changed that position.
He has been an ally. Every single candidate in this Democratic primary has taken a very strong position, has made it clear that they are going to make it a priority to solve this epidemic of gun violence if they get the nomination and if they're elected president.
TAPPER: Do you have any concerns about Bernie Sanders as the Democratic nominee in terms of his ability to beat President Trump in November or how much he might hurt down-ballot Democrats who are in more moderate districts?
MURPHY: I do not.
I think Bernie Sanders will beat Donald Trump. I think Joe Biden would beat Donald Trump. I think Elizabeth Warren would beat Donald Trump.
What we need is a candidate who has a base of enthusiastic supporters, who's authentic, who speaks truth to power, who can throw a punch and who can take a punch.
I think anybody that's polling in the top four or five fits that bill. But Bernie's base of support, the enthusiasm behind him I think speaks to the strength of his candidacy both in the primary, but as a general election candidate as well.
TAPPER: Are you -- that was very strong. I mean, are you endorsing him? Are you supporting him?
MURPHY: No, I'm not endorsing anyone.
I think that this primary is going to be a test of who is ready, who's tough enough to take on President Trump. Remember, only 5 percent of the country has voted yet.
I mean, I -- Bernie's done very well in the opening primaries, but this thing is not a done deal. Any of the candidates who are polling well in these early primaries, and Mayor Bloomberg, still has, I think, a very good shot at the nomination.
TAPPER: All right, Senator Chris Murphy, Democrat of Connecticut, we appreciate your time. MURPHY: Thank you.
TAPPER: Thank you, sir.
Could the next week-and-a-half determine which candidate becomes the Democratic presidential nominee? We will take a look at the upcoming Democratic contests with our panel next.
Stay with us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (D-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: In Nevada, we have just put together a multi generational, multi racial coalition which is going to not only win in Nevada, it's going to sweep this country.
PETE BUTTIGIEG (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Senator Sanders believes in an inflexible ideological revolution that leaves out most Democrats.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: That was the projected winner of the Nevada caucuses Senator Bernie Sanders declaring victory as his rival Pete Buttigieg tries to stop his momentum. Let's discuss.
Alexandra, let me start with you. Congratulations, I know you're a big fan of Senator Sanders and Senator Warren. What do you make of the Buttigieg attack on Senator Sanders that his ideology is inflexible and leaves out the Democratic Party? I understand he's likely to be the nominee, at least, based on today's facts, but is there room for Senator Sanders to try to expanse his rhetoric to make people feel more included?
ALEXANDRA ROJAS, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, JUSTICE DEMOCRATS: Well, I think that we should just take a look at the results of last night's election which showed that Bernie Sanders is actually the one that is creating a broad coalition. It pretty unique, I think, in American politics to have someone that is not only bringing in young people, people of color, communities of color that have been historically not -- ignored by both parties, but he is also bringing in moderates. He is bringing in the white working class that all of the D.C. pundits so much obsess over, and so it is a pretty big opportunity --
BAKARI SELLERS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: You are a D.C. pundit now.
ROJAS: I am now. I am. But it's true. Like we always talk about the Obama and Trump voter and it seems like Bernie Sanders is not just appealing to those people, he's appealing to all of America. I think that is what is extraordinary.
TAPPER: Do you think that he could be stopped? Senator Sanders? SELLERS: Do I think -- I think there's a long way to go. We have 54 states and territories left to give delegates. I mean, pump your brakes on everybody who wants to say that we have a nominee. But Bernie Sanders put out an amazing performance yesterday across the board. He has another test, a larger test, a more looming test in South Carolina this week, because the question is can he expand the base? Can he expand his electorate? And I don't know the answer to that.
If Bernie Sanders wants to be the nominee, he cannot be swept throughout the south. That doesn't bode well going into a contested convention, and so we will have to see how well he can do. He -- we'll have to see how well he can do with the black voters in South Carolina.
RICK SANTORUM, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes. The argument there is that if I'm a Democrat is, well, we're going to lose the south in the general election. So the fact that Joe Biden can win states that were never going to be competitive in the general election really have no --
SELLERS: Well, that's not --- with all due respect, I am pointing out the fact that in the south you have the backbone of the Democratic Party.
TAPPER: Black voters --
SELLERS: And that is essential --
SANTORUM: I get that. I get that.
SELLERS: -- Wisconsin, Pennsylvania --
SANTORUM: Bur if I'm the Sanders' campaign, I am saying, look, I can win in Pennsylvania. I can win in Michigan. I can win in the states where I'm going to win in the Democratic primary and I am not going to -- we're not going to win Alabama. We're not going to win South Carolina, so the fact that Joe Biden can win there really is of no consequence.
TAPPER: Let me just ask -- can I just ask you about the Latino vote for one second?
LINDA CHAVEZ, FORMER REAGAN ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Yes. Sure. Yes.
TAPPER: Because this is part of the argument Sanders is making. Sanders won according to entrance polls in Nevada, 51 percent of Hispanic vote in Nevada. And he says, look, with that vote not only can I win Nevada in general election. I can win Texas.
CHAVEZ: I know. And frankly that was the surprising thing to me of the entire evening was the 51 percent of Hispanics who voted for Bernie. And I think it has to do with him saying, I'm going to give you free college and by the way, I'm going to wipe out your debt if you happen to have gone to college and gotten yourself in debt, I'm going to wipe it out. But the problem is, the real winner last night I believe was Putin. I mean, we are going to have the most divisive election if Bernie is the nominee, we are going to see two very, very angry people representing two very different extremes of their parties, and I think that helps make America more chaotic, it makes us more divisive and, I think, the one that gets advantaged by that is Russia.
ROJAS: And I think it is interesting, you know, I hear that progressives are labeled as divisive. They are labeled as this tiny fraction of America. But I think obviously it's only the first four states, but this is a huge indicator. He won 51 percent of the Latinos. Everybody was saying that Joe Biden's firewall for South Carolina is black voters. Well the same can be said with Latinos for Bernie Sanders now. And this is a community that right now is being targeted by the Trump administration. I don't think it's because of a bunch of free stuff. I think it's actually because he is doing the work and outreaching to a community that has not been talked to.
CHAVEZ: Bernie has not been great on immigration.
He voted against a 2007 immigration proposal that actually, you know --
ROJAS: But he has also listed into movements of young Latinos on the ground and is also one of only two presidential candidates that is calling for a moratorium of the deportations within the first 100 days --
SANTORUM: Yes. I wanted to take issue with what Linda said which is that there are two folks, angry people representing the extremes. I would agree with that with Bernie Sanders. He is representing no question the extreme of the Democratic Party. I mean, he says he's a socialist. So -- and he's angry. I agree that -- Donald Trump is not representing the extreme of the Republican Party. I mean, he has crafted a new Republican Party, but I wouldn't say it's an ultraconservative --
SELLERS: Let me just -- let me say I actually agree with Rick which is rare.
SANTORUM: Hold on. He's not because -- this guy is not for Social Security reform. He's not for Medicaid. He's not for reducing -- so if you want to look at the extreme hard right, that is not Donald Trump.
CHAVEZ: The cultural issues he is representing the extreme. He is divisive, racially and ethnically. And that's what going to --
(CROSSTALK) SANTORUM: He is a divisive person, not his policies.
SELLERS: This is -- this is -- this is with all due respect, this is Donald Trump Republican Party and it is going to be Donald Trump's Republican Party for the next two decades. I mean, he has completely transformed conservatives in the United States of America. So I don't think --
SANTORUM: I would make the case here. Rick Santorum's Republican Party, because I was the guy that was writing about blue collar conservatives and working with middle income people, and that is what Donald Trump has done.
TAPPER: So we're just going to -- we're going to keep this conversation going. We're going to squeeze in a quick break. We will be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It is a big threat. Not a tall one but a big one. Michael Bloomberg, he argues that he is the safest bet to beat Donald Trump. He is not safe. He is just rich.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: Senator Elizabeth Warren taking direct aim at Mayor Michael Bloomberg last night who by the way didn't even compete in the Nevada caucuses, including Warren taking a shot at how tall Bloomberg is. Let's discuss. I thought that was kind of -- I was surprised by that.
CHAVEZ: You want to know why Elizabeth Warren is not doing better? It is because of things like that. I mean, I know pundits love it. I know it makes for great television, but it turns people off. It turns me off.
I just -- I thought she came across as nasty during the debate. I think that kind of comment is beneath her. It reeks of desperation, and I think that is the reason that she never really emerged as the candidate people thought she was going to be.
SELLERS: I think the biggest question that Elizabeth Warren has to answer is where does she win? I mean, she had these vaunted ground games in New Hampshire and Iowa and Nevada and she's placing fourth, fifth. I mean, her highest finish was third in Iowa. She is not going to win in South Carolina. So the question is where does she win?
And she treats Michael Bloomberg like a pinata. She hits him and money falls out, right? And so she has -- she has $20 million that she has raised recently just because of these attacks, so it will keep her in the race for a while, but just don't -- even she can't articulate where does she win. TAPPER: I want to ask about that because when Linda talks about Elizabeth Warren seeming angry, nasty, and Rick said that about Bernie Sanders seeming angry. You don't deny that they seem angry, and you think that it is OK, because there is a reason people have for being angry?
ROJAS: Yes. I think that there are a lot of Americans right now across the country who are suffering and that are really hurting. We have people that are rationing insulin and having people die because they can't get access to it in time. They are going across to the Canadian border, to the Mexican border to go get their prescription drugs.
You have 60 percent of Americans that if they got an $800 emergency bill, they would be out on the streets, that is the America that we are living in right now. And so, yes, I think a lot of people are angry and they're really upset, and I think the polls are showing that they don't see it as some angry person like -- and I think the other thing that we have to remember is that Elizabeth Warren has a lot of credibility also with the movement. She stood by people during occupy Wall Street --
TAPPER: The progressive movement.
ROJAS: Yes, when not a lot of people did. She built the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau from the ground up, and she has prioritized working families for her entire career. And so Michael Bloomberg, I think, the question that we have to ask ourselves as a Democratic Party is, if we're supposed to be the one that represents working people why is a billionaire at the top of the ticket?
CHAVEZ: I have to sort of hit you back on that.
CHAVEZ: Going after Wall Street, destroying Wall Street also destroys the wealth of many average Americans who have their pensions in it. I mean, I just think this idea that we are going to divide this country, again, it is the idea that it is going to be Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump in which we have these very, very angry voices out there. Again, that plays right into our enemy's hands.
It makes us look like a country that is so divided racially, by class and by other things that we can't possibly lead the world. And I think that really harms America.
ROJAS: I think people want to protect Main Street and not just Wall Street anymore.
SANTORUM: I would say that the division that we are seeing play out here in presidential politics reflects the division that's in this country. I mean, all you have to do is to look at what we see on social media. Now is that a clear reflection of the country? I don't know. But if it is anywhere close, this is a very divided country, and Donald Trump showed that within the Republican ranks, the angry person who came out there and said, we are tired of being pushed around and making the claim, Donald Trump makes the claim for working Americans. [09:45:02]
And contrary to what you just said which I'm not -- I'm not invalidating any of the stats that you came out, he can go out there and make the claim. Lower income Americans are actually doing better, poverty rates are actually better. I mean, he can make a claim and he will that his policies have actually helped working Americans much more than anything that Bernie has to say. But Bernie's appeal is same as Trump's which is I am going to fight for you. I'm going to beat the man.
SELLERS: Which is -- which is -- which is -- which is -- which is counter, because we're not sure what Michael Bloomberg's message really is, right? So Bloomberg is going to be play this looming role on Tuesday, and his only message is that I am going to make it rain from the heavens above -- right -- and we're going to just have an ad war and I can compete, because I can say that Donald Trump cheats at golf or he likes his steaks well done or eats them with ketchup, right?
TAPPER: Those are -- so people understand those are billboards that he's --
SANTORUM: Not a big -- not a big winning message.
SELLERS: Not a big winning message.
ROJAS: Yes. But I think that -- I think --
CHAVEZ: At least he has -- at least Bloomberg has a message that gives hope to America.
CHAVEZ: I think his ads talk about what he has been able to do in health care. It talks about his performance as mayor.
SELLERS: I mean, he -- he just doesn't give -- he doesn't -- he doesn't give a lot of hope to a lot of black men in this country, I can tell you that.
ROJAS: This is huge --
CHAVEZ: -- black votes and he got more support among the black community according to the polling than a lot of people --
SELLERS: We have to wait and see that.
ROJAS: This is really -- this is really important. Michael Bloomberg is trying to do the same pitch of I am going to run America like a business, I'm going to be run -- I'm going to be the billionaire savior so believe in me, and that is what I think --
CHAVEZ: Yes, same as Donald --
ROJAS: That is what I think of Donald Trump. Except, I think -- I think that the American people --
ROJAS: I think that the American people right now where you see Bernie Sanders rising nationally, his entire movement is not me, us. It is about prioritizing the working class of this country and Michael Bloomberg is in direct opposition to that.
TAPPER: Wonderful panel. Thanks so much for being here. Really, really appreciate it. It doesn't sound like you have some coalesced around a candidate.
SANTORUM: No. Not yet.
TAPPER: I have to say. No endorsement from this panel.
Coming up, so exactly what lessons did President Trump learn from his impeachment? That's next.
TAPPER: If it seems longer than just 18 days since President Trump was acquitted in his impeachment trial, that may in part be because since that moment the president has packed in quite a bit of business with a remarkable focus on rewarding loyalists and punishing his perceived enemies almost immediately showing the door to key impeachment witnesses Ambassador Gordon Sondland and Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman, plus Vindman's brother who did not testify.
Pushed out Just a few days ago Pentagon policy chief John Rood who had privately urged the aid to Ukraine to be released U.S. Attorney Jessie Liu saw her nomination for a treasury department job yanked this past week according to an administration official. That's because Liu's office supervised the prosecution of convicted felon and Trump friend and confidant Roger Stone whose sentencing the president tried to influence a few days ago by attacking the prosecutor's sentencing recommendation which the Justice Department then dialed back prompting all four prosecutors to resign from the case. It's a lot to take in.
In his latest stop in his vengeance tour on Friday came the resignation of acting director of National Intelligence Admiral Joe Maguire. Maguire had under oath vouched for the integrity of the intelligence community whistleblower. One of Maguire's subordinates also briefed the House intelligence committee about continued election interference by Russia and she asserted that the Russians have a preference for President Trump. That's a charge the national security adviser told me may have been a mischaracterization since right now the intelligence is that the Russians have no actual preference, though they do think they can work with President Trump.
Maguire was just replaced by U.S. ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell who has no intelligence expertise but has been a vicious pro- Trump attack dog. Grenell immediately forced out the number two intelligence official in the U.S. government Andrew Hallman. Also brought into the president's inner circle 29-year-old former body man John McEntee. He was fired from the White House in 2018 because of security clearance issues, now he's the president's new personnel chief. And on Thursday McEntee told cabinet officials to be on the lookout in their departments and agencies for appointees who are disloyal.
One former Trump aide said to me that the president demands personal and unqualified loyalty to him and him alone not to constitution or rule of law or God or country. Now what might that mean going forward for our government? Well, we might have seen it.
Senator Bernie Sanders acknowledged on Friday that he had been briefed that Russians were interfering in the Democratic primaries and helping his campaign to disrupt it all and then national security adviser Robert O'Brien on a different channel misrepresented this intelligence stating the Russians -- quote -- "want Bernie Sanders to get elected president. That's no surprise. He honeymooned in Moscow."
Now remember the intelligence per that national security official is -- quote -- "that there is no preference right now. Not Bernie, not Trump" -- unquote. The Russians are helping Sanders as part of a campaign to sow discord in the Democratic primary. So I asked that national security official why did O'Brien say that? He said -- quote -- "perhaps his first instincts," O'Brien's, "are more political than that of a national security professional." And that national security official noted that on Friday, President Trump had said this about Putin.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Wouldn't he rather have Bernie, who honeymooned in Moscow?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: The national security official said to me -- quote -- "By saying that, O'Brien injected himself into the campaign by commenting on a potential rival.
If he's willing to say that as national security adviser, what does that mean for the next nine months? And what is O'Brien doing when the camera is not on him" -- unquote. President Trump was impeached but not acquitted for abusing his office to get re-elected. Senate Republicans said at the time they thought the president had learned his lesson. What lesson does it look like the president has learned?
Thanks for spending your Sunday morning with us.
"FAREED ZAKARIA" starts next.