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AT THIS HOUR WITH BERMAN AND MICHAELA

Some Democrats Sound Alarm over Rising Socialist Bernie Sanders; Report: Putin "Probably" Ordered Hit on Spy; Interview with Gov. John Kaisch; Michigan Governor Under Fire for Flint Water Crisis. Aired 11:30a-12p ET

Aired January 21, 2016 - 11:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[11:30:00] REP. STENY HOYER, (D), MARYLAND: And I'm not the guy that's the insider, but ultimately, I think the American public understands, it's not what you say, it's what you can do. It's what you can get done for them, for their families --

(CROSSTALK)

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: What percentage chance of getting his plan through Congress?

HOYER: Very small. I'm not going to put a number on it, but very, very small.

(CROSSTALK)

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: You were in the heart of the -- heart --

(CROSSTALK)

HOYER: When we did the Affordable Care Act, as you recall, in our alternative in the House, we wanted to have a public option. All the other private-sector options, but then there would also be a public option that would affect greater competition. That did not have the votes when we had a very substantial majority in the House of Representatives. So, the chances of that happening, I think, are very small.

BOLDUAN: Let me get you take on the state of the Republican side of the race right now. Sarah Palin, the big endorsement for Donald Trump. That's been the talk this week. What do you think Sarah Palin's impact is on the Republican race? Do you think --

(CROSSTALK)

HOYER: If I'm Donald Trump, I'm happy.

If you're Ted Cruz, you're --

HOYER: I'm not happy. And the reason I'm not happy is because Sarah Palin represents, for a certain segment of the party, that is the disaffected and the angrier element of their party, and conservative element of their party, although most of their party now is -- sees themselves as a conservative element, certainly of the country. But I think Sarah Palin brings to Donald Trump a certain degree of legitimacy, a certain degree of sort of his conservatives.

BOLDUAN: Is there an equal endorsement on the Democratic side like that?

HOYER: I don't know that I can think of one right now. Obviously, Bill Clinton is for Hillary Clinton.

BERMAN: He's come out already, I think.

(LAUGHTER)

HOYER: Yeah, he's --

(CROSSTALK)

BERMAN: Although, by the way, Congressman, a lot of people are saying he's unhappy with the way the race is being run. He says Hillary Clinton needs to focus more beyond Iowa and New Hampshire. According to "Politico" every day.

BOLDUAN: Every day.

HOYER: My thought is they're focusing on every part of the United States. Yes, their focusing on Iowa and New Hampshire because they're coming up. They're immediate. They're right in front of them. But there's no doubt that the Clinton campaign is focused on the long-term because they for the long term. Obviously, some are focused more on Iowa and New Hampshire because they're not sure they're going to be this longer.

BOLDUAN: Congressman, it's great to have you here. You may be with us here all weekend.

BERMAN: Might get snowed in.

BOLDUAN: You might as well stay. I have an extra bedroom. You can stay at the apartment because you might not want to go back to D.C. right now.

(LAUGHTER)

BOLDUAN: He laughs and clearly says, I'm out of here.

(LAUGHTER)

HOYER: I laugh because I shouldn't give an answer to that invitation.

(LAUGHTER)

BOLDUAN: All about the party.

Great to see you, Congressman.

HOYER: Nice to see you.

BOLDUAN: Thank you. Ahead for us, an important programming note for you. Monday night in

Iowa, Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton, Martin O'Malley will be face- to-face with the voters in that state. The CNN Democratic presidential town hall live from Des Moines. Chris Cuomo will be moderating. That is Monday night, 9:00 p.m. eastern.

BERMAN: On the Republican side, we've seen the back and forth between the candidates. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie now comparing his Republican rival, John Kasich, to the devil. The Ohio governor, Satan himself, joins us live.

BOLDUAN: Cut it out.

Dramatic riff between two world powers. New report alleging Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin likely ordered the poisoning of an ex- KGB agent.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[11:37:35] BOLDUAN: New this morning, a stunning twist in an already unbelievable spy story. British authorities for the first time are linking the death of a former Russian spy to the very top of Russia's government. The judge even saying Russian President Vladimir Putin probably approved the killing.

BERMAN: The findings say the actual killing of Alexander Litvinenko was carried out by a former KGB and former Russian army officer. Litvinenko died suddenly in 2006 after drinking a cup of tea laced with radioactive Polonium.

Let's bring in senior international diplomatic editor, Nic Robertson.

Nic, there's been intrigue surrounding this. This just puts it into the stratosphere.

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: It absolutely does. It's always been understood here that this murder never could have happened without the sponsorship, if you will, of the Russian state. That's what this inquiry lays out. It falls short of saying, here's a direct link between President Putin and Litvinenko's murders. What it does say very clearly is this polonium, this radioactive material, can only be made in a nuclear reactor. The nuclear material in Russia can only be transferred through intelligence services with somebody who's above both the intelligence service and above the country's atomic agency. Therefore, they say, under past practice, this means most likely, very probably, that President Putin must have had a hand in this. This does kick it up to the stratosphere.

We've heard from the British government saying the two men accused of the murder are now on an Interpol notice, their on E.U. arrest warrants, their assets are frozen. The Russian ambassador in London has been called in to have details of the report explained to him and also questioned about this report.

And the wife or widow, rather, now of Litvinenko, has also spoken out about this, criticizing Vladimir Putin. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MARINA LITVINENKO, WIDOW OF ALEXANDER LITVINENKO: Vladimir Putin and Nicole Patrushev, (ph) personally approved assassination. I'm, of course, very pleased that the words my husband spoke on his deathbed when he accused Mr. Putin of his murder, have been proved through an English court with the highest standards of independence and fairness.

[11:40:17] ROBERTSON: Now, she did also request that the British government check out all records on the Russian intelligence agents from Britain. Of course, the British government, this being an incredible sensitive issue, stopped short of doing that -- John?

BERMAN: Our Nic Robertson for us in London. Thanks a lot, Nic. Intrigue. A mother in Flint, Michigan, said the water was so toxic, her son's

teeth started crumbling and their cat started losing hair. There are new cries for the Michigan governor to step down after his office released hundreds of e-mails related to the water crisis.

BOLDUAN: Moments ago, a big, new endorsement in New Hampshire for John Kasich. The Ohio governor is joining us live. That's coming up next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[11:45:15] BERMAN: Political scientists like to say objects in the mirror are closer than they appear and they are also John Kasich.

BOLDUAN: What?

BERMAN: The latest Monmouth University poll from New Hampshire shows the governor in second place at 14 percent. We should note the new CNN/WMUR poll has him much further back at 6 percent.

BOLDUAN: But as Donald Trump and Ted Cruz trade jabs, could there be an opening now for the governor to be the new establishment alternative? Let's ask him.

Ohio Governor John Kasich is joining us live from New Hampshire.

Governor, thank you for joining us.

GOV. JOHN KASICH (R-OH), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Thank you.

Listen, I want to tell you, the conglomeration of polls has me actually running in second place, which is just fantastic. There's one or two that aberrations. We've been rising. A network reporter said to me, there's the establishment, the anti-establishment, and then the Kasich lane. I kind of operate in the Kasich lane, Kate.

(LAUGHTER)

BERMAN: I hope you win this lane, Governor, because if you can't cover that lane, you're in big trouble.

BOLDUAN: You're in big trouble. Let's talk about --

(CROSSTALK)

KASICH: I agree.

BOLDUAN: You picked up a big endorsement from former Republican Party chair, Fergus Collin (ph). He says he likes you because of your positive and consistent tone throughout your whole campaign. What is going right for you in New Hampshire because New Hampshire is your path to success?

KASICH: Well, look, I'm going to give you a different narrative. Everybody thinks the voters are running around, they're all angry and yelling and screaming. I don't find it. I've done far more town halls that anybody else in this campaign and what I find is people are a little frustrated, but it's the narrative you want to give them. I believe these problems are easily solvable if we can get people to be Americans rather than ideologues or Republicans and Democrats. People leave the meetings and they basically say, I'm more hopeful. What could be better than getting people to understand if we pull together that these things are solvable. The reason I can say it is because I've done most of these things before. I believe we can do it again. America's problems can be fixed and they can be behind us, on to new challenges.

BERMAN: You told the "Wall Street Journal" you consider yourself the prince of light and hope. Your friend, Governor Christie, has another take on it. I want you to listen to what the governor said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R-NJ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I've known John for a long time. And I've been around when his colleagues talk about him. I've heard John called a lot of things. The prince of light and hope has never been one of them.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: Your reaction to Governor Christie?

KASICH: Oh, I love Chris. He's a great guy. Look, I mean, all of my career I've been able to put together large groups of people. I've been blessed to put together large groups of people who believe that they're part of something greater than themselves. Senator Gordon Humphrey says our ground game is the best he's seen in 40 years. We have people sleeping on mattresses in our headquarters and heating their food on hot plates. There's a sense there that it's not just about me. There's a sense that America can be fixed, that we can be more hopeful and positive. My entire career, that's exactly what I've said. If you take Ohio, my re-election, where no Republican has ever won the White House without winning Ohio, and I won 86 out of 88 counties. And I won by over 30 points. And I won counties that Barack Obama handily won because there is a sense of optimism and hope. That's what it's all about in politics. Not looking at the rearview mirror and spending all your time bashing President Obama because he's a lame duck. His time is over. Let's look at the future.

BOLDUAN: Governor, looking at the immediate future, you've said that if you get smoked in New Hampshire, it's kind of game over for you. Do you think there's a chance you won't make it to your home state of Ohio?

KASICH: No, I really don't. And the reason is that, you know, you can see the constant rise. It's because we built the foundation. Look, I don't want to brag about what's happening because that's just a wrong attitude and approach. But we've been building this thing all along, telling people that, you know, you build a good foundation, you built the first, the second, the third floor, and all of a sudden you can get into the light, and people begin to see you. And, again, this ground game, that's where it gets won in New Hampshire. I have to run very, very hard, all the way through the tape, and if that happens, then I get a chance to tell my story to the country. And I'm very optimistic about what will happen after that. I think we will come out of here. I think we will be a story. I think we will be strong because time's running out and, you know, I think we're in a very good position.

[11:50:01] BERMAN: So you talk about hope, you talk about a positive message, you talk about not being worth it to bash President Obama. Sarah Palin, who just endorsed Donald Trump, she essentially on the stump linked her son's domestic violence arrest with the president's policy on veterans. I wonder if you have a reaction.

KASICH: I'm not familiar, but what I will tell you is President Obama's policy, Obamacare, lack of a consistent foreign policy, these are all things we need to talk about, you know, from the standpoint of this is what we're left with. But we need to look -- I tell people I'm on this bus here, I got this campaign bus that Lady Antebellum used to be on. You can look in the rearview mirrors driving the bus, you don't do very well. I like to look through the windshield at where we're going. I think that's what people want. I think the policies of Barack Obama are obviously fair game, but that's like old news. It's time to move forward. We're going to be -- whoever is president is going to be handed kind of a mess because the president has really not done a good job here as being president of the United States.

BOLDUAN: Governor, if you look at the "Boston Globe" today, this is a paper that folks in New Hampshire read, you've got almost dueling columnists, one saying Kasich is finally getting his moment, but another columnist, Michael Cohen (ph), basically saying you are too liberal. He tweeted, "Listening to John Kasich --

(LAUGHTER)

-- you get the sense he is in the wrong party." Outside of New Hampshire, are you too liberal?

KASICH: Look, I've balanced budgets. We have running surpluses. I've cut taxes more than any governor in the city. We're up 385,000 jobs. I was a lead architect of balancing the federal budget, which created jobs and provided surpluses. I'm for school choice, welfare reform, of which I was intimately involved.

But, Kate, there's another side of this. I really believe that people who live in the shadows, once the economy does better, need to be treated, the mentally ill, the drug addicted, the working poor. My tone is really positive. I guess sometimes people can misunderstand that. But I'm as conservative as anybody in this race. And my record proves this. And the results have been great. But you know what, those who live in the shadows, though who have been in prison -- I just talked to George Will today. He did a big story about the dramatic improvement that's happening in the lives of our prisoners who are getting trained and being released and getting their lives back. I happen to believe that everybody's made in the image of the Lord and I think it is real conservative to say that all of them should have a chance to pursue their God-given destiny. And to me, that is conservative, because opportunity and responsibility fit together.

BOLDUAN: We will find out very soon what the folks in Iowa and the folks where you are right there in New Hampshire have to say.

(CROSSTALK)

BOLDUAN: I don't need to tell you the calendar.

KASICH: It's coming.

BOLDUAN: Governor, great to see you. Thank you very much.

KASICH: All right, thank you.

BOLDUAN: Also a note on another candidate, on another issue on the campaign trail. It's important we wanted to bring this to you. Dr. Ben Carson is speaking out after the tragic death of one of his campaign volunteers. This is 25-year-old Braden Joplin. He was killed Tuesday in Iowa when a van carrying four staff members flipped over on a patch of ice and was struck by an oncoming car. An absolute tragedy happening there.

Here is what Dr. Carson said remembering Joplin last night.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DR. BEN CARSON (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: He wrote a letter requesting to become a student volunteer and just, you know, talking about his heart for America. It was really very touching for, you know, a 25-year-old to have that much feeling about the future of our nation. But, you know, on a personal level, he was just so caring. You know, he would go and make sure that everybody was feeling right.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[11:58:07] BOLDUAN: New this morning, Michigan's governor is under fire. Rick Snyder has released more than 250 pages of e-mails related to the water crisis in Flint, Michigan, but what those e-mails really reveal, that officials played down the problem and, at one point, even called them, quote, "initial hiccups."

BERMAN: The problem, as we know, did not go away.

CNN chief medical correspondent, Sanjay Gupta, is in Flint.

Sanjay, you've been there now for a little while. Give us a sense what you're seeing in terms of the health problems and now the health care being provided to people suffering.

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I'll tell you, John, I didn't quite know what to expect. I think in the medical community, lead is considered a sort of "yesterday issue," something we had dealt with for some time in this country but haven't had to in a while. We put it in the accomplished list of things. So what we are seeing here is something we all learned about in medical school but hadn't seen probably with our own eyes. People who have been affected by lead, who have been poisoned by lead, which is not an unfair word, because when lead gets into the body, it essentially is irreversible. For a lot of people, they have sort of the more immediate symptoms. They just don't feel well. They lose appetite. They're very lethargic. But the concern, what we're hearing from a lot of citizens, the medical community, is that the long-term ramifications are significant as well, performance in school, ultimately intellectual development, overall physical development in children in particular. That's what we're seeing and that's what we're -- that's what they're worried about here, that's what they're talking about.

BERMAN: All right, Sanjay Gupta for us in Flint.

Glad you are there to get a sense of what's happening. Obviously, a lot of people with a lot of questions. Thanks, Sanjay.

BOLDUAN: Thanks, Sanjay.

GUPTA: Thanks.

BOLDUAN: And thank you all so much for joining us AT THIS HOUR.

BERMAN: "LEGAL VIEW" with Ashleigh Banfield starts right now.

[12:00:14] ASHLEIGH BANFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. I'm Ashleigh Banfield.