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Ocasio-Cortez Unseats Crowley; Pelosi on Rise of Socialists; Supreme Court Decisions; FBI Agent Testifies; North Korea Upgrading Reactor; Trump and Putin Meeting; Judge Rebukes Family Separations. Aired 1-1:30p ET
Aired June 27, 2018 - 13:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[13:00:06] WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, I'm Wolf Blitzer in Washington. Wherever you're watching from around the world, thanks very much for joining us.
We begin with primary politics here in the United States and the upset victory that stunned Democrats and ousted a long-time lawmaker. Twenty-eight-year-old Democratic socialist Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez defeated ten-term Congressman Joe Crowley in their New York district, which includes parts of Queens and the Bronx. Ocasio-Cortez says her win is a victory for communities that feel ignored by the Democratic establishment. And she tells our Poppy Harlow it sends a message to women.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ (D), NEW YORK CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE: I think it says right now that women are at a time where they are feeling emboldened, and that we know that justice and we know that representation is not going to be handed to us. We have to fight for it. We have to earn it. We have to, you know, fight for every single vote, every single scrap. And that not only is that necessary, but that women are ready to do that this year now more than ever.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: President Trump poked fun at Democrats over the loss, tweeting this, wow, big Trump hater Congressman Joe Crowley, who many expected was going to take Nancy Pelosi's place, just lost his primary election. In other words, he's out. That is a big one that nobody saw happening. Perhaps he should have been nicer and more respectful to his president, closed quote.
Meanwhile, the president is taking a victory lap after two candidates that he endorsed won. In New York, Representative Dan Donovan held off a challenge from convicted felon and former Congressman Michael Grimm. The president tweeted that Donovan will win for Republicans in November.
And in South Carolina, the governor, Henry McMaster, won his primary challenge just a day after President Trump campaigned for him.
The two victories suggest the president still has influence among Republican primary voters. I want to get more on the shocking upset in New York City. Is it a
sign of what's to come? A rise of the new, more progressive, more liberal Democratic Party?
Here to break it all down, CNN politics reporter and editor-at-large, Chris Cillizza.
Chris, it's hard to overstate just how shocking this win by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was last night.
CHRIS CILLIZZA, CNN POLITICS REPORTER AND EDITOR-AT-LARGE: It really is, Wolf. Look, this will be one of -- go down as one of the five or six biggest upsets in the last 50 years probably in politics.
I want to -- before we get to some of the differences between Ocasio- Cortez and Joe Crowley and Donald Trump, I want to play you a little bit of about a two-minute campaign ad video message she ran that will give you a sense of the kind of candidate she positioned herself as. Let's roll that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ (D), NEW YORK CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE: Women like me aren't supposed to run for office. I wasn't born to a wealthy or powerful family. Mother from Puerto Rico, dad from the south Bronx. I was born in a place where your zip code determines your destiny.
This race is about people versus money. We've got people, they've got money. It's time we acknowledge that not all Democrats are the same. That a Democrat who takes corporate money, profits off foreclosure, doesn't live here, doesn't send his kids to our schools, doesn't drink our water or breathe our air cannot possibly represent us.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CILLIZZA: So, Wolf, the line there I think is so important is, it's time for us to realize that not all Democrats are the same.
So, what kind of Democrat is Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. First of all, she's a Democratic socialist, that's the party that Bernie Sanders identifies with. What does he believe. Medicare for all. That's a huge thing that Bernie Sanders talked about during the presidential campaign. Tuition free college, another Bernie Sanders-like issue. This one down here is intriguing to me, abolishing ICE. She wants to abolish that immigration authority. And that is a huge issue in a community, remember, this is the Bronx and Queens. This is a hugely Hispanic and minority community. So that had real resonance. Assault weapons ban, again, another thing that's going to play well with the liberal base.
Joe Crowley wasn't a moderate by any means, but he was an establishment figure. She was running as very much an anti- establishment figure.
Now, we talked about women. When she talked with Poppy Harlow, she talked about women and how this emboldens women. This is fascinating. This comes to us from The Cook Political Report's house editor, David Wassermann. I love this statistic. Of all Democratic primaries that did not include a Democratic incumbent. So Ocasio is not included in this. But, 49 percent of those primaries, all Democratic primaries that did not include a Democratic incumbent, a woman was nominated. Forty-nine percent. That's a remarkable number. Sixteen percent on the Republican side. Less remarkable.
I want to put something else out. Ocasio, she is 28 years old. Twenty- eight. Fifty years younger than Nancy Pelosi, 49 than Jim Clyburn, and 51 than Steny Hoyer, if I do my math right. The point is, these three people are the top three Democratic leaders in the House. That is an issue.
[13:05:13] And I want to show a few more fresh faces like her. So you see Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, obviously, on the end there. These are a couple other people you should pay attention to, Wolf. This is Ben Jealous, former NAACP president. He won a contested Maryland gubernatorial primary on Tuesday as well and ran as a liberal, an unapologetic progressive. Jared Polis, a member of Congress, he is now the gubernatorial nominee in Colorado and is one of the first openly gay nominees in either party. Ran as a liberal. And then Stacey Abrams, we know her, Georgia governor nominee. This is another person who runs as an unapologetic liberal.
This is not by accident, Wolf. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is a sign, she is not -- I think she's not an anomaly, she is not a glitch, she is a feature of a fight to come within the Democratic Party.
Back to you, Wolf.
BLITZER: Yes, later this hour I'm going to speak to Ben Jealous, who got the Democratic nomination for the gubernatorial contest in Maryland.
Chris Cillizza, thank you very much.
But right now I want to bring in independent Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont.
Senator, thanks so much for joining us.
As you know the senator -- the winner, I should say, of the New York primary, that congressional district, describes herself as a Democratic socialist. You're a socialist. She also worked on your 2016 campaign. You congratulated her on Twitter saying, among other things, she demonstrated, once again, what progressive grassroots politics can do.
Is the movement that you inspired in 2016 now, for all practical purposes, from your perspective, senator, taking over large chunks of the Democratic Party?
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I), VERMONT: I look at it -- that's not the way I look at it. That's kind of an inside the beltway approach.
The way I see it is that what Alexandria did is ran a campaign focusing on the issues of importance to her district. That is guaranteeing health care as a right, not a privilege, raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour, making sure that the wealthy pay their fair share of taxes, making public colleges and universities tuition free.
So, Wolf, what I believe is that what Alexandria did is not only focus on the right issues, she also ran a strong grassroots campaign. And despite being outspent 10-1, she won a pretty strong victory.
We are seeing that type of effort all across this country. You mentioned Ben Jealous in Maryland. Ben took on much of the Democratic establishment in Maryland. He ended up winning by ten points last night. Also talking about exactly the same issues that Alexandria talked about.
Bottom line is, all over this country, people are asking themselves, how does it happen? You got three people in this country who own more wealth than the bottom half of the American people. How does it happen that you have a political and economic system dominated by big money while the middle class continues to struggles. Unemployment is low in America right now and yet still median wages are going down for the average worker. So the American people are demanding a government that looks like them, that represents them and not just the wealthy and the powerful. That's what I'll be curious about.
BERMAN: And I'm just curious -- just curious that you agree with her that ICE, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, should be abolished?
SANDERS: I think that this disastrous immigration policy should be abolished. I happen to have voted against ICE, the formation of ICE, back in 2002. What you have right now is an immigration policy that I think most Americans understand is not what this country is about. You don't rip little children away from the arms of their mother. You don't leave 1.8 million kids eligible for DACA subject to deportation.
So whether you abolish ICE or not is not the major issue. The major issue is having an immigration system which is effective, which means comprehensive immigration reform, it means protecting the DACA people, it means move to citizenship for the 10 million people who are undocumented. That, by the way, Wolf, is not what Bernie Sanders believes, that's what the American people believe and want to see happen.
BLITZER: She also, as you know, called for President Trump's impeachment. Are you on the same side on that issue with her?
SANDERS: Again -- again, you know, there are people who feel that that's -- I'm a member of the United States Senate. I'm going to have to be -- if impeachment proceedings go forward, I'm going to be judging on that. So it's premature to me to be calling for his impeachment.
Second of all, we have the Mueller investigation, which is ongoing. And I think it will be, from my perspective, jumping the gun.
But you see, all of those issues, whether it's ICE, whether it's the impeachment, that's media stuff, Wolf. The real issue is, you've got a middle class that is struggling, candidates who speak to the needs of the working people who are willing to run grassroots campaigns. And I would hope that, you know, inside the beltway folks start paying attention to that. As I said, Ben Jealous did the same thing. We're seeing it all over the country and I'm very excited about that type of movement.
[13:10:00] BLITZER: The House minority leader, Nancy Pelosi, she sort of seemed to shrug off the results in New York. Listen to what she said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
QUESTION: (INAUDIBLE) the Democratic Party is increasingly younger, more female, more diverse, more progressive. Should the Democratic House leadership look that way?
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D), MINORITY LEADER: Well, I'm female. I'm progressive. I'm (INAUDIBLE). What's your problem? (INAUDIBLE)
QUESTION: (INAUDIBLE) Democratic (INAUDIBLE)?
PELOSI: Well, they did. They made a choice in one district. So let's not get yourselves carried away as an expert on demographics and the rest of that within the caucus or outside the caucus.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: She said it was only one district. She said, let's not get carried away as an expert on demographic inside or outside the caucus.
Is she right, senator, or do you think establishment figures like her should now be worried?
SANDERS: You see, Wolf, again, you know, with all due respect, those are media type questions. The real issue is not establishment, it's what do people stand for? There are people in the establishment who fight every day for working people. I respect them and I support them. There are people in the establishment who are owned by corporate interests. I will fight them.
So the issue is, how do we elect a government that actually represents the needs of working families in this country? What are the issues? Mothers today are watching this program, can't afford affordable child care. We are the wealthiest country in the history of the world. We should not be the only nation not to provide health care to all people as a right. We should not have this ugly and grotesque level of income and wealth disparity. We should be dealing with climate change, taking on the fossil fuel industry. Those are the issues that we have got to deal with.
BLITZER: Well, let's -- let's talk about --
SANDERS: And what we need are candidates, whether they're black or white, young or old, who are going to address those issues. BLITZER: If the Democratic Party were to adopt a platform that looked
more like she was running on, including what you love, universal health care, Medicare for all, federal jobs guarantees, free college tuition, would you switch your party affiliation from independent to Democrat?
SANDERS: Again, Wolf, that's inside the beltway stuff. The fact is -- I mean what -- the real question that you asked me is, if candidates run on those issues, are they going to win? And, you know what, I think they will win. Let us never forget that in 2014, the last midterm elections we had, we had the lowest voter turnout since World War II. Over 60 percent of the American people didn't vote. If Democrats are going to run and win, what they need to do is engage people, grow the voter turnout and you do that by running on the issues that Alexandria ran on, that Ben Jealous ran on and that I run on. I think that is the future of the Democratic Party.
BLITZER: Let me quickly get your reaction to what the Supreme Court has just decided, and the president just tweeted about it, as well. Let me read to you his tweet on this union issue. The Supreme Court rules in favor of non-union workers who are now, as an example, able to support a candidate of his or her choice without having those who control the union deciding for them. Big loss for the coffers of the Democrats.
Democratic Congressman Adam Smith, he reacted by saying, I'll read to you what he said, the Supreme Court is no longer a judicial body, it is an arm of the Republican Party. Every decision they've made has simply been a rubber stamp for the Republican agenda. That's Congressman Adam Smith.
You, of course, have fought to expand union rights your whole life. Do you agree with Congressman Smith, that the United States Supreme Court is now just an arm of the Republican Party, given all these 5-4 decisions?
SANDERS: Well, there is a reason why, under Obama, the Republicans worked day and night to block Obama's ability to support -- to appoint a Supreme Court justice, because the Supreme Court is very important. It is no great secret that you now have five conservative members of the Supreme Court who, decision after decision, whether it's immigration, whether it's union issues, will support the wealthy and the powerful.
What the Janice decision is about is weakening the trade union movement. Unions are one of the vehicles in our society by which workers can earn decent wages and decent benefits. And it's Trump, of course, who claims to be a great friend of working people, but supports (ph) this decision understands that working people, when they come together in unions, have some degree of political power. Not quite what the Koch brothers and other billionaires have, they have some political power.
So from Trump's point of view, from the billionaire class' point of view, this is a good decision. From my perspective, it is a terrible decision, which will hurt working families all across the country. BLITZER: Senator, thanks so much for joining us.
SANDERS: Thank you, Wolf.
BLITZER: His anti-Trump text messages landed him in hot water. Now FBI agent, Peter Strzok, is on the hot seat. Strzok is testifying behind closed doors today before the House Judiciary and Overnight Committees. The veteran FBI agent is at the center of the controversy over the Hillary Clinton e-mail investigation and allegations of political bias against President Trump. Democrats emerging from the hearing say Strzok denied that he was politically biased, but a Republican congressman is not convinced.
[13:15:16] Let's go to our senior congressional correspondent, Manu Raju. He's joining us from Capitol Hill.
So, Manu, what's the latest on this hearing?
MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, they've been behind closed doors for more than three hours, wolf, being-- Strzok being interviewed by both sides, by members of these two committees, by staff members, as well.
And the big headline out of this is what Peter Strzok said in defense of those text messages that revealed some anti-Trump sentiment. He said that he was not politically biased, not biased in any way in carrying out the investigation. And there was a text that got a lot of attention about him wanting to, quote, stop Donald Trump. He said that was just an intimate exchange between an intimate friend, defending what he said here. Democrats saying that they believe what he had to say. Republicans, not so much.
Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RAJU: What's been your impression so far?
REP. RAJA KRISHNAMOORTHI (D), ILLINOIS: Well, my impression and my feeling is that it's been a feisty, tense exchange all day. And I think there's a lot of interpretation going on of different words and different statements. And I think that overall I remain where I was before, which is, I just don't see the evidence of a conspiracy to, you know, handle this Hillary Clinton investigation in a political way.
REP. MARK MEADOWS (R), NORTH CAROLINA: Yes, there is new information that was not included in the IG's report.
RAJU: About what -- about what top -- about what topic?
MEADOWS: Obviously I can't -- Manu, I appreciate you asking that, and you're a good reporter to ask that, but I can't get into the specifics of that.
(END VIDEO CLIP) BLITZER: And Meadows said that he does not believe the notion that he's not biased, no matter what Peter Strzok is saying. He said look at the text messages themselves. So he is not convinced. And the Republicans and Democrats want to pursue several more hours of questioning. So expect that, Wolf, and expect a public hearing to happen. President Trump himself calling for Peter Strzok to testify in the open. A lot of Republicans and Democrats on this committee also agree. And that's going to happen according to the chairman of this committee, Bob Goodlatte, sometime soon he says.
BLITZER: Definition of the word "soon," we'll find out.
Manu Raju, up on Capitol Hill, thank you.
There's big news out of North Korea. Kim Jong-un's regime is reportedly actively upgrading its nuclear reactor, despite pledges he made at the summit with President Trump.
Plus, a judge rebukes the Trump administration over its border policies. The attorney general, Jeff Sessions, telling a joke about separating families, Congresswoman Jackie Speier of California, she's standing by live to respond.
And new today as Vladimir Putin and John Bolton, the president's national security adviser, meet in Moscow. We're getting word that the president is getting ready for a meeting with Putin. This, despite growing concern from NATO allies.
[13:22:08] BLITZER: A potential setback just two weeks after Kim Jong- un declared his commitment to complete denuclearization during that historic summit with President Trump. New satellite images of a major North Korean nuclear research site suggests improvements have continued at a rapid pace there, even though the level of operations at the facility remains unclear.
For more, let's bring in Democratic Congresswoman Jackie Speier of California. She sits on both the House Intelligence and Armed Services Committees.
Congresswoman, thanks so much for joining us.
REP. JACKIE SPEIER (D), CALIFORNIA: Thank you, Wolf.
BLITZER: Do you believe these new images should have the Trump administration seriously questioning how Kim Jong-un views that agreement he signed for complete denuclearization?
SPEIER: You know, I -- it's always been clear to most people I think in the intelligence community, and I'm sure it was conveyed to the president, that Kim was not an honest broker. And I think what's happened here is that the president got so enamored by the red carpet that he got rolled by Kim. This is a serious transgression. We should be hearing from the president. He should be castigating the actions taken, because this is a direct assault on the agreement, and a slap at Americans. This is Kim having a good old time at our expense.
BLITZER: We've heard the word from Moscow today that President Trump will hold a summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin next month, exact date will be announced tomorrow. The president's national security adviser, John Bolton, who's in Moscow, met with Putin today, says he expects the president to raise the issue of election meddling. Do you believe him?
SPEIER: I don't believe anything that Mr. Bolton or the president says about Russia and the election, because the president has always said that there was no collusion, that there was no interference. It took him a very long time to even admit that, well, maybe the 11 intelligence agencies were right and that Russia tried to interfere in our elections.
What this says to me is, once again, we heard about this meeting, not from the president of the United States, but from the Kremlin. The charade is over. The fact that Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin have been coordinating, cooperating, colluding, is probably going to see the light of day before long, and I'm delighted to hear that the Mueller investigation is now honing in on the collusion that might have gone on between the Trump campaign and Russia.
BLITZER: As you know, the president says on an almost daily, there was no collusion, says almost on a daily basis, it's all a witch hunt.
But let's get to another sensitive issue, the whole issue of immigration, what's going on, on the U.S.-Mexico border.
[13:25:02] Some statistics released by the secretary of Health and Human Services, said it's pretty shocking. He said this on Tuesday. He said right now -- he said on Tuesday there were 2,047 children still being detained who had been separated from their mothers and fathers. Six days earlier, there were 2,053 children who had been separated. In other words, in six days, six kids, six children have been reunited with their parents. Basically, one a day. That's pretty shocking.
Why is it taking the United States of America so long to reunite these kids with their parents after the president signed that executive order saying that the children should be reunited with their parents?
SPEIER: I think because there's utter incompetence in the administration as it relates to this issue. It was rolled out by the attorney general and I don't think they did any preparation in terms of executing on that order. And the result is that we have a horrific situation.
You know, wolf, I spent the weekend in McAllen and Brownsville last week and I sat with probably 30 women at the detention center at Port Isabelle. The majority of those women, some 60 percent of them, had not had a conversation with their children. They had been in the facility for over three weeks. They did not know what the a (ph) number was for their child. They were dressed in prison garb. They had been shackled. It is an outrage.
And I am just relieved that the courts have made it very clear what needs to happen and happen within ten days or within 30 days.
One mother was literally breast feeding her five-month-old when the border patrol took her child from her. This is untenable on any level. And it is doing repairable harm to these children.
BLITZER: Yes, they've got to -- those 2,000 plus kids, they have to be reunited quickly, quickly, within days with their parents. This is clearly an awful situation.
One political question before I let you go, congresswoman. A big upset in New York's Democratic congressional primary in New York City. As you know, the 28-year-old Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez unseated ten-term Congressman Joe Crowley.
Before her win, Ocasio-Cortez had complained about New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand staying, quote, unsurprising but disappointing that Senator Gillibrand didn't even both to talk to nor consider me before endorsing.
What's your reaction to all of this?
SPEIER: Well, all politics is local. And this is a great example of how persuasive a 28-year-old woman with no political experience before, who had, in fact, beat an almost 20-year incumbent. Joe Crowley's a great member of Congress. I have a great deal of respect for him.
But, again, all politics is local. And it was something that we witnessed here and could witness across the country. Most of us need to remember that none of us are irreplaceable. And the work is always done at home. That's where you've got to keep your focus.
BLITZER: The lesson learned for a lot of your colleagues certainly is, even if you think you're going to win by a landslide, run as if you're way behind because you never know what can happen.
SPEIER: That's right.
BLITZER: Just remember what happened a few years ago with the Republican Congressman Eric Cantor, who was in line for a major leadership position. He lost the Republican primary as well.
Congresswoman Speier, thanks so much for joining us.
SPEIER: Always great to be with you, Wolf.
BLITZER: Coming up, the border battle. A federal judge orders a halt to family separations and sets a big deadline for reuniting children with their parents. But can the White House actually pull it off?
And the police officer who shot and unarmed teenager just hours after being sworn in is now charged with criminal homicide. We have new details about what happened. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)