Return to Transcripts main page


Iowa Democratic Party Chair, Troy Price, Releases Statement to Campaigns Over "Glitch"; Lots of Suspicion about Hacking & Interference in Iowa Caucus "Glitch"; Soon, Iowa Democratic Party to Hold Call with Campaigns; Sanders Campaign Reacts to Chaos in Iowa. Aired 11:30a-12p ET

Aired February 4, 2020 - 11:30   ET



DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: But they now have gone to the paper. And they say, yes, we verified in this precinct, we can see the paper preference card here, it matches what the caucus chair input into the app, this is a verified accurate result, down to the state delegate level --


CHALIAN: -- the percentages. Then where is the information? If you have that, the question now becomes: You told us you verified accurate results, where is it?

NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICS REPORTER: Yes, yes. This has been the question sort of transparency since last night. There have been so many calls that the Iowa Democratic Party has made with these different campaigns. Some of them didn't go very well last night.

You know, listen, it is sort of hard to understand this. David understands it very well. He studied it. To average viewers, to average Iowans, this looks like a colossal failure.

Now they're saying they have accurate data, verifiable data, and it is sort of a paper product. But still so many questions about this.

Where is Tom Perez? He is --


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: He's the chairman of the --


HENDERSON He's the chairman of the Democratic Party. Where is this guy, Troy Price? He should come out and talk about this.

It doesn't give much confidence, I think, in this system even with this paper trail. BLITZER: They are going to be doing a closed conference call at the top of the hour. The Iowa Democratic Party, IDP, as it's called, with the campaigns. (CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: We're not going to be able to listen in.


BLITZER: I'm sure we'll get --


CHALIAN: Hopefully, we'll get reporting.


BLITZER: I guess the fundamental question is: At this point, why not be transparent and share with the American public, especially the people in Iowa, exactly what they're sharing with the campaigns? Why do they have to do this in secret?

CHALIAN: I think the campaigns, at least my understanding, last night, some of the campaigns were saying, hey, we need you to brief us on when is going on first before you express it publicly. We've put all this money and effort in here, we need to make sure you're communicating with us.

That's what this letter is about --


CHALIAN: -- trying to get to the campaigns information before it is recorded.

But also, I agree with you. I think there's a moment here where, if you have all your ducks in a row, as this letter is trying to claim to the campaigns, you've got to put your cards on the table publicly.

BASH: That's the most important question that we don't have answered. If this is all true, why don't we have the results?

The other interesting thing in this letter -- and the party touched on it last night, and went there -- but it feels to me like they're being more aggressive in their claim that this was not a hack, that this was not a problem from the outside, that this was a glitch in the system.

You know, there's going to be more reporting and studying of that actual -- what actually went wrong and that claim.

But the fact that he said there was not a cybersecurity intrusion, that they were tested by independent cybersecurity consultants, that's a whole other story line we're going to be following up on.

Who were the consultants? You know, how experienced were they? How much time did you spend? All of those questions.

CHALIAN: How do they prove that claim publicly?

BASH: Yes. Correct. Correct.

HENDERSON: They made this claim late last night at a time when it seemed like it was probably premature to say there was no hacking, but that's something very hard to find.

I was talking to some people about that last night. That's a claim they made last night. Not a lot of credibility. They're trying to earn credibility. It is not clear to just average people they're going to gain it.

BLITZER: There's going to be a lot of suspicion about hacking and interference.


BLITZER: Alex Marquardt has been doing some significant reporting on this.

Alex, what are you learning?

ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, it is an extremely important point. And as Nia-Malika and Dana were saying there, the IDP did come out last night saying very clearly there was no hacking, no malicious activity surrounding this app. They were trying to quiet the concerns as the questions were growing about where the results were.

We're now hearing from the Department of Homeland Security saying something similar. The acting secretary of Homeland Security, Chad Wolf, on FOX News earlier today, saying that there was no hacking that was evident, so far no malicious intent.

What is important to note, though, Wolf, is that this app, which obviously was a vital part of the first-in-the-nation caucuses, was not screened by the Department of Homeland Security. DHS did offer to screen this app for a hacking potential. That offer was not taken up by the IDP. So they never actually got their hands on it.

Now, this isn't all that rare. The DHS does not want to be seen as intervening in states elections. They don't want to be seen as interfering too much. So they allow the states to develop and screen and process this type of technology for themselves, often using local assets, local vendors.

But the question has arisen as to why no one at the federal level has seen this. And so what DHS tends to do is they offer advice, they offer services, they offer technology. In this case, Wolf, that was not taken up by the IDP. DHS, Department of Homeland Security, did not get to take a look at this app in terms of its vulnerability for hacking.


BLITZER: Thank you very much. Good reporting, Alex. All right, we're getting very close to when the IDP, the Iowa

Democratic Party, is going to be briefing the campaigns. We'll monitor that.

Much more of our special coverage right after this.



CHRIS CUOMO CNN ANCHOR: Why am I smiling? Zero reason.


CUOMO: Except that we just have been told that the Iowa state party is going to have another phone call. OK?

Now, look, there can't be any more phone calls. And there can't be a phone call just for the campaigns. Why do the campaigns have more right to the information about how a Democratic election turned out than the rest of us?

So it is time for transparency. It is time for the numbers that they say they have quadruple-checked to be put out, not explained away. Or am I wrong?

Let's talk to the better minds.

David Axelrod?

DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR & CNN HOST, "AX FILES": No, I think you're absolutely right. I think the irony of the whole deal is that they put these changes in to bring greater transparency to the Iowa caucuses so that people know exactly who voted when, and how the shifts were made and how the final calculations about delegates were made.

That was the whole rational behind it. That's why they put this system in.

But they could not have been less transparent in the last 16 hours. We still haven't really heard from them about, you know, when this is coming, why it has taken so long.

This has been -- this is a textbook that should be taught in classrooms on how not to handle a crisis.


AXELROD: So in trying to be transparent, they have been as untransparent as you could possibly be.


BORGER: That's right. They were trying to give us the popular vote, not only the delegate allocation, and that was important. I think in their effort, as David was saying, they failed mightily.

And last night, or was it this morning, when we were all waiting for the results, for a couple of hours, we really had no idea what was going on.

And in the political environment in which we live, in which people don't trust government, people don't trust elections --


BORGER: -- it was doubly important for them to say, wait a minute, this is the problem, we're trying to fix it, there was no interference here.

CUOMO: Good. That part is good.

BORGER: Let's get that out there.

At least that's out there, in terms of cynicism, which is what Trump went to.


CUOMO: And it's what the Democratic Party is trying to oppose by showing a better version of this and now it showed a worse version.

JESS MCINTOSH, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I think when the process is as bonkers as the Iowa caucus is, transparency might not be the best remedy here.

Looking in on how it all goes down, we're seeing coin flips to determine which candidate emerges. I don't think people want to see that as the way their democracy is enacted, especially when it's as important as the first contest.

So I think the lack of transparency now is a problem. I think the window that we all got into the process last night, also doesn't cast it in a wonderful light.

VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR & CNN HOST, "THE VAN JONES SHOW": Yes. I think if you're a human being who, you know, couple of days ago, thought, hey, we're going to do this thing and we're going to do a good job, but now you're in some room some place, you're in hell.

And nobody is really prepared for this level of global scrutiny of everything you do. And the tendency is to get very tight and say, now I got to go from -- it would have been OK. It's going to be perfect. Because if I do anything that's not perfect, I'm going to get in trouble.


JONES: I think you'll see that's the psychological loop they're in.

They could let us know something.


CUOMO: They say they have the numbers, qualitatively assessed.


CUOMO: Then they have to put them out.


CUOMO: Look, you're the big person with rap music. And Tribe called Quest once paraphrased this situation: "They rushed, brushed and attacked, then the rebuked and got a smack."


CUOMO: So now it is time to move on.

Because here is the thing, Rojas, it is affecting New Hampshire, the first primary in the country. Bernie Sanders just put out a letter saying, hey, I'm disappointed, too. This is the first real primary in New Hampshire.

And the state of play working on the ground there's not what it would have been if each campaign had a fair chance to say, here's how I did, here's what I mean to you.

ALEXANDRA ROJAS, FORMER 2016 BERNIE SANDERS CAMPAIGN ORGANIZER: I think that's totally right. What this has done is left, like, folks like Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, who did do really well, not able to fundraise off of it, not really able to capitalize on the victory heading into New Hampshire.


ROJAS: We don't know.

But --


BORGER: Pete Buttigieg came out and said, "I won."

ROJAS: And I think that's what's also -- in addition to the Iowa Democratic Party maybe failing a little bit, it is also irresponsible of candidates to say they have won when we don't have the results in. Right? I think --


CUOMO: How much money do you think Bernie Sanders left on the table last night?

ROJAS: Easily millions. I think from the way that grassroots movements --

(CROSSTALK) BORGER: This is the question: I don't know.



AXELROD: I think that he's got --


AXELROD: -- the least damaged by this. His people are so reliable and they react to every provocation in the environment by sending another 30 bucks.


AXELROD: But he was smart to issue that statement because New Hampshire has a deep resentment toward Iowa. And I think if I were a candidate, I would take advantage of that and say, finally, a state that can count.


CUOMO: All right, we got to take a break. We're going to stay on this, monitor the phone call. I'm sure that tons of journalists fighting to have equal footing with the information because, remember, the people who need to know most, not the campaigns, it is you.

Stay with CNN's coverage.



BLITZER: We're going to our political reporter, Rebecca Buck. She is in Manchester, New Hampshire, covering the Bernie Sanders campaign.

I'm really anxious, Rebecca, to learn how are they reacting to the chaos in Iowa?

REBECCA BUCK, CNN POLITICAL REPORTER: That's right, Wolf. They will be on this call with Iowa Democratic officials next hour and getting more information from the Iowa Democratic Party. They hope, senior campaign officials.

But in the meantime, we're hearing more from Bernie Sanders himself via Twitter. I'll read to you what he had to say about all of this. He said, "While we wait for the results from Iowa, we cannot lose focus of the fact that the New Hampshire primary, the first-in-the-nation, is just seven days away." He added, "We have to be ready."

Sanders, of course, is also trying to take advantage of this moment as much as possible despite not having results from Iowa. His campaign sending out a fundraising email echoing those sentiments he tweeted out. His campaign manager, Faiz Shakir, saying, although the campaign is disappointed about the situation in Iowa, they want to try to keep the focus and energy on the path ahead here in New Hampshire where they have suggested Sanders is well positioned. He's one of the leading candidates here moving forward.

Now, of course, you look at the contrast between what Sanders is saying now and what we're hearing now from a campaign, like Joe Biden, for example, calling into question the integrity of the process and calling into question the results.

Sanders staying very upbeat, very positive in his remarks last night, and no criticism from him so far of the Iowa Democratic Party and the caucuses -- Wolf?

BLITZER: Your words "so far."

Rebecca Buck, thank you very much.

By all accounts, Bernie Sanders will do well in New Hampshire, given the fact he's from a neighboring state.

CHALIAN: And the fact he did really well there four years ago. He trounced Hillary Clinton there in his battle against her. It is a good state for him obviously. He has appeal with Independents, as you know. They can participate in the New Hampshire primary.

But I would note what Rebecca Buck was saying about what these campaigns are hoping to hear from the Iowa Democratic Party, some kind of reassurance and finality or at least a plan of when things will happen and in a way that they feel is in an assured, verifiable manner. I think that's what they need to hear.

If they don't hear that, if they just hear excuses of things that went on last night, I think this problem will get worse before it gets better for the party.

BASH: That's right. In the letter that is obviously the template for this call that we got, it was to the campaigns, it just says that they hope to release the results as soon as today, which is the same thing they were saying at 2:00 this morning or whatever time it was earlier this morning.


CHALIAN: Time is --


BASH: I know. What is the space and time continuum at this point?

But the other issue that Troy Price has had with these calls, these very, very frustrated campaigns not just with the process but, more importantly, at this point, with the lack of answers.

The campaigns are hoping they can actually spend time on this call asking those basic fundamental questions, like, when are we going to see the results and how is that going to happen.

That hasn't happened in the many, many hours since we were supposed to get it last night and it didn't happen.

BLITZER: And 16 hours since the Iowa caucuses began. And 16 hours later, right now, we're still waiting for the results. Even 5 percent. Zero percent.

HENDERSON: Zero percent. Obviously, Bernie Sanders trying to put on a brave face, move on to the process in New Hampshire. He doesn't really want to criticize the caucus process in Iowa or anywhere, really, because the caucus process has been good to him.

But, listen, this has got to be frustrating for those campaigns. They're not able to do sort of a victory lap that's based on any real data, so they're trying to turn the page.

We'll see what they say when they have these town halls on CNN tomorrow and the next day. But, my goodness, what a frustrating result for all of these candidates and not getting better.

As David alludes to, the situation was terrible last night and they handled it terribly in these 16 hours since we've been waiting on these results.

BLITZER: People are watching us here on CNN and CNN International. Around the world., they're probably saying to themselves, what's going on in the greatest democracy in the world, the United States of America.


All right, much more of our special coverage. We're waiting for a report from the Iowa Democratic Party to the campaigns. We'll have details. Stay with us.


JOHN KING, CNN HOST: Welcome to INSIDE POLITICS. I'm John King. To our viewers in the United States and around the world, thank you for sharing this very busy, somewhat hectic news day with us.

This is supposed to be a defining day in the 2020 presidential campaign. Instead, at this hour, it is an uncertain mess. The Democratic candidates are in New Hampshire, which votes one week from today. The problem is they don't know, and their voters don't know, who won last night in Iowa's kickoff caucuses.

The Iowa Democratic Party says those delayed results should come later today. The campaigns were told to call in for more information right now.


In the meantime, frustration, anger. And, yes, this is politics, after all.