CNN town hall with Bernie Sanders

By Meg Wagner, CNN

Updated 9:43 p.m. ET, February 25, 2019
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8:57 p.m. ET, February 25, 2019

Sanders praises Trump's meetings with North Korea's Kim Jong Un

Sen. Bernie Sanders — after criticizing President Trump as a "pathological liar" and describing how he is tearing the nation apart — praised the President's summits with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

“I think nuclear weapons in the hands of a brutal, irresponsible dictator is a bad idea," Sanders said.

He said that if Trump's face-to-face meetings result in the denuclearization of North Korea, they're a "good idea."

Trump is due to meet with Kim this week in Vietnam for their second summit.

8:53 p.m. ET, February 25, 2019

Bernie Sanders explains his Medicare-for-all plan

Asked whether Americans will be able to keep private insurance plans through their jobs, Sanders said they won’t need it because Medicare for all will cover all their health care needs.

“What will change in their plans is the color of their card,” Sanders said, adding that his plan will provide comprehensive coverage, including vision, hearing aides and dental care. Also, Americans can go to any doctor, dentist or hospital they choose.

Sanders pushed back on the idea that people like their health insurance, even though a recent Gallup poll showed that 70% of those with employer plans say their coverage is excellent or good.

“People like their doctors. They like their hospitals. They like the care they’re getting,” Sanders said, noting that the only way to provide health care to all Americans in a cost effective way is through a single-payer system like the one he is proposing.

But if Americans want cosmetic surgery, for example, they can buy private plans to cover it, the senator said.

8:46 p.m. ET, February 25, 2019

Sanders says he'll bring a lie detector to a debate with Trump

Asked how he'd handle a possible presidential debate with President Trump, Sen. Bernie Sanders said he'd come prepared.

"Well, we’ll bring a lie detector along," he said.

Sanders added that he has conservative friends who are honest people and their difference in opinion is "called democracy."

Sanders said Trump, however, is a "pathological liar" who "has to be exposed."

8:46 p.m. ET, February 25, 2019

Sanders on allegations of harassment on his 2016 campaign: "It will not happen again"

From CNN's Greg Krieg

Challenged by a voter to explain how he could represent an increasingly diverse — and female — Democratic Party following reports of sexual harassment on his 2016 campaign, Sanders on Monday night pledged his 2020 bid will be much different.

Sanders cited reforms put in place for his 2018 Senate reelection and said every staffer on his presidential campaign will be trained to identify sexual harassment and have access to an “independent entity” for reporting misconduct.

Asked in early January of this year about the 2016 allegations, Sanders said he was unaware of the charges at the time because “I was little bit busy running around the country trying to make the case” — a remark that fell flat at the time. Sanders insisted on Monday that his remark had been taken out of context.

“I was very upset to learn what I learned,” Sanders told moderator Wolf Blitzer, adding that he would carry over the 2018 protocols to the new campaign.

When Blitzer asked how the revelations made him feel, Sanders said:

"It was painful. Very painful. And it will not happen again.”
8:35 p.m. ET, February 25, 2019

Bernie Sanders explains why he supports democratic socialism

A voter just asked Sen. Bernie Sanders why socialism is preferable to capitalism.

He quickly clarified that he supports "democratic socialism."

“We don’t have guarantees regarding economic rights," he said, before referencing President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who once spoke about how all people need decent paying jobs.

“To me, when I talk about democratic socialism, what I talk about are human rights and economic rights”
8:25 p.m. ET, February 25, 2019

Sanders says he'll release 10 years of his tax returns "soon"

Sen. Bernie Sanders promised to release 10 years of his tax returns, like fellow 2020 Democratic candidate Elizabeth Warren has.

He did not, however, give a timeline for when he could release them.

"Soon," he told CNN's Wolf Blitzer.

Then he added: "They're very boring tax returns."

Some context:

Some Democrats have criticized Sanders for not being more forthcoming with his financial information during the 2016 primary, when he only made public his returns from 2014.

President Donald Trump's refusal to release his tax returns, a departure from more than 40 years of tradition, has riled Democrats and ethics watchdogs who worry he could be concealing assets in an effort to deflect from potential conflicts of interest. Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren has led the way in calling for more transparency from the President and her fellow Democratic candidates.

"I put the past 10 years of my federal tax returns online. And now I'm calling on every other candidate for President to do exactly the same thing," Warren tweeted earlier this month. She has also posted an online petition calling "on everyone running for president to release their tax returns."

Hillary Clinton challenged Sanders to release his returns during a primary debate in April 2015.

"They are very boring tax returns. No big money from speeches, no major investments," he said then, much like he did on Monday night.

"Unfortunately, I remain one of the poorer members of the United States Senate. And that's what that will show."

According to the most recent public records, Sanders ranks among the lowest earners on Capitol Hill. His net worth is in the bottom dozen of senators from both parties and the smallest of the 2020 Democratic primary candidates.

A day later, Sanders released documents showing that he and his wife, Jane, earned nearly $206,000 the year before, when they paid about $28,000 in federal taxes. They also collected about $46,000 in Social Security benefits.

The lion's share of the couple's income in 2014 came from Sanders' Senate salary, which was $174,000. They have more than $8,000 in gifts.

8:20 p.m. ET, February 25, 2019

Sanders: "Damn right" I'll make large companies pay "their fair share" of taxes

A Howard University student just asked Sen. Bernie Sanders how he plans to pay for his ambitious social programs.

Sanders said he will demand that wealthy companies pay their "fair share" of taxes in order to fund programs like his proposed Medicare-for-all.

"Health care is a right, making sure our kids get a higher eduction is a right ... that's going to cost money," he said.

"Am I going to demand that the wealthy and large corporations start paying their fair share of taxes? Damn right I will."

8:08 p.m. ET, February 25, 2019

Sanders pledges to support the Democratic nominee — no matter who it is

Sen. Bernie Sanders said President Trump "must be defeated" in 2020, adding that he hopes all Democratic voters will support whoever the eventual nominee is.

“I pledge certainly to do that," Sanders said. "Trump has got be be defeated."

He said President Trump is trying to divide the American people.

7:55 p.m. ET, February 25, 2019

We're minutes away from the CNN town hall with Bernie Sanders

CNN town hall with Bernie Sanders is scheduled to start in just 5 minutes. The Vermont senator will be answering voters' questions starting at 8 p.m. ET.

Here's a look inside the room: