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AT THIS HOUR WITH BERMAN AND MICHAELA
Divided Party as Chaos Erupts in Democratic Race; Barbara Boxer Talks Threats at Sanders Rally; Sanders Vows to Stay in Race; Trump No Longer Self-Funding Campaign. Aired 11-11:30a ET
Aired May 18, 2016 - 11:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[11:00:00] CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: A police officer hoping to catch speeding motorists caught something different instead, a flying meteor. The American Meteor Society said the thing could be seen as far south as New Jersey.
Thanks for joining me today. I'm Carol Costello.
AT THIS HOUR with Berman and Bolduan starts now.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. BARBARA BOXER, (D), CALIFORNIA: When you boo me, you're booing Bernie Sanders. Go ahead.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I hope you burn for this.
REP. DEBBIE WASSERMAN SCHULTZ (D-FL), CHAIRWOMAN, DEMOCRATIC NATIONAL COMMITTEE: What happened at that convention I think was unacceptable.
JEFF WEAVER, CAMPAIGN MANAGER, BERNIE SANDERS PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN: We could have a long conversation just about Debbie Wassermann Schultz and how she's been throwing shade on the Sanders campaign.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. I'm Kate Bolduan. John Berman is off today.
Heated divisions between voters and the establishment boiling over, allegations off a rigged system, accusations have been inciting violence, and we're not talking about the Republican race. The head of the Democratic Party this morning tells CNN that Bernie Sanders has not done enough to reign in his supporters after unrest at the Nevada Democratic convention escalated into chaos and even death threats towards party leaders. Listen here.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: -- that in no way is it ever acceptable to condone or to even to ignore violence and intimidation against officials with whom you're frustrated.
(END VIDEO CLIP) BOLDUAN: Now, Bernie Sanders' campaign manager, Jeff Weaver, spoke out this morning as well condemning the violence, but also accusing DNC chair woman, Debbie Wassermann Schultz, accusing her specifically, of working against the Sanders campaign. Listen to him.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WEAVER: -- categorically condemns any threats that went on. Absolutely unacceptable. Debbie Wassermann Schultz, we could have a long conversation about Debbie Wasserman Schultz and how she's been throwing shade on the Sanders campaign since the very beginning.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BOLDUAN: So, senior political reporter, Manu Raju, is on Capitol Hill with the latest here.
Manu, where does this fight stand right now?
MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: I can tell you, Kate, a number of senior Democrats I spoke with want more than just Weaver to say we condemn the violence. They want Bernie Sanders to say that more forcefully. Yesterday, when he spoke to legions of supporters in California, he skirted the issue, didn't talk about that at all. In fact, talked about wanting the Democratic leadership to invite more of their supporters into the fold. And yesterday, after Harry Reid, the Senate Democratic leader, spoke with Bernie Sanders, he thought they were on the same page, that Bernie Sanders was going to make a forceful statement. Bernie Sanders did release a statement, but in that statement he said, while they do condemn the violence, he made very clear he was critical of the Democratic Party leadership's handling of the Nevada convention on Saturday. Now, that just infuriated Democrats on Capitol Hill. Harry Reid was upset about that as well, calling it a silly statement. When I spoke with other Democrats they echoed that concern.
One Democrat, Tim Kaine, rumored to be on Hillary Clinton's short list, I just caught up with him here in the capitol. Also said in very strong terms, condemning what the Sanders supporters did in that Nevada convention but also going after Bernie Sanders a little bit. Here's a little of what he had to say. He said, "Whoever is leaking this personal information, harassing people online or personally, Bernie is the leader and needs to condemn it without equivocation and without trying to deflect attention or blame it on some someone else." Calling on Bernie Sanders to actually forcefully condemn what his supporters have done.
Now, Bernie supporters say this is not fair. The process is not fair, it's rigged against them. The system is rigged against them. But what we're seeing in an intense -- growing tension between the party leadership, the establishment, and the Bernie campaign ahead of that Philadelphia convention in July.
BOLDUAN: Absolutely. More tension and frustration and more people speaking out in more direct terms than I think we've really heard all throughout this primary to this point. Manu, thanks so much.
Manu is on Capitol Hill. He is getting a lot of reaction so far.
Senator Barbara Boxer, who has endorsed Hillary Clinton, she was at that Nevada convention. She was nearly booed off the stage. Watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BOXER: That when you boo me, you're booing Bernie Sanders. Go ahead.
BOXER: You're booing Bernie Sanders.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BOLDUAN: Senator Barbara Boxer, she is joining me right now from Capitol Hill.
Senator, thank you very much for taking the time.
BOLDUAN: When you see that video -- when you see that video, you have been in Democratic politics quite some time. You say you've never experienced anything like that before.
BOXER: That's right. I don't have to see the video, I was there. I know exactly what happened. And I tried very hard to get things under control. I basically told the crowd, you know, that a -- that Bernie and Hillary had asked for civility and that didn't help.
I said, Bernie is my friend, he's my good friend and they still booed. And I said, look, when you -- when you're booing me, you're really booing Bernie because Bernie asked for civility.
And there was no way to control what was happening.
And I did fear for my safety and I fortunately had a lot of security around me and it's true. The only thing close to that is when "Bush v. Gore" and I went down to Tallahassee, Florida to speak outside the courthouse door when they recounted the bullets. Newt Gingrich had sent a bunch of people over there to boo me down and I was able to actually talk to them and quieted them down.
And so I've never really had anything like this happen.
Now, I did call Bernie --
[11:05:44] BOLDUAN: Senator -- BOXER: -- I did call Bernie a couple of times and he did phone me back last night and he was --
BOLDUAN: So he called you back.
BOXER: -- he was very distressed about it. And it was a very warm conversation. And I told him -- he expressed shock that his people would do it. I did tell him the vast majority of those Bernie supporters were sitting in their chairs. They were fine. But there was this group of 50 to 100 people. They were not young people, they were older people and that he ought to check out to see who these people are.
And he said he would.
BOLDUAN: So, Senator, are you happy now?
I mean you have called for -- you said that you need -- I've heard you say that you need Bernie Sanders to rein his people in, to talk to his supporters...
BOXER: No, I never used the word rein. I never used the word rein his people in.
BOXER: I said he needed to take control of his campaign.
BOLDUAN: He needs to take --
BOLDUAN: -- he needs to take control of his campaign.
BOXER: Yes. Yes.
BOLDUAN: From what you heard from Bernie Sanders when he returned your phone call, has he done that?
BOXER: Well, look, I'm not going to comment on characterizing what Bernie is doing behind the scenes. I don't know. But I can tell you he was very upset and distressed. We had a very warm conversation. I'm very hopeful that that will turn into a change.
But at the end of the day, Bernie says the following, we must keep Donald Trump out of the White House. And that means supporting Hillary Clinton. And to his supporters who are grousing about the fact that everything is rigged, it's not rigged. You know, we've had elections. Hillary has more votes. And Hillary has more delegates, not even counting super delegates.
So I think we need to look at, you know, at what is at stake here.
And let me tell you what's at stake here, everything, everything that we believe in.
BOLDUAN: Senator, other Democrats have said that Bernie Sanders needs to come out and condemn this. We've heard his campaign manager come out and say he has -- Jeff Weaver has condemned the violence, saying there is no contact that -- that allows for -- that should allow for threats to be made of any kind.
Do you think Bernie Sanders has done enough to condemn the violence?
Do you expect, after your conversation, he will come out and condemn in stronger terms what has happened?
BOXER: I expect Bernie to get a hold of this whole situation. That's what I expect from a leader. And Bernie has shown that he's a leader in this country. He has put issues on the table. Hillary Clinton has complimented him for bringing these issues to the table.
Between the two of them, it's really remarkable that they have looked at America and they have come up with solutions.
So we need to unite. I'm not going to tell Bernie Sanders, my colleague and my friend, what to do. He knows how I feel. He knows that I felt threatened. He knows that it was wrong.
Now we will see. But in my mind, when he says that he -- he does not support any type of violence, I believe him and he's got to make sure it doesn't happen. People will follow his lead. And if they don't, then that's a whole other problem.
Do you feel better about the situation after your conversation with him?
BOXER: Certainly. I certainly do, because I've known Bernie -- I've known Bernie and Hillary for more than 20 years.
BOXER: I've worked with both of them. And, you know, this -- this has got to be about what's best for the country. And at the end of the day, I trust that he will see it that way and he will act.
It was a scary situation. I was there. I was it. It was frightening. I had -- I was on the stage and people were six feet away from me and if I didn't have a lot of security, I don't know what would have happened.
But this election isn't about me, it's about us. And we have to work together. And I believe we will. We have to remember that when Hillary ran against Barack Obama, there were a lot of harsh feelings.
BOXER: So I'm very hopeful that we will come together.
BOLDUAN: But you really did feel threatened, physically threatened?
You were nervous about your safety at that event?
BOXER: Well, I said that. I said that to Bernie. I said that publicly. When you have people not listening to a word and angry, their faces red, they -- they were shouting obscenities, you know, no one threw a chair at me. No one threw any object at me. I had a lot of security --
[11:10:07] BOLDUAN: But if that's the bar, that's pretty disconcerting.
BOXER: Well, I'm telling -- I -- I'm saying how I felt.
BOXER: It was a frightening situation. It was not under control. And I mean what I got was nothing compared to what the Democratic Party chair in Nevada got. And she has gotten vile threats to herself, to her family.
This is serious stuff and this is not what we need going into an election. It is -- there is no place for this in either party, no place for this.
BOLDUAN: You know, Senator Dick Durbin -- and I know you know him very well --
BOLDUAN: -- he said coming out of what he saw happen in Nevada, he's worried, those are his words. He's worried about the Philadelphia convention and what he's -- from what he saw from Sanders supporters in Nevada.
Are you worried?
BOXER: Well, I don't want to say I'm worried. I'm working to make sure that the convention is peaceful. I'm -- I'm talking to Bernie. I'm talking to his people here who support him in the Congress. They all know if we have that type of convention, you know, we might as well just say we're giving up an advantage that we have.
And what is the advantage that we have?
We fight for the American people. We shouldn't be fighting with each other. We should be fighting to raise the minimum wage. We should be fighting for health care for everybody. The list goes on. Making education affordable. Protecting a woman's right to choose. All these things are at stake. A peaceful world.
And so we need to come together.
So I'm not sitting around worried. I am actually working to make sure that we're all on the same page. And we will get through this. We will get through this. BOLDUAN: Senator, we really appreciate you coming on.
Thanks for giving us your candid take on the situation.
Thank you very much.
BOXER: Of course.
BOLDUAN: Thank you very much.
While all of that is playing out, Bernie Sanders has picked up another win last night in Oregon and he is vowing to stay in the race until the end. Hillary Clinton also picked up a much needed win, narrowly beating Sanders in Kentucky. She's now within 100 delegates of the nomination.
CNN political director, David Chalian, is here, because he was here all night as the votes came in.
What you heard from Senator Barbara Boxer, I thought your reaction was the same as mine when she said she felt physically threatened at that event. It's an amazing statement of how this boiled over so fast.
DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: For a United States Senator to go to a state party convention and feel physically in secure is an astonishing claim that she made. It was also interesting, this was the first we heard about her conversation with Senator Sanders, and the fact that she feels that being in conversation with him is a step to ensure Philadelphia is not chaotic. Clearly she thought she would maintain that conversation with Senator Sanders and does clearly think that he has to work on getting his supporters to a place where as this comes to an end they're able to unify.
BOLDUAN: She did say she felt better after speaking with hl about that conversation. But reinforcing the point from other Democratic Senators and other Democrats in general, that Bernie -- that the condemnation coming from Bernie Sanders' campaign manager doesn't seem to be going far enough for folks.
CHALIAN: Remember, Bernie Sanders himself did issue a statement condemning it.
BOLDUAN: On the flip side, you wonder what more do you want to hear? Right?
CHALIAN: We shouldn't ignore what is the undercurrent though, it got out of hand, the under current is what is fueling Sanders' entire candidacy so far, really feel that this system doesn't -- it works to protect the establishment and it doesn't work to invite new people in.
BOLDUAN: Which gets lost when it reaches this point.
Let's talk really quickly about what happened last night. What happened last night, David Chalian, what clarity do we have today?
CHALIAN: The clarity is this. You said Hillary Clinton is within 100 delegates of securing the nomination. On the Republican side even so too is Donald Trump. They are closing in. What happened here is Hillary Clinton got a much needed victory on a Tuesday night in May. This was the third Tuesday in May. She did not want to go zero for three. The fact she was able to pull out even a narrow victory in Kentucky puts a win on the board for her when she needed it. She's not completely limping into the final contest.
But Bernie had a big 10-point victory in Oregon and has good states ahead in the calendar. He's ending this on a high note. Again, this gets at so what if she is clearly the delegate math is in her favor, going to be the Democrat nominee. When do Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton start having conversations like Barbara Boxer and Bernie Sanders were having, bringing themselves together to figure out how to unwind this contentious moment in the party.
BOLDUAN: Amazing moment in May, let's say.
Great to see you, David. Thank you very much.
CHALIAN: Thank you.
[11:15:13] BOLDUAN: The votes coming in and then also the infighting within the Democratic Party, what happens next? We're following it.
Also ahead for us, Donald Trump drops a foreign policy bombshell saying he's willing to talk directly to North Korea's leader. What do Republican foreign policy leaders say about that? We'll ask a policy leader.
From self-funding to fundraising, Donald Trump has said over and over again he cannot be bought by special interests because he's paying his own way. Now that is changing in a big way. A major announcement coming from the Trump campaign.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE & CEO, TRUMP ORGANIZATION: I'm self-funding. I'm putting up my own money.
I'm self-funding my campaign, folks.
TRUMP: I'm self-funding, so I'm not controlled by all of these people that control Cruz and control Hillary.
I'm self-funding. I'm putting up my own money.
I'm self-funding my campaign. When I come here, I'm paying for it.
I'm self-funding my campaign and putting up my own money.
I never get enough credit for that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[11:20:00] BOLDUAN: So what a difference nearly 1200 delegates and presumptive Republican nomination can make. Everything you just heard from Donald Trump when he was saying, he was self-funding his campaign, you might need to forget about it. He reached a fundraising agreement with the Republican Party. Donors will be able to write him much bigger checks. And Trump will be able to reimburse himself for money he loaned to his campaign, if he so chooses.
Let's discuss with former RNC communications director, Doug Heye, co- chair of Donald Trump's New York campaign; and New York Councilman, Joseph Boreli. Also with us, "New York Times" political correspondent, Alex Burns; and Washington bureau chief for "The Daily Beast," Jackie Kucinich.
A lot to talk about. Let's first talk about big money. This is a lot of money we're talking about. This is a big announcement coming out from Donald Trump, this agreement with the RNC. What does it mean though for the folks at home, Alex?
ALEX BURNS, POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Kate, what it means is that if Trump can generate the kind of interest from donors he's going to need to sustain this campaign, they can now give checks of almost half a billion dollars to a joint fundraising committee that will then divide up the money between Trump's campaign and a whole bunch of different state parties around country that would in theory get used to fund turnout operations and data operations, the kinds of things Trump has talked about being able to run a cut-rate campaign because of all of the media attention. Media attention does not substitute for those turn-out programs the party has to fund.
This is a big deal. It's going -- it starts immediately, today, big test for Trump. Can he actually get people to write checks at that level after having spent so much time talking about how he doesn't need their money and in fact he disdains their corrupting influence on politics.
BOLDUAN: It's one thing if you can get them but what does he say if he does get the big checks coming in? This is one of the reasons people love Donald Trump, is that he can't be bought. He's not beholden to special interests. He's doing this on his own. He can't really say that anymore.
JOSEPH BORELI, NEW YORK CITY COUNCILMAN & CO-CHAIR DONALD TRUMP NEW YORK CAMPAIGN: Look, as early as early March, CNN was the first to report that Trump said should he win the nomination he would have to end his fundraising operation. Now you're seeing that. We shouldn't be totally surprised. You have to realize the Republican Party is responsible for hundreds of down-ballot races --
BOLDUAN: What do you say to all of those sound bites we just rolled? BORELI: You go back to the debate before Super Tuesday in March and
he was clear with everyone and said he's self-funding his campaign. Should he win the Republican nomination, which it's clear he has, he would have to look to other avenues. It's not that much of a departure from what he said, I think he's been consistent on this issue.
BOLDUAN: Doug, no matter if he's consistent on the issue or changing his position, which some would say, does this though no matter what fit into the category of nothing sticks to Trump? Do you think this will bother his supporters?
DOUG HEYE, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: By and large, it won't bother his supporters. This is what the Republican National Committee exists for, to help fund things on county levels, state level races, not just for the down-ballot candidates which need help because Donald Trump's candidacy threatens a lot in the House of Representatives. But to get people to turn out on the precinct level and county level, where it may stick with Trump, is if it turns out, all of a sudden, money raised for his campaign goes back in his pockets and to repaying loans he's given to his campaigns, that's going to suggest a real problem for him.
BOLDUAN: You weren't able to hear Doug. He said the big problem will be not if he accepts -- not with this fundraising agreement if he's going to try to repay himself to pay back those loans, because then it completely negates the self-funding concept.
BORELI: That's a fair point. He has been consistent since March. There's no way he said he could sell buildings but that probably wouldn't happen and wouldn't result in money he needs in the immediate future anyway. His choice is to either abandon the GOP overall and not have them have competitive races where they need to be nationwide or get on board with Paul Ryan and other establishment Republicans and form these committees. He had no choice in this. He had to do it. It's the only option going forward.
BOLDUAN: Jackie, I know we're going to talk about this much more in a later segment, but since we heard from Senator Barbara Boxer and her experience at that Democratic convention in Nevada, and she said she felt physically threatened, she's spoken to Bernie sander and feels better about it, but she's spoken to Sanders about it and pretty amazing what she said. When you look at it from the Republican side, the infighting if this continues, amongst Democrats, how much does this impact Trump other than the fact they are probably sitting back and enjoying watching this play out?
JACKIE KUCINICH, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, THE DAILY BEAST: It seems like by the time the Republican convention comes around, I mean we're already at there's nothing left but crying but by the time the convention comes around, everybody should be settled. Who would have thought Philadelphia might be the convention that might blow up? Whether it will help Trump or not, it depends on if Hillary Clinton can unify the Democratic Party as we get closer to Philly. It seems the Bernie Sanders folks are getting angrier, not more -- not more willing to accept Hillary Clinton as we get closer to July. But that lies in Bernie Sanders hands at this point. Right now, he's done nothing to really quell their expectations. They still think he can win this thing, and as long as he keeps saying that, they are going to believe him.
[11:25:27] BOLDUAN: Then, of course, you look forward to the general election, no matter how this plays out in Philly.
But there was an interesting interview with another paper, not "The New York Times," that Donald Trump did with "The Washington Post," where they lay out that when it comes to rehabbing his image for the general election, he's not going to move on, dismiss, kind of distract from controversial things. He's going to go back to those things and take them head on and try to explain them. Does that work?
BURNS: You hear about that as a strategy that he wants to explain away things that happened in the primary. Then when he talks about them, he's not apologizing or not really clarifying exactly what it was --
BOLDUAN: Explaining and apologizing, two different things.
BURNS: For people really offended by some things he said about women, about Hispanics and immigrants in general, it's hard to say how re- litigating those issues the same way he did the first time is an effective way to move on from them. I think in general there's a big risk in trying to read into his day-to-day actions, some kind of long term strategy. Is he going to end the next two weeks every day talking to a constituency group? That's not something we've ever seen him try.
BOLDUAN: Nothing conventional about.
Guys, got to end it there. Great to see you all.
Councilman, Alex, Doug, Jackie, thank you very, very much.
BOLDUAN: Coming up for us, Donald Trump thinks he's the man to stop North Korea's nuclear program, even opening the door very recently to direct talks with Kim Jong-Un. What top Republican intelligence experts have to say about that.
Plus, breaking news. The head of America's intelligence revealing presidential campaigns have been under cyber attack. Hear who may be behind them and what it means.