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Russian Probe After a Year; Biden on Son's Legacy; Democrats in 2020. Aired 8:30-9a ET

Aired February 7, 2018 - 08:30   ET

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


[08:30:00] REP. JIM JORDAN (R), OHIO: Court to get a warrant to spy on an American associated with the other campaign. You're exactly right. I think that undermines the rule of law and that's what I'm concerned about.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Right. And it just has to match the facts. And right now we don't know that.

But, Jim Jordan, I know this, every time out, I can count on you to make the case. Thanks for being here.

JORDAN: You bet, Chris. Thanks.

CUOMO: Alisyn.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: OK, so, where does the Russia investigation stand a year after it began? Carl Bernstein is here. He's going to bring us up to speed, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CAMEROTA: We cover new revelations in the Russia investigation seemingly every day. So where does the Russia investigation stand one year in?

Let's ask CNN political analyst Carl Bernstein, who joins us in the studio.

Carl, great to see you.

CARL BERNSTEIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Good to be here.

CAMEROTA: So, one year in, how do you see it?

BERNSTEIN: Well, certainly we're in the midst of getting deep in the weeds on a sideshow with this memo. It's playing right into Trump's hands. It's not of the greatest consequence and --

CAMEROTA: The Nunes memo and the Democratic rebuttal are all a sideshow, you thinks?

BERNSTEIN: And we -- and what Trump has wanted to do is to turn this into a Democrat versus Republican argument, as opposed to being about the conduct of the president of the United States and his family and his campaign and his business associates. And he's succeeding in it, partly because the press is falling for this line and spending all our time debating this memo. It's really a red herring.

The real thing that's going on now -- you know, people keep looking, and I'm asked all the time, how is that like Watergate? Watergate is not the analogy. The real analogy is Joe McCarthy and Donald Trump. That really what Joseph McCarthy and McCarthyism were about was smearing American institutions for self-political gain. What McCarthy did, he smeared the Department of the Army, he smeared the United States Information Agency, the voice of America. He accused people of treason, exactly like Donald Trump did the other day. And it's not an accident that McCarthy's hand maiden and enabler was Roy Cohn. And we heard the other day Donald Trump speak of his mentor, Roy Cohn. Where is my Roy Cohn?

[08:35:07] This is a moment we, including in the press, Fox News, we need to look at history. We need to look at the last great authoritarian demagogue in this country, who was Joe McCarthy, and see if indeed I am right and this is true, that Donald Trump mics, re- embodies to a large extent the tactics, techniques and methodology of Joe McCarthy, the constant smearing of immigrants, of Mexicans, of those he opposes, the belittling of them, little this, little him. Go look at the clips of Joe McCarthy.

CUOMO: Right. But, you know, Carl, in the absence of a politician to fill in the role of the "have you no decency, sir" roll that took place in the McCarthy era, the Nunes memo, while I hear you, there's certainly a political play going on. You also, in the media, can't let them use phrases like, this was a secret court where they went for their secret warrant. That is a legislative body, the FISA court, and they are undermining the DOJ for political purposes. You've got to call it out, Carl.

BERNSTEIN: Let's just -- let's just report the facts. We don't need to engage every time the president does something or his lackeys or acolytes do something. We don't need to turn it into the biggest issue out there that he wants us to turn it.

What is the real issue here? The real issue is the conduct of the president of the United States, his family, his business associates, his business organization and the conduct of the Russians in the election. We have a legitimate investigation. Let it proceed the Mueller investigation.

That's the big question. Why is he trying to cover up and impede the Mueller investigation. That's what -- and then use McCarthy-ite (ph) tactics. And the difference between McCarthy and Donald Trump, McCarthy was a senator. We've never had a president of the United States who was an authoritarian demagogue before who issues these kinds of smears and lies daily. This is extraordinary. We need to look at it as a country. We need to look at our history. Let's see what McCarthy looked like and put up the video next to Donald Trump.

CAMEROTA: And so to use your model and for a history lesson and for everyone, what happened with McCarthy? How did his adversaries fight back? BERNSTEIN: Well, first of all, McCarthy was able to carry and scare

the hell out of the Republican Party for years, just as we are seeing now, by appealing to the base, by appealing to a base that was frightened, that was alienated and by demonizing his enemies and opponents. Exactly the same thing.

And now what happened with McCarthy is, eventually the Republican Party and a Republican president of the United States, Dwight Eisenhower, pushed back.

But we haven't seen that pushback yet. Incidentally, the most interesting politician in all of the memo craze is Trey Gowdy because he's saying, this is a sideshow.

CUOMO: He's the only one who's seen the application on that side of the wall (ph), the FISA application.

BERNSTEIN: But, again, it's not front and center, the real issue. Donald Trump says he really wants to testify.

CUOMO: Right.

BERNSTEIN: Mr. President, overrule your lawyers.

CUOMO: Right.

BERNSTEIN: Look, if indeed there is no there there, please tell us, the investigators, the American people, I'm going in there open hands.

CUOMO: Right.

BERNSTEIN: Let me testify and convince everyone.

CUOMO: Carl --

BERNSTEIN: It's an easy root if you're telling the truth.

CUOMO: Thank you very much.

CAMEROTA: Thank you. Thanks for being here, Carl.

CUOMO: Give us something to think about every time.

So did former Vice President Joe Biden. We did this big interview with him. And really the culmination of it was about just the journey of pain this man has been on, most recently with the loss of his son Beau.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOE BIDEN, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT: Everything with Beau was about duty. And everything about Beau was about the lesson he learned from my father. Everyone's entitled to be treated with dignity. I mean everybody.

(END VIDEO CLIP) CUOMO: What Joe Biden may be best at is helping people in their time of need when it comes to grief. You're going to want to hear what he says about what he's learned and how, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[08:43:41] CUOMO: All right, in this last part of this exclusive interview with former Vice President Joe Biden, we talk about his new book, "Promise Me, Dad." Those are words from his son Beau. But the context has been greatly misunderstood, and they certainly mean very profound things to Joe himself. The big question is, are you going to run in 2020, and what does it mean for him if he doesn't. It is emotional and it's hard and it's real. Here it is.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CUOMO: This book has a very simple message when it comes to politics. It says Joe Biden needs to run for president.

JOE BIDEN, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE U.S.: Oh, no, no.

CUOMO: That's what this book says. Everything in here about relevance, what Beau called duty, what your sense of significance, whether you're quoting a philosopher or not, that was about fulfilling your responsibility, rite large. I'm not saying you'd win. I'm not saying I wouldn't hammer you on a daily basis if you ran. But in this book, how hard for you is it to reconcile yourself with that sense of duty that he brought to your life and that you brought to his?

BIDEN: Well, look, he -- everything with Beau was about duty, and everything about Beau was about the lesson he learned from my father. Everyone's entitled to be treated with dignity. I mean everybody. For God's sake, everybody. And that's what Beau did.

[08:45:06] And what I try to point out here is, you can have severe loss, but if you hang on to purpose. And so I'm trying like hell to do everything I think -- it sounds corny -- but that Beau would want me to do.

I mean when his mother and his sister were killed, he and Hunter were the kids -- I looked up to them rather than look up to me. And the point in here is that there is a -- the American people are better than their leadership is now across the board. And we've just got to give them a chance. Whenever we give them the chance, they've never let the country down.

And so, from my perspective, I'm spending all my time -- and I give you my word as a Biden -- I'm spending all of my time seeing to elect -- re-elect a Democratic House and have a chance to elect a new (ph) Senate, to stop this insanity and begin to right this ship again. And that's what I'm focused on. And I really mean that. And we've got a lot of talented people in the Democratic Party. And I'm looking for some of these guys to come along. And when --

CUOMO: Who's better than you? BIDEN: Your father was better than me.

CUOMO: Listen, don't make me get upset. You know how pop felt about you. You know you guys represent the same things. And, again, I'm not saying that the -- the country would embrace it. I'm not saying you'd win. But how do you not run for president? How do you not, when it is in your heart, it's in your head. You don't think anybody out there is better than you and you've never had a moment in history that called for leadership more? How do you not run?

BIDEN: Barack, the president, asked me all during the end of the last administration, you know, how do you make the judgment? If I can look in the mirror in two and a half, two years, and walk away knowing I'm not walking away because I'm afraid or I don't have the nerve to try to do the job or I don't want to make the effort, then I'll be -- happily walk away for real.

And there's a lot of new folks that potentially are coming up here. You know, we didn't know who Bill Clinton was three years out. We didn't know who Barack Obama was other than a tremendous speech he made. And they stepped up.

CUOMO: One of the things you'll point out for people in this book is you captured a phrase that I heard your son say many times, but it didn't just capture how he was, you captured who he was, all good. I must have heard him say that a hundred times. And whether it was dealing with the depths of his fight against cancer or how he felt about anybody asking him about anything, all good. You make a point to put it in this book.

BIDEN: My dad had an expression from the time I was a kid and Beau lived it. He'd said, Joey, never complain and never explain. I can honestly say, without fear of contradiction, I've never met a single person in my life whoever heard Beau Biden complain about a single thing because it was just -- my other -- dad's other expression was, get up. Just get up.

I told you, I've got a cartoon that sits on my desk that was bought at a Hallmark card store and it's Hagar the Horrible. And his ship is wrecked and he's on the rocks and he's looking up at heaven going, why me, God? And the next frame, a voice from heaven comes down, why not?

My dad, when I was feeling down about myself 28 years ago, brought it over. I've never taken it off my desk. That was Beau. You just got to keep fighting. You've got to keep fighting and believing.

CUOMO: Let me ask you something else. Again, I'm not objective on this stuff when your son's live comes into play and I'm not objective about you when it comes to how you treat people who are in grief.

You mention my brother in this book. We were blown away by how you looked to our family when pop was coming near the end and when he was gone. And when I read this book, it reminded me of something. The message that you give that is of so much consolation to people about what you need to do to deal with the grief and what you need to remind yourself of and what you need to look forward to some day when the passing of that person's memory brings a smile to your lip before it brings a tear to your eye. I wonder, though, the life that you've led and all the consolation you can give to others in those times, does it work for you? Is it easier to give the advice than it is to take it?

BIDEN: They're one in the same. In other words, I'm not able to give advice that I don't believe actually makes a difference. It made a difference in my life. And, you know, when you are the recipient of so much empathy, so much support over the years, it's easy and you know what it means to give that kind of empathy and support. You know that that simple word to someone in real trouble and a significant loss can make a difference, not just in the day, but can make a difference in the life.

[08:50:00] And, you know, it's all about finding purpose. You know, it's about, you know, I -- I'm a big collector of quotes that have always meant something to me. Emanuel Kahn talks about, there's three parts of happiness, something to do, someone to love and something to look forward to. And what I learned out of my two experiences, or three experiences, is that, that if you have something to look forward to, you have a reason -- a purpose and a reason to get up in the morning. And that's the way to keep the person and the persons you lost part of you, inside you. It sounds corny, but I really hope -- when Beau said, "promise me, dad," it wasn't off of Maureen Dowd's column. She's a great reporter where she talked to -- and knew that he wanted me to run for president. That's not what he meant.

We were sitting at the dining room table a couple of months before he died and he said, dad, can you stick around? And I said, yes. And he looked at me and he said, dad, I know no one in the whole world loves me more than you do. But he said, dad, I'm going to be OK no matter what happens. Promise me, dad. Promise me, dad, you're going to be OK. What he meant was that I wouldn't walk away from my obligations. He wouldn't walk way. He knew I'd always take care of the family and they'd take care of me. But he wanted to make sure I stayed in the public arena.

That's all I've done my whole life. That's all that he did, and Hunter does, my daughter, my wife. And it is -- it is in that purpose. And I find myself doing what you probably do as a -- as a son, I do with my father, what would my dad think? I go around thinking, what would Beau think? I swear to God, what would Beau think?

But Beau was -- he was an incredibly decent, honorable man. And it was always about somebody else. Unless you figure out something that's more important to you than yourself, I think it's hard to be really happy.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CAMEROTA: That's really powerful.

CUOMO: Oh.

CAMEROTA: Really powerful.

CUOMO: He -- CAMEROTA: A beautiful sentiments you got out of him there.

CUOMO: Yes, I mean, look, he's very open and raw. And few people articulate their pain the way he does. The problem is, he's had so much practice at dealing with it.

CAMEROTA: Yes.

CUOMO: It's so unfair. But that's how life is sometimes.

Dana, the calculus for him is not easy. We disagree on something fundamentally. You were joking saying, hey, he mentioned your father, not your brother.

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Exactly.

CUOMO: Fair point. I think both of them are in the same box. I do believe that their party is not moving towards the center. It is moving towards the left.

BASH: Totally.

CUOMO: And I don't know that there's room for a Cuomo or a Biden in terms of where that party is right now. Joe disagrees.

BASH: Well, first of all, can I just say, on just that emotional moment on the humanity that you both discussed, I think that that is something -- the vice president obviously reached out to you when your father passed away, and your family. This is something that people don't realize. Because of his horrible experiences, he does all the time. I can't tell you how many senators, staffers, people who barely know him say, I just got a call from Joe Biden because my father died or my sister died or -- it's kind of unbelievable the way that he uses that experience and he tries to really help people who are feeling similar.

Having said that, just on the raw politics of what's going on, I thought the most -- one of the most fascinating answers on that point, Chris, that he gave to you was when you said, wait a minute, you know, are you really liberal enough? He started to talk about his liberal bona fides, talking about how he was one of the first to be in support of gay marriage and so on and so forth. And then he said, but you can do that and still know how to talk to working class Americans, working class Democrats.

So it was very clear to me that he had thought about your question a lot, meaning he was thinking about how he would position himself in 2020. And the marriage of that, where the party is, and where the party needs to be, meaning getting those Trump voters back is something that is on his mind big time.

CAMEROTA: I mean, of course, he demurred when Chris, you know, asked him directly about 2020 and he said, oh, well, there's all sorts of new folks coming up.

BASH: Yes. CAMEROTA: Who are they? Who's he referring to?

BASH: I mean who -- who aren't they? You know, I mean --

CUOMO: I asked him who and he named someone who's dead, you know?

BASH: Exactly. Well, that's why I was -- I was --

CAMEROTA: That was confusing.

BASH: Yes.

Well, that's the point. And that's why I was joking with you as we were watching that, you know, somebody like an Andrew Cuomo, who's the next generation, and there's so many next generation. A lot of them are in Washington, which could be problematic. A lot of young senators. A lot of young House members. You know, it's hard to imagine in this day and age --

CUOMO: Who jumps out?

CAMEROTA: Yes, give us names.

BASH: Oh, gosh. I don't know. I mean, look, the people -- here's what I will say. You have Kamala Harris. You have Cory Booker. You have Kirsten Gillibrand. You have people who are just in the way that they vote, you know, they have a big, red flashing signal saying, I think I want to run in 2020.

[08:55:11] CUOMO: But they're also huge lefties.

BASH: They're also huge lefties.

CUOMO: And they're running on (INAUDIBLE).

BASH: But there's something else. There's something else that they are that I -- I think about all the time. They're cautious. And in Donald Trump's America, what he showed, at least at that point is, you can't be cautious.

Then you have someone like Tom Steier (ph), who is, you know, a billionaire who is running all these ads saying impeach the president and he is the opposite of cautious.

Now, it's easy not to be cautious when you have zillions of dollars.

CUOMO: A big bank account.

CAMEROTA: It helps.

BASH: But I think that's one of the things to look at is people who are willing to take a risk.

CUOMO: I think you're spot on. That party has to figure out what it wants to be before it's going to figure out who its leader is.

BASH: Exactly.

CAMEROTA: Dana, thank you. Great to have you here today.

BASH: Thanks. You too.

CAMEROTA: "The Good Stuff," next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CUOMO: "Good Stuff."

Volunteers in California come together to help a stranger.

So you've got Vicky Johnson (ph), one of the homeowners that just got totally demolished in that Montecito mudslide. The only way it could be salvaged, the home, was to get the mud out.

CAMEROTA: Oh, my gosh.

CUOMO: So who shows up? The Bucket Brigade. This group of volunteers from the area, they come and they did the deed.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The true nature of this is to help out and bring our community together.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CUOMO: And that's what they did. They literally just did the grunt work of getting all the mud out so they could start reconstruction. And they did it because it matters.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They really are just heroes in my eyes. And I can't believe the amazing work that they're doing.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

[09:00:02] CUOMO: Everyday people coming together for one another. That's who we are as well.

CAMEROTA: God, that's so wonderful.

All right, thank you. Thanks for showing us the Biden stuff. Great stuff. And, obviously, we'll be replaying it throughout the day if you missed it.