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House Intel Chief Says He Won't be Distracted or Intimidated by Trump; CNN Poll Shows 50 Percent of All Adults Would Back Biden for President; Chris Christie Says Biden Might be Able to Defeat Trump; SEN. Warren Apologizes for Calling Herself American Indian. Aired 3:30-4p ET

Aired February 6, 2019 - 15:30   ET


[15:30:00] MAX BOOT, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: I mean, I think the one line that rang out clearly in his State of the Union last night, which was otherwise a morass of incoherent talking points. The one line that was kind of bizarre was about you have to either choose between peace and legislation or war and investigation. That doesn't make a lot of sense. It seems like he's conjuring up the spirit of Johnny Cochran there.

But what comes through from that is that he is terrified of these investigations and he equates these investigations with an act of war against the United States. Whereas in fact, these investigations are designed to defend the United States from an attack that Russia undertook from us. And from the assaults on the rule of law that Trump and his aides have been undertaking. And so, I don't think you're going to see Adam Schiff or other Democrats being intimidated by these kinds of threats. And I think Donald Trump has an awful lot to be scared of. Just to the point that Gloria made, I think she's right that, obviously, the Democrats need to be careful not to intrude on the criminal investigations. But they also have a responsibility because, you know, the Southern District of New York is looking for criminal violations. But Democrats on The Hill have a responsibility to see if there are grounds for impeachment and they need to launch their own investigation to determine that.


BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: I just want to quickly, Gloria, and then we've got to go, 30 seconds and then I want to move on to 2020.

BORGER: Well, no, I just think that, you know, the Democrats have another responsibility which is to the American public. And we saw this in Iran/Contra when there was a prosecution going on. But they had Olly North testify before the cameras. Because what they want to do and their job is oversight. But it's also an oversight letting the public know what is happening and I think that's what Adam Schiff really wants to do.

BALDWIN: Hang tight. I want to talk 2020. We've got these fascinating new polls just in. This is a man who hasn't even announced that he wants to run for President. But our new polling reveals it might be a wise move -- at least as of now -- how a Joe Biden presidential run would seriously shake up the other 2020 race and the other candidate who's on the rise.


BALDWIN: About a week ago, former Vice President ,Joe Biden, told CNN he was in no rush to announce a White House bid. Saying the whole 2020 campaign was starting in his words, awful early. But a large number of Democrats disagree. They think the time is just right for the former Vice President to set his sights on the top job. And that is the finding of a new CNN poll. Check this out. 62 percent of Democratic and Democratic leading voters say Biden should get in the race. Gloria Borger's back with me. And also, Gloria, our poll also found that half of all American say they're at least somewhat likely to support Joe Biden, that is more than back President Trump. What is it about Biden? What do you think?

BORGER: Well first of all, should we say it is early. Joe Biden is a famous person, so they recognize his name. Obviously, name I.D. has a lot to do with it. But as you dig deeper into this poll, what's clear when you look at Democrats is, they want to win. And about half of those who say winning is the most important -- and it's the majority of Democrats -- they support Joe Biden because they clearly believe that he's the most electable. So they're not looking for ideological purity in 2020 -- at least as we see it right now. What they're looking for is someone to beat Donald Trump.

BALDWIN: I want to play some sound. This is Chris Christie talking to Jake Tapper about his chances -- Biden's chances a couple days ago.


JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Because you like to pride yourself on candor.


TAPPER: Candidly, who in the Democratic field concerns you? Who do you think might be able to defeat President Trump?

CHRISTIE: Vice President Biden. Because he's going to be able to potentially appeal to the white working-class voters in Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio that determined this race in 2016. And I think more than any of the other candidates right now, he has the potential to do that.


BALDWIN: Now, also keeping in mind this is the day before Chris Christie's good friend, New Jersey Cory Booker, jumped in the race. But is he right? Do you think the White House should be worried?

BORGER: Well, when you talk to people privately over there, there are a couple of names that come up and they usually come up together. It's happened to me a couple of times. Biden and Sherrod Brown because Sherrod Brown of Ohio, Democrat, popular. And just what Chris Christie said about Biden is that he is really a populist who can take on Donald Trump on the sort of appealing to the middle class and the people who have been left behind, et cetera, et cetera. The problem for Joe Biden, of course, is his age and the fact that, you know, he makes a lot of mistakes when he's out on the campaign trail as we recall. And, you know, there's nothing to say that he wouldn't do that again. But, you know, it's not as if Donald Trump is a young man either. So we'll have to see. Biden has been asking people -- I'm told -- can a white male really be the Democratic nominee this year?

[15:40:00] BALDWIN: Well what about Kamala Harris? So when you look at this poll, California Senator, she's coming up in the world here. She is surging now to number two, strong out of the gate, even President Trump acknowledged -- how did he call her, Come Ela -- you know her big Kamala had a great crowd size in Oakland. And so, we know that Senator A.B. Klobuchar is next in line. She's teasing that she's making this big announcement on Sunday. But what lessons should fellow Democrats learn from how Senator Harris rolled out?

BORGER: She had a good rollout. She had a big rollout. She had large crowds which you know the President appreciates. And she was able to as a result of this rollout raise a million and a half bucks a couple of days after she declared her candidacy. So when you have a lot of Senators competing, I think the best way to do it is to distinguish yourself. So she did it early. She did it big and that was the difference between Harris, for example, and Cory Booker. Who did not do it that way and did not get the bump out of his announcement that she did.

But we have to say, look, it is early and these are just the people who were in now. I guarantee you we're going to have some more coming in that we haven't even thought about yet and maybe they won't be from Washington.

BALDWIN: Gloria, thank you.


BALDWIN: We'll see, Gloria Borger.

Now to this stunning admission from Pope Francis, sexual abuse of nuns by priests and bishops is a problem in the Catholic Church. Why the timing could not be worse for the Vatican?



SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D), MASSACHUSETTS: And we continue to talk about issues and continue to work on issues that matter deeply to Indian country and continue to work on things that we both care a lot about.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So Senator, why did you list yourself as an American Indian on this Texas Bar Application?

WARREN: So this was about 30 years ago and I am not a tribal citizen, only tribes determine citizenship. When I was growing up in Oklahoma, I learned about my family the same way most people do. My brothers and I learned from our mom and our dad and our brothers and our sisters and those were our family stories. But that said, there really is an important distinction of tribal citizenship. I am not a member of a tribe and I have apologized for not being more sensitive to that distinction. It's an important distinction.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The President has made the case that you've used this part of your background to get ahead. Are you saying that this is something you fundamentally believe about yourself or how do you respond to that criticism that this was a knowing attempt to get ahead by using that claim of ancestry?

WARREN: So that is a claim that has been fully investigated and it has now been shown completely that nothing about my background ever had anything to do with any job I got in any place. It's been fully documented and there's no evidence of any kind other than it had nothing to do -- my background had nothing to do --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are there any more documents or forms like this out there that you have listed yourself as that could come out?

WARREN: Look, this is who I grew up believing with my brothers, this is our family's story and it's all consistent from that point in time, but as I said, it's important to note I'm not a tribal citizen and I should have been more mindful of the distinction with tribal citizenship and tribal sovereignty and that is why I apologized to Chief Baker and why I've made a very public apology.


WARREN: I'm sorry?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Could there be other documents out there with you self-identifying as American Indian?

WARREN: So all I know is during this time period, this is consistent with what I did because it was based on my understanding from my family's stories. But family stories are not the same as tribal citizenship and this is why I have apologized both to Chief Baker -- who was very gracious about it -- and have apologized publicly.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But Senator, this most recent incident just came out yesterday. Have you spoken with him with Chief Baker since this new incident was released? And have you heard from any Native American tribes or groups today since that information came out yesterday?

WARREN: So I haven't spoken with anyone since I saw this information, no. But my apology is an apology for not having been more sensitive about tribal citizenship and tribal sovereignty. I really want to underline the point, tribes and only tribes determine tribal citizenship. It is an issue of tribal sovereignty.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How do you think voters will react to this? How do you think voters will react to this?

[15:50:00] WARREN: I'm sure there are pundits who will have an answer for that but understand this is from the heart. This is about my family, my brothers and it is about an apology from the heart, an apology for not being more sensitive to tribal citizenship and tribal sovereignty, and for harm caused.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Have you considered dropping out of the race?


BALDWIN: Wow. Senator Elizabeth Warren, remember it's just this Saturday she plans the announced her plans officially to run for President. She continues to be hit by what she wrote -- that was in reference to something she wrote 33 years ago for the Texas Bar Association writing for herself, Native American. This was all uncovered by "The Washington Post". It's a first document that appears to show she was trying to claim her ancestry as an ethnic minority. But how will this play for her moving forward? Manu Raju is our senior congressional correspondent up on Capitol Hill and you heard that last question. Have you thought about dropping out? And that's when she walks away. But you know, she has whole heartedly apologized. She apologized to the Cherokee Nation. But still this continues to dog her.

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, for six years this has been dogging her -- more than six years since she initially ran for the Senate in 2012. She had a very difficult time explaining that moment about exactly what happened here. About the fact that that she was listed as a Native American during an early part of her teaching career. Last year she tried to put this behind her. They assisted with an investigation into her passed by the "Boston Globe". Looking at whether or not her issue of race helped elevate her in a career. That investigation said it did not. It was not a factor in how she ascended in her career.

But then she put out that DNA test last fall showing that she had some Native American ancestry, distant ancestry. And that only led to more criticism and lead to her apology to the Cherokee Nation last week . Saying that she did not mean to offend them, did not mean to confuse the issue between triable sovereignty and being a member of a tribe and just simply having some native roots.

I caught up with her and she said that she wanted to make it very clear to them about that. And you hear now suggested that perhaps there may be other things that may come out showing she did list herself as a Native in that and as they continue to come out. Of course, it will continue to be an issue going forward.

I can tell you, Brooke, I just caught up with two of her rivals in this presidential race Kamala Harris and Cory Booker. I asked Kamala Harris about this. She claims she didn't see it and wasn't aware of this. I said, well isn't electability an issue in this 2020 race? And shouldn't Warren and voters be concerned about that? And she said that no essentially. She said it's mostly a distraction. That voters want to focus on the issues. And Cory Booker escaped onto an elevator and said he hadn't seen any of the new headlines. So, he claimed ignorance on it. So, it looks some of her rivals will not use it against her. But we'll see how voters react when they start to digest some of this news over the next several days here -- Brooke. BALDWIN: Manu, thank you so much for that quick reaction. MJ Lee has

just been seated. You've been covering the Senator as well. How much do you think this will hurt her electability?

MJ LEE, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Look, I think a lot of what happens for Senator Warren going forward will depend on whether there are other forms like this line around that of not yet been reported on. We didn't expect there might be a form like the one we have been talking about all day today. Where she filled out this card and in her own writing wrote that she was American Indian.

I think having that visual really makes it very different for us to be talking about this issue with. It's different from us sort of imagining, you know, a box having been checked when you're really seeing it that clearly in writing. I think it really does strike a different tone. And I think, frankly, her team has been figuring out and the candidate herself, Senator Warren, has been trying to figure out for a while now what is the best way to deal with this. Because it really, really genuinely is a very sensitive issue. It is an issue that has upset a lot of people. And she clearly does not want to come off as being insensitive to these issues. And politically speaking it's something that she has to confront. But the fact that her announcement is coming on Saturday and she is having to do this is problematic.

BALDWIN: Is an issue.

LEE: Yes.

BALDWIN: All right. Thank you very much. Jake Tapper has more on this in a 2020 impact next.


BALDWIN: Nine days from another potential shutdown. It remains to be seen if President Trump's State of the Union speech will do anything to bring both sides closer together. But we can read the tea leaves, the body language, to gauge how last night's speech was received.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The state of our union is strong.

BALDWIN (voice-over): The union is also in disagreement. It was a night of standing, sitting, head shake and perhaps calling BS. For a moment it appeared the two sides could agree on something.

TRUMP: No one has benefited more from our thriving economy then women.

BALDWIN: So many women lawmakers in white seizing on the President's words.

CROWD CHANTS: USA, USA, USA. BALDWIN: Despite chants of USA, this was no bipartisan picnic. While

the Republicans felt the burn in their quads the other side seemed to sink deeper into their chairs as President Trump tapped into some of the more polarizing issues dividing the chamber.

TRUMP: Large organized caravans are on the march to the United States.

BALDWIN: As someone in the crowd groans, Speaker Pelosi raises her hand signaling to keep calm. A number of 2020 Democratic contenders let their body language do the talking. There was the smirk, the pen tap, and the deep sigh.

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand wasted no time fundraising on the moment. Tweeting even before the speech was over.

And then came the clap seen around the world.

TRUMP: -- and embrace the boundless potential of cooperation, compromise and the common good.

BALDWIN: Was the applause sarcastic or sincere? Only Speaker Pelosi knows for sure. But those who stayed up late, all 82 minutes, it was one of the more memorable moments of the night.


BALDWIN: Thanks for being with me. I'm Brooke Baldwin. "THE LEAD" with Jake Tapper starts right now.