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tv   CNN Tonight With Don Lemon  CNN  February 21, 2020 7:00pm-8:00pm PST

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any perceived dissent? those who swore an oath be chilled into silence no matter what they see or hear? be on the lookout. thank you for watching. "cnn tonight" with d. lemon starts right now. >> be on the lookout. you ain't seen nothing yet. it will get worse. >> maybe, maybe not. >> really? come on. he's em boldened. >> he is. he's been set free. your party won't do anything to check you. he doesn't even have to think twice. look what he did with the intelligence briefing to congress. he didn't even wait long enough to hear about sanders. there is a legitimate question. if he knew a month ago was he allowed to talk? i wonder why we didn't hear anything. >> he said it was intelligence he didn't want to say anything. listen, i don't know. why didn't he say anything? >> i don't know. it's good to know. >> it would have been good to
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know a month ago. >> exactly right. >> loyalty test. this is out of voeld mort. are you with us or not. it's not supposed to be about that. >> when they came after this person i didn't say anything and that person. and that person. finally nobody left. >> you know who will be there when they come for you. >> not you. >> the vanilla gorilla. >> you know what, i'm not going to deny that. vanilla gorilla is right. the color purple. you shol is ugly. >> my beauty is on the inside. >> boy, bye. this is "cnn tonight." i'm don lemon. thank you for joining us. so, here we are on the eve of the all important nevada caucus.
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just hours away from what could be a make or break vote for the democrats vying to run against the president. and we are learning tonight that russia is not just interfering in our election to help this president. we just talked about this. they're interfering to help sanders and create chaos in the race. >> here's the message. to russia, stay out of the american elections. and what they are doing the ugly thing they are doing, and i have seen some of their tweets and stuff. they try to divide us up. that's what they did in 2016. that is what they're doing. trying to cause chaos and hatred in america. >> sanders says his campaign was briefed about at month ago on efforts to help him. and implies the news of the briefing was leaked to hurt his campaign.
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>> how do you think it came out now? >> i'll let you guess about the nevada caucus. the "washington post"? good friends. >> i'll ask about that later on. stay tuned. as much as this president doesn't want to admit it, doesn't want you to think about russia, it sure looks like things are working out just the way vladimir putin wants them to. so, let's not forget that robert mueller included russian e-mails like this one have february 2016. quote main idea, use any opportunity to criticize hillary clinton and the rest. except sanders and trump. we support them. it was just yesterday we learned about that intel briefing to congress warning that russia is sper fearing in our intersection right now.
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with the goal of helping trump. a source telling cnn what the president was really frustrated about was his fear that adam schiff could use that intel against him politically. now white house official says the president has been briefed on russia attempt to help senator sanders. we don't know exactly when that briefing took place. listen to this. this from the president today talking about russia efforts on his own behalf. >> i was told a week ago they're trying to tart start a rumor. it's disinformation. that's the only thing they're good at. they get nothing done. do nothing democrats. putin wants to make sure i get elected. listen to this. doesn't he want to see who the democrats will be? wouldn't he rather have bernie? >> the president sure does mention sanders a lot, doesn't he? you have to wonder where putin is the only one who wants to see
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sanders as a democratic nominee. running against trump. >> i see these phonies, the do nothing democrats. they said today that putin wants to be sure that trump gets elected. here we go. here we go again. did you see it? aren't people bored? >> nope. not bored. definitely not bored. disturbed. concerned. worried about the safety of the country. all of those, but not bored. interestingingly former acting -- there's that word again. acting. attorney general whitaker warning russia is trying to interfere in 2020. >> i'm never going to deny that russia tried to interfere in
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2016. they tried to interfere in 2018 and trying to interfere in 2020. >> that is interesting. it's interesting that the former acting ag the man who replaced jeff sessions who was hounded out of the office by trump for recusi recusing himself from the russia inquiry agrees with officials who told the president what he doesn't want to hear. >> foreign actors will view the 2020 u.s. elections as taunt to advance their interest. we certainly are seeing and have never stopped seeing since 2016, efforts to engage in malign foreign interference. >> right now proxies geared up to repeat the interference in 2020 election. >> we are running out of time to stop them. >> they're doing it as we sit
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here. >> official after official. stepping up and saying the same thing. the russians are interfering in our election. again. and the face of all this, with russia continuing to attack the foun dags of democracy, free and fair elections. what is this president doing? he's cleaning house. purging anyone who tells him what he doesn't want to hear. the president's new personal chief his former body man, is telling agency officials he's on the lookout for staffers who are sufficiently loyal to trump. what could be an ominous note he's focusing on the state department and department of defense. one official saying quote not a good idea on his part. going to get himself and a lot of people in trouble. maybe. i think we can be sure that the purge of the president's enemies
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list will please at least one person. the audience of one. one in the white house. today ousted acting spy chief formally resigned. after an irate president blamed him for allowing information about russia election interference to be included in the briefing to congress. let's not forget he was also in the dog house for saying the whistleblower acted in good faith. and followed the law. admiral mcraven writing an op-ed in the "washington post" saying this. in this administration good men and women don't last long. joe is dismissed for doing his job. over seeing intelligence to legislated officials who needed that information to do their jobs. as americans we should be frightened. deeply afraid for the future of the nation. when good men and women can't speak the truth. when facts are inconvenient.
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integrity and character no longer matter. presidential ego and self-preservation are more important than national security. there is nothing left to stop the evil. his second in command also stepping down. and putting out a statement that you can read as a message. i quote. i have complete confidence in the work force. and enduring quality of the community. stability and integrity. and dedication to serving the nation. qualities you can say are in short supply right now. all that coming as his totally unqualified replacement trump loyalist grenell is doing his job protecting the president. "new york times" reporting he requested the intel behind the classified briefing last week and he has access to all the secrets no matter how unqualified he is. with that, with vladimir putin attacking the heart of the
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democracy. sewing chaos and free and fair election. with the nevada caucus hours away. the president of the united states is out on a vengeance tour. purging enemies list. the question is, what will happen in november? is all of this working out just the way vladimir putin wants it to? is the chaos the point? max boot, susan hen see, mike d'antonio. we'll talk about it next. we're carvana, the company who invented
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after an intelligence briefed congress that russia is trying to get him reelected. good evening one and all. so, max, russia is trying to help sanders while president is claiming that this is all misinformation campaign launched by the democrats. russia succeeding. >> they are. >> trump is buried his head into the ground. >> what's happened the last few days is very frightening. by firing the director of national intelligence, trump is sending a message loud and clear. he doesn't want anybody in the government certainly nobody in the intelligence community trying to stop russia from attacking our election again. as they attacked in 2016. telling truth about what russia is up to that's a firing offense. it was striking to me when the news came out about sanders and the russians helping him. which i would surmise they think he would be a candidate trump can defeat in the fall. at least sanders said putin has
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no business interfering in american politics and as president i will ensure he doesn't do that. have you ever heard trump say anything are mote to that? of course not. trump is abdicating responsibility to president. encouraging russian interference. this is frightening. >> do you think the russians think having sanders as the nominee will benefit president trump? >> i don't think we can say what the russians are thinking in part because the reporting is based on various leaks out of potentially congressional committees. it makes it difficult to know what the motivation and question might be and the intelligence finding actually is. max is right the contrast between how sanders responded and how president trump has responded and is responding now is really remarkable. think about what candidate trump did when ever he heard russia might be attempting to help in
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the election. he made sort of coy statements like russia if you're listening. he welcomed that assistance. he made it known publicly he was open for business. the sanders campaign came out and said this not acceptable. we're not going to tolerate it. if i'm elected the russians will pay the price. it's not that hard to get it right. it's not based on a specific ideology position. it's not that difficult to just tell russia do not interfere or meddle in our election or a democratic process or you'll pay the price. that raises the question why is it so difficult for the president to bring himself to say that. >> a big part of this also is the president's paranoia. we're seeing that personality trait here too. >> well, we are actually we're seeing it very complex game of
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paranoia. the russians have declared that americans must be paranoid because they're not doing anything to us. and the president is saying democrats are making this up it's a hoax. the net result of all of it is chaos. i'm reminded of the republican activist who want to conduct an operation chaos in south carolina. to somehow confuse democrats as they go to the primary. i don't think that chaos is wise public policy standard for us to be considering or a wise political standard. but i suspect that the president sees advantage in it for him. he's always been a person who felt that he could thrive when things are chaotic and other people lose track of their goals and he stays laser focussed on what is now his intention to get
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reelected by whatever means necessary. >> max, sources tell cnn that republicans in the briefing about russian interference are arguing russia couldn't be helping the president because no one has been tougher on moscow than the president. you have a column out that says that that's explains why it's bogus. but it's just shocking to me that republicans could sit there and say that. or have that mind set this isn't happening. >> you wonder do they believe this or just repeating the party line? whichever way it's ridiculous. look at fact pattern here. trump is trying to prevent the intelligence community from fighting a russian attack. and these congressman are claiming he's tough on russia. trump the guy who keeps repeating the blaming ukraine rather than russia for the attack on 2016. he turned over syria to
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russians. helping the russians all over the place. who never says one negative word about vladimir putin. let's not forget putin is actually shorter than bloomberg. did you imagine trump saying mini vad. he always treats him with incredible respect. even as he denigrates everybody else. this is clearly a president who has a soft spot for putin. they are returning that by helping reelect trump. >> i don't see why it would be. >> he repeats the russian propaganda and trashing the u.s. intelligence community. attacking fbi agents and diplomats and intelligence officers firing honest ones and promoting lackies and calling dedicated professionals traitors and human scum. that's vladimir putin dream come true. >> let's talk about a retired
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admiral mcraven. weighing in tonight with a damming op-ed in the "washington post." as more thanes we should be frightened, deeply afraid for the future of the nation. when good men and women can't speak the truth when facts are inconvenient. integrity and character no longer matter. there's nothing left to stop the triumph of evil. he knows firsthand the threats of the nation that the threats we face here. this is scathing. >> it's really significant that somebody like admiral who has been hesitant to talk about politics at all to weigh in. for somebody like that to write a column like this. raising the alarm and sounding the alarm of the danger of this moment. think about what we're seeing now. reportedly the president has decided to dismiss the acting director of national
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intelligence because he dared to allow a congressional briefing related to election and integrity in election interference be given to the united states congress. a coequal branch of government with over sight responsibility and legislative responsibility about an issue to the core of national security. the integrity and legit ma is i of the electoral process. the foundation of democratic system. and that's whatever that information is inconvenient to the president of the united states. politically inconvenient and inconvenient for his own very very fragile ego. he retaliates. the long term consequences less information will make its way to congress. and so the people who are tasked with protecting this country with responding to defending us are not going to be able to do their job. the only way to describe the
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situation we're in is a dangerous one. a dangerous moment. it's revealing he needs to speak out at this moment. >> the top of the show i said it will only get worse. he said maybe not. i don't know. it's only going to get worse. what do you think? >> well, it's going to get worse. we have a president who measures people in terms of their loyalty not in terms of their expertise. and for the president that's a very scary prospect. you can run the trump organization saying everyone has to be loyal to me and that's the first and only priority. when you're the president of the united states and national security is at stake, you want people to be able to speak truth to power. and what he's saying now is that the truth doesn't matter. the power is what i care about. and if you're competent and
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experienced and brave, i'll squeeze yo out. and replace you with someone less qualified but loyalty is assured. >> loyalty only goes one way. thank you very much. intelligence officials say russia is trying to interfere in the election. does the president's new pick for acting dni stand with the people he's over seeing? - [narrator] meet the ninja foodi pressure cooker with tender crisp technology. the best of pressure cooking and air frying are now in one pot. and only the ninja foodi has tender crisp technology, so you can cook foods that are crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside. you may never need another appliance ever again. the ninja foodi pressure cooker. the pressure cooker that crisps.
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trump loyalist and new acting dni grenell is already marking making his mark the "new york times" reporting he is wasting no time requesting the under lying intelligence that led to the assessment that russia is trying to help trump. he has access to everything. so what will he do with the information? joining me now. a former general counsel for the director of national intelligence. appreciate you joining us. >> thanks for having me. >> reaction to grenell demanding proof of russian interference. >> it's not a problematic. which to say this is the major thing ot plate of the intelligence community right now. and it's not at all
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inappropriate for a new guy coming in to try to understand the facts. the problem is is he going to be looking at this from objective point of view of effort to under cut the intelligence community to pass information back to the white house for the purpose of attacking the intelligence community conclusion. we'll see what happens. i'm always prepared to give benefit of the doubt. >> main qualification for the job is his loyalty to the president. do you agree with that and if so how does it impact national security? >> so, the statute that created the position of director of national intelligence says it's supposed to be someone with extensive national security expertise. there's no way you can say that grenell has that. this is a complicated job. we're focussed on the issue of providing intelligence to the
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president. it involves overseeing the execution of a budget of tens of billions of dollars. involves setting priority for intelligence collection and analysis. it involves setting policies for things like information sharing or security clearances. involves helping understand what kind of over head satellites we should be using. this is not a job that you can learn on the job. and it's certainly not a job that can be done on a part-time basis wile you're serving as ambassador in germany. >> one of grenells first hires was a former national security counsel official. form former nunes staffer. a key role in helping republicans try to discredit the russia investigation. does that move tell you anything about grenell's priority? >> i don't know him. it's a little troubling to have somebody who maybe effectively the number two in the officer of national direct tr of intelligence who spent a year
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tracing around the world trying to under cut the intelligence community. it's going to be difficult for him to gain the trust of the people who are in the intelligence community withhat background. >> the one who received the whistleblower complaint on the ukraine call by didn't originally share it. how do you think grenell would handle a complaint like that? >> it's hard to tell. joe handled it appropriately. remember the complaint initially went to the inspector general. and so grenell's ability to suppress the inspector general is limited. inspector general has a degree of independence. it's not clear he would have been able to suppress it anymore effectively than the white house was able to do in this case. which is say not at all. >> the question is though, can you do what nunes ultimately did
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with the some of the information that regarded the mueller investigation go back to the white house and warn them what was happening. so they get a heads up. >> after the white house did get a heads up in this case. anyway. because they called over to the white house because they were concerned about whether this raises issue of privilege or other concerns. the white house actually knew about this complaint before it became public. >> what are you hearing from people inside the intelligence community tonight? are they concerned. >> there's a will the of apprehension. most of them are willing to give grenell the benefit of the doubt. he's going to have to earn their trust if he wants to have it. he comes in as we said earlier with no obvious qualifications for the job. other than the fact he's personally loyal to the president. the intelligence community prides itself on being non-partisan. on offering unbiassed factual
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analysis to the president. and i'm sure there's a real concern out there that are they going to be pushed to tilt information to with hold information to slant the analysis they're providing so the president hears what he wants to hear. i think grenell is going to have a difficult task to convince the intelligence community that that's not what he's there for. >> maybe he will. you're giving him the benefit of the doubt. we shall see. thank you. bloomberg says he'll release three women from ndas that isn't stopping him from getting slammed on all sides. should he have seen this coming? it's either the peace of mind of a standard unlimited mileage warranty. or it isn't.
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bloomberg trying to get past the issue that blew up in his
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face at wednesday democratic debate offering to release three women from agreements they signed after making allegations against him of sexist and behavior. at the debate he refused to break the agreement. he's doing a 180. i want to talk about now with correspondent. this is a major reversal. >> it is a major reversal. as you said when he was asked about this at debate. he didn't want to release the people from the ndas. he said they were consensual contracts. just a reminder about the ndas, the bloomberg campaign is saying they identified three cases of nda that involve things that bloomberg is accused of saying. and cnn reported just today that according to a senior adviser one of the three ndas involves a woman in a lawsuit that was launched in the 1990s that cnn
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and other media out lets have reported on. this woman accused bloomberg of having said some crude things in the workplace. the identity of the two others in the remaining ndas we don't know who they are. we have been pressing the bloomberg campaign to get a sense of why this reversal and one campaign aid told me earlier today that up until this point, bloomberg had been thinking about all of this as a ceo. and now he's trying to think about it as a person. >> considering that this had been discussed before, this wasn't new. shouldn't the campaign handled this situation better? >> that's right. the allegations have been out there for a while. obviously dating back decades through his time as a businessman. and he was a public figure. new york city mayor if r three terms. it was one of the top issues that the campaign expected
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either the moderators or some of the rivals to ask about. and it really escalated because senator warren was very set ongoing after him on this issue. let's listen to the exchange. >> he has some number of women. dozens. to sign non-diskhloe shirs for sexual harassment and gender discrimination in the workplace. are you willing to release all of the women from the non-disclosures so we can hear their side of the story. >> we have a very few non-disclosure a non-disclosure agreements. >> how many. >> none of them accuse me of doing anything other than maybe they didn't like a joke i told. and let me point out, the agreement between two parties that wanted to keep it quiet.
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>> so just some of the language that bloomberg was using there. very tone deaf. and clearly the response is that he had on the debate stage really were not adequate. and remember last night too, elizabeth warren escalated this further at the cnn town hall. walking on stage with a contractor remember her career includes her work as having a contract lawyer and essentially said i did the work for you bloomberg. here's the paper that you can sign to release everybody from the ndas. it became for the campaign the issues were only going to escalate. he was going to continue getting questions and clearly they realize they needed to do something different. >> what's warren's reaction? >> when the bloomberg news broke we were actually outside of a taco diner in las vegas. staking her out.
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and as soon as she came out we asked about this news. here's what she said. >> it's just not good enough. michael bloomberg needs to do a blanket release. so that all women who have been muzzled by non-disclosure agreements can step up and tell their side of the story. >> this is just one of many examples of bloomberg sort of realizing what can happen when you are a relative newcomer. to a presidential campaign. the fact he has recently been surging has been getting a lot more attention. especially as we head into super-tuesday. this is a candidate and campaign clearly realizing that they are about to get a lot more heat for a lot of different issues from his past. >> thank you. appreciate it. now i want to bring in cnn political commentator. a democratic strategist.
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thank you so much. good to see you. what's your reaction to bloomberg agreeing to release the women from the ndas? >> well, i think it's a mixed bag. i have a lot of experience at these issues around the time of legal defense. it's very few companies agree to eliminate the use of ndas. for sexual harassment discrimination and assault over the course of time. so the fact that the bloomberg company is not going to use them anymore is a big step. something we'd like to see other companies take a hold of. but there's no question that they're complicated. we have no idea how many there are at the company. and what we have heard is they're only three that effect him. it wasn't physical assault or sexual assault. it was more language. he is releasing those women and
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they can talk. i'll assume we'll hear from them. the bigger picture is when you are running for president your standard are different. trump didn't agree to live by a different standard. from a businessman to a politician. i think democrats want to be better. we want to do this differently. so if you're a businessman running for the democratic nomination you're going to have to step it up. in terms of policies. >> i want to ask you, you're in corporate america. big business. these are standard operating procedure. many companies have ndas and sign them when people leave and executives leave. should that be demanded of all companies? are democrats setting a precedent that is a purity test for all companies? >> almost all companies do have
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the agreements. the way it works is essentially you leave a company or get fired from a company and they'll offer you money. and exchange for extra money to go. they'll usually say sign this thing and don't tell anybody about what happened. the difference is that when the thing that happened was sexual harassment, gender discrimination. or assault. what you're not really doing is addressing the culture changes that need to be done in an organization. so that is why ndas around these issues are so important. so for instance. no one expects the bloomberg campaign or mcdonalds for that matter to say that if you're an employee and you leave you have an nda. don't give people the password to the company computer. there's legitimate reasons to have them in corporate america. this this case if what you're trying to do is promote culture change and safety for women and
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men. in a work environment. you can't hide the abuse. and that's the piece why it's so important. >> thank you. i appreciate your time. some democratic candidates are spending hundreds of millions of dollars, others are looking at a big cash crunch. how the money could affect the democratic race. the samsung gal0 for zero dollars a month when you switch. yup, zero dollars a month. plus, sprint's offering a 100% total satisfaction guarantee. while i think their network and savings are great, you don't just have to take my word for it. try it out and see the savings for yourself. so, what are you waiting for? switch today. for people with hearing loss, visit sprintrelay.com.
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. now to the state of the race, any democrat who is in the bernie sanders or a billionaire is likely to be feeling a cash crunch. new filings submitted to the fec showed that senator bernie sanders way out in front, $16.8 million on hand, joe biden and pete buttigieg have 7.1 and
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6.6 million respectively while the rest of the pack are all under 3 million. tom steyer, and michael bloomberg are excluded because they are self-funding their campaigns. let's discuss with jim acena and mark mckinnon, gentlemen, good evening. must be nice to be billionaires. we all can't be one. tough numbers for anyone who isn't bernie sanders for michael broomberg. how difficult is it going to be for some of these campaigns to keep competing into super tuesday? >> it's a real challenge. look, money is the oxygen of american politics for better or for worse. and a lot of people made some big bets and spent all their money in iowa and new hampshire, trying to move. in mayor buttigieg's case it worked. and he had his big surge moment. some of these other folks, like elizabeth warren, et cetera, spent a lot of money, didn't get the result they needed.
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so, you know, you're going to super tuesday in less than two weeks, and the democrats' decision to move california and texas up in the calendar means you have two incredibly expensive states along with all the other states and you're starting to run out of money. it's going to quickly shrink this field and you're going to see a couple candidates have to get out soon after super tuesday because they're going to run out of money. >> talk strategy, sanders the front runner. if he performs well in nevada and south carolina, if he's flush with cash for super tuesday, could he amass enough delegates to be unstoppable? >> well, unstoppable is the issue really because that's why there was that great question at the end of the debate the other night which is would the other candidates support the notion of just somebody having a plurality, the most votes, but not a majority of vote the going into the convention. all the rest of them said no, we
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want to let the process play out. bernie's case is going to be, we've got the majority, the wind at our back, it's inevitable. but the other candidates have a say in this because they've got delegates and at the end of the day they could decide you know that they don't -- that they think a sanders candidacy is problematic in the general election and combine their forces and create a majority among the moderate candidates who don't have a majority. it's yet to play out. but bernie is likely to come out of here with a win and h then super tuesday with a lot of delegates. it will just build and a lot of momentum and physics, hard for the others to resist. >> bloomberg got in this race in part to stop sanders but is his presence actually helping sanders because he's splitting the moderate vote? >> well, what's true is you have a bunch of candidates, bloomberg, biden, buttigieg, amy klobuchar, all splitting the same vote. >> right. >> and my team looked at all
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current polls and looked and said, okay, after super tuesday, if all the polls stay the same, who will come out of sturp tuesday with a big delegate lead and right now because you have so many candidates splitting bernie sanders could come out with a 300 to 350 delegate lead coming out of super tuesday and there it's really hard to stop im. mark's right, we have to see what happens in nevada tomorrow and see what happens in south carolina. but pretty soon there needs to be some consolidation or what's going to happen is what happened to the republicans in 2016, it's going to be hard to slow sanders down, as it was trump, as the calendar goes on. >> mark, listen, for this week's episode of the circumstancs, yoe to senator elizabeth warren the day after her debate about her attacks on bloomberg. let's watch. >> we have to come together and beat donald trump. and the best way we do that is we pick a strong candidate who can speak to all parts of our party. and who can get out there and
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fight and beat him. last night was at least partly about that's not mike bloomberg and we just need to eliminate that. >> is mike bloomberg a manifestation of a lot of things you're fighting against, was he a proxy for donald trump in a way? >> in many ways. because, look, he is an entitled billionaire who looks at the whole financial world as how you suck value up to those at the top. >> and mark, she wants to go after bloomberg, fine, but is she going after the wrong person? should she be going after the real front runner, no? >> arguably, yeah, you could say that -- and people are saying bernie's the guy that's standing in her way and that's the guy she should go after. but what struck me is she had such conviction in her arguments the other night that mike bloomberg represents everything she's about in her politics. it occurs to me that had michael bloomberg gotten in the race earlier she would have had that foil and might have done much
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better much earlier because we saw the elizabeth warren fighter everybody knows is out there. she didn't have a player to foil against. now she has mike bloomberg. >> thank you mark and jim, have a great weekend. russia's interfering in the election but the president says nothing to see here. are his denials putting the country at risk? rpiece, and whatever this was. oscar mayer is found in more fridges than anyone else, because it's the taste you count on. make every sandwich count. i suffered with psoriasis i felt gross. people were afraid i was contagious. i was covered from head to toe. i was afraid to show my skin. it was kind of a shock after... i started cosentyx. i wasn't covered anymore. four years clear. five years now. i just look and feel better. see me. cosentyx works fast to give you clear skin that can last.
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this is "cnn tonight," i'm don lemon. vladimir putin's trying to put his paws all over the 2020 election. bernie sanders saying he has been told by u.s. intelligence that russia's trying to help his presidential campaign. going to talk to a top sanders campaign official in just a few moments but president trump's dismissing u.s. intel's assessment of russian interference claiming it's a disinformation campaign by the

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