Return to Transcripts main page

AT THIS HOUR WITH BERMAN AND MICHAELA

Obama Orders Schools: Allow Transgender Bathroom Choice; Leon Panetta, David Petraeus: Jay Carson Warns Fellow Democrats Trump Could Win Easily; Trump a Danger to National Security. Aired 11:30a-12p ET

Aired May 13, 2016 - 11:30   ET

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


[11:30:00] PAUL CALLAN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Is the Obama administration being overly aggressive in reinterpreting the civil rights law or is it clear as day because the civil rights law says you can't discriminate on the basis of gender? Right?

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: The problem is there is no legal definition though for transgender, is there? And isn't that, Paul, what this will force down the line, ultimately? If there is a clash between states and the federal government and this gets to the courts, district appeals court, up to the Supreme Court, a court will have to give some kind of definition?

CALLAN: Yeah, the normal thing you would see happen in what they call the rulemaking process is you would have public hearings on this. The scientists would come in, the psychologists would come in, and they would say this is how we define a transgender person. And it's really a subjective assessment by a person that they really belong to the other sex. But you can't take a DNA sample or a blood sample to confirm it. It's sort of a psychological assessment. So what does a school district -- let's use Texas as an example --

(CROSSTALK)

BOLDUAN: I was going to say if you were an attorney for a school district, what's your advice to them right now while this is -- there are conflicting directives coming from a lot of different places?

CALLAN: Well, we have an example of it because on the college campuses when we've heard all of the problems with sexual harassment and rape and date rape on college campuses, a similar regulation was issued which -- without hearings, which caused pretty much every college campus in the country to set up new panels that review rape cases on college campuses. The reason, there's a huge amount of federal funding involved. But in the end, what do you do? You're a principal of a school and a fourth grader comes in and says, I want to use the girls' room. He's an anatomical boy but he says I'm a transgender girl.

BOLDUAN: His parents are with him --

(CROSSTALK)

CALLAN: What if his parents aren't with him?

(CROSSTALK)

BERMAN: Right now, the directive says your parents have to be with you.

CALLAN: They have to be with you. But what do the parents base it on? Does a psychologist tell them this? Did they make the diagnosis themselves at home? Is he too young? And in the transgender community, a lot of people say your gender is set by the time you're 4 years old.

I'll leave you with one other thought I find is really interesting because we're spending a lot of time focused on this because it's an important civil right issue. The transgender population in the United States is tiny. Some say it might be as little as 0.2 percent of the general population, so we're talking -- I have seen other figures as high as 0.4 percent, but we're still talking about a minuscule number of people in the United States that will actually be affected.

BERMAN: This is just the beginning of the legal avenues this will go down.

Paul Callan, thanks very much.

CALLAN: Thank you.

BOLDUAN: So Donald Trump can win the general election and win it easily. That is the warning, not from a Republican supporter of Donald Trump, but from someone who used to work for Hillary Clinton. That is coming up.

BERMAN: Plus, a pair of America's top former defense officials, albeit who worked in largely Democratic administrations, now out against Donald Trump. Why Leon Panetta and General David Petraeus say Trump is a danger to U.S. security.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[11:37:15] BOLDUAN: "Underestimate Donald Trump at your peril," is the not so subtle message coming from the press secretary for Hillary Clinton's 2008 presidential campaign. Jay Carson, he warns in his Instagram to fellow Democrats that Trump can win the general election and do so easily.

BERMAN: Let's bring in Angela Rye, CNN political commentator; and CNN political commentators, Bill Press and Patti Solis Doyle.

Patti, let me read you from Jay Carson's Instagram. I think we even undersold it.

Jay Carson writes here, "This is the really bad news. This guy can win a general election pretty damn easily. I hear far too many of my liberal friends calling him a joke and acting like the general is in the bag, which is nuts, because he's dangerous and he has a path to victory."

Do you agree with Jay, Patti, essentially, saying Democrats are complacent?

PATTI SOLIS DOYLE, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Look, I do agree with Jay. I worked with Jay. I like Jay very much and he's very smart.

First of all, it's really difficult to observe the Republican primary and underestimate Donald Trump, what he accomplished is really a fantastic feat. And yesterday, you know, when you look at his meetings he had with Paul Ryan and Republican members of re house and Senate, I mean, you see these prominent establishment leaders doing contortions to get to a place where they can support and endorse Donald Trump and they're doing so because unless they don't, they're basically handing over the presidency and likely the Senate to Democrats. And so I think before the convention we're going to see a united Republican party, and that means that Donald Trump is going to get 90 percent of Republicans and Hillary Clinton is going to get 90 percent of Democrats, and it's going to be a close race.

BOLDUAN: So, Angela, Patti says this is real, but I want to get your take. Do you think this threat, this fear this Jay is talking about is real? Do you think this is more bed wetting as David Plouffe coined in election cycles past or do you think this is maybe a way to try to get people fired up?

(CROSSTALK)

ANGELA RYE, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think it's a great way to get people fired up. I think that the reality of this particular race is that there are still plenty of Democrats and folks who are voting in a backing secretary Clinton, and I think the reality of that is the best way to unify the Democrats and progressive leaning people is to be anti-Trump. Similar to some of the conservatives that have not yet converted to be now Trump supporters, and so I think the best way for us to move forward as to say, listen, this is clearly a legitimate threat. He has won a majority now of the votes and in the Republican primary and is now clearly the Republican nominee, the inevitable Republican nominee, and the reality of it for us is if we don't take it seriously, Democrats can be complacent and stay at home and that's the way we would cede the election to the Republican party. And then we would have Trump nomination. And then, Kate, I would have to move to another country.

(LAUGHTER)

[11:40:28] BERMAN: Bill Press, Bill Press, along those lines, the story that Bernie Sanders supporters now are circulating this memo that says, after California, which by the way, the memo assumes he's going to win, but after California, when the math is not there for them to get the nomination, it suggests Bernie Sanders drop out of the race, not fight until the convention, and instead create this new movement, this revolution to take on Donald Trump. And, in fact, hold its own convention and just go full-on anti-Trump and that should be the Bernie Sanders team mantra going forward to November. Do you sign on to this?

BILL PRESS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: First of all, I want to sign on to the people who say don't underestimate Donald Trump, saying that for a long time he's got a lot of appeal among working class Americans. I would say not easily, but he could win and we've got to take him seriously and expose him early on. Yes --

(CROSSTALK)

BOLDUAN: I would love to know when you started saying you think you can win because I feel like this entire cycle everyone said he can't win. That's why Dana Milbank is eating his words.

PRESS: Kate, you can roll the tape, the first time I was on as a commentator on CNN. I actually said that.

BOLDUAN: I'm going to look. Keep going. Sorry.

PRESS: I want to say on this, I think we have to distinguish here carefully between plan "A" and plan "B." For Bernie Sanders and his campaign team, plan "A" is still to win the nomination. This is a group of some staffers, some former staffers who are thinking about what happens after California assuming he doesn't win. And what they're saying is this revolution, which is Bernie's term, kick it off right then and there and the number one goal of the political revolution will be to organize to get a Democrat in the White House, and to stop Donald Trump. It's a good plan "B," but plan "A" is still in existence.

BOLDUAN: Until it becomes plan "B."

RYE: Really quick on this --

(CROSSTALK)

BERMAN: Go ahead.

BOLDUAN: Real quick, Angela.

RYE: I was going to say really quickly on this, though, I want to be clear in saying that the Bernie Sanders campaign has said repeatedly they have not seen this memo. And this is not something that they're endorsing at all. I would love, Bill, if we could stand in solidarity with the campaign at some point and their saying this is what they're going to do. I think, again, going to the earlier question, it is the best way to unite the party. I think the problem is, as we know, Bernie Sanders, while he caucuses for the most part with the democrats in the Senate, he's still not -- he ran Democratic primaries, running in the Democratic primary, he's still not a Democrat and, therefore --

(CROSSTALK)

PRESS: No, no, Angela, get off that. Get off that. He is a Democrat. He registered as a Democrat.

(CROSSTALK)

PRESS: He voted as a Democrat. He is a Democrat. Get off that.

(CROSSTALK) RYE: It's not an attack. It's really not an attack. All I was going to say is he still is experiencing severe challenges even with the DNC right now with the committees, the makeup, and all of those things are legitimate. It wasn't an attack.

(CROSSTALK)

RYE: All I want to say is the campaign is not yet on board with this strategy. We have to acknowledge this is something the campaign has not endorsed.

BERMAN: Not now. We'll see.

Angela Rye, Bill Press, Angela Solis Doyle, thanks so much, guys.

BOLDUAN: Thanks, guys.

BERMAN: All right. We're going to talk about Donald Trump's foreign policy positions. David Petraeus, a well-known general, revered by members of both parties, now directly taking on a key point of Donald Trump's foreign policy platform. What affect might that have? How will the Trump campaign respond?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[11:46:45] BERMAN: Some new heat for Donald Trump from former top officials who have been involved in intelligence and defense over the years. Leon Panetta was on "New Day" this morning. That guy has been in nearly every job in the government, including heading up the CIA, heading up the defense department as well. He says he wouldn't want to gamble on Donald Trump. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LEON PANETTA, FORMER CIA DIRECTOR: I'm not sure what he stands for. I'm not sure what his positions are. He takes one position one day, another position the next day. He takes positions on, you know, immigration and building a wall, on getting rid of 11 million immigrants. He talks about distributing atomic weapons so that it's OK if Japan gets atomic weapons, if Korea gets atomic weapons. He says things almost as if he's not even thinking, and then, you know, the next day, he kind of changes his position to try to soften some of the things he says.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BOLDUAN: Let's bring in Josh Rogin, CNN political analyst and columnist for "Bloomberg View."

Josh, great to see you.

JOSH ROGIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Thank you.

BOLDUAN: Criticism coming from Leon Panetta, maybe not so surprising. He was Bill Clinton's chief of staff, worked in the Obama administration, but General David Petraeus, he is also speaking out. What does he say?

JOSH ROGIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: That's right. This is first on CNN, General Petraeus, giving us a pretty stark comment about the effect of Trump's anti-Muslim comments. Let me read it to you. Petraeus says, "It is precisely because the danger of Islamist extremism is so great that politicians here and abroad who toy with anti-Muslim bigotry must consider the effect of their rhetoric. Demonizing a religious faith and its adherents not only runs contrary to our most cherished values as the country, it is also corrosive to our vital national security interests and ultimately to the United States' success in this war." That's Petraeus.

BERMAN: David Petraeus is a guy, you know -- and obviously, despite the fact that he left under embarrassing circumstances, left the military, left the service of the administration, as a military leader, he has bipartisan appeal. So this op-ed that he first wrote in "The Washington Post" today, it does carry some weight for people who care deeply about foreign policy.

ROGIN: That's exactly right. Petraeus served for both Presidents Bush and Obama. He was CIA director, was head of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan at different times, the head of Central Command. This is guy who knows what he's talking about. And it's not just him. What we see from a lot of military and diplomatic experts, on both sides of the aisle, from both administrations is that Trump's comments, and not just the fact that he changes them back and forth or that he seems not to be well educated on foreign policy issues, but some of his more isolationist, more anti-Muslim comments do have an affect, even if he rolls them back, even if he changes his position later as he gets to the general election.

People around the world listen to it, see it, make decisions based on it. And aside from just killing terrorists or killing their families or torturing them or whatever it is that Trump is proposing on any given day, we're trying to win an ideological battle here, and that ideological battle is extremism, and the extremist narrative is the West is anti-Muslim. When the leading Republican candidate seems to make comments that reinforce that, a lot of people within the system and around the world get upset.

[11:50:12] BOLDUAN: Donald Trump has called David Petraeus a good guy. What happened to him is basically that he got a raw deal in how he left the administration. It will be interesting to see how Donald Trump responds to these remarks coming from David Petraeus.

Josh Rogin, thanks so much.

ROGIN: Any time.

BOLDUAN: A tragic end to the life of a young man who fought to escape the violence, the violent streets of Chicago. A gunman shooting and killing this former prom king featured in the CNN series "Chicagoland." Coming up, the woman who fought alongside him to try to help him avoid this very fate.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BERMAN: It is one of the wealthiest states in the United States in San Diego, but less than an hour away across the border, in Tijuana, Mexico, many are living in desperate poverty.

BOLDUAN: No running water, no electricity and no proper shelter, even. That's where this week's "CNN Hero" comes in?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PAULA CLAUSSEN, CNN HERO: It's important to remember these families we're helping in Mexico are our neighbors. They're just right across the border. It's night and day, the difference. We are helping the communities come together. And we are teaching them there is love in the world that other people do care about them.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

[11:54:39] BERMAN: Go to CNNheroes.com, and while there, nominate someone you think deserves to be a "CNN Hero."

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LIZ DOZIER, MENTOR & FORMER PRINCIPAL: I think you ought to think about what's your long-term plan for your life. What you want to be as a man.

LEE MCCULLUM, KILLED IN CHICAGO: It goes beyond.

DOZIER: What do you think about maybe in January, what do you think of going away to college or to a trade school?

MCCULLUM: I wouldn't mind going away.

DOZER: Give me your word you'll meet up at some point next week. I don't want you to be here and something bad happens to you. I won't want to be going to your funeral.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BOLDUAN: He was an honor roll student, a prom king, a young man trying to get out of Chicago. That dream ended suddenly when he was gunned down early Thursday morning in Chicago's South Side.

BERMAN: Lee McCullum was featured on CNN's "Chicagoland," and the show documented a struggle to overcome homelessness and gangs and eventually go to college. His former principal, Liz Dozier, mentored him in the series.

You saw Liz in that clip right there. She joins us now.

Liz, thank you so much for joining us.

And I deeply am sorry under these circumstances. We just saw you talking to Lee on that show. When you got this news, this awful news this week, what did you think?

DOZIER: I thought the same thing I think every time, not another student. Do we have to lose another young person to these streets? It's just so unfortunate and such a loss of potential for our city.

BOLDUAN: And it must be infuriating for someone like you who lives through this and has been fighting this for so long. I mean, we heard you in "Chicagoland" say you don't want to go to this funeral. This is exactly what you fear. This is exactly what you are fighting to save young people from in Chicago. What do you say now to another 18- year-old?

DOZIER: It's a tough call. When we think about our city and we think of over 1,000 people in our city here to date, everyone has to do something to step up and each of us has to play a role. I'm playing my role and I think that businesses have to step up with jobs for our young people. We have to have our own communities step up to support our kids. We cannot continue to bury children. At the end of the day, we're talking about kids.

BERMAN: Give us some hope, Liz. Give us something concrete to hang on to that shows how this can get better there.

DOZIER: I mean, I think of the story of one of my students, Jonathan, who struggled similar to Lee between the two worlds of wanting to do something better, and the streets and, you know, with the right supports that we gave him, even though he had the whole internal battle, is now often in college at Western Illinois University. There is hope and we cannot give up on our young people. They're the future, not only of the city but our country. If we give up on them, what does that say for our nation?

BOLDUAN: I'm sure you can't say enough but can you speak for Lee. Who was Lee? Who are we missing now that Lee is dead?

DOZIER: Lee was a father. He was a friend to so many. He was just a great person. He was funny. He was talented. He had hopes and dreams just like thousands of kids across our city. They're filled with promise and filled with potential, and he was no different. I can't believe I'll be attending his funeral. It's just so unfortunate.

BERMAN: He was lucky to have you as a friend and mentor.

We are so sorry for your loss, and we're sorry for Chicago's loss.

Liz Dozier, thank you.

BOLDUAN: Thank you.

DOZIER: Thank you.

BOLDUAN: Thank you.

And thank you all so much for joining us AT THIS HOUR. BERMAN: "Legal View" with Ashleigh Banfield starts right now.