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President Trump's Former Doorman Reportedly Paid to Keep Silent about Alleged Secret Affair with Housekeeper; President Trump Tweets Criticism of Attorney General Jeff Sessions; Prospect of Impeachment of President Trump Examined; Pope Francis Visits Dublin, Ireland; Democrat National Committee Votes to End Superdelegate Voting on First Ballot of Presidential Primary. Aired 2-3p ET

Aired August 25, 2018 - 14:00   ET

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


[14:00:00] FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: And now CNN has exclusive reporting on a former Trump doorman making accusations about the president's past involving an alleged secret affair with a former housekeeper. CNN White House reporter Sarah Westwood is standing by at the White House for us. So Sarah, there is a lot on the plate of the White House. What's the response today besides the tweets?

SARAH WESTWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Fred, we haven't heard much from the president about what could be another potential legal issue facing the president after he's already endured a week of them. His doorman is now claiming to have knowledge of an alleged affair President Trump had years ago with his former housekeeper. He claims that relationship produced a child.

And while the existence of those allegations were first made known in April, we're only now learning about a deal this doorman entered into with AMI, American Media Inc., that's the parent company of the "National Enquirer." CNN has obtained a copy of this deal. AMI paid Trump's former doorman $30,000 during the election to stay silent about the story. But the doorman would owe AMI $1 million if he made public these allegations against Trump.

AMI has now released the doorman from that confidentiality agreement as the company comes under intense scrutiny from investigators looking into the way this company participated in a series of alleged cover- ups in the 2016 election. Michael Cohen, President Trump's former attorney, has pleaded guilty to paying two women using AMI to suppress their allegations of alleged affairs during the 2016 election. And David Pecker, chairman of AMI, has been granted immunity by investigators to talk about these deals.

With this investigation that is being aired by the doorman, the implications for Trump more broadly speaking could be more important than the allegation itself because, Fred, it raises the question about how many other individuals may have been paid during the campaign to keep their allegations silent.

WHITFIELD: Sarah Westwood, keep us posted, there from the White House, thanks so much.

So this feud between President Trump and the U.S. attorney general, Jeff Sessions, that is escalating. The president now responding to Sessions' pushing back this week that the Department of Justice will not be influenced by politics. Trump wrote this, "Jeff Sessions said he wouldn't allow politics to influence him only because he doesn't understand what is happening underneath his command position. Highly conflicted Bob Mueller and his gang of 17 angry Dems are having a field day as real corruption goes untouched. No collusion."

CNN politics reporter Jeremy Herb is joining me right now. So this feud is really escalating as well. So what does this say about Sessions and his ability to push back? And this just continues to go on between the two.

JEREMY HERB, CNN POLITICS REPORTER: Yes, that's right. We've heard these criticisms from the president of his attorney general for the better part of the year, but I think there are two key developments this week that may hold clues to Sessions' fate. The first is just how forcefully he pushed back against the president after the president said that Sessions never took control of the Justice Department. Sessions issued a rare statement saying that he took control on day one and also that he wouldn't be influenced by political considerations.

The other key part of this equation is on Capitol Hill where the Senate would potentially have to confirm a replacement should Sessions be fired. Last year when this was all going on, the president was criticizing Sessions, Lindsey Graham said there would be holy hell to pay if Sessions were fired. This week, though, he struck a decidedly different tone. Listen here.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM, (R) SOUTH CAROLINA: Clearly, Attorney General Sessions doesn't have the confidence of the president. That's an important office in the country. And after the election I think there will be some seriously discussions about a new attorney general.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HERB: Another key Republican Senator, Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley, also said this week that he would have the time to hold confirmation hearings should he need to do that. The same time there have been several key senators, like John Cornyn, the Senate's number two Republican, who said they don't think anyone can be confirmed by the Senate in the current climate. So this is a question I think we're going to have to be put on hold at least until after the midterms, Fred.

WHITFIELD: Jeremy Herb, we'll see if the president even cares to consult the members of Congress on what would work or not. Thanks so much, Jeremy.

HERB: Thank you.

WHITFIELD: Let's talk about all of this. Here with me now, a CNN legal political commentator, Ken Cuccinelli. Good to see you. So these attacks on the attorney general coming once again on the heels of some of Trump's biggest allies cooperating with the Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation, something Sessions, we all know, has recused himself from. But if Sessions was fired by the president, would that give Mueller ammunition to bring obstruction of justice charges?

[14:05:05] KEN CUCCINELLI, CNN LEGAL AND POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: No. Sessions recusal has gone, this is not widely known, his recusal has been much broader than anything suggested by the regulation in which the special counsel is operating under. So there's no real claim that he's involved in it. Frankly, the president's frustration is that he's not involved in it.

And I also agree with the earlier comment that no one, and this just speaks to the politics of the Senate right now, not the president or Attorney General Sessions, no one could get through that process right now. No one could get the 50 votes plus the vice president that would be needed to be confirmed. Literally, you couldn't name a person who could pull that off.

WHITFIELD: But does anyone believe that that is of a concern for the president, that his would be an emotional response? He is frustrated, he is angry at his attorney general for not protecting him, and his firing really has very little to do with him thinking down the line about the confirmation of somebody else and really more of a response of his disappointment with Sessions, right?

CUCCINELLI: Well, think of it this way. The decision to fire Attorney General Sessions would mean that the acting attorney general for the foreseeable future would be Rod Rosenstein who this president has expressed greater frustration with than the attorney general. So I don't see that happening.

And look, we've seen -- I don't think this is new. We've seen bouts of frustration by the president with the attorney general. The attorney general has taken a very hands-off approach to the Russia investigation. You note the president in his tweet said, no collusion, and he's right. So far there's no evidence of any collusion. Certainly, the Russians meddled in the election, but no collusion. And that is where his frustration really lies is that that continues on without resolution.

WHITFIELD: Right, that we know of, no collusion. It hasn't been revealed in any fashion thus far. But, the personal attorney --

CUCCINELLI: But this has gone on longer than Watergate with no evidence.

WHITFIELD: An investigation is going to take as long as it has to take. I think all these former prosecutors and attorneys will tell you that it's just going to take as long as it's going to take. And that Rudy Giuliani, personal attorney of Donald Trump, is giving almost like an ultimatum. Get it over with in the next 60 days or so or get it done before the November midterms, and that way, in the view of Giuliani, Mueller will show that he is not being partisan. Is that a reasonable challenge to even make? CUCCINELLI: I think that if that is going to happen, and there are no

signs of it, it would happen before Labor Day. The Department of Justice and whatever people think about Mueller's approach to various aspects of this, he has not really defied general policies of the Department of Justice. And one of them is to not take action in front of the election. And that typically means from Labor Day to Election Day. One of the reasons the Democrats were so infuriated, and with some legitimacy, about the pop, if you will, by Jim Comey, weeks before the election on Hillary Clinton, is that it violated that policy. And that was part of why it was such a surprise.

WHITFIELD: But that isn't really an argument that could hold any water in this case because the investigation has been going on for so long, and that it continues in the midst of the midterm elections is really immaterial, though.

CUCCINELLI: Yes. Well, that isn't how they operate, though. The way they traditionally operate is that once you get past Labor Day, we won't see any major action taken before the election. That's the expectation. That's the expectation that Mueller operates under. So far similar expectations he's abided by.

WHITFIELD: So it's being argued is the investigation would be put on hold for a couple months and then resume after the midterm election?

CUCCINELLI: No, just nothing -- no public steps. No indictments, no advanced trials, no plea agreements, nothing, including not closing the investigation until after Election Day. And the idea is to maintain the status quo for the two months before the election.

WHITFIELD: But the president's not on the ballot.

CUCCINELLI: I understand that. Right, but we both know this all affects the election. It's been a major subject of discussion. And frankly, impeachment is one of the elements that a lot of the Democrats are running on. So, I still expect that policy to be respected.

Now, mind you, I would rather see action taken because I think on the Russian collusion front, the only action that is going to come related to the president is that there's going to be an acknowledgment there was no collusion even though there was meddling by the Russians.

[14:10:05] WHITFIELD: Ken Cuccinelli, thanks so much.

Still ahead, the president arguing against his own impeachment, saying that if he's kicked out of office, the stock market will plunge and, quote, everybody would be very poor. Is that a real concern facing investors?

Plus, the Pope is set to address thousands of Catholics this hour in Ireland after referring to the church sex abuse scandal as a failure. What are the faithful looking to hear from the holy father?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) WHITFIELD: All right, towards the end of this explosive week of news coverage, the president found himself arguing against his own impeachment. Listen to what he told FOX News.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'll tell you what, if I ever got impeached, I think the market would crash. I think everybody would be very poor, because without this thinking, you would see -- you would see numbers that you wouldn't believe in reverse.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

[14:15:10] WHITFIELD: CNN's senior economics analyst Stephen Moore is joining me right now to discuss. So how much of that do you agree with? Trump says everyone would be poor.

STEPHEN MOORE, CNN SENIOR ECONOMICS ANALYST: Hi, Fredericka. I think we have to start with the truism that the market sure has liked Donald Trump in the White House. Since the day, remember, that day after the election, the market went up 700 points, and it's been on a nice ride ever since. Stocks and equities are up 40 percent since Election Day. So that is about $5 trillion to $6 trillion increase in wealth.

WHITFIELD: So that is after inauguration. Then what about talk of or a potential for impeachment?

MOORE: So my point is that these policies that Trump has been putting in place are very pro-market and pro-investor. And if we had -- look, I don't think impeachment is going to happen. I think the possibilities are pretty remote. But if it happens --

WHITFIELD: But he brought it up. He brought it up, and he said if the scenario is such, everyone will be poor.

MOORE: No, no, no. So what I'm saying if we did start to go through this impeachment process, I think it would be negative for the markets. I think it distracts from -- it distracts from Trump's ability to move forward with a lot of the agenda that's unfinished, whether it's an infrastructure bill, whether it's immigration reform, which is a trade agenda, transportation, all these issues still need to be resolved. And it could of would grind the legislative process to a halt. So I think on balance it would be a negative thing.

Now, once of the things I would like to mention, Fredricka, if I may, I'm old enough to remember, as I think you are, when Bill Clinton was under impeachment. And the -- it was interesting, by the way, the market had been on a whirlwind, upward climb during Bill Clinton's presidency, especially in the last few years.

WHITFIELD: It didn't take a sizable hit.

MOORE: And the market did not fall during that impeachment process. And I would make a further point, which is one of the reasons Republicans got nowhere with impeachment under Bill Clinton is because the economy was doing so well. The stock market was roaring and people said, why do we want to remove this guy? The economy is doing great, he's doing a great job. And I think that would be the reaction of a lot of Americans under Donald Trump as well.

WHITFIELD: You see the economy has being a potential deterrent to any action of impeachment here?

MOORE: No, not necessarily. What I am saying, though, is when things are going so well right now, and by the way, the report just came out a couple days ago that the economy is so far this quarter growing at 4.5 percent. That's a very, very rapid rate of growth. I'm just saying, is this the right time to be pursuing the impeachment of a president who ahs done, when it comes to the economy, a phenomenal job?

WHITFIELD: This has been a pretty tough week, though, for the president.

(LAUGHTER)

MOORE: No question.

WHITFIELD: Right. And even with friends and close allies who now have these agreements, immunity agreements to share what they know. How, if at all, do you see that impacting the economy or impacting the prospects of the president's agenda as it pertains to the economy?

MOORE: So far this process hasn't slowed the president down. As you were just talking about with my friend Ken Cuccinelli, this has been an investigation that's being going on for months and months and months, but it has not in my opinion impeded with the legislative process. What I'm saying is if we move towards a period of an actual impeachment, then I think that would become disruptive. And I think it would be problematic, and I think the markets would react negatively to that. How negatively, I don't know. One of the things, a point that was made yesterday on CNN which is a valid point, I don't think Donald Trump is ever going to get removed from office. But if we were, Mike Pence, the vice president, would become the president, and he would follow many of the same policies, pro-business policies that Trump has. So it wouldn't be that disruptive in that respect.

WHITFIELD: All right, Stephen Moore, always good to see you. Thanks so much.

MOORE: OK, have a great Saturday.

WHITFIELD: You, too.

Happening right now, Pope Francis set to address tens of thousands of Catholics in Ireland. He'll be speaking at the Festival of the Family event. It's the first Papal visit to Ireland in nearly 40 years. What are the faithful looking to hear from the Pope at a time when the church has been rocked by a massive sex abuse scandal?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[14:24:00] WHITFIELD: We continue to follow Pope Francis' historic visit in Ireland. It's the first Papal visit in nearly 40 years there. Pope Francis arrives as the country and the Catholic Church are reeling from a sex abuse crisis. In just a few minutes the Pope is expected to enter a stadium for a concert. As many as 70,000 people are expected for that event. And this morning the Pope addressed the church's sex abuse scandal, speaking at a Dublin castle. The Pope offered sympathy for the victims of the sex abuse carried out by clergy, and an apology for the cover up by Catholic leaders.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

POPE FRANCIS (through translator): The failure of the ecclesiastical polities, bishops, priests and others, to adequately address these appalling crimes has given rise to our rage and remains a source of pain and shame for the Catholic community. I, myself, share those sentiments.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

[14:25:06] WHITFIELD: Joining me right now is CNN senior Vatican analyst John Allen who is in Dublin covering the Pope's visit. Good to see you. So, the Pope addressed the abuse scandal earlier today. We've had a lot of Catholics on the air here at CNN, and many of whom have said, well, this is a step, but it's not the answer. So, what might be next for the Pope in addressing this, or the Catholic Church overall in addressing this?

JOHN ALLEN, CNN SENIOR VATICAN ANALYST: Well, Fredericka, I thought maybe the best reaction, and this was before the Pope spoke actually, today, the head of the theology faculty at the National Seminary here in Ireland -- that's where they train future priests. It's a place called Maynooth. They had a piece in one of the Irish newspapers basically saying that Irish public opinion was not going to be convinced by anything Pope Francis said on the clerical sexual abuse issue until he addressed the elephant in the room, and that elephant is accountability, not for the crime of sexual abuse but for the cover up. We heard the Pope mention it today, but what he did not add were any concrete details about how the accountability is going to be achieved.

I think most people today believe the Catholic Church has strong accountability systems for clergy who sexually abuse minors. And we now know that applies even, for instance, of the church because that's the case of former cardinal Theodore McCarrick in the United States. But what it does not have is equally strong punishment, equally strong accountability for superiors such as bishops who turn a blind eye. And that is what we are waiting to hear from folks --

WHITFIELD: And that seems to be what people say they are longing to hear. Meantime while you are I are talking, we're seeing live pictures of the Festival of the Family where the Pope will be performing. Performances taking place right now on stage. So, overall, it's taken, what, four decades now since the Pope John Paul who visited Ireland. Why so long? What explains the big gap? And then the crowd size that is quite sizable at this stadium and in the street, the crowd size has not been very favorable for Pope Francis. ALLEN: Yes, that's right. Look, in terms of gap between 1979 and

today, half of that is explained by the fact that between 1979 and 1998, Ireland, north and south -- was very violent and bloody conflict between Protestants and Catholics. That violence really was curbed only by the 1998 Good Friday agreement. So it's really been less than -- and bear in mind, we have gone through three Popes in that period. There were big gaps when the Popes just weren't traveling. So I think it's the luck of the draw.

But I think the contrast is jarring. When John Paul was here in '79, 2.5 million people total turned out to see him. The whole population of the country at that point was 4 million, meaning more than half the country was in the streets or they were in parks or they were lining the Pope's route. This time around, it just isn't that way. I am surprised by how relatively small and how relatively subdued these crowds are. Ireland is just a different place.

Of course, Fredricka, the people who are going to in the park tonight, they are having a blast. And this means the world to them. And we shouldn't minimize the importance of this experience, but overall, I'm struck by just how low key and how relatively indifferent many Irishmen and women seem to feel about the fact that the Pope is in town.

WHITFIELD: So Pope Francis, you mentioned that there is this chorus of people who say they want the Catholic Church to face up to some accountability. Will this be that kind of defining moment for this Pope? Will it be -- is the expectation that he will be the one to help deliver on that?

ALLEN: Oh, I very much think that's the case, in part because Pope Francis has clearly identified himself with the people in the margins, with people who suffer, with people who are oppressed in various ways, and that clearly is the situation with victims of clerical sexual abuse as well. He's also seen as a reformer inside the Catholic Church.

I think there's a lively expectation that he ought to be the one to get this right. And beyond that, Fredricka, I don't think people are in the mood for the Pope to get it right. I think the difference between this moment and, say, 2002 and 2003 when the sex abuse scandals first exploded in the States, so 2009 when they blew up in Ireland, now people aren't just horrified by the revelations of abuse, but there's also a fatigue factor. They are simply tired of listening to assurances that this problem is going to be fixed only to see --

[14:30:18] WHITFIELD: How long is it going to take? And he's a fairly young Pope, so -- but I'm sure the expectations are high that it would mean doing something now as opposed to waiting any longer. John Allen, thank you so much, appreciate it.

ALLEN: Thanks.

WHITFIELD: Still ahead, a major change in the way the Democratic Party chooses is presidential candidates. Those much-debated super delegates have lost a lot of power. Now that will impact the Democrats' choices going forward. And the other big changes the party is enacting heading into the next election.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WHITFIELD: Welcome back. Democrats are voting on some of the biggest changes in decades to the way the party operates and chooses its presidential nominee. One of the bigger changes implemented at the Democratic National Committee's summer meeting today involves the power of the superdelegate votes, a hotly contested issue during the 2016 election and one that created bitterness in the party.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS, (I) VERMONT: Over 400 of these superdelegates indicated their report for Secretary Clinton before anyone else was in the race.

(BOOS)

SANDERS: They indicated their support for secretary Clinton before the first ballot was cast.

(BOOS)

SANDERS: Before the campaign even began. In other words, the establishment determined who the anointed candidate will be before the first voters got into the process.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: Bernie Sanders applauded the changes in a statement, saying "Today's decision by the DNC is an important step forward in making the Democratic Party more open, democratic, and responsive to the input of ordinary Americans."

I want to bring in CNN's Adam Levy who is in Chicago at the DNC meeting. So Adam, why are Democrats reforming the superdelegate process and how major is this for the party?

ADAM LEVY, CNN SUPERVISING PRODUCER: Hi, Fred. This is a major change for Democrats in the way that they select their nominees for president of the United States. As you remember, and as you just heard Bernie Sanders say, this was a huge point of contention between Bernie Sanders' supporters and Hillary Clinton supporters in 2016. This criticism of super delegates has been going on for decades, and it really culminated in 2016 with that bitter, bitter fight between Bernie and Hillary. This reform today changes that and effectively removes a lot of the power of the superdelegates so that these problems won't come up again in 20.

WHITFIELD: So what are some of the other changes to these superdelegates?

LEVY: Right. So some of the changes they made say is that superdelegates will not be able to vote on the first ballot for president. And what that means is, there's no way that superdelegates can affect the outcome of who the pledged delegates vote for at the convention. The pledged delegates are chosen by proportions with how the states vote. So whoever the voters select in 2020, and whoever those delegates are that represent that vote, those are the people who will be able to vote on the first ballot.

If a candidate has enough pledged delegates to make up a majority of the convention so that there's no way that superdelegates can affect the outcome, they will let them vote. But if there's any possibility of that, they will not be able to vote on the first ballot.

WHITFIELD: So this has been a very emotional issue for a lot of Democrats. We know how Bernie Sanders felt prior to and now we know he's very happy, too. Have we heard from anyone else?

LEVY: Yes, we have been hearing from a lot of DNC leaders. Chairman Tom Perez, he was really excited in the meeting today. It was kind of a surprise the way this happened, because the people who were against the reforms they made today, which included a lot of members of the Black Caucus, because they feel, some of them feel, that their vote is being disenfranchised a little bit, everybody thought that this was going to be a bitter, bitter meeting and a bitter vote that was going to come down to -- that was going to come down to a hairpin for the way it turned out.

But during a procedural vote, it was clear that the DNC members felt that they supported all this, they had over three-fourths of them vote for it. So when it came to the final vote, the leader of the opposition, former chairman Don Fowler said, let's not vote by ballot, let's vote as one in a call for acclamation to show some unity for Democrats, which I think is going to show you, it shows how strongly they feel about coming together in 2018 and 2020. There are a lot of people here who are still very bitter about losing in 2016 for a variety of reasons. And today's vote shows that, you know what, we want to come together and move forward.

WHITFIELD: Were there any other changes to speak of as a result of today?

LEVY: Yes, there were. There were a lot of reforms that the Democratic Party made today. One of them is actually including gender non-binary language for delegates and members to be part of DNC committees and participate in caucuses. You have to declare whether you are male or female. There are obviously people that don't identify as either.

[14:40:04] And the DNC put a new language to say into their charter, into their rules, to change all that to be more accepting and welcoming of them and how to be accounted for properly. They also included some new transparency rules which have to do with budget and finances, which was obviously a very big issue in 2016 and allows for new reforms to make sure that the DNC is treating all candidates the same ahead of the 2020 election to there will be no accusations and there will be no issues between candidates as they deal with the DNC as they seek to be their party's nominee for president.

WHITFIELD: Adam Levy, thanks so much, from Chicago. OK, so this is an incredibly hot button issue within the Democratic

Party, even more so as many from the Bernie Sanders camp feel that they were short-changed by the party in 2016. I want to bring in Ed Espinoza, former DNC western states director, also a former Democratic superdelegate, and CNN political commentator Maria Cardona who remains a Democratic superdelegate. Good to see you both. So, Maria, you first. Do you like the changes?

MARIA CARDONA, DEMOCRATIC PARTY SUPERDELEGATE: I do. And I was also a member of the Rules and Bylaws Committee, Fredricka. And we met for various days for more than 80 hours to figure out how we were going to implement changes that ensured that not even the perception existed and that the automatic delegates were going to change any outcome.

But I want to be very clear on one thing, Fredricka, automatic delegates or so-called superdelegates have never swayed an election. They have never been against the will of the people. They never voted against the majority of a nominee that had the majority of pledged delegates. So in other words, superdelegates have never decided who the nominee is going to be, they won't now.

WHITFIELD: But that kind of is the inference, right?

CARDONA: It gets rid of the perception. Well, that's the perception we wanted to change. Yes, exactly. But that's why I want to be very clear that even though that was the perception in 2016, that was not the reality. We never voted for anything up until the convention, and at the convention it was very clear with pledged delegates who was going to be the nominee.

But the implementation of the changes are very important, Fredricka, because we don't even want the perception to be superdelegates swayed anything one way or the other because we need young voters, we need diverse voices, we need everyone who may not label themselves as a Democrat but agrees with all of our values to be voting with us and to trust in that process.

WHITFIELD: Was there that anonymity in that meeting today, Maria? Was everyone on board with ease?

CARDONA: The vast majority were, Fredricka. And to underscore Adam's point, we were actually very nervous this morning thinking that this was going to be very contentious, that this was going to be very close and that there were going to be stories coming out of the meeting that Democrats were divided. So I was thrilled.

And I want to say congratulations and thank you to Don Fowler who was the head of the opposition of these reforms to essentially say, look, it is clear that the overwhelming number of members of the DNC support these reforms, let's move forward and just vote by acclamation to just make sure we go out of here and that our focus is to win elections and to get Republicans off of -- out of power and to get rid of Donald Trump in 2020.

WHITFIELD: So then, Ed, what was your read on all of this from the need to the outcome? ED ESPINOZA, FORMER DEMOCRATIC PARTY SUPERDELEGATE: Yes, so I think

Maria hits the nail on the head here in that superdelegates have never changed the outcome of an election, which kind of underscores the fact that if they haven't changed the outcome of the election, then why do they need a vote in the first place?

I'm saying this, by the way, as a former superdelegate who enjoyed a vote in at least one convention. And it really didn't make a lot of sense. Superdelegates still retain an enormous amount of influence in the party. These are the party luminaries who guide the process year in and year out regardless of whether or not there is an election.

And this change that came through today is something that Democrats have been struggling with for a decade. When I was a superdelegate in 2008, that was the first time those votes became something in the primary process where it really hit fever pitch. And you remember a lot of the back-and-forth between the Clinton people and the Obama people, that -- we had a chance for reform in 2009 shortly after that. We got a little bit. We didn't get enough. What happened today was a culmination of a decades' worth of work. I'm proud of the Democratic Party for making this change. Maria was right, it's an important message we send to the voters. These primaries, these elections, they are not much about the candidates and the party as they are about the voters. And today they sent an important message saying that the party agrees.

[14:45:05] WHITFIELD: So then, Ed, while you're saying this was good, you're in total agreement with the evolution of this vote and the outcome of the vote, but then does that mean that you're also in agreement with Bernie Sanders and many of his supporters who have said superdelegates just had too much power and they were kind of setting the stage for the outcome of the vote, and removing some power was necessary?

ESPINOZA: I don't necessarily agree with that because remember, Clinton also had the lion's share of superdelegates in late 2007, early 2008, and it didn't go her way. The tide during one of these primaries can change quite a bit. And in fact you saw the tide change with Bernie Sanders when he was able to pick up steam late in the primary cycle in 2016. So whether they had too much power or not enough power I think is really kind of a moot point at this point. The thing that is important is that they don't have a vote anymore. And that is what not only the Bernie people wanted, but in the end, the institution --

WHITFIELD: On the first ballot.

ESPINOZA: Well, on the first ballot. Look, in the sense of a tie, you have to break a tie somehow. I'm a soccer player, you have to break a tie in soccer with penalty kicks. People don't like that either. You have got to break the tie somehow. There's got to be some way. So the second and third ballot, I don't think is as big of a deal. It's the first ballot that is really important. By the way, I don't think it's gone to a second ballot in my lifetime. I think maybe '68 might have been the last time that happened.

WHITFIELD: So is this a reset for the party, Maria?

CARDONA: I think it kind of is, especially because the issue of superdelegates and the primaries was so contentious in 2016. And I think it is really important to have that reset because today, Fredricka, the millennials who enjoy every single value, progressive value of the Democratic Party, the majority of them don't identify as Democrats. They identify as independents. And I think what they saw during the 2016 primaries alienated them from being able to become full-fledged Democrats. So our hope is that these reforms, these changes will show them that they indeed, there is transparency, they indeed have a voice. We are listening to them, and that we want them to be not just full-fledged representative of the values that we hold but full-fledged players in the process from the very beginning.

WHITFIELD: Ed, last word on that?

ESPINOZA: I fully agree. I think that this is a level of transparency that we need. I think it is good for the party, but again, most importantly, it's good for the voters.

WHITFIELD: Edward Espinoza and Maria Cardona.

CARDONA: And I also think Fredricka very quickly, I think just very quickly, I think this is also incredibly important because Republicans have been chomping at the bit to be able to paint Democrats as being a divided party. We are not that. We are anything but. We're going to move forward to make sure that these criminals in Congress and the criminal in the White House are out.

WHITFIELD: All right, we'll leave it there. Thanks to both of you. Appreciate it.

CARDONA: Thanks, Fredricka.

WHITFIELD: We'll be right back.

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[14:52:34] WHITFIELD: All right, live pictures out of Dublin, Ireland, where the Pope has just arrived at the Festival of Families right there. Lots of performances taking place, tens of thousands are gathered at the Croke Park Stadium. And while the crowds here are large, along the streets earlier they were considerably thin, much thinner than previous Papal visits. The church still reeling from shocking sex abuse allegations which many have said have not been properly handled by the Vatican.

And our other top stories include the wife of Senator John McCain tweeting this today. "The entire McCain family is overwhelmed by the outpouring of love and support from around the world." Her tweet coming just a day after the family announced the senator is halting treatment for brain cancer.

And the former head of the Centers for Disease Control is facing charges of forcibly touching a woman. Dr. Thomas Frieden is accused of grabbing a woman without her consent during a party at his home in October. He was arrested Friday and faces three criminal charges. Frieden has been released on his own recognizance.

And in a shocking turn, Elon Musk has given up on his plan to take Tesla private. The billionaire stunned investors earlier this month when he announced he would remove the electric carmaker from the stock market. Musk said the sudden change in heart came from talking to Tesla shareholders and hearing their advice that he should keep the company public.

All right, thanks so much for joining me this Saturday. I'm Fredricka Whitfield. The news continues with Ana Cabrera. But first, here's this week's "Turning Points."

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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Back in the day, I was just trying to survive the conditions of my life. Now I ain't surviving no more. I'm thriving. Both my mother and father dealt with addiction. So I participated in drugs and just the street life, and it led me to being locked up.

At 20 years old, I was living in like a crack house. I was 110 pounds. And so I had to hit a bottom, and the most unlikely person walked in, somebody I hated, my father. So the person that kind of introduced me to that world actually introduced me to the door out of that world.

So the first step was letting go of the substances. And then I got exposed to the meditation. When I got serious about practice, I wanted to take it into these neighborhoods where the suffering was really great.

[14:55:07] We find ourselves floating.

In San Francisco a lot of people come to Friday night to look inside. People that have been through addiction, incarceration, older people and tech people come meditate with us.

The practice helps me in so many ways. I felt alone in the world, and now I feel like I belong to the world.

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