Jones the leaked DNC e-mails: Yes, well, I think a couple of things. First of all, this whole Trump moment, I’ve been fighting and — let’s not adapt to absurdity. Let’s not start lowering our standards for what we expect from people who are in public life. And that has to hold up.I had to resign. You sometimes, when you’re the distraction, you become the story, you fall on your sword. It’s what you’re supposed to do. That’s how it works. And so I don’t know who she’s helping now by staying there.The other thing I just want to say is simply this, we’ve got a lot of work to do as a party to come together period. Not everybody in the Sanders wing is where Bernie is yet. We’ve got to — we — we need time for that. This is in the way. Not every young activist of color is happy that we don’t have a — a VP of color. We’ve — we’ve got to work on that. We’ve got — we — and so, there’s real work to be done and this is a distraction.
THIS IS A RUSH FDCH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back to CNN’s STATE OF THE UNION.
I’m Jake Tapper.
And we are live from the floor of the Democratic Convention here in Philadelphia, the best city in the world, where there is mounting pressure on the chair of the Democratic National Committee, Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, to resign. She has already given up her daily duties to Congresswoman Marsha Fudge.
She will not be speaking. But some Bernie Sanders supporters say that that’s not enough after leaked emails hacked and then released on WikiLeaks show staffers at the DNC, including some senior staffers, seeming to plot, to plant negative stories about Sanders during his primary fight with Hillary Clinton at a time when the party was supposed to be neutral, the DNC was supposed to be neutral.
How is this going to play out?
Will Hillary Clinton be upstaged by these emails?
With me here live on the convention floor, CNN political commentators Andre Bauer and Van Jones, CNN’s senior political commentator, David Axelrod, is, of course, a former senior adviser to Barack Obama, and CNN political commentator Maria Cardona.
Ax, let me start with you.
I mean there’s no — there’s really no two ways about it. This is a mess.
These emails are ugly.
DAVID AXELROD, FORMER SENIOR ADVISER TO PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, it’s not the story you want going into a — into the week. And, you know, Debbie Wasserman Schultz has worked very hard for a long time in this job, but she’s going to have to make a decision as to whether she wants to be a distraction or not.
And I’m sure there are people who are talking to her about that.
I think that this, by the end of the week, will not have been the story.
But at a time when they’re trying to bring the party together, bring the Bernie Sanders people on board, this is not a helpful — a helpful development.
TAPPER: What would you tell them to do?
If you were senior adviser to Hillary Clinton, which you are not, what — what needs to be done?
Does she need to resign or does she need to apologize and fire those people that wrote those emails?
AXELROD: I would…
TAPPER: What’s the solution?
AXELROD: — I would ask her to step aside. I would ask her to step aside, because she’s a distraction on a week that is Hillary Clinton’s week. So, yes, I would — I would ask her to.
TAPPER: You’re nodding, Van Jones?
VAN JONES, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, well, I think a couple of things.
First of all, this whole Trump moment, I’ve been fighting and — let’s not adapt to absurdity. Let’s not start lowering our standards for what we expect from people who are in public life. And that has to hold up.
I had to resign. You sometimes, when you’re the distraction, you become the story, you fall on your sword. It’s what you’re supposed to do. That’s how it works.
And so I don’t know who she’s helping now by staying there.
The other thing I just want to say is simply this, we’ve got a lot of work to do as a party to come together period. Not everybody in the Sanders wing is where Bernie is yet. We’ve got to — we — we need time for that. This is in the way.
Not every young activist of color is happy that we don’t have a — a VP of color. We’ve — we’ve got to work on that. We’ve got — we — and so, there’s real work to be done and this is a distraction.
TAPPER: Maria, make the case for why Debbie Wasserman Schultz should stay, if, presumably, that’s what you think.
MARIA CARDONA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: So, I — clearly, it’s a difficult decision. It’s a difficult situation. I completely agree that these emails are ugly. A lot of them were completely inappropriate. A lot of people got caught up in them. I’m one of them. As a super delegate, I was in constant communication with the DNC.
And the — but I also want to underscore, private conversation does not reflect public policy. And what I mean by that is that no matter what people were thinking inside the DNC, it’s like reading somebody’s diary. It doesn’t mean that they were not able to do their job and do it in a way that was impartial.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ahhhh.
CARDONA: That’s, you know…
TAPPER: But this is — but Maria…
CARDONA: — hang on. But hang on. Hang on.
CARDONA: — but let’s — let me finish.
TAPPER: — let’s just say frank. This isn’t them just expressing frustration with Bernie Sanders or insulting Bernie Sanders, this is them at work, pitching — pitching ways to undermine his campaign. At work.
CARDONA: Yes, I understand that. And…
JONES: On — on work emails.
CARDONA: — and that’s completely inappropriate, unacceptable. My understanding is that Brad Marshall apologized and they need to do everything that they can to clean that up. No question about it.
But here is my concern, just amongst us, that…
TAPPER: Well, people are watching, just so you know.
CARDONA: Yes. Oh, OK. Thank you.
AXELROD: Could you turn that thing off?
CARDONA: Right. Exactly.
What I don’t want to happen — and maybe you all can help us figure this out — is for there to — for there to be an action that’s taken that gives more legitimacy to the argument that a lot of Bernie Sanders supporters are saying, that the system was rigged.
The system was not rigged.
CARDONA: The DNC did not vote. This was a system where the voters actually made the decision and Hillary Clinton won fair and square.
TAPPER: Andre, let me ask you, as the Trump supporter at the table, you heard Jeff Weaver, Sanders’ campaign manager, say that was 48 hours spent during the Republican Convention trying to figure out which staff member put those plagiarized parts of Michelle Obama’s speech into Malia Trump’s — Melania Trump’s speech…
ANDRE BAUER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Handled totally incorrectly.
TAPPER: Totally — handled poorly. And he’s like we spent all that time on that, we need to spend as much time, if not more time, on this.
BAUER: What you saw with him was a team player. If I were him, I would be more upset than he is, quite frankly. This is reinforcing everything Bernie said. He asked her to resign a long time ago. And it’s going right back to his supporters and saying look, you can’t trust him. It was home cooked.
And quite frankly, something that hasn’t been touched on, I’m not sure they’re not in violation of campaign finance laws, because you had somebody within the DNC then helping the Hillary campaign.
I mean this was convolution. This…
AXELROD: You know, I agree with what Maria said. I mean Hillary Clinton won by a substantial margin. I don’t think that — that this was handed to her by the DNC.
AXELROD: But there were moments in this campaign where the DNC, whether it was the scheduling of debates or other issues, appeared to be giving her a home court advantage. And irregardless of that, this is what people feel.
AXELROD: And at a time when you’re trying to bring the party together — and look, I know Debbie Wasserman Schultz. My guess is that she’s thinking hard about this and will do the right thing.
TAPPER: What do you…
TAPPER: — what do you think needs to be done?
JONES: Well, I mean…
TAPPER: Does Wasserman Schultz need to resign?
Does she need to fire people?
JONES: Well, she should apologize. She should resign. Others should resign.
Here’s the deal. If you are the referee, you can’t put on the other person’s jersey. The — people — we have now almost — it’s normal somehow that the DNC chair is helping Hillary Clinton.
That’s not normal. That is wrong. That’s not supposed to happen. She’s supposed to be neutral. Even the appearance of not being neutral is enough to say step down.
This is way beyond that.
So if we are going to have a party that can come together, the chair has to be fair. I don’t mean to rhyme, but the chair has to be fair. And if the chair can’t be fair, the chair doesn’t need to be there.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Haqrenesque (ph).
TAPPER: Wow! Haqrenesque (ph), the chair has to be fair.
AXELROD: That’s great.
TAPPER: What do you think, right now, you’ve known Hillary Clinton for — for a long time. Obviously, you can’t — you aren’t one of these ESP, as far as I know.
But what do you think she’s thinking right now?
I mean if I — if I were her, I’d be like this is not what I want people to be talking about the Sunday morning before my convention.
AXELROD: Yes. Well, I’m sure that’s what she’s thinking, although I — she has a lot of other things on her mind, I’m sure, as should everybody else.
AXELROD: Which is why dealing with this quickly would be a good thing to do. Don’t make it a 36 or 48 hour story. And the best thing to do is to cut it off today.
BAUER: And what will be leaked next?
TAPPER: That’s a big question, what will be leaked nest — next?
BAUER: I guess we’ll have to ask the Russians.
TAPPER: So you think…
CARDONA: There you go.
TAPPER: But, you know, I mean everybody laughing at all that stuff…
TAPPER: — but — but when the hack took place, I mean a lot of the coverage at the time and the group Crowdstrike, which is a cyber security group, did say that they thought it was Russian-backed hackers. That doesn’t mean it has anything to do with Putin, certainly not with any American campaign.
But Russians might have been involved.
BAUER: I think a — I think the average voter on the street is going to have a hard time disgusting that that’s — that Donald Trump campaign has worked with the Russians to put this out the week of the Democratic Convention.
TAPPER: No, no, I — I did — you’ll notice, I didn’t go that far.
TAPPER: I’m not…
AXELROD: These guys don’t…
CARDONA: He said it.
AXELROD: — these guys don’t believe in conspiracy theories.
BAUER: I do.
BAUER: I do.
BAUER: Come on, Ax.
TAPPER: Just not that one.
Do you think, Maria, as somebody on the DNC Rules Committee, do you think that somebody else — somebody is going to have to lose their job before the gavel comes down tomorrow?
CARDONA: I think something needs to be done to make it clear, as Van said, that, again, to underscore that this system was fair and square, because people do feel like it was, you know, pushed to one side.
We need to make sure that that is not the feeling going into this convention…
TAPPER: All right.
CARDONA: — because we want to make sure it’s very different from what the Republicans did.
TAPPER: We’ll see.
Thanks one and all.
CARDONA: Thank you.
TAPPER: Appreciate it.