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THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER

Crack-Smoking Mayor Says He Won't Go; Cheney Versus Cheney

Aired November 18, 2013 - 16:30   ET

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


JAKE TAPPER, CNN: And almost immediately after Heather's posts, Mary jumps in for some Facebook feather ruffling, writing, "Couldn't have said it better myself. Liz, this isn't just an issue on which we disagree. You're just wrong and on the wrong side of history."

It should be noted that Liz by opposing a federal marriage amendment has a more liberal point of view on this than the one George W. Bush held in 2000 and 2004 when Mary worked on those campaigns. Bush/Cheney 2004 was a campaign criticized by gay and lesbian rights groups for using opposition to same sex marriage as a way to rally conservative voters to the polls. Mary explained to David Letterman in 2006 that was tough for her.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I actually came very close to quitting the campaign in 2004 over this very issue. My position was as a campaign staffer, and quite frankly, I think it's inappropriate for campaign staffers to be issuing their own public policy statements.

TAPPER: Though apparently not tough enough.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The important thing in 2004, the important issue, was national security.

TAPPER: I reached out to Liz Cheney this morning and she told me quote, "I love my sister and her family and have always tried to be compassionate toward them. I believe that is the Christian way to behave."

(END VIDEOTAPE)

TAPPER: The former vice president and Mrs. Cheney released the following statement on the family rift this afternoon. Quote, "This is an issue we have dealt with privately for many years and we are pained to see it become public. Since it has one thing should be clear. Liz has always believed in the traditional definition of marriage. She has also always treated her sister and her sister's family with love and respect, exactly as she should have done. Compassion is called for even when there is disagreement about such a fundamental matter and Liz's many kindnesses shouldn't be used to distort her position."

Let's bring in our political panel, co-host of CNN's "CROSSFIRE," Van Jones, Washington-based reporter for the "New York Times" Ashley Parker and CNN political commentator and Republican strategist, Kevin Madden.

Ashley, you think this is more than a family struggle. This is a party struggle. The Republican Party is going through this?

ASHLEY PARKER, REPORTER, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": Yes. I mean, what we're seeing at the Cheney's dinner table sort of playing out because we are also seeing in the party, sort of this debate between a more progressive, more establishment strain of the Republican Party and a more hardcore conservative strain and it's played out in this huge fascinating political powerhouse of a family.

VAN JONES, HOST, CNN'S "CROSSFIRE": I mean, it's really painful to watch. You can imagine being a parent and watching this sort of thing happening around normal Thanksgiving table now it's happening now in public. Ordinarily, the Republican Party have got this far right wing. When candidates play to that, they hurt themselves in the general election.

They don't hurt themselves in their family. The Republicans have to figure out how to get this thing resolved, get on the right side of history. You're tearing apart families, tearing apart the country, making people unelectable.

TAPPER: To be fair, Liz's position is not hard right. She's against the federal marriage amendment. She said this in the same interview yesterday. She's against the federal marriage amendment. She supports rights for same sex couples.

JONES: She's not a hateful bigot, but she doesn't believe in equal rights and the country is moving in the direction of saying --

TAPPER: I'm not defending. I'm saying to be clear on her position, I mean, it doesn't seem really to me to be all that different from what Barack Obama's position was in 2008.

JONES: Which he's moved away from and so has the rest of the country. I think that what you hear in that painful Facebook post is the anguish of a sister feeling completely disrespected by her own family member. It's tough enough to be lesbian and gay and trying to raise a family. To have your own family member diss you publicly, it must be horrible.

I just wish that the right wing of the Republican Party would let its candidates out of this prison of having to be so mean-spirited toward a fellow American. We believe in equal rights in this country. The problem in America is not that too many people want to get married. That's not the problem in America.

TAPPER: Kevin, I know you have done some work for the Enzi campaign, who Liz Cheney is running against, the Republican senator, the incumbent. I'm not going to ask you about the specific issue or the specific debate. But Republican support for same sex marriage is a mirror reflection of what it is nationally. Republicans oppose same sex marriage, majority of them.

When Van says I wish the right wing wouldn't let the rest of the Republican Party, is that accurate? It seems to me a majority of Republicans oppose same sex marriage. They oppose 58 percent, support 36 percent. KEVIN MADDEN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think there is a lot of truth in both what Van said as far as how people look at whether or not the party ought to be dictating some personal preferences of individual candidates and I think there's also a lot of truth in what Ashley said which is that this debate is going on within the Republican Party.

I think one of the interesting things is that in many ways, more and more Republicans are finding it easier or somewhat easier than it was in the past to make the conservative argument, the state's rights argument, in favor of gay marriage. And that is not a debate that's tipped I don't think any one way or the other entirely yet.

There are many people within the party struggling with it. What's interesting about this particular debate is that I don't know if it's so much about policy as it is exposing sort of the raw nerves inside a family and their personal debate with this issue. It's a very tough issue for many people.

PARKER: The one thing in addition to Liz or to Mary feeling attacked by Liz is that Mary has also called into question not just Liz on policy but sort of her character and kind of implying her stance may not be so much of a hardcore conviction and more of a political play. I think that's what you saw Dick Cheney coming out today and trying to say, whatever Liz thinks, she really believes this.

TAPPER: Right. She did not go to Mary Cheney's wedding.

MADDEN: One quick point, this goes to where I would disagree with Van, which is that many Republicans in the party believe that this is an issue that has to be defined by what we're for, not by what we're against meaning that we're anti-gay marriage. Instead, there are people who have a substantive agreement for believing that we have to support the traditional institution of marriage and traditional definition of marriage.

TAPPER: All right, Kevin Madden, Van Jones, Ashley Parker, thank you so much, great discussion.

When we come back, a shooting spree in the heart of Paris leads to a manhunt. That's next. Disturbing surveillance video of this man police are searching for.

Plus, apparently he feels he hasn't given "Saturday Night Live" enough material. New video of Toronto Mayor Rob Ford will show you what happens when you get in his way.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. The Buried Lead now, there are stories we think are not getting enough attention. It's a military creed. You do not leave your battle buddies behind, but in many ways, the U.S. government is doing just that. Thousands of Iraqi and Afghan interpreters who helped the U.S. military in those respective wars not only translate but serving as eyes and ears for troops have been left behind and in some cases, they have been killed.

Those trying to avoid this fate by pursuing visas to come to this country have been trapped in a maze of U.S. bureaucracy weighed down by post-9/11 security. The "Washington Post" last week wrote in an editorial we find it incomprehensible that the State Department is dragging its feet in providing these interpreters with U.S. visas. Here is one such story.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TAPPER (voice-over): For years, former Army Captain Brian Larson has been waging a battle, not in Iraq where he served from 2006 to 2008, but here against the state department bureaucracy and red tape. Captain Larson says his job in Iraq would have been impossible without the critical help of this Iraqi interpreter. For security reasons, we are going to call him Sam.

BRIAN LARSON, U.S. ARMY VETERAN: He was part of our team. It feels like you left one of your soldiers behind.

TAPPER: It's because he helped Captain Larson that Sam's life is now at real risk. Every day, Larson worries that he will get that tragic call telling him that Sam is dead. The U.S. promised interpreters like Sam that they could come to the U.S. on special immigration visas if they're persecuted for having helped U.S. service men and women.

Congress approved up to 7,500 such visas for Afghans and 25,000 for Iraqis, but only a fraction have been given out and in the meantime, on this Facebook page for Afghan interpreters seeking visas, you can see Moustafa. He worked with Americans in coast province, the post says. A few weeks ago, the Taliban kidnapped and killed him. Larson is terrified that Sam might face the same fate.

LARSON: Without getting him out of there it's a broken promise and it's a daily threat. The threat to his life would not exist if we hadn't been there and he hadn't chosen to serve with us.

TAPPER: Buried in red tape, Larson has been working with Sam and his family to bring them to the United States.

"SAM," IRAQI INTERPRETER: I got a phone call today.

LARSON: You did?

SAM: The guys I got an issue with. They said the time is coming soon.

LARSON: They're relying on the generosity of others, essentially, to hide him and help provide for his family on a day-to- day basis.

TAPPER: At one point, Sam's visa application lapsed when officials repeatedly failed to reach him. It turns out he had been shot and was in a hospital, Larson says.

SENATOR JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: The United states is not making good --

TAPPER: Senators John McCain of Arizona and Jean Shaheen of New Hampshire are working to cut through this red tape and hold the State Department accountable.

MCCAIN: There are bureaucratic delays which are absolutely unacceptable. Hopefully our legislative action agreed to by every member of Congress will move both the Department of Homeland security and the State Department to act in a much more rapid and efficient fashion.

SENATOR JEANNE SHAHEEN (D), NEW HAMPSHIRE: How can we refuse to let these people come to the United States after what they did to help Americans? It's just not fair and it's not acceptable.

TAPPER: The Republican and Democrat are proposing a time limit of nine months on the application process, and greater transparency on visa decisions for interpreters. The Obama administration argues that they inherited a flawed system and they have worked hard to improve it.

JEN PSAKI, STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESWOMAN: We have a responsibility to the American people to make sure we have a proper vetting process that any of this goes through.

TAPPER: State Department Spokeswoman Jen Psaki points out that last year saw the biggest increase in the number of interpreters and their families granted these visas.

PSAKI: All of this is being done with the important balance in mind of helping people who help U.S. men and women serving around the world while also having the proper vetting process in place to ensure we're not bringing anyone into the united states that would do American citizens harm.

TAPPER: Brian Larson hopes the State Department will get its act together in time for the battle buddy he says was left behind.

LARSON: He's more than earned this. Everybody gets to come home from war.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

TAPPER: Some possible good news in all this. Since CNN began asking questions about Sam's situation, there has been some movement on the case. We will keep you updated on any progress.

The search is on for a man who began a terrifying crime spree by opening fire on a Paris newspaper office. Investigators say he stormed the building wielding a rifle and shot a 27-year-old photographer's assistant in the arm and abdomen. That victim is being treated in the ICU. Police say the man then continued his rampage by firing shots into a bank in a Paris suburb. He is suspected of taking a driver hostage a few hours later before letting him go unharmed.

This all comes days after a frightening institute (ph) at a Paris TV station. This surveillance video shows a man who police say matches the description of today's suspect entering the TV station lobby. Witnesses say he threatened journalists with a rifle, vowed to return, then took off. No one was hurt in that incident.

Paris police have now beefed up security at media offices around the city.

Coming up next: sure, he smoked crack and admits at times he's had a bit too much to drink but Rob Ford still tells us he's the best father around.

Oh, my, did you not realize he has children? Our interview with the mayor, coming up next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.

Now, the world lead. Toronto Mayor Rob Ford says yes, he smoked crack but he's not a crack addict and yes, he does stupid things when he's drunk, but he hasn't had a drink in weeks, so he can't begin to understand why city leaders are still trying to strip him of his remaining powers. He's calling the council's actions today a coup d'etat, a term usually used to describe bloody revolutions in places like Egypt, not city council meeting where cat calls from crowd are about as cutthroat as it gets.

In between shouting matches during today's meeting, council members plan to vote on removing the limited authority Ford has left. The mayor himself showed up at one point and engaged in a bizarre run-in with a female council member. The incident was captured by Canadian station Rogers TV and quickly made its way to the Internet.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So what is happening -- yes. We've got some angry exchanges going on. While this meeting was going on, the mayor --

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: Because the one thing the story was missing was weird pseudo- wrestling moves.

During the meeting, Ford's brother took to the mike, accusing the council of trampling on the rights of the people by trying to remove the mayor from office.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DOUG FORD, TORONTO MAYOR'S BROTHER: Has he showed up to work every day and fulfilled his job?

(CHEERS)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Councilor, those inquiries -- UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Please, no disruptions.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Those inquiries belong to one of the accountability officers to be reviewing if there's an issue.

FORD: I'm glad you said that. Thank you for answering the question, because what it should be -- the complaint should be filed through the city's integrity commissioner rather than this kangaroo court. Do you not agree?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: Mayor Ford is also speaking out on his own behalf, repeating his vow not to step down. His TV show -- of course, he was going to get a TV show -- "Ford Nation", it airs on Canadian television tonight. But before then, he tried to set the record straight with CNN's Bill Weir.

And Bill joins us now live from New York with some of the highlights of that conversation -- Bill.

BILL WEIR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good to see you, Jake.

If you think they're amazing on television, you should see the live show.

TAPPER: Does he get that people are not just upset about the fact he smoked crack but that he lied about it for weeks?

WEIR: Sure. And that he demonized the reporters who broke the story and, yes, there's a lot of different flavors of anger at Rob Ford. But we were curious about what his true believers think. Normally, you try to avoid any sort of political dog and pony show where they want to take you around in a sort of stage managed thing, but when big brother Doug invited me to come to the heart of Ford Nation, which is actually a housing project, interestingly enough, these are fiscal conservatives but big social liberals, we had to go check it out.

And I was curious if Mayor Ford was aware that he is just such rich prime material for comedians across the Western world. So I asked him about that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WEIR: These folks love you. Do you realize how you're perceived around the rest of the country, around the rest of the continent? Have you seen the late night comics at all?

ROB FORD, TORONTO MAYOR: They can make fun of me. The people here -- you know, they can laugh at me all they want. They don't know Rob Ford. These people know me. They've known me -- I was born and raised here. I'm 44 years old, and born and raised, and went to school here, I know everybody.

I'm no nonsense (ph). There's no phoniness. I am what I am. I'm sincere, right? Am I polished? No, I'm not polished. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You're real Ford. You're real. That's what it is.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WEIR: Can you hear -- you can hear almost like a response in that room as fans sticking up for him. His supporters there, his brother calls him the best retail politician in North America, and, you know, it's hard to argue when you see there he hands out his card in little refrigerator magnets with his home number on it and all of them say at some point they have called him for everything from broken heaters to eviction notices.

But not so much downtown and for the rest of Toronto.

TAPPER: Yes, I wonder when he says the best retail politician, I wonder how literally we're supposed to take that in terms of the retailing -- the purchasing that he might be doing. But be that as it may, his brother sticking with it, the people in Ford Nation and that housing project sticking with him, but he is at some point going to have to face voters.

Does he have any political support beyond this housing project?

WEIR: No. No. He doesn't. I'll play a little -- well, actually, he does. It's an interesting rainbow coalition. This ward that he's from is both some of the richest citizens in Canada live near the projects, there are malls and a horse track, it's near the airport. So, it's really diverse, lot of blue collar folks who really are passionate about him as well.

But it really comes do to what's going to sink him. A lot of people think he's leaving office in handcuffs or on a stretcher. And the former seems more likely, given all of the investigations going on. Project brazen is what the police are doing, year-long investigation.

And I wanted to know why he came out and said yes, I did smoke crack after angrily denying it for almost six months. Here was his reaction to that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WEIR: Why did you -- folks, please.

(LAUGHTER)

WEIR: Why did -- why did you decide to finally admit that you had smoked? Why?

FORD: Why? I'm not going to run around and be phony and, you know, lie. And I'm not going to have someone try to blackmail me, say they have videos of this, and hold it over my head.

(CROSSTALK)

FORD: You say don't trust (ph), but the "Toronto Star" says I beat up kids. That's what they said. "Toronto Star" makes all these accusations about me. So, "Toronto Star" says, oh, we got -- how you going to trust the "Toronto Star"?

When these guys went out there, they lied, they've outright lied about (INAUDIBLE) here and there. So, as soon as you hear something from the "Toronto Star", 90 percent of its lies about me. They hate me with a passion. They went out. They -- I beat their candidate, Mr. Smitherman, in the election. They went crazy.

So, why? If someone comes up, you know you hate -- they hate you, and says, oh, we got something on you, what are you going to say? You going to say that's true? Of course not.

And I thought about it and you know what, I didn't tell anyone. And I was the one who went out. I was the one who went out and said ask that question again. What did you ask me a few months ago?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WEIR: Then it got heated as we got into an argument over semantics. He said they asked the wrong questions, not did you ever smoke crack, but are you a crack addict? He had been asked the right questions all that time. But if we were looking for a moment of contrition, we weren't going to get it then.

TAPPER: Bill, we're going to go live right now. Thank you so much.

If you want to see the full interview that Bill had with the mayor, turn to "AC360" at 8:00 right here on CNN.

We're going to go live to Mayor Ford, who is speaking in Toronto, at the city council.

FORD: Got in trouble drinking and driving. And who was the first person to stand beside them and say don't worry about it, I'm here to help you, let's move on?

It was Rob Ford. It was Rob Ford.

Everybody's had their say, the critics, the media, the opposition. I want people to listen to me tonight from 8:00 to 9:00 on Sun News.

You will get my side of the story. OK? Unfiltered.

This, folks, reminds me of when I was watching with my brother when Saddam attacked Kuwait and President Bush said, I warn you, I warn you, I warn you, do not.

Well, folks, if you think Americans style politics is nasty, you guys have just attacked Kuwait, and you will never, you will never see something -- mark my words, friends -- this is going to be outright war in the next election. And I'm going to do everything in my power --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mayor Ford, your time's up.

FORD: Everything in my power to beat you guys.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you, Mayor Ford.

FORD: What you're doing today is kicking me out of my office and it's the worst thing that you can do. I was elected by the people. You're absolutely right on that. Every one of you guys have sinned.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mayor Ford, your time is up.

FORD: It is absolutely the worst thing you can do for democracy --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you.

FORD: -- in the city of Toronto.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you.

FORD: What goes around, comes around, friends. Remember what I'm saying.

Thank you.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK, if we can ring the bells --

TAPPER: Mayor Rob Ford saying what goes around, comes around, saying that removing his powers is one of the single worst things you can do for democracy.

Bill Weir joining us for these last few seconds. Your special airs tonight at 8:00.

WEIR: Yes, it does. We've got so much with him. And more on that, his brother vowed they're going to take -- they're going to use their candidates to take out everybody on the Toronto city council. Unbelievable.

TAPPER: All right. That's airing in just a couple hours. Just a few hours. Thanks, Bill Weir. Welcome aboard.

That's it for THE LEAD. I'll be back at 6:00 p.m. Eastern to anchor "THE SITUATION ROOM."

For now, I turn you over to Jim Sciutto who's filling in for Wolf Blitzer.