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THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER

"Interesting Discrepancies" On Malaysia Air 370 Data Described By Philip Wood's Partner; Audio Clips From Hillary Clinton's New Book "Leaked"; Why Do Soldiers Miss War?; Is Hollywood Turning Against Obama?

Aired May 27, 2014 - 16:30   ET

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


JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Joining me now is Sara Bajc, whose partner Philip Wood was on Malaysian Airlines Flight 370.

Sara, good to see you again.

So, does the release of this data raise any questions for you, give you any confidence about where Philip might be, that investigators are looking in the right place?

SARAH BAJC, PARTNER OF PHILIP WOOD, AMERICAN ONBOARD MH370: The preliminary feedback that I have received from a few of the individuals looking at the information is that there is some interesting discrepancies specifically around the first frequencies. So, you know, that might be something that they are going to look into a little bit more.

TAPPER: The Bluefin-21, the underwater drone that's been searching the ocean floor for the plane, it's wrapping up its mission. The next phase involving mapping a much larger area of the ocean floor won't start for a few months.

Are you surprised that after all of this time, there still hasn't been one concrete trace of this plane?

BAJC: It's one of the things that leads us to be suspicious about why they have chosen this particular place. As a family group, and I as a concerned citizen and a frequent passenger of international airlines, I believe this investigation has to go back to the very, very beginning with an independent body. It cannot be run by the Malaysian government. They have too bad of a history already. They have made error after error, and they also have far too much vested interest, frankly, in not finding the plane.

TAPPER: Sara, I can't imagine the sadness and the grief that you and the other families are feeling. I guess a lot of us probably feel like the simplest explanation is the most likely, that this plane probably crashed. I'm wondering where your head is at these days. What do you think happened?

BAJC: I honestly don't know what to think anymore. My head and my heart and my instincts are all cluttered up. We've been bombarded with cycles of emotional roller coaster over an extremely long period of time. And we've been deceived, whether that's actively or inadvertently also over a long period of time.

So we haven't even gotten to the point of proper grieving. Sad is kind of a weird word because it would have to denote some acceptance, and at least for me, I have not accepted that Philip is dead yet. There's not a trace of evidence that the airplane has crashed, and there is ample evidence that there is a cover-up going on. So that does lead me to hold out hope that that airplane was indeed taken and is being held for some other purpose that we just don't know yet.

TAPPER: Sarah Bajc, I hope you get answers and I hope you find peace. Thank you for your time.

BAJC: Thank you, Jake.

TAPPER; Coming up, she has nothing but praise for him now, but will that change if she decides to run for president herself? Hillary Clinton opening up in her new book about her relationship with President Obama. Are they as close as some think?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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

The Politics Lead now. So is it just a book or perhaps the world's longest resume cover letter? Hillary Clinton's memoir about her time as secretary of state, "Hard Choices," hits shelves in about two weeks. But today, her publisher offered up a taste, a dollop, of what many think could potentially be the kickoff for her long, long rumored run for the White House with a new excerpt and helpingly, an audio clip. Take a listen.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

HILLARY CLINTON, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: As is usually the case with the benefit of hindsight, I wish we could go back and visit certain choices, but I'm proud of what we accomplished. These years were also a personal journey for me. Both literally -- I ended up visiting 120 countries and traveling nearly one million miles -- and figuratively, from the painful end of the 2008 campaign to an unexpected partnership and friendship with my former rival, Barack Obama.

I've served our country in one way or another for decades. Yet during my years as secretary of state, I learned even more about our exceptional strengths and what it will take for us to compete and thrive at home and abroad.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

TAPPER: Let's bring in CNN senior political correspondent Brianna Keilar and White House correspondent for "The New York Times," Peter Baker, who is also the author of his own book, "Days of Fire: Bush and Cheney In The White House," which comes out in paper back next week. If you're going to the bookstore to buy Hillary's book, stop by the paperback aisle. Pick up Peter's book.

PETER BAKER, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": It's a natural combination.

TAPPER: It's a natural combination.

(LAUGHTER)

TAPPER: So, Brianna, every word of these little dollops that they're releasing - first on Mother's Day in Vogue and now this is being pored over. What is your read? First of all, is there anything remotely interesting in this latest excerpt?

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I will say it's pretty cautious. OK? There's no bombshells here, OK. It's cautious, and this is the author's note explaining why she is writing this book. If the book is anything like the author's note, I don't think we're expecting a whole lot of stones to be thrown. I think one of the only ones that she really does is talking about how Washington -- the followers of Washington's long-running soap opera, and she says, I didn't write this book for them. It's sort of distancing herself from Washington, and that's not too bad of a message for a potential presidential --

TAPPER: She says, Peter, in she caused the raid on bin Laden's compound - you're going to find this very surprising. Hold on your seat - "as crisp and courageous a display of leadership as I've ever seen."

BAKER: Yes, that's surprising.

TAPPER: Risky. But isn't it true, though, if she does run, she's going to have to distance herself from some of Obama's policies and decisions?

BAKER: Yes, no, look, in some ways she's running as a vice president, which is much like George H.W. Bush or - I know, poor Joe Biden. But the truth is, she owns the last administration. At the same time, she has to re-establish her separate identity. And reminds us that she was a rival of Barack Obama's. She doesn't want to take on sort of everything he did. And she did disagree with him on some things. But she's going to have to find that proper balance that won't alienate Obama supporters while still telling other voters that she's going to be something different.

KEILAR: And we've been hearing her doing a little bit of that. She's come out recently kind of talking tougher on Iran, and she compared Vladimir Putin to Hitler, which is certainly something that the president didn't do.

TAPPER: Right. Yes. Let's take a listen to this moment that she had in discussing foreign policy in the book.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

HILLARY CLINTON: While there are few problems in today's world that the United States can solve alone, there are even fewer that can be solved without the United States. Everything that I have done and seen has convinced me that America remains the indispensable nation. I am just as convinced, however, that our leadership is not a birthright. It must be earned by every generation.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

TAPPER: Kind of interesting timing, though, I have to say, talking about the United States as the indispensable nation on the day that President Obama announces that the U.S. is leaving Afghanistan. But there really isn't anything in anything I have read or heard yet from this book that leads me to believe that she is doing this as anything other than a precursor to running for president. Because it is so cautious, and we all know from covering her, behind the scenes, she's a lot more lively, she's a lot more interesting, she's a lot more opinionated.

KEILAR: Yes. And there's a lot of optimism in that message. But she also kind of does her on the one hand, on the other hand, right, where she says the future of the U.S. and the role of the U.S. is so significant and it's most significant. However, we can't take that for granted, basically.

So that sort of struck me, I think, is she sort of pushing this positive message, which is so, you know, quintessentially kind of on- the-stump running that that's what I took from it.

TAPPER: It's an interesting rollout, though. They have said -- the Clinton team -- that they know these books tend to leak, so they are kind of doing their own leaking ahead of time.

BAKER: Right. Well, and they are shopping all of these various sensational parts. She loved her mother, she supported the raid on bin Laden

TAPPER: Loves America.

BAKER: -- loves America. So, it'll be interesting to see whether they have some other ideas. But we do have a whole week-and-a-half or so to go, and there are lots of different ways for them to steer this media, you know, machine into where they plan to go.

TAPPER: I guess one of the things -- she's so criticized by the media, not the American people -- but she's so criticized for being so on message and so cautious. That was the criticism during the last campaign, also. It seems like she's still kind of doing that, though.

KEILAR: Well, I would say actually if you watch her in some of these speeches that she's given, even when she had a shoe tossed at her, I thought her response was pretty funny --

TAPPER: Yeah, I'm sorry. I meant in the book.

KEILAR: Exactly. That's why I'm wondering if we have watched her being a little looser lately, is she going to kind of revert back to that not really showing her personality that I think was actually to her disadvantage very much in 2008.

BAKER: Well, I think a lot of people would say that she did better later in the campaign when she was already pretty much lost and she did kind of relax and showed herself a little more in 2008. That was when when she was stronger. But she was too far behind at that point to make a difference.

TAPPER: And we've been talking about Hillary Clinton all year, and now we'll have a legitimate excuse to do so when her book comes out. Peter Baker, Brianna Keilar, thank you so much. We appreciate it.

Coming up next, the rush of war. Men and women risking their lives and wanting more. Why some members of the military returned from the front lines and instantly want to go back.

Plus, they have given him millions and stood by his side at campaign events. But is Hollywood now turning its back on President Obama?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Welcome back to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper. Our "Buried Lead" now, as the president announced earlier today, "Operation Enduring Freedom" is finally coming to a close. But what happens when those on the front lines actually come home? I spoke to the author of "War" and the director of the new film, Sebastian Junger, and he talked about why some troops wish they could go back to war.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TAPPER: The film is a follow up to your Academy award-nominated documentary, "Restrepo," how is "Korengal" different?

SEBASTIAN JUNGER, AUTHOR, "WAR": With "Restrepo," Tim and I, Tim, my good friend and co-director, we wanted to make a film that allowed civilian audiences to go into a cinema and experience something approximating what come back feels like. "Korengal" is a little bit different. We were trying to make a film whereas civilians and soldiers does sort of understand combat a little bit better. I asked the soldiers things like, what is fear like? Why do you miss the war? A lot of them missed the war once they got back.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I would rather be there than here. I'd go back right now. I'd go back right now.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: How can they miss a war?

JUNGER: It's the hardest, most violent, terrible thing they've ever experienced. They lose their friends, they almost lose their lives, but they miss it. And I think what they miss, on the one hand, is the enormous amount of adrenaline and intensity that comes with combat. These guys played war when they were kids. They join the army and because they wanted to be combat infantry.

But there's another thing going on. In a platoon like that, they are literally sleeping shoulder to shoulder, in a small outpost, no internet, for a while, even no phone communication back home, combat almost every day and they got incredibly close. It's almost intoxicating. Once you're deprived of it, it really is an enormous gap in your life.

TAPPER: One of the interesting choices you make as a director -- and it was risky, I have to say, is you try to recreate the adrenaline that these troops feel when they are in a fire fight.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's nothing like it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're getting engaged again because our guys have moved --

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: Incredibly riveting and yet risky because you do -- there's a question of whether or not you're glamourizing war in that scene I think.

JUNGER: Combat is a lot of things, but sometimes it's very exciting and you can see that in that footage. It's a part of the soldier's experience that civilians really have to understand. One of the uncomfortable truths about soldiers is that many soldiers enjoy it, as much as it damages them and threatens them psychologically later, there's something about it that they really enjoy and that's a complicated thing for civilian to digest.

TAPPER: There is a religious soldier in the film who he struggles with, well, you did what you had to do. He's not so sure that what you had to do is not good enough when he dies and God asks him what he did on the planet.

JUNGER: That's right. It really tormented him. He said, look, we did our jobs out here. I wouldn't do it any differently if we didn't have to do it again, but he killed people. We're taught that it's bad to kill.

TAPPER: You talk about the damages that if not all of them have experienced. I'm wondering, have you, as somebody who has been there -- you were off and on in "Korengal" for a year. Are you OK? Do you have PTS?

JUNGER: It's tough when you're really young, they are 20, 21 years old, get traumatized by war. They come back and they're pretty staggered and I'm old when I was out there two years ago. I have some pretty good issues but, you know, like everything you sort of process these things a little bit better when you get older. I think I'm pretty good now. Nothing really incapacitating.

TAPPER: The film is "Korengal" and it is really definitely worth for anyone who has a change. Sebastian Junger, thanks so much.

JUNGER: Thank you very much. TAPPER: Wolf Blitzer is here with a preview of "THE SITUATION ROOM." You have some breaking news from an interview with the deputy of national security?

WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST, "THE SITUATION ROOM": Literally just a few moments ago, I taped an interview with Tony Blinken, the president's deputy national security adviser and he told us that the White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough has asked the White House counsel to launch a full scale investigation into the naming, the outing of the CIA station chief in Kabul, Afghanistan, the inadvertent outing, the damage that was done as a result of that.

How could this have happened with the review being conducted to make sure that, in his words, it won't happen again? He also on the issue of those 9,800 U.S. troops that are going to stay in Afghanistan following what is supposed to be the complete withdrawal at the end of this year, 9,800 will stay there. How much will it cost U.S. taxpayers to stay there? He tells us. And I'll give you a clue, tens of billions of dollars to keep that military presence in Afghanistan in 2015 and '16.

TAPPER: Sounds like a great interview coming up in 8 minutes on "THE SITUATION ROOM." Wolf Blitzer, thank you so much.

Coming up next, a monster weekend at the Box Office with the new "X Men" movie, but is the enemy in that film and many other blockbusters? Does it say something about Hollywood's true feelings about President Obama's policies?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. It's now time for the Pop Culture Lead. Jay-Z, George Clooney, Steven Spielberg, the list of stars in showbiz power players who backed President Obama. The list goes on and on. For years we've been hearing so many comedians talk about just how difficult it is to find hook for criticizing President Obama. But if you look at some of the largest hits on the big and small screen this year, you have to ask, is Hollywood finally getting over its love affair with the commander in chief?

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TAPPER (voice-over): They were once an Obama punch line.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: I have two words for you, predator drones.

TAPPER: But drones are now the inspiration behind powerhouse plot lines.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why can't we use these machines here at home?

TAPPER: From a looming presence in the new "X-Men" movie to machines gone rouge in "Captain America" and "Robocop," Hollywood has created its own role for the administration's most controversial policies. Casting drone technology and mass surveillance as their top enemies. Andrew Romano wrote about this for "The Daily Beast."

ANDREW ROMANO, SENIOR WRITER, "THE DAILY BEAST": They are always a tool of evil that is an expression of the anxiety of the filmmakers.

TAPPER: In President Obama's second term, shadowed by predator drone strikes and an NSA scandal, films are flipping the script on the president who was once a media darling.

ROMANO: He still raises a lot of his money from Hollywood and there are misgivings that have bubbled up over the past couple of years and I think they have centered around the foreign policy questions.

TAPPER: In an interview with "Mother Jones" magazine, the directors of "Captain America, The Winter Soldier Psych" quote, "Drone strikes, the president's terror suspect kill list and pre-emptive technology as inspirations for the film." The criticism does not stop at the big screen. Worst case scenario in Fox's "24" play up drones potential dangers.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The technology that was used to control your drone is going to be used in a massive terrorist attack against civilians later today.

ROMANO: The question is whether people are tuning in to these metaphors and underlying political subtext and whether they are just watching and eating their popcorn.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's never been greater.

TAPPER: But then again, who needs metaphors? A-listers, John Kusack, Oliver Stone, and others use this PSA to voice their opinions of the NSA outright.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We need to end, not suspicion-less surveillance.

TAPPER: The question is, of course, does a familiar super villain have any impact on its real life counterpart?

ROMANO: When you look at polls right now it shows that Americans are generally fairly unconcerned about the drone program. If enough of these movies come out and they are always casting the drone program in a negative light, you can imagine that people's perceptions would start to change.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

TAPPER: And don't forget, premiering this Thursday on CNN, the decade that changed the world, the space race, Vietnam, free love, the British invasion, all of it chronicled in the new ten-part CNN series "The Sixties" from executive producer, Tom Hanks, that's Thursday, 9 p.m. Eastern and Pacific on CNN.

That's it for THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper. I now turn you over to Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM.