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THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER

Thirty Three Thousand Children Flood U.S. Border; "You're Playing With My Words"; Are Mass Shootings On the Rise?

Aired June 12, 2014 - 16:30   ET

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


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Welcome back to THE LEAD, the National Lead now, more than 33,000 young children alone having trekked thousands and thousands of miles from El Salvador or Guatemala, they are crossing into a Texas health escape, shoulder-to-shoulder into freezing cold cells, threatened with violence and sexual abuse, that's the reality for many of these children, according to a complaint filed by immigrants' rights groups.

Now the border protection commissioner said the complaints against the border patrol agents are being investigated and Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson earlier today also admitted that these weigh stations are not equipped to handle the current problem.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JEH JOHNSON, SECRETARY, HOMELAND SECURITY: Illegal migration is not safe. Illegal migration through the South Texas border is not safe. A processing center is no place for your child.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: About those already here Johnson said little about what the Obama administration intends to do. Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, who was also running to succeed current Governor Rick Perry says the feds are spending too much time on the needs of the kids, that quote, "We are concerned federal authorities are not available to secure the border and successfully stop cross-border criminal activity," unquote.

CNN's Martin Savidge is live in McAllen, Texas about 5 miles from the Mexican border. Martin, you rode along today with the border patrol agents on the front lines of this crisis.

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, we did, Jake. I got to tell you, you know, I have covered a lot of stories when it comes to the border with Mexico and U.S. relations. I have never covered a story quite like this one and the border agents I was with said, you know, there's a reason for that. We've never seen anything like this. Here's what we found.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SAVIDGE (voice-over): The U.S. and Texas have spent decades and billions defending the borders to keep out drug cartels, bad guys, and people without permission. But despite all that, they now seem powerless to stop the most recent illegal tide, children.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Here we go.

SAVIDGE: We pick up their footprints in the sandy soil.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You can see some of these are a lot smaller than us. So it's either going to be females or kids.

SAVIDGE: I'm with a U.S. border patrol agent who doesn't want to be seen for security reasons.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Welcome to the border.

SAVIDGE: The banks of the Rio Grand are littered with abandoned flotation devices.

(on camera): They look pretty small.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You have a pair of pants, which obviously belongs to a child.

SAVIDGE (voice-over): The children were here. In recent months, border agents in McAllen have seen a surge of women and children who have made the dangerous trek from Central America. What they haven't seen before is the sheer number of unaccompanied children, barely older than toddlers.

CHRIS CABRERA, NATIONAL BORDER PATROL COUNCIL: I've seen them personally as young as 4, I've heard them as young as 2.

SAVIDGE: The U.S. Border Protection System was designed mainly to handle adults, but local agents said it was never meant to be a detention daycare. These images leaked by a Texas congressman's office show massive overcrowding in just one border patrol station. The situation one Texas sheriff compared to the scenes of human desperation that followed Hurricane Katrina.

To try and ease this situation each day, the U.S. Coast Guard C- 130 loads a cargo of young detainees at the McAllen Airport flying them off to larger facilities, often out of state. More federal help is said to be on the way. Local border agents say they need it.

(on camera): Would you describe it as a crises?

CABRERA: I would say so.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SAVIDGE: You know, the experts will tell you that, you know, they do a lot of training, but when it comes to having to deal with kids at the age of 4 coming at them across the border, that's where they use some other training most of them have. That's their parental skills. They say that there is nothing in their official background that got them ready for what they are seeing now -- Jake. TAPPER: It's just a bizarre and heart-wrenching story. Martin,

Republicans on Capitol Hill have been blasting the Obama administration saying that a failure to enforce laws and some other things that they are doing are causing this influx of children. Do they have a case to make?

SAVIDGE: Well, there's a whole myriad of reasons that people give as to why you are seeing this influx. Remember, it's Central Americans that are coming up predominantly and it appears, at least according to the border agents, that there's a rumor circulating down there that now is the time to come to America and they say with the children, it appears that many of them, their parents are already here illegally in the U.S. and they are now coming this way to join them in the belief that somehow immigration law is going to change or get tougher and either way they want to be reunited -- Jake.

TAPPER: Martin Savidge from McAllen, Texas. Thank you. Great reporting.

Coming up, such high praise, you'd assume it's coming from a Democrat, but this time, it's Republican Governor Rick Perry, complementing Hillary Clinton's career from first lady to secretary of state. What gives? That's coming up.

Plus, this has become the norm. Those words from President Obama after the most recent school shooting. But are mass shootings really a new phenomenon, my guest ahead says no way.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. The Politics Lead now, don't spit up your herbal tea, but former secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, and NPR's Terry Gross, just got into it a little bit in an interview on fresh air. Gross peppered Clinton about her position on same sex marriage and asked whether personal feelings or politics had caused her to have one position on it and then later change her position on it. Clinton pushed back. That's when things got a little bit uncomfortable.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So that's one for you changed your mind.

HILLARY CLINTON, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: You know, I have to say, I think you are being very persistent, but you are playing with my words and playing with what is such an important issue.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm just trying to clarify so I can understand.

CLINTON: No, I don't think you are trying to clarify. I think you're saying I used to be opposed and now I'm in favor and I did it for political reasons and that is flat wrong.

(END VIDEO CLIP) TAPPER: Let's bring in our panel, Maggie Haberman, CNN political

analyst and senior political writer for "Politico" and Bob Costa, national political reporter for "The Washington Post." Maggie, how is the book rollout going?

MAGGIE HABERMAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Overall, it's gone well. There have been two moments that have not gone well. There was an interview on ABC where she talked about how she was dead broke and she and her husband had to put together resources to amass houses. Today, there was the audio that you played and when you combine them together, she sounds quite not ready for primetime in these moments when she has to get answers.

The line of inquiry on gay marriage was a legitimate one. She has not said why she changed her position since she left the State Department and the question on dead broke, a lot of reporters wonder whether she was prepped sufficiently. That's going to come up over and over again, too.

TAPPER: I might add, Benghazi, too. But Bob, let me ask you about in this exchange with Terry Gross, who is, I should say, a treasure in American journalism today, the secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, didn't want to acknowledge that politics had played any role and she didn't want to acknowledge that she had been wrong. That's what I took out of it. What did you think?

ROBERT COSTA, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, "WASHINGTON POST": I think that's right, Jake. I think we're seeing a politician who, for a long time, has been able to operate and hover above the national political scene and not have to engage with reporters in this way. And I think Maggie is right. Questions about her preparation are evident now in the way she handled the exchange, especially in a program like fresh air where it's low key and it should be a comfortable zone for her and for her to so easily get gross get under her skin, it's revealing as she heads towards a possible campaign.

TAPPER: Let's talk about what is going on with the Republican Party too. Bob, CNN caught up with David Brat this morning, that's the college professor who unseated the House majority leader in a primary. Mr. Brat saying yesterday to our friend, Chuck Todd, that he didn't have policy decisions on a whole host of issues like the minimum wage. Today said he wasn't interested in chatting. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DAVE BRAT (R), VIRGINIA CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE: I'm going to take a few days with my family and let it all soak in and enjoy it and thank you all for being here. I apologize that I don't have enough time to spend with everybody. But thanks and that's it for today. I've got to go get my haircut.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: Got to get my haircut. I'm going to have to remember that for the future. Bob, speaking of ready for primetime, is Professor Brat ready for primetime?

COSTA: No. And I've spoken with Professor Brat several times over the past few months. He's a political amateur and had a very small campaign staff. Yet, as much as we see in that exchange, someone who is not ready for a campaign under national scrutiny, I spoke to NRCC Chairman Greg Walden and he said that the National Republican Party will send down staff and money to try to boost him in that competitive perhaps district.

TAPPER: Obviously there's a big House leadership race going on right now. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor will soon be former House Majority Leader Eric Cantor and there's a big race going on right now. How much can the Tea Party actually take control of the GOP House leadership, obviously Speaker Boehner accepted?

HABERMAN: I'm going to ask Bob to please correct me if I'm wrong here. I'm stepping on his area just a bit. But I do think that this is very problematic for Speaker Boehner. I think that you more the see -- McCarthy is in a good position to --

TAPPER: Not a Tea Partier?

HABERMAN: Not a Tea Partier. However, to the extent that Boehner has had trouble controlling his caucus the whole time, it's very difficult for him. I think that was sort of set in stone. Look, Brat was not running as a Tea Party candidate. He said that in his own speech, right? But the Tea Party has claimed him as their own. That's not good for Boehner.

TAPPER: Bob, tell us what is going to happen?

COSTA: McCarthy is a complicated political figure because in 2010, a Tea Party waived, he was the chief recruiter for House Republicans. He has deep relationships with a lot of conservatives in the House even though he is a member of the party establishment and leadership. McCarthy is poised right now to be the next majority leader. The race becomes for Whip.

We have Steve Scalese, a conservative who chairs the Republican Study Committee. He seems like the Tea Party's best chance of getting someone into the top three of leadership, but he has a crowd of competition and a lot of people asked if they would like to Whip Iowa in the race. We'll see how that plays out over the coming days.

TAPPER: He did send my staff a Mardi Gras cake.

COSTA: A king cake.

TAPPER: That's right. Thank you very much, Bob Costa, Maggie Haberman. Appreciate it.

When we come back, it's seems like an all too familiar occurrence one violent mass shooting and then another violent mass shooting. Are these mass killings on the rise? My next guest says no and he has numbers to prove it.

Plus, tear gas, injuries, arrests while police are cracking down right outside the biggest sporting event in the world.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. In the past week alone, the country has been horrified by the images on our televisions, a 15- year-old high schooler shooting a classmate to death, in Oregon no one seems to know why. Two policemen and a hero outside a Walmart killed in Vegas by some sick husband and wife team.

A 26-year-old taking inspiration from Columbine, killing a student on a Seattle college campus. It leaves the nation and the president asking why. The president calls it a one-day story and suggests that mass shootings are on the rise. Are they?

Well, one professor and criminologist suggests no. He compiled the data of shootings with four or more fatalities from 1976 to 2012 and found that these incidents on a chart look like an EKG, up and down, a heartbeat, not a steady rise. Does that surprise you?

And joining me now is the man who crunched these numbers, James Allen Fox, professor of criminology at North Eastern University. Professor Fox, good to see you as always. But I have to say it's hard to believe what it seems like every week we are reporting another mass shooting, many of them at schools that this isn't an increasing trend. But that's what your data shows. I have to ask though your figures only go to 2012. Could there have been a spike in the last two years?

JAMES ALAN FOX, CRIMINOLOGY PROFESSOR, NORTHEASTERN UNIVERSITY: Sure there could be but there was a spike in the early 2000s and 2005 and usually spikes are followed by -- we shouldn't jump to conclusions. Barack Obama has called gun violence the new normal. I should remind you, however, that Bill Clinton once said, we should focus on trend lines, not headlines. And the trend line here is flat, even while the population in this country has grown.

TAPPER: So you're not saying that this is something we shouldn't be concerned with, you're just saying maybe we should have been as concerned years ago as we seem to be today?

FOX: Right. Obviously it's a horrific event when 4, 5, 12 people are gunned down and we should be trying to deal with situations like that, but let's not think that this is an epidemic.

TAPPER: We hear so much about shooters, such as the one on the college campus in Seattle last week being inspired by the Columbine shootings. Was there a jump in shootings shortly after Columbine?

FOX: There was a decline in shootings after Columbine. America was obsessed with 9/11 and there was a period of time when there was no multiple victim shootings in schools. Prior to Columbine, actually, there was a whole stream of shootings about six mass shootings at schools for a period of three or four years. So there are the -- it's a random process when sometimes things cluster together and then sometimes there's a lull and we talk about other factors and other issues in America. TAPPER: There was additional gun control in the'90s and then

some of that has expired since then. Did that have in effect one way or the other on these shootings?

FOX: No. I did measure the impact of the assault weapons ban that we had for a period of time in 1994 on mass shootings and the impact was negligible and indeed, most mass murders don't use assault weapons. They use semiautomatic handguns. That's the most common weapon but not what would be declared an assault weapon and banned. At the same time, it's still a good idea that we limit the size of magazines. The extent to which they have to reload seems to intervene in their way, in their paddle.

TAPPER: To stop these, what does society need to do?

FOX: If you want to stop them, there are things that we should do but I don't think we'll eliminate them. Are we going to round up and arrest everyone that looks a little bizarre or wears black clothing or has a scary Facebook page? I doubt it. You see, we treasure or personal freedoms in America and unfortunately, occasional mass shootings, as horrific as they are, is one of the prices that we pay for the freedoms that we -- that we enjoy. I don't want to minimize the pain and suffering of the victims and their families and the communities. They are horrific. But it's not an epidemic and let's not go in a knee-jerk way and cage society for something that happens very rarely.

TAPPER: James Alan Fox, thank you.

Coming up next, it was supposed to be a beautiful day for the beautiful game. The start of the World Cup in soccer's spiritual home, but instead of cheering on the home team, Brazilians tackle the police. Why are they so angry?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. Turning to the Sports Lead, if soccer is a religion, then the World Cup is its mecca. How else would you explain that parents everywhere would name their kids Diego all because of this guy? The host nation is taking on Croatia all the while protesters clashed, rioting over the $11 billion Brazil spent getting ready to host the tournament.

Brazilians are frustrated with FIFA after the Brazilian government included tax exemptions and constructing $300 million stadiums destined to become unkempt mausoleums someday. FIFA has denied demanding that sweetheart deal. Brazil and Croatia are currently tied 1-1 at the half.

Tonight on CNN, the event that changed the course of American history, a new installment of the CNN series, "The Sixties" examining the assassination of President Kennedy, tonight, 9 p.m. Eastern and Pacific. That's it for THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper. I now turn you over to Wolf Blitzer.