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THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER

Tornadoes Hit Nebraska; Video of Hillary Clinton Released; Is This The Start Of A Campaign?;

Aired June 17, 2014 - 16:30   ET

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


(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

RYAN HAUF, TORNADO WITNESS: One started over here and they just both headed down.

GEORGE HOWELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It would be a direct hit.

HAUF: Hard to remember where everything was because when you come to town, you knew where everybody lived and all that. But now, you can't even tell where your old neighborhood was.

GOV. DAVE HEINEMAN (R), NEBRASKA: I know Nebraskans. We're resilient. We're going to rebuild. This town's too tough to die, right.

HOWELL: Governor Dave Heineman toured the debris field in Pilger, Nebraska, talking with folks and reiterating several times the town's motto, a town that's too tough to die. But nearly 60 percent of Pilger is now wiped out. Officials say one square mile of damage, two people died as the storm came through including a 5-year-old child. This woman who worked in what used to be the town's bank, took shelter in the vault.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We were in the vault before the sirens went off. So we were safe. We felt we were safe.

HOWELL: Residents here know that rebuilding will take some time. Ryan Hauf is just thankful that his parents and his dog survived.

HAUF: That's about all I was concerned about for right now because that's about all I got left.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HOWELL: It's a tough situation. You know, our photojournalist Jake Carpenter showing you this tree. And you know, Jake, the thing about it, when he these storms come through, it's just amazing to see how powerful the wind is to sit the branch just a rip, you know, the green off all these trees and leave behind the devastation you see here. We know that here within the next couple of hours here in Pilger, they're going to come together and talk about the volunteer effort, you know, to start that process of clearing through the debris, people's personal belongings and trying to get back to normal as best they can.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: George Howell in Pilger, thank you so much.

Coming up next, before she was a household name, Hillary Clinton was an attorney. And now a case she defended 40 years ago is being questioned by some conservatives. Will she be asked about it tonight by the attendees as CNN's live town hall? We're waiting for her to arrive. And in 30 minutes, we'll find out.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper live at the Newseum in Washington, D.C. where in less than half a hour former secretary of state Hillary Clinton will talk with CNN's Christiane Amanpour for the first live televised town hall meeting of her book tour for her new biography, "Hard Choices." All right, of biography are hard choices.

"Politico" is now reporting, the book is already sold 100,000 copies. Many believe this tour is less about selling books than selling a potential presidential candidate. Since the media blitz began, we've seen many different sides of Clinton. For those who thought they knew everything there was to know about Hillary Clinton, most recently Ilana Goodman, a reporter for the conservative website, "the Washington free beacon" uncovered audio recordings of Clinton from the 1980s, including one clip of Clinton discussing a 1975 legal case in which she was the defense attorney assigned to be the defense attorney for a man charged with raping a 12-year-old girl. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

He took a lie detector test. I had him take a polygraph which he passed, which forever destroyed my faith in polygraphs. But you know what was sad was the prosecutors had evidence, among which was his underwear. So they presented the underpants with a hole in it. I said what kind of evidence is that? A pair of underpants with a hole in it. Of course, the crime lab had thrown away. The piece that they had cut out, it was really odd. I plea bargained it down because it turned out they didn't have evidence.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: And let's bring in CNN senior political correspondent Brianna Keilar, CNN chief congressional correspondent Dana Bash and CNN chief political analyst Gloria Borger.

Brianna, I will start with you. In the "Washington Post," Melinda Hanneberger says, quote, "this is not typical talk for a lifelong defender of women and children." And points out that in the affidavit, Clinton cast the victim as quote emotionally unstable with a tendency to seek out older men and to engage in fantasizing.

Now, I know she was doing her job. She had to defend this client. That was -- he's entitled to the best defense possible. She's not obviously responsible for that, but do you think this is politically a problem for her in any way?

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: I do. I think it's -- I think it is good lawyering, but I think it is bad politics. And I think it's really bad for a certain subset of voters and that would be young people.

You know, I've gone to certain events and the people who are kind of coming out to see what she's about are you know, for lack of a better term, the millennial generation. They're still actually being introduced to her. Fancy that in 2016, these are people who were born 1998 or slightly before, right? So you're talking about people who don't really identify with her as first lady. Probably not even as senator. And they're still being introduced to her right now. And she is being branded to those folks as a champion of women and girls.

And so, I think when you have a group of people who don't have necessarily that depth of knowledge about her and then you put something like this. And I do think the audio really changes it where she's saying he took a polygraph and then she says that it forever, you know, destroyed her faith in polygraphs. She thought he was guilty.

TAPPER: Yes.

KEILAR: I think it's a problem. I think it really pokes a hole.

TAPPER: Now Dana, we should point out, Clinton wrote about this in her other auto biography living saying it was shortly after this experience that Ann Henry, another woman and I discussed setting up Arkansas as first rape hot line. She is somebody that has a track record of standing up for women, standing up for girls but she is also a tough attorney.

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: A very tough attorney. And Brianna brought up the generational perhaps divide on this. And I think we should also look at it from the perspective of the fact that she was a young woman in a man's world in the south. And she was new to the area. She was assigned this case by a judge and she felt that even an objective articles she had no choice but to take it.

The question then becomes, did she have a choice to go beyond that and in the affidavit what many will view as blaming the victim, going for the jugular in a way a good attorney should do to do whatever they can for their client, but when you're talking about something as incredibly sensitive and incredibly explosive as rape, especially when it's not about being a lawyer but a politician, so much of this will depend on how she frames it right now, how she discuss it and whether she says I was young. I'm looking at my older self back as my younger self I wouldn't have done that.

TAPPER: And we should point out that we reached out to the Team Clinton and they did not have a comment on this.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Right. And I think, you know, to your point about your older self reaching out to your younger self. I understand the '70s. I understand where Hillary was assigned being asked to take this case for legal aid. And I also think though in listening to her with her Arkansas accent, I might add there, it gives us a window into what she would do, how ambitious she was and how aggressive she was and also what kind of a lawyer she was and how much she wanted to win this case. I mean, she took evidence with her to New York to -- .

BASH: Not just evidence, it was a pair of underwear.

BORGER: A pair of underwear, right.

TAPPER: The DNA and all that.

BORGER: To have the DNA analyzes. You know, this was somebody was asked to take this case by a very powerful person and did her best on behalf of her client, and it gives can you a sense of what she does. You know, how when she's got her eye on something and she wants to do something, she did everything she could.

BASH: The other thing, just quickly I want to point out, is that I listened to that audio several times to try to get a sense of, you know, the buzz on it is that she's laughing about it. I'm not so sure that's fair. It was like a nervous laughter about how from her perspective how inept the prosecution was, the fact they were losing evidence and messing up evidence.

TAPPER: I don't think there's any question she was being a tough attorney. But that the doesn't necessarily jibe with the narrative.

Now, turning to another topic, the arrest today of one of the chief suspects of the Benghazi attacks. I suspect that if. Christiane Amanpour doesn't ask Secretary Clinton about it, which I'm sure she will, somebody in the audience will. This incident, this episode still dogs her, Benghazi.

KEILAR: Yes. And I do expect that she'll be asked about it. But I also think it is part of like, you know, she's being asked about it kind of at pre turn, too. So, does it change things for her? I'm not sure. I think the issue we're seeing in polls that it does that voters think her time at the state department is a plus for her. But then you've got the bruise on the resume is Benghazi.

Fifty five percent of those polled in a CNN/ORC poll that just came out yesterday, they are saying they're dissatisfied with how she handled it. And I think as it gets discussed more and more, it kind of does become a little more of a problem.

BORGER: I think the question is, does she testify on Benghazi before the select committee?

TAPPER: Before the select committee.

BORGER: Will she do that? I think that's why there are the Democrats on the committee because they're au going to circle around her. But I think this is a question she's got to answer. I think today's arrest helps to her a certain degree. She said look, we got this guy and we'll get to the bottom of it as she has said. That's what I'm about. Her answers have been very much like the CEO. I wasn't in charge of security. And we got to play -- we got to the play major league ball and not stop getting bogged down.

TAPPER: We have to go right now.

Brianna Keilar, Dana Bash, Gloria Borger, thank you so much. Great insightful as always.

When we come back, they were rivals turned working partners. But that doesn't mean the president always took it easy on his secretary of state Hillary Clinton. Why he warned her not to screw up twice.

And will her relationship with the president be brought up in our CNN town hall? We're minutes away from the start of that event. Hillary Clinton live answering your questions. That's coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

TAPPER: Welcome back to the lead. We're live here at the Newseum in Washington, D.C. where in just a few moments, CNN will begin our exclusive live town hall with Hillary Clinton moderated by our own Christiane Amanpour. There are a lot of questions to ask Clinton, her record as secretary of state, fears of civil war in Iraq, today's Benghazi arrest. My buddy from Alex here from Houston, he has lots of question. As Christiane explains, when it comes to Clinton every word counts.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

HILLARY CLINTON, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: It is great to be with you.

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice- over): It's been a high profile week for Hillary Clinton.

CLINTON: I like it to double as a workout. Bite two so you can do.

AMANPOUR: Some have called it the unofficial start of her unofficial campaign. During the media blitz for "Hard Choices," that question, the hard choice about 2016, was artfully and repeatedly dodged.

CLINTON: You know, I'm going to decide when it feels right for me to decide. If I ever decide to do it, I will let you all be the first to know. I think the voters have the right to choose whoever they want.

AMANPOUR: But for a woman who many expect will run for president, every answer, every word is put under the microscope. Whether it's national security.

CLINTON: My chapter about Syria is called "a wicked problem," and now it's gotten wickeder because of the spill over into Iraq.

AMANPOUR: Or personal finances.

CLINTON: We came out of the White House not only dead broke but in debt.

AMANPOUR: Her critics jumped on that comment and Clinton took another stab at it during another appearance with the mayor of Chicago, long- time Clinton supporter, Rahm Emanuel.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Dead broke. Really?

CLINTON: Well, that may not have been the most artful way of saying that you know, Bill and I have gone through a lot of different phases in our lives. That was then, this is now.

AMANPOUR: Everyone tried to pry something new out of her and Clinton got a little testy when a radio host suggested that her views on gay marriage were influenced by politics.

TERRY GROSS, HOST: So that's one for you changed your mind?

CLINTON: 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.

GROSS: I'm trying to clarify so you can understand.

CLINTON: I think you're trying to say that I used to be opposed and now I'm in favor and I did it for political reasons. That's just flat wrong.

AMANPOUR: But no one could argue with this.

CLINTON: I've been waiting to be a grandmother for a long time and I can't wait. I'm thrilled.

AMANPOUR: The former secretary of state has famously flown nearly 1 million miles to 112 countries trying to restore broken relationships with world leaders. But it's her relationship with her own leader that seems to provoke the most curiosity.

CLINTON: You talked about the ideas of the Republicans. I didn't talk about Ronald Reagan.

AMANPOUR: The once heated opponents became working partners.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: She's an American of tremendous stature who will have my complete confidence.

AMANPOUR: Clinton says she refused the job of secretary of state several times before she eventually accepted. And she writes, quote, "Shenanigans my team and the president elect were playing, made it tough to say no, shenanigans such as these from Obama's future chief of staff."

CLINTON: He would tell me I'm sorry, he's not available to talk to you right now. I can't put you on because I can't find him.

AMANPOUR: In the end, Clinton says she was at the White House more than 700 times during her tenure at the State Department. And she recalls the president twice telling her, quote, "Don't screw up." Once in 2012 when she brokered an Israeli-Hamas cease fire in Gaza and again that same year when Clinton helped bring a Chinese dissident to America. She calls it one of her proudest achievements. CLINTON: That was the kind of tribute to American values that you don't just turn your back on or at least I don't.

AMANPOUR: Then came the unexpected. Aboard Air Force One near the end of her term, the president asked her to stay on. She says she felt, quote, "The tug of my service gene, that voice telling me there is no higher calling or more noble purpose than serving your country." Then she told the president no. But will that service gene win the tug of war over the presidency in 2016?

(END VIDEOTAPE)

TAPPER: Our thanks to Christiane. In just minutes, Hillary Clinton will take your questions. CNN's town hall with the former secretary of state is coming up. I'm going to make my way up there now. So stay with us. That is just minutes away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. Wow, before a live studio audience. We are live today at the Newseum in Washington, D.C. where in just a few minutes, former secretary of state, former senator, former first lady, Hillary Clinton will hold a live town hall, moderated by our own, Christiane Amanpour. The questions will be yours.

I am now in the night studio at the Newseum where the town hall will be taking place. One of the audience members hoping to get a question in is Hannah Rasheq and she joins me now. How you doing? What had you like to ask the former secretary of state?

HANNAH RASHEQ: How she's going to protect aid workers in the medical community serving Syrian civilians. If she was going to run for president.

TAPPER: How could aid workers -- is this an issue of particular importance to you?

RASHEQ: Yes, I work for a Syrian humanitarian relief organization, and recently a lot of aid workers and the medical community have been targeted by the government and various terrorist organizations.

TAPPER: Good for you for working. What's the name?

RASHEQ: Syria relief and development.

TAPPER: Good for you. That's a wonderful question. That's a difficult one. We still have time. I could probably do another question. What about you? Who are you? Stand up. We need special stickers. And what would you ask?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: About financial reform. It's been awhile since she was in the White House. Recent Supreme Court cases things have changed a little in terms of how does a president make compromises when other forces are working against that? TAPPER: A smart audience. Nice shoes. A 190 people picked from colleges, universities, think thanks, community groups, other organizations and they're all very excited. We have a quick second for you. What would you ask? What's your name?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Tatiana. I'd also ask about Syria. I want to know what she would do in order to engage what remains of the opposition and address the humanitarian crisis.

TAPPER: Two questions on Syria. That's it for THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper. The Hillary Clinton town hall begins right now.