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Interview With Sen. Ted Cruz; Governor Christie Joins Already Crowded GOP Race; Jeb Bush To Release 33 Years Of Tax Returns; State Department About To Release More Clinton Emails; Wildfires Tear Through 3,000 Acres. Aired 4:30-5p ET

Aired June 30, 2015 - 16:30   ET



JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: And, today, the big question, can this Bruce Springsteen superfan return to his glory days?

Let's get right to CNN chief congressional correspondent Dana Bash. She was at the governor's lunch.

Dana, Christie's slogan is telling it like it is. But if his own consultants did that, they would probably tell him that, in his own state and across the country right now, he looks quite diminished compared to where he stood in 2013.

DANA BASH, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. They probably have, and guess what? They don't have to. It's so blatantly, painfully obvious to the governor that he is nowhere near the high-riding place that he was when he won reelection with like over 60 percent of the vote in a blue state.

And that, of course, was his calling card, that he was a Republican who could get things done with Democrats. But a big problem for him, Jake, is that his -- the candor through which he has been -- become a national star really got diminished because of the fact that he had this Bridgegate scandal.

And they thought, you know what? No, he's just another politician. His office did the kind of things that we can't stand when it comes to politicians. So, that was a big part of today, what he was trying to do, which is, his comeback is all about candor.


GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R-NJ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You're going to get what I think, whether you like it or not, or whether it makes you cringe every once in a while or not, a campaign when I'm asked a question, I'm going to give the answer to the question that's asked, not the answer that my political consultants told me to give backstage.


(END VIDEO CLIP) BASH: But, Jake, as you know, part of the issue is that it's not just scandal that's dragged Chris Christie down. It's the economy in New Jersey.

It has simply lagged big time, the fact that the credit rating has been diminished probably nine times since he has been in office. Those are things that are tough to answer for when you are a Republican governor trying to run on leadership.

TAPPER: True, although the field is wide open. There's no clear front-runner. And who knows what is going to happen.

Now, let's talk about his strategy for a second, Dana. If you survey the Republican field, he's one of many candidates who's banking on New Hampshire to turn around his fortunes.

BASH: That's right. He is. And you have been to New Hampshire with Chris Christie. You have seen him in action there. He is good at the town hall, and that's what people in New Hampshire love. They really expect it.

They expect the kind of free-wheeling engagement with voters that Chris Christie likes to do. It's his political comfort zone. But unlike John McCain, who you and I both covered back in 2007, who used this strategy successfully to come back from the political abyss to actually win the Republican nomination, it's a completely different field.

There are so many people who are good at it and hoping that New Hampshire is a launching pad, so it's not going to be as easy for him, but he's there already. He's going to be there for five days. He's basically setting up camp there, because he feels like that's the only place he can try, Jake.

TAPPER: All right, Dana Bash, thank you so much.

One of the targets of Governor Christie's straight talk has been Republican Senator Ted Cruz. Yet, if you ask the Texas senator, he only has positive things to say about his new rival in the race for the Republican nomination, Cruz also advertising himself as a truth- teller who wants to break up what he calls the Washington cartel.

Joining me now, Republican Senator from Texas and Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz.

Senator, thanks so much for joining THE LEAD again.

SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Jake, it's always great to join you.

TAPPER: So, I want to get to the book in a second, but I do want to talk about some of the current events that are animating you.

You were so upset by the Supreme Court's decision, its ruling on same- sex marriage, you proposed a constitutional amendment that would implement judicial retention elections. I have to ask you, though, wouldn't that make the Supreme Court

justices more prone to serving public opinion, not doing what they think is right or what the law dictates, more beholden to campaign contributors?

CRUZ: Well, listen, if they were doing their job, if they were honoring their judicial oaths, it wouldn't be necessary.

Unfortunately, the justices have injected themselves into politics. We had two decisions last week, both of which were naked acts of judicial activism. On Thursday, a majority of the justices ignored federal law and rewrote Obamacare. They just ignored the text of the law and essentially joined with President Obama in forcing this failed law on millions of Americans who have lost now their jobs, who have lost their health care, have lost their doctors, and are facing skyrocketing premiums because of Obamacare.

TAPPER: Well, Senator, what you're talking about is the fact that what they did not do is take away subsidies for 6.4 million Americans who had subsidies from the federal government, but they didn't get it through state exchanges.

I don't know that you could really argue that those 6.4 million people were hurt.

CRUZ: Of course you can. And a lot of people were hurt, because, listen, under Obamacare, it's the biggest job killer in this country.

Millions of Americans have lost their jobs. Millions of Americans, single moms are working part-time because Obamacare kicks in at 30 hours a week. They have been forced to work 28, 29 hours a week.


Six million Americans have had their health insurance canceled because of Obamacare. They have lost their doctors. And one of the easiest illustrations, 5.5 years ago...


TAPPER: Did you say millions of Americans lost their jobs because of Obamacare?

CRUZ: Yes, yes, because millions of small businesses are not expanding, are laying people off, are staying under 50 employees. It's the biggest job killer in this country.


TAPPER: But saying it's a job killer and businesses are not expanding is not the same thing as millions of Americans have lost their jobs.

CRUZ: A fair point. I'm including both lost their jobs and haven't been hired, so I'm on both ends of that. I will take that as a friendly amendment. But let me point out, Jake, 5.5 years ago, President Obama promised

the American people. He said that Obamacare would result in the typical Americans' health insurance premiums dropping $2,500 a year. In fact, the average premium has risen $3,000 a year.

Here's what I have said, Jake. I have said, listen, any family whose premiums have dropped $2,500, you should vote for Hillary Clinton. I will take everybody else. And, you know, we have never had a presidential election decide 100-0. I'm happy to start with 2016.

TAPPER: I'm sure she would have her own hypothetical. But I appreciate that one.

Let me ask you, in terms of this retention election idea, would you vote to retain Chief Justice John Roberts?

CRUZ: Well, listen, one step at a time.

I will say this. Six justices violated their judicial oath on Thursday of last week with Obamacare. To use John Roberts' analogy, they stopped serving as umpires calling balls and strikes. Instead, they became players. They put on Obama jerseys and they rewrote the statute.

And then, on Friday, five justices did the same thing. They rewrote the Constitution and decided their own personal policy preferences trumped the considered judgment of elected legislatures across this country.

TAPPER: But do you not see at all why anybody would think that equal protection under the law would apply to same-sex couples wanting to get married?

CRUZ: Look, Jake, I can certainly understand why reasonable minds might disagree as a policy matter on gay marriage.

You and I might disagree on that. But under our Constitution, from the beginning of this country, marriage has been a question for the states. And if you support gay marriage, there is an avenue constitutionally to advance that, which is, you convince your fellow citizens to change the laws in the states one state at a time.

What the Supreme Court said, as Justice Scalia observed in powerful dissent, was a fundamental threat to democracy, because the Supreme Court said five unelected lawyers had become the rulers of 320 million Americans. That's not how our constitutional system is made to work.

TAPPER: Let me ask you a question that I have heard from a lot people who knew you from when you were part of the Washington cartel, when you were a lawyer and you represented John Boehner back in the '90s, when you worked in the Bush administration on the Bush campaign.

A lot of those people who knew you then don't recognize you now as a, let's say, firebrand. I'm sure that's a word you wouldn't dispute. They don't recognize you. Were you more moderate back then? Were you holding back your real

feelings, so as to go along to get along? Is this the real you? Help them understand.

CRUZ: Well, listen, I would encourage you and all your viewers to read my book, "A Time for Truth."

TAPPER: It's a very good book. And I want to get to that in a second, but can you just answer that question? And then I promise I will ask you a question about the book. I promise.

CRUZ: But I'm pointing to the book for a reason, because, in the book, I tell my personal story. I tell my journey and my family's story.

And I had been a passionate advocate for the Constitution and Bill of Rights for over 30 years, literally from when I was a teenager, when I was 13 and 14, touring the state of Texas, speaking about the Constitution. You suggested firebrand. I don't accept that term at all.

TAPPER: You don't? OK.

CRUZ: In my time in Washington, to the best of my knowledge, I have never spoken ill of any senator, Republican or Democrat.

What I have endeavored to do is two things, tell the truth, and do what I said I would do. But, in Washington, D.C., telling the truth is a radical act. And I think people across this country, they are fed up with politicians in both parties who aren't listening to the American people.

You hear that from Republicans, Democrats, independents, libertarians. They're not listening to me. And I think that's why we're seeing such incredible support on the ground for our presidential campaign, is because people are looking for someone they can trust who will actually do what he said he would do.

TAPPER: All right, I will turn to the book, as I promised.

You write about the Supreme Court. As you note, you were a clerk for William Rehnquist. Why don't you tell your view -- our viewers here how you came to be watching -- and I'm citing this because it's an amusing anecdote, for no other reason -- how you came to be watching hardcore pornography with Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, because it's a very...



TAPPER: You start a chapter with that anecdote, so don't fault me for bringing it up.

CRUZ: No, it's definitely part of the book. So the term I was clerking was one of the very first Internet porn

cases. And this was 1996. It was right when the Internet was getting started. And a lot of the justices didn't really know what this Internet thing was.

TAPPER: Right.

CRUZ: And so the court librarians did little training sessions to show the justices, OK, this is how the Internet works.

And they paired chambers up, so it so happened that my boss, Chief Justice Rehnquist, and Justice O'Connor were paired up together, along with their clerks. And we were in this little bitty room, and the court librarian was doing a search with the filters all turned off.

And I remember the librarian typed in the word cantaloupe misspelled.

TAPPER: Right.

CRUZ: And with no filters, cantaloupe misspelled pulled up graphic porn. And we're sitting in a tiny little room. I'm inches away from Justice Sandra Day O'Connor. And I remember to this day what she said, which is, she squinted her eyes and under her breath, she simply said, "Oh, my."


TAPPER: That's exactly what I would expect her to say.

All right, Senator Ted Cruz, thank you so much. And best of luck with your book, and we will see you on the campaign trail.

CRUZ: Excellent. I look forward to it, Jake. Thank you.

TAPPER: Our political panel is standing by in the green room. It's now 14 candidates and counting in the Republican race for 2016 -- how they're trying to make elbow room in a crowded field. And which candidates are already making headway? We will talk strategy with our panel coming up next.


TAPPER, Welcome back to THE LEAD. More now in our Politics Lead. It's already been a crazy day in the mad cap dash for the White House. Chris Christie is jumping in becoming the 14th Republican to enter the nominating prey.

And now in just minutes, 33 years of tax forms dropping from Governor Jeb Bush and also tonight, the State Department will be releasing the next batch of e-mails sent and received by Hillary Clinton during her time running the State Department.

Now While Christie and Donald Trump see who can draw the bigger crowd in New Hampshire to chew all this over. I want to bring in CNN political commentator, Kevin Madden, and Democratic strategist, Jamaal Simmons. Kevin, let me start with you. Chris Christie, what does he have to sell beyond, I'm always going to tell you the truth?

KEVIN MADDEN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, that is a big challenge for him. I think if you look at this particular field too, with an argument saying, I'm a governor who won in a blue state. Well, Scott Walker's got that argument or I'm a governor who can win a general election. Jeb bush has that argument.

It really is -- it's going to be difficult for him to break out. I mean, the New Jersey story either, is not one that's particularly compelling. So I think that's why his campaign has actually gone back and asked himself the question, what was it that got Chris Christie to the zenith of Republican politics, you know, a year, a year and a half ago, when people were saying, he's going to be the front-runner.

It was this ability to be so much confrontation with the status quo. So different from all the other politicians that you've seen, a truth teller, a straight talker, and so they're going to try to ride that personality and that connection that he may have with voters to -- back to relevance.

TAPPER: Jamaal, you clearly want to weigh-in?

JAMAL SIMMONS, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Yes. I think the problem with Chris Christie is he's running on a processed argument, it's all about style, it's not about what's going to make the country a better place. Maybe that has some appeal in the Republican primary where people are mad at President Obama, and he's juxtaposing himself against the president.

But in the general election contest, people don't care so much if you're telling them the truth, what you want to do as president, is not going to be some place where they really want to go, and the one thing about Chris Christie, it's a textbook case for why you should actually run when it's your moment, when you're hot, get in the game.

TAPPER: I think that's one of the reasons why you have 300 Republicans running. Not only do you learn the lesson of Obama running, everybody thought it's too soon, too soon. He becomes president. Chris Christie not grabbing that chance in 2012 when people thought he should run.

Let me ask you a question about the fact that in a few minutes Governor Jeb Bush is going to release 33 years of tax returns. He seems to be preparing with his release of e-mails and his release of tax returns, a transparency argument that can be, he hopes, effectively used against Hillary Clinton should he be the nominee.

SIMMONS: Again, that is probably should, he's trying to figure out how to get ahead of something that most people have baked into the cake about the Clintons, right. I mean, they're thinking, if you come into the dance and you're voting for the people, who are going to be the cross every T, dot every I, they're probably not going to vote for one of them. What you're going to look for, though, the Clintons is you somebody who's going to fight for the middle class, take care of the country. Keep us out of wars in Iraq, who is not going to get us in the recession. Those are things that Democrats are good for.

And frankly Bushes have been very good at getting us into wars in the Middle East, and getting us into recessions. Once you juxtapose those two things, I think you'll be fine.

TAPPER: The wars in the Middle East?

MADDEN: Well, the facts speak for themselves. Look, the toughest thing that happened to Mitt Romney during the 2012 campaign when the tax return debate came up.

TAPPER: That was nasty for him.

MADDEN: It was, and you know, what it did? It drove a question about whether or not he had something to hide and it became a character question for Mitt Romney, that was particularly tough for him to answer when he still refused to return -- excuse me, to disclose that.

So I think one of the big questions is for Hillary Clinton is when Jeb Bush in a potential general election starts to drive that contrast, you never get to the arguments that Jamaal was talking about, about some of the issues, when they don't have that fundamental question answered up front, which is trust, transparency, accountability.

And so that's going to be a big problem. That's why I think Jeb Bush is doing this. He's being very proactive, which he is saying, I don't have anything to hide, you can trust me. I'm accountable.

SIMMONS: His last name is a negative ad, right? Every time you say Jeb Bush, it makes people remember the things about his brother he didn't necessary like. So he's spending all of his time trying to fight out not just with Hillary Clinton, but differentiate himself in the last Bush that was in White House.

TAPPER: Let's talk about Hillary Clinton for one second. Hillary Clinton told reporters a few weeks ago, that memos about Libya from her long adviser, Sid Blumenthal, had been sent unsolicited. But now we have e-mails that are about to be released.

[16:50:02] The "New York Times" breaking that one of them shows that Clinton told Blumenthal, keep them coming. The campaign says this is not a contradiction at all. It's not solicitation. It's friendly advice. Do you really think, Kevin, that like the American public is really much attention to this Benghazi e-mail stuff or is it's just background noise feeding into this?

MADDEN: They pay attention to the larger issue at hand, which is whether or not you can trust this person, whether or not this person is accountable, or whether or not this person is telling the truth. That's the bigger problem for Hillary Clinton.

TAPPER: I'll give you a final word on this. SIMMONS: I think they trust Hillary Clinton to take care of the country, to look out for middle class and to make sure that their lives will be better when she's president than they were the last time a Bush was.

TAPPER: Jamal Simmons, Kevin Madden, great to have both of you here. Thank you so much.

A telling image captured by CNN's Dan Simon, that is remains of a house scorched by wildfire and sadly there are dozens of other homes just like that one. The race to save property and lives in Washington State coming up next on THE LEAD..


TAPPER: We're back with some breaking news just in to CNN, tied to the warning about terrorists potentially turning the July 4th celebration into a bloody day here in this country.

Let's bring in CNN justice correspondent, Evan Perez. Evan, what have you learned?

EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jake, we're hearing from law enforcement officials that they're boosting security measures ahead of the July 4th holiday. We're talking about the New York Police Department and Los Angeles Police Department. They're both increasing police in prominent locations.

This is all tied to the warning that we heard last Friday from the FBI, from Homeland Security about an increased possible threat from ISIS recruits here in the United States. We know what this is tied to. This is tie to the month of Ramadan, a call from ISIS to carry out attacks here, and in other parts of the west.

Just the fact that the FBI is following an increasing number of ISIS recruits here in the country. Since the start of this year, there have been 49 people charged by U.S. authorities with supporting ISIS. That doesn't include three people including a couple of attackers in Garland, Texas and one in Boston who are killed in trying to carry out attacks -- Jake.

TAPPER: The head of Homeland Security Committee in the House, Michael McCaul said earlier today to CNN that he expected more arrests this week. All right, Evan Perez, thank you so much.

In other national lead today, raging wildfires are ripping through parts of Washington State, scorching some 3,000 acres. Triple digit temperatures and very little rainfall are not helping the situation.

Officials are worried about what might come next, saying only about 10 percent of the fire has yet been contained, so called sleepy hollow fire has been burning since Sunday afternoon. It's already forced hundreds of residents to evacuate their homes.

Let's go right to Dan Simon who is in Wenatchee, Washington. Dan, how are the conditions where you are? DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's another hot die, as you said, temperatures have hit triple digits once again. We are in the Broadview neighborhood, so much tragedy and destruction in this one neighborhood. Two homes where I'm standing, you can see they have leveled to the ground.

It really something to see this kind of devastation up close and it was especially emotional for one resident who came back to inspect the damage.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's surreal, sad --

SIMON (voice-over): Keith Newberry says it happened in a matter of minutes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Came over the ridge there.

SIMON: The home he had for six years with his wife and three children is reduced to rubble after the fast moving wildfire roared through his neighborhood, a wall of flame barreling over a canyon.

(on camera): Is there anything you were able to save?

KEITH NEWBERRY, RESIDENT: We saved our pictures and took our computer tower. It has all of our important stuff on it and the rest of it is replaceable.

SIMON (voice-over): A 44-year-old road for the county public works department, he becomes emotional when thinking about his youngest daughter.

NEWBERRY: We're not the only ones that have happened to. For years and years, we have to be strong and rebuild.

SIMON: Authorities are still assessing the destruction, but at least 3,000 homes were charred along with the two dozen homes that were destroyed. Fire crews say there may be something of a silver lining.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A lot of times we focus on structures lost. We have to remember through the works of the crews and agencies here locally, there are many structures that were saved out there.

NEWBERRY: We're glad none of them got hurt. They tried to help us all out.

SIMON: Keith says he plans to rebuild in the same spot.

NEWBERRY: We'll be sitting on the back patio barbecuing and have the house the way we wanted it. It will be fine.


SIMON: Well, authorities say this fire is now 10 percent contained, Jake and there are no active flames. Crews are optimistic that number is going to go way up. We're expecting a briefing later on this afternoon.

But you have to remember that Washington State like much of the west coast is experiencing a severe drought, you take that and look at the 4th of July holiday that's approaching, crews are very nervous that somebody's shoots off some fireworks could trigger another massive wildfire -- Jake.

TAPPER: Dan, all the people who evacuated their homes, where did they go?

SIMON: There is a high school that opened a Red Cross shelter, now at that high school. We know a number of people have gone there, there are at least 100 people, who slept in a high school gymnasium, and of course, whenever a situation like this happens, you always have a number of people that stay with relatives and friends, but still a number of people at that shelter -- Jake.

TAPPER: All right, Dan Simon in Washington State, stay safe, please. Thanks for being with us. Make sure to follow me on Twitter @jaketapper, and also @theleadcnn.

Check out our show page for videos and extras. You can also follow me on Facebook. That's it for THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper. I am turning you over to one Mr. Wolf Blitzer. He's in a place, it's a room and it's "THE SITUATION ROOM." Thanks for watching.