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THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER

Cosby Accuser Speaks Out; Trump Rising; Turkey Taking Greater Role in ISIS Fight; Accusers Pose for Powerful Magazine Cover. Aired 4-4:30p ET

Aired July 27, 2015 - 16:00   ET

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


[16:00:12]

JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: President Obama basically accusing Republican candidates of trying to out-Trump one another.

I'm Jake Tapper. This is THE LEAD.

The politics lead, President Obama diving into the fight among GOP contenders who want his job, but is all this voter anger feeding the feelings of Republican voters who, as our new poll indicates, want more Trump?

The national lead, their faces, their names, their stories and an empty chair on the cover, representing the other survivors of Bill Cosby's alleged assaults. We are going to talk to one of his accusers who appears on this new powerful magazine cover.

Also in national news, an escort shoots and kills her attacker with his own gun, saving herself and maybe many others. Why police say she may have stopped a serial killer.

Good afternoon, everyone. Welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.

We're going to start with our politics lead today. He only has 18 months left on that White House lease, and he will never again run for office. But that does not mean President Obama has not been front and center in the 2016 presidential race, albeit not really by his own choice. Here's what Republicans looking to replace him are saying about the commander in chief.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MIKE HUCKABEE (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Right now, we have the rhetoric from this president that reminds me of Chamberlain.

GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R-NJ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This is the disease the president suffers from. He always believes he's the smartest person in the room.

SEN. RAND PAUL (R-KY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think on every front, he's let us down.

(END VIDEO CLIP) TAPPER: Now, for his most, prosecute has kept his rhetorical fire mostly holstered, that is until today. President Obama taking aim at 2016 Republican contenders, including the man currently leading the Republican pack in our brand-new CNN/ORC poll, one Mr. Donald J. Trump.

Let's get right to CNN national political reporter Sara Murray

Sara, we broke the news of this new CNN poll on "State of the Union" yesterday showing Donald Trump out in front. Yesterday was when we brought the news. And just a day later he's getting name-checked by President Obama.

SARA MURRAY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right. Jake, we are only 10 days out from the first GOP debate. With Donald Trump at the top of the field, the political firefight is heating up.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MURRAY (voice-over): Donald Trump leads the Republican pack in the latest CNN/ORC poll with 18 percent support, a six-point jump from last month. Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush is close behind at 15 percent and Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker at 10 percent.

What's behind the Trump bump? The former reality TV star tells CNN's Jake Tapper.

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This is more than me. This is a movement going on. People are tired of these incompetent politicians in Washington that can't get anything done.

MURRAY: It's a movement fueled by dissatisfied voters; 53 percent of Republicans say the government in Washington doesn't represent their views, even though their party controls the House and the Senate. And 52 percent of Republicans say they want Trump to stay in the race, while just 33 percent want him to drop out entirely.

Now Trump's rise in the poll is drawing President Obama into the fray; weighing in from his trip to Africa, the president accused other Republicans of ramping up their rhetoric to keep up with the brash billionaire.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: When you get rhetoric like this, mash it gets attention, and maybe this is just an effort to push Mr. Trump out of the headlines. But it's not the kind of leadership that's needed for America right now.

MURRAY: That criticism aimed squarely at another GOP hopeful, Mike Huckabee, who referenced the Holocaust in this controversial comment about the president's nuclear deal with Iran.

HUCKABEE: He's so naive, he would trust the Iranians and he would take the Israelis and basically march them to the door of the oven.

MURRAY: Huckabee's remarks sparked a sharp rebuke from Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Comments like

these are offensive, and they have no place in our political dialogue.

MURRAY: As well as President Obama.

OBAMA: The particular comments of Mr. Huckabee are, I think, part of just a general pattern that we have seen that is -- would be considered ridiculous, if it weren't so sad.

MURRAY: In response, Huckabee said, "What's ridiculous and sad is that President Obama does not take Iran's repeated threats seriously."

But even fellow Republican Jeb Bush urged the former Arkansas governor to tone down his rhetoric.

JEB BUSH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The use of that kind of language is just wrong. This is not the way we're going to win elections. And that's not how we're going to solve problems.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

[16:05:02]

MURRAY: Now you're starting the split between the flamethrowers like Huckabee and Trump, and the candidates like Bush who want to be come across as the adult in the room. Soon, we will see how each of those strategies fares on the debate stage.

TAPPER: Sara, stick around.

I want to talk with you and others about all things presidential.

Let's bring in presidential campaign correspondent for "The New York Times" Maggie Haberman and national political reporter for "The Washington Post" Bob Costa.

Maggie, let me start with you. As you heard, Donald Trump told me yesterday that this isn't just about him, it's about a movement of people angry at a Washington that can't get anything done.

Maggie, when you look inside the CNN poll, this anti-Washington sentiment seems to be what may be feeding his rise. Asked if the government in Washington represents their views, 69 percent of all registered voters said no. So even if it's not Trump, we have seen Cruz attacking the Washington cartel. There's the rise of Bernie Sanders. How much do you think this voter anger in Washington will be the driving sentiment for November 2016?

MAGGIE HABERMAN, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": Certainly going to be a driving sentiment. I think the driving sentiment overall will still be the economy, but I think that how angry people are with their leaders in Washington is a big piece of that.

Right now, Donald Trump is sort of the neon stand-in, as my colleague Jonathan Martin once put it, for this voter dissatisfaction that you're seeing with elected officials and this is part of why, look, there was a lot of predictions after Donald Trump was very critical about Senator John McCain and his war hero status.

There were a lot of predictions that was going to be the immediate turning point. It may indeed impact his numbers. There are some indications that it may have in New Hampshire, but overall the voters who like Donald Trump do not necessarily like John McCain, and they are angry. They feel like this is all part of the establishment.

Every time Donald Trump gets criticized by somebody within Washington or a party official, it just fuels his supporters. His supporter base is very, very specific.

TAPPER: That's right. They hate the Washington establishment. They hate the Republican leaders and they hate us in the media. So if we go after him, that helps.

Bob, I am surprised that we're not hearing many attacks on Trump from the top-tier Republicans like Jeb Bush or Scott Walker, especially on the fact that Trump, until recently, you know, he gave money to Hillary, he gave money to Democrats trying to recapture the House and Senate, he identified himself as pro-choice until 2011.

ROBERT COSTA, "THE WASHINGTON POST": I just got off the phone with Trump's advisers, and I said, what is your strategy for this debate?

They said their original plan, Jake, was to try to roll out some policy specifics, to come out with some plans to show that Trump had some meat on the bones with his campaign. But now the game plan has shifted. They really believe the other candidates are going to be attacking Trump from the first moment of that debate. They think the attacks are coming and they're getting ready to fend them off.

TAPPER: Sara, there was talk a few days ago from Trump about if the Republican National Committee didn't start treating him better, he would think about possibly running third party if he doesn't get the nomination. He walked that back a little bit over the weekend.

Listen to Reince Priebus, the head of the Republican National Committee, this morning on one of the morning shows.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REINCE PRIEBUS, REPUBLICAN NATIONAL COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: But certainly I think our candidates should pledge not to run as a third-party candidate. I don't see that happening. I think everyone understand that. If Hillary Clinton is going to get beat, she is going to get beat by a Republican.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: But how worried are Republican officials in Washington about this prospect of Trump running off third party, siphoning off votes?

MURRAY: I do think this is a real concern for members of the establishment, but I think this is why you see them treating him so carefully. They're not calling for Donald Trump to get out of the race. They're

not saying he's a spectacle. They're treating him as they would any other candidate. There have been some warnings about tone, and that kind of thing, but I think that's exactly why you're seeing the RNC take the tack that they are. They want to treat him as a legitimate candidate and make sure that he can say, OK, they treated me respectfully. And when I get out of the race, I feel OK about that I don't want to run as an independent.

TAPPER: Maggie, I want to talk with you for a second about the Democratic side. Our new CNN/ORC poll shows Hillary Clinton winning against all the Republican challengers, but she does increasingly worse Monday independents.

As there is with Trump, there is trouble if you dive deeper into the numbers. Only 37 percent of independent voters say they have a favorable view of the former secretary of state. That's down from 56 percent last November. If you're the Clinton campaign, how much are you paying attention to this?

HABERMAN: They're certainly paying attention.

It's obviously of concern how the group of voters who would describe themselves as independents are going to vote. I think that the view on the Democratic side, on the Clinton campaign and other strategists on the Democratic side is that increasingly the number of actual independent voters who are undecided is much smaller.

And so you are really looking at a persuasion campaign, and you're looking at a mobilization campaign. You have seen with Hillary Clinton's strategy anyway she is speaking very much to a Democratic base. The social issues in her party tend to overlap a lot with where the center is.

I think her advisers would attribute some of this downturn in the numbers to her being more political. The more political she is seen, the worse her numbers are. And they always expected it. Their argument would always be that we don't yet know who the Republican nominee is, and this race is not taking place in a vacuum at the end of the day.

[16:10:05]

TAPPER: Bob, take a look at the favorability numbers from the NBC News/Marist polling. In Iowa and New Hampshire, Clinton is massively underwater with registered voters, more people viewing her unfavorably than favorably. Bernie Sanders is the only top candidate who is not.

What does that signify to you?

COSTA: I think you see, when you talk to Clinton people, that she could lose Iowa and New Hampshire. They're lowering expectations in those two states.

There is a general dissatisfaction among some of the left. But she still has the best organization. She's the most experienced candidate. Martin O'Malley hasn't really started to rise. Biden is waiting in the wings, not really seeming to be interested in the race. So she's still the strongest candidate. But it comes back to your original point, Jake. There's dissatisfaction on the left, on the right and in the center. And all candidates are grappling with it.

TAPPER: All right, Bob, Maggie, Sara, thanks to all of you.

In our world lead today, a U.S. ally facing a desperate situation, as ISIS terrorists close in, and now an emergency NATO meeting is being planned to decide what to do. Our own Arwa Damon is live in Turkey, and we will go live to her next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[16:15:23] JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.

Topping our world lead today: a cry for help from key American ally Turkey coming after a wave of terrorist attacks on that country, most recently yesterday when a car bomb killed two police officers and wounded four others in southern Turkey. The key coalition ally in the fight against ISIS is asking for additional assistance in beating back the terrorist groups from parts of its porous border with Syria. This comes after an agreement last week allowing U.S. warplanes to launch airstrikes against ISIS targets from Turkish military bases.

Let's get right to CNN's senior international correspondent Arwa Damon. She is live in Istanbul.

Arwa, what time of cooperation could we expect to see between the U.S. and other NATO countries and Turkey going forward?

ARWA DAMON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jake, there are a couple different dynamics at play here. Key in all of those when it comes to this cooperation, is going to be an attempt too push ISIS back from territory it controls along the Turkish Syrian border. That is going to be the main focus, especially when it comes to Turkey's own domestic national security interest.

Turkey's finding itself at this critical juncture in a very vulnerable position. If you remember, up until now, Turkey has been very reluctant to get actively directly involved in the war against ISIS in Syria itself. But Turkey's policy of trying to sit it out on the sidelines now seems to have been a failure, something that the leadership in Ankara is acknowledging, and we saw those advancements when it comes to agrees to have the U.S. open up and be allowed to use Turkish bases and airspace to conduct its own attacks.

But Turkey is also not just launching the war against ISIS, but additionally against the PKK, the Kurdistan Workers' Party that it considers to be a terrorist organization, one that is in its own view as detrimental to Turkish security as ISIS. So Turkey right now in asking NATO for assistance and asking for that meeting, wants to really gain the capital it is going to need and ensure it has NATO support as it moves forward along these different new front lines. TAPPER: And, Arwa, 30 people were killed in an ISIS suicide attack in

a Turkish border town last week, as we covered at the time, how big a foothold is ISIS gaining in Turkey?

DAMON: Well, it does certainly have long-reaching tentacles. It is capable of carrying out deadly attacks, though ISIS itself has not claimed responsibility for the suicide bombing. The Turkish authorities definitely believe it was carried out by an individual who does have ties to ISIS. And Turkey has launched these massive sweeping anti-terrorism operations spanning across the entire country, detaining upwards of 1,000 individuals, some of them affiliated to ISIS, others Turkey says affiliated to the PKK and other terrorist organizations.

But this is also part of what is playing into the logic behind Turkey's decision to right now realize that it has to takes an active role. It has to be a part of this anti-ISIS coalition, or else it would be left incredibly vulnerable, Jake.

TAPPER: Arwa Damon in Istanbul, thank you so much.

From the war on ISIS, we turn now to a deadly terror attacks in India. At least six people were killed, and eight wounded when gunmen dressed in an army uniforms opened fire on a bus and stormed a police station in the Indian state of Punjab, near the border with Pakistan. The three attackers were killed after a 12-hour gun battle with Indiana police. Pakistan's government condemned the attack, calling it an act of terror. So far, there has been no claim of responsibility for the assault.

A 10-year-old boy is dead in a suspected case of human sacrifice. Police say a Nepalese man confessed to murdering the young boy after a local holy man advised him that a human sacrifice would heal his sick son. The suspect and his relatives allegedly lured the boy with a promise of a pack of biscuits, and the equivalent of 50 cents in American currency. Eleven people in total, including a holy man, have been arrested for their involvement, and could face life in prison. The government says they are working to end those superstitions common among the country's mainly Hindu population that led to this despicable act.

Coming up, it's a jarring image of black and white photograph of 35 women who have all accused Bill Cosby of sexual assault. I'll speak with one of those survivors, next.

Plus, only 14 and on their own on the open sea. The desperate search for these teens and an account from a coast guard swimmer who found their boat.

[16:20:00] That, coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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

Topping our national lead today, a dramatic display of bravery and unity against the one-time television icon, who for years was considered America's dad. Thirty-five women accusing Bill Cosby of sexual assault, appear together on the brand new cover of "New York" magazine, seated in the same pose under the headline "Cosby: The Women, An Unwelcomed Sisterhood".

In the article, each accuser speaks candidly about her alleged abuse at the hands of the comedian and the struggle they had faced in coming forward. For his part, Cosby has repeatedly denied the accusations and he has not been charged with a crime.

Joining me from Los Angeles is Barbara Bowman. She's one of the Cosby accusers who appears on this striking cover. She's now an ambassador with the advocacy group PAVE, which stands for Promoting Awareness Victim Empowerment.

Barbara, thanks again for being here once more.

I know you weren't all together when the photos were taken, but what do you think? What was your reaction when you saw the cover? What does it say to you?

BARBARA BOWMAN, PAVE AMBASSADOR: Power and strength in unity.

[16:25:01] It's been an interesting journey. None of these women -- I didn't know any of them when this journey began, and I had high hopes that we would be able to empower the women that were too afraid to come out early on in November.

I didn't know it would go to this level. To look at that cover of the strong and the brave women that have been endured so much, and have dealt with so much wreckage in their lives caused by one psychotic sociopathic individual, it really was very powerful and touching. And what really got me was the empty chair.

TAPPER: Yes, let's talk about the empty chair. It's an interesting editorial decision to put that empty chair on the cover. It's become a hashtag, #theemptychair, people on Twitter talking about their own experiences as survivors of sexual assault. What does it represent to you? What does it symbolize?

BOWMAN: Well, it symbolizes for me that I hope that that chair stays empty, and the work I do with PAVE and all the of the advocacy work that I do to empower and educate rape victims and anyone in a victim's life to give them help, is that we want to keep that chair empty. That's so symbolic.

There could have been hundreds of empty chairs following that one, and that's what I'm seeking to do. I work with women in Hollywood, our organization under PAVE is called Women in Hollywood Paving the Way.

And this all was about just about empowering one woman, and to see that cover with all those brave women? It really does bring tears to my eyes to see --

TAPPER: Now, you -- you came forward with your experience a decade go during that civil lawsuit against Cosby that was settled for an undisclosed sum. It really wasn't until a male comedian Hannibal Buress started talking about Cosby as an alleged rapist, that this became a major story. You wrote about this in "The Washington Post" last November.

But tell us how it makes you feel that it wasn't until a man started talking about this that the rest of us started paying attention?

BOWMAN: Well, how ironic is that. Yes, that is true.

Back in 2005, I found out about Andrea Constand's civil lawsuits and I was living in Arizona, minding my own business after many years of sitting in silence, and darkness and shame. I made a decision that year to not to sit silent anymore and push forward. Unfortunately, we had ten years of more silence.

So, when Hannibal started being brave and speaking out, I don't think he realized actually what hornet's next he was going to poke at.

TAPPER: Yes.

BOWMAN: But it was that. It was also the perfect storm with social media. Within 24 hours after my piece ran and also "The Daily Mail", there were like 6 million viewers. We didn't have that 10 years ago or 28 years ago. So, I'm really grateful to the media and for public attention on this -- on this issue.

It's a humanitarian issue. It has to be dealt with, and I think we are. I think that now Cosby really was holding, clinging tightly to his legacy. I believe now he has self-prophesized on a new legacy, which is to be a catalyst for awareness of sexual crime.

TAPPER: Yes. Barbara Bowman, as always.

BOWMAN: And predatory behaviors.

TAPPER: As always, Barbara, thank you so much for your courage. Thanks for speaking with us. We appreciate it.

BOWMAN: I appreciate it, Jake. Thanks so much.

TAPPER: In our national lead today, new information about how a murderer was able to get the gun he used in a movie theater massacre. The killer's mental problems did not stop him from making a legal gun purchase. Why not? That's next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)