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Interview With New Jersey Governor Chris Christie; Trump Attends Rally to Stop Iranian Nuclear Deal. Aired 4-4:30p ET

Aired September 9, 2015 - 16:00   ET



JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: He threatened to go nuclear at next week's CNN debate if I don't call on him enough. So, what is Governor Chris Christie going to have to say to me today?

I'm Jake Tapper. This is THE LEAD.

The politics lead, Mr. Trump goes to Washington, along with Sarah Palin, to storm the Capitol steps and voice opposition to the nuclear deal with Iran.

I will ask why GOP contender Chris Christie why he thinks the deal is dangerous when he joins us right here on THE LEAD.

The world lead. Born as refugees during this desperate trek across a continent to escape the horrors of ISIS and Assad. Today, the amazing story of a mother who gave birth and then walked for 11 days, as this humanitarian crisis grows.

The national lead. Plane in flames. Moments before takeoff, a fire so intense, passengers say it melted windows. Is this type of plane used by most major airlines in the world safe to fly?

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

We're going to start with our politics lead.

Congress is back, and with it much drama. The government could very well shut down at the end of the month. Speaker John Boehner could be speaker no more. But all the attention today in Washington has nothing to do with what's going on inside the Capitol, because everyone was watching what was happening outside the Capitol, on the Capitol steps, to be precise.

That's where Donald Trump parachuted in to rally protesters against the Iran deal, as did Sarah Palin, as did Senator Cruz, who's been cozying up to his rival, the Republican front-runner, Mr. Trump.

Let's get right to Capitol Hill and CNN chief political correspondent Dana Bash.

Dana, after Trumped stumped, you cornered him, you talked to him one on one. What did how have to say? DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: He said, Jake, that

Iran is laughing at us right now, that the leaders who work in the building behind me and the one down the street, the White House, are incompetent, and that he knows how to draw a crowd.

And that is true. And it's why his Republican competitor Ted Cruz invited him.


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We are led by very, very stupid people, very, very stupid people.

BASH (voice-over): True to form, Donald Trump boiled down his opposition to the Iran deal to basics and blunt talk.

TRUMP: They rip off. They take our money. They make us look like fools.

BASH: Trump was invited to this anti-Iran deal rally by an unlikely source, one of his rivals for the White House, Ted Cruz.

SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I want to thank my friend Donald Trump for joining us today.

BASH: Instead of attacking Trump, Cruz has embraced him, especially when he can help draw a crowd for a cause like this one.

CRUZ: This Iranian nuclear deal is catastrophic. It is the single greatest national security threat facing America.

BASH: Although they agreed that the Iran deal is bad, they disagree on what to do about it. It's a difference that divides the Republican 2016 field. Cruz would get rid of the Iran deal on day one he is in office.

CRUZ: Any commander in chief worthy of defending this nation should be prepared to stand up on January 20, 2017, and rip to shreds this catastrophic deal.

BASH: Trump would not do that.

TRUMP: This will be a totally different deal. Ripping up is always tough. Don't forget we lost all of our so-called allies in the deal. They're all making a lot of money. We're not making anything. They're all selling missiles, and getting involved with Iran, using the money that we gave to Iran. I will do something that will be very strong, and, believe me, Iran will come back, and they will be much different.

BASH (on camera): If the horse is out of the barn, what are you going to do about it?

TRUMP: You're going to have to watch. You just watch. It will be a whole different bag. BASH (voice-over): No specifics, he insists, because he doesn't want to telegraph it to the Iranians, but he did make this Trump-esque promise to the crowd.

TRUMP: We will have so much winning if I get elected that you may get bored with winning. Believe me.


BASH: Now, Jake, the other person who Trump has been reluctant to criticize in the Republican field has been Ben Carson. We talked yesterday on this program about the fact that Carson disagrees now with Trump's idea on illegal immigration, of taking all the undocumented immigrants and moving them out.

Well, Trump responded today, telling our only Sara Murray about Carson he's just wrong. He said, we need smarts, we need strength, and if he, meaning Carson, he doesn't like it, he doesn't understand it. The gloves there seem to be off -- Jake.

TAPPER: Dana Bash in front of the Capitol steps, thanks.

As you heard, Mr. Trump says stupid people have been paving Iran's way to a nuclear bomb. Presumably, one of the people he's talking about is the former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Clinton laid the diplomatic foundation for this Iran deal during her time heading the State Department.

Today, in a speech also here in Washington, D.C., Clinton vowed with vigor and vigilance to make sure Iran does not cheat its way to a nuclear weapon.


Let's bring in CNN senior political correspondent Brianna Keilar.

Brianna, the way Clinton's year has gone so far, maybe defending a controversial deal with Iran is a welcome break from defending herself when it comes to her e-mail server problems.


I think you're actually right about that, Jake. She seemed to really welcome the chance to talk about issues today, even if it's a hot button one like the Iran nuclear deal. The campaign certainly doesn't think the e-mail issue is just going to go away, but they do hope that Clinton's apology for how she handled her e-mail while secretary of state will better help her bring her message to voters.


KEILAR (voice-over): Hillary Clinton offered a full apology for the controversy surrounding her e-mail.

HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: That was a mistake. And I'm sorry about that. I take responsibility. And I'm trying to be as transparent as I possibly can.

KEILAR: She put it on Facebook as well, a mea culpa she has resisted for months since March, when she first addressed her e-mails.

CLINTON: The server will remain private.

KEILAR: In July, as more voters questioned her trustworthiness.

CLINTON: I can only tell you, Brianna, that this has been a theme that has been used against me and my husband for many, many years.

KEILAR: And in August, even after turning her server wiped of e-mails over to the FBI.

CLINTON: What, like with a cloth or something?

Nobody talks to me about it other than you guys.

KEILAR: Clinton edged closer to an apology last week, but didn't quite get there.

KEILAR: I am sorry that this has been confusing to people and has raised a lot of questions.

KEILAR: Then Tuesday, one day after telling the Associated Press she had no reason to apologize, she finally, finally did, repeatedly admitting mistakes.

CLINTON: I do think I could have and should have done a better job answering questions earlier. I really didn't perhaps appreciate the need to do that.

KEILAR: Clinton is trying to move past the focus on her e-mail as she addresses other issues like her support for the Iran nuclear deal.

CLINTON: Either we move forward on the path of diplomacy and seize this chance to block Iran's path to a nuclear weapon, or we turn down a more dangerous path, leading to a far less certain and riskier future.

KEILAR: But she warned against trusting Iran.

CLINTON: You remember President Reagan's line about the Soviets, trust but verify? My approach will be distrust and verify.

KEILAR: Even as she addressed a serious topic today, she had some lighter some moments, laughing off a coughing fit as she delivered a political jab.

CLINTON: Suffering under massive already assault. Yes, Republican histamines are everywhere.



KEILAR: Clinton aide reportedly hope that Clinton can be less defensive, more spontaneous and funny as the campaign enters the fall.

But her e-mails will remain an issue. They are going to be continually released. Secretary of State John Kerry just appointed career diplomat Janice Jacobs as transparency czar, in part to oversee requests for Clinton's e-mails.

Though a Jeb Bush appointee, Jacobs, has donated to Clinton's campaign and it's a fact, Jake, that the State Department was actually not aware of, though the spokesman for the secretary of state says really it's neither here nor there and it doesn't have anything to do with her ability to perform this job --


TAPPER: -- that the State Department has given money to Secretary of State Clinton's presidential --


KEILAR: That's right. And Secretary of State John Kerry was not aware of it until reports started coming out yesterday.

TAPPER: That's interesting.

Brianna Keilar, thank you so much.

Let's talk about everything 2016 with editor and publisher of "The Nation," which is of course a famous progressive magazine, Katrina Vanden Heuvel, and editor of the conservative "Weekly Standard," Bill Kristol.

Thanks to both of you for being here. Two fine magazines. I enjoy them both. Thank you both for being here.

Katrina, Clinton in this interview on "Ellen" that will air tomorrow said what she did was allowed by the State Department and "I'm sorry for all confusion that's ensued," although she gave a more heartfelt apology on ABC News.

When it comes to the e-mail controversy, what do you think she should be apologizing for?

KATRINA VANDEN HEUVEL, EDITOR, "THE NATION": I think that this is a self-inflicted wound.

I think she came forward in these last days. And it's not too late even in this town. And let's remember the election isn't even this November.


VANDEN HEUVEL: I think it is for the most part an overheated media controversy that's sucking the oxygen out of media coverage of issues that this country deserves to hear more about.

That said, I think it was a mistake for a public official to rely so much, though others have, Republicans and Democrats, on a private e- mail account for reasons of accountability, for reasons of transparency. The idea, however, that there's some crime or some national security threat particularly the latter, is laughable to me.


I think if the Iran deal does not go through, which it looks like it will, that is far more dangerous to our national security. And Hillary Clinton's positions on Libya, and our intervention on Libya, which we see some of the result of in this refugee crisis, are more serious than the e-mail snafu.

So I think we need to get our bearings and focus on the issues and understand this is a very interesting primary. Issues have been driven to the fore such as debt-free higher education, such as inequality. These are the issues of our time, not an e-mail --

TAPPER: I know you want to weigh in. Go ahead.

BILL KRISTOL, EDITOR, "THE WEEKLY STANDARD": Katrina said the key thing, which is this is a very interesting primary, speaking about the Democratic primary.

And I agree it is interesting, and who thought six months ago that we would be sitting here after Labor Day and saying the Democratic primary, not just the Republican primary, they're both very interesting?

And it is. In the latest poll, national poll, Hillary Clinton is at 42 percent, and Joe Biden, who has not yet even announced, at 22, Bernie Sanders at 20; 42 is not a prohibitive front-runner; 60 is a prohibitive front-runner.

That's a real race. And if Joe Biden gets in, he will bop up some points. For me, I was talking with a couple of real veteran political types today. I said, how really does it happen? How does Hillary Clinton really not win the nomination, leaving aside that she just kind of implodes?

I think the answer is two words: Barack Obama.

TAPPER: You think if his popularity plummets?

KRISTOL: No, if he basically signals that he prefers Joe Biden to Hillary Clinton.

TAPPER: You think that would happen?

KRISTOL: Yes. Yes. I don't know why everyone distrusts -- it surely is the case that Barack Obama --


TAPPER: Because all these Obama people are working for Hillary.

KRISTOL: Well, fine, but Joe Biden has been a very loyal vice president. I think, if I were Barack Obama, I would prefer to have my vice president carry the torch forward. Elizabeth Warren gets to be the V.P. nominee. Biden/Warren is a better ticket than Clinton --


VANDEN HEUVEL: I usually don't agree with Bill Kristol on almost anything. I do agree it's an interesting primary.

About a year-and-a-half ago, "The Nation" said, we need contested primaries in this country. The inevitably factor is bad for our democracy. However, what Bill Kristol is saying reeks a little of anti-democratic behavior, because if the president is going to nod to someone, it's almost an anointment.

This country should have a vibrant primary. What we have seen with Bernie Sanders is the media gatekeepers, Jake, shouldn't be the ones who tell us who is viable. Who would have said a year ago that Bernie Sanders would be doing what he is doing?

TAPPER: Drawing these huge crowds.

VANDEN HEUVEL: And we don't need a downsized politics of excluded alternatives in this country.


TAPPER: Let's just top over the fence to the Republican interesting race, which is also fascinating.

Earlier this week, on ABC, Matthew Dowd, formerly George W. Bush's political guru, predicted -- and he was an early -- he seemed very skeptical very on -- but he predicted that Donald Trump will be the Republican Party nominee. You chuckled. Why did you chuckle?

KRISTOL: I don't think it will be the case, but I have underestimated Trump, as many others have. And he's a very able candidate of a certain type. I just don't think the Republican primary electorate is ultimately going to nominate Donald Trump.

I will make a prediction actually. And I have been wrong. I think Ben Carson, of the outsiders, I think Ben Carson will actually overtake Trump in Iowa and maybe in some national polls in the next month. Of the three outsiders, Trump, Carson and Carly Fiorina, I think the one who has the best chance to be the nominee is Carly Fiorina.

VANDEN HEUVEL: I have to say, listening to Donald Trump outside talking about Iran, the guy is a bully. He's now bullying other nations and others.

That was a circus out there, Jake. Inside the Capitol, as you may know, retired generals, vets, were lobbying for a deal that would lift up diplomacy as this country's way of engaging the world, war and military action as a last resort.

We can do better in this country, can't we? This is the leadership this country is producing? And Ben Carson, diffident, quiet, great doctor, but he wants to use drones to find undocumented immigrants in caves on the border.


TAPPER: I think he was referring to drug lords or caves or something.

VANDEN HEUVEL: So, is Obamacare akin to slavery?


TAPPER: I'm not defending anything. I'm just saying --

VANDEN HEUVEL: Thank you for correcting me.

But I'm just saying I think good for "The Weekly Standard" for calling out the limits of Trump, but I just think we can do -- you're going to moderate that Republican field.

TAPPER: You bet, in one week.

VANDEN HEUVEL: And I have as much trouble, I have to tell you, with what Hillary Clinton said, distrust but verify, because I think this is a seismic shift in this country.

Diplomacy. Diplomacy first, and I think if we can engage the world in that way, we will be respected. And I hope you have a chance to ask some of those candidates who want to do military action on day one what they're thinking.

TAPPER: We will, absolutely. It is going to be interesting because it's possible that the Democratic candidate will be more hawkish in some ways than the Republican candidate. We will see.

Katrina, Bill, great to see both of you, as always.


TAPPER: Read their magazines. They're both super.

One Republican candidate not on the steps of the Capitol today, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. He says he didn't need to be there, because these rallies are just for show, and the governor will join me next.


[16:19:00] TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.

Staying with our politics lead today -- it is all the rage for Republican candidates trying to win the White House, vowing to tear up the Iran deal.

It's unclear just what exactly Donald Trump wants to do, but his the intro music for today's rally shows you what he thinks Iraq getting a bomb would mean for the United States. The chords of REM's "It's the End of the World as We Know It" playing as he strides unto the stage.

One person not in attendance at the capitol rally, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.

Just a few minutes ago, I asked him about that rally, his nonattendance, and more.


TAPPER: And joining me now is Republican presidential candidate and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.

Governor Christie, thanks so much for being here.


TAPPER: Good to have you in the studio.

So, there's a rally going on right now with Ted Cruz and Donald Trump protesting the Iran deal. Yesterday, Ted Cruz and Mike Huckabee were in Kentucky rallying in support of Kim Davis.

Take a look at this video, you see Senator Ted Cruz at that rally where I'm told a Huckabee staffer is preventing Cruz from getting on the stage and in the views of the Huckabee campaign, crashing the Huckabee event.

[16:20:08] But moving on from that, you know, rivalry, what do you make of these splashy events? How come you're not part of them?

CHRISTIE: Well, first off, we did what we needed to do, loudly, vocally, over the course of the last number of months, which is to oppose this Iranian deal, because it's bad for American national security and it's disastrous for Israel.

So, people want to do rallies, that's fine, to express themselves. We've been expressing ourself on the campaign trail every day, and that's what we're going to continue to do.

TAPPER: Well, let's talk about the Iran deal. As you know, you're vehemently opposed the president's plan. You've been saying that.

Take a listen to what Colin Powell had to say about it this weekend.


CHUCK TODD, MEET THE PRESS: Let's start right with Iran. Is this a good deal?

COLIN POWELL, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: I think it is a good deal. I've studied very carefully the outline of the deal and what's in that deal, and I've also carefully looked at the opposition to the deal. And my judgment, after balancing those two sets of information is that it's a pretty good deal.


TAPPER: You disagree. Why should voters listen to you over Ronald Reagan's national security adviser Colin Powell?

CHRISTIE: Who also endorsed Barack Obama twice.

TAPPER: That is true.

CHRISTIE: Right. Well, it's a very relevant point, though, to put out there.

He's twice endorsed Barack Obama for president of the United States, and I assume supports his foreign policy and has had a change of heart over time. That's fine. I have had a change of heart.

You do no make this kind of deal where you have the Iranian revolutionary guard being the ones to inspect Iranian military sites. And we count on them for telling us the truth.

The president lies to the American people. He says anytime anywhere inspections, yet we have to wait 24 days to inspect any suspect place. Listen, Jake, I was a former U.S. attorney, as you know in New Jersey, even the stupidest criminals in New Jersey, if I came with a search warrant, but gave them 24 days and came back, would know to get the evidence out of there.

And we pride ourselves of having stupid criminals in New Jersey, among the stupidest in America. The Iranians are not stupid. The secretary of state is wrong.


TAPPER: The 24 days thing is just about new accusations, not about established sites. I'm not saying --

CHRISTIE: It doesn't matter. The president didn't make that qualification when he spoke to the nation. He said this is about verification, anytime anywhere verification. He and the secretary of state and the former secretary of state, Secretary Clinton, have all lied to the American people. They've -- looked like in that camera and lied.

TAPPER: You're talking about the anywhere anytime assertion?

CHRISTIE: Yes, sir, absolutely. And that's -- and he says that's what the whole situation is underpinned by, is that this isn't about truth, we have verification. We have verification based upon the Iranian revolutionary guard and a 24 hour waiting period for any new acquisitions. It's ridiculous. Former Secretary of State Powell is wrong. I think his view is being colored by the fact that he twice endorsed this man for president.

TAPPER: Yesterday, you suggested that Kim Davis, the Kentucky county clerk who's refused to issue marriage licenses, you suggested she be moved to another job in government. I'm not exactly sure how that would work technically since she was elected. CHRISTIE: I mean just moved off the job of issuing marriage licenses.

TAPPER: Do you agree with Huckabee, that telling her to do this is judicial tyranny?

CHRISTIE: Listen, I don't use the same words that Mike Huckabee does. We have to stand up for people's constitutional rights, and the free exercise of religion is a First Amendment right.

But also, if you're a government worker task tasked with a job, you have a responsibility. I think the right way to compromise this is to take her out of the business of issuing marriage licenses, let others do that so the marriage licenses aren't delayed, and this way she does not have to violate her closely held religious beliefs. It's a common sense, smart way to do it and we can move away from the controversy.

TAPPER: Illegal immigration, a huge, huge debate in the Republican primary. Donald Trump says he wants to deport all 11-plus million undocumented workers here illegally. Ben Carson, who's a number two in a lot of polls, says that's not feasible. Take a listen.


DR. BEN CARSON (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It sounds really cool, you know? Let's round them up and -- people who say that has no idea what that would entail in terms of our legal system, the cost. Forget about it. And plus, where are you going to send them? So, you know, it's just a double whammy.


TAPPER: Do you agree with Carson, I think?

CHRISTIE: Sure. Listen, I'm someone unlike anybody else in this race who has done law enforcement. I've been the U.S. attorney for seven years in the Bush administration. There aren't enough police officers, local, county state and agents at the federal level to round up all those people and forcibly deport them if we wanted to.

So, it sounds good, but it's not going to happen in that matter. What we need to do is stop adding to the problem by securing our border and then deal with the 11 million people here. But you're not going to be able to round them off and kick them out. I don't care how many times you say it or how loudly you say it, we simply don't have the resources to be able to do it.

But what people are really frustrated and angry about, Jake, is that the government let it get to that point to begin with. That's why they hate Washington, D.C. and why they don't like Congress who doesn't do anything about this either, and that's why they want a strong president who they know is going to do this kind of thing.

I did it as U.S. attorney. I've done it as governor, executed and enforce the laws.

[16:25:01] What people are most frustrated about in this country is a lack of law and order -- whether it's the murder of police officers on the street, the disregard of the immigration laws for sanctuary cities, smoking pot in Colorado and Washington. No one thinks that the law applies to them anymore if they don't like the law. As president, I will make sure everybody knows. Law and order will be restored.

TAPPER: All right. Stay right there, Governor Christie.


TAPPER: When we come back, a strange turn in the campaign, and the rivalry between Jeb Bush and Donald Trump. Jeb Bush channeling Donald Trump on Stephen Colbert's show. We'll ask the governor about that when we come back.