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THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER
Cruz Responds to Trump Jibes; A look at Political Art History. Aired 4:30-5p ET
Aired January 6, 2016 - 16:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
DANA BASH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: -- on the issue of the passport.
CRUZ: What passport?
BASH: Donald Trump is suggesting -- saying that you had a Canadian passport.
CRUZ: It's not true.
BASH: Never had a Canadian passport?
CRUZ: No, of course not.
BASH: In your entire life?
CRUZ: Of course not, no.
BASH: And you're sure? You asked your mother? You asked your dad? Never had one?
CRUZ: Yes, I'm sure.
BASH: So, he's hoping to put that to rest, for sure.
I should tell you, Jake, that aboard his bus, he certainly has a lot of top staffers that help him with a lot of these responses, but he told me that the response with Fonzie jumping the shark, that was his tweet, that was his idea.
TAPPER: All right, Dana Bash, thank you so much.
Let's talk about Senator Cruz and this increasingly heated race for the Republican presidential nomination with foreign policy adviser to Senator Cruz, Victoria Coates. She is also an art historian and the author of the book "David's Sling: A History of Democracy in Ten Works of Art." It is a fascinating read. We will get to it in a moment. But, first, you're a foreign policy adviser for Senator Ted Cruz. So
I have to ask you some questions about foreign policy and Senator Ted Cruz. Senator Cruz referred to this as settled law, but the term natural-born citizen is at least ambiguous enough that when John McCain was the nominee for the Republican Party in 2008, John McCain born on a military base in Panama to two American citizens, the Senate passed a resolution to affirm that McCain was in fact a citizen, natural-born citizen and eligible.
Isn't there some -- I'm not backing birtherism, but isn't it true that this isn't settled law? There's some ambiguity.
VICTORIA COATES, FOREIGN POLICY ADVISER TO TED CRUZ: Well, fortunately, I'm not a lawyer, which differentiates me from most of our staff.
But I did read the Harvard Law Review on this issue and Paul Clement declared that the child of a natural-born -- of an American citizen, regardless of place of birth, is a citizen. And, so, Jake, this is no different. I was very pregnant in both -- for both of my kids in Florence and in Amsterdam.
If I had happened to have them on those trips, they would be eligible to be president because I'm an American citizen.
TAPPER: Let me just ask you, as an adviser to Ted Cruz, this is an attack coming from Donald Trump who is also saying things that apparently are not true, like he had a Canadian passport. Why is Senator Cruz more forcefully going after the Marco Rubios of the world and kind of just letting Donald be Donald, oh, that's just my friend Donald, he's a little silly?
COATES: I think I'm going to follow his lead on this and say it's a nonissue.
And I think he's absolutely right that on the anniversary of the "Charlie Hebdo" attack and the day after the North Koreans announced that they have possibly tested a hydrogen bomb, that we have other things to talk about.
TAPPER: Let's talk about that hydrogen bomb right now, possible hydrogen bomb, although the latest intelligence has said it wasn't necessarily one.
What would President Cruz be doing right now with you by his side?
COATES: Well, what I would be advising him to do would be to make it very clear North Koreans that there are ramifications for this behavior.
The problem we have is that there have been no checks on them over the course of the last seven years, even perhaps longer than that. And so they have been testing, testing, testing. If nothing else, last night, they signalled that they are going towards a hydrogen bomb.
And this is intolerable. So, the Chinese should know that we will not stand for this behavior, and that if they can't corral them, that there will be ramifications for them as well. And we should be reaching out to our very strong allies in the region, to Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, and really reassuring them that America's with them.
TAPPER: What's so confounding about the problem of North Korea is that you have in the last three administrations three very different approaches. And truly none of them seem to have worked.
You had Clinton engaging, the Bush administration taking a tough line with them. They exploded their first nuke in 2006. And then, of course, President Obama. Nothing seems to work.
COATES: Well, I think the original problem was with the Clinton approach, which unfortunately we have seen a very similar approach to Iran, which is that you engage in negotiations, you enable a civilian nuclear program, and you relax sanctions, allowing a flow of money into the country.
And that's pretty much the deal we have just given Iran. And I'm afraid we know how that play ends.
TAPPER: We only have a little bit of time, but I do want to mention this art history book, "David's Sling: A History of Democracy in Ten Works of Art."
As the subtitle explains, you look at how democracy got where it is by looking at 10 distinct works of art. The one that seems most relevant to us today is Picasso's "Guernica," which is a famous work that looks at the Spanish Civil War.
Now, you have said that you see a threat today on the scale of the fascism seen in "Guernica," Franco, Mussolini, Hitler, and it's Islamist terrorism, Islamist extremism.
The fascists killed millions of people. How can you compare the two?
COATES: Well, I certainly think we're seeing a great deal of death in the Middle East caused by both Sunni and Shiite Islamic supremacism.
And what set Picasso apart from the other chapters in the book is the threat to liberty by fascism was an existential threat. It wasn't just the Medici coming to take over the Florentine Republic, one state. It was a threat to the concept of liberty.
And certainly what we see in this particular brand distortion of Islamism is to a desire to do just that, to extinguish liberty. And I wouldn't be too confident that those who espouse that wouldn't kill a whole lot of people to make that happen.
TAPPER: Well, it's very interesting to interview a foreign policy adviser who is also an art historian.
COATES: I think it's unique.
TAPPER: So, thank you. I think it's unique indeed. Thank you so much. I appreciate it. Thanks for coming in.
COATES: Thank you.
TAPPER: On the other side of the campaign trail, Hillary Clinton will have to share the spotlight this evening with Bernie Sanders at a special dinner. And with only 26 days left before Iowa, how can Clinton get through? How can she worry about more than she's letting on? That story next.
TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD.
We're going to stay with our politics lead now. Could Hillary Clinton lose the New Hampshire primary? The polls say that very well could happen. Senator Bernie Sanders from neighboring Vermont is clearly trying to feed any doubts voters might have about Clinton's trustworthiness, which has, of course, been an issue for her throughout this campaign.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (VT-I), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Can't be a moderate. You can't be a progressive. You can't be for the TPP and against the TPP, for the Keystone pipeline, against the Keystone pipeline. You know, I have been fairly consistent my entire political life.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: CNN's senior political correspondent Brianna Keilar is in Henderson, Nevada, where Clinton was earlier today.
Brianna, Clinton, as you know, will appear at the MGM Grand in Vegas in just a few short hours at a Democratic Party dinner. Bernie Sanders is going to be there too. Both will speak. Has her campaign given you any indication if she will directly address the charges coming from Sanders?
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: They're not ruling it out, but talking to sources, Jake, it sounds like while she may be drawing some contrasts with Bernie Sanders, I think she's expecting that he will draw some contrasts with her, whether it is going to be on this specific issue or not is still to be seen.
I do understand that her remarks for tonight are still being worked out, but talking to a source, they didn't seem to be very concerned about this specific charge that Sanders is making that she is a flip- flopper. And the reasoning that I'm hearing is this, they believe that it is something that has been leveled at Clinton before, especially on these issues of the Trans-Pacific Partnership on the Keystone XL pipeline, that these are issues that she's taken her position on here in recent months. They think it's something that's already out there that has been sort
of adjudicated and that it is where it is and that it's not going to really erode support for Hillary Clinton. Will she draw contrasts with Bernie Sanders tonight? Perhaps, I think we should look for that to happen, but today here in Henderson, Nevada, remarks that she gave before this ballroom of people, the contrast that she was drawing was very much as an alternative to Donald Trump and to Republicans.
Some of the things she said that certainly raised eyebrows I think, in addition to doubling down on that comment she made yesterday about not needing a tour of the White House come January 2017, she said that America needs a leader who will look squarely at problems, not create fear. And she also said that the U.S. needs Muslim Americans to stand with the United States, not to be marginalized or offended -- Jake.
TAPPER: Brianna, to get into some of the politics here, we mentioned how things are very tight in New Hampshire, Bernie Sanders from neighboring Vermont, of course, but there's also legitimate concern among Clinton backers that she might be vulnerable in Iowa.
And here's what I'm hearing talking to sources on that. They believe that her lead is real in Iowa. They say they're not taking it for granted, but they believe that, compared to 2008, the analytics, they think, they have faith in them. Remember, back -- as you recall back in 2008, her campaign was completely blindsided by this over-the-top turnout, that they were not expected, that were really not in their projections, and that ultimately worked in then-Senator Obama's favor.
They think that this lead is real. They are comfortable with that. Certainly, there's some concern when it comes to New Hampshire, Bernie Sanders very much leading there, but they're downplaying some of their concern there, Jake.
TAPPER: It wasn't just Barack Obama that beat her in Iowa, of course, in 2008.
KEILAR: That's right, John Edwards.
TAPPER: She came in third to John Edwards.
KEILAR: She came in third.
TAPPER: Brianna Keilar, thanks so much.
Republicans controlling Congress are vowing to block President Obama's new plans to expand background checks for gun purchases. Today, House Speaker Paul Ryan said he is considering a lawsuit against the president's executive actions with fellow GOP leadership by his side. Ryan led the charge, calling the new measures a distraction that attacks the Second Amendment.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: I think it would be nice if he would actually focus on defeating ISIS, on calling radical Islamic terrorism what it actually is, instead of talking about how we can intimidate and frustrate the Second Amendment rights of law- abiding citizens.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: And joining me now, the Republican House Majority Whip Congressman Steve Scalise of Louisiana.
Congressman, thanks so much for joining us.
REP. STEVE SCALISE (R-LA), HOUSE MAJORITY WHIP: Good to be back with you, Jake.
TAPPER: So, you have called President Obama's executive action on guns an overreach. You say it's insulting. And you say it's an attempt to take away the protected rights of gun owners.
Now, as I understand it, the controversial part of the proposal expands background checks. Do you think there's something wrong with making sure that people who buy guns aren't criminals and don't have mental health problems?
SCALISE: No, Jake, he's really trying to change the definition of a licensed seller, of a licensed firearms dealer.
We're talking about somebody that might have a few guns that they want to sell to a friend or to their own kids, and the president's going to say you have to go register with the federal government. This is an attempt to try to bully and intimidate people from selling guns and from buying guns and it goes around the laws that are already on the books.
Look, the president's not even enforcing existing law. That's where he should focus, but, frankly, he's trying to change the subject and get away from the fact that he hasn't been able to defeat ISIS. He hasn't been able to keep them out of the United States. And instead of talking about that, he wants to talk about gun control.
TAPPER: Well, many more Americans die every year, even if you remove suicides from the equation, from gun violence than have been killed by terrorists. I mean, that's not even a question.
But going back to your argument, as I understand it, what the president's provision would do would change the definition of somebody selling guns, somebody that would be required to get a license, making it a requirement for those who sell competitively and to make a profit.
So, I don't know that that would impact the father/son scenario you just talked about.
SCALISE: It would even apply to somebody that just sold a few guns. And, look, not only does this really go after people that are not even
dealers. These are just people that might want to sell to a friend or, again, to a kid, to one of their own children.
[16:45:12] But the President's trying to impose $250,000 fines against people. Look, these are law-abiding citizens we're talking about. These aren't criminals. The president won't even go after people who broke existing federal law. Why doesn't he do that? Why doesn't he focus on his job instead of trying to usurp the role of Congress and trump the Constitution and the Second Amendment that is so sacred to our nation's founding.
TAPPER: But what's wrong with background check, sir? I mean, what's wrong with making sure that the people who are buying guns are suitable for gun ownership allowed to buy guns?
SCALISE: You've already got a system that works. In fact, what the President's talking about wouldn't even go after or some of these shootings that we all are denounced, we pray for the victims.
The President tries to criticize people who pray for the victims. He just wants to talk about gun control in a broader sense. And he doesn't stop here by the way, Jake. If you look at what he's proposed in the past, it goes far beyond this. So anybody that thinks that this is where the President wants to end, this is just the beginning. He's had a history of wanting to take away the gun rights of law- abiding citizens. And we're not going to stand for it.
TAPPER: We only have a few minutes and I want to get to some other topics in the news. Obviously today, the world woke up to North Korea claiming they had tested a hydrogen bomb. What do you think the response of the U.S. government should be?
SCALISE: The response needs to be strong. But, obviously, we are still gathering the real facts, finding out what really went on. But look, this is a clear example of the President's failures internationally.
I mean, you've got North Korea continuing to run Russia, you've got Iran trying to get a nuclear weapon, the Soviet Union, Russia's trying to go through Eastern Europe. They're already in the Ukraine, undermining a lot of our allies around the world. And the President's had no response. I sure hope he comes up with a strong response to this.
But look, this is one small example of the larger problem of the President's failed foreign policy.
TAPPER: The first time they exploded a nuclear device. My understanding is in 2006 during the Bush administration.
SCALISE: Well, if you look at what this President's done to try to curtail whether it's North Korea, again, Iran, he's enabling Iran's ability to get a nuclear weapon. According to not only American military experts but our best ally Israel is very concerned about what's happening over there. And yet the President continues to go forward and almost ignore what our allies think of this.
TAPPER: One quick question on politics if I can. Republican frontrunner Donald Trump is bringing up a new birther argument, this time against his chief competition Senator Ted Cruz. Trump now raising the issue of whether or not Cruz who is born in Canada to an American citizen, whether he's eligible to be president. Is Senator Ted Cruz eligible to be president?
SCALISE: Look, ultimately the voters are going to be making these decisions. He's a candidate. He's running. He's eligible by all the constitutional experts. But the voters in Iowa we're going to start making that decision at the beginning of February. And then each other state follows after that. We're March 5th in Louisiana.
So I'm looking forward to the people of this country actually deciding it through elections.
Let's have the voters actually go and pick who the nominees are going to be both on the Republican side and on the Democrat side. And then, we need to win the White House back to get Republican President to get our country back on track.
TAPPER: Congressman Steve Scalise, thank you so much.
SCALISE: Thanks, great being with you, Jake.
TAPPER: And CNN will elevate the gun conversation tomorrow. President Obama will join CNN's Anderson Cooper for a special town hall on guns in America. And you can see it tomorrow night at 8:00 Eastern right here on CNN.
Coming up, a shocking apparently coordinated crime wave on New Year's Eve, more than 100 reported attacks by gangs of men working together to sexually assault and rob women victims. That's next. Plus, Donald Trump continuing to question Ted Cruz's eligibility to be president in a brand new CNN interview. And that interview is coming up.
[16:57:26] TAPPER: Welcome back to "The Lead", I'm Jake Tapper. Making headlines in our "World Lead" today, a terrifying crime wave sweeping across Germany on New Year's Eve. More than 150 women have filed criminal complaints in Cologne, Hamburg and Stuttgart, Germany alleging they were raped, sexually assaulted and/or robbed.
In Cologne, police say victims claim the alleged attackers appear to be of Arab descent. It raises questions and fears about the flood of refugees who have entered the country. CNN Senior International Correspondent Fred Pleitgen has been digging in on the story.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FRED PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: A day after the allegations of mass sexual assaults were made public, Cologne continues to search for the perpetrators and for answers. How could things get so out of hand? More victims are coming forward and describing their harrowing experience experiences.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translation): Suddenly, we were surrounded by a group of between 20 and 30 men. They were full of anger. And we had to make sure that no one of us was pulled away by them. They were grabbing us and we were trying to get away as quickly as possible.
PLEITGEN: Police and witnesses continue to speak of a group of up to 1,000 men groping and often robbing women at Cologne's main railway station on New Year's Eve. More than 100 criminal complaints have already been filed. Germany's interior minister criticized the police's slow response to the violence and said authorities must do better in the future.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): We still do not have a clear picture as to who may be behind the crimes. All we have are some clues. The actions of the perpetrators are not acceptable.
PLEITGEN: With Germany now announcing the country took in about 1.1 million asylum seekers in 2015, the New Year's Eve incidents are causing many to criticize Angela Merkel's open arms policy. But authorities say there are no indications refugees were involved.
Meanwhile, Cologne's mayor is under fire for suggesting women need to be more careful.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translation): Women would also be smart not to go and embrace everyone that you meet and who seems to be nice. Such advances could be misunderstood, and that is something every woman and every girl should protect herself from.
PLEITGEN: As the search for the perpetrators continues, questions still remain as to how this night of celebration turned sour so quickly. Fred Pleitgen, CNN, London.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: All right, thanks to Fred Pleitgen.
[16:54:59] Now, the "Money Lead", we've all tried to cram that extra word, or emoji, or hashtag into a tweet but blocked by that pesky 140 character limit, until now, well, maybe.
Twitter now considering increasing its character limit to 10,000, so, ladies and gentlemen, feel free in this new world to go on that rant even though no one on the internet will get past line three anyway no matter how much they love you. Let's get right to @LaurieSegallCNN. Laurie, what's behind this? Why now?
LAURIE SEAGALL, @LAURIESEGALLCNN: I would say the simple answer is Jack Dorsey. He's back as CEO. He's looking at the product and he saying, "I think this is what people want". And if you look, he actually tweeted out a screen shot and he said, "People are getting around the 140 character limit anyway. They're doing it in screen shot. Let's take advantage of that text". I want to read you a little bit of it. He said, "Instead what if text
was actually text that could be searched, text that could be highlighted, that's more utility and power". And remember, Jake, they actually already expanded the limit for DMs and a lot of folks are open arms in saying, "What is our timeline going to look like?"
But I will assure you, I spoke to the former director of platform and he said they're very sensitive about changing the look and feel of that platform. So no matter what if they change this, you know, we might not actually see it, it make too much for difference although I do get a little concerned, we're going to see a lot of Twitter novellas if this actually does happen, Jake.
TAPPER: Concerned, I can't wait. Laurie Segall, thank you so much.
Coming up, a brand new sitdown interview with Donald Trump where he defends his latest attack questioning Ted Cruz's eligibility for the presidency, that's next. Stay with us.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN: Happening now, breaking news. H-bomb, North Korea sends out shock waves where they claim it's tested a hydrogen bomb, vastly more powerful than the nuclear weapons. It exploded so far. Experts are skeptical, but the world is outraged. And Kim Jong-Un's regime may face harsh new punishment.
One on one with Trump, I asked the GOP frontrunner what he would do about the North Korea --