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THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER

One of 3 California Jail Escapees in Custody; Interview with Tom Harkin; Sanders Paints Clinton As Flip-Flopper; Hunting And Talking 2016 With Donald Trump's Sons; Ex-Senate Majority Leaders On 2016 Race. Aired 4:30-5p ET

Aired January 29, 2016 - 16:30   ET

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


[16:30:00] MARGARET HOOVER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: And while inertia is in Trump's direction, second place Rubio, Cruz -- also, I'm hearing Rubio is on the rise, you just never know how close second and third will be. Anything can happen.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: Yes.

Jennifer, very quickly if I could, we're hearing that it might snow Monday night. Bad weather, who does it help?

JENNIFER JACOBS, THE DES MOINES REGISTER: Those first-time caucus goers tend to be less reliable. They've never caucused before. They're looking for possible excuses to stay home if the weather is really bad. We know that Sanders and Trump have more first-time caucus-goers. Cruz and Clinton have those more experienced caucus- goers that are more reliable.

However, Hillary Clinton has older voters. Among that 75 and older crowd --

TAPPER: Yes.

JACOBS: -- she takes 70 percent of those folks. We do know in Iowa that, you know, older folks who can't see as well at night, are afraid of slipping and falling on ice or snow, they could be persuaded to stay home.

But also, she has passion. Iowans really do like Hillary Clinton.

TAPPER: Oh, it's down to the wire.

BAKARI SELLERS, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: It's down to the wire.

TAPPER: Jennifer, Bakari, Margaret, thank you so much. Really appreciate it.

Coming on THE LEAD: one man in custody, two more to go. One of the California jail escapees surrendering to police today. But how close are investigators to closing in on the other two dangerous men? Back after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[16:35:15] ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD live in Iowa.

We have some breaking news in our national lead. CNN is learning that one of the inmates who escaped a southern California jail is now in custody. Forty-three-year-old Bac Duong who has a lengthy criminal history and multiple convictions has turned himself in. But authorities still are looking for two others, including the dangerous criminal who was compared with Hannibal Lecter and a Vietnamese gang member facing murder charges.

Let's bring in CNN justice correspondent Pamela Brown now.

Pamela, what do we know about this capture today?

PAMELA BROWN, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: I have to say. I think authorities are shocked by the way this turned out with the capture, if you want to call it that. One of the three escaped inmates, Bac Duong, turned himself into authorities after contacting a stranger on the streets in Santa Ana, the same area where he escaped from prison. Duong is awaiting trial and has a pretty lengthy rap sheet.

Here's what the sheriff has to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SHERIFF SANDRA HUTCHENS, ORANGE COUNTY, CALIFORNIA: Bac Duong contacted a civilian on the streets of Santa Ana and stated he wanted to turn himself in.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BROWN: So, the other two inmates are still on the loose and being told that they're really focusing the search on the area where Bac Duong turned himself in.

TAPPER: And, Pamela, is there any indication where the two other fugitives might be beyond the area where Bac Duong turned himself in?

BROWN: Well, essentially, investigators have announced earlier today that they believe these three men were in southern California in the vicinity of that jail. And I think the fact that Duong turned himself in right there on the streets near the jail gives them more confidence that the other two are in the same area. Remember, they initially believed the three of them were together. We are being told by authorities they haven't had any sightings of the other two inmates in that white stolen van that they're believed to be with.

But now that Duong is in custody, it will be interesting to learn at what point he separated from the pair and how he might help lead to the other men -- Jake.

TAPPER: We learned earlier that a woman who teaches English at the prison allegedly had a personal relationship with one of the inmates still on the run, shades of that prison break in upstate New York. To what extent to authorities believe that this woman helped their escape?

BROWN: Yes, there's a lot of parallels being drawn between those two prison breaks. Jake, authorities believe the suspected ring leader of these three inmates, Adam Nayeri, an ex-con with a history of escape, is believed to have a relationship with this woman right here, his prison English teacher Nooshafarian Ravaghi.

This was all based on flirtatious handwritten correspondence between the two. And now, the teacher has denied providing tools to Nayeri, but she did tell authorities she provided a Google search map -- Google Earth map of the jail. She is still in police custody and she will have a hearing next week.

She is really key, Jake, to investigators in terms of how the inmates were able to escape.

TAPPER: Curiouser and curiouser.

Pam Brown, thank you so much.

In other political news today, Donald Trump's sons were not with him this afternoon in New Hampshire. That's because this morning they were hunting in Iowa. I went along with them. That's coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[16:42:51] TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. We're live from Des Moines, Iowa.

There's only three days left before Iowa decides. Let's talk to somebody who knows a thing or two about winning an Iowa caucus and Iowa in general.

Joining me now the former Democratic senator here and a winner of the caucuses himself in 1992, Tom Harkin, also a Hillary Clinton supporter.

Thanks so much for being here. Great to see you.

TOM HARKIN (D), FORMER IOWA SENATOR: Good to see you, Jake.

TAPPER: How's retirement from the Senate?

HARKIN: Great. Look at the weather here, it's wonderful in Iowa. It's great. I tell you, retirement is OK.

TAPPER: Before I get to the campaign, have you seen this breaking news about the State Department saying that they're not going to release some e-mails from Hillary Clinton's private server? Have you seen that breaking news?

HARKIN: No, I haven't. I'm sorry, I haven't seen that.

TAPPER: What do you think about this e-mail controversy in general as a Clinton supporter? HARKIN: Much ado about nothing. In fact, it is a fact that not one

confidential or classified piece of material was sent on that server or received on that server.

TAPPER: That wasn't marked classified at the time.

HARKIN: At the time.

TAPPER: At the time.

HARKIN: Well, later on they classified some. In fact, it was a "New York Times" article in the public domain that they classified later on. How dumb can you get?

You know, those of us who have been in Washington know a lot of times they classify things that are really, really stupid.

TAPPER: I want to ask you about --

HARKIN: But let me just say this, Jake.

TAPPER: Yes?

HARKIN: That Colin Powell also had a private server when he was secretary of state.

TAPPER: I think he had a private e-mail address. I don't think he had a server.

HARKIN: I think he had a server and he used it. Why haven't they attacked him?

TAPPER: Well, he's not running for president.

HARKIN: There you go.

TAPPER: In any case, I want you to take a listen to Senator Bernie Sanders talking about Clinton in rather stark terms last night.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It is great to be against the war after you vote for the war. It is great to be for gay rights after you insult the entire gay community by supporting DOMA. It is great to finally kicking and screaming come out against the TPP, but where were you on all of the other trade agreements? It is great to come out against the Keystone pipeline after supporting the Keystone pipeline.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: So you, as a senator, were a very progressive, populist senator.

[16:45:01] Bernie Sanders is saying he is more an heir to that progressivism than Hillary Clinton is. Do you disagree? HARKIN: Well, to a certain extent, yes. Look, I like Bernie Sanders. We served together. He's a friend of mine. But the reason I'm supporting Hillary Clinton is because for all the years I've known her, she is one of the most honest, trustworthy, competent individuals I've ever worked with in government.

TAPPER: A lot of voters don't think she's honest and trustworthy -- in the polls.

HARKIN: You know why? For 15 or 20 years the right wing has been beating up on her with false accusations, innuendos, falsifications, all that. They have been on her constantly. Why? Because they always suspected she'd run for president and they are afraid that she's going to be president.

So if you're a young person, 25, 30 years old, all you've heard for the last 10, 15 years from the right wing press and the radio and all that kind of stuff is how bad Hillary Clinton is. It's much -- in social media, as you know, Jake, it's much easier to get the negative out than the positive.

TAPPER: What do you think is going to happen here Monday night? I know you have seen for yourself there is a lot of enthusiasm for Sanders among young people, among people who haven't caucused before.

HARKIN: Well, all I can tell you is Hillary has run a great campaign in Iowa. She has a great organization. It's statewide and it's deep in all the precincts around the state as opposed to what she did in 2008.

So she learned that and learned it well. She's been in homes, she's talked to individual Iowans in a way that Senator Sanders hasn't. He's kind of focused his attention on a few areas.

That's why I think Hillary will win on Monday because her base is broad based around the state in all of the precincts and not just focused on a few areas.

You know, this thing about what Bernie just said. You know, that's a little unfair, quite frankly. You know, Hillary is a great progressive. Now, has she made some mistakes in voting? Yes.

So have I, Jake, being a great progressive. Yes, I voted some ways I wish I could take them back. I voted with that -- on that war in Iraq the same way as Hillary did. But you know what, one of the dumbest votes I ever made because I believed George Bush.

I believed he didn't want to go to war. I believed he only wanted to have the inspectors do their job. Well, he was lying to us. Just like Colin Powell and all those other people that were leading us down a bad path.

I just didn't think the president would do that to us. But I can tell you when it comes to middle class issues and families and supporting the middle class in America, Hillary Clinton is always there.

TAPPER: Always an honor to see you, Sir. Thank you so much. Tom Harkins, thank you so much.

As you all know by now, in just three days voters here in Iowa will be the first in the nation to make their choice for a presidential nominee. Depending on the year, Iowa is often second in the nation in something else.

Pheasant hunting. Partaking in one of the state's favorite pastimes today were Donald Trump's sons, Eric and Donald Jr. Crediting the sport with having kept them on the straight and narrow, unlike some of their fellow Manhattan peers. The brothers Trump are trying to be ambassadors for the tradition.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TAPPER (voice-over): While Donald Trump sets his sights on a caucus win here in Iowa.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You can pull the trigger twice and you'll get two shots out of it.

TAPPER: His sons, Donald Jr. and Eric have extended the campaign trail to the cornfields of Iowa where they are literally aiming for pheasants and inviting CNN along for the hunt.

(on camera): One of the things going on here is you're showing Iowans that even though you're well-to-do New Yorkers, this is part of your culture, hunting

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Very much so. We got into it at a very young age. We had a grandfather who was a blue collar guy, was an electrician from communist Czech Slovakia. (Inaudible) you know, the nature is just (inaudible) and it's something we truly, truly love.

TAPPER: So it's getting real now, the Iowa caucus coming up on Monday. Are you nervous?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm proud. I'm proud honestly. He's been a politician for exactly six months and he's winning this race. I'm proud of him. It's just great to see.

TAPPER: Give me some candid talk here. What's it like to be the son of a candidate? Do you cringe? Do you go that's not fair?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's your father, he's your best friend so any time anybody attacks him you want to jump through the TV and attack them back. He's a counter puncher. He's a great boxer and willing to hit back harder.

TAPPER (voice-over): The Trump sons became targets themselves earlier this year after photographs of their pig game kill surfaced online just as hunting claimed the life of Africa's Cecil the lion, a controversy the brothers dismiss.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When you look at the amount of money generated by conservationists and the amount of land put aside for the habitat of those animals, all of that is driven by hunters, started by Theodore Roosevelt.

[16:50:03]TAPPER (on camera): He's a hero of yours.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Huge, another brash New Yorker, but these are all things important. Our job is trying to get people on the fence and explain what is done, what's preserved and we try to be good stewards of that to make sure that those kind of animals and the great enjoyment that we experience is there for our kids, your kids and their kids behind them.

TAPPER (voice-over): Turning a negative into a positive is one of the things the Trumps do best.

(on camera): Such a good brander, the Trump brand, but also a negative brander of his opponents, whether it's Bush low energy, or Ted Cruz and the whole Canadian thing. Is that just instinct or is some of it --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's always that way. It's a natural ability. He sees people's flaws, he sees their weaknesses. The reason it sticks and the reach it's so effective is because everyone once they hear it realizes he's right.

TAPPER: The last time I interviewed your father he wasn't very happy with me after the interview. Next thing I know I'm walking in the brush with his sons who are armed. Not connected.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So walk behind us.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you send the camera crew home there may be a different outcome, but I think you're good. You're all good.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

TAPPER: And I'm all good. In our Sports Lead, could O.J. Simpson be suffering from the same brain disease found in dozens of dead NFL players? The man who discovered the disease says yes, he's sure of it. That story next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[16:55:57]

TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. We're live in Iowa, continuing with the National Lead now. When one of the candidates here in Iowa wins the presidency, he or she will inherit a national debt of nearly $19 trillion. That's right, $19 trillion.

In a new segment we're introducing right now, "America's Debt and the Economy," we're taking a hard look at America's money problem.

Let's talk about this with two former Senate majority leaders, Republican Trent Lott and Democrat Tom Daschle. Thanks for joining us.

You've teamed up for a new book about Washington, D.C. dysfunction called "Crisis Point." It's a pretty bold title. Your time in Congress included the impeachment of President Clinton, the lead-up to the war in Iraq, the anthrax scare. Some of it was sent to your offices, Senator Daschle. Why is now the crisis point, Senator Daschle?

TOM DASCHLE (D), FORMER SENATE MAJORITY LEADER: Well, I think, Jake, the primary reason is that we're as dysfunctional as I think we've been in 150 years, not able to pass good legislation, not able to communicate, not to coordinate with the president and Congress.

TRENT LOTT (R), FORMER SENATE MAJORITY LEADER: You pointed out the difficult things we had to deal with, but through it all we continued to find a way to work between a Republican congress and a Democrat president.

TAPPER: The national debt, many argue is beyond urgent. What do you think it's going to take to get congress to actually try to reduce this crippling multi-trillion debt?

DASCHLE: Well, the most important thing is to grow the economy. That's where the largest amount of deficit reduction potential lies. But I think we've got to do everything, all of the above.

We've got to look at revenue, cuts, entitlement reform. We have to really provide the kind of leadership and the common ground construction necessary to address this issue more effectively.

LOTT: Entitlements of the federal government programs are growing just exponentially whereas the discretionary spending for things like highways or hospitals are staying basically flat with a much lower rate of growth. So you need reform and you need growth and that takes the entire package, like Tom says.

TAPPER: We're in the heat of election season. One of the things that the book argues is that the endless campaign fundraising on the Hill affects the priorities of Washington. Senator Lott, what's at stake here?

LOTT: There's a lot at stake. The money chase has really got to be all-consuming. It just takes so much more time. Members of congress are in Washington less than they used to be. They're there usually a couple of days, three at the most.

TAPPER: Senator Lott, you have endorsed John Kasich for president. Senator Daschle, you're for Hillary Clinton. Both of these candidates are dealing with a lot of anger among voters on both the left and the right. What do you think voters are so angry about and is it part of what you're writing about?

LOTT: I think it's fear as much as it is anger. The growth in the economy has been slow and it hasn't affected everybody. I think they're worried about the economy, they're worried about their jobs.

DASCHLE: The answer is to govern better. To find people who can bring people together to find the common ground, it's necessary to move this country forward again. That's the way we're going to fix this country. Not by taking a gamble as to what future our country holds by picking somebody who's just not qualified to run this country today.

TAPPER: Govern better, from your lips to God's ears. Senators Trent Lott and Tom Daschle, thanks so much.

In our Sports Lead today, Bennett Omalu is the man who discovered the brain disease CTE in NFL players. Will Smith recently played him in the movie "Concussion." Now he says he's sure that O.J. Simpson has CTE.

O.J. Simpson played 11 NFL seasons before being famously acquitted of murder in 1995. CTE cannot be detected in the living, but Omalu is confident Simpson suffers from the disease and its effects could have played a role in that football player's actions that fateful night.

Don't forget to tune in this Sunday at 9:00 a.m. Eastern for "STATE OF THE UNION." I'll be in Iowa talking to Ted Cruz, Bernie Sanders, and Marco Rubio and may be some others.

That's it for THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.