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THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER
House Stages Sit-In Over Gun Control; Trump Attacks Clinton; Democrats Hold Sit-In to Push for Gun Control. Aired 4-4:30p ET
Aired June 22, 2016 - 16:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: A stunning sight on Capitol Hill.
THE LEAD starts right now.
Breaking news, a call to -- quote -- "disarm hate." Right now, 10 days after Orlando, House Democrats staging a sit-in in the House to force a vote on gun control.
Also, calling her a world-class liar with a deadly foreign policy, Donald Trump today firing back at Hillary Clinton. We're going to fact-check his speech.
Plus, nuclear North Korea more dangerous today than it was just 24 hours ago -- details of yet another missile launch and despite Kim Jong-un's presence, it does not have anyone laughing.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
TAPPER: Welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.
We begin today with some breaking news and high drama on Capitol Hill. Democratic lawmakers are staging a sit-in on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives. They are led by civil rights icon Congressman John Lewis, Democrat of Georgia.
They are protesting the unwillingness of Republicans who control the House to even allow a vote on gun control legislation 10 days after the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history. If you're wondering why we're using photographers and Periscope to try to show you this -- you can see the live pictures coming in, frozen, because it's from Periscope -- instead of using cameras inside the House chamber, the ones you pay for, that's because shortly after Democrats began this show of defiance, which was out of order, Republicans gaveled the House into recess.
And as is protocol, the cameras were turned off.
Let's get right to CNN political reporter Manu Raju on Capitol Hill.
Manu, how did this all begin?
MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, frustration has really been building among Democrats, Jake. We saw that happen last week in the Senate, when Democratic Senator Chris Murphy started a 15-hour filibuster demanding action on gun control. And today it was the House Democrats' turn.
REP. JOHN LEWIS (D), GEORGIA: The time for silence and patience is long gone.
RAJU (voice-over): Furious Democrats take to the House floor and refuse to leave, demanding a vote on gun control after the worst mass shooting in U.S. history.
LEWIS: We're calling on the leadership of the House to bring commonsense gun control legislation to the House floor. Give us a vote.
RAJU: The business of the House grinding to a halt, as dozens of Democrats press for a bill they say will prevent terrorists from buying a gun.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Suspected and known to be a terrorist, why, why can you get a gun, a machine gun?
RAJU: The House went into recess. With that, cameras in the chamber were powered off. Members streamed the protest online.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No bill, no break.
RAJU: Democratic senators marched onto the House floor, too. Online, support flowed from like-minded presidents. Republicans called it an unhelpful stunt.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's not helpful on either side to aisle to cast blame, to yell shame.
RAJU: On the steps of the Capitol, Democrats stage an emotional vigil.
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), HOUSE MINORITY LEADER: All day. We will be there as long as it takes every day.
RAJU: Chicago lawmaker Bobby Rush, who own son was shot dead, recalling his wife's horror.
REP. BOBBY RUSH (D), ILLINOIS: I never will forget the primal scream of my son's mother, shot down in cold blood on the streets of Chicago. It's time to end this course of primal screams in our nation. And it's time to end it right now.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
RAJU: Now, Jake, Democrats are determined to keep -- wage this sit-in until they have a vote on a bill, or at least they get a commitment for a vote.
And we're told that House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy and House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer are discussing a possible vote. But there's no deal yet. And Republicans are committed to waiting this out -- Jake.
TAPPER: Manu, I Don want to be skeptical here. I'm sure that a lot of these expressions are heartfelt and Democrats do want gun control. But I can't help but notice it's an election year and there might be some politics at play.
RAJU: And that's right. And Republicans believe that Democrats aren't willing to cut a deal on an issue as well because they don't want to lose this as a very potent political issue as well.
So, there are politics being played on both sides. There's a compromise bill moving through the Senate right now, but, actually, a lot of Republicans don't -- don't -- aren't ready to support that yet, because the NRA is not ready to support it either, Jake.
Manu Raju on Capitol Hill, thank you so much. We will talk more about this issue with our political panel in a moment.
But, first, on the campaign trail today, Donald Trump delivering the speech that many Republicans have been waiting for, a point-by-point critique of Hillary Clinton and her ethics. He attacked her over her tenure at the State Department, her private e-mail server, donations to the Clinton Foundation.
CNN senior White House correspondent Jim Acosta joins me now live from New York.
Jim, the speech happened to have another added benefit. It changed the subject away from Donald Trump's campaign problems.
JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: It sure did, Jake.
A top adviser told me the theme of today's speech can be summed up as -- quote -- "Hillary is bad." And to the delight and also relief of his staff of supporters, that's exactly what Donald Trump delivered.
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Hillary Clinton, and as you know she -- most people know she's a world-class liar.
ACOSTA (voice-over): With his new team and teleprompters in place, Donald Trump stayed on script and unleashed his most focused and unrelenting attack to date on Hillary Clinton that had even skeptics in the party cheering, not cringing.
TRUMP: Hillary Clinton may be the most corrupt person ever to seek the presidency of the United States.
ACOSTA: Call it operation pivot, as the presumptive GOP nominee made his first real attempt at defining the general election for voters.
TRUMP: Her campaign slogan is I'm with her. You know what my response is to that? I'm with you, the American people.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
ACOSTA: It's no secret why Trump's assault focused so much on Clinton's character. Just look at the numbers. A new ORC/CNN poll finds more people trust Trump than Clinton, though Americans believe the former secretary of state will make a better commander in chief.
So, Trump tried to chip away at her foreign policy credentials.
TRUMP: Her decisions spread death, construction and terrorism everywhere she touched.
ACOSTA: But in doing so, Trump made statements that were simply not true, like his claim that he opposed the Iraq War.
TRUMP: I was among the earliest to criticize the rush to war, and, yes, even before the war ever started.
ACOSTA: Even though it's pointed out repeatedly he's on tape voicing support for the 2003 Iraq.
QUESTION: Are you for invading Iraq?
TRUMP: Yes, I guess so. I wish it was -- I wish, the first time, it was done correctly.
ACOSTA: And there were other whoppers.
Trump said he started his real estate business with a small loan. That was $1 million from father. And Trump claimed Clinton wants to abolish the Second Amendment, but fact-checkers have noted that's just not true.
Trump accused Clinton of doing some fabricating of her own.
TRUMP: Hillary Clinton's message is old and tired.
ACOSTA: Trump drilled down on that theme, accusing the Clintons of profiting off their ties to the rich and powerful.
TRUMP: They totally own her and that will never ever change, including if she ever became president, God help us.
MARC CAPUTO, FORMER TRUMP AIDE: I thought Trump's speech today was a sure sign that the changes he made on Monday are moving this campaign in the right direction. He's on message.
ACOSTA: Former Trump aide Michael Caputo, who resigned from the campaign this week after celebrating the firing of campaign manager Corey Lewandowski on Twitter, says Trump is positioning himself to win.
CAPUTO: I know people are skeptical about whether or not he can stay on message, whether or not he can stay moving in the right direction after his pivot.
ACOSTA: Trump's speech certainly is receiving positive reviews inside the GOP, but one Trump source told me there's no way Trump would have won the nomination with these scripted speeches he's delivering these days, Jake.
Translation: To keep his base fired up for the general election, Trump will have to lose the teleprompters from time to time to give his crowds what they want -- Jake.
TAPPER: All right, Jim Acosta, thanks so much.
Meanwhile, team Clinton spent the morning pushing back against Trump's attack, while Clinton herself delivered a policy speech laying out her economic plan.
CNN senior political correspondent Brianna Keilar is covering Clinton in Raleigh, North Carolina.
Brianna, the plan for Clinton's speech today was to focus on her vision of the economy, but she certainly took some time to attack Donald Trump as well.
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: She did.
This speech today here in Raleigh was more about her policy proposals for the economy, but she still did attack Donald Trump. She called him reckless and she said that he's attacking her and questioning her faith because he doesn't have answers to the economic problems facing the U.S..
HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Donald hates it when anyone points out how hollow his sales pitch really is.
And I guess my speech yesterday must have gotten under his skin.
KEILAR: Hillary Clinton firing back, responding to Donald Trump's harsh words this morning.
TRUMP: Hillary Clinton's message is old and tired.
KEILAR: Clinton is focusing on the economy in North Carolina today, where she's hoping a state that President Obama narrowly lost in 2012 after winning it in 2008 will go her way in November.
CLINTON: And maybe we shouldn't expect better from someone whose most famous words are, "You're fired."
Well, here's what I want you to know. I do have a jobs program, and, as president, I'm going to make sure that you hear, you're hired.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
KEILAR: Her remarks one day after a scathing speech on Trump's business record in the battleground state in Ohio.
CLINTON: He's written a lot of books about business. They all seem to end at chapter 11.
KEILAR: She spent the morning on Capitol Hill.
CLINTON: A lot of familiar faces here.
KEILAR: Meeting with House Democrats, telling them her campaign won't just be about vilifying Donald Trump, but promoting their agenda, trying to help Democrats pick up seats in Congress.
CLINTON: We're going to win this election. We're going to take back the House and the Senate.
KEILAR: Democrats are still trying to unify their voters after a fractious primary fight. Maryland Congressman Elijah Cummings, the head of the party platform drafting committee, says they are working to meld Clinton's and Bernie Sanders' positions.
REP. ELIJAH CUMMINGS (D), MARYLAND: It seems as if we're going to be able to reach an agreement hopefully by Saturday afternoon.
KEILAR: And Clinton's running mate pick could help with that task as well if she goes with a liberal who appeals to Sanders supporters, such as Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren. Warren has become a persistent Trump attacker.
SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D), MASSACHUSETTS: Every day, it becomes clearer that he is just a small, insecure money-grubber who doesn't care about anyone or anything that doesn't have the Trump name splashed all over it.
KEILAR: Warren is scheduled to join Clinton on the trail in Ohio next week, where she's sure to continue hitting Donald Trump. But some observers say Warren would not help Clinton expand to moderate and independent voters.
A new CNN/ORC poll shows only a third of Democratic voters say Clinton should pick Warren as V.P., although 51 percent of Democrats do have a favorable opinion of her.
KEILAR: The CNN reality check team taking a look today at Hillary Clinton's remarks on the economy. Some of it checked out, for instance, when she talked about the U.S.
being the only developed nation that doesn't have paid family on leave. But there was one thing in particular that did not. And that was when she described the gap in wages and earnings between white Americans and black Americans.
She said that needs to be fixed. But what she said was that it had made some improvement in the '90s, when her husband was in the White House. That's actually not true, Jake. While everyone overall on average did better economically in the '90s, that gap between white Americans and black Americans has been persistent for decades, and it was in the '90s.
TAPPER: All right, Brianna Keilar, thank you so much.
Sticking with our politics lead and going back to our top story, big question, will the Democrats sit-in on the House floor actually help new gun control legislation to come up for a vote, to pass, or will it hurt the efforts?
We will discuss more next.
[16:17:14] TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD.
You are looking at live pictures from the House floor where House Democrats are staging a sit-in to try to force votes on gun control. That's through Periscope because the House cameras have been turned off since the session was gaveled to recess, given that the Democrats were out of order.
Our political panel is here to discuss that and all of the developments in the presidential race.
We have with us former communications director for Marco Rubio's presidential campaign Alex Conant, campaign manager for Hillary Clinton's 2008 run, Patti Solis-Doyle, and senior adviser to Donald Trump, Ed Brookover.
Alex, let's start with you. This sit-in, it's not unprecedented, but it doesn't very often. Do you think it might have some effect? I mean, polls indicate that the American people do think that if you are on the watch list, or the no fly list, you shouldn't be able to buy a gun?
ALEX CONANT, PARTNER, FIREHOUSE STRATEGIES: Yes, it's a publicity stunt, right? It's the publicity stunt. The goal is to get publicity. We are talking about it here on CNN. Now, kudos to them, it worked.
If the goal is to change the policy, that won't work. It's a waste of air time because it's not going to change any laws.
TAPPER: Ed, Mr. Trump has said that he agrees with the majority of American people who believe if you're on the terrorist watch list, if you're on no-fly list, you shouldn't be able to buy a firearm. The NRA is opposed to all attempts of writing this into law, including one from Susan Collins, Republican senator from Maine. Has he talked to the NRA about this? Is he in favor of what these lawmakers are doing right now?
ED BROOKOVER, SR. ADVISER TO DONALD TRUMP'S PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN: I think Mr. Trump and the NRA are still together on this issue. Chris Cox, the NRA's leading lobbyist, said the NRA is against terrorists having guns, as is Mr. Trump. What Mr. Trump suggested and I think what Americans want is an adult conversation about this and a way to stop these killings.
TAPPER: Yes, but, Mr. Trump went farther than saying terrorists shouldn't have guns, which you're right, is the NRA policy. He said people on the terrorist watchlist shouldn't have guns.
BROOKOVER: Yes, he does say that, because he also recognizes, there are some problem with that list, that we have Fourth Amendment rights that we have to protect as well, and that we need to have to think about how best to implement this policy.
TAPPER: Patti, Donald Trump's message was rather focused. He read from the teleprompter. He went point by point. Is this the Donald Trump that could actually maybe win in November and really do some damage from now until then?
PATTI SOLIS-DOYLE, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes. Look, I know that Donald Trump, there's a low bar for Donald Trump right now. You know, his campaign doesn't have any money, doesn't have any organization, no infrastructure, little staff. You know, he seems to say something that's disqualifying almost every week, whether it's racial comments towards the Hispanic judge in the Trump University case or doubling down on banning Muslims.
So, I get that the bar is low but the idea that the Trump campaign is high-fiving each other because he read off the teleprompter for 40 minutes today and stayed on message for 40 minutes -- I mean, I think it's a too little too late.
[16:20:08] Too much damage has already been done to his campaign.
TAPPER: Ed, I'll let you respond to that?
BROOKOVER: You know, I think the point of the campaign is not how many employees you have or how much money you have. It's what you're communicating to the American voter about what they want, what they need and how we're best want to fix Washington.
Mr. Trump has been able to do that in a very nontraditional way. While we are going to certainly build out and have a larger operation, we're going to continue t run a nontraditional campaign on Mr. Trump's behalf.
TAPPER: Alex, if we have time, we'll see how much longer we have, I will definitely ask you about Rubio, although I should note we'll have him on the show tomorrow. So, I do want to get your reaction to something that just happened, which is Brent Scowcroft, who's the former national security officer to President H.W. Bush, he just endorsed Hillary Clinton, saying in a statement, quote, "The presidency requires the judgment to make calls under pressure. I believe Hillary Clinton has the wisdom and experience to lead our country at this critical time."
Do you think there are going to be a lot more Republicans like that in the establishment who actually cross the border and endorse Hillary?
CONANT: There may very well be. Look, Trump's campaign is headed in a bad direction. On the current trajectory, he is going to lose by an embarrassing margin this fall and Hillary Clinton will be president. You mentioned by former boss, Marco Rubio, the reason he said today that he was going to run for re-election despite earlier saying that he wasn't, why he changed his mind was because there's so much at stake in this fall's election.
Regardless of who is president next year, we need conservative principled senators to stand up to the president, be it President Trump or President Clinton, and that's what Marco is going to do.
TAPPER: In fact, Rubio said, Patti, that he needs to be there as a check on either Clinton or Trump. Do you think that there are going to be other Republicans like Brent Scowcroft who come out and endorse Hillary Clinton?
SOLIS-DOYLE: Oh, absolutely. I mean, just look at your own poll yesterday, you know, the commander-in-chief numbers. Hillary Clinton is really screaming Donald Trump there. She gave a scathing critique which really focused on using Donald Trump's own words, it's not like she's making the stuff. She's just quoting him directly.
So I think that when Republicans sort of weigh the two choices between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, and who is better equipped to be commander in chief and lead this nation around the world, they are going to pick Hillary Clinton.
TAPPER: I'll let you have the last word -- I mean, the framing really is that people view her more steady but they also think that she's untrustworthy and that's where Mr. Trump focused his attention today.
BROOKOVER: Which is the basic quality everyone wants in their elected officials, is honesty and trust.
The other thing about Mr. Trump is, that the Washington elite, the Washington establishment has had him wrong from day one, from the day he came down the steps in the Trump Tower, they've tried to dismiss him. They don't understand his appeal to the American public, and frankly some questioning his policy views which the American public agrees on things like NATO and those other topics.
TAPPER: I hate the Washington elite except for you three.
Thank you so much for being here. We appreciate it. Alex, Ed, Patti, appreciate it. This presidential race, unprecedented in modern times when it comes to how much voters disliked both candidates. Could a third party contender be the answer? That story next.
Plus, North Korea ratcheting up their military might for months. And now, two missile launches go farther than ever before. Is a nuclear warhead next?
[16:27:47] TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.
More in our politics lead, the war of words is heating up between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump -- not only during our show but also during commercial breaks. Clinton and her allies are launching a TV ad blitz against Trump, spending more than $117 million to reserve television ad time between now and Election Day in November.
But what is Donald Trump doing? His super PAC has only spent $700,000 so far. That's virtually nothing in presidential politics.
With some polls showing that the two presumptive nominees are neck- and-neck, can these television ads make a difference?
Let's bring in CNN senior political commentator and former chief strategist for Barack Obama's presidential campaigns, David Axelrod.
Thanks so much for joining me. Appreciate it.
DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes.
TAPPER: So, you started your political career as something of an ad guru. So, I really want to get your take on the ads hitting the airwaves.
TAPPER: Here's a newly released one from Clinton supporters.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, PRIORITIES USA ACTION AD)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Who are you consulting with consistently so that you're ready on day one?
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESUMPTIVE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: I'm speaking with myself, number one.
Mr. Trump's theory -- I'm really good at war. I love war in a certain way.
Including with nukes, yes, including with nukes.
I want to be unpredictable. I'm not going to tell you right now what I'm going to do.
I know more about ISIS than the generals do, believe me. (END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: Too dangerous, it says.
AXELROD: I think that his temperament, as it relates to foreign policy, is something that is resonant with voters, especially the voters he needs to win, maybe not with his base. So, I think it's really effective. It's made more effective, of course, by the fact that this is like shock and awe. All of these ads are raining down and he has no resources to respond to them. So, in these battleground states, they are getting a hefty dose.
TAPPER: Trump supporters continue to hammer away at some of Hillary Clinton's most vulnerable points, her perceived lack of trustworthiness, perceived lack of honesty. Here's an ad from a pro- Trump super PAC ad.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, REBUILDING AMERICA NOW AD)
BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT: But I want to say one thing --
HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESUMPTIVE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We turned over anything.
BILL CLINTON: I want you to listen to me.
HILLARY CLINTON: I did not.
BILL CLINTON: I did not.
HILLARY CLINTON: I did not send classified material.
BILL CLINTON: Not a single time.
HILLARY CLINTON: And I did not receive --
BILL CLINTON: Never.
HILLARY CLINTON: Any material that was marked or designated classified.
BILL CLINTON: I never told anybody to lie.
HILLARY CLINTON: That's all I could say.
(END VIDEO CLIP)