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Interview with Senator Marco Rubio of Florida; Trump Applauds Supreme Court Decision; Officer Who Drove Van Acquitted On All Charges; Kim Jong Un Celebrates Successful Test, Taunts U.S. Aired 4:30-5p ET

Aired June 23, 2016 - 16:30   ET


SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R), FLORIDA: Obviously, you live in a hyper- partisan environment. They're going to jump on anything and try to use it for that perspective.

[16:30:03] This decision was much deeper than that. Ten, 15 days ago, I would have told you it's impossible. We changed our minds and I say we because this decision was made by me and by my wife, with consultation with my children. They don't get to vote but they get an opinion because their lives would be impacted.

And ultimately, it came down to my good friend who was in the race, told me he was going to get out and wanted me to do it instead. I know that I have the opportunity to make a difference not just in the outcome of the race and what the next six months are like in the Senate. I think the Senate is going to play an extraordinarily important role over the next four years no matter who wins this election.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: Being a check on either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump.

RUBIO: And let me just say, that's true for every president. I mean, that is the role of the Senate. Even if a president from your own party is elected, if they are doing something that goes beyond the bounds of what should be done, it is the job of the Senate to check and balance the executive branch -- one of the critical roles of the Senate.

TAPPER: Let me ask you about your concerns about Donald Trump is no secret. You've called the prospects of a Trump presidency worrisome. You've said this recently. You said his statements about women and minorities are unacceptable.

You still say he can't be trusted with the nuclear codes, but you also that Hillary Clinton is worse.

Why not do as mitt Romney is doing and consider a third-party alternative, like Gary Johnson, if you have such concerns about Trump and Clinton?

RUBIO: Well, I don't know what Gary Johnson's positions are on any of these issues. But I don't know him personally. But probably knowing enough kind of where he comes from the political spectrum, I would not support him.

Look, I'm an elected person in this country who has spent 20 years asking people to vote for others, come out and vote. I cannot encourage people to abstain. I respect Mitt Romney. I respect everyone who has reached the different conclusion.

But in my mind at this point, the voters have spoken and we have two choices and the choice for me is between someone I disagree with on a lot of issues when it comes to Donald, and someone like Hillary who I disagree with on every issue -- someone who, I believe, has very significant legal and ethical issues that are going to be confronted over the next few years and someone who quite frankly would be a continuation of the last eight years of policies that have been disastrous for our economy and made us less safe as a country.

TAPPER: You don't agree with her on every issue but I'm not going to go --


TAPPER: Your foreign policy views are much closer to hers than --

RUBIO: Not if she wants to release terrorists from Guantanamo and not that if she continues to believe the deal with Iran is a good idea. Those were significant and important issues.

TAPPER: The politics of Trump as the nominee cannot be escaped by you if you are -- if you win the Republican nomination to keep your seat, right? He's now, according to the Q Poll, eight points behind Clinton in Florida. A lot of that is because of his standing with young people and with Latinos and other minorities.

Can you outrun him in your own state? Can you win Florida if he doesn't?

RUBIO: Yes. But -- and I think the numbers in Florida are going to be much closer than that and while he may be down eight points now, I think that number is going to change. I'm up seven, and the reason why is because people know that him and I are different and the reason why they know that because they've seen us debate and they've seen discuss these issues.

And so, look, I don't want to undermine Donald Trump because I don't want Hillary Clinton to win. But ultimately, what I would want to remind people is, no matter who is elected president -- and I most certainly hope it's not her -- you are still going to have a U.S. Senate and if the majority of the senators in the Senate are Democrats and Hillary Clinton, God forbid, is elected president, she is going to get a blank check.

The last time we had that situation was 2008 to 2010 and it produced Obamacare and Dodd-Frank and the stimulus and all sorts of other damage to this country.

And so, I have a chance to make a difference in that regard. It's the reason I was in public service. We have two choices, a much more comfortable path personally, a much safer path politically. This is a tough race, primary and a general, and/or the opportunity to make a difference and we chose the opportunity to make a difference. And now, we're going to work real hard to earn people's votes.

TAPPER: A tough question for Mark Caputo, who is the Florida reporter for "Politico", as you know. He says, why is your pledge to support Donald Trump more important than your pledge to the voters of Florida to not run for re-election?

RUBIO: But that's not -- I wouldn't cast it as a pledge. I would say to you that that was the decision I have made at a time.

But here's the things, I've never told anyone that I'm perfect. I've never told anyone that I've had an answer to every question.

So, if you're not perfect, and you don't have the answer to every question, there will come many times in your life where you will face new circumstances and decide to make a different decision.

I promise you, you've changed your mind at least once today on something, including what questions you're going to ask me, because of time constraints, right?

TAPPER: Yes, I've decided --


RUBIO: Well, no, I don't mean, but I'm saying -- you had limited time, you had to decide, well, I'm not going to ask him this question. I'm going to ask him that question.

It's OK to change your mind. What's important is that people know why you changed your mind. Here's the truth: it was safer politically for me not to run. And I think I chose this path because I got into public service to make a difference and I have a chance to make a difference. I have a chance to make a difference not just in the outcome of this election but in the direction of the country in the next six years.

TAPPER: You're getting the hook from your staff. I know you have a hard out. Thank you so much.

RUBIO: Thank you.

TAPPER: Good to see you, Senator. We'll have you back to talk about Zika. I know that's an issue of importance to you.

RUBIO: Yes, sir.

[16:35:00] TAPPER: And we'll talk to you about that.

Donald Trump is about to make his first trip overseas as the presumed Republican presidential nominee. But this trip has nothing to do with foreign policy. It's about golf.

Stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD.

We have new reaction from Donald Trump about today's Supreme Court immigration ruling. The presumptive Republican presidential nominee tweeted in part, "Supreme Court has kept us safe from executive amnesty for now, but Hillary Clinton has pledged to expand it, taking jobs from Hispanic and African-American workers."

The Supreme Court, Capitol Hill, even the presidential race, let's talk about it all with Trump national spokesperson Katrina Pierson. Also with me here in studio, CNN political commentator S.E. Cupp, and Clinton supporter and CNN political commentator Hilary Rosen.

[16:40:01] S.E. --

S.E. CUPP, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Can you separate S.E. Cupp and Clinton supporter?


CUPP: Just a little bit.


TAPPER: We have a smart audience. They know.

So, let me -- let's talk about something interesting that Donald Trump did in that statement. He tried to make, and I'm not saying it's wrong, he tried to make the executive amnesty, if that's what he called it, the executive action, path to legal status, an anti-Latino move.

CUPP: Right.

TAPPER: When obviously it's supported by quite a bit by many members of the Latino community.

CUPP: Right. We've seen him do this in the past couple of days, when he talked about ISIS, when he talked about Muslims and extremists. This might be the new tone that the Paul Manafort, you know, era has ushered in, but I don't expect 10,000 people to show up at a Trump rally if he's going to read off prompter and talk substantively.

So, I think you'll see maybe two Trumps. One who is more politically savvy and restrained. Ad one who out on the trail is the Trump that we've all known for the past year.

TAPPER: Katrina?

KATRINA PIERSON, NATIONAL SPOKESWOMAN, TRUMP CAMPAIGN: Well, I mean, I've been saying that from the beginning, Jake. Mr. Trump at these rallies is his opportunity to engage with his supporters and then you'll have Mr. Trump on the campaign trail giving prepared speeches. This is something that he's been consistent on in the campaign and to his remarks, it is true, there are a lot of Hispanic and Latinos out there who don't support amnesty simply because it is hurting the economy or communities that they are in.

There's one thing that I do agree with with the president's response, though, is he said that we are a nation that does not guarantee outcomes and that's true. So, maybe we should get off of the social justice.

The other thing is, that this is going to be an issue that voters are going to take forth in November, this was an issue, executive amnesty, on the last election cycle where Republicans picked up seats in the House and Senate and in governorships.

TAPPER: Hilary, I imagine that you think that today's decision which basically ends the Obama executive action on this but leaves it open that some future president could do it, obviously Donald Trump, according to what he says would not. Hillary Clinton, it seems like she clearly would, does this just as a pure political issue, forgetting the policy, help Hillary Clinton?

ROSEN: Well, look. First of all, the Supreme Court didn't actually decide. They -- you know, they had an outcome by not deciding.

TAPPER: Right.

ROSEN: And so, appointing a Supreme Court justice is going to matter here.

TAPPER: Right.

ROSEN: What voters are going to see over the next several months and what Democrats are going to see are more than 4 million hardworking immigrants who now are in total limbo and so I do think that this personal story is going to have an impact and I do think it's going to affect Democrats' determination to get Hillary Clinton a Supreme Court appointment. Because that is the only way we are going to get fairness for what people actually think is the right thing to do.

If Congress actually could step up and pass immigration reform the way that they said they were doing by Marco Rubio in that last interview, it was ridiculous. He actually negotiated a compromised immigration reform, got some other Republicans unhappy with the compromise and ran away from it, and now, he's complaining that there's no immigration reform. So, you know, if Congress passed immigration reform, President Obama wouldn't have had to go this far.


PIERSON: But this isn't about fairness. This is about jobs, the economy, national security, all of the above. If Democrats truly cared about immigration and what they call breaking apart families, this is just to drive emotional voters because they have full control over the legislative branch under Barack Obama and did absolutely nothing.

TAPPER: S.E., I want to ask you a question about Donald Trump going to Scotland this weekend to open a new golf course. Obviously in the scheme of things, it might not mean anything. On the other hand, it is a little bit off message.

CUPP: It's off message and I just don't think it's showing the best political judgment. And for all of his success in this primary, Donald Trump has shown that he's not the most politically savvy. He seemed surprised by the delegate system. He obviously wasn't fundraising as much as he should have been and has made up for that in recent days.

I think having three bad weeks like he did and then three good days and then cutting and running, instead of building on that momentum at home, was not a particularly prudent decision.

TAPPER: Katrina, it does seem unusual to take a break or take a flight to Scotland to open a golf course in the middle of a presidential campaign. No?

PIERSON: Well, I guess if you're still comparing the Trump campaign to your traditional presidential campaign, yes. But Mr. Trump also said from the beginning, he's still running a business. He's still president and CEO of the Trump Organization.

He's taking two days to go and support his family and he's coming back and he has a full-blown office on the plane. I guarantee you he is working the entire time.

TAPPER: Katrina Pierson, S.E. Cupp, Hilary Rosen, thank you all.

A verdict in the case against the police officer who drove the van with Freddie Gray in it and it could have major implication for the other officers still facing trial. Stay with us.


TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. The prosecution theory that Baltimore Freddie Gray died because of actions of six police officers and what is called a rough ride largely centered on the trial of Officer Caesar Goodson. He was the one who drove the police van.

But today a judge ruled not guilty on all seven counts, including the most serious charge of second-degree depraved heart murder. Goodson was the third of six officers to stand trial.

The first case ended in a mistrial, second was acquitted. Let's get right to Miguel Marquez in Baltimore. Miguel, does today's acquittal impact the other cases going forward?

MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, that is the huge question. The fact that the prosecution did not muster enough evidence to find him guilty on one of these charges raises the real possibility that none of the police officers will be convicted of any crime.



MARQUEZ (voice-over): Protests and anger over yet another full acquittal of a Baltimore police officer connected to the death of Freddie Gray. Above all, frustration that now possibly none of the six officers will be convicted of anything.

CARL DIX, PROTESTER: Not guilty on murder is essentially -- you can kill this black guy and no one is going to be convicted for it.

MARQUEZ: Caesar Goodson, the driver of the prisoner van Gray rode in and a 16-year veteran of the Baltimore police force faced seven charges ranging from second degree murder to reckless endangerment. In a lengthy verdict from the bench, the judge said while mistakes may have been made, none of it amounted to criminal behavior.

TESSA HILL-ASTON, BALTIMORE CITY NAACP: I'm disappointed and I think that the rules and the law needs to be changed. Use of force, the police, Bill of Rights, everything is difficult because what the police did was actions, but they are not criminal.

GENE RYAN, FRATERNAL ORDER OF POLICE: While we agree with the verdict in this case, we also suggest that Mrs. Mosby reconsider her malicious prosecution against the remaining four officers. We are more than certain that they, too, will be found without guilt.

MARQUEZ: The prosecution claimed Gray died from injuries sustained during a rough ride, but the judge ruled while everyone agrees Gray was injured in the van, it was not clear to officers he was in distress until the last stop when medical attention was sought.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We all know what a rough ride is and if you got in a van and then when you got off you're in critical condition, ouch.

MARQUEZ: Caesar Goodson hugged his lawyers and shook hands with Officer Edward Nero, who was previously acquitted. The question now, will all officers connected to the death of Freddie Gray be acquitted or even tried?

JOEY JACKSON, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: I think if ever there was a case where the prosecution threw the best they had at it at this case until the fact that they didn't get a conviction really I think is going to force them to reassess what they do in the future.


MARQUEZ: Now, for now the next officer up for trial is Lt. Brian Wise. That's due to start July 5th and in an hour, we'll hear from the Gray family themselves on what they think of this verdict. Jake, back to you.

TAPPER: No problem, Fred.

They are not afraid of America's nuclear capabilities. That's what North Korea is now saying after launching not one but two missiles. Stay with us.



TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. Today's World Lead, North Korean officials celebrating a successful missile launch and defiantly taunting its rivals claiming that they can strike Americans and quote, "confidently deal with whatever nuclear war the U.S. forces."

CNN's Barbara Starr has more on what could be a scary step forward for the regime.


BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Astonishing images on North Korean state TV of Kim Jong-Un at the mobile launch site of two ballistic missiles that could someday hit Alaska. The photos show Kim apparently monitoring the launch from a control room.

They also showed the launch moment by moment as the missile leaves the mobile launch pad and soars into the air. Back in the control room, jubilation, Kim and his entourage cheer. One emotional man even gets a hug from the North Korean leader.

BALBINA HWANG, GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY: This is absolutely crucial domestically for Kim Jong-Un's regime. It is absolutely crucial for his legitimacy and his future policies.

STARR: The U.S. has not confirmed the photo's authenticity or when they were taken but one official tells CNN it does appear to be a launch from a coastal area. U.S. intelligence monitored a launch just along North Korea's eastern coastline.

One of the missiles flew 249 miles and reached space before dropping into the Sea of Japan. A major technological step forward. Nations in the region maintaining a high alert.

PRESIDENT PARK GEUN-HYE, SOUTH KOREA (through translator): If North Korea carries out provocations, our military should punish them sternly at the very beginning as we have been trained and clearly show how much they have to pay.

STARR: At a summit in Beijing, a North Korean diplomat hailed the news.

CHOE SON HUI, NORTH KOREAN DEPARTMENT OF U.S. AFFAIRS (through translator): This means our transportation method has clearly succeeded now so we are very happy. We are very happy because this mean we can now confidently deal with whatever nuclear was U.S. forces.


TAPPER: And our thanks to Barbara Starr for that report.

Turning to our National Lead now, Orlando residents coming together tonight in a show of solidarity at a Latin street festival not far from the Pulse Nightclub where 49 innocent people were slaughtered by a terrorist 11 days ago.

The venue's owner vows to show the world that the, quote, "heartbeat of Orlando" continues. This comes as the public learn where the terrorist who carried out this heinous massacre was buried.

And as a CNN new poll out this hour finds Americans' fears of terrorism are at their highest level since 2003, 74 percent of those polled believe the greatest threat comes from individuals such as the killer in Orland or the killers in San Bernardino.

Those in the U.S. inspired and self-radicalized by the twisted ideology of radical Islam rather than a threat by those who have been specifically directed to attack by terrorist groups such as ISIS or al Qaeda.

Be sure to follow me Facebook and Twitter @jaketapper or tweet the show @theleadcnn. That's it for THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper. I turn you over now to Brianna Keilar. She is sitting in for Wolf in "THE SITUATION ROOM." Thanks for watching.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN GUEST ANCHOR: Happening now, breaking news --