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THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER
Can (Or Will) Trump Tone It Down And Maintain A More Measured Campaign Style?; Introducing Corey Lewandowski As A CNN Political Commentator; Iraqi Officials: Fallujah Freed Of ISIS Fighters; National PTSD Day Aims To Raise Awareness, Treatment; "How To Let Go Of The World" Tonight On HBO. Aired 4:30-5p ET
Aired June 27, 2016 - 16:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[16:30:05] SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Trump's attempt at making some recalibration coming just one week after the firing of his campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, and with his campaign facing serious headwinds.
New polls show Hillary Clinton with a clear lead in national polls and reveal real warning signs for Trump beneath the surface. While both candidates have high unfavorable ratings, more voters see Trump in a negative light. And a hefty two-thirds of voters see him as unqualified to be president, an assessment that even Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell tried to dodge.
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MAJORITY LEADER: He has made a number of mistakes over the last few weeks. I think they are beginning to right the ship.
SERFATY: Refusing to stay whether he believes that Trump is qualified to be president.
MCCONNELL: Look, I will let the American people decide.
SERFATY: And former Republican Scott Brown, as a surrogate for Donald Trump, took the attack against Elizabeth Warren to a whole new level today. Brown suggested that Warren should take a DNA test if she wants to prove her Native American heritage.
This was an issue between the two of them when they ran against each other in the 2012 Senate race, but Scott Brown clearly trying to step up into his role as a Trump surrogate.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: All right, Sunlen Serfaty, thank you so much. Appreciate it.
Can Trump tone it down and maintain a more measured campaign style? Up next, I will ask a man who should know, Trump's former campaign manager.
Stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD.
Hillary Clinton holding V.P. tryouts, while Donald Trump is trying to staunch the flow of Republicans turned off by his campaign. So, what is going on behind the scenes at the Trump campaign?
Here to discuss Mr. Trump's standing in the polls and much more, new CNN political commentator Corey Lewandowski. Until last week, he was Donald Trump's campaign manager.
Corey, good to see you.
Let me start off with the elephant in the room. Many Trump opponents and journalists are less than enthusiastic about CNN hiring you. They say that you are personally hostile to journalism, even though you are now in the world of journalism. What is your response?
COREY LEWANDOWSKI, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I think I just saw a "Washington Post" story come out today that said it was a really smart decision by CNN, and I have to applaud "The Washington Post" for that story.
Look, the bottom line is, I have the unique perspective on the Trump campaign and on Mr. Trump, and I think I bring that to the table. And what I have said from my first opportunity here is I'm going to call balls and strikes. And if I see something that I think is wrong, I'm going to let the viewers know. And if I see something I think that is right, I'm going to let the viewers know that too.
And I think that's my obligation to the network and to the viewership here.
TAPPER: What about the notion that you are hostile to journalism?
LEWANDOWSKI: Well, I don't think I'm hostile at all.
As a matter of fact, Jake, you know me, and I'm not a hostile guy. We had rules at the campaign. And those rules were enforced, and they were enforced by me and many other people. But hostility is not part of that. It is just making sure that people follow the rules so everybody can enjoy their time at a Trump rally.
TAPPER: Let us turn to the presidential race, Hillary Clinton up in polls, and at the beginning of the month she had more than $40 million in the bank more than Trump.
Looking from the outside now, calling the balls and strike, as you say, what should Mr. Trump be doing differently? How could he be a better candidate?
LEWANDOWSKI: Well, here is what he's done. He just started his fund- raising online. I think they have raised $11 million in the first two or three days, which is unprecedented in the history of online fund- raising.
They have got a goal now to raise another $10 million before the FEC deadline at the end of the month. And if that's the case, in literally less than a week's window, he will have raised over $20 million. And, as you know, he also said he is willing to make his own contribution to the campaign, which he has already invested over $50 million for the campaign.
From the money side, I wouldn't worry about that at all. As you know, he has done more with less. Hillary Clinton has spent hundreds of millions to vanquish one opponent, who still hasn't come out and actually endorsed her, I don't believe, or he's getting close. And Mr. Trump spent about $50 million almost all of his own money to vanquish 16 additional opponents.
He has done more with less and he is continuing to do move in the right direction on the fund-raising side.
TAPPER: You're right that Bernie Sanders has not endorsed Hillary Clinton yet, but we should point out that there are a number of people who ran against Mr. Trump, Ted Cruz, John Kasich, who have not endorsed him either.
But let me ask you a question. President George H.W. Bush's national security adviser, General Brent Scowcroft, President George W. Bush's treasury secretary, Hank Paulson, both of them have recently said they're voting for Hillary Clinton. Combine that with George F. Will, conservative pundit, saying he is leaving the Republican Party because of Mr. Trump.
Shouldn't this be a time in the campaign when Republicans are uniting around the nominee?
LEWANDOWSKI: Well, Republicans, independents and Democrats are uniting around the nominee.
The difference is, it's not the political elites that are doing it. Each person is entitled to one vote. Mr. Trump got almost 14 votes in this primary process, more than any candidate in the history of the Republican Party.
And what you see is when you go to those rallies and there's 10,000 or 15,000 people, those people are united. And while the political elites are so used to having Washington establishment set policies for the American people, Donald Trumps represents a true change.
And what that change is, is a fundamental -- fundamentally different way of making our government run and function and bringing that power back to the people, putting that power back in the states, decentralizing the power from Washington, D.C., and that is what has made him a very attractive candidate to those old blue-collar Democrats, the Reagan Democrats and new blue-collars who are tired of bad trade deals like TPP that Hillary Clinton supports.
TAPPER: Well, Hillary Clinton said she opposes that deal, but she has supported it in the past. But let me ask you, do you think that the George Wills, the Brent Scowcrofts, the Hank Paulsons, you say that they are elites. But given the fact that Mr. Trump trails Hillary Clinton in polls, is it possible that they represent some Republicans, moderate Republicans, conservative Republicans, whomever, who don't want to vote for Mr. Trump? Is it possible that it is more than just elite?
LEWANDOWSKI: Look, here is what I think. If you choose to not vote for Mr. Trump, you have got a binary decision in front of you, which means your tacit or implicit endorsement of Hillary Clinton is something that they should come out and put forth.
And if you look specifically at the state-by-state analysis of where the polls are, the last poll in New Hampshire, which is a battleground state, shows Donald Trump even to the decimal point with Hillary Clinton. If you look at Florida, the state is within the margin.
If you look at Pennsylvania, Donald Trump is even or ahead in that state. And the national polls are something. But really this election is going to come down seven to 10 states and in those seven to 10 states Donald Trump is not only competitive, he's winning in many of those. And that's where the election is going to take place.
TAPPER: Yes. I don't know where he is winning. I know in the states I have seen, the competitive battleground states, he's behind Hillary Clinton in Florida and then they are basically neck and neck in Pennsylvania and Ohio. So where is he leading? What battleground states is he leading?
LEWANDOWSKI: Look at New Hampshire. You look at New Hampshire right now. He's ahead one point or two right now in New Hampshire. It's a critical state. And it's a state that makes a difference in the election.
It's always been a competitive state. Many people consider it a purple state. But Donald Trump is going to do very well in New Hampshire.
And the fact that Donald Trump is one point, even or one point down in the state of Pennsylvania should be a real wakeup call for Clinton campaign and the same is true in Ohio. And that's because of the failed policies of this administration, and the people are tired of it. And that's why they are looking at Donald Trump as their next president.
TAPPER: New Hampshire's own Corey Lewandowski, thanks so much. Appreciate your being here.
LEWANDOWSKI: Thank you.
TAPPER: Today's world lead, a key Iraqi city said to be finally free from ISIS control, though major concerns as U.S. forces look to the next battle. Stay with us.
TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper. Today's World Lead, Fallujah freed once again. The strategic Iraqi city, which had been under ISIS control is now, we're told, fully in hands of Iraqi Security Forces for the first time in more than two years.
That's according to Iraqi military officials. Fallujahh as you may recall was the location of some of the fiercest and deadliest battles for U.S. service members in 2004. CNN's Barbara Starr brought us this report.
BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Iraqi forces battle the last of the ISIS militants in Fallujah. Officials now say they have liberated the strategic city, which sits just 40 miles west of Baghdad.
AHMED ALI, IRAQ COUNTER TERRORISM SERVICE (through translator): Today is the last battle in Fallujah. We liberated it completely.
STARR: The loss of the city is a big setback for ISIS. Denying the terror group a convenient launching pad for attacks on Baghdad. Iraqi forces came across this ISIS bomb factory in Fallujah as they fought to clear the city. IEDs and booby traps remain. Keeping Fallujah free of ISIS and holding on to the Sunni majority city may still be a challenge for the Shia-led government.
LT. GENERAL ROBERT OTTO, U.S. AIR FORCE: It is my best guess that there will still be skirmishes in Fallujah following today. But I think what we are seeing is very positive news.
STARR: And the human cost is staggering. Conditions are desperate for the 85,000 people the U.N. estimates have fled Fallujah and the surrounding area since the Iraqi offensive to retake the city began a month ago and a far larger fight looms. Liberating Mosul, Iraqi second largest city, in the north.
Air strikes to isolate ISIS positions are already under way. CNN obtained this footage of a precision strike on a foreign fighter location. Surgical execution of air strikes will be important as civilians are in the tightly packed city of 2 million people.
OTTO: The challenge is to find targets that we can strike where we're not going to inadvertently damage civilians.
STARR: But air strikes alone will not be enough. The biggest test of Iraqi ground forces is still to come.
STARR: And for the Pentagon that means it has to decide if it wants it send additional U.S. ground forces to work as trainers and advisers in that fight for Mosul -- Jake.
TAPPER: Barbara Starr at the Pentagon, thank you so much. From the battlefield to the painful memories and scars that linger. In our Buried Lead today, stories we don't think are getting enough attention, we are today thinking of troops and veterans on this, this national PTSD Awareness Day.
Given the hundreds of thousands of Americans who return from Iraq and Afghanistan with post-traumatic stress, we thought that today deserved some attention.
TAPPER (voice-over): Former Army Sergeant Larry Gonzalez filmed this video during his first deployment to Afghanistan. Firing up toward the enemy from the bottom of the steep valley, just 14 miles from the Pakistan border.
LARRY GONZALES, VETERAN: A lot of the flashbacks that I get is you know, the crackling of the guns. You don't forget about that.
TAPPER: As a member of 191 Cav (ph), Gonzales spent a year at Combat Outpost Keating. Notoriously dangerous post that would see one of the bloodiest battles of the war just one year later. During Gonzales's first deployment to Afghanistan, three members of 191 Cav including his commander, Captain Tom Bostic, were killed. Two others would be killed during his second deployment. Gonzales came home not with scars on his body but in his soul.
GONZALES: The cycle of depression. One of the things that I was falling into was drinking. I was able to hide it really well.
TAPPER: Gonzales felt alone but he is far from it. Up to 20 percent of those who served in the recent wars in Afghanistan and Iraq experienced some form of post-traumatic stress according to the VA and don't let that statistic just roll off the screen there. It's a number, likely one that's too low, representing a struggle quietly shared by hundreds of thousands of Americans.
GONZALES: Once my friends started actually leaving, those experiences were kind of leaving with them, that I could talk with. I was just kind of like, I don't have anywhere to go.
TAPPER: Gonzales is finding strength through a military support group here in Washington and around the country called Team Red, White and Blue.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Who is here for the first time?
GONZALES: The shadow out here in D.C. is trying to fit in. With them, they just put a light on everything.
[16:50:08]TAPPER: Gonzales has fully embraced physical challenges with the group. Running marathons and attending boot camps. But the social events such as this barbecue are crucial too.
BRENNAN MULLANEY, REGIONAL DIRECTOR, TEAM RED, WHITE AND BLUE: I think a lot of people want to jump straight to solutions and in this kind of work, you know, isn't easy.
TAPPER: Brennan Mullaney joined the staff of Team RWB after serving two tours in Iraq. He said being part of a new team is key for veterans returning home.
MULLANEY: You didn't do it alone in the service. You had a team. You had people surrounding you. You had a mission. You had kits and things provided to you to do your job well. And so in a very tangible sense, he when you leave the military, they take those things from you.
TAPPER: Of course, not all wounds are healed just friends and fitness, but for veterans like Gonzales, camaraderie and a sense of purpose are important steps in the journey back from battle.
GONZALES: They welcome you right in and you know, we got a lot of stuff that we're going to do together.
TAPPER: And you can learn more about how you can volunteer or donate to help veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress at this web site, teamrwb.org. That's RWB, red, white, and blue.
A dire situation right now in West Virginia, 23 people have been killed, homes have been washed away. Why the situation could get much worse just in the next few hours. Stay with us.
TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper. West Virginia ravaged by some of the worst flooding in U.S. history. The devastation is being described as 1,000 year flood and more flashflood warnings are in place tonight.
Cell phone video capturing one family's home engulfed by fire, swept away at least 23 people have been killed since the disaster began last week. The floods have destroyed homes. They have watched out roads, downed power lines leaving tens of thousands of people without electricity.
Now many claim that scientists tie catastrophic weather events such as these to climate change. For one man, filmmaker, Josh Fox, it was Hurricane Sandy that partly inspired his journey around the planet for his latest film premiering tonight on our sister channel, HBO, "How To Let Go Of The World and Love All The Things Climate Can't Change."
And joining me now is filmmaker, Josh Fox. Josh, thanks so much for joining us. Appreciate it.
JOSH FOX, FILMMAKER: Thank you, Jake.
TAPPER: So I want to get to the film in a moment, but first I have to ask you, you probably came first known for the 2010 documentary "Gas Land," which featured your personal fight against fracking literally in your own backyard.
This month, you testified for the committee grafting the Democratic Party platform and you said that anti-fracking stance had to be included. But over the weekend, that was rejected. What's your response?
FOX: Well, not only the anti-fracking ban was rejected, but all of the major environmental and climate amendments to the Democratic National Committee were rejected, which I think is a grave mistake for the Democrats. Fracking and climate change right now are synonymous.
What the ban fracking amendment would mean is banning the use of natural gas going forward in America. What the Democrats and Hillary Clinton are proposing is night and day from what the Sanders campaign was proposing which is to phase out natural gas.
Hillary Clinton is for 300 new frat gas power plants across America. That means probably 2 million new fracking wells and probably hundreds of thousands of miles of frack gas pipe lines and this would be a disaster for the climate.
As the Obama administration and John Kerry committed in Paris to keeping climate change well below 2 degrees, we simply can't build the power plant. Those are the things that will have dire consequences for eastern coastal cities.
So I think the fracking fight and the climate fight have converge, which is what my new film is about.
TAPPER: In your new documentary, you traveled to six continents, one of the places you went was China. Let's play a quick clip from that.
TAPPER: You know, as I'm sure you would acknowledge, this isn't an uplifting feel good film with a clear solution. How are you attempting, hoping to use this to inspire change?
FOX: Well, that's actually not true, Jake. This is one of the most reenergizing and positive films that you'll ever watch. It does that by not pulling any punches. Right now, we are in a dire situation with respect to climate.
It is easy to go into a state depression and denial about. But what this film does is it punches through and tells us we have to feel, we have to figure out what is left after we recognize what climate will change and destroy.
And what's left, you know, after we get through all of the signs and see that sea levels will rise and 30 to 50 percent of species on the planet will die and we are in for much more extreme weather. What's left there is our human value structure.
We are campaigning for human rights for democracy, for human dignity, for resilience, for creativity, for innovation, for community. That is what left at the end of the day when we start to really absorb how deep and difficult kind of trouble we're in with respect to the climate.
What we've got to do is transform our sense of values and that is what the film is about. And actually the film opens with a dance sequence and every single time we have shown it, when we show it on the road in support of the grass roots out there against fossil fuels, we have people dancing in the aisles at the end of the film.
Climate warriors in this movie are so incredibly inspiring that they actually lift you back up out of the seat and you reengage on this issue, which often can be extremely despairing.
TAPPER: All right, Josh Fox, thank you so much. Again the documentary is called, "How To Let Go Of The World and Love All The Things Climate Cannot Change" and it debuts tonight on our sister network, HBO, at 9 p.m. Eastern. Best of luck with the movie, Josh.
FOX: Thanks so much, Jake.
TAPPER: That is it for THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper. Now I turn to Brianna Keilar.