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THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER
Trump Makes Economic Speech; Turning Economy Issue into Votes; Young Boy Dies on Kansas Water Park Ride; Executed Iranian Scientist Claimed CIA Abducted Him; Report: Former CEO Roger Ailes Used Fox Budget To Pursue Enemies. Aired 4:30-5p ET
Aired August 8, 2016 - 16:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Just to be clear -- and he did speak all about policy today. This was an economics speech. He didn't engage with the protesters at all.
But when you say everyone else wants to focus on other things, you do acknowledge that Donald Trump has had a role in the focus of other subjects besides policy the last 10 days?
KELLYANNE CONWAY, PRESIDENT & CEO, THE POLLING COMPANY: He has.
But I also want to tell you what I have said on this network many times. As far as I can tell, there are two major candidates running for president, not one. And I think that the voters deserve full and fair, complete coverage of both candidates and what they say.
And that's not always been the case. So, I'm happy that when have you got a substantive speech today about the number one issue along with terrorism and national security that Americans identify to pollsters is most important to them, that we're getting coverage.
CONWAY: I think it's terrific.
BERMAN: I just wanted to make clear, though, it was Donald Trump talking exclusively about the economy today and not about other things. He plays a role in that also.
Ron Christie, Governor John Kasich over the weekend said that Donald Trump could win part of Ohio where -- quote -- "people are really hurting."
And you think that a lot of these people who are really hurting don't often show up in the polls.
RON CHRISTIE, FORMER SPECIAL ASSISTANT TO PRESIDENT BUSH: I think that's true. And in full closure, I worked for Governor Kasich on Capitol Hill for 7.5 years. And I think he's absolutely right. If you look at Cuyahoga County,
where Cleveland is in the north, and you look down at Cincinnati and Hamilton county, there are a lot of people who have lost their jobs due to the actions of this specific administration, a lot of people who were involved in steel industry out of work.
And you look at the folks who Governor Kasich when he was reelected -- he got 27 percent of the African-American vote. I think Donald Trump, while not on the Trump train just as of yet, could actually get a lot of people of color and a lot of people who have been dissatisfied and disaffected with the policies of this current administration.
BERMAN: This speech today, do you think it's directed at those people and do you think it hit that sweet spot you're talking about?
CHRISTIE: I do.
I think the fact when you talk about reducing, as Kellyanne has noted, the tax brackets down, trying to stimulate small business, but most importantly putting in a child tax credit to allow parents to get at the opportunity to go to their job, get back to work. And I think that's what Donald Trump really said today.
I think he turned it around based on what we have seen from the last 10 days, which has been a little bit rocky.
RICHARD SOCARIDES, FORMER SENIOR ADVISER TO PRESIDENT BILL CLINTON: Listen, maybe you heard a different speech than I heard.
But this speech to me today seemed full of very traditional, very standard right-wing Republican economic policies, lowering taxes on the rich, cutting taxes for corporations to try to spur economic growth.
It is -- you know, if this is really the Trump economic proposal -- and we don't know, because he doesn't usually talk about substance. Right? He usually attacks people and he usually tries to divide people and he usually tries to scare people.
But, listen, let's have this debate on substance. But the proposals set forth today are very traditional Republican economic policies, trickle-down economics, cut taxes on the wealthy to spur economic growth.
Hillary has a proposal that would help all Americans achieve the American dream, a proposal that would invest in infrastructure, a proposal that would cut taxes on the middle class, a proposal that would put Americans back to work.
So, you know, I think that, you know, in some ways, this is good today, because we will have an engagement if this continues on economic policies. And we will see whether Americans want the standard Republican tax cuts for millionaires or whether we want Democratic policies, which have -- listen, we have a long way to go, but the country is in much better shape after eight years of Barack Obama. There are many more people back to work. (CROSSTALK)
CONWAY: The 21 million people living in poverty disagree with that, Richard.
SOCARIDES: Listen, I didn't say everything was...
CONWAY: Let's not pretend everything is great with almost 100 million people out of work.
But, look, I have to disagree with you slightly, in that Hillary Clinton doesn't want to put everybody back to work. She has promised to put the entire coal industry out of work.
CONWAY: And that affects coal workers, steelworkers. And I'll tell you what. Governor Pence in Indiana -- you had your time -- Governor Pence in Indiana cut taxes 5 percent on employers.
SOCARIDES: We're trying to have a little bit of a discussion here, Kellyanne.
CONWAY: On employers and individuals in his first 100 days, and he has a $2 billion surplus.
BERMAN: What is interesting to me here, actually, is that, Ron, it seems as if what happened today at least is that this discussion went from things that have been discussed over the last 10 days to a somewhat traditional Republican/Democrat debate.
Now, you may disagree with Richard's characterization. Trickle-down economics is a loaded term. You may even disagree with some of Kellyanne's description here. But as a Republican who has not lined up with Donald Trump yet, what you do see here, do you agree, is a traditional partisan debate on the economy?
CHRISTIE: Yes. And I think it's a very robust debate to have on the economic issues that confront us.
I don't mean to beat up on our Democratic friend here, but what have seen for the last 7.5, it is almost as if Hillary Clinton is running for an administration that didn't exist. These are Barack Obama's policies, the anemic economic growth that we have had, 94 million people out of work, the lowest work force participation rate since the 1970s, this is what Barack Obama did. And Hillary proposes to do more of the same and double down on failed economic policies.
BERMAN: Richard, you have 15 seconds.
SOCARIDES: I would say it is clear that the economy is headed in the right direction. It's clear that we have a lot more work to do. And it's clear that continuing Democratic economic policies is what is required.
BERMAN: Guys, thanks so much for being with us. I appreciate it.
Horror at a water park. This is a deeply troubling story. A 10-year- old boy takes his turn on the world's tallest water slide and dies by the end of the ride. It turns out this ride has had problems before, before it even opened to the public.
BERMAN: Welcome back.
Topping our national lead in Kansas, a visit to an amusement park takes a tragic turn. A young boy died on a water park ride that was dubbed the world's tallest water slide.
There is a reason this 17-story-high ride was named Verruckt, which means Insane in German. It drops riders more than 160 feet down at nearly 50 miles per hour.
Want to bring in CNN national correspondent Kyung Lah.
Kyung, do we know exactly how this 10-year-old boy died?
KYUNG LAH, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: We are getting very few details from the police right now.
When I spoke with the spokesperson from the Kansas City Police Department, what she would say is that they are looking this as a death investigation and whether or not criminal charges might be appropriate in this case.
LAH (voice-over): The first drop alone is so steep, Guinness called it the tallest water slide in the world, at 168 feet, seven inches, 17 stories high, riders hitting speeds around 50 miles an hour.
But reports say it was on this second hill and its 50-foot drop where something went wrong, as 10-year-old Caleb Schwab was in the middle of his ride.
JESSICA LUNDQUIST, PARK GUEST: I just saw everyone's faces as they waited and to see if it was their loved ones that were affected.
LAH: Jessica Lundquist says a number of riders pointed to a problem with the harness that would keep people strapped into the raft. LUNDQUIST: A lady in front of me said that that multiple times she
road the ride today, there were ropes, and that the front harness did not work any of the times that she rode it.
LAH: The park spokeswoman said she had not heard about a harness issue.
WINTER PROSAPIO, PARK SPOKESWOMAN: We honestly don't know what's happened. That's why an investigation, a full investigation is necessary.
LAH: Verruckt translates as Insane in German, built in Kansas City, because this park didn't have a height restriction for the structure.
The ride's opening was delayed three times, a portion of it rebuilt once under reports that in test runs sandbags launched out of the rafts.
When Verruckt did finally open in July 2014, it stood taller than the Statue of Liberty and Niagara Falls. The owner and designer of the slide so confident in its safety, they rode it first.
According to the park, two to three riders need to be strapped into the raft for a total weight between 400 and 500 pounds. Riders need to be 54 inches tall. It is unclear if Caleb met the height requirement.
LAH: Just a short time ago, we did get a brand-new statement from the water park. What the water park did say is they express their condolences, that there are safety checks conducted every single morning before the park opens.
It does say that the park will open on Wednesday, but this particular slide, John, will remain closed. We also did get a statement from the family of this 10-year-old boy, Caleb Schwab, his family saying -- quote -- "Since the day he was born, he brought abundant joy to our family and all those he came in contact with. Your continued prayers are welcome and appreciated."
He is the young son of Kansas State Representative Republican Scott Schwab -- John.
BERMAN: Our hearts go out to that family. Kyung Lah, thanks so much.
All right, that huge computer outage at Delta Air Lines has caused a ripple effect not just in the U.S., but around the world. It also exposes vulnerabilities in the entire airline industry. The company is now racing to resume flights after a nearly six-hour ground stop.
The outage leaving hundreds of thousands of passengers stuck in airport terminals around the world. Law enforcement tells CNN there is no evidence Delta was hacked and issued Delta blamed a power outage at its hub in Atlanta. Georgia Power says a piece of equipment called a switch gear caused the outage. Employees could not properly check in passengers. Even flight status
boards showed incorrect information. More than 400 flights now canceled for today and in catching up with the backlog, that could take days. Delta's outage is by far not the first to handicap air travel. Last month, Southwest suffered a big computer glitch and, before that, it was American Airlines.
All right, it sounds like something out of a spy novel, the bizarre twist in the execution of an Iranian scientist who defected to the United States, only to return to Iran years later.
Plus, talk about keeping your enemies close, new allegations that Roger Ailes used the FOX News Channel budget to fund his own personal vendettas against his enemies.
[16:46:17] BERMAN: Welcome back. Turning now to our World Lead, a real life spy mystery ends with the execution of an Iranian man, a nuclear scientist who was once hailed as national hero. Iranian officials say Shahram Amiri (ph) was hanged for revealing the country's top secrets to the, quote, "Great Satan," none other than the United States.
I want to bring in CNN global affairs correspondent, Elise Labott. Elise, has the State Department even confirmed whether this scientist indeed worked for the U.S. government ever?
ELISE LABOTT, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: John, if you remember, Hillary Clinton hinted as much while she was secretary of state saying that Mr. Amiri was in the United States on his own free will. His whereabouts have been unknown for years, but his death is a dark final chapter to this strange real life spy drama.
LABOTT (voice-over): Shahram Amiri was greeted as a hero when the Iranian nuclear scientist returned home to Iran six years ago claiming he fled his American captors turning down millions of dollars to spy on behalf of the U.S.
SHAHRAM AMIRI, IRANIAN SCIENTIST (through translator): I was facing psychological warfare and pressure much worse than being in prison.
LABOTT: But on Sunday he was executed for treason. Iran's Judiciary Ministry announced Amiri was hanged for sharing Iran's nuclear secrets with the enemy.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): After due process he received his punishment.
LABOTT: Amiri disappeared in 2009 in Saudi Arabia on a religious pilgrimage. He mysteriously ending up in Arizona where he made a video that air owned Iranian state television claiming he was kidnapped and taken to the U.S. where he was allegedly drugged and tortured. U.S. officials say Amiri defected and willingly provided useful information about Iran's nuclear program and in a subsequent video produced by the CIA, had Amiri contradict his claims.
AMIRI (through translator): I am free here and want to reassure everyone that I am free.
LABOTT: By 2010 officials claimed Amiri changed his mind and wanted to go home. Iranian television aired a third video in which Amiri returned to his kidnapping story, saying, he escaped his captors, a claim publicly disputed by then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
[16:50:11]HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: He was free to go. He was free to come. These decisions are his alone it make.
LABOTT: Amiri demanded to be sent home when he arrived at the Iranian Intersection at the Pakistani Embassy in Washington. Officials believed he feared for his family's safety. Clinton made reference to his request in the e-mails over her private server.
One saying quote, "Our friend has to be given a way out. If he has it leave, so be it." Days after his heart warming reunion with his son aired on Iranian state TV, Amiri disappeared. Clinton's critics seized on the e-mails suggesting they put Amiri's life at risk.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That goes to show just how reckless and careless her decisions were to put that classified information on a private server. I think her judgment is not suited to keep this country safe.
LABOTT: Now the Trump campaign also retweeting stories linking the e- mails to Amiri's death. And today the Clinton campaign shot back saying the Trump campaign never met a conspiracy theory it didn't like and that the accusations are baseless and absurd -- John.
BERMAN: Pretty crazy story. All right, Elise Labott, thanks so much.
All right, a stunning story from inside Fox News Channel. Accusations that former CEO, Roger Ailes, was spying on his enemies inside and outside the company. And wait until you hear how he allegedly was paying for it.
BERMAN: Welcome back. John Berman in for Jake today. Just in, another accuser, a current Fox News host, is now saying she was taken off the air after complaining of sexual harassment by former Fox News head, Roger Ailes.
The long time CEO was ousted last month after a bombshell sexual harassment lawsuit was filed against him by former anchor, Gretchen Carlson. With me now CNN senior media correspondent, Brian Stelter, host of "RELIABLE SOURCES." Brian, this new development, what are you learning?
BRIAN STELTER, CNN SENIOR MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Andrea Tantaros, a household name actually for viewers of Fox News. She was sidelined three months ago on the channel. She hasn't been on the air ever since April.
At that time, Fox News said it was because she wrote a book with a cover that was out of bounds, a cover that the company didn't approve ahead of time. It was in her contract saying she had to show it before she published it.
Anyway, she was sidelined. But now her attorney says the real reason why she was sidelined is because she accused Ailes of harassment. This attorney tells me that this harassment started in 2014 and that Tantaros retained the attorney back in March because of this issue.
He said it is not about the book it is about harassment. She is the first accuser that's actually currently on the Fox payroll still being paid by Fox who is coming forward.
BERMAN: It's kind of like drip, drip, drip.
STELTER: It is.
BERMAN: Inside Fox News because this follows this other report this weekend in "New York" magazine saying that Roger Ailes used the company budget in a sort of fund to black ops fund to go after people inside and outside the company.
STELTER: It sounds like something fiction, out of a novel. It sounds like frankly Nixonian behavior. Of course, Roger Ailes many years ago worked as key aid for Richard Nixon. And he's kind of knew for years he was paranoid that he would keep close tabs on people. That he would have files on journalists.
What we didn't know until this new story came out over the weekend is that he actually employed private investigators, sometimes to tail journalists and other opponents and enemies in his mind.
Ailes has denied the sexual harassment allegations and his attorney continues to deny these new charges as well, but frankly, John, the evidence continues to accumulate against him and there are many sources from many different directions with similar stories.
For example, I've confirmed that five consultants were let go last week. These are friends of Roger's who are no longer welcome at Fox.
BERMAN: If it was Fox News money being used, what liability does this create for Fox News? One of the things that was interesting about Gretchen Carlson's lawsuit is the lawsuit was against Roger Ailes, not against Fox.
STELTER: Yes, that lawsuit almost exactly one month ago was only targeting Ailes, not the network as a whole. But the big question is whether anyone else at Fox News or higher up than Murdochs knew about this kind of spending.
Did they know what Ailes was doing with the money at Fox News? In one case, there was a settlement involving one woman to charge that Ailes sexually harassed her for a 20-year period. There was a $3 million settlement in that case.
Is it possible that the people who were in charge of Fox didn't know about the settlement? That's still one of the unanswered questions here. We have been asking the Murdochs for comments and they haven't commented yet.
BERMAN: Just remind us, who is investigating what and who at this point?
STELTER: Right now, there is a law firm brought in called Paul Weiss, a blue chip law firm here in New York, investigating the Ailes sexual harassment allegations. We don't know exactly how far they are looking into this.
We don't know, for example, if they are looking into other executives as well. There is widespread speculation there will be a house cleaning inside Fox. We know these consultants were let go last week.
There is questions about whether other executives close to Ailes will also be let go. But right now the investigators aren't saying a word and I can tell you Andrea Tantaros has not been interviewed by the investigators yet.
BERMAN: Brian Stelter, thank you very much.
BERMAN: Fascinating developments over there.
All right, let's look at our Sports Lead right now. It is now day three of the 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Rio. Team USA currently has a total of 13 medals including three golds, two of which came from swimmer, Michael Phelps, who just won his 19th gold medal.
When is he going to accomplish something in his career? Also, 19-year- old Katie Ledecky who broke her world record by about three minutes. Both of them are looking to add to gold medal collections by moving on from semifinal races later tonight.
Also, the United States once again the heavy favorite in men's basketball. The team set it take on Venezuela tonight. This after upset victory over China. Favored by million, they won by 2 million.
That's all for THE LEAD. I'm John Berman in for Jake Tapper today. I now turn you over to Wolf Blitzer in "THE SITUATION ROOM."