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THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER
Trump Expected to Recognize Jerusalem as Israeli Capital; Republican Party Backing Accused Child Molester Roy Moore for Alabama Senate. Aired 4:30-5p ET
Aired December 5, 2017 - 16:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
DAVID URBAN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I have to believe in the people of Alabama aren't evil people who are out to ruin the republic.
You know, why they -- why would they so strongly believe in Judge Moore and go to the polls and support him?
I will say one quick thing, that -- that Doug Jones is a candidate who doesn't necessarily -- unlike Ralph Northam, who was a very good candidate for Virginia, Doug Jones is a candidate who is very bad for Alabama. He -- abortion on demand, against Second Amendment. He doesn't fit the state very well.
And so I think that there is -- you know, the judge is going to win here, I believe, on election night.
ANA CABRERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: All those policy issues go out the window when, on the other hand, on the other side, your choice is a child molester and a pedophile.
To me, it's an astounding tone-deafness and dissonance by the Republican Party that, in this watershed moment in the United States of America, where we are seeing people in the news, people in the news, people in business lose their jobs and pay huge consequences...
URBAN: I understand.
CABRERA: ... for sexual harassment, we see Republican leadership, we see the White House, we see the RNC, we see the Republican Party of Alabama supporting this man.
URBAN: But the party came out against him in the primary. They had an opponent that was...
CABRERA: That was before they knew. That was before they knew he was a sexual harasser.
URBAN: But my point, again, is to the thought process is behind the voters. Right? There is something underlying this bigger than Judge Moore and bigger than this race, right?
That the president came out for Luther Strange. The party came out for Luther Strange. They supported him. He lost pretty badly.
CABRERA: And I think you make a good point, because I wonder...
URBAN: He lost.
CABRERA: When I hear Mitch McConnell, I wonder if some of his backing out has to do with -- frankly, I'm not sure Mitch McConnell is not more disliked than Nancy Pelosi in Alabama.
KIRSTEN POWERS, CNN COMMENTATOR: But can we just talk about this thing that Republicans do with abortion, OK?
The abortion rate is the lowest rate it has been in 20 years. And that's because of Democrats being in power. And this is what happens every time -- let me finish. I listened to you.
POWERS: Every time Democrats are in power, the abortion rate drops.
And I can explain that sometime, if people want to know why.
TAPPER: Because of birth control access.
POWERS: Yes, because they actually provide women with what they need to either avoid the pregnancy or the support that they need to actually have the baby, you know, whether it's health insurance or these kinds of things.
So, Republicans use this as a way to manipulate voters into voting for somebody who has been credibly accused. These aren't just accusations. You have to go and look and read them. They're credible accusations from multiple women who talk about things that happened to them when they were girls.
So you bring up this abortion thing like it's the answer to the question, and it's just a manipulation.
URBAN: No, I'm not trying to manipulate anything. I'm trying to explain. I'm trying to figure out.
Jake asked the question. I'm trying to say why would voters -- they don't identify with Doug Jones.
POWERS: But they have to vote for him, because the abortion rate goes down under Democrats. It's just a bad argument.
URBAN: I'm just -- I'm trying to figure out why they would vote for -- you're asking a question. After all of this is out there, why would they continue to support Judge Moore? Because Doug Jones in their mind is not a great candidate. That's only one of the issues I can think of. Voters in Alabama identify themselves as pro gun and pro-life. That's
what I'm saying.
TAPPER: Everyone, stick around. We have got a lot more to talk about.
We have breaking news from the Trump administration. The president is set to deliver a major speech tomorrow that could have a major ripple effect throughout the Middle East. We're going to discuss that next.
Stay with us.
TAPPER: We're back with some breaking news in our world lead.
President Trump is going to deliver a major speech on Israel tomorrow. Sources say that he will announce that the United States will recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and his intention to move the U.S. Embassy there, a symbolic and incredibly controversial move that is already sparking outrage among Israel's Arab neighbors.
Palestinian groups are calling for three days of rage in response. U.S. allies warn this decision is risking the safety of the American military. And diplomats in the region with Turkey's president calling it a fatal mistake and threatening to cut diplomatic ties with the U.S.
I want to bring back my panel to discuss.
Before this speech, David, President Trump called five world leaders to explain his decision, give them a heads-up, Israel, Jordan, the Palestinian Authority, Egypt and Saudi Arabia. We should disclose that you are being considered for a position, ambassador to Saudi Arabia.
URBAN: In the Middle East.
TAPPER: There is a lot of concern that this will only inflame tensions. And we're told by the news services in Jordan, Egypt and Saudi Arabia that they expressed a desire, please don't do this.
URBAN: Yes, so, Jake, I don't know. You hear -- just read it just like you do.
I don't know anything beyond what's been reported. I can tell you that having traveled there many times with my former boss Senator Specter to Jerusalem, it's a special place to many people. I think the president has made this promise on the campaign.
I will say that the only -- it's the only -- if it does become the capital, it will be the only capital the embassy wasn't located in.
TAPPER: The capital has been in -- the embassy, rather, is in Tel Aviv, which is not the capital of Israel.
URBAN: Right, it's not the capital. So it's the only -- in the world, it's the only place were we don't have our embassy.
And, you know, you could make the argument perhaps that by recognizing the legitimacy of the capital there in Israel that they're not going away and it might push the parties closer to peace. That's the only thing I can...
TAPPER: You're an optimist. You're such a glass is half-full kind of guy.
URBAN: I would say, you know, the U.S. recognizing this as the existence and the existence of Israel and they're not going away.
I know during the Clinton administration, they worked very, very hard. I was there with Senator Specter in the wee hours of the Clinton administration.
CABRERA: I will tell you, you know, having sat through and lived through so many political speeches by Republican candidates for practically everything from president to dogcatcher, I can't tell you the number of them that promised if they were elected they would support moving the capital to Jerusalem.
So this is kind of like, oh, my God, he's actually doing...
TAPPER: He actually means it, right.
CABRERA: He's actually doing what -- now, be careful what you wish for, you just may get it.
CABRERA: The region and we are going to have to live with the consequences. But this has been going on as a symbolic promise.
TAPPER: A promise for years, for decades.
CABRERA: For decades.
And just in case people don't know, the reason why people oppose is it because East Jerusalem is -- the question is whether or not East Jerusalem will be the status of the future Palestinian state.
East Jerusalem taken by Israel during the 1967 war, I believe. And so questions about what will happen to East Jerusalem are always thought of, well, that will be in the peace talks. And if you take Jerusalem out of that, the peace talks, then that's really going to inflame the Palestinian people.
A lot of people have given lip service, as Ana says, but we can say for good reason. A lot of these Arab leaders say this is going to inflame tensions in the region.
POWERS: I guess you could call it lip service or you could call it a hopeful -- something that hopefully will happen if we can reach achieve some sort of agreement is another way of looking it, and precisely because...
URBAN: Another half-full.
POWERS: Well, no, it's seen as taking sides. That's the problem.
When the U.S. is supposed to look like, you know, an arbiter, a fair arbiter of a dispute, like they're not taking sides, I think this looks a little bit like they're taking sides.
And so that's a setback in the sense that it can inflame people who don't like this decision and it could make it more difficult to reach a peace agreement. That said, reaching a peace agreement is really hard anyway.
POWERS: But I don't think it's going to make it easier. I don't see how it would make it easier.
URBAN: I'm sorry. Go ahead, Jake.
TAPPER: No, I was just going to say, Jerusalem is the capital of Israel. Just factually, that's where the Knesset, the Parliament is, that's where the president lives, et cetera, the prime minister.
But it is something that will make a lot of people angry and might make the situation more difficult.
CABRERA: And it will also make a lot of Jewish Republican donors very happy, because it's such a huge symbolic issue both in Israel and among the Jewish community here in the United States, that, you know, it's like, well, let's see what the repercussions are.
But we are actually living up to our promise. And we are -- I think this was a huge issue for people like Sheldon Adelson. It's been a huge issue for decades for people like the Republican Party Jewish Congress, the RJC.
This is a real issue.
URBAN: And, Jake, we covered this earlier. And Ana correctly points this out.
This president has a long list of things he promised on the campaign on immigration, on climate, things that may not be popular, but he's going through and checking them off and doing them, right? And this is another one of those things that he's living through, coming through on.
CABRERA: ... nightmares. Oh, my God.
TAPPER: We will see what happens.
Everyone, stick around.
The Supreme Court appears to be sharply divided over a case pitting LGBT rights against the rights of the religious community. Is this justice considered to be the swing vote in the wedding case, is he wavering?
We will continue this conversation next. Stay with us.
[16:45:00] JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Welcome back. This just in to CNN. We've been discussing the lead-up to next week's election to decide the next senator from Alabama. Republican Senator Jeff Flake an outspoken critic of President Trump just tweeted this photo. It's a $100 check to the campaign of Doug Jones, the Democrat running against embattled Republican Roy Moore accused of improper behavior with high school girls with the message country over party. We'll discuss that in a second but let's turn right now to the Supreme Court where one critical vote will likely determine the future of LGBT and religious rights in this country.
But for those trying to read the tea leaves, Justice Anthony Kennedy expressed seemingly contradictory concerns as he heard the case of the Colorado baker who refusing to make a wedding cake for a gay couple. The baker's attorney argued that the principles of religious freedom and free speech support his position saying the owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop doesn't believe in same-sex marriage and shouldn't be forced to participate in one in any form. But lawyers for the couple said the baker clearly violated the state's anti-discrimination laws. CNN's Ariane de Vogue was in the court today for oral arguments, she joins me now. Ariane, so it sounds like Justice Kennedy is really torn.
ARIANE DE VOGUE, CNN SUPREME COURT REPORTER: Well, he is. Justice Kennedy is in the middle and he does -- he did seem torn. Keep in mind, Jack Phillips, he's making this free speech argument. He says his cakes are his artistic expression and he says he shouldn't be forced to convey a message against his religious liberty concerns. And that was the problem for the liberals and Kennedy seemed to side with them on that on a line-drawing thing. Like where do you draw the line? You've got the cake maker, what about the hair stylist, what about the chef? So Kennedy seemed with the liberals on that and he also expressed concern about the dignity of the gay community.
And he said what's going to happen now? Are we going to have stores with signs in them that say we only make weddings for heterosexual couples? So on that side, he seemed to worry about what he called the affront to gay marriage. But then, he did have these religious liberty concerns on the other side and he was worried. He said is -- has there been a hostility towards religion for Mr. Phillips? And at one point it was very strange, he was almost writing an opinion in his head, and he said, it seems to me that the state in its position here has been neither tolerant nor respectful of Mr. Phillips' beliefs. So Anthony Kennedy once again critical, coming out of oral arguments, I'm not sure which side he'll eventually be on.
TAPPER: You can't predict it. Ariane de Vogue, thank you so much. My panel is back with me. So people have lined up at the Supreme Court since Friday to hear arguments in this case. The decision could have a major impact if they rule either way. What's your take on this case? You're somebody for whom religion is important and also --
KIRSTEN POWERS, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Religion is important and free speech is very important. I wrote a book about the importance of free speech. So on this issue, I think, look, he said he's worried that he's going to be forced to convey a message against his religious beliefs. I agree that would be wrong. It would be wrong if the government did that. What I would say in this case is I don't think that's what's happening. And I ask people always go back to your wedding and tell me what the person who baked the cake thought of your marriage. You have no idea, I assume, right? You have no idea.
[16:50:16] TAPPER: I have no idea who baked the cake.
POWERS: Right, exactly.
TAPPER: I don't remember what it tasted like, to be honest.
POWERS: The idea -- the idea that the person who's baking --
ANA NAVARRO, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: You're really going to be in trouble going home tonight. Can you just stop this line of thinking?
POWERS: No but the idea that -- the idea that the person who baked your cake is somehow rendering a judgment or an affirmation or an approval on your marriage is just -- it's patently false. We all know that it's not true and nobody ever thought before that that's what was happening until people invoked this argument to discriminate against gay people. And so, you know, I don't think this is an issue of speech. It's gay people coming in and saying, that cake that you make right there, I want to order it. You just bake the cake that you offer to everybody else. I think, you know, if somebody wants you to write something, then you're getting into something else but people don't really have people write things on their wedding cake.
TAPPER: So this involves a lot of key issues that get a lot of people activated whether it is religious freedom or the freedom to not be discriminated against. I want you to take a listen to the baker who said that his cakes are technically art, therefore, it's protected as freedom of speech. He can't be forced to make a creation expresses a message he opposes. Here's how he described his argument in an interview with CNN.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JACK PHILLIPS, OWNER, MASTERPIECE CAKESHOP: I feel that I'm being compelled to create artwork for an event and inherently religious event that goes against my faith, and I'm being compelled to do so under threat of penalty of jail time and fines.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DAVID URBAN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Look, I think Kirsten is right. It's obviously and Justice Kennedy has this, right? We're right at the (INAUDIBLE) of where lots of people -- that's why it's at the Supreme Court. It's very tough. Nobody wants to jam a different view down someone's strongly religious -- you know, religious belief. Nobody wants to force them to do something they don't want to do at the same time we have to respect the rights of all Americans. And so it's really difficult. I mean, what's to de facto to keep this from happening when a couple walks into the bakery and the baker says, oh, sorry, booked that weekend or what's to preclude somebody who has a grass cutting service say you know, get us -- get a bid from -- call somebody to cut your lawn and the guy shows up and it's a gay couple and says, oh, I'm sorry, I can't take any more work.
How do you prove that, right? It's really is a very, very difficult situation here in America. I think you know, people's firmly, deeply held religious believes need to be recognized as well as the rights of all individuals. And so it's really a big tension here. The court is in a tough spot to decide it. Justice Kennedy very thoughtful, obviously. It's going to be -- it's going to be jump ball. That's why Ana's earlier point about the President appointing conservative justices to the court, to the supreme court, President Trump, hugely important, hugely important.
TAPPER: Where do you come down on this, Ana?
NAVARRO: You know, I almost can't believe it but I'm kind of torn on this which is amazing to me because I am --
URBAN: Ana and I agreeing, again, amazing.
NAVARRO: No we're not agreeing. I'm left of (INAUDIBLE) when it comes to gay rights. I'm one of the handful of Republicans who signed both amicus briefs in support of marriage equality. But I also have some untapped catholic guilt somewhere in there I guess. Look, I -- my issue was where do you draw the line? And to me, this is you know, a couple of things. Number one, the cake, the flowers, the hair, the makeup, none of that is essential to the actual marriage ceremony, to the legitimacy, to the, you know, legality of the ceremony. I think you can't force somebody that's a notary, for example, that
has you know, religious convictions to officiate a wedding, but a cake to flowers, all of those things to me are ancillary. So you know, part of me just says let them eat cake. The other parent of me says, I don't understand -- and I understand standing on principle, but why would I want to buy a cake or much less eat a cake as delicious or pretty as it may be from somebody that thinks I'm going to burn in hell because I am marrying the love of my life? You know, and I think there's a lot of ways of making them hurt economically if they don't want to do that.
POWERS: But at the same time, what is Roy Moore owned a restaurant and he said I don't want Jews to come in because I think they're going to hell. I mean, it's not -- we recognize this one at the (INAUDIBLE) of other people. We recognize there's a public -- the public accommodations. Once you get into public accommodations, you are held to a different standard. You're not doing this out of your home. When you run a restaurant or a bakery, you follow all sorts of laws that you may not agree with because you're providing to the public. And I think this is one of the things that we can say as a public that we want to recognize that gay people are equal to everybody else and when they walk into a store, they shouldn't worry that somebody is going to deny them service and humiliate them in front of their community.
TAPER: All right, thanks one and all. I appreciate it. Burning out of control, that's how firefighters are describing a fire that has grown to twice the size of Manhattan and is quickly spreading. Stick around.
[16:55:00] TAPPER: Southern California burning as more than 50,000 acres of flames consume the state in just 13 hours. The Thomas fire in Ventura County has forced around 27,000 people to evacuate from their homes and a hospital. The blaze is spreading rapidly. It's now twice the size of the island of Manhattan and it continues to gain steam with the Fire Chief saying the fire is out of control. Fire officials are also battling the creek fire in Los Angeles County. It has already reached across 11,000 acres of land and led to 2,500 home evacuations. Governor Jerry Brown has declared a state of emergency. Be sure to follow me on Facebook and Twitter @JAKETAPPER or you can tweet the show @THELEADCNN. We actually read them, believe it or not. That's it for THE LEAD, I'm Jake Tapper, turning you over now to Wolf Blitzer. He's next door in "THE SITUATION ROOM." Thanks for watching.