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THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER

One-on-One with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo; Pence, Buttigieg Battle Over Christianity, LGBT Rights; Atlantic: Trump Considered Ivanka For U.N. Or World Bank Role. Aired 4:30-5p ET

Aired April 12, 2019 - 16:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[16:30:01] MIKE POMPEO, SECRETARY OF STATE: I've been in lots of conversations on the enormous crisis at our border and I've watched this president try to use every tool in our tool kit. We have done everything that we can. We've stayed within the law.

We need Congress to make changes to that, so that we can stop this humanitarian and security crisis. And every meeting I've been in has been very focused on that.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: The president today admitted he's considering trying to moving undocumented migrants to sanctuary cities and he seemed to acknowledge it was for political reasons, to retaliate against Democrats. Why do you think that's the right policy, if you do, in fact?

POMPEO: Jake, I'm here in Santiago, Chile. I came on to talk with you today about a enormously important decision to help keep Americans safe outside the threat our sailors, marines, that have protected the Americans for years, are now because of the policies the Trump administration undertaken, no longer threatened by a rogue court at the International Criminal Court. That's my focus for this morning and that's what I hope we get a chance to talk about today.

TAPPER: All right. Let me turn to that question and I'll come back to a couple others that I have. The International Criminal Court today, said that they will not investigate the U.S. for allegations of alleged war crimes in Afghanistan. Amnesty International said this was a, quote, craven capitulation to Washington's bullying and threats and an abandonment of the victims.

Why do you disagree with Amnesty International? If somebody committed a war crime, why should they not be held responsible? I should note that this isn't just about Americans. It's also about Afghans, as well.

POMPEO: That's exactly right, Jake. It's about a much broader people.

Let's be very clear, though, with respect to America in particular, we didn't sign the treaty for the ICC. It has no jurisdiction over our people. It's been trying to exert it.

You know this, Jake, as well as I do. When Americans misbehave, whether it's our military, intelligence officers, we have a robust democratic process that holds them accountable. You've seen us do that for those that misbehave.

There is in no way any need for the ICC to intervene. Frankly, this would have been a very political effort to try to take on people who were acting on behalf of the United States in ways that were completely consistent with our laws and try to hold them accountable in ways that were completely inappropriate. I'm very pleased the ICC made this decision today. It's the right one.

Know that if Americans are found to have done things that are unlawful or against the laws of war, the U.S. will always hold them accountable. But ICC is not the right place to do it. We didn't sign for that, and they had no authority over these people. I'm glad that they recognized that.

TAPPER: So, you're in Chile right now, let me ask you a question, if I can, about our immigration policy. President Trump has cut aid to Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala, the so-called Northern Triangle countries in Central America. He says they're not doing enough on immigration. Your own agency, the State Department, your own experts and data suggests that the aid is actually having a tremendous effect. In El Salvador, the aid went in and homicides went down and the number of people fleeing El Salvador went down.

Isn't it self-defeating for the United States to cut those aid dollars? Doesn't it just end up sending more migrants, more caravans to the United States?

POMPEO: Jake, that's the liberal theory, for sure. Let's just go back to basic reality. It's what we try to do in the Trump administration.

Hundreds of millions of dollars spent in Honduras and Guatemala and El Salvador and you see the results. You see the results yesterday, you saw them last week, you see people fleeing those nations, throwing more money at this problem, which is what I think your question is suggesting, there's no reason to believe that we get any outcome that is different than the one that we're suffering from today.

So what the Trump administration is trying to do is saying, hey, we're prepared to help, we're prepared to engage, we're prepared to support. But you, you have to take serious efforts, whether it's in Guatemala, El Salvador, in Nicaragua, in Mexico, for that matter, too. We need those nations to ensure that their people aren't making this dangerous transit across Mexico and coming into our country illegally. That's what we're asking these countries to do. When they begin to do that, America support will again return.

TAPPER: Well, you can call it liberal if you want, the statistics come from your State Department. And among the individuals who support the idea of foreign aid to those countries are the last Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, and the current acting secretary, Kevin McAleenan. They think that that money helps keeps migrants in those countries. I'm not sure that you think they're liberal.

POMPEO: I think that President Trump's decision makes perfect sense. We're going to get this right, Jake. We're going to stop spending hundreds of millions of dollars of U.S. taxpayer misunderstand and ending up with the same result we've ended up for far too long. I think the data that you described proves this point. It describes that what we were doing simply didn't work.

TAPPER: Well, the datas I saw --

POMPEO: Jake, you know the old saw, right, if what you're doing doesn't work, you'd ought to think about another path forward. You'd agree with that, wouldn't you, Jake?

TAPPER: I would, but what I got from Border and Custom Protection folks using State Department data, money went to El Salvador, homicides went down by 50 percent and fewer migrants were coming from El Salvador. I take your point that not all the governments of the Northern Triangle countries are doing everything you want them to do, but it seems to me based on your agency's data that you giving money to El Salvador was helping to reduce violence in that country and helping to reduce migrants coming from El Salvador to the United States.

POMPEO: Jake, the American taxpayers have been enormously generous to each of those three countries for an awfully long time. We're prepared to continue to do that, but we've got to see things change. We've got to see reality, real outcomes on the ground.

Jake, when we see that, I promise you, Americans will continue to be generous, will continue to make sense with how we spend our dollars and we'll get good outcomes. It's not enough to spend money and having wishful thinking.

President Trump understands that we need to see actual change, actual good outcome. When we see those, when we see those nations engage in activities that reduce the outflow of migration from their nations, the American people will continue to be incredibly generous. They always have been.

TAPPER: Do you have any concerns -- let's switch to the Middle East -- I'm sorry, let's identify -- your bailiwick is the world here. Let's go a little bit to the East.

Do you have any concerns about the comments of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who was just re-elected, made right before he was re- elected, vowing to annex the West Bank. Do you think that might hurt the pursuit of peace, the two-state solution proposal that Jared Kushner and others, including you, have been working so hard on?

POMPEO: I don't. I think that the vision that we'll lay out is going to represent a significant change from the model that's been used. Again, I talked about it in Central America. We've had a lot of ideas for 40 years. They did not deliver peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians.

Our mission set is to put forward a vision. Ultimately, the Israelis and the Palestinian people will have to make this, resolve this for themselves. But our idea is to put forward a vision that has ideas that are new, that are different, that are unique, that tries to reframe and reshape what's been an intractable problem.

That multiple administrations have grappled with, multiple administrations in Israel, as well. We hope that we can get to a better place. Everyone wants this conflict resolved. We want a better life for the Israelis without this conflict and we certainly want a better life for the Palestinian people, both in the West Bank and in Gaza.

TAPPER: All right. I'm being told I have a deadline and I have to get off because other things to do. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, we always enjoy you coming on and taking our questions. Thanks so much for your time and safe travels.

POMPEO: Thank you, Jake. Thank you, sir.

TAPPER: A feud between the vice president and 2020 presidential hopeful Pete Buttigieg, two Hoosiers going at it. It's getting personal. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[16:42:40] TAPPER: A looming question in our 2020 lead today. How does one go from this --

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: South Bend, Indiana, is (INAUDIBLE) to have energetic, innovative, forward-looking, creative (ph) mayor in Pete Buttigieg. And, Mayor, thank you.

(CHEERS)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: To this --

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PENCE: I hope that Pete will offer more to the American people than attacks on my Christian faith or attacks on the president.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: Today, the vice president and former governor of Indiana and Democratic presidential candidate and mayor of South Bend, Indiana, former colleagues, and according to Mike Pence, friends are locked in a battle over their religious beliefs and LBGTQ rights.

And as Jessica Dean reports, it's a feud that's years in the making.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JESSICA DEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Two Hoosiers, one, the vice president, the other, a presidential hopeful. Both in a feud over faith.

PENCE: The truth of the matter is that all of us have our own religious convictions. Pete has his convictions, I have mine.

DEAN: Vice President Mike Pence, a former Indiana governor, reacting to criticism from South Bend, Indiana, mayor and 20 Democratic hopeful, Pete Buttigieg.

PETE BUTTIGIEG (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm not critical of his faith. I'm critical of bad policies. I don't have a problem with religion. I'm religious, too. I have a problem with religion being used as a justification to harm people, and especially in the LBGTQ community.

DEAN: Pence telling CNN's Dana Bash he doesn't have a problem with Buttigieg --

PENCE: I considered him a friend.

DEAN: -- but then taking a swipe at the rising Democratic star.

PENCE: I hope that Pete will offer more to the American people than attacks on my Christian faith or attacks on the president as he seeks the highest office in the land.

DEAN: And to Buttigieg's larger point about Pence's beliefs regarding homosexuality, the vice president repeatedly would not answer if he thought being gay was a sin.

PENCE: I'm a Bible-believing Christian.

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: And that belief that being gay is a sin?

PENCE: My wife and I are Bible-believing Christians. We cherish our faith.

BASH: And the idea of it being a sin to be gay?

PENCE: Dana, I'm a Bible-believing Christian. I draw my truth from God's word.

BASH: Buttigieg who's Episcopalian married husband Chasten in an Indiana church last year. He talks openly about his faith on the campaign trail.

BUTTIGIEG: When I talk about my faith, it's not because I believe it should be imposed on others, but it does guide me.

[16:45:00] DEAN: Buttigieg lobbed the first volley and his back and forth with Pence during a CNN Town Hall with Jake last month.

BUTTIGIEG: How could he allow himself to become the cheerleader of the porn star presidency?

DEAN: He again went after the vice president last weekend in an LGBTQ fundraiser.

BUTTIGIEG: I wish the Mike Pence's of the world would understand if you got a problem with who I am your problem is not with me, your quarrel sir is with my Creator.

DEAN: This all goes back to 2015 when Pence was governor and Buttigieg is mayor of South Bend. Then Governor Pence backed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act which allowed businesses to cite religious freedom as a legal defense.

The backlash was intense as critics argued it can be used to discriminate against the LGBT community. In his book, Buttigieg called it "prejudice in the name of Christianity." Four years later, he's making the same argument.

BUTTIGIEG: I'm not interested in feuding with the vice-president, but if he wanted to clear this up, he could come out today and say he's changed his mind, that it shouldn't be legal to discriminate against anybody in this country for who they are. That's all.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

DEAN: Buttigieg will be back in South Bend on Sunday for an event his campaign is billing as a special announcement where he's expected to officially enter the 2020 race. Jake?

TAPPER: All right, Jessica Dean, thanks so much. So here we have Pete Buttigieg saying if you have an issue, it's not with me it's with my creator, about his homosexuality, and you have Mike Pence saying, I think his issue is with the -- Buttigieg's issue is with the First Amendment. What do you think? What do you make of it all?

KAREN FINNEY, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think this is really going to be the -- this is really what the fight in 2020 is going to be about which is two very different competing visions about our country. Pete Buttigieg is talking about a country that is loving and inclusive and unfortunately, Donald Trump and Mike Pence are about exclusion and scapegoating and using religion, weaponizing it frankly.

Weaponizing religion in the way they've used the Muslim ban to keep people out and they're trying to use faith as a way to justify bigotry. And frankly, as you know, Jake, it's personal for me because some of the same arguments have been used about interracial marriage as against gay marriage.

TAPPER: Some Christian arguments.

FINNEY: Some Christian arguments, yes. And you know, it's not -- that's not what the Bible teaches us. And I think what Mayor Pete is doing also is to say, I will take these -- take on these cultural wars and these fights and I will win.

JACKIE KUCINICH, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: So let's not forget, Mike Pence kind of got caught when he passed that religious freedom bill or sign that religious freedom bill in Indiana. He was surrounded by several people who were anti-gay marriage. So while he was saying it was about religious freedom, he had these guys behind it that made of their business trying to stop gay marriage for a good part of their careers, and there was a huge backlash to that. So there's also that history between Buttigieg and Mike Pence being

both in the state as that was going on. So while Mike Pence does say this is about the First Amendment, he's sort of been in a position where it really wasn't about that.

TAPPER: Well, Sabrina -- OK, because nobody is going to do it, I'll be Vice President Pence's advocate here. He has said if he was at a restaurant and he saw a gay couple being denied service of that restaurant, he would never eat at that restaurant again. But he also thinks that people should have the legal right if they're a Christian and observant Christians to not have to make a cake for a gay marriage or that sort of thing.

Is he -- I mean, I understand the public opinion is not necessarily with him, but it was with him in Indiana at the time.

SABRINA SIDDIQUI, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, THE GUARDIAN: Well, it was with him to some degree but then you saw all those businesses boycott the state of Indiana at least in the aftermath of the religious freedom law that he signed --

KUCINICH: And he need to fix it.

SIDDIQUI: -- to that forced him to go back and to fix it. And I think that the challenge with Vice President Mike Pence is that he himself has put faith at the center of his identity throughout his political career, and so that has now opened him up to charges of hypocrisy. I think what Mayor Pete Buttigieg is doing is he's not actually attacking Mike Pence's faith, he's attacking the use of faith as a vehicle to then discriminate against the LGBTQ community or to try and restrict women's reproductive health.

And so I think what's really interesting about that is that Democrats for a long time haven't really tackled issues of faith. The conversation on faith and politics has long been associated with the religious right and so in some ways Pete Buttigieg is also challenging those norms and really trying to embrace faith as a part of the political identity of the left so they could also make their own arguments around equality.

TAPPER: And he's certainly being aggressive about this, the mayor.

BILL KRISTOL, EDITOR-AT-LARGE, THE WEEKLY STANDARD: He is. But I'm struck by what neither is -- neither is arguing. And Mike what happened to the same-sex marriage, that was -- became the law of the land of 2015. Most conservatives were against it, almost most Republicans were against it. There's a 5-4 Court decision, gone, gone, not even raised by anyone in the Trump administration or really by any Republican officeholders that I know of except for a couple of fringe people. That's pretty astonishing.

I mean, Roe v Wade remains very controversial, I think correctly so what 45 years after it was handed down. That's now just accepted. That will be part of our fabric for the foreseeable future which is sort of interesting just as a sort of fact. And on the other hand, Pete Buttigieg seems to acknowledge that

religion has his claims. I think he would acknowledge the religious liberty means that Mike Pence's Minister does not have to administer a same-sex wedding, that there will be questions about religious schools, how to draw that line is hard.

So I actually regard this debate as actually a pretty civil debate and frankly easier to reconcile. I do not believe that gay rights or same-sex marriage or the panoply of issues around that is going to be as bitterly device of an issue in 2020 as one would have thought just a couple of years ago.

[16:50:47] FINNEY: Look, I think if you look at the record of the Trump administration, they have absolutely tried to weaponize issues of choice and issues of the LGBTQ community. No question and I have no doubt that they'll do it again.

TAPPER: Yes, but not -- but Bill is right. There -- no one is talking about repealing or changing the law.

SIDDIQUI: But there is a transgender ban in the military.

TAPPER: There is a transgender ban in the military and we're going to -- and we're going to talk about that. If you ask President Trump, there isn't anything his daughter can't do. The roles he envisions for Ivanka that's raising some eyebrows. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

[16:55:00] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sir, why did you wait until the last minute to pay your taxes?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Because I'm an idiot, happy?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: Monday is, of course, April 15th, tax day. Overall, residents of all 50 states plus D.C. owe less in taxes in 2018. But nose in red states are expected to get more in their refunds this year. According to H&R Block, the ten states with the biggest increases in refunds are in Trump country, starting with the Dakotas.

Meanwhile, the ten states with the largest decrease in refunds thus far went for Hillary Clinton in 2016. Sorry, New Jersey. Changes in state and local tax deductions seen in newt law signed by President Trump might be a factor in the discrepancy. Though it said nothing in this world can be certain except for death and taxes, come Monday, President Trump will most certainly be claiming he cannot release his newest tax returns, because they're under audit.

In the "POLITICS LEAD," Ivanka Trump, White House Senior Adviser, First Daughter, former CEO, but we could have been calling her Madame Ambassador Trump, or the head of the World Bank from what her father, President Trump, told The Atlantic Magazine, or according to him, maybe one day, President Ivanka Trump.

As CNN's Kate Bennett reports, some in the Trump administration have a different name for her, but it's a lot less flattering than the ones we just mentioned.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KATE BENNETT, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Ivanka Trump struggling to keep her personal brand intact as her public persona takes a hit after working in the White House. This according to a story in The Atlantic. The White House has not always been a friendly place for her, even with her dad as boss.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Whenever Jared had any difficulty with me in a couple of points, he would send in a real power named Ivanka. And she would call me and she would say, daddy, you don't understand, you must do this, you must -- and I said, all right.

BENNETT: The familiarity didn't go over well with former Chief of Staff John Kelly, who said, more than once, he felt Ivanka and her husband, Jared Kushner, who never held government or diplomacy jobs prior to the White House, were "playing government."

Kelly was brutal, according to a source close to Ivanka, quoted in The Atlantic, saying, he kind of walked in and looked at Ivanka like, what the bleep is Barbie doing in the West Wing. Trump, who the story says sometimes calls his daughter the nickname "baby" during White House meetings, doesn't share Kelly's feelings, telling The Atlantic he thinks Ivanka would have been great at leading the World Bank because she is, "good with numbers," or that she could have been U.N. Ambassador after Nikki Haley's departure.

TRUMP: I think Ivanka would be incredible, that doesn't mean I'd -- you know, I'd pick her, because you'd be accused of nepotism, even though I'm not sure there's anybody more competent in the world, but that's OK.

BENNETT: Trump even saying, "if she ever wanted to run for president, I think she'd be very, very hard to beat. What her qualifications are for that role, again, remain unclear. But what Ivanka hasn't been is the moderate voice in the White House. Instead, Ivanka has lately channeled her portfolio to important women and family-centric issues.

IVANKA TRUMP, DAUGHTER OF PRESIDENT TRUMP: All parents work.

BENNETT: Like the child tax credit and paid family leave, most recently, global economic growth for female business owners.

I TRUMP: Today the White House is launching an exciting new initiative, the women's global development and prosperity initiative.

BENNETT: Atlantic Writer Elena Plott saying, Ivanka believes her father is never in the wrong.

ELENA PLOTT, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, THE ATLANTIC: She really, as my source said, retains a view that her father is good and only good.

BENNETT: Her father's loyalty to his daughter is just as strong.

TRUMP: So I just want to thank you, honey, great job, really great job.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BENNETT: The likability issue is more than just fluff for Ivanka. Since like most Trumps, her world before politics was all about her brand. The question remains whether she'll still have that saleability after the White House.

TAPPER: All right, Kate Bennett, thanks so much. Tune in this Sunday morning to "STATE OF THE UNION," my guest will be presidential candidate Congressman Eric Swalwell and Florida Republican Senator Rick Scott. That's at 9:00 a.m. and noon Eastern. Our coverage on CNN continues right now. Have a fantastic weekend. I'll see you Sunday morning.

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