Return to Transcripts main page

THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER

Georgia Passes Restrictive Abortion Bill; Shots Fired in Colorado School; 2020 Race Heats Up. Aired 4:30-5p ET

Aired May 7, 2019 - 16:30   ET

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


[16:30:00]

JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: Is there a way to fight back against Trump's attacks in a way that works?

We have seen different people do different things. Marco Rubio tried to ignore it -- ignore it. Then he tried to join it during the primaries. There are any number of ways. What's effective?

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN POLITICS CORRESPONDENT: It's not clear that there is any one single formula.

I think it kind of has to do with whatever the dynamic is between those two people, right? And so Joe Biden, I think, is going to make the case that he is kind of the senior statesman here in a way that some of these other candidates aren't necessarily.

And perhaps that allows him to more effectively rise above Trump's attacks, if he decides to go that way. But, at the same time -- and you would also think that things like age, for example, would kind of be eliminated, because they're both 70-plus years old, things like these -- the inappropriate touching or the sexual assault and harassment allegations that the president has faced, that those would kind of be nullified, at least in terms of Trump attacking Biden on them.

But Donald Trump is the one person who would attack somebody even if it reflects on his own behavior.

ANGELA RYE, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes.

TAPPER: He's already done it, yes.

(CROSSTALK)

DIAMOND: That's something that he does so often, which is take somebody -- it's like a boomerang insult, right? He takes something that somebody else sees as a vulnerability in him and he uses that as an attack posture.

So...

(CROSSTALK)

DIAMOND: ... see that...

(CROSSTALK)

TAPPER: And, Jackie, something else that is interesting, Dr. Biden also weighing in, in an interview with NPR on something that her husband has faced a lot of questions about.

And that is the treatment of Anita Hill during the Clarence Thomas confirmation hearing so many years ago. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JILL BIDEN, WIFE OF JOE BIDEN: Joe said, as I did, we believed Anita Hill. He voted against Clarence Thomas. I mean, he's called Anita Hill. They have spoken. He's apologized for the way the hearings were run. And so now it's kind of -- it's time to move on.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: Does she get to decide it's time to move on?

JACKIE KUCINICH, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I don't think she does, because Anita Hill even said that she didn't really feel like that conversation went that well.

It's ultimately up to Anita Hill and to the voters out there who are making a decision on whether Joe Biden can make this right, if they think that he did something wrong here.

And, yes, he voted against Clarence Thomas, but he also during that hearing said something to the effect of, we're sorry you were just put through this or you're being put through this. So there is -- we will have to see if the voters make him atone for that.

And I would be shocked if, in the upcoming debates, we do not hear a question about Anita Hill.

(CROSSTALK)

TAPPER: So you heard Mayor Pete there, he admits that he needs more help from other than white upper-class voters.

The student who asked him that question about his support from non- whites was just on CNN. He was asked what he thought about Mayor Pete's response. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHARLES PATTON, STUDENT: He's very aware of the issues. And I think that that's very telling for this candidate. The only problem that I think he has is that we just don't trust him.

It's been in our history that the candidates that we do put in office, and they say that they are going to do things for our community, they seem to just forget about us once they are in office. And we're not going for that anymore. (END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: The only problem I think he has is that we just don't trust him -- that's a pretty big problem.

(LAUGHTER)

RYE: It's a huge problem.

And what I think is so unique about this moment, Jake -- I have spoken in speeches about this -- 400 years later, after the first enslaved African arrived on these shores, it is young people right now in our community who are saying, I know what you're used to, but we're not black folks of the past. We're not even black folks of 2012 or 2008.

We are demanding that you speak to an agenda that is specific to us. And I think it's incredible.

TAPPER: All right, everyone, stick around.

The law that Georgia's governor just signed that could land the state in a legal nightmare. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[16:38:02]

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

TAPPER: We have some breaking news for you now.

Police have confirmed shots have been fired at a school near Denver, Colorado.

CNN's Nick Watt is following this breaking story for us.

Nick, what are you learning?

NICK WATT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jake, the details are just coming in. We are hearing from the local sheriff's department an incident at the STEM school. They say still getting info, believed two injured, please find other routes.

And they are also telling parents to go to nearby Northridge Elementary School to collect their children. Of course, we have just passed, Jake, the 20th anniversary of the horrific Columbine school shooting, also in the Denver area.

So we are keeping a close eye on in this, and we will bring you developments as we get them. As I say, so far, the county, the sheriff saying that they believe two people injured so far, but information is still coming in -- Jake.

TAPPER: All right, Nick Watt, thank you so much. We're obviously going to continue to watch this story and bring you any updates. In our national lead, Georgia's governor is the latest to sign into

law legislation banning abortions once a fetal heartbeat has been detected, with exceptions for rape, incest and the life of the mother.

Georgia joins Ohio and Mississippi in preparing to enact so-called heartbeat laws this year, making it illegal to have an abortion as early as six weeks into a pregnancy, when many women may not even know that they're pregnant.

The bill signing earlier today is setting up a legal fight across this country that could ultimately end at the Supreme Court.

CNN's Dianne Gallagher filed this report.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DIANNE GALLAGHER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In the Georgia State capitol today, Governor Brian Kemp signed legislation that all but bans abortion in the state.

GOV. BRIAN KEMP (R-GA): We must protect life at all stages.

GALLAGHER: The bill will make abortion illegal after a fetal heartbeat can be detected, with some exceptions, including risk to the mother's health.

KEMP: I realize that some may challenge it in a court of law. But our job is to do what is right, not what is easy.

GALLAGHER: And it won't be. Governor Kemp's challengers were ready, right outside on the capitol steps.

[16:40:04]

STACI FOX, CEO AND PRESIDENT, PLANNED PARENTHOOD SOUTHEAST: I have one message for Governor Kemp. We will see you, sir, in court.

GALLAGHER: Dozens of advocates for abortion rights gathered to protest, including the region's top Planned Parenthood executive.

FOX: Today, Georgia has joined this race to the bottom.

GALLAGHER: And the head of Georgia's ACLU.

ANDREA YOUNG, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, GEORGIA ACLU: This is a Frankenstein bill. It is cobbled together with ideology, not science.

GALLAGHER: Georgia now becomes the third state since March to sign a so-called heartbeat bill into law, this just as President Trump ramps up his rhetoric on abortion, making the dangerous and demonstrably false claim that mothers are having their infants executed after they're born.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: They wrap the baby beautifully, and then the doctor and the mother determine whether or not they will execute the baby. I don't think so. (BOOING)

GALLAGHER: Anti-abortion groups applaud the president for having successfully appointed a slate of conservative judges during his presidency, including Supreme Court Justices Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch.

In response to Georgia's legislation today, the Democratic National Committee warned -- quote -- "With Trump in the White House and Kavanaugh on the Supreme Court, we know Republicans will continue to push legislation just like this in an effort to ban abortion nationwide and overturn Roe v. Wade."

The bill's sponsor, Republican State Representative Ed Setzler, says he's confident this law would do well in Washington.

ED SETZLER (R), GEORGIA STATE REPRESENTATIVE: We have laid the groundwork that, should it make to the Supreme Court, I think it's going to find a very favorable reception.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

GALLAGHER: And that is the not-so-secret goal of a lot of these lawmakers, finding it to the Supreme Court.

Look, Jake, just because these have been signed doesn't mean they're actually ever going to go into effect. Kentucky passed similar legislation earlier this year. Jake, a federal judge has temporarily blocked that from going into effect.

TAPPER: All right, Dianne Gallagher, thank you so much.

We have some breaking news, new details on the threat from Iran that prompted the Trump administration to immediately deploy warships to the Persian Gulf.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[16:45:00] JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: We have some breaking news for you now in the "WORLD LEAD." We are learning new details about what the Trump administration calls a specific incredible threat from Iran. That threat prompted the National Security Adviser to announce that the Pentagon would speed up the arrival of U.S. warships in the Middle East.

Let's go right to CNN's Barbara Starr at the Pentagon. And Barbara, how specific and credible is the Pentagon being here about what the threat exactly is?

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, they are publicly saying nothing up the threat, Jake. But several U.S. officials tell me that what they are seeing is intelligence that indicates to them Iran is moving short-range ballistic missiles around by seed on boats in the Persian Gulf. So these short-range ballistic missiles could pose a threat to U.S.

forces up and down the Gulf and to the entire region. The issue, of course, is if they could manage to launch them off one of these boats or move them to shore locations, but basically, to move them around, it might be more difficult for the U.S. to find them and find the launch points.

So the U.S. now, the Pentagon is talking internally about sending additional air defense missile defense capabilities to the region, something like the Patriot missile. But the bottom line is they are hoping that they can deter any intention by Iranian forces. They are hoping that sending the aircraft carrier early that sending B-52 bombers will be enough of a deterrent message to Iran that they won't even try it. Jake?

TAPPER: All right, Barbara Starr at the Pentagon, thanks so much. I want to bring in Phil Mudd, a former CIA Counterterrorism official. And Phil, how big a threat is this? How unusual is this?

PHIL MUDD, CNN COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST: I wouldn't it look at it at this point as a big threat. It's something if you're behind the scenes you got to pay attention to. My question would be obviously where they're going. They go into Yemen, they're going to Syria. The bigger question which Barbara can't answer, I suspect the Pentagon can't answer, and the Intel would you tell us is why are they saying them I find the interesting aspect that the administration's play on this.

Are they playing this because we have a page A-1 threat, a threat that should be on CNN or are they playing this because we've demonized Iran? Iran, we have to rip up the nuclear deal. Iran is a problem in Syria. Iran is a problem backing people who oppose Israel. Is this a real threat or is this a jacked up threat because the White House wants to expose Iran?

TAPPER: And the Trump administration responded by moving U.S. warships to deter Iran's threat. That would seem to be a serious move to at least speed up that process.

MUDD: Yes, but hold on a second here. We're talking about assuming that there's actually a threat for example to U.S. allies or U.S. forces. Maybe they're just delivering missiles to a place where they already have allies and they want to stockpile them. The biggest problem in these cases is assuming you know how the other guy thinks. And I'm going to tell you, once you make that assumption, you're going to be wrong.

TAPPER: And you had the Trump administration move U.S. ships, you have Pompeo move because of pressing issues.

MUDD: I've got to believe that it's moving because the White House is making this threat so prominent. I mean, there are other options on the table. Is there a deal on Venezuela he wants to talk about with the Russians for example? I don't think so.

I think given the fact that the White House and the National Security Adviser in the past couple days have highlighted this and the fact that you left Germany, that is the Secretary of State left Germany so abruptly, he's going to talk about this in the Middle East somewhere.

TAPPER: And you noted, I mean, tomorrow marks one year since President Trump withdrew from the Iran Nuclear Deal. Is it possible that they're just trying to bring attention to Iran as a threat as you know?

MUDD: I think. So I mean, I look at every case and this might be overreaching, but every case I watched the President move, that is he takes a U-turn on North Korea, he takes a U-turn on policy on how we deal with NATO. They're sort of semi enemies the way he deals with -- deals with them in meetings. Same with the G7, he takes a U-turn on trade negotiations with Canada and with Mexico.

We have the U.N. saying Iran is complied with a nuclear deal and all of a sudden we take a U-turn on Iran as well. I think this is another example of the President saying I made a policy, the policy was to move away from Iran, and this shows you I was right.

[16:50:17] TAPPER: And you have always said that you think the bigger threat is North Korea and that's something that the administration maybe doesn't want to talk about right now.

MUDD: Sure, because it's embarrassing, bigger threat for a couple reasons. Number one, there's a capability reason. They have the capability, they've shown to reach U.S. soil with ballistic missiles. But the second issue, the one reason I differentiate them from Iran, like it or not, Iran is a mature leadership. They've been around for a long time.

Kim Jung-un, you wanted to tell me you can understand how he thinks and whether he'd ever pop a ballistic missile, I'd say I don't know. So that combination of capability intent in North Korea would put them at the top of list for me.

TAPPER: All right, Phil Mudd, thank you so much. You know all that sea ice that's melting rapidly and threatening to put many of the world's cities underwater. Well, America's top diplomat just inch to suggest that there might be a bright side to that. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[16:55:00]TAPPER: And we continue to follow this breaking news. Police say that shots have been fired at stem school in Highlands Ranch, Colorado just outside Denver. They call the scene active and unstable. Deputies are on the process right now of identifying and locating a shooter or shooters. The Sheriff's Office also says that it believes two people have been injured.

The stem school is a charter school with more than 1,800 students from K through 12. We're going to continue to monitor this story. We'll bring you any updates as we get them. In our Earth Matter Series right now. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo apparently sees the rapidly shrinking levels of sea ice in the Arctic as a positive.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MIKE POMPEO, SECRETARY OF STATE, UNITED STATES: The Arctic is at the forefront of opportunity and abundance. Steady reductions in sea ice are opening new passageways and new opportunities for trade.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: Those so-called passageways a result of climate change will also bring catastrophic consequences. Even the Director of National Intelligence Dan Coates earlier this year cited climate change as a global human security challenge. It is not a warning that the Trump administration is heating.

In fact, the lawsuit filed today by environmental groups against the Trump administration accuses the Trump EPA of failing to protect several communities that have a dangerous level of ozone smog. As CNN's Bill Weir now reports, some experts say the problem has gotten so bad American lives are actually being shortened.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BILL WEIR, CNN CHIEF CLIMATE CORRESPONDENT: This little guy has no idea that his young lungs are breathing some of the worst air in America. He lives in Bakersfield where a valley full of oilfield fumes and mega dairy ammonia and diesel traffic creates the worst bad air days in the nation.

But according to the American Lung Association, he is just one of a hundred and 40 million Americans breathing uneasy and unhealthy.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We have the cleanest air and water they say in the world.

WEIR: No one actually says that. In fact, the 20th annual state of the air report finds that pollution has gotten measurably worse over the last three years. More than four and ten Americans live in counties with unhealthy levels of ozone or soot or the tiny particles that get deep into young lungs and aging brains accelerating disease and maybe even dementia.

GENEVIEVE GALE, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, CENTRAL VALLEY AIR QUALITY COALITION: I remember going up into the mountains which you can't see but are right there and turning around and looking down at the valley and seeing the smog, this the soup of pollution and realizing I wake up and go to bed in that soup every day, and I got really angry.

WEIR: So angry she quit her job, began volunteering for an air- quality coalition in Fresno, rallying neighbors like Aurelia who just lost a 51-year-old husband to cancer and as two sons struggle to breathe. And doctors like Alex Sherriffs who can see and hear the toll of pollution in the lungs of his patients.

ALEX SHERRIFFS, DOCTOR: If you live with the air quality we have today, you're probably shortening your life expectancy six months, and I don't -- I don't think that's acceptable. I don't think it's anything we need to accept. WEIR: But as bad as it is, it could be so much worse. If America was

still burn and shirring like the 1970s, Bakersfield would look like industrial India. And the one thing that kept this country from going down that road is something called the Clean Air Act.

Signed by President Nixon in 1970, it empowered the brand-new EPA to crack down on the biggest polluters. But President Trump's EPA just rolled back rules on car emissions and coal plants and told a review panel of 20 air quality scientists that their services are no longer needed.

SHERRIFFS: If you lived your entire life in the valley in the late 1970s, early 80s with the air quality level we had then, you probably were shorting in your life expectancy by two years. We owe so much to the Clean Air Act and we need to protect the Clean Air Act and be sure it's strengthened not weakened.

TRUMP: I want clean air and beautiful crystal clean water, right. We want that.

WEIR: He may want it, but in an age of relentless drilling, farming, driving, and burning, it is clear the skies don't clean themselves. Bill Weir CNN in Central California.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

TAPPER: And our thanks to Bill Weir. We're going to continue to follow that breaking news of that school shooting outside Denver, Colorado. Our coverage continues right now on CNN.