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THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER

Sanders Swings Through the South as Poll Numbers Slide; Warren Calls For Congress to Protect Abortion Rights; CNN Special: The Trump Family Business, Tonight @ 9 PM; Soldiers Used Rape To Silence Women, It Didn't Work. Aired 4:30-5p ET

Aired May 17, 2019 - 16:30   ET

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


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[16:34:04] JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: And we're back with more in our 2020 lead. Senator Bernie Sanders swinging through the South, hoping to shore up support as he finds himself in unfamiliar territory, slipping in the polls.

And as CNN's Ryan Nobles now reports, Bernie Sanders is now rolling out some new policies to show he's not going anywhere.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

RYAN NOBLES, CNN WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Bernie Sanders is hitting the road.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Thank you, North Carolina!

NOBLES: Embarking on a four-state southern swing at a time where his campaign is dealing with something new -- a drop in the polls.

Two new polls show Sanders losing ground on the front-runner, Joe Biden. In a new Fox News poll, Sanders dropping six points from the same survey in March, a CNN poll at the end of April shows a drop of four points.

Still, Sanders remains locked in a solid second place and aides say the senator is not worried. Instead, they say he's playing a long, steady game. His trip to the Deep South is evidence of that.

On Saturday, Sanders will roll out a comprehensive education policy, calling for an end to for-profit charter schools and a full moratorium on the funding of all charter school expansion until a massive audit can take place.

[16:35:11] He'll be the first 2020 candidate to take that step.

The policy rollout comes on the 65th anniversary of the Brown versus Board of Education Supreme Court decision and with a specific message about the impact charter schools have head on the black community.

SANDERS: Let us be clear. When we fight for justice, that means ending institutional racism in every aspect of our lives. NOBLES: As Sanders tours the south, Iowa is busy. Montana Governor

Steve Bullock, South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg and New York Mayor Bill de Blasio are all there. It's the first stop for de Blasio as the big city mayor attempts to convince rural voters that he understands their needs.

MAYOR BILL DE BLASIO (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It's all about working people and it doesn't matter if you're in Gary, Iowa, or you're in New York City. You know, it just doesn't matter.

NOBLES: And all of the campaigning comes as the Democratic field continues to respond to the moves to restrict abortion access across several states. Senator Elizabeth Warren today calling for new federal laws to protect the practice.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

NOBLES: And Sanders' trip through the South will be in four states that are very crucial in this upcoming election. Of course, South Carolina, an early vote primary state. But North Carolina and Alabama will vote on Super Tuesday. And all four of these states, when you include Georgia, are states that voted for Donald Trump in 2016 -- Jake.

TAPPER: All right, Ryan, thank you so much.

Let's talk about this with the experts.

Laura, let me start with you. Senator Sanders slipped in the last CNN poll, also. Take a look at the candidate's momentum in this new poll from Fox News. Sanders has lost more support than any other candidate. He's down six percentage points. Pete Buttigieg, Elizabeth Warren, Joe Biden on the rise.

What do you think he needs to do to stop the slide?

LAURA BARRON-LOPEZ, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, POLITICO: Well, I think that there's big differences, right, from 2016 versus now, one being that Elizabeth Warren is in the race. They're really similar when it comes to their policies and she's also outpaced him when it comes to releasing very specific policy, progressive policy proposals detailing how she's going to pay for everything. She just came out with an abortion one today.

So I think that we're seeing him trying to play catch-up with her and realizing that it isn't as easy as it was in 2016 to just paint himself as the sole progressive running against the establishment candidate.

TAPPER: Yes. And Sanders criticized Biden from almost the moment Biden entered the race. Now we're seeing other candidates following his lead, taking on Biden's policy positions. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SANDERS: No. I don't think that Joe is the most progressive candidate in this race.

TAPPER: Would you have voted for NAFTA?

SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D-CA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I would not have voted for NAFTA.

GOV. JAY INSLEE (D-WA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We cannot have a middle ground proposal to build a clean energy future.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: Biden's now going to start rolling out some policies, but that might actually expose him to even more criticism.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: But that's the question here, because the Trump campaign actually wants this messaging to be out there. They want people like Bernie Sanders or people who have not just center left but far-left proposals to be the ones, so then when it actually gets to the Democratic candidate versus the Republican candidate, then that person will look better and they can point back to what they've said throughout this entire process.

That's why they're worried about people like Joe Biden, because that's someone who they think could win over people who voted for Trump in 2016. They don't think that people who voted for Hillary are necessarily going to be switching their votes.

TAPPER: Kirsten, today, Senator Warren rolled out new proposals calling for federal protections for abortion rights. She wants Congress to guarantee abortion rights, expand access to reproductive care.

Do you think all of these laws, and I think Missouri became the eighth or ninth state to pass a new ban on most abortions in the state, do you think all of these laws are actually motivating Democratic voters?

KIRSTEN POWERS, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, I think they're as activated as they could possibly be. Because -- and I think even in the pro-life community, you see people saying that these are two -- these laws are too extreme. You had Pat Robertson saying this law is too extreme. So, you can imagine --

TAPPER: Because there's no -- in the Alabama law, because there's no exceptions for rape and incest.

POWERS: Yes, but I also think it's what the pro-choice community has been warning is coming down the pike and everybody has been saying they were crazy. So this is actually, you know, something that I think is going to be an extremely important issue in this -- in the race.

And look, Republicans wanted abortion to be an issue in this race. They were already, you know, spending a lot of time talking about the New York abortion law. And so this is something that they want.

I think it's going to be something that they may end up to regret. Yes, it will activate their voters, but I think the way it's going to really activate Democratic voters is going to not work for them.

TAPPER: You had even the chairwoman of the Republican National Committee, Ronna McDaniel say that she would have supported an Alabama law that had exemptions for rape and incest, which the Alabama law does not.

Are you concerned as a Republican who wants Republican turnout and doesn't want Democratic turnout that these laws, because they are extreme, bold, whatever you want to look for, they might actually motivate Democrats more?

[16:40:07] SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: For as long as I've been in Republican politics, the mainstream Republican position has been to be pro-life and with exceptions. That's been the standard position and I think that's where most Republican candidates are going to come down regardless of where these individual state laws come down.

I see the extremist rhetoric and the extremist policies, though, hurting Democrats as much as Republicans, when you consider the 40- week abortion laws, Northam's comments and a party that seems to have been hijacked by these extreme abortion activists. And so for as much as Democrats are crowing about what Republicans are doing, I think Republican voters, evangelical Christians are going to be as motivated as ever because they feel like they have been relegated to the sidelines and they finally feel like this is our moment where the pro- life moment can speak and they have a president who is allowing them to do that.

POWERS: I have to say -- my thing just fell. But I don't think anybody's really crowing. I actually think people are pretty alarmed about what's going on. So I think that it's not just a political issue. I think that people are really concerned about these laws and the harm that they could cause. I do think the Democrats have a problem in the sense that the Republicans have muddied the waters about these abortion laws, like in New York, and are really presented them as something that they're just not. You know, they're presenting them as --

TAPPER: Well, they're calling them infanticide.

POWERS: Right, that it's an abortion free-for-all when in fact it's actually just leaving exemptions for health, life of the mother, and fetal non-viability.

And so, this is what Democrats are having to wage this battle against really a misinformation campaign.

TAPPER: And we haven't heard the White House embrace the law one way or the other.

COLLINS: No, and we -- that's because the president has kind of kept his distance from reporters in recent days, as far as questions. I was traveling with him to New York yesterday. He did not speak to reporters on the way out or when he was boarding Air Force One two times when he typically does take questions, because that is the thing. What does the president have to say about this? Someone at time who was a Democrat, what does he have to say about it?

I do think judging by the conversations that we've heard from the White House, Ronna McDaniel saying this morning that she does think it should have -- it goes too far, and it should have those exceptions, it's a big part.

TAPPER: Yes, here you go.

BARRON-LOPEZ: I'll just say, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy also did he say he thought the Alabama law went too far. But that being said, there were a number of rank and file members this week who didn't know how to answer this question.

COLLINS: Yes.

TAPPER: All right. Everyone, stick around.

2020 presidential candidate, Montana Governor Steve Bullock will be my guest on "STATES OF THE UNION" on Sunday, along with Republican Senator Mitt Romney of Utah. That's Sunday morning at 9:00 a.m. and again at noon.

Just moments ago, the fight over President Trump's tax returns just taken up a notch. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[16:45:00] JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Breaking news now in our "MONEY LEAD" with the deadline for the Department of the Treasury to hand over six years of President Trump's tax returns literally just minutes away, Secretary of the Treasury Steve Mnuchin just defied the subpoena and told House Democrats you're not getting them.

And now the battle is likely headed to court. It's a fitting segue to plug a CNN special premiering tonight hosted by CNN's Erin Burnett on how the Trump family makes its money. Here's a sneak preview.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: It's estimated that Trump University brought in about $40 million and Trump got around $5 million.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was pretty good money for Trump. It was pretty good.

BURNETT: But eventually there were multiple lawsuits and it ended up a big money loser for Trump.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: So when they come to settle, I said I'm not going to settle.

BURNETT: After he won the election, he settled for $25 million.

BETH WOOD, VICTIM, TRUMP UNIVERSITY: We got back up around 35,000.

BURNETT: But that's just a quarter of what Beth Wood says she lost. 70,000 on seminars and webinars and another 80,000 on rental properties recommended by her Trump University mentor.

WOOD: I hold Donald J. Trump personally responsible for this scam.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: And CNN's Erin Burnett joins me now. Erin, thanks so much. Congrats on the special. Let me ask you. President Trump's annual financial disclosure was released last night. It showed his D.C. hotel brought in more than $40 million in revenue last year. Is there any evidence that he's giving to the Treasury all the funds from the foreign leaders staying at his -- at his hotels as he promised he would?

BURNETT: OK, so you know, I guess you've got to take him at his word, Jake. So literally as you say, $40 million, just over $40 million from that hotel alone. So the Trump Organization says look we have written a check. We have decided to write a check to the United States Treasury for all the Trump properties, so not just that hotel, any other property that there is a profit from a foreign government or anybody. They say for last year that number was $191,000.

TAPPER: That doesn't sound like what --

BURNETT: It doesn't but you would -- there would be no way to know because they don't who stayed there, they don't tell you how they define a foreign profit, they don't tell you any of the above. So the information that we have is extremely limited. But in that hotel alone, right, you had a lobbying group affiliated with Saudi Arabia paying $300,000 just to that hotel alone.

But again, the overall -- the overall check cut to the Treasury for all Trump properties, profits from foreign governments with only $191,000 last year.

TAPPER: The President famously vowed that he would put his business interest in a blind trust. It's pretty clear that didn't happen, I guess, right?

BURNETT: Right, no. It didn't. And in fact, his lawyers admit, Jake, and this is pretty amazing. They admit that he can take money from his trust at any time. So as President of the United States, he can take money from it at any time. And as you know, we just learned, he made what -- or I'm sorry, revenue $434 million. We don't know how much he made or how many debts he has or anything like that. But yes, in terms of that trust, the President of the United States can take money from it at any time even though we the American people do not necessarily know where that money comes from. Even the commercial rents that he may make from big buildings in New York City, you know what, we don't know everybody who's paying those rents. Bank of China, other foreign governments, we just don't know.

[16:50:16] TAPPER: And Erin, of all the potentially glaring conflicts of interest that the President has in other countries, what did you find in your investigation that surprised you the most?

BURNETT: So you know what, Jake, was really interesting was India. And you know, not everyone is aware that India is so important for the Trump Organization, but it is huge. In fact, it is the single biggest country outside the United States for the Trump Organization.

Donald Trump Jr. went there and you know, he's gone to promote literally these five buildings. They're all licensed properties. And you know what, Jake, if you paid $39,000 for a downpayment on an apartment there, you got a meeting with Donald Trump Jr.

Donald Trump Jr. who tweets on behalf of his father, appears at campaign events on behalf of his father, you could -- you could get that meeting. And by the way, if you got a mortgage, we know who you are buying those properties, but if you didn't and you paid cash, we have no idea who those people are funneling money right now into the Trump Organization.

TAPPER: Unbelievable. Congratulations on the special. I can't wait to see it. Do not miss the new documentary, "THE TRUMP FAMILY BUSINESS" hosted by Erin Burnett premieres tonight at 9:00 p.m. right here on CNN.

Coming up, a secret government plan, if you break the girls, you break the men. But wait until you see how that plan backfired. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[16:55:00] TAPPER: In our "WORLD LEAD" now, government forces trying to use rape to silence female protests and they still refuse to stand down. This was happening in the African nation of Sudan where women were leading the protests that eventually toppled that country's dictator. And as CNN's Nima Elbagir reports, this campaign to break the girls only made the girls resolved stronger.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

NIMA ELBAGIR, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: This is the moment Sudanese forces opened fire on protesters. You see the men but behind the camera is a woman. She's chanting bullets won't kill us, staying silent does. They begin to chase. Her camera cuts out as a soldier stands over her. The woman Nidal Ahmed was brutally beaten by government forces and she's not alone.

CNN has spoken to hundreds of women throughout the months of the uprising in Sudan. They say they were targeted by government forces for the worst violence because they were women. We put the question to former Sudanese intelligence officers. Our women intentionally being targeted.

They refused to be filmed but agreed to be quoted telling CNN they were commanded by their superiors (INAUDIBLE) break the girls, because if you break the girls, you break the men. But it didn't work. The next day Nidal Ahmed is back at the protest site limping but defiant.

NIDAL AHMED, ACTIVIST (TEXT): I fell and six or seven men in uniform stand to beat me. When I stood up, they hit me on my backside and said run. This happened to all the women. ELBAGIR: Wifaq Quraishi knows firsthand what that means.

WIFAQ QURAISHI, ACTIVIST (TEXT): I was subjected to many detentions and each was different. Sometimes they force you to strip and take nude photos and sometimes they threaten you with rape.

ELBAGIR: And yet still like others persevered.

QURAISHI (TEXT): We are oppressed at home, oppressed on the street, at universities, at work, on public transport. All of these things motivated the girls to take to the street.

ELBAGIR: In a conservative society, taking to the streets was brave enough. Publicly speaking out about the price Wifaq and others say they were forced to pay, braver still. Women's rights activist Nahed Jabrallah says women were targeted because they were so integral to the uprising, telling us, 60 to 70 percent of the protesters were female.

NAHED JABRALLAH, WOMEN'S RIGHTS ACTIVIST (TEXT): Even the slogans were centered around women. Rise up, this revolution is a woman.

ELBAGIR: Rape was being used systemically as a weapon of oppression?

JABRALLAH (TEXT): These sexual assaults accomplished two things. The oppression of the victims and it is used to terrify others.

ELBAGIR: Whatever they did, whatever they tried to do, it didn't work.

AHMED (TEXT): I'm staying out on the streets so that tomorrow can be better for all of us. For us, those before us, and for the next generation.

ELBAGIR: A new generation that's already making its voices heard.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ELBAGIR: And Jake, that campaign of violence still persist, but so do those extraordinary young women. They are still out on the streets of Khartoum demonstrating for freedom. Jake?

TAPPER: Amazing that shot of that young girl at the end. Nima Elbagir, thank you so much. I appreciate it. You can follow me on Facebook and Twitter @JAKETAPPER, you can tweet the show @THELEADCNN. I will see you Sunday morning on "STATE OF THE UNION." Our coverage on CNN continues right now. Thanks for watching.

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