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U.S. Files New Charges Against WikiLeaks Founder Assange; Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue is Interviewed About the $16 Billion Taxpayer Bailout for Farmers. Aired 4:30-5p ET

Aired May 23, 2019 - 16:30   ET


JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Breaking news in our world lead.

[16:30:01] The Justice Department announcing more charges against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.

Let's get right to CNN's Laura Jarrett at the Justice Department.

Laura, what are the details of this indictment?

LAURA JARRETT, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jake, this is a pretty aggressive new move by the Justice Department, essentially tacking on 17 new charges against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. We had seen a single charge of computer intrusion late last month. But now, 17 new charges, much more significant, and really a big deal here for First Amendment advocates and concern here because he's being charged with lawful obtaining, soliciting and encouraging that former intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning with obtaining just a bevy of national defense materials. And he's been charge publishing those materials.

And so, the Justice Department asked today, well, what's the difference between Julian Assange and journalists like you and I? And they said, let's be clear, Julian Assange is no journalist. Another Justice official said, he is not being charged simply because he's publisher.

And what they're pointing to is not only the fact that Assange allegedly helped Manning crack into department of Defense password, but also the fact that he published confidential human sources, the names of human sources, which put them in danger and he knew that publishing would put them in danger. He solicited those materials on WikiLeaks and that's what they're pointing to, which makes this case different, Jake.

TAPPER: And, Laura, what does this mean for Assange and has WikiLeaks responded?

JARRETT: They have. They have said: This is madness. It's the end of national security journalism and the First Amendment.

So, obviously, a pretty aggressive response from WikiLeaks there.

But, you know, this is something that the prior administration really struggled with, under the same set of facts, under the prior Justice Department, Eric Holder declined to prosecute Julian Assange under the espionage -- for this just idea, because the idea is what will separate this from the "New York Times" publishing classified information.

And I should also point out, you might wonder why we're seeing this today. The Justice Department actually had 60 days from when he was arrested last month. And so, there was a sort of window from when they tack on these new charges. No telling whether they're going to tack on any additional charges, though, at this point, Jake.

TAPPER: All right. Laura Jarrett, thank you so much.

Moments ago, President Trump unveiling a bailout for farmers, which means you'll be paying for the trade war with China twice. How is the White House defining this? Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue will join me.

Stay with us.


[16:36:57] TAPPER: Our money lead now.

President Trump just moments ago touted a $16 billion taxpayer-funded bailout for farmers hurt by the escalating trade war with China and specifically Chinese tariffs against American agricultural products. President Trump claims that Beijing will foot the bill for the bailout through the tariffs imposed on Chinese goods.

But that is simply not accurate. Tariffs don't get paid into the U.S. Treasury. American consumers are the ones baring the brunt of increased prices on the Chinese imports to the U.S. So, Americans in some ways are being hit twice as hard.

Joining me now to talk about this and more is our Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue.

Mr. Secretary, thanks so much for joining us. I appreciate it.

Take a listen to what President Trump said about this bailout.



DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It all comes from China. We'll be taking in over a period of time hundreds of billions of dollars in tariffs and charges to China. And our farmers will be greatly helped.


TAPPER: So, I know you know this. But the Treasury Department doesn't take in the tariffs. So, it doesn't -- you can't just reroute it to the farmers. To be clear, this is going to be paid for, $16 billion by the American taxpayer, correct? PERDUE: No, I don't agree with your premise, Jake. The Treasury does

take in the tariffs. The tariff money charged to these imports will go to the Treasury and while it doesn't go directly, at the end, it goes back through the Commodity Credit Corporation back to the farmers.

TAPPER: But take a listen to Republican Senator Mitt Romney who supports this trade war, supports the tariffs imposed by the Trump administration talking about this.



SEN. MITT ROMNEY (R-UT): The cost of tariffs is born by the American public. I mean, we're the ones that pay the tariffs. The Chinese don't write checks to the American treasury. Instead, as we buy products, we are paying for the cost of the tariff. That's real.


TAPPER: Isn't Mitt Romney correct?

PERDUE: No, I don't agree with Mitt Romney. I think, again, if you look at the inflation rates since the earlier tariffs, you'll see the inflation rate has gone down. If consumers are paying more, why wouldn't they go up?

TAPPER: The president said today he's never heard a farmer express frustration about these policies. We have. Take a listen to an American farmer who's been hurt in this trade war with China and preparing to lose a significant chunk of his income.


LARRY ANGLER, FARMER: Between me and my daughter together probably $150,000.

REPORTER: Did you vote for Trump?

ANGLER: I did. I'll never vote for him again.


TAPPER: So, I know you know this, because that's the reason for the $16 billion in bailout money. But there are real farmers out there who are hurting from these tariffs.

PERDUE: Look, there is legitimate anxiety about prices which have gone down long before President Trump came into office. This is a long term slide. Obviously, the tariffs have compounded that.

But the fact is President Trump's tariffs and the retaliatory tariffs in China is not the only reason there's economic stress in the community. TAPPER: Right. But there are a lot of farmers who are very upset and

very worried about what's going on, especially people who are growing the goods that are being hit specifically by Chinese retaliatory tariffs.

[16:40:01] PERDUE: And that's why President Trump has committed these $16 billion to get them through this time until we can get normal, fair, reciprocal trade agreements with China.

TAPPER: Treasury Secretary Mnuchin acknowledged the trade talks with China are not moving in the right direction. What is your message to the farmers and others suffering from the trade war if a deal doesn't happen between President Trump and President Xi in the next few weeks?

PERDUE: Well, again, plan for the market, plan for what the prices you see and the crops that you usually grow. Don't plan for government programs and hopefully we can continue talks at some point. President Xi and Trump will probably visit during the G-20. I'm hoping at some point, we're all hoping that we can get a trade deal. Farmers are rather have trade than aid.

TAPPER: How confident are you that a deal will happen in the next few weeks?

PERDUE: I wouldn't say the next few weeks. I won't put a timetable on it. I believe we'll get a fair, reciprocal trade deal with China in the future.

TAPPER: I want to ask you about this "New York Daily News" report on the Batista brothers from Brazil.


TAPPER: They run the massive JBS S.A. meat packing company. It's under investigation, received more than $60 million in U.S. taxpayer funds, the bailout funds from previous bailouts to help struggling farmers.

Shouldn't these bailout funds only go to American farmers and companies?

PERDUE: They're going to American farmers, Jake. JBS bought all of that pork. They sold pork to the United States so we could distribute it through food banks. Every bit of it, every pound of that pork came from American producers. There was no other foreign protein in there whatsoever.

TAPPER: But the bailout money didn't go to the Batista brothers? Didn't go to the company? It just went to the farmers?

PERDUE: We bought the American pork grown by American producers that was processed by JBS. They're an American company operating here. Farmers sell to them every day.

TAPPER: Can you guarantee that this new bailout money, this $16 billion that that money will only go to Americans? PERDUE: I can guarantee you that every dollar will go to products

that are contributed and grown by American farmers, ranchers and livestock growers.

TAPPER: All right. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, good to see you. Thank you so much for coming and asking -- answering our questions. We appreciate it.

PERDUE: Thank you, Jake. Thank you.

TAPPER: He said President Trump humiliated America in front of the world. So, what does the commander of special ops who oversaw the Osama bin Laden raid have to say about the prospect of a possible four more years of a Trump presidency? I'll talk to the Admiral William McRaven, next.


[16:45:00] JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: We have some breaking news in the "WORLD LEAD." President Trump just moments ago responding to questions about possibly sending more service members to the Middle East to deter what his administration has called increased threats from Iran.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, what if we need them? I don't think we're going to need them. I really don't. But I have a meeting on it in about an hour. I would certainly send troops if we need them. Iran has been a very dangerous player, very bad player. They're a nation of terror and we won't put up with it.


TAPPER: Earlier today, Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan confirmed there are discussions happening at the Pentagon for a possible buildup of service members in the region. And Shanahan will be briefing the President as you heard there in the next hour.

I want to bring in retired four-star Admiral William McRaven. He's the former commander of special ops who oversaw the 2011 raid that killed Osama bin Laden, and he's out with a brand new book called Sea Stories: My Life in Special Operations with stories ranging from his childhood through the OBL raid and lots in between. Admiral McRaven, it's an honor to have you here. Thank you so much.


TAPPER: And it's a really great book. It's a really good read, I want to get to in one second. I do want to ask you as long as I had to hear about some of these things. Iran, General Mattis just gave his first public comments about Iran since leaving the Pentagon and he said the United States should buy time to keep peace and stability and allow diplomats to work diplomacy on how to keep peace for one more hour, one more day, one more week, a month, or a year. He added, Iran's behavior must change but the military must work to

buy time for diplomats to work their magic. He seems to be cautioning anybody who might be to -- with an itchy trigger finger against the military action against Iran. What do you think?

MCRAVEN: Yes. One -- I would never disagree with Jim Mattis, one of the finest officers I ever worked with and I thought he did a magnificent job as the Secretary of Defense and I think he's spot-on. I mean, the fact matter is we have been confronting Iran for decades. We know how to do that.

If there is a threat against U.S. troops in Iraq or if there's a threat against U.S. troops in Bahrain or (INAUDIBLE) or wherever they might be, we know how to deal with that, we know how to increase the force posture. You know the ships coming through the Straits of Hormuz and I have been through the Straits of Hormuz many times, the Navy knows how to deal with those threats.

So I think the biggest concern and I think Secretary Shanahan said it the other day is miscalculation. We just want to make sure that they don't miscalculate and we don't miscalculate.

TAPPER: The New York Times was first to report that President Trump is considering right now pardoning several service members who have been accused or even convicted of war crimes, killing innocent civilians in various parts of the world. He's expressed sympathy for a Navy SEAL Eddie Gallagher for alleged civilian deaths he's caused.

You said the president should be careful when commenting. Do you think the president has already said and done too much when it comes to this and what's your position on pardoning people convicted of war crimes?

MCRAVEN: Yes, I think there's two things here. First, I am concerned about the president signaling how he thinks an investigation or a trial ought to go and how -- what the outcome of that ought to be. That's considered undue influence.

And in the military, were very, very sensitive that. It's really against the Uniform Code of Military Justice for a commander, a senior commander to imply or to telegraph to a junior commander who has responsibility over an investigation that he thinks it ought to come out a certain way.

So the president has to be careful about implying that he's going to pardon somebody before the trial has even occurred. So that's part one. I think part two of this is I understand that General Martin Dempsey, the former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs talked about you know, if somebody, in fact, is convicted of a war crime, I agree with General Dempsey and that that is not something you want to part.

We are a nation of laws and one of the laws of the military always follows is the law of armed conflict. So if someone has been found guilty of violating the law of armed conflict and committing a war crime, I think it is a very, very slippery slope if we start pardoning individuals like that. [16:50:31] TAPPER: All right, let's talk about your book. The first

anecdote is about -- is from your childhood.


TAPPER: And it's about a time that you lied to your father. Why do you still remember that and why was that important to you to include in the book?

MCRAVEN: Because I think it was the way my father handled it is the reason why almost 60 years later I still remember it. I had -- me and a couple of kids had tried to break into an ammunition depo because we thought it would be a cool mission. We were ten years old.

TAPPER: How old are you?

MCRAVEN: About ten years old.


MCRAVEN: It didn't go so well. The cops chased us. I lost my Roy Rogers pearl-handled pistol, little cap pistol. I got back to the house. Everything is kind of calmed down. I thought everything was done. A couple of days later my father called me in and said, Bill, some kids tried to break into the ammunition depot. Do you know anything about that?

And as I say in the book, that's the first and I think the last time I ever lied to my father. I said no, sir, I don't. He didn't say anything. He said OK. Well, I went to bed that night you know, took my shower, went to bed. And as I got in my bed I looked on my nightstand and there was my Roy Rogers pearl-handled pistol.

My father had known that I had lied. He never in the course of the many decades that he lived after that never raised it again and I think part of it was this was his parenting technique. I know you, should always know that I know when you telling the truth or when you're lying.

TAPPER: There's another moment that I think a lot of people aren't aware of which is you were briefed on Richard Reid, the shoe bomber. And you made a comment thinking that would only last for a couple of weeks. What was it?

MCRAVEN: So you know, when Richard Reid -- when we found out he had a shoe bomb, I talked to the FAA demolition expert there and he had confirmed yes, this was a legitimate shoe bomb. So I called my boss, General Wayne Downing who was the Director of the Office of Combatant Terrorism who was up on Air Force One.

And I said, General Downing, I think we need to start you know, checking everybody coming through, checking anybody's shoes because we didn't know that Richard Reid was a one-off. I mean, we thought this could be a you know, an effort on the part of al-Qaeda to have a lot of Richard Reids. So I passed that information on to General Downing, maybe we ought to have people have their shoes checked as well as laptop computers. Now I have no doubt that the President of the United States or the Secretary of Homeland Security made the final decision but I might have got the ball rolling there. And for that, to those that are walking around shoeless in the airport, I apologize.

TAPPER: But you thought it was only going to last for a few weeks?

MCRAVEN: I only thought it was going to be a couple of weeks or a month or so.

TAPPER: Well, it's a great book. Sea Stories: My Life in Special Operations. Congratulations. Good to see you. Thanks so much for being here.

MCRAVEN: My pleasure. Thanks.

TAPPER: A CNN exclusive, a large group of teenage migrants processed by Border Patrol while their fate has decided 2,000 miles away. That stories next.


[16:55:00] TAPPER: The "NATIONAL LEAD," tough questions for the Acting Homeland Security Secretary today after word of the sixth migrant child to die in U.S. custody since President Trump took office. This latest happened back in September yet is only publicly being reported now.

And today, a Department of Homeland Security official confirmed no migrant children died in DHS custody in the previous decade. The Acting Commissioner of Customs and Border Protection avoided questions today as he toured detention holdings in McAllen, Texas. CNN's Nick Valencia is also there and has more from the border.


NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Exclusive new video shows Customs and Border Protection Acting Commissioner John Sanders in the back of this black SUV as he arrived at the border today. He shied away from CNN's cameras and declined an interview as he and his team were given a tour.

Sanders was on scene as this large group of migrants was processed by Border Patrol, many of them teenage boys, likely unaware that mere hours beforehand in Washington, the Acting Homeland Security Secretary told Congress there's no more room for them.

KEVIN MCALEENAN, ACTING HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY, UNITED STATES: HHS does not have enough funding for bed space for teenage males and that's the main arriving unaccompanied child right now.

VALENCIA: Sanders visit comes as the deaths of both a 16-year-old boy and a ten-year-old girl in U.S. custody make headlines this week. The teen was found unresponsive Monday morning at a Texas Border Patrol station just one week after arriving from Guatemala.

MCALEENAN: He was both screened and offered medical care and we're going to look forward to the findings of the Inspector General to see if we could do better.

VALENCIA: The ten-year-old girl passed away in September according to the Department of Health and Human Services. But her death was not made public until after CBS News reported it Wednesday night.

A department spokesperson says she had a history of congenital heart defects when she arrived in San Antonio last March. She was then transferred to a nursing facility in Phoenix and then again to a Children's Hospital in Omaha where she died on September 29th.

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): In the ten years before this, not a single child died in custody of the Border Patrol in the border. Now, six children have died in the last several months.

VALENCIA: This woman from Honduras told us migrants are not only battling the elements on the journey but also illness noting sickness spreads quickly in large groups.


VALENCIA: After a flu scare this week, officials temporarily halted intake of minor -- of migrants at this facility behind me. But there are still some health concerns. Even though it's reopened earlier, we saw a staff member leave the facility wearing a protective surgical mask, Jake.