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THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER
Trump Attacks Late Senator McCain Amid Ship Controversy; Protests, Challenges Mount As States Pass New Abortion Bans. Aired 4:30-5p ET
Aired May 30, 2019 - 16:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
MICHAEL WARREN, CNN POLITICAL REPORTER: That would be something interesting, particularly because Shanahan is sort of on shaky ground even in this Republican-controlled Senate.
[16:30:06] A lot of the Republicans on that committee not entirely thrilled with his pick.
KAREN FINNEY, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: It's hard, right?
JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: John McCain died in august.
TAPPER: Here we are today, we had a clip in that piece, today, Donald Trump talking about how he didn't like John McCain. He wasn't a fan of John McCain. While that was running you were going, why? Why?
FINNEY: Because that's -- he's dead. I mean, my God, have some respect. And also that clip of Meghan McCain, having grieved my own father for the last three years, I can't imagine the pain that it must cause her every single time, and I can't imagine (AUDIO GAP).
And, yes, there's no -- as much as he's telling us to move on from the Mueller report, you want to say, why don't you move on. I can't imagine having worked for presidents and senators and all kinds of people having to work for someone who is so thin-skinned you would dare to try to ask the military to move a ship? I mean, it's insane. And as you pointed out, he took another jab at him when he really didn't even need to.
TAPPER: He took another jab at him. This one subtle, when he put out a tweet mourning the loss -- the death of Senator Thad Cochran who died earlier today. He tweeted: Very sad to hear the news on the passing of my friend, Senator Thad Cochran. He was a real senator with incredible values. Even flew back to Senate from Mississippi for important health care vote when he was desperately ill. Thad never let my country or me down.
Unmistakable that he's suggesting there that Senator John McCain did let the country and him down with a different vote on health care.
Why do you think McCain bothers him so much? Do you agree with Meghan McCain's assessment that it's because he knows he can never be like John McCain?
BILL KRISTOL, DIRECTOR, DEFENDEING DEMOCRACY TOGETHER: Yes. Could never have the respect John McCain had. The narcissism is extraordinary about the tweet about Thad Cochran. He never let the country or, parenths, or me, close parenths.
KRISTOL: What does he have to do? What does Trump had to do? Thad Cochran was a senator for what? Thirty-five years or something like that. Trump was president for the last two years of Cochran's being a senator. It has nothing to do with Trump. He can't just have a nice tweet saying thank you for your service and after he dies and he has to bring himself into it.
But it does turn out that Trump is very easily triggered. He's more easily triggered than some undergraduate at Overland (ph) or something -- no offense to the huge number of CNN viewers went to Overland.
TAPPER: The move of his staffers to move the ship or whatever they wanted to do to hide the ship is part of a larger pattern. "The New York Times" reported that Mick Mulvaney, acting chief of staff told them not to discuss the Russia probe in front of the president to avoid working them up. "Politico" detailed how aides try to make sure Trump only has access to positive newspaper articles.
I mean, they really try to shield him. I mean, the presidency is a bubble no matter what. And you are surrounded by sycophants no matter what.
But this seems to be taking to a new level.
NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: Yes. I mean, the president has a fragile ego. I mean, he's deeply insecure. In terms of the John McCain thing, it does seem he's jealous of this man's accomplishment, his service to the country, his sacrifice.
The idea he could have escaped being a POW for so long if he was able to trade on his family name. He was able to do that. He declined to do that.
You obviously saw the president trade on his wealth and maybe family name in getting out of going to Vietnam. So, yes, but it is striking that there is sort of this bubble around the president, staffers who were paid by taxpayers whose job is to protect the president and kind of insulate him and protect the fragility of his ego. This was a really stunning story that I think a disturbing window into the president's psyche and just how insecure he is.
TAPPER: And that clip of him saying I prefer people who weren't captured, which is smearing not just senator McCain but all prisoners of war. That was 2015. That's four years later. It remains stunningly obscene that he said that.
HENDERSON: He said that in 1999 about John McCain in an interview with Dan Rather. So, this goes back awhile.
TAPPER: All right. Coming up, how one state is trying to use government regulations to shut down its only remaining legal abortion clinic.
Stay with us.
[16:38:45] TAPPER: In our national lead, Louisiana is the latest red state to pass a ban on almost all abortions. Last night, the state house in Baton Rouge sent to the governor a bill banning abortions as early as six weeks into a pregnancy, before many women would even know they're pregnant. Louisiana joining other conservative states such as Georgia which is now facing a blowback from two of the biggest production companies, Disney and Netflix, which are considering pulling their business if the state's abortion ban takes effect.
While in Missouri, a court battle is under way to keep the last legal and functioning abortion clinic in the state from closing tomorrow.
CNN's Alexandra Field reports now from St. Louis where abortion rights supporters are accusing the state government of weaponizing regulations to take away a right that the Supreme Court ruled on in 1973.
ALEXANDRA FIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Abortion rights protesters on the streets of Missouri as the state prepares to possibly lose its last remaining abortion clinic. The drama playing out today in court after Planned Parenthood filed a lawsuit against the state claiming Missouri has placed numerous medically irrelevant restrictions on abortion that have severely limited access and reduced the number of health centers.
Planned Parenthood's St. Louis clinic, the state's only abortion clinic, is asking a judge to allow it to keep performing abortions.
[16:40:06] Its license expires tomorrow.
DR. DAVID EISENBERG, DIRECTOR OF ST. LOUIS PLANNED PARENTHOOD: The state has effectively weaponized the regulatory system within the state to regulate abortion out of existence.
FIELD: The state says it hasn't renewed the license because of an investigation into some of the clinic's medical records.
GOV. MIKE PARSON (R-MO): Planned Parenthood has until Friday to comply with state law in order to receive its renewal license. No one is receiving special treatment.
FIELD: This court battle comes a week after Governor Mike Parsons signed a new law ban abortions after eight weeks without exception for rape or incest.
PARSON: We have the opportunity to be one of the strongest pro-life states in the country.
FIELD: Missouri following in the footsteps of several states that have recently passed some kind of abortion ban. The latest, Louisiana, which just last night passed a law stricter than Missouri's. And the state's Democratic governor plans to sign it.
GOV. JOHN BEL EDWARDS (D), LOUISIANA: We will continue to fight for the next generation of Louisianans.
FIELD: Jake, none of those new laws has gone into effect yet. They're all likely to face legal challenges. As for the court battle unfolding right here in Missouri, well, Planned Parenthood says they are expecting a decision from the judge by some time tomorrow before the license to operate that clinic expires at the end of the day.
No matter what happens, though, Jake, Planned Parenthood will continue to provide all of the other services that the women who go there have come to count on.
TAPPER: Alexandra Field in St. Louis, Missouri, thank you so much.
In our 2020 lead, Elizabeth Warren's six-word mantra that may now be paying off with voters.
Stay with us.
[16:45:00] JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: In our "2020 LEAD" today. Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren has released far more policy proposals than any of her opponents. She will be visiting her 20th state on the campaign trail next week and today she's making a barrage of media appearances pushing her new childcare cost calculator. CNN's Jeff Zeleny now looks at the question about whether Warren strategy is paying off.
JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Elizabeth Warren is getting results by grinding it out. More often than not these days she's driving the conversation in the Democratic presidential race.
SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If he were anyone other than President of the United States, he would be in handcuffs.
ZELENY: She's been out front on impeachment.
WARREN: It's not politics. There are some issues that are bigger than political convenience and this is one of them. You know, my view is make everybody vote.
ZELENY: And a host of policy ideas like a new childcare cost calculator. WARREN: Put in how many kids you have or even how you're planning to have and you can see how much money you will save under this plan.
ZELENY: The Massachusetts senator stock is rising from single digits in March to double digits now in some national polls. And she's been one of the few rivals willing to take on frontrunner Joe Biden even reigniting an old feud with the former vice president over bankruptcy laws.
WARREN: I got in that fight because they just didn't have any. And Joe Biden is on side of credit-card companies.
ZELENY: Since her formal announcement in February where she took the stage to Dolly Parton's working-class anthem 9:00 to 5:00, Warren has been working far longer than that, and she's putting on the miles already visiting 18 states and Puerto Rico. Her campaign stops are often policy addresses from the opioid scourge in West Virginia in Ohio to protecting public lands in Colorado and Utah.
She's headed to Indiana and Michigan next week to deliver an economic message which will put 20 states on Warren's map.
WARREN: I've got a plan for that.
ZELENY: Those six words have become a soundtrack of her candidacy. From proposing to break up big technology companies to forgiving most student loan debt. The campaign trail has become Warren's classroom explaining ideas like the professor she once was, promising to pay for all of these plans with a wealth tax.
WARREN: Do we think that the two cents should stay with the top one- tenth of one percent? They can't pitch in two cents on the 50 million and first dollar?
ZELENY: Now, Warren's advisers have been tight-lipped about one of the biggest questions looming over her campaign. Can she raise enough money to sustain the expensive operation she's building in Iowa and other early voting states?
Now, Jake, Democrats we talked to say she is encroaching on Bernie Sanders in terms of supporters. Now her challenge is doing the same in fundraising. Jake?
TAPPER: All right, Jeff Zeleny, thanks so much. So let's take a look at the some of the policies Warren has proposed, student debt relief, free public higher education, breaking up big tech companies, universal health care. She's proposed this ultra-millionaire tax.
We are beginning to see an optic, a degree in the polls for her. Is it going to be enough and why haven't we seen -- she was I mean, unequivocally one of the biggest names running and she's really had a struggle but she's raising a little bit but rising a little bit but what's going on with her? KAREN FINNEY, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: You know what I think people like is she's actually talking about things that affect them instead of you know, we spent how much time talking about the President talking about himself. And I think people actually like to hear ideas about how their lives could be better. And then this idea -- this like saying I got a plan for that, people like that right.
And I think though -- she said from the beginning in her announcement, she said every race she's never run she kind of starts from behind and kind of just is like slow and steady wins the race and perhaps that's part of what we're seeing I here again.
[16:50:11] TAPPER: I got to say, I can't wait to see Warren and Biden debating some of these issues that they've been feuding about for years if not decades in the Democratic debates. It should be interesting.
BILL KRISTOL, EDITOR AT LARGE, THE WEEKLY STANDARD: I think the bankruptcy issue was a real issue. Biden knows the issue well because there are all these credit card companies in Delaware and he was the senior senator and he made the case for what they wanted. They had to put it to simply probably on bankruptcy and Warren led the opposition from outside the Senate I guess first, then in the Senate. So that would be an interesting debate. You should arrange for them both to be on the same stage.
NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICS REPORTER: I know.
KRISTOL: You can do this behind the scenes.
TAPPER: So much but only on MSNBC's debate. Nia, I want to ask you about a column you wrote today about Bernie Sanders sinking in the polls and how his ride or die supporters are fading because Warren does seem to be taking some of his supporters.
Now you wrote -- you talk to some of those voters and you found "several people described their 2016 vote for Sanders is more of a protest ballot that they cast knowing the Clinton would likely be the nominee and they suggested in 2020 practicality would be much more of a factor." So is that why we see him going down.
HENDERSON: In some ways, yes. I think they are looking at practicality, they're looking at electability. Several of the folks I talked to a worried about what a Sanders in a general election would be. What would be the conversation he would need to have with voters in Rust Belt States about the socialism tag that you know that this President if he was to run against Bernie Sanders, it would be all about socialism.
So that was really interesting to hear, but it's also this idea that Bernie Sanders now has clones in the race, right. He has very much changed the conversation whether it comes to health care, whether it comes to student loan debt, so there are a lot of different choices now particularly somebody like Elizabeth Warren who has so many plans for so many different things. So they're shopping at this point. They're not dedicated to him in the way that they were before. TAPPER: And Michael, and there's somebody else going after Joe Biden.
Cory Booker taking a very indirect swing at Biden today in a Huffington Post article attacking Biden's 1994 crime bill. He said, I sincerely love Joe Biden. Good people signed onto that bill, people make mistakes, but let's hold them to that. That crime bill was shameful what it did to black and brown communities like mine. What do you make of that?
MICHAEL WARREN, CNN POLITICAL REPORTER: It shows that Biden does have a weakness. He does have pretty good numbers across the Democratic field, but there are these issues whether that's credit cards, whether it's the crime bill. Biden has been around for so long he's -- the issues have changed. As the Democratic Party's positions on those issues have changed, he's found himself on every side of a lot of those issues. That's a problem for him.
TAPPER: All right, great. Everyone stick around. How a newly discovered hard drive could impact a major U.S. Supreme Court case. That's next.
[16:55:00] TAPPER: We have some breaking news this afternoon. Surprising new evidence surfaced publicly today that could possibly prove that raw partisan politics are behind the Trump administration's plan to add a controversial new question to the census on citizenship. Critics charge of the new question asking respondents if they are U.S. citizens was designed to discourage Hispanic councils from answering and being counted.
It's a key question because it's how the makeup of congressional districts are decided and it ultimately could benefit Republicans. CNN's Ariane de Vogue joins me now with the new evidence. Ariane, what was found?
ARIANE DE VOGUE, CNN SUPREME COURT REPORTER: Well, it was a new trove of documents found on a hard drive that critics say show that this decision was politically motivated, right. It came from a man who they say played a significant role. His name is Thomas Hoffler. He's since died but in 2015 he wrote a study. And in that study, he said that citizenship data could be advantageous to Republicans and non- Hispanic whites.
And keep in mind, the administration has all along argued that this information was important to comply with the Voting Rights Act. They always have pushed back that it was politically motivated. But now critics say this could be the first concrete evidence of the true motivation.
Remember, Jake, every lower court ruled against the administration here, but the Supreme Court heard arguments in April and this could be one of the biggest cases of the term.
TAPPER: So we're only weeks away from the Supreme Court ruling on this. How might it impact the vote? VOGUE: Well, what's interesting during that hearing it looked like -- and you never can be sure -- but it looked like it was going to be 5- 4. And the Liberal justices went hard at the motivation, what was behind this decision. That's what they cared about particularly Justice Kagan, Justice Sotomayor.
But the Conservative justices they didn't care as much about the motivation here, they cared about Secretary Ross' discretion in this area. Justice Kavanaugh said, doesn't he have wide discretion? And Chief Justice John Roberts said, look, the Voting Rights Act this kind of information is necessary, isn't it?
So if those five Conservatives don't care so much about the motivation behind this and they're just focusing on Secretary Ross' discretion, they may not at the end of the day care about this. But it certainly causes a wrinkle in a case that's already been argued and probably will be decided by the end of June.
TAPPER: All right, Ariane de Vogue, fascinating. Thank you so much. I really appreciate it. You can follow me on Facebook and Twitter @JAKETAPPER, you can tweet the show @THELEADCNN. Our coverage on CNN continues right now. Thanks for watching.