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THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER

Biden's Support Slipping?; Trump Doubles Down on Mexico Tariff Threat. Aired 4:30-5p ET

Aired June 4, 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]

JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: Here's the big question, though, Laura.

If President Trump goes forward with these tariffs, do you think Republican senators will actually vote to block them?

LAURA BARRON-LOPEZ, POLITICO: It sounds like they will, based on what we have heard coming out of that meeting today.

They are not happy about this threat against Mexico. And it even sounds like this could be a more serious vote than what happened in March, which was the one where they rejected Trump's border -- emergency on the border.

TAPPER: Yes.

BARRON-LOPEZ: And so this time around, they're saying, we may actually have enough for a veto-proof majority. And that would set up a very different showdown with the president.

TAPPER: It's interesting, though, because today Senator Lindsey Graham told CNN -- quote -- "I support exactly what President Trump is doing."

But I'm old enough to remember Lindsey Graham in 2017. He wrote -- quote -- "Border security, yes, tariffs, no. Mexico is third-largest trading partner. Any tariff we can levee, they can levee. Huge barrier to economic growth. Simply put, any policy proposal which drives up costs of Corona, tequila or margaritas is a big-time bad idea. Mucho sad."

All right, beyond the content of that tweet, we have seen Republican senators just flip-flop on tariffs. And you're not a tariff guy.

SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: No, no.

And I think where Republicans are is, A, they do agree with the president that the immigration crisis at the border is real. B, they are nervous that tariffs could put the economic growth that we have had in jeopardy.

And as you go into a reelection campaign, what's the president's best argument? This hot economy. Growth.

TAPPER: Yes.

JENNINGS: And if that growth were to slow down or if, God forbid, we were to have a recession, then it gets much, much harder to reelect an incumbent president.

So I think Republican senators are nervous for the president's political future, for the country's economic future. And, by the way, there are also senators from states that have parochial interests back in their home states.

TAPPER: Sure, especially Texas, Arizona.

JENNINGS: And how about Kentucky, where you have a lot of auto manufacturing suppliers that would be impacted by things like this?

So there are just -- there are a lot of different issues here, but I don't think there's any break with the president on the core issue, which is, they want the Mexican government to respond to the president about helping him fix the crisis.

TAPPER: Sure. Everybody wants that.

But, Jeff, take a listen to President Trump in London today explaining his reasoning as to why he thinks Republicans would be foolish in his view to vote against him and the tariffs.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I have had tremendous Republican support. I have a 90 percent -- 94 percent approval rating as of this morning in the Republican Party. That's an all-time record. Can you believe that? Isn't that something? I love records.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: He's not wrong about broad support from Republicans. In CNN's newest poll, 86 percent of Republicans approve of the job he's doing, compared to 12 percent who disapprove.

Of course, this would affect more than just Republican voters and Republican senators are accountable to more than just Republican voters.

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: For sure. But why is Lindsey Graham -- what has happened in Lindsey Graham's world between then and now? He's up for reelection next year.

He needs the president's support. If he would break with him, which, of course, he has given every indication he will not do on a variety of issues now, the president could support someone challenging him. So we know that Senator Graham is not going to.

But other people who are not up for reelection, other farm state senators, other senators from other places, Chuck Grassley, for one, he does not believe that these ideas should be linked, the immigration and tariffs. But at the end of the day, I think we have seen enough here over the

last two-and-a-half years to know that most Senate Republicans are going to grumble privately among themselves, amongst themselves. We will see if they actually do anything about it. I'm a little skeptical that they will.

KAREN FINNEY, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: But I think it gives Democrats an opportunity. Think about it. There have been two studies now that suggest that these tariffs will actually increase taxes. That's the net effect on low- and middle-income people.

So that would give us the to opportunity to say, great, so Republicans voting to increase your taxes. In an election year, I don't think any Republican wants that. And it also -- as you pointed out, Scott, it would essentially, a number of reports have indicated it would wipe out the minimal, as the Congressional Research Service pointed out a few days ago, impact, benefits at the top that we have seen from the Trump tax cuts.

And you have got the Federal Reserve talking about the kinds of measures they would have to take to bolster the economy in the face of these kind of tariffs. That's not the kind of conversation that you want to be having about the economy in an election year.

TAPPER: As of right now, of course, just a threat. We will see what actually happens.

Coming up, Joe Biden's answer to progressive critics, a plan that some progressives say is just not progressive enough. That's next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[16:39:48]

TAPPER: Our 2020 lead now.

A new CNN poll shows support for Joe Biden is slipping a bit among Democratic voters. Last month, Biden was at 39 percent support among Democrats in our poll. Today, he remains well out in front still, but he is down to 32 percent.

CNN's Arlette Saenz is with Biden as he rolls out a new policy that he hopes will capture the backing of some skeptical progressives.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ARLETTE SAENZ, CNN POLITICAL REPORTER (voice-over): Joe Biden back on the campaign trail in New Hampshire, rolling out his plan on climate change.

JOSEPH BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: On day one as president, I would rejoin the Paris climate accord, which we, Barack and I, put together.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) SAENZ: His 22-page proposal calls the Green New Deal a crucial framework for combating climate change, aims to reach net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 and estimates a federal price tag of $1.7 trillion over 10 years.

BIDEN: We will hold polluters accountable for the damage they have caused.

SAENZ: Biden's climate rollout comes as he's faced criticism from progressives that his plan won't go far enough.

Today, Jay Inslee, who has focused much of his campaign on fighting climate change, knocking Biden.

GOV. JAY INSLEE (D-WA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm disappointed that his plan doesn't have teeth to really make sure that we get off coal in the next 10 years.

[16:40:00]

SAENZ: And Elizabeth Warren, on a tour of the Midwest, explaining how she would implement the Green New Deal, with a $2 trillion federal investment for green manufacturing, research, and exporting.

SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We need to be all in to fight this climate crisis, all in.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

SAENZ: On his second swing through New Hampshire as a 2020 candidate, Biden helping one voter sitting on the floor find a seat.

BIDEN: I want the press to know, she pulled me close. I just want you to know, OK?

(LAUGHTER)

SAENZ: One month into his campaign, the former vice president still riding high in the polls. A CNN survey found Biden dropped seven points the last month, but still leading the pack with 32 percent support, followed by Bernie Sanders at 18 percent.

But Biden continues to take heat from some of his Democratic rivals.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We cannot go back to the old ways.

WARREN: Some say, if we all just calm down, the Republicans will come to their senses.

SAENZ: As he made his pitch to voters today, Biden pushing back.

BIDEN: I'm not talking about going back to the past. I'm talking about avoiding a terrible future. There's people who say that you can't work with the other side. Well, if that's the case, then prepare your children for a totally different U.S. SAENZ: After the event, Biden weighing in further.

QUESTION: What do you say to those Democrats who took swipes at you in California over the weekend?

BIDEN: See you around.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SAENZ: Now, our CNN poll also found that 44 percent of Democratic primary voters have already made up their minds about who they will support in 2020 -- Jake.

TAPPER: All right. Arlette Saenz in the beautiful state of New Hampshire.

Karen, let me start with you.

So, seven points down in the poll, Biden, should he be required or is this just him coming back to earth?

FINNEY: No. It's him coming back to earth and it's to be expected.

Remember, we have got quite a bit of time. And I think the more voters learn about other candidates, you are going to see these numbers continue to shift. And all due respect to our own poll, I would imagine that the people who think they know today how they would vote may have a different answer in a month from now, because we know it's plenty of time, a lot of time for mistakes, a lot of time for breakout movements.

Obviously, as I have said before, I think the debates are going to be really critical for people in making up their minds.

TAPPER: And, Laura, one of the interesting things in the poll, take a look at this. For older Democratic voters, Biden is way ahead, 45 percent.

For Democratic voters under the age of 45, Biden trails with just 19 percent support. Sanders is ahead with 26. There really is a huge generational divide, with older people liking Biden and younger people liking Sanders.

BARRON-LOPEZ: Right. I think that captures perfectly something that Karen and I have talked about repeatedly, which is this huge generational gap in the Democratic Party, this split that I don't think has been talked about as much, but it's on key issues.

A Politico poll found it with -- when it comes to the Iraq War and Biden and his vote. Younger voters care more about where he was on the Iraq War than older voters do. They actually align more with Biden. And so that's something that we're going to see playing out over the months, whether or not that young voter contingent is big enough to push someone like Sanders or to push something like Warren past Biden.

TAPPER: Do you see Biden as the toughest possible general election opponent for Donald Trump, or do you think somebody else might be?

JENNINGS: Well, I think he is presently most likely the toughest general election opponent, but that's conditioned upon his ability to withstand being drug to the left.

I mean, he's already gone left on abortion, he's already gone left today on climate stuff. What else he going to have to feel like he has to do to maintain his pole position? I'm looking to see -- this race will eventually have to collapse and a few people are going to have to go away. There's only two candidates getting above 15 percent, which is the threshold you need to get delegates, and it's Biden and Sanders.

That age split is interesting. And are there some of the candidates that have to get out that might be getting a few older voters that would flow to Biden?

I'm also looking to see if Sanders and Warren eventually collapse together to try to shore up that socialist bloc.

TAPPER: And, Jeff, eye-opening lead in a "New York Times" profile of Joe Biden's 1988 presidential campaign, the first time he ran for president.

He lied to voters, according to "The New York Times," quoting aides of Biden's, about having marched in the civil rights movement. This is Biden making this false claim in 1987.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, 1987)

BIDEN: When I marched in the civil rights movement, I did not march with a 12-point program. I marched with tens of thousands of others to change attitudes.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: And "The New York Times" reports -- quote -- "More than once, advisers had gently reminded Mr. Biden of the problem with this formulation. He had not actually marched during the civil rights movement. And more than once, Mr. Biden assured them that he understood and kept telling the story anyway."

That is really, really weird.

ZELENY: It is.

And the story was a reminder that, in that '88 race, he was one of the younger candidates in the race. He was 44 years old. He was the new generation.

But if you haven't read the book "What It Takes" about the 1988 campaign, rich chapters of Joe Biden others, but it does point out a problem, a challenge for Joe Biden. Has he fixed that issue?

1645 [16:45:00] When he gets very comfortable out on the stump speaking and other things, he has tended to embellish. He has tended to you know make things sound slightly rosier than they are.

Now, his aides went back to say look, he was in office marching for the idea of civil rights but was not actually marching in the streets but that would not fly -- that he was supporting civil rights. But I'm saying that in today's --

(CROSSTALK)

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: I know. You're just saying what they said.

ZELENY: In the age of Twitter today, Instagram, there be pictures of him not marching. So you cannot get away with that in this moment. So that's his big challenge. And he modernized himself and has he sort of brushed away all those old tendencies he had that ultimately ended you know, to him dropping out before the Iowa caucuses by -- you know, because he plagiarized a speech.

KAREN FINNEY, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: But that is exactly the kind of story that is a picture-perfect moment for a debate, right. If I am a candidate to say to Joe Biden you lied about being -- marching in the civil rights --

TAPPER: By Bernie Sanders who actually did march.

FINNEY: I'd like to talk about it a lot or some of the others who have done who have very substantial records on civil rights even though they may be younger candidates. That is -- that is what I keep saying the debates are going to be so consequential because you will see those kinds of moments come up.

TAPPER: All right, coming up, new details about the breaking news in our "NATIONAL LEAD." Charges filed over the response to the Parkland school shooting against a former sheriff's deputy who failed to response. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[16:50:00] TAPPER: Breaking news in our "NATIONAL LEAD," new details and reaction coming in on the ex-school resource officer and former sheriff's deputy arrested today in connection to the Parkland massacre. Scot Peterson faces 11 criminal counts including child neglect, culpable negligence, and perjury.

I want to bring in CNN's Rosa Flores in Miami. And Rosa, the charges come after a 14-month investigation by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. Some parents of the victims of the Parkland massacre are weighing in. What did they have to say?

ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, some of them are going to Twitter and they're calling him a coward, saying that he deserves to go to jail. My colleague Dianne Gallagher got this reaction from Fred Guttenberg. He's one of the parents saying, "I have no comment except to say rot in hell Scot Peterson. You could have saved some of the 17, you could have saved my daughter, you did not. Then you lied about it and you deserve the misery coming your way." Now, Jake, we're also learning more about how Scott Peterson was taken

into custody. Now, this is according to Sheriff Greg Tony. He says that Peterson was in BSO headquarters at a termination hearing when he was taken into custody.

Now, Jake, we have covered this story extensively. You and I know that Peterson had retired so we're all wondering, a termination hearing. What are we talking about here? Well, Peterson is receiving about $8,700.00 in pension a month, getting officially, officially terminated by BSO puts that money in jeopardy, puts his pension in jeopardy. Jake?

TAPPER: All right, Rosa Flores, thank you so much for that report. I appreciate it. The "NATIONAL LEAD" now, in part of a move to make the President's former campaign manager pardon proof, prosecutors want to send Paul Manafort to one of the most notorious jails on the planet Rikers Island in New York City.

Let's bring in CNN's Brynn Gingras who's near Rikers Island. Brynn, the President can pardon Manafort for his federal crimes, theoretically. So this transfer is part of his prosecution for state crimes in New York?

BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's right. If you remember back in March, Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance was very calculated, Jake, when he handed down this indictment on 16 state charges including mortgage fraud against Paul Manafort. It happened just an hour after Manafort learned his punishment for the federal crime, so very timely in that sense.

And Cy Vance actually has to send a message saying no one is above the law. So really he's saying you know, even if you are pardoned by the President, there really is anything the president can do if you were convicted on these state charges. And that's why they want to bring him here to Rikers in order to face those charges. Jake?

TAPPER: And Brynn, Manafort is currently locked up in a lower level security prison in Pennsylvania. He's not in solitary confinement as I understand it, but that could change if he goes to Rikers.

GINGRAS: It would be a big change. You know he has a job in the federal system right now. That won't be the case. Again most people here housed at Rikers are awaiting to go to court here in New York City so it's going to be a completely different experience. And of course, Rikers has this notorious reputation and that is for a reason.

There is a lot of crime. It's criticized that happens behind bars. There are Inmates that had been killed behind bars. Of course Manafort, we're told, because he is a high profile inmate, he would be kept sort of alone, not necessarily solitary confinement, but certainly alone, but certainly a different experience for Paul Manafort.

TAPPER: All right, Brynn Gingras, thank you so much. I appreciate it. Water to the rooftops, the Midwest drowning as major rivers overflowed their banks. Stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[16:55:00] TAPPER: And we're back with the "NATIONAL LEAD." Devastating flooding ravaging the Midwest at levels never seen before. The worst of it is along the Arkansas River which stretches across four states. After on and off heavy rains for nearly a month now, the river has swelled to record levels in many spots spilling over into neighborhoods, trapping many people in their own homes and ruining years' worth of valuable crops.

More than 60 rivers across the U.S. have now reached major flooding levels and it could get worse. The Mississippi Valley alone could get another 8 inches in the coming days.

In the "WORLD LEAD," the U.S. announcing new restrictions on American citizens hoping to travel to Cuba. The most popular way for Americans to visit the island is now banned with U.S. cruise ships now no longer allowed to stop in Cuba. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said today the restrictions are due to Cuba continuing to "play a destabilizing role in the Western Hemisphere.

You can follow me on Facebook and Twitter and Instagram @JAKETAPPER. You can tweet the show @THELEADCNN. We actually read them. Our coverage on CNN continues right now.