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THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER

Bernie Sanders Vs. Wal-Mart; Will Republicans Push Back on Trump Tariffs?. Aired 4:30-5p ET

Aired June 5, 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: He wouldn't say that.

AMANDA CARPENTER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, I don't think Mitch McConnell would bring it to a vote.

I think maybe, perhaps, they would do a resolution of disapproval to say, slap on the wrist, we really don't like this. You reap the effects.

But this whole idea that Trump is just trying to get Mexico to the table, I don't -- why would anybody believe that? We imposed $200 billion in tariffs on China. Trump is going around threatening new tariffs on Japan, Europe, India. Trump, tariffs are a thing. He likes them.

And so if the Senate wants to do anything about it, they are going to have to really go for a veto. But all too often, the Republicans in the House and the Senate, when Trump does something outlandish, they say, OK, well, we kind of quietly disapprove. If you want to bear the burden for this, Trump, go ahead.

And Trump is more than happy to, because these taxes are an easy -- tariffs are an easy way to generate revenue without claiming the tax hike that he can blame on another country.

TAPPER: And, Ayesha, Senator Mitt Romney told me that he supports what the president is doing when it comes to tariffs in China, not in Mexico, but he also said, but it is a tax, it is a tax on the American people.

Peter Navarro, the president's adviser on trade, would not even acknowledge that. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PETER NAVARRO, DIRECTOR, WHITE HOUSE OFFICE OF TRADE AND MANUFACTURING POLICY: This whole idea that somehow the American consumer is bearing that is nonsense. If they could just pass the tariffs on to America, they wouldn't protest them. If Mexico could just pass the tariffs on, they wouldn't protest them.

(END VIDEO CLIP) TAPPER: But the president's own top economic adviser, Larry Kudlow, has admitted that both -- he was talking about China, but both the country being hit with the tariff and the American consumer, both of them suffer.

AYESHA RASCOE, NPR: Both suffer and there are higher prices.

And there have been studies of this and there have been studies of these tariffs and that is what they have found, that this is adding to the cost for U.S. consumers. That isn't something that the White House has really been able to counter, other than to just say, it's not true. But the reality is, based on the studies, that people are paying.

What is happening with President Trump is that he's throwing these threat out. He loves tariffs, but he also loves to just throw out a threat and to try to drag someone to the table. I have been talking to former negotiators with the State Department and things like that.

And what they're saying is that at a certain point, you lose your credibility. You can't just keep saying, I'm going to do this and then expect everyone to roll over. And then you might -- when you come up against China, you have a country that's not willing to roll over.

So what do you do then?

TAPPER: Do you think that Republicans would actually take action against the president if he instituted these tariffs?

KIRSTEN POWERS, CNN COMMENTATOR: No. I mean, what could they do, really? It's not -- I don't think that they -- I think -- you know better and you don't think to.

And so I just don't think that they typically like to get in fights with Donald Trump. I think if you look what he's asking Mexico to do, though, it doesn't even really make sense. First of all, it's not illegal to seek asylum. They're not breaking any laws.

So what is Mexico supposed to do it? I mean, Peter Navarro said he wants -- they want Mexico to basically stop people coming from -- coming to the United States to seek asylum. Most of these people are coming here because they have family here.

So, even the things they are asking them to do don't make sense. And so I think that -- I do think this was a bluff, because if you look at the actual -- what they're actually asking for, they aren't things that Mexico can even do.

TAPPER: All right, everyone, stick around.

Senator Bernie Sanders goes to a meeting of Wal-Mart shareholders and he tells them their workers are starving. What kind of greeting did that get?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [16:37:46]

TAPPER: In our 2020 lead today, Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont went down to Arkansas today to fight Wal-Mart face to face. He attended the superstore's shareholder meeting to push for workers to be on the company's board and to get paid more, at least $15 an hour.

Sanders tweeted: "The Waltons, the owners of Wal-Mart, earn $25,000 a minute. The average Wal-Mart employee makes $25,000 a year."

CNN's Ryan Nobles now has more on Sanders' crusade against Wal-Mart for forcing the federal government to subsidize health care and more for its workers while its owners rake in the bucks.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

RYAN NOBLES, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Bernie Sanders usually hammers corporate America, specifically Wal-Mart, on the campaign trail.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We will say to the Walton family, we are no longer going to provide corporate welfare for you.

NOBLES: Today, he took that message straight to Wal-Mart's shareholders in Arkansas.

SANDERS: Wal-Mart pays many of its employees starvation wages.

NOBLES: Sanders invited by a Wal-Mart employee to make the case to have hourly workers on the company's board. During his remarks, he also demanded Wal-Mart pay its workers a base wage of $15 an hour and called out the company's CEO, Doug McMillon, for his $24 million salary.

SANDERS: They are also outraged by the grotesque level of income and wealth inequality in America.

NOBLES: The company defended its treatment of its employees by pointing to Wal-Mart's tuition assistance and management training programs, and, in a surprise, McMillon called for the federal minimum wage to go up.

DOUG MCMILLON, CEO, WAL-MART: And $7.25 is too low. It's time for Congress to put a thoughtful plan in place to increase the minimum wage.

NOBLES: Dreama Lovett works as a Wal-Mart associate in Jacksonville, Florida, and welcomes Sanders' presence at the meeting.

DREAMA LOVETT, WAL-MART EMPLOYEE: He's for the working people. And he speaks for the working people.

NOBLES: Lovett believes an employee on the board would go a long way to helping Wal-Mart's leadership understand what it really means to live on Wal-Mart's minimum wage. LOVETT: Could you live off $11 an and something hour? It's hard,

especially in our economy. It's it's up and we're booming.

NOBLES: The proposal to add an employee to Wal-Mart's board was rejected by shareholders.

[16:40:03]

SANDERS: People cannot make it on $11 an hour.

NOBLES: And the company also did not make a substantive move towards raising employee salaries. And after his remarks, Sanders was skeptical Wal-Mart leadership was listening.

(on camera): Do you feel that the Wal-Mart CEO got your message today?

SANDERS: No, I don't. I think, if he got the message, what he would say is that we are going to do what many of our competitors are doing.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

NOBLES: And while there was no doubt that Bernie Sanders wanted to send a message to Wal-Mart's leadership today, he was also extending that message to Democratic primary voters.

He wants them to know that if he were to become the Democratic nominee and eventually president of the United States, he will not back away from taking on corporate America -- Jake.

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

Did former Vice President Joe Biden's campaign just have a slip-up that could help his competition gain some ground?

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[16:45:00] JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Check your calendar. Is it almost seems as though it's national take a swipe at Joe Biden day? Not one or two but at least 12 Democratic candidates making it clear they're on the opposite side of the Democratic frontrunner when it comes to a key abortion issue.

This all started when the former Vice President's team said he would not repeal the Hyde Amendment leaving in place a policy that bans federal funding for abortion except in cases of rape incest or if the woman's life is at risk. Biden's critics on the Left say that means he only supports women's reproductive rights if those women can afford them.

CNN's Arlette Saenz has been following Biden on the campaign trail. And Arlette, this is the first major issue where the Democrats have unmask completely gone after Biden might this be a turning point. ARLETTE SAENZ, CNN POLITICAL REPORTER: That's right, Jake. This is really the first real divide that you're seeing between Joe Biden and the rest of the Democratic field. You know, there's been a few disagreements when it comes to bankruptcy or people criticizing his support on the crime bill. But now you have this pile on from the 2020 Democrats when it comes to Biden and abortion.

And as you mentioned, this all surfaced after his campaign confirmed that he would support the Hyde Amendment which bans the use of federal funds for abortions except in certain instances. And Biden was in Boston today and he ignored a reporter's question about this issue.

But you've seen a large group of the 20 20 Democrats react to this on Twitter saying that the Hyde Amendment must be repealed. Most of them avoiding mentioning Biden by name except for Bill DeBlasio who tried to refer to Biden as Dr. Jekyll. But I also want you to take a listen to what Elizabeth Warren had to say when she was asked about the issue earlier today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I don't support the Hyde Amendment and I will lead the fight to have it overturned.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But you know, maybe someone who does.

WARREN: This isn't about the politics, this is about what's right. The Hyde Amendment should not be American law.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SAENZ: And this is also all playing out is there's this nationwide debate going on about abortion as you're seeing more states implements abortion restrictions in their legislation. But this reveals one of the big fault lines between Biden and Democrats especially as they're heading into that first debate. We'll see if his rivals continue to try to capitalize it -- on it. Jake?

TAPPER: All right, Arlette, Saenz traveling with the Biden campaign. Let's chew over this. And Ayesha, it used to be kind of just Democrats accepted the Hyde Amendment. This was the price of doing business in this town, maybe even the price of getting elected.

Obama said he opposed it but he actually did nothing to repeal the Hyde Amendment. He actually affirmed it after the health care debate with it with an executive action. This really seems like a real generational divide in terms of the candidacies of Biden and everyone else.

AYESHA RASCOE, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, NPR: It's always that issue of is it -- do you do what is kind of politically expedient and what is maybe possible politically right now or do you try to push that issue to where you think it should be. And it seems like the other 2020 candidates are saying we don't think the Hyde Amendment should be the law. We want to push this. And they're also seeing this as an area where they can push Biden

who's the front runner and so you want to try to differentiate yourself as much as possible and find a way to say look, this is -- this is another way that we feel like Biden is the past. We are going to push to the future.

TAPPER: And Biden in -- it means he was in public life for 40- something years, he has been on the other side of the abortion issue on the -- on the pro-life side as it were on some of these issues.

KIRSTEN POWERS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes. Well, I think this is interesting because usually, we're talking about things that Biden did a long time ago, right? And this is actually something where he's holding on to a view that's problematic where some of the other things he's evolved on right.

And so -- and I guess he might say that he's evolved a bit on the abortion issue but when it comes to this he says I don't think we should have you know, federal funding going to abortions. But it is wildly out of step with where the Democratic Party is today. And I think it will be a problem for him.

I think it's something that in 2016 Hillary Clinton had talked about repealing it and there was a poll that showed there was a lot of support particularly among women. And so I think that the idea that well, people shouldn't have to pay for something they don't approve of, well a lot of people pay for the Iraq war and they didn't approve of it.

I mean I think that's sort of the way a lot of Democrats see it is you don't -- you don't get to really decide always that your federal money or that your tax money goes to things that you support. Sometimes you may not support the decisions that your governments making. And so if you don't -- if you -- if you keep this law in place and that means abortion is only really legal for women who have money.

TAPPER: Go ahead.

AMANDA CARPENTER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Elizabeth Warren, Cory Booker, senators that say they want to repeal the Hyde Amendment, go to work in the Senate. This isn't a constitutional amendment. It's one that gets attached to spending bills. That's been reaffirmed year after year for four decades.

This is the compromise. And I do think Joe Biden knows the politics of the country better because while many Americans may not like abortion, they're comfortable with it, as long as they don't have to pay for it, that is crossing another level. There's a lot of Americans that are just not comfortable with the fact that the government would allow access and pay for this procedure.

You know, I'm there. Having the government saying possibly providing incentives for this procedure, that gets to a place where I don't think the country is.

[16:50:39] TAPPER: And let me add -- POWERS: Why would it be that there would be incentive? I mean, it

doesn't provide an incentive.

CARPENTER: Well, it becomes easier.

POWERS: But that's not -- but -- well, it's not even a matter of easier. It's like the woman actually can't do it if she doesn't have the money so it's providing you the resources to do it, giving you the same right that other people have.

TAPPER: One other issue I want to bring up -- I'm sorry to interrupt, just because it all has to do with Biden and the week he's having. He rolled out a major climate change policy yesterday and now his campaign has tried to amend it because it seems as though parts of this policy were plagiarized from some progressive organizations Web sites.

I might be alone in remembering but in 1987 when -- he didn't even make it to the 1988 presidential race even though he was running because in 1987 he had to withdraw because of accusations of plagiarism.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: And that's the question now. He supposed to be the front runner in this race. This is a pretty immature move to make when we're comparing all of these policy rollouts from Democrats and he rolls out one they miss-sided. I believe that was what they said they did, all of these instances in their plan.

And that's something that of course, the Trump campaign pointed to immediately with even the President himself tweeting about it talking about how he plagiarized this idea. And it's just seen as a really serious misstep for someone who's supposed to be the front-runner.

CARPENTER: But I think that misstep is it shows that his campaign hasn't thought seriously about this issue. You don't have to copy and paste things. When you have a campaign discussion, you talk to the principal, you get notes and you formulate it in your own words. You run into this, we just say, I need a plan to be Elizabeth Warren so let me just grab something off the internet, throw together, get buy- in from the groups and call it good.

TAPPER: That's interesting. The other thing I thought it was interesting that the RNC and Trump went after him because Melania Trump was accused of plagiarizing a speech to the Republican National Convention and President Trump was accused by the Daily Caller of plagiarizing a speech during the primaries from Ben Carson. So I was kind of surprised that they brought it up.

RASCOE: Well, I mean they're going to go after him and all that other stuff he did. It's just kind of put to the side. But I don't know how much the average American is really going to be paying attention to this. This idea of OK, they didn't properly cite or I mean even the idea that they didn't -- they may have lifted some sections from another report or other groups. I don't know that that really breaks through to the average American. The larger issue is like you said, what is president -- what is Joe Biden going to do on climate change and can he actually deliver a plan that will resonate with people.

TAPPER: Do you agree that it's not that big a deal?

POWERS: I mean, I think in the grand scheme of things probably not. But whenever you feed into a narrative, it doesn't helpful so everyone's going to be on high alert looking for the next time maybe something like this happens and then it turns into like you're a plagiarizer.

TAPPER: Interesting. OK. Rivers surging, levees bursting, the Midwest drowning. The misery as millions of Americans are watching floodwaters fill their streets and home. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[16:55:00] TAPPER: In our "NATIONAL LEAD" today, historic flooding is continuing to ravage the Midwest of the United States and apparently it's only going to get worse. Water levels are reaching near record highs along the Mississippi, Arkansas, and Missouri rivers cresting in major cities and destroying homes and businesses.

And as CNN's Dan Simon reports from Missouri, that the forecast predicts that the worst is yet to come.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JULIE KURTZ, MISSOURI FARMER: We're just trying to protect our house as best as we can right now with the equipment, hauling in dirt, and smoothing it out, and raising it up.

DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The devastating flood water is now covering the country's heartland, leave farmers like Julie Kurtz in Missouri little choice.

KURTZ: We had five children my husband and I, and like I say we've lived here 20 years at least and it's home. And we don't really have any other means of keeping the children roof over our head. So that's why we're working so hard here to protect it.

SIMON: It's a race against time. In nearby St. Louis, parts of the Mississippi River are due to crest to near-record levels on Friday and additional storms are on the way. Heavy rain has left more than seven million people under flood warnings across the central U.S. and more along the Gulf.

NATASHA NAKA-AKPODEE, EVACUATED DUE TO FLOODING: It's possibly to come up and go inside the first-level apartments.

SIMON: Residents at these apartments near St. Louis are evacuating again.

AKPODEE: This second time in two weeks. SIMON: Right now, these communities are focused on the immediate

threat. But it's the economic impact of these floods that could be worst of all.

KURTZ: Income wise we haven't had any because we haven't been able to plant anything at all this spring.

AKPODEE: As of right now, I feel as if I'm going to lose my -- lose my place of living because of how bad the water possibly could be, and just -- I mean, just hopefully the best.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SIMON: And what an awful sad situation. We are in West Alton Missouri and you can see what things look like behind me. The water up to the rooftops in many places. In fact, you can really only get around this area by boat. You can see these people behind me and with the river expected to crest sometime on Friday, Jake. There was a concern that things could get worse before they get better. Back to you.