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THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER

2020 Democrats Descend on Key Early State of Iowa; U.S. and Russian Warships Nearly Collide At Sea. Aired 4:30-5p ET

Aired June 7, 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] SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: And I'm sure that's part of the reason that Joe Biden took a pass. It's probably hard to sort of have this kind of big, breakout moment when you're listening to these people one after another.

That said, I mean, people in the early states take their responsibilities very seriously. They like to see the candidates up close and they will sit and watch candidates one after another, because they want to get a sense of, sort of where they're starting and how they evolve along the way. And if they sense that someone has a strength or someone has a weakness, they can kind of tune in on that early, and see where it goes.

JACKIE KUCINICH, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: You know, these events, it's always, it's always the people who are really good speaking to crowds, and that's not a given with all politicians that tend to do very well, who can really enlighten the room. So I think that will be an asset, you know, someone like Elizabeth Warren, who plays very well in these kind of crowds might have a standout moment. Who knows?

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: If you were advising, as you've been a senior adviser to presidential campaigns, what would you advise a candidate who maybe doesn't have all of the name recognition, that this is a chance to really speak to caucus-goers?

KAREN FINNEY, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Buy a bunch of tickets, make sure your supporters are raucous and loud and cheer for you and just have a good five minutes. Don't try to standout. Because with 19, who's going to remember number 19 -- number two to 19.

KEILAR: So, Joe Biden has a family event, right? So he cannot attend this weekend. We saw him skip an event held by California Democrats last week and his Democratic opponents used this opportunity to criticize him. Is there going to be -- I realize, Karen, perhaps he doesn't have anything to gain by being there, but does he have to lose by not being there?

FINNEY: You know, I do think you always have to wonder if the activists and voters, I mean, as you said, that people take it very seriously in these early states. Yes, does it make people feel like? How come you couldn't show up? Obviously, a family event is I think one of the few excuses that people generally will give you a pass for. But people like to see you show up.

KEILAR: Speaking of investing in Iowa, Democratic presidential candidate and spiritual adviser Marianne Williamson. You may have never heard of her, but she is moving to Des Moines and her campaign says this. Quote: Marianne has moved to Des Moines and our campaign is fully committed to the Iowa caucus process as well as to other early states, including New Hampshire where former U.S. Representative Paul Hodes is our state director.

She's not the first candidate to move to Iowa. This has happened before. Is this going to have any effect?

And also, what does it tell you that -- I spoke to her today and she sort of downplayed it. This isn't a story. You live out of a suitcase, wherever you are. I'll just be --

KUCINICH: My home is where my computer is.

MIKE SHIELDS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I would hope she -- it just worked. I mean, who's ever heard -- now, we're talking about her.

KEILAR: Good point.

SHIELDS: So the "I'm moving to Iowa" little Marianne Williamson boomlet just happened, right?

(CROSSTALK)

KUCINICH: It's exactly why president got one.

(LAUGHTER)

SHIELDS: It just worked. I mean, look, we -- I was RNC chief of staff when we set up the two-tiered debate system, and we worked for the networks and all the debates. It is very, very difficult when you have this many candidates to break out, to make a name for yourself. We thought organizing in two levels, we work and it worked out pretty well, the Democrats have decided not to break it into two categories and they've got everyone together and I think it makes it bad for everybody to do it that way.

FINNEY: Actually, the debates will be over two nights so it's ten and ten. So we won't have 20 people on stage at the same time.

SHIELDS: Yes, but you're still not separate -- there is a tiering here where there's sort of legitimate candidates and there's the Marianne Williamsons who are taking a shot and moving to Iowa and they're just going to be where everybody else, I think that muddies the waters for people to kind of understand who's real.

MURRAY: I mean, as our CNN embeds can attest over the years, that you learn a lot about the voters and about the state when you just move to one of the early nominating states, we've had people do that for years and years. And you do learn a lot. I don't know if that will be enough to get Marianne Williamson where she wants to be in the polls, but it will be interesting.

KEILAR: Dramatic moments at sea. A near collision between U.S. and Russian ships. Is this another case of Putin's forces behaving badly? (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[16:38:14] KEILAR: In our world lead, an incredibly close call between the U.S. and Russia. This startling video first obtained by CNN showing a Russian destroyer coming between 50 and 100 feet of the USS Chancellorsville this morning, forcing the U.S. warship to go into full reverse to avoid a crash. The U.S. says that Russia's, quote, unsafe maneuver is to blame for the narrowly avoided collision.

And as CNN's Barbara Starr reports, this near-miss does not appear to be accidental.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): U.S. sailors kept the camera running as they recorded a Russian destroyer nearly colliding with their ship. In the dramatic encounter, the Russian warship moves to within 50 to 100 feet of their cruiser. A U.S. aircraft overhead documents the Russian wake of their ship making a sudden high-speed turn, coming up alongside the U.S. warship.

All of this taking place in the Philippines Sea in international waters.

Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan says the U.S. will protest to Moscow.

PATRICK SHANAHAN, ACTING DEFENSE SECRETARY: We'll have military-to- military conversations with the Russians and, of course, we'll march them. But, you know, to me, safety at the end of the day is the most important. It will not deter us from conducting our operations.

STARR: A collision was narrowly avoided when the American commander ordered the ship into full reverse at high speed.

REAR ADMIRAL JOHN KIRBY (RET.), CNN DIPLOMATIC AND MILITARY ANALYST: That is a very aggressive engine maneuver to conduct. You're reversing the direction of those propellers to try to get the ship to stop or slow down as quickly as possible. It's a 10,000-ton cruiser. It's not going to stop on a dime.

STARR: Despite the severity of the episode, Russian sailors are captured sunbathing on the deck of their ship.

[16:40:04] Russia's state-run news agency claims the U.S. instigated the encounter. The Pentagon increasingly worried Russian forces are getting reckless.

Tuesday, a Russian fighter jet flew right in front of a navy patrol aircraft over the Mediterranean Sea. And last month, U.S. Air Force fighters intercepted Russian aircraft off the coast of Alaska.

COL. CEDRIC LEIGHTON (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Militarily, what they're trying to do is they're trying to challenge the United States at every particular point that they feel they can get away it.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

STARR: Navy officials say the Russian ship had been shadowing the U.S. ship for some time at a safe distance and that is what convinces the U.S. this incident was deliberate -- Brianna.

KEILAR: All right. Barbara Starr at the Pentagon, thank you so much.

And CNN's counterterrorism analyst Phil Mudd is joining me now.

What is Russia's motivation here?

PHIL MUDD, CNN COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST: I think if you look at this narrowly, you might get confused. I would step back for a moment. Going back a few years, you've got a big land grab by Russia, Ukraine.

You got Russia intervening in some place that was part of America's turf, Syria. You've got Russian engagements with U.S. military aircraft and now you got multiple engagements with ships. You put these all in one box and you've got one lesson -- the Russians are saying, we're not the country that fell after the decline of the Soviet Union.

We're back and we're going to show you we're back, time and time again.

KEILAR: And so, you look at the totality of these in May and June, and this seems intentional to you.

MUDD: It does. If it weren't intentional, if there weren't a mood that was set by Russian Premier Vladimir Putin, I don't think you'd see this. If you saw one or two, you might say, accidental, stupid. If you see these in a series over the course of months or years, you've got to say that there's a mood that says, it's OK to confront the Americans.

KEILAR: Is it a mood or is it -- would there be some sort of general or more specific direction coming from Vladimir Putin? Could it just be as simple as the Russian military is given carte blanche to mess with Americans at certain points in time? What's your read on how general or specific this direction is coming from the Kremlin?

MUDD: I'd say general. I would be surprised if the Kremlin's sitting there saying, hey, today, Thursday, Wednesday, Tuesday, I want you to get 50 to 100 feet from a ship here. Tomorrow, I want you to fly by a U.S. aircraft there. That sounds a bit much to me.

But, again, to think that this is happening without somebody conversely saying, look, we want to tell the Americans, we will not back down, not just in Europe, but we are way far afield here in the Pacific. We want to tell them we're not backing down, I think that's the direction you would see here.

KEILAR: The acting secretary of defense, Patrick Shanahan, says there's going to be military-to-military talks. Is that what you would want to see? Does there need to be more? What else? MUDD: That's one of the pieces. That has to happen. Look, there are

rules about how ships engage in environments like this. You have to have a conversation with the Russians, not only about protesting, but to make sure if you want to do this, let's make sure we understand each other.

There's a broader question, sort of like with election interference at the political level. That's Mike Pompeo and potentially the president, and that is, look, we know you're flexing your muscles. We remember Syria, we remember Ukraine, we're not backing down.

KEILAR: Phil Mudd, as always, thank you so much for your perspective.

MUDD: Thank you.

KEILAR: Right now, President Trump returning from Europe and staring down a deadline to make good on his tariff threat. Could Mexico strike a last-minute deal?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[16:45:00] BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: Breaking news in the "POLITICS LEAD." Right now President Trump on his way back to Washington and he needs to decide in hours whether he'll make good on his threat to impose tariffs on Mexico as CNN's Joe Johns reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: President Trump returning to the U.S. after his trip to Europe, facing an end of day decision deadline on his threat to impose tariffs on Mexico. And today no sign so far of a breakthrough.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Tariffs are beautiful thing. It's a beautiful word.

JOHNS: While flying back to the White House, Trump hinting at the fluid nature of the ongoing U.S. talks with Mexico to reach a deal on immigration enforcement. At the same time, the President not backing down from his threat.

Tweeting, if we are able to make the deal with Mexico and there is a good chance that we will, they will begin purchasing farm and agricultural products at very high levels, starting immediately. If we are unable to make the deal, Mexico will begin paying tariffs at the five percent level on Monday.

Back in the U.S., the White House tempering expectations of a deal.

MARC SHORT, CHIEF OF STAFF TO VICE PRESIDENT PENCE: There's a long way to go, still. That's the bottom line. But i think that there is the ability if negotiations continue to go well that the President can turn that off at some point over the weekend.

JOHNS: White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders also echoing the unpredictability of today's talks, telling reporters, negotiators have made a lot of progress, and the meetings have gone well. But as of now, we're still on track for tariffs on Monday. The President continuing to face harsh criticism from some Republicans.

SEN. JOHN CORNYN (R-TX): Tariffs, on the other hand, would be a massive tax. I can only hope they come up with some sort of agreement so these tariffs do not go into effect.

JOHNS: Economists estimating more than 400,000 jobs in the United States could be lost according to a study this week. Trump doesn't seem to care.

TRUMP: Republicans should love what I'm doing, because I view tariffs in two phases. Number one, it's great to negotiate with, because people don't want to be tariffed for coming into the United States. They don't want that. And number two, frankly, if they go on you make a fortune because all the companies are going to move back into the country.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

JOHNS: And one possible sticking point in these talks. The White House wants migrants coming across the southern border of Mexico to be stopped in Mexico and considered for asylum there. Brianna?

[16:50:01] KEILAR: Joe Johns at the White House, thank you so much. All right, Mike, are these going to go into effect? Is this a bluff? The President called the tariffs beautiful. His aides say he can turn these off. What do you think?

MIKE SHIELDS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think he's negotiating. And I think if he reads his book, this is what he likes to do. He want brinksmanship. I actually think the Republican senators have helped him, because they've communicated to the Mexicans, holy cow, he's serious about this. They're even worried about it.

So they believe this will happen. It's bringing them to the table and it sounds like they want to make a deal with him. And we're now talking about border security. So on many levels, he's sort of already accomplished what he was trying to do.

JACKIE KUCINICH, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: But there was border security implemented when President Obama had -- there was the immigration crisis that happened when he was president. And I think the difference was they worked with Mexico instead of -- and did this through diplomacy and increased period of security both on the Mexican border and the U.S. border.

Now, it didn't address what the systemic problem was which was happening in Honduras, Guatemala --

SHIELDS: Well, two about that, one is there was a crisis with Obama and everyone called it a crisis. This administration struggled to have people call it a crisis because at first, they weren't calling it a crisis amongst Democrats and then the coverage is only about family separation and not about the actual problem that's happening. So they're just in a very different circumstance in Barack Obama was

from the very beginning of this entire thing, yet Barack Obama was starting to deport people. I mean, that used to be where Democrats were. But now the Democrats have looked at this and we essentially cannot agree with the President on anything to do with immigration no matter what it is and they just got a fight --

KUCINICH: Republicans don't agree on immigration either.

KAREN FINNEY, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I was just going to say, he didn't get an immigration bill passed when he had control of everything so you can't put that on Democrats. And there are some real concerns in terms of family separation policies and the conditions that these kids are living in now --

SHIELDS: There's real concerns of human trafficking that no one wants to talk about. The only thing we seem to cover the crisis is family separation. We're not talking about our border agents being put into -- under threat. We're not talking about the actual families --

FINNEY: I think they are talking about that.

SHIELDS: Our border policy is like shouting fire in a crowded theater to people in Central America telling them caught up, and then when they get here it's horrible what happens to them on many, many levels, and we have human trafficking able to come through, and yet the coverage is about family separation.

KEILAR: I mean, look, I will just say as someone who covers this, the things that we have covered this week of the record numbers of people at the border and we've talked -- we've had Republicans on talking about different plans for reforming asylum, I just want to be very -- I just want to be very clear, Mike --

SHIELDS: No, I think that coverage is getting better. And I think when the President does this, that's what happens. We start talking about the real issue. We should have a policy discussion about our border.

KEILAR: Well, OK. Well, I want to --

FINNEY: Part of the problem has been that the President himself has framed this about a wall and about it's going to be big, it's going to be beautiful, it's going to be steel, it's going to be this, it's going to be that, instead of -- and he actually cut the programs that were enacted under Obama that we're helping to keep people in those triangular countries.

KUCINICH: (INAUDIBLE) for countries where a lot of these migrants are coming for.

KEILAR: Let me ask you, Sara. Mexico is now pledging to deploy troops to its southern border. It's also talking about potentially changing asylum laws. Is this working in a way that President Trump may get credit for this? I think it depends on how far this game of chicken goes. I mean, if you can bring Mexico to the table you can make some of these changes without kneecapping the U.S. economy, then sure maybe this is worth it and maybe the President can say I negotiated and we got what we needed and he can sell it as a victory.

I think that if he decides to follow through in some of these tariffs go into effect, there's a good chance that he will have a bigger economic problem on his hand when he is facing a reelection campaign. I mean, the economy is growing. We are still adding jobs for adding them at a much slower clip.

There's other wobbly economic data out there and you know, you now will see economic forecasters on television openly talking about the possibility and we could dive into a recession may be more sharply than they had previously expected.

So there's a risk to this kind of negotiation of whether the president follows through with it. There's also a risk that he has just scared the living daylights out of everyone and so they do come to the negotiating table and he gets at least some of what he wants and as we know, the President is pretty good at branding so he can cast as a victory.

KEILAR: What's the problem with scaring the living daylights out of people as negotiating? What's the side effect of that?

FINNEY: Well, it's one thing when it's your business that you're doing it with, it's another thing as we saw with the shutdown for example when you're talking about people and their jobs and their livelihoods and their families. And you have you know, farmers saying we're trying to figure out do we plant, do we not plant, what's happening --

KUCINICH: Well, they're going to subsidize. That's kind of a band- aid for this whole situation that's going on with China.

FINNEY: Exactly. But why put so many people through the anxiety just because -- to what you were saying, Jackie, you couldn't negotiate news diplomatic channels from the beginning.

KEILAR: Denied the temporary change that some U.S. embassies around the world requested that the Trump administration just rejected.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[16:55:00] KEILAR: Moments ago, President Trump landing back in the United States at Joint Base Andrews after a five-day swing through Europe. He's facing a looming deadline to decide by the end of the day if he'll follow through on his threat to impose tariffs on Mexico.

And in our "WORLD LEAD," the Trump administration has denied the request of multiple U.S. embassies abroad to fly rainbow flags during LBGT pride month according to two State Department officials. One telling CNN this a routine request that's made every year and is usually accepted. The State Department has not responded to CNN's request for comment. This story was first reported by NBC.

And tune in this Sunday morning, the "STATE OF THE UNION," Democratic 2020 candidate Senator Bernie Sanders is going to join Dana Bash at 9:00 a.m. and 12:00 p.m. Eastern on Sunday. You can follow me on Twitter @BRIKEILARCNN or tweet the show @THELEADCNN. I'm Brianna Kielar in for Jake Tapper and our coverage on CNN continues right now.