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THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER

Did Trump Gain Anything From Mexico Tariff Threat?; Will Mueller Testify?. Aired 4:30-5p ET

Aired June 10, 2019 - 16:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[16:34:25]

JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: We're back with our politics lead.

Nothing is wrong with your C-SPAN feed. That's not a rerun. Right now, the House Judiciary Committee is holding a hearing with Watergate's John Dean as the star witness, the former White House counsel who helped bring down Richard Nixon when he testified before Congress in 1973.

It's not quite the nail-biting Robert Mueller testimony the Democrats want. It's apparently part of their campaign to convince the public, slowly, but surely, that impeachment is the right step. But Democratic leaders have not even moved to subpoena special counsel Mueller to testify.

So what exactly is the Democrats' plan? Is there one?

CNN's Manu Raju digs into the Democrats struggling to find a way forward.

[16:35:05]

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): With their party divided over impeachment proceedings, Democrats today began the challenge of spotlighting what's in the Mueller report without the key witnesses who have firsthand knowledge.

Their first witness? Former Nixon White House counsel John Dean, who played a keel role in bringing down President Richard Nixon 46 years ago.

JOHN DEAN, FORMER WHITE HOUSE COUNSEL: Special counsel Mueller has provided this committee with a road map.

SANCHEZ: But Democrats want to hear from people with firsthand knowledge, like former Trump White House counsel Don McGahn and from Robert Mueller himself.

REP. HANK JOHNSON (D-GA): So we have got to create a record upon which the American people can decide that they are in favor of impeachment. SANCHEZ: The hearing comes amid a tense intraparty debate over

whether to formally begin an impeachment inquiry, which now is supported by the chairman of the committee, Jerry Nadler, and a number of members on his panel.

REP. JAMIE RASKIN (D-MD): The president repeatedly tried to interfere in the ongoing criminal investigation. He tried to fire the special counsel. He wanted to lie about the special counsel and say that he had conflicts of interest. The clock is ticking.

SANCHEZ: But most Democrats support the position of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi that Democrats should pursue current investigations and avoid an impeachment fight that is bound to be thwarted by the GOP-led Senate.

Some members reject Nadler's private argument that an impeachment inquiry would centralize the probes before his panel.

REP. RO KHANNA (D-CA): Of course Jerry Nadler wants that, but there are other great committee chairs, Elijah Cummings, Maxine Waters, who are -- Adam Schiff, who are all looking at aspects of the president's misconduct. I think this issue is actually bigger and broader than the Mueller report.

SANCHEZ: All this comes as the Justice Department today reached an agreement to ease the tension with the House Judiciary Committee over accessing the Mueller report, agreeing to provide key evidence to the panel, amid threats to hold the attorney general in contempt.

REP. JERROLD NADLER (D-NY): As a result, I see no need to resort to the criminal contempt statute to enforce our April 19 subpoena, at least for now, so long as the department upholds its end of the bargain.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SANCHEZ: Now, Jake, Jerry Nadler also warned that he's still prepared to take other actions if he does not ultimately get compliance.

And, tomorrow, the full House will vote to authorize the committee to go to court to enforce those subpoenas if the Justice Department doesn't ultimately comply -- Jake.

TAPPER: All right, Manu Raju on Capitol Hill for us, thanks so much.

President Trump going off because he says he's not getting enough credit for his deal with Mexico on illegal immigration. Should he be?

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[16:42:05]

TAPPER: The money lead now. In nonstop tweets and fiery comments, President Trump is on something

of a tear, complaining that he's not getting sufficient credit for forcing the Mexican government to help the U.S. crack down on illegal immigration by threatening steep tariffs.

As CNN's Boris Sanchez now reports, without specifics spelled out and results realized, the president's frustration that he's not getting enough credit might continue for some time.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): President Donald Trump on Monday attempting a victory lap following his immigration deal with Mexico.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This is something the U.S. has been trying to get for over 20 years with Mexico. They have never been able to do it. As soon as I put tariffs on the table, it was done. It took two days.

SANCHEZ: But a former administration official tells CNN that major portions of the agreement are not new and were already settled months before President Trump threatened to slap tariffs on Mexican imports.

The source confirming reporting in "The New York Times" that Mexican officials had already agreed to mobilize Mexican National Guard troops to their southern border, also previously agreeing to a program that would allow undocumented immigrants seeking asylum in the U.S. to remain in Mexico as their claims are processed.

In at least a dozen tweets, the president lashing out and defending the deal, at one point writing -- quote -- "Mexico is doing more for the USA on illegal immigration than the Democrats."

The president also promising an added agreement that he is yet to announce.

TRUMP: But we purposefully said we wouldn't mention it for a little while. It's going to be brought up, because it has to be brought by their legislative body.

SANCHEZ: Administration officials are backing the president, acting DHS Secretary Kevin McAleenan insisting the deal is new and that the threat of tariffs helped expedite and expand previous agreements.

KEVIN MCALEENAN, ACTING SECRETARY OF HOMELAND SECURITY: It is very different. The president put a charge in this whole dialogue with Mexico with the tariff threat, brought them to the table. The foreign minister from Mexico arrived within hours. He arrived the next day with real proposals on the table.

SANCHEZ: Some Democrats implying Trump is trying to save face and avoid imposing the tariffs that he promised.

SEN. CHRIS COONS (D-DE): He's still saying that there are secret provisions to the deal that make it better, that make it more than Mexico had already agreed to months ago. Look, this is classic Trump, spinning up a conflict that fires up his base, but that destabilizes one of our critical alliances.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SANCHEZ: And, Jake, President Trump just teased the supposed unannounced portion of this deal yet again on the South Lawn.

Today, Mexico's top diplomat contradicted the president, suggesting that there was no secret portion of this deal at a press conference in Mexico. The president just now said -- quote -- "I don't think they will be denying it for long. It's all done."

Unclear if this is some deeper disagreement or just semantics, Jake.

TAPPER: All right, Boris Sanchez at the White House, thank you so much.

A brand-new CNN poll shows Joe Biden still tops the Democratic field in Iowa, but how long can he avoid getting his hands dirty?

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[16:45:00] JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: And we're back with our "2020 LEAD" today, from sporting hard hats to dishing on their dating habits, Democratic presidential hopefuls have been working to woo Iowa voters today with a flurry of tours and town halls.

The Hawkeye state swing on the heels of a brand-new CNN poll. And just hours after nearly every member of the Democratic 2020 field made their pitches at an Iowa Democratic Party dinner, CNN's Leyla Santiago reports now from the campaign trail in Des Moines, Iowa.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LEYLA SANTIAGO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Chants, tricks, marches, 2020 candidates in Iowa today, looking to stand out and show strength. The main event, the hall of fame dinner in Cedar Rapids Sunday night.

[16:50:04] SEN. CORY BOOKER (D-NJ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Your eyes on the prize!

SANTIAGO: The largest 2020 candidate gathering to date. 19 of 23 hopefuls in attendance with one notable absence.

ANDREW YANG, AMERICAN ENTREPRENEUR: Joe Biden must really not like to travel.

SANTIAGO: Biden missed the event for his granddaughter's high school graduation, tweeting this photo Sunday afternoon. The latest CNN-Des Moines Register Iowa poll shows the former vice president still leading the Democratic pack, but with a smaller advantage than in recent national polls. In a three-way battle for second, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, and South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg.

As the first debate approaches, some candidates are taking opportunities to knock the front-runner.

BERNIE SANDERS (D-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Now, I understand that there are some well-intentioned Democrats and candidates who believe that the best way forward is a middle ground strategy that antagonizes no one, that stands up to nobody, and that changes nothing.

PETE BUTTIGIEG (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We're not going to win by playing it safe or promising a return to normal. We are where we are because normal broke.

SANTIAGO: Biden not only missed Iowa's hall of fame event, he also missed the California Democratic Party convention the previous weekend. And so far, his national media appearances are minimal appearing only on The View and Good Morning America for national network interviews.

The former Vice President, however, is planning a two-day trip to Iowa that starts Tuesday, the very same day President Trump visits the state where voters are waiting.

HANNA KINNEY, IOWA VOTER: I think it shows that he's definitely not seeing it as maybe the most important thing to invest his time in, and that's a little annoying.

OTTO HAIL, IOWA VOTER: It doesn't particularly bother me. He's kind of above the fray right now.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SANTIAGO: And as to how voters here are responding, they tell me seeing all of these candidates doesn't make it easier, rather, more difficult to make a decision. For the candidates who are not in that top five tier with these polls, they tell me, it's just too early. Jake?

TAPPER: All right, Leyla Santiago in Des Moines, Iowa. Thank you so much. Let's chew over all of this. And one of the things I learned early in covering politics is it's not where the poll numbers are, it's where they're going.

And one of the things, if you look at the new CNN and Des Moines Register poll, Biden still leads the field, but he is down three points. Bernie Sanders right behind him, down nine points, Elizabeth Warren, basically in a virtual tie with Bernie Sanders. She's up six. Pete Buttigieg also in a virtual tie for second place with Sanders and Warren. He's up 14.

So right now, you see the front-runners, Biden and Sanders are going in the wrong direction while Elizabeth Warren and Pete Buttigieg are in the right direction.

SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I mean, I actually think that makes a lot of sense, because people already knew who Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders were and now people are starting to get a better sense who some of these other candidates are, what they stand for. And you know, I think a couple of them, they like what they see, certainly Elizabeth Warren.

I think people are noting that when she's asked questions about her policies, she just gives you the answer. She tells you what the details of her policies are, whereas you know, Bernie may not want to get into that or maybe he doesn't have all the answers in front of him.

And I think you know, certainly people in these early nominating states in particular, they like when they know their stuff. They take this really seriously and they like when the candidates do too.

NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think that's right. I talked to a couple of voters who actually responded to this poll, a Biden voter who, for instance, says that he likes Biden, but he isn't really sure that there are others in the race, maybe Mayor Pete, somebody like that. He's taking a look at mayor Pete, as well.

A couple of Warren voters, very much like you said. They like the fact that she has these detailed plans. They also like that she has experience. So that's also obviously something that Biden is going for, too. Biden has got to show up. And that's the thing. He'll be there tomorrow. We'll see what he says. We'll see how those voters react to him.

The clip there that you just showed where the older voter essentially said, oh yes, I know who Biden is, he doesn't necessarily have to show up and the younger voter who said, who does he think he is? He doesn't -- you know, why doesn't he think he has to show up? You know, that I think is the split here. Older voters are sort of comfortable with Biden, younger voters not so much.

TAPPER: And you know, he got some tough questions on The View and also from Good Morning America, but really only having done two interviews is really, I think, pretty remarkable. And one could argue is the fact that he hasn't been out there, he hasn't been out there in the fray is one of the reasons why he had the big stumble with the Hyde Amendment last week. He wasn't out there being agile and hearing from voters.

MURRAY: Right. And so you know, on the one hand, you might have people saying their takeaway, that he's been the front-runner in the field, he doesn't have to be out there in the same way that all these other people do. But one, you risk alienating voters who think you're taking them for granted, and two, it's been a long time since Joe Biden was campaigning for anything.

And it's hard. I mean, it is if you are not out there every day talking to voters, explaining yourself and learning how to be a better candidate. And it's certainly I think a risk when you're about to be on a debate stage with a whole bunch of other people who want to knock you down.

TAPPER: And the ground has shifted. The Democratic Party has moved to the left and the Republican Party has moved towards President Trump whatever direction that is.

[16:55:03] HENDERSON: I think that's right. And Biden thinking he can hold this centrist lane. We'll see. He's obviously had to shift on the Hyde Amendment. We'll see what other shifts he feels like he hs to make.

TAPPER: All right, thanks so much. Great job. The first thing Big Papi asked for when he opened his eyes after surgery, that's next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

TAPPER: Our "SPORTS LEAD," Big Papi, David Ortiz of the Boston Red Sox opened his eyes after surgery and says he wants to see his family. The Red Sox -- Red Sox icon is being prepared to be moved right now to Boston after being shot in the Dominican Republic last night.