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THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER

Oversight Committee Votes To Hold A.G. Barr, Commerce Secretary In Contempt; U.S. Women's Soccer Team Dominates Game, Demands Fair Pay; Kaling's Film Highlights Diversity, Sexism In Writer's Room; Contempt Vote Passes in Congress; Hong Kong Protests; Bernie Sanders Makes Case for Democratic Socialism. Aired 4:30-5p ET

Aired June 12, 2019 - 16:30   ET

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


[16:30:00]

KIRSTEN POWERS, CNN COMMENTATOR: So, I think it's good for him to give the speech and to talk about it, and talk about a lot of things in our country that are, in fact, pretty socialist, things that people love, like Medicare, for example, and they would never want to give up.

I think that certainly corporate socialism is an example. I don't think the example of the bailout is a great example, because that wasn't socialism. Those were loans that were paid back with interest. And so -- and some of the banks didn't even really want them.

And, by the way, we wanted them to do it. So the economy was on the verge of collapsing. And so, in that situation, you want to do that. So I don't find that criticism that great, but I think it's good for him to be really laying out like, look, here's what you think of when you think of socialism. Here's what it really is, because what's happened is people have conflated it with communism, which is not what it is.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: So Joe Biden today tried to make the argument today that really there aren't that many differences between the Democratic candidates. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOSEPH BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If you think about it, the vast majority of the members that are running, the folks that are running now are all kind of on the same page.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: All kind of on the same page. I mean, maybe? But they really disagree on a lot of big issues, and I think that there's a big difference between, say, Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden .

BILL KRISTOL, DIRECTOR, DEFENDING DEMOCRACY TOGETHER: I think there's a pretty big difference between Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden and sort of the rest of the field. A, there's a big age difference, which isn't unimportant necessarily

in Democratic politics. And in terms of just engaging sort of today's issues and tomorrow's issues, you think cybersecurity, or what do you do about the big tech companies, or what about -- what's the economy like in the world where we have had $1 trillion deficits for so long, I think there's a real opportunity here for a breakout for the younger candidates.

And I think Elizabeth Warren's been gaining on Sanders enough that you almost now have to say that I think that Warren is a co-front-runner at least in the left lane with Sanders. She's, what, a little bit ahead of him, I think, in that poll today in Nevada?

(CROSSTALK)

TAPPER: Yes, there's a Nevada poll, a Monmouth poll. Biden has a sizable lead, 36 percent. Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts in second place, 19 percent. Bernie Sanders at 13 percent, Buttigieg 7, Kamala Harris at 6.

Now, the Monmouth polling director credits Warren's rise to two things. One, it's a low turnout caucus state. So it's mostly party activists, people really paying attention. And, two, Nevada Democrats very focused on a number of issues that benefit Warren, including reproductive rights, including the issue of abortion.

JACKIE KUCINICH, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Sorry. I'm going to push up my glasses, nerd glasses a little bit. Nevada is a notoriously tough place to poll.

So, we should say that. That said, this shows why Bernie Sanders needed to come out and give a speech about his view of socialism, because his lane right now, some of that progressive lane, is also occupied by other people, unlike the last race.

He's trying to put his stake down, and that ship may have already sailed. We're seeing Elizabeth Warren gain traction in Nevada, according to this poll, and other places. She's not totally being left in the dust anymore.

KRISTOL: She was tied with Sanders in Iowa, wasn't she, in the most recent Iowa poll, too.

(CROSSTALK)

KUCINICH: Exactly. So she is someone who definitely threatens what he has trying to, you know, plow through there.

POWERS: Plus, she doesn't have the socialism label on her.

TAPPER: Right. Right.

KUCINICH: She doesn't.

POWERS: She doesn't consider herself a socialist.

TAPPER: In fact, she differentiates herself with Sanders, saying that she's not a socialist.

(CROSSTALK)

SABRINA SIDDIQUI, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I also think there's more a burden on someone like Bernie Sanders to distinguish himself in this field, given a lot of the ideas that he campaigned on in 2016 are now part of the mainstream.

TAPPER: Medicare for all.

SIDDIQUI: Medicare for all is one of them, you know, much more robust plan on climate change. Several of the candidates are supporters of the Green New Deal, although not all of them.

I think certainly the biggest difference is perhaps between someone like Joe Biden, as well as some of the middle-of-the-road, lesser known candidates like Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper and Colorado Senator Michael Bennet, and then the rest of the field, who are very much running on a progressive platform on health care, on income inequality, on student loans.

And so what you see from Bernie Sanders is trying to really tap into that progressive movement that he started and to reclaim it from the rest of the field at the same time that Joe Biden is very much running on electability and really making a much more urgent appeal against Trump. So that remains to be seen what will be more appealing to Democrats when they all take the debate stage later this month.

TAPPER: And Hickenlooper announcing that he's going to take a whack at Bernie Sanders about this whole socialist issue, which is what he did at the California Democratic Party.

Joe Biden not doing that, not really needing to do it. But there are these other more moderate Democrats, Hickenlooper, Delaney, others, who basically are making a point of saying, you can't go in Bernie's direction.

KUCINICH: Pay attention to me.

(LAUGHTER)

KUCINICH: It really is about trying to stand out. That's why you're seeing a lot of -- you see Seth Moulton take a shot at Biden over Iraq.

You have seem some of these candidates that are having trouble getting any traction take a whack at the king, because they need us to be talking about them. They need people to notice them, because, at this point, we're how far away? They're probably not going to make the debate stage and they need to get some time in the sun, any way they possibly can.

TAPPER: Some oxygen.

POWERS: But it's only something you can afford to do if you really are not a contender, because the passion of the party is much closer to where Sanders and Warren are.

[16:35:00]

TAPPER: All right, everyone, stick around.

A standoff between protesters and police erupting in violence, sending dozens of people to the hospital. And now lawmakers are hitting the brakes on the very piece of legislation that sparked the outrage.

CNN's Matt Rivers will be live in Hong Kong.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MATT RIVERS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Tear gas, rubber bullets, a violent 24 hours here in Hong Kong. Coming up, we will tell you what happened and why.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

TAPPER: Our world lead now, 72 people were hurt in the government crackdown on massive protests across the semiautonomous territory of Hong Kong in China, according to a local hospital spokesperson.

[16:40:00]

Police there are using tear gas and rubber bullets on the people protesting a new bill that would allow the Hong Kong government to send fugitives hiding in Hong Kong back to mainland China.

Critics say this could give China the power to take anyone Chinese authorities wanted at any time from Hong Kong, eroding freedom and putting business owners and journalists at great risk.

CNN's Matt Rivers joins me now live from Hong Kong.

And, Matt, how did this protest get so violent so quickly?

RIVERS: Yes.

I mean, Jake, simply put, people are frustrated here in Hong Kong because of this bill, but also because of encroachment by China over the last couple of years. And those violent protests ended up with this.

Right now, we're in front of a makeshift barrier that thousands of protesters put together over the course of the day. This would be a major highway here, right in the middle of a 7.5 -- of a city with 7.5 million people. Normally, there would be all kind of cars here, but this makeshift protest of metal rods, metal gates, bamboo poles used for scaffolding here, they put that up to try and stop police from dispersing them when they were here.

And this was a day that got quite violent, all kinds of tear gas, rubber bullets. These are people protesting this extradition law, because they think, Jake, that this could lower the firewall, the legal firewall that exists between Hong Kong and mainland China, if this bill goes forward.

The people here think that the Chinese government could go forward and use their opaque legal system to violate human rights. And people don't want that here.

TAPPER: All right, Matt Rivers in Hong Kong for us, thank you so much.

We have some breaking news in our politics lead. Just moments ago, Democrats in Congress voted to hold two top Trump administration officials in contempt of Congress.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[16:45:00] JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Breaking news in our "POLITICS LEAD." The House Oversight Committee has just voted to hold the Attorney General and Commerce Secretary in contempt of Congress for failing to comply with subpoenas asking for information related to a new proposed question about citizenship to be on the new U.S. census.

Democrats are alleging a clear effort for the Trump administration to attempt to undercut the minority and immigrant vote arguing that such a question on the census will dissuade Latinos from participating in it helping Republicans when it comes to the distribution of congressional seats.

The Trump administration says there is actually nothing nefarious going on at all though recently discovered documents from one of the political strategists behind the effort suggests that the move would help the GOP and voters who lean Republican. Earlier today President Trump weighed in.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think it's totally ridiculous that we would have a census without asking. But the Supreme Court is going to be ruling on it soon. I think when a census goes out, you should find out whether or not and you have the right to ask whether or not somebody is a citizen of the United States.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: Let's get right to CNN's Lauren Fox. She's on Capitol Hill for us. Lauren, Democrats on Capitol Hill just voted to do this. Explain to us exactly what happened.

LAUREN FOX, CNN CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER: Well, you know, this was a contentious debate from the very beginning and it's gone on all day, Jake. You know, they just voted to hold the Attorney General William Barr and the Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross in contempt of Congress for refusing to hand over documents related to their subpoenas into their investigation into how a question about citizenship ended up on the U.S. Census. Now this was full of fireworks and it started with just minutes before the hearing the Trump administrating -- administration, excuse me, asserting executive privilege over the documents. Then, of course, there was fiery back-and-forth between Republicans and Democrats. Here's what one freshman congresswoman Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez had to say about this fight and the citizenship question altogether.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ (D-NY): I want to know why it was -- why this question was magically added after we have seen that a political operative knew and detailed an intent to intimidate racial and immigrant communities for a partisan purpose.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

FOX: And, Jake, you know, one thing to note from this vote earlier -- just moments ago was that they got one Republican congressman Representative Justin Amash to vote with them on this contempt vote. That's, of course, significant given the fact that Amash is the only Republican who's come out to say that the House should open an impeachment inquiry into the President of the United States. Jake?

TAPPER: All right, Lauren Fox, thank you so much. Coming up, she became a household name with roles in the office and on the Mindy Project. Now actress, writer, and producer Mindy Kaling is back on the big screen with her new movie Late Night. She will join me live next to talk about the message behind her new film and more. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[16:50:00] TAPPER: Our "POP CULTURE LEAD" now. Millions around the world are watching the Women's World Cup matches where the U.S. women are fighting to be back-to-back champions. But even if they win, their earnings will be a fraction of what their male colleagues earn, even though the men did not even qualify. Just another example of highlighting issues of inequality that women still face in the workplace.

Some of these issues are explored to comedic effect in the new film Late Night written by and starring Mindy Kaling as a woman brought into a Late Night writer's room as a diversity hire. Mindy Kaling joins us now. Thanks so much for joining us. Congratulations on the film.

I have to ask you. When you hear about the women's national soccer team, can you relate? Does it piss you off?

MINDY KALING, ACTRESS: Well, it is interesting and alarming that the wage gap for the women's soccer team is kind of in orders of magnitude larger than for women in United States than the wage gap.

So I think I read somewhere that it was like -- though they get paid something like -- they can get paid up to something like 40 percent whereas for the average American woman, it's more like 80 on average. So that seems pretty alarming for me. So yes, they're doing great.

TAPPER: Yes, and it kind of feeds into some of the issues you try to talk about in your film. And I have to say, one of the interesting decisions you make in your new film Late Night, is that the late-night comedy host that's played by Emma Thompson, Katherine Newbury, she's pretty rough to her staff. Let's show a clip. Here's a clip where your character lies about how great a boss she is to a party full of entertainment writers.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

[16:55:08] UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How would you describe Molly?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Molly is --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She said I was a vibrant splash of color on the gray canvas of our writing staff. I was really touched, and then she said something to me that I will never forget. She said to me that despite our very different backgrounds, I reminded her of a young girl.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Young girl, me.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Isn't that wonderful?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: What's great about it is Emma Thompson, the character that she plays Katherine Newberry, she considers herself a feminist but she's pretty horrible to women. That was an interesting decision by you as a writer.

KALING: Well, yes. You know, there's a thing where if this character who is a female late night talk show host and the only one where if you feel like you've broken through the glass ceilings that you know, your job is so precarious that you only want to help yourself. You don't feel like it's your responsibility to help other people. And part of the movie is about female mentorship. It's also a comedy movie --

TAPPER: Right. It's very funny.

KALING: -- and has a lot of issues in it. It's also a comedy movie. And you know, I come from the office and I wrote you know, 25 episodes of the office so I love workplace comedy and I try to be like a funny movie first but then just you know, because of what I look like, a lot of the things that have happened to me tend to be politically tinged but that's kind of on accident.

TAPPER: And you're a boss now. I mean, you have this film that you produced, and you wrote, and you start in. You have two T.V. shows coming out one on Hulu, one in Netflix. Do you think about the kind of thing of like as a woman you need to help other women get through the door?

KALING: Yes, absolutely. And it took a while. I mean, I used to -- when I was younger, in my 20s, I used to resent the fact that I felt the responsibility of having a diverse writing staff just on my shoulders and not on some of my colleagues' shoulders who frankly had more experience and more leverage and support. But now I really look forward to it.

And it's the thrill to discover young people of color -- actually, any writer, any young writer no matter what they look like it's always so exciting. But I do think it is more my responsibility but it's part of my job that I really like now.

TAPPER: And one of the things that's interesting. Your character in the movie Molly, she rises through the ranks of the writer's room but she's brought in as a diversity hire because Kathrine Newberry wants a woman and you -- I read an interview with you in the New York Times, you were -- you were hired at the office under a diversity program and you say that you felt at the time something like everyone's going to know that I'm not as funny as everyone else because I was brought in this way. But now you say, you wish you hadn't felt that way.

KALING: Yes. I was the diversity hire on the office. I was the person who my salary was paid for by the network so that they could have a more diverse staff. And I remember being so embarrassed of that because I felt that everyone would think that I wasn't as funny as my white colleagues.

And it took a while for me to realize that that program is not something to be embarrassed of. It's simply providing access for me because I didn't necessarily have the connections that other people had to find that kind of job. And ultimately no matter you know, no matter how you got there if you're good, you can stay and you can succeed.

TAPPER: And it's funny because there's a character in the film and again it's a very funny film even though you and I are talking seriously. There's a character in the film who's the head monologue writer and his dad had a job, the similar job. He tries to get his brother hired. So there are other ways into the room other than a diversity hire, it's just the old boy's network.

KALING: Yes, absolutely. And I think that it's not -- it's not just Hollywood. It's like I wanted to do a movie that a lot of people can relate to who are up against people who are hiring because of nepotism, and for lots of other reasons that are not exactly fair.

And so to me, I wanted to just make a movie that was relatable to anybody who feels like an outsider in the workplace,

TAPPER: Totally. And it's great and everyone should see it. But I have to ask you one political question. As somebody who has been such a trailblazer in Hollywood, are you watching at all this Democratic presidential field which is whatever you think of them and their issues they're historically diverse in terms of gender and race and sexual orientation and --

KALING: There's so many of them. TAPPER: Well, there's a lot of Democrats we just put on the field. I

think that's most of them. But I mean, as somebody who's been a trailblazer, do you look and see anybody there that appeals to you on just on trailblazer grounds?

KALING: Yes. I love Kamala Harris and I have really been vocal about my support for her. I really believe in her. I think she's a really exciting candidate and I like her stance on so many issues that are important to me.

TAPPER: But that said, we should point out that even if you're a Trump supporter, or a Bernie supporter, or supporter of Buttigieg or anyone else, the movie Late Night very, very funny.

KALING: Great segue way. Great segue way.

TAPPER: Kamala Harris not mentioned in it, not mentioned in it at all. Thank you so much. Go ahead.

KALING: But, Jake, can we say it about your -- you have a slight -- you make a slight appearance --

TAPPER: I have a cameo. I have a little cameo.

KALING: A cameo, yes.

TAPPER: Small cameo.

KALING: You're very funny. You're very funny in it.

TAPPER: Full disclosure, full disclosure. Mandy, so great to see you and congratulations on everything. The new movie Late Night in theaters --

END