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THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER

Report: Most Extremist Murders In 2018 Were By Right-Wing Killers; Manafort Avoids Transfer To Notorious Rikers Island After DOJ Intervenes; Crowds Filling Arena For Trump Re-Election Rally; Extremist Right-Wing Violence Threat Growing?; Biden Leading Democrats in Polls. Aired 4:30-5p ET

Aired June 18, 2019 - 16:30   ET

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


[16:31:35]

JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: Just as a new poll puts Joe Biden ahead of President Trump in the key state of Florida in a hypothetical matchup, the former vice president is telling supporters he -- quote -- "doesn't believe the polls right now."

And if it is true that he is ahead, he says, then there is a target on his back.

My panel is back with me.

So Biden at the fund-raiser last night suggested that he has raised close to $20 million for his campaign so far. That is more than any other Democratic candidate race in the first quarter of fund-raising. Biden has been obviously prioritizing this kind of big donor fund- raising.

That is a pretty big number, though, $20 million.

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: It is, no doubt about it.

He raised 6.8 in the first 24 hours, so about 14 more. It is a big number, without question. It is always, though -- I mean, shouldn't the former vice president of the United States have to put an impressive number up?

I think like what is more telling will be the third quarter of the year. But without question, it is a big number. He said it last night for a reason. He has had some hits. This was not a mistake from Joe Biden at all.

TAPPER: Right.

ZELENY: His money begets money. So, people -- he still has about 15 days or so, 13 days, whatever it is, until the end of the month.

But, look, he realizes that he is not going to be the front-runner this entire time. So he's trying to take advantage of it as he can. But he's right about the target on his back. The question is, is it going to come at the debates next week? I'm

not sure it is. I have been speaking to a lot of advisers of a lot of candidates. And there is a big risk, during a big televised debate, when each candidate probably has eight minutes to speak at most, to not use it as a chance to introduce yourself, than to go after Joe Biden.

So someone may try to throw a grenade or a bomb to make a name for themselves, but that person usually doesn't win who does that.

TAPPER: And, of course, we're -- some of us are old enough to remember 2004, when Richard Gephardt in Iowa went after Howard Dean, who was the front-runner. And it was referred to as a murder-suicide pact.

And then, at the end of it, John Kerry and Edwards won Iowa.

KAREN FINNEY, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: That's exactly right.

And, again, you have got -- because we have got two nights of debates, you have got to be mindful of what is the message, what is sort of the narrative coming out of the first night and going into the second night?

And I agree with Jeff. The better idea is to use -- and when I have talked to a couple of the candidates, it is to use the time to either, A, try to say something meaningful that not necessarily is an attack, but perhaps something unique about one of your plans, one of your ideas, something that will remind people why they like you or make them give you kind of a second look.

TAPPER: And we should point out that there was interesting faces at this Biden fund-raiser last night, including former Republican Senator of New York Senator Alfonse D'Amato, and Trump's former Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin, who also had served under Obama.

JOHN AVLON, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: Holdover.

TAPPER: But those are some interesting names.

I also -- there was some other Republican donor who took to Twitter today to say, I'm behind President Trump no matter what, even though he was at this Biden fund-raiser last year.

(LAUGHTER)

AVLON: Yes, I mean, look, with Biden, there is the promise that adults will be back in charge.

And with people like Al D'Amato, who's probably partisan when it comes to power, but with Joe Biden, there is that sense that, look, you will be getting an A-team of experienced people, and it will be bridge traditional and political divides.

I will say something else about that number, because this is important. The big number is not surprising. It's the small-dollar donors.

And he did say that his average donation was 150 bucks. That's a big deal, because it does mean there's a degree of grassroots support that maybe isn't evident from his schedule, and that's where his vulnerability is going to come in the debates. Is there real enthusiasm, or are we playing it safe? And could that be the riskiest thing?

[16:35:00]

AMANDA CARPENTER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I have got to get some off my chest about Joe Biden, though, because there is this conventional wisdom that he is the most equipped to go against President Trump.

I just don't buy that, because they both animate the same voters, old white men. And so I think Democrats are going to leave a lot of voters on the table because Donald Trump will say, yes, this is our election, and he will use all the arguments to depress women and minorities against Biden.

That is going to happen. So when you talk about he's the most competitive in Pennsylvania, OK, yes, if you want this to be an election decided for and about old white men, the grumpy old men election, yes, you can have that.

(CROSSTALK)

CARPENTER: And that's where you're going to go.

And I think Trump is going to win that matchup, unless Joe Biden can change his past, which he can't.

FINNEY: I think there are two dynamics that you need to keep in mind.

Number one, what John said, talking about grassroots donors, part of the narrative that Biden has to get out there is that you have grassroots support that you can go back to and back to, and that you can animate the grassroots base, because you don't want people to just think, I'm ahead, I'm just going to stay head.

How did that work for Hillary Clinton, by the way, right? Everybody thought she was going to win.

Secondly, don't forget, in my party, the desire to win is pretty much stronger than just about anything. So, if he is to become the nominee, I promise you, black people will be out. Latinos will be out. Black women in particular, one of the core of the Democratic Party, we will be out and we will vote in force.

TAPPER: Though there will be -- and I think Amanda's point also includes the fact there will be a big effort at voter discouragement by Republicans.

(CROSSTALK)

CARPENTER: ... to discourage black...

(CROSSTALK)

FINNEY: Let's call it voter suppression. Let's call it what it is.

CARPENTER: They're going to do it.

AVLON: But, remember, the other thing that happened in the last campaign was Republicans and Russians trying to depress turnout with social media targeting.

(CROSSTALK)

TAPPER: And now we're going to have the Chinese as well.

AVLON: Yes.

TAPPER: So, everyone, stick around. We got more to talk about.

He warned a storm is coming before he opened fire outside a federal courthouse in Dallas. The disturbing posts turning up on social media after another attempted massacre.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[16:41:13]

TAPPER: In our national lead, officials are currently digging into the background of the gunman who opened fire outside a federal courthouse in Dallas, including his social media profiles.

And what officials are finding is pretty disturbing, including posts with Nazi imagery.

CNN's Dianne Gallagher has more details now on the shooter, whose motive is still being investigated, and they're looking into as well whether you represent a growing threat in the U.S. of extremist right- wing violence.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DIANNE GALLAGHER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This week, another young white American man launched an attack on the innocent.

TIM BROWN, WITNESS: But he definitely had this planned out. He had a vest on. He had -- it looked like camo pants on. He had boots on.

GALLAGHER: The 22-year-old Texan open fire on a federal building Monday, endangering some 300 people inside.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Evil, straight evil. That's what it was.

GALLAGHER: Police were able to shoot and kill him before anyone was hurt. In the days leading up to his attack, the gunman used social media to

brandish his rifle and his hate. His Facebook profile shows Confederate Flag memes, weapons, and this post showing a Nazi swastika as the solution to all our nation's political problems.

While the president often says the threat to American safety comes from outside:

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We have terrorists coming through the southern border, because they find that's probably the easiest place to come through.

GALLAGHER: Research reveals hate is often homegrown.

A study by the Anti-Defamation League shows nearly all the extremist murders in 2018 were committed by right-wing radicals, white supremacists making up a full 78 percent of the total. Last April, in San Diego, a 19-year-old opened fire at a synagogue, killing a worshiper and disfiguring the rabbi.

YISROEL GOLDSTEIN, RABBI: Terrorism like this will not take us down.

GALLAGHER: In October of 2018, 11 people killed at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh.

SCOTT BRADY, U.S. ATTORNEY: Bowers made statements regarding genocide and his desire to kill Jewish people.

GALLAGHER: In 2017, vitriol was on display again, this time at an organized Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. A young white extremist drove his car through a crowd, killing counterprotester Heather Heyer.

Four years ago, in Charleston, South Carolina, a 21-year-old white supremacist killed nine black worshipers at a church prayer group, and more recently, a death threat within two Muslim Congresswomen Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib.

REP. RASHIDA TLAIB (D-MI): In this threat to my office, they copied the U.S. Department of Justice, the president.

GALLAGHER: The sender appeared to be an American and expressed glee over the New Zealand mosque attack that left 51 people dead in March.

TLAIB: "Let's hope and pray that it continues here in the good old USA. The only good Muslim is a dead one.

GALLAGHER: Tlaib was brought to tears as she appealed to the administration for answers.

TLAIB: How can we don't have enough tools right now to pull these people in?

(END VIDEOTAPE)

GALLAGHER: And, look, they're still trying to figure out the motive, what caused this man to attack this building.

But this photo you're looking at now from "Dallas Morning News" photographer Tom Fox has really defined this incident here in Dallas and really almost a broader part of it, Jake. You can see him armed to the teeth, more than 150 rounds on him, pointing that rifle, wearing the mask above his face, dressed almost as if he thinks he's going into battle.

Again, the Federal Protective Service officers took him down, before he was able to hurt any of the 300 people who were inside this building.

TAPPER: All right, Dianne Gallagher in Dallas, thank you so much.

And former FBI senior intelligence adviser Phil Mudd comes back to the show.

And let me ask you. We hear a lot about the threat of Islamist terrorists. We hear a lot about from the president the threat of gang members crossing the border, MS-13.

PHILIP MUDD, CNN COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST: Yes.

[16:45:00] JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: It seems as though the bigger threat in this country at least based on this ADL report and some other statistics is from white men who are radicalized extremist right-wingers. Is that what the FBI thinks?

PHIL MUDD, CNN COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST: Yes. If you look at what the FBI Director said as recently as last month, you're talking about him saying publicly to the Congress we have more arrests and more killings in recent years from domestic terrorism that is people like white supremacist than we do from international terrorism.

Remember, a couple years ago, we would have talked about ISIS that had the stronghold of Syria, they don't have that stronghold to recruit people from the United States into is that decline -- as that declines, people in my world are talking more and more about what you just saw on the screen today.

TAPPER: And what is the reason for this -- the rise of nationalistic movements worldwide? We saw them in New Zealand, we've seen acts of violence committed in Europe as well. Is that what's going on?

MUDD: There's a couple of things happening here. I think that's part of it, what I would call validation. Years ago if you wanted to join an extremist organization that was Islamist like ISIS, you could get validation on the Internet. You get more validation today for people who say I don't like immigrants. I don't like the way demographics are changing in this country.

I mentioned the internet. This is -- this is domestic terrorism that is driven by domestic concerns but one of the interesting things is it's also becoming international. These people are talking to people like those in New Zealand, those in Australia, those in Europe so we're starting to see a global phenomenon. TAPPER: Is there a reluctance among law enforcement in any way that you can tell to take this threat of extremist, right-wing people, murderers, white men to take it as seriously as the FBI and other organizations -- law enforcement organizations have taken Islamist terrorism? Is there any sort of reluctance to say this is the rising threat as opposed to ISIS or al-Qaeda?

MUDD: I'm not sure there's a reluctance. There are some problems. The laws about international terrorism and domestic terrorism are different. It's tougher to go after, for example, a search warrant for domestic terrorist than it is for an international terrorist. There's also a practical problem. If you're facing ISIS, I might have an opportunity in a chat room. I can watch the communications of ISIS out of Syria.

These guys, that is the domestic terrorists are more fragmented, it could be a couple here and there. There's no center locus that that intelligence guys like me can focus on is a vulnerability.

TAPPER: And lastly, President Trump recently said after -- I think it was after the attack in New Zealand that he doesn't see white nationalism as a rising threat. He said, "I think it's a small group people that have very, very serious problems." Do you agree with that?

MUDD: No. This is pretty simple. Look at the metrics. I mentioned the FBI director, that's arrests and killings. If you want a metrics based approach to law enforcement, when your questions is who poses a bigger threat, one of the ways you can measure that is how many arresting and how many people are getting killed. It's not ISIS anymore. They've declined. It's people like this.

TAPPER: All right, Phil Mudd, thank you so much for your expertise. I appreciate it. The unusual step is taken by the Department of Justice to make sure Paul Manafort does not end up at one of the most infamous prisons in America at Rikers Island. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[16:50:00] TAPPER: The "POLITICS LEAD" now, a lifeline of sorts for President Trump's former campaign chair Paul Manafort. Instead of moving Manafort to the Rikers Island, while he's tried in New York for fraud, Manafort will instead stay at a federal facility in Manhattan. The Justice Department making that decision intervening in this single federal inmates case.

A Justice Department run by Attorney General Bill Barr handpicked by President Trump and as CNN's Jessica Schneider reports, critics are calling this decision special treatment for a person connected to the president.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Any reaction, Mr. Manafort?

JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Convicted former Trump Campaign Chairman Paul Manafort is most likely not going to the notorious Rikers Island state prison after the Justice Department got involved. In a letter dated June 11th, newly installed Deputy Attorney General Jeff Rosen, Bill Barr's number two, stepped in to ensure the Manhattan district attorney was looking at a request for Manafort's lawyers.

Rosen wrote, Manafort's lawyers proposed he remain in federal custody but be made available to New York when needed for the prosecution of the state criminal matter. Continuing, the department would like to know if your office has a response. Former Federal Prosecutor Shan Wu says the Deputy AG's involvement is unusual.

SHAN WU, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: That's really something usually completely in the realm of the bureau of prisons. The deputy would have no need to become involved in that.

SCHNEIDER: The DOJ does oversee the bureau of prisons and a senior DOJ official said the department wants to keep Manafort in federal custody to err on the side of caution. Manafort's situation is unusual. He's already been convicted and sentenced to 7 1/2 years for federal financial crimes and now facing charges in New York stemming from the same circumstances.

Manafort's team cite his age 70 years old and his declining health as reason to keep him at the federal prison in Pennsylvania while his pretrial hearings in New York play out. Manhattan's District Attorney Cy Vance says his office has never taken the position that Mr. Manafort should be housed at Rikers Island and instead told the Pennsylvania prison warden that the options are to produce Mr. Manafort to New York state or house him in a federal facility in New York City like the Metropolitan Correctional Center where Manafort is being held for now pending arraignment on state charges. Also there, notorious drug lord El Chapo, following his conviction at trial.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SCHNEIDER: And a Justice Department official has acknowledged that the situation with Paul Manafort is unusual compared with the average case but did explain that since Paul Manafort is a high-profiled defendant, that the Bureau of Prisons kept DOJ apprised from the very beginning.

But, Jake, what DOJ couldn't say is how many times in the past a deputy attorney general has stepped in like this. The criticism will likely continue. Jake?

[16:55:06] TAPPER: All right, Jessica Schneider, thank you. We now know what long-time Trump confident Hope Hicks is going to be asked by some members of Congress when she heads to the Hill tomorrow. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

TAPPER: Welcome back. And you're looking at some live pictures right now out of Orlando, Florida, where President Trump is set to launch his 2020 re-election campaign with a rally this evening. Crowds have been building all day long. It's been a bit overshadowed by the Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan withdrawing from consideration for the official job.

That is it for THE LEAD. You can follow me on Facebook and --

END