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THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER

Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC) Is Interviewed About Border Crisis And Heartbreaking Father-Daughter Pic; Democrats Set To Debate; Border Crisis; Sources: New Flaw In Boeing 737 Max; Trump On Upcoming Talk With Putin: What I Say To Him Is None Of Your Business. Aired 4:30-5p ET

Aired June 26, 2019 - 16:30   ET

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


[16:30:02]

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-MN), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This president has put us into this situation.

KYUNG LAH, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Klobuchar and Warren traveled south of the debate site today to the Homestead detention center, where approximately 2,300 unaccompanied migrant children are being held.

SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This is not what we should be doing as a country. These children did not commit a crime. These children pose no threat to people here in the United States of America.

LAH: Kamala Harris, appearing in tomorrow night's debate, says she will be watching tonight. So will President Trump.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It just seems very boring, but I'm going to watch it because I have to. That is part of any life. It is part of my life.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

LAH: Now, I'm joining you in the so-called spin room, although the spin theater might be the more appropriate word because it is such a large space.

This is the plane where, after the debate, some of the surrogates of these campaigns will come through and they will talk to reporters. They will do that spinning, spin their message on how their candidates did.

But, Jake, we're also hearing that some of the candidates may show up after the debate. Cory Booker expected to come here and speak to the reporters after his debate performance -- Jake.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: All right, Kyung Lah in Miami, thanks so much. Let's chew over all this with our experts.

Jackie, what are you looking for tonight?

JACKIE KUCINICH, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I'm going to see if Elizabeth Warren can keep up this momentum that she's been building.

She's been third in two national polls. In some states, she's actually doing better, matching herself up with Bernie Sanders, who's her kind of closest ideological rising. Can she show people why people are starting to take another look at Elizabeth Warren?

TAPPER: And, Mike, what about you?

MICHAEL WARREN, CNN REPORTER: I'm actually wondering if any of the other candidates, particularly the ones sort of on the outside of the debate stage, will go after Warren.

Will they go after the number one candidate who's on the stage tonight? She's out there getting a lot of good coverage about all the plans that she has. You have to wonder if somebody like John Delaney, who probably doesn't have a very good chance of winning the nomination, might be the person to sort of go after some of these plans and say, well, how are you actually going to pay for that, Senator?

That would be interesting to see, because everybody thinks they're going to be going after Biden or Sanders.

TAPPER: You're going to be looking at a different candidate tonight.

SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I do agree the stakes are highest for Warren. She's the only one on this stage that right now I think is in the legit conversation.

You got Beto, maybe his last stand tonight. He's been a huge flop so far. But I'm thinking about Joe Biden. He's not there. But all these candidates eventually got to take on Joe Biden. So I want to see who's got the guts to punch at Joe Biden. He's not there to respond.

And then will anybody have the guts to take up for him if they happen to agree with Biden on an issue?

TAPPER: What about you?

KAREN FINNEY, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I'm looking to see if Warren -- she is the person who has set the policy agenda I think in many ways. I know Bernie's people would disagree with that.

And so much of what gets discussed tonight, how much of that ends up spilling over to tomorrow to where people are having to defend themselves, which for her kind of pushes her, again, keeps her momentum going?

I also want to see if Beto can hold his own. He's had some trouble on the policy front. And so standing next to that woman who is the queen of policy in this debate, this is going to be a big test for him.

JENNINGS: One thing about Warren, she has so far I think of all these people shown the most adeptness at being at a lectern and talking to a crowd.

Her CNN town hall I think was -- she did a really good job.

TAPPER: Really good communicator, yes.

JENNINGS: She's a teacher. She's used to standing in front of a classroom. And so these settings really do set up for her. So I think if she performs well tonight, it really vaults her even higher than she's gone in the last few weeks.

TAPPER: The gender dynamics are interesting. There will be three women on the stage tonight, Klobuchar, Gabbard, and Warren.

Is there a risk for a man taking on a woman in a debate? We have seen different dynamics play out. There was when Rick Lazio took on Hillary Clinton in that Senate debate so many years ago, I guess 2000, when Trump and Hillary went at it. I mean, it can be difficult.

FINNEY: Absolutely.

And it's something that having worked with male candidates who have had female moderators and male and female candidates mixed on the stage, you have to be mindful. I mean, it'll be the first time we have ever had three women at the same time. So I think the dynamics between them, I don't think we will see anything there.

But for women, it's likeability. Well, people are looking for electability and how a man and a woman engage. There's certain things that we still think maybe that's a little bit too mean, that's a little bit too harsh, goes too far. So be very curious to see both how those dynamics play out and then tomorrow, when we sort of are thinking about it, how do we feel about what happened between the candidates?

TAPPER: The number one thing that Democratic voters are looking for when it comes to picking your nominee is can they be Donald Trump?

KUCINICH: Right.

TAPPER: They're all going to be unanimous that they think Donald Trump is a disaster. But how do you distinguish yourself as being the one who can beat Trump when you're standing on a stage with 10 people who think they can?

WARREN: Well, I think it's interesting, because, again, we have been talking about Elizabeth Warren. She's distinguished herself not because of she's the toughest person against Trump, but because of all these ideas and all these plans.

And I sort of want to give Democratic primary voters a little bit of credit here. I think they're also looking at those policies, at those plans. And so I do think good way to stick out is not -- is to actually not talk so much about Trump tonight, but really to talk about how you might differ from Elizabeth Warren or from any of the other candidates.

[16:35:10]

KUCINICH: Though I do think, if you're one of the candidates kind of on the lower tier, you have to kind of show that you can take it to the president, because no one's been listening to you otherwise, to any of your wonderful policy proposals.

(CROSSTALK)

KUCINICH: If you have them, no one cares. They want to see how -- they want to be able to see that person next to the president on a stage someday.

TAPPER: Everyone, stick around.

Do Republicans need to be concerned about Democrats' performances tonight? The Republican senator from the key voting state of South Carolina, Tim Scott, will join me next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[16:40:01]

TAPPER: In our politics lead, make no mistake.

Tonight's Democratic primary debate is in Florida, but the crucial early state of South Carolina could be the decider for Democrats.

Joining me now is a man who knows a lot about winning in South Carolina, Republican Senator Tim Scott.

Senator, thanks so much for joining us.

SEN. TIM SCOTT (R-SC): Thank you, Jake. Good to be on your show.

TAPPER: Appreciate it.

So you know the voters well in South Carolina. Right now, former Vice President Joe Biden is leading in polls of South Carolina Democrats. It's still early, though.

SCOTT: It's still -- but he has a huge lead really in many ways.

He's done very well with African-American voters in a way that is inconsistent with what we thought would be the case. So it's exciting to see that African-American voters are not focused on identity politics as much as they are on who they think the best candidate is.

Obviously, I'm not going to be voting in that primary.

TAPPER: Right.

SCOTT: But it is interesting. It's interesting to see the engagement from the constituents that I represent and their involvement looking for the best candidate.

TAPPER: Well, 60 percent of the Democratic base in South Carolina, 60 percent is African-American.

SCOTT: Yes.

TAPPER: Are you surprised that your colleagues Kamala Harris and Cory Booker aren't -- and it's early.

SCOTT: Yes.

TAPPER: I want to emphasize it's early. Are you surprised they're not doing better in polling yet?

SCOTT: I am.

I mean, I thought, honestly, with the -- you look at the 60 percent of the African-Americans that make up the Democrat primary, African- American women make up the majority of the African-Americans. Therefore, you would think that, by default, Kamala would have a pretty strong advantage, and Cory would be right behind.

But what's happening right now is a bit surprising that candidates who are running very hard and very strong are folks who are actually white males in the Democratic primary.

And so in South Carolina, that's no different. The facts are very clear that Joe Biden and his reputation, his legacy of service is serving him well with African-American voters. Hence, his lead is a double-digit lead.

TAPPER: It is interesting, especially for a party as diverse as the Democratic Party.

Now, speaking of diversity, you launched a new initiative called Empower -- the Empower America Project...

SCOTT: Yes.

TAPPER: ... which trains and supports diverse conservative candidates to run as Republican candidates.

You're the only African-American Republican senator, and only one of two black Republicans in Congress, period, you and Will Hurd, the House member.

SCOTT: Yes.

TAPPER: The number of Republican women in Congress actually went down.

One of the things I'm told by Republicans off the record is that the party is behind supporting more diverse candidates, whether it's African-Americans, Latinos, women, whatever.

SCOTT: Absolutely. TAPPER: But Republican voters don't necessarily support them in the

Republican primaries.

SCOTT: Well, I don't know about that. I would, of course, disagree with that.

TAPPER: You're an exception, of course.

SCOTT: Well, my first race in Congress, I had to beat the son of Strom Thurmond, and the son namesake of the most popular governor in the last 100 years, Carroll Campbell Jr.. I ran against his son as well.

So the facts are very simple that our candidates on the right can win, even if you are a minority candidate. What you have to do is you actually have to develop a farm team that has spent a lot of time in the communities.

I'm opposed to or think it's more difficult to win by starting out running for the Senate or the House. There are some aberrations out there. And hopefully we will see another one happen this year with the candidate who's running.

But the truth is that building that farm team means planting the seeds in the soil and giving it some time to run. So our hope is that, over the next few cycles, we will have more and more candidates being successful, because we will pick the kind of candidates that already have a strong reputation, a strong legacy of service, and a way for us to help build on their natural gifting.

And if we do that, we will be very successful.

TAPPER: Now, I know President Trump always talks about how black unemployment is at record lows.

SCOTT: Six-point-two.

TAPPER: Latin American...

SCOTT: Four-point-five.

TAPPER: ... unemployment.

But doesn't sometimes the rhetoric that he says, he uses complicate the job that you're trying to do right now?

SCOTT: Well, listen, I wish we had fewer people on Twitter. There's no doubt about that.

But the truth of the matter is that what we can celebrate is the fact that most Americans, I think over 90 percent of Americans, wanting more civil discourse, more civil debate.

I think if we draw the type of diverse candidates to the forum, to the conversation, we will have that more civil society and more civil debate, and each candidate will have to be responsible for their own words.

TAPPER: Now, I don't want to -- this is -- I want to be clear here. I'm not blaming these images I'm about to show on President Trump.

But when there are images like this one of the dad and his daughter drowning on the Mexican border, at a time when President Trump is pushing a hard-line immigration position, does that complicate the job that you're doing?

SCOTT: Well, certainly, I think it makes even more important the job that I'm doing.

Having diverse candidates and diverse figures, having that conversation with our friends on the other side about not taking the issue as their political opportunity, but taking the solution as a political opportunity, I think we have greater credibility when we have different voices, diverse faces, having that conversation.

The truth of the matter is that we today passed humanitarian assistance in the Senate. I think it was 84-8. So we have the votes on a bipartisan piece of legislation.

[16:45:00] And it's already meeting resistance in the House, because, sometimes, it appears that folks prefer the issue than they do the solution.

TAPPER: I do want to ask you about the recent rape allegation made against President Trump. Two of your Republican colleagues Senators Mitt Romney and Joni Ernst say the accusation should be looked into. I'm not asking you to make a judgment but do you agree should it be a look into?

SCOTT: Yes. I mean, I think any allegations made that seem to have merit we should take a look at. I have not seen the allegations so I can't comment on it specifically.

TAPPER: You haven't seen the allegation on the --

SCOTT: I've seen it but I haven't read into the stories because the fact patterns are really important in making a decision on whether or not there should be a legal or criminal investigation into allegations.

TAPPER: Sen. Tim Scott, Republican of South Carolina, it's always a pleasure to see you.

SCOTT: Thank you, Jake.

TAPPER: Thanks for stopping by. I appreciate it.

SCOTT: I look forward to coming back.

TAPPER: I hope so.

TAPPER: Breaking news on the Boeing 737 Max, that's next. Plus, none of your business, what President Trump does not want you to know about an upcoming meeting he has.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[16:50:00] TAPPER: Breaking news in our "MONEY LEAD." Sources telling CNN that the FAA has discovered yet another flaw with the Boeing 737 Max airplane, the same plane that's been grounded since March in the U.S. after two crashes elsewhere in the world killed 346 people.

CNN's Drew Griffin has been covering this story since the beginning. Drew, what are sources telling you?

DREW GRIFFIN, CNN SENIOR INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT: Another setback, Jake. It's our reporting that the FAA test pilots working in a simulator tested what would happen if a microprocessor failed on board, that 737 Max came up with the same result as in both the Lion Air crash and the Ethiopian Air crash, basically that the runaway stabilizer trim pointed the nose of the plane down and the pilots could not recover in a matter of seconds.

The FAA is demanding that Boeing fix the problem. Whether or not that requires a software fix or whether microprocessors need to be changed in 737 Maxes is now what is being tested. But this is a pretty big setback discovered by FAA's to test pilots that this situation has come up in this troubled airplane.

TAPPER: And obviously, Boeing had been hoping that all-clear would be given and the plane would be were returned to the -- to the airwaves. I assume this will delay that return.

GRIFFIN: I was expecting any day now the FAA to announce a flight certification test to be run but that is delayed now indefinitely. It's not going to happen until this plane and all its kinks are worked out.

And even after that, Jake, it's going to be another four to six weeks before the technical advisory board brought together by the FAA. It goes over everything Boeing did. So yes we've got a major delay now back again with the 737 max.

TAPPER: All right, Drew Griffin, thanks so much. In our "POLITICS LEAD" now, right now, President Trump is on his way in the air to Japan for the G-20 summit where he's expected to have his first face- to-face discussion with President Putin since the release of the Mueller report.

Now, when asked about their upcoming chat on his way to Air Force One, the President still would not commit to even bringing up the subject of the Russians' interference in the 2016 election, in fact, he says, it's none of your business. I personally cannot think of a subject that is more of our business but here's CNN's Boris Sanchez at the White House.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: As Donald Trump departs Washington for the G-20 meeting in Japan, the President again taking aim at several key issues like Iran.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'm not sure that their leaders care for their people. If they do, they'll make a deal. If they don't, they're just thinking about themselves and they're selfish and stupid if that is what they're doing.

SANCHEZ: And Russia refusing to answer when asked if he would confront Vladimir Putin in Osaka about not interfering in the 2020 election.

TRUMP: I'll have a very good conversation with him. What I say to him is none of your business.

SANCHEZ: The President instead seeming to take a shot at another leader he'll be meeting at summit during a Fox Business interview, blasting German Chancellor Angela Merkel and suggesting Germany abused the United States worse than China on trade.

TRUMP: You have a woman in Europe, I won't mention her name. She hates the United States perhaps worse than any person I've ever met.

SANCHEZ: His digs also aimed at one of his own appointees saying Federal Reserve chairman Jerome Powell doesn't do anything for the U.S.

TRUMP: This is a guy, nobody heard of him before, and now I made him and he wants to show how tough he is, OK. Let him show how tough he is. He's not doing a good job.

SANCHEZ: And before a crowd of people of faith, before leaving for Japan, the President reviving his feud with late Senator John McCain, again criticizing McCain's vote against a repeal of Obamacare.

TRUMP: We needed 60 votes and we had 51 votes. And sometimes, you know, we had a little hard time with a couple of them, right? Fortunately, they're gone now. They've gone on to greener pastures or perhaps far less green pastures, but they're gone. I'm very happy they're gone.

SANCHEZ: Jake, one more note about the meeting between Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump, a senior administration official tells CNN there is no formal agenda for the meeting. They're going to discuss Syria, Iran, and Ukraine, but as far -- as far as election meddling, this official says that President Trump has already made his feelings well- known and that he's not going to be repeating them. Jake?

TAPPER: All right, Boris Sanchez at the White House, thank you. The Attorney General has a hidden talent. What is it? That's next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[16:55:00] TAPPER: No, you're eyes are not deceiving you. That is indeed the Attorney General of the United States and long-time bagpiper, Bill Barr, joining the NYPD Emerald Society Pipe Band at the Justice Department earlier today. Barr said his staff was planning to surprise him with the band but he foiled their plot. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WILLIAM BARR, ATTORNEY GENERAL, UNITED STATES: As you know, I'm very proficient at, dare I say the word, "spying."

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: I don't know about that. Certainly proficient at piping. You can follow me on Facebook and Twitter @JakeTapper. You can tweet the show @TheLeadCNN. Our coverage on CNN continues right now. Thanks for watching.