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THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER
Trump Jokes With Putin About Election Interference; Supreme Court To Hear Key Political Case Just Ahead Of 2020 Election; Charlottesville Driver Sentenced To Life In Prison. Aired 4:30-5p ET
Aired June 28, 2019 - 16:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: How important is it that he brings the skill, because I'm wondering if -- you mentioned her vulnerability as a prosecutor. He tried to turn that around on her about the defender versus prosecutor, the punch didn't land.
[16:30:05] NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: It didn't land.
KEILAR: We also saw when he was defending himself and he was -- he was on a roll and sort of -- he was I think being forceful in defending himself and then the buzzer goes off and he's out of time, I'm sorry. Yes, he threw in the towel when you saw a lot of other candidates pushing through that buzzer to finish their point forcefully.
What did you make of that?
DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: And he did that with an expression that instantly became a meme. My time is up.
Well, when you are battling a generational question about your candidacy, my time is up is not what you want to come out of your mouth. You're right, he did sort of -- yes, he forcefully defended himself even more so today in Chicago as you just saw. It is hard to land the punch when you're already on the floor for being knocked out by Kamala Harris.
KEILAR: Biden surrogates have been struggling today to answer for what he said last night. Some of them have been saying he didn't say what he said.
We spoke to Cedric Richmond, congressman, and here's what he said. He's co-chair of Biden's national presidential campaign.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. CEDRIC RICHMOND (D-LA): Look at Vice President Biden's record and we know he's an outstanding advocate for civil rights. And that he will always stand up to bullies. If the question is about Joe Biden's heart and where he is, I think his word said he wants to unify this country.
(END VIDEO CLIP) KEILAR: Is that going to fly? We have to point out Biden has, of all of the candidates, the strongest support among voters of color.
KEILAR: Will this affect? Will this be a negative moment for him?
HENDERSON: You know, we'll see. We don't really know. Some folks I talked to down in South Carolina expect to see some movement with Harris moving up among African-American voters, maybe 10 percent.
But, listen, in this dog fight, 10 percent and if you're taking off voters from Biden or Warren, who also is catching on with black voters, we'll have to see.
But the other thing that I picked up on in talking to folks in South Carolina, some of whom were with Biden privately recently, and they're worried. They were worried just about his demeanor and his ability to be coherent in getting across points.
And you saw that on full display in the debate, we've seen that when we've seen Biden on the stump, that he isn't the Biden that people were --
KEILAR: He's rusty. He's a little rusty.
HENDERSON: He's a little rusty. And the question is, is it age or is he out of practice?
CHALIAN: And then there is the other question of, how much do voter factor that in? Because right now there is a very big divide. The political establishment, you know, there is this big question mark hanging over the Biden candidacy and the voters to date don't seem to have that question about the Biden camp. That's a very big divide.
Last night, Joe Biden did absolutely nothing to bring sort of the political establishment closer to where the voters are. He exacerbated the questions that many Democrats have about the strength of his front-runner status.
KEILAR: David and Nia, thank you guys so much.
President Trump finally confronting Vladimir Putin about election interference but why are his comments causing a big fuss? Maybe the way he delivered them? That's next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
[16:37:47] REPORTER: Will you tell Russia not to meddle in the 2020 election?
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Yes, of course I will.
Don't meddle in the election please. Don't -- don't meddle in the election.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: President Trump getting a bit of a chuckle in there while sitting next to Vladimir Putin and seemingly making light of the threat of Russian election interference.
The U.S. intelligence community says that Putin, a former top Russian spy, directed the 2016 coordinated interference campaign. And as CNN's Kaitlan Collins reports, that wasn't the only controversial comment that these two leaders bonded over.
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): With a grin on his face, President Trump finally brought up election meddling with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
TRUMP: Don't meddle in the election please.
COLLINS: But as he wagged his finger, the president only offered this light-hearted warning.
TRUMP: Don't -- don't meddle in the election.
COLLINS: It was the first face-to-face for the two leaders since Robert Mueller laid out how Russia interfered in the 2016 election and in a sweeping and systematic fashion, but Trump made clear he's ready to put the investigation behind them.
TRUMP: We have a very, very good relationship, and we look forward to spending some very good time together.
COLLINS: The laughs didn't stop at interference. Trump and Putin also joked about the reporters in the room.
TRUMP: Fake news -- you don't have them in Russia. We have them. You don't have them.
VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT: Yes, yes, we have them.
COLLINS: Since Putin has been in power, at least 26 reporters have been murdered in Russia, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists.
TRUMP: Thank you very much.
COLLINS: During a meeting that lasted more than an hour, the White House says Trump and Putin talked about Iran, Syria, Venezuela and Ukraine.
Trump canceled his meeting with Putin last fall after Russia seized Ukrainian ships and detained Ukrainian sailors, and he vowed not to meet again until the situation was resolved. But those sailors are still being held.
TRUMP: We haven't discussed it. We haven't discussed it.
COLLINS: Putin isn't the only strong man on Trump's schedule. The White House says he'll have breakfast with the Saudi crown prince in a few hours, who the CIA concluded personally ordered the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
[16:40:05] TRUMP: I don't know if anyone is going to be able to conclude that the crown prince did it.
COLLINS: Trump then sits down with Turkish President Erdogan who Congress is threatening to sanction for the purchase of a Russian missile system.
COLLINS: Now, Brian, during their meeting, a Kremlin official says Putin invited President Trump to come to Russia next year to celebrate victory day. That's an invitation that the White House says the president has not RSVP-ed to yet.
KEILAR: All right. Kaitlan Collins for us in Japan, thank you so much for that report.
And joining me now is former FBI and CIA analyst, Phil Mudd.
And I -- as you listen to the president's comments there about journalists but especially about election security with President Putin looking on, what is the real -- what is the real effect of him making light of meddling?
PHILIP MUDD, CNN COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST: I think we misinterpret and I've been trying to understand what the president is doing -- our misinterpretation is saying maybe the president is embarrassed by this because maybe -- and when he looks at the margins of electoral victory, hey, the Russians maybe did help me. I think we need to change the dynamic. Look at this through the eyes of Putin.
Putin who wants himself to control the media might be saying, hey, it's perfectly appropriate for people like me and the president of the United States to be pushing the media in the direction toward us, so maybe the president is actually encouraging me to do this. That's a Putin mindset that I think is not out of the realm of possibility. He thinks it's a green light from the president.
KEILAR: And then joking about getting rid of journalists with a leader who is believed to be -- we've seen a lot of Russian journalists murdered and there is a belief that -- and there is evidence that the Russian government has been connected to some of that. Also think of all of the other countries where leaders have imprisoned or killed reporters, what is the real effect of that?
MUDD: I mean, I look at this and say, for the American people, the president keeps saying on guns, I represent you and I represent the Constitution. The Constitution actually says, we all have a right to free speech. If the president got his intelligence briefs and I think some of this is a reflection of lack of understanding of what happens in Russia, he'd know that you not only don't have free speech in Russia, you've got murder.
And I would also point out that on the issue of the Constitution, the president keeps talking about term limits. That's also in the Constitution. Once you get elected out, you're done. He keeps joking he's going to stay after term limits. You can't do that.
KEILAR: I want you to listen to what Leon Panetta, former CIA director and defense secretary under President Obama told me this afternoon.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LEON PANETTA, FORMER DEFENSE SECRETARY: I think that was a disgraceful moment for the president of the United States. The president doesn't realize that when he does that, it sends a terrible message to the world that the United States is weak and that the president is weak in the presence of Vladimir Putin.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KEILAR: If the president is weak in the face of Vladimir Putin, what does it mean for America?
MUDD: I think there is a bigger issue. If you look at what president has done. There is rampant murder in the Philippines, long time an American ally, but the Philippines right now are a problem. When you look at what the president said about the murder of Jamal Khashoggi and basically saying, we don't know what's going to happen after the intelligence community said this was murder and now we see the president joking with the Russians about -- with Vladimir Putin about journalists and they are murdered in Russia.
I think the impression is not just about journalism, it's not just about the First Amendment, it's about America who built a reputation on human rights saying, I'm not sure they matter that much any more. I think people watch.
KEILAR: All right. Phil Mudd, thank you so much for your insight.
MUDD: Thank you.
KEILAR: Folks in a high place are getting political, a few people that you would never expect weighing in on the 2020 election.
[16:45:00] KEILAR: The "2020 LEAD," as if two dozen candidates plus President Trump weren't enough, today the Supreme Court Justice signals that they are going to be in the mix injecting their opinions on highly-charged issues in a highly-charged race.
We have CNN's Ariane de Vogue, the Supreme Court -- our Supreme Court -- pardon me, Supreme Court Reporter who's joining us now. And Ariane, the justices said today that a key immigration case is on their next docket and that abortion could be right behind it. Tell us about this. ARIANE DE VOGUE, CNN SUPREME COURT REPORTER: Right, Brianna, next
term this Supreme Court in the heat of the next election is going to hear some really big issues. Today we learned as you said that they're going to take up DACA. That's the Obama-era program that gave protections for those immigrants who came here as children.
It was a bit of a surprise that the Supreme Court weighed in all term long. Justice John Roberts and others have talked about keeping the court out of the political fray but next year they're going to take up this case.
In many ways, Brianna, the case that -- the term that just ended was not this big conservative revolution that so many liberals worried about, it wasn't, but next term it is going to be something different. Because the courts is going to hear DACA and it could hear abortion.
Today Conservative Justice Clarence Thomas, he wrote an opinion and he said he wants the court to take up abortion. He wrote that the court's abortion jurisprudence has spiraled out of control. He said we cannot continue blinking the reality of what this court has wrought.
So abortion is not on the docket so far, it could be. But here are other cases that are on there. The Second Amendment, LGBT rights, environment. This court is poised to take a hard right turn next term.
KEILAR: And you're watching Chief Justice John Roberts?
DE VOGUE: Right. John Roberts has been so interesting because he now with the retirement of Justice Kennedy, Roberts is in control. He's got his feet on the pedals. This year he pushed the brake a couple of times, but how fast and how far this court goes next term will be up to Chief Justice John Roberts, Brianna.
[16:50:19] KEILAR: All right, Ariane de Vogue, thank you so much. What do you guys think? Are voters -- are voters paying attention writ large each party to this?
AMANDA CARPENTER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I don't know so much about the court's opinions but without a doubt, abortion and amnesty will be major issues in 2020 and this Supreme Court is waiting decisions at a time, all the more so. And this is where I think the Democrats are painting themselves into a corner with these debates.
Republicans are watching and saying wow, the party is going to a place with no restrictions on amnesty, no restrictions on abortion. And those positions will be rejected by a lot of voters. And I don't see any Democrats really even trying to give an eye towards Republicans with those concerns for the general.
KAREN FINNEY, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think it depends on what the nature of the case is. I mean, certainly, the expectation between -- I think also health care might make it so there are a whole suite of cases that some on our side believe could actually motivate Democratic voters because we don't pay as close attention to the courts as we should.
It's been far more of a motivator on the right than it has on the left. And one of the arguments that you know, folks have tried to make is we have to pay attention to the courts. These things really matter not just because if it gets to the Supreme Court but because again all these lower courts and the way that President Trump has been able to fill those -- this is the dream of the conservative movement.
MIKE SHIELDS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes. I mean, I think it -- the Democratic base we know has already fired up and they're going to be fired up about President Trump's re-election. The Republican base, this is something that brings them together. It brings the Trump based, the populist base, more traditional conservative base.
When you start talking about the Supreme Court it is a huge motivation for them. So regardless of what they're talking about just the fact that the court is an issue in the election is actually going to I think really help Republicans in the election.
KEILLAR: What happens if the Supreme Court kills DACA in an election year?
MEHDI HASAN, SENIOR CONTRIBUTOR, THE INTERCEPT: I think it helps the Democrats. It would be a horrible thing if it happens to 700,000 people who are living in uncertainty and fear. But in that sense you know, when you talk about energizing the base, right now it works for Trump to be able to say the courts, the courts, it's all the courts holding up my policies.
But if they do come out with that decision, Democrats are already still upset about Kavanagh rightly so about the whole Kavanaugh hearings, about the stolen seat for Gorsuch. It would just be another reminder this is a broken Supreme Court, deeply politicized, needs reform.
You saw Bernie Sanders yesterday -- heard speak about Supreme Court reform, talking about rotating justices. Pete Buttigieg just talked about adding justices. You'll hear much more -- many more calls for reforming the court. And just by the -- on DACA, you talk about unpopularity extreme positions. DACA is one of the most common ground positions amongst Republicans and Democrats, more than 80 percent of Americans support DACA recipients having some sort of road towards citizenship.
CARPENTER: It is a failure that it will be decided upon by the Supreme Court. DACA stands for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. To deferred until when? I mean, Congress really -- it should have been on them to decide how we are going to handle these children.
KEILAR: OK, it was --
CARPENTER: It's a huge gamble.
HASAN: But the House just passed a legislation which one gets to do the --
SHIELDS: Well, President Obama did this. Conservatives from the beginning said it was unconstitutional. The Trump administration came in. They were not going to -- on behalf of the administration argue the administration's position that they think is unconstitutional. They went to the Congress and said guys, we should get together and fix this because we can't defend something that's not constitutional. Now, the court is going to weigh in.
FINNEY: On the context of an election year, you're exactly right. People support DACA across the board if you were brought here as a child, right. When you tell talk to people about that, that is an important issue. That is a voting issue. When you say -- I mean, seven in ten people believe that Roe v Wade should remain the law of the land. When you start talking about these issues in terms of under this court, here are the things that could go away, that's where I think it becomes very motivating for Democrats.
KEILAR: Roe v Wade, if that's on the table -- well, very quickly, we have like half a minute. Who's more motivated, Democrats or Republicans?
SHIELDS: Both. It goes both ways. And look where the Democrats are going abortion all the way up until birth and maybe after birth, taxpayer funding for abortions. In the debate last night --
FINNEY: It's called surgery at that point. It's not called abortion, by the way.
SHIELD: -- taxpayer-funded abortions and yet that's how far left they're going in the first debate already on abortion.
KEILAR: Quick final words.
FINNEY: No, I was just going to say again, this issue is nowhere near where it used to be. Seven in ten Americans have believe -- in a recent CNN poll actually, even 80 percent of voters in Iowa support Roe v Wade, so this issue is a majority issue and I think again it'll motivate people.
KEILAR: Ahead, the white supremacists to drive into a crowd in Charlottesville, Virginia killing one woman just learned his fate.
[16:55:00] KEILAR: In our "NATIONAL LEAD," the white supremacist who killed a woman and injured dozens of others during the Charlottesville white nationalist rally has just been sentenced to life in prison. James Alex Fields Jr. killed 32-year-old Heather Heyer when he plowed his car to a group of counter-protesters during the 2017 Unite the Right Rally.
He pleaded guilty to 29 hate crimes prior to sentencing. Heyer's mother was in court today when the sentencing came in and she said she hopes Fields can heal some day and help others heal.
Tune in this Sunday morning to the "STATE OF THE UNION." We are speaking to presidential candidates Julian Castro and Sen. Amy Klobuchar. That is at 9:00 a.m. and 12:00 p.m. Eastern. And follow me on Twitter @BRIKEILARCNN or just tweet the show @THELEADCNN. I'm Brianna Keilar in for Jake Tapper and our coverage on CNN continues right now.