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THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER

Trump's Fourth of July Spectacle; Interview With General Stanley McChrystal; Rep. Madeleine Dean (D-PA) is Interviewed About the Border Crisis. Aired 4-4:30p ET

Aired July 2, 2019 - 16:00   ET

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


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BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: So cool.

TOM SATER, AMS METEOROLOGIST: But, this one, unfortunately, South America.

BALDWIN: OK. Tom Sater, you're the best. Thank you very much for that quick peek at that beautiful image there.

SATER: Sure.

BALDWIN: I'm Brooke Baldwin. Thanks for being with me.

"THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER" starts now.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: President Trump now getting a second chance to draw a record-breaking crowd to the National Mall.

THE LEAD starts right now.

Forget fireworks. President Trump wants some tanks. And he's going to get them for his Fourth of July spectacle, as critics worry the celebration of America might be turning into a celebration of Trump.

Breaking news. We're unveiling our new CNN poll right here on THE LEAD. What Americans think about President Trump and the crisis at the border. The responses might surprise you.

Plus, Nike, Colin Kaepernick and the Betsy Ross American flag, why Arizona's governor now wants to kick Nike to the curb.

Welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.

We begin today with our politics lead and some fireworks about the Fourth of July, specifically whether President Trump's planned celebration on Thursday will result in the politicizing of both American independence day and the U.S. military.

A parade showcasing American military might, including battle tanks, armored vehicles and elite U.S. fighter jets, will be on full display in what the White House calls a salute to America. The president will also break with tradition and address the nation directly from the National Mall that evening.

Critics contend that Mr. Trump is going way too far in deploying the military as a partisan prop, in their view, making himself the centerpiece of the celebration, reportedly dolling out VIP seats through the Trump campaign and through the RNC, and that American taxpayers will end up footing the bill for this over-the-top extravaganza.

CNN's Tom Foreman is at the Lincoln Memorial on the National Mall for us right now.

And, Tom, not surprisingly, the White House is defending the plans as a simple display of patriotism.

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that is what they're saying, Jake.

And, truthfully, on any normal Fourth of July this area would be absolutely filled with thousands of people out here to watch the fireworks down the National Mall as they went off. Now the fireworks have been moved and all of the lights and all of the attention will be directed to the stage up here, where the center of attention will be Donald Trump.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

FOREMAN (voice-over): The iconic fireworks over the National Mall will move to a new spot. All flights will be grounded at Washington Reagan National Airport for more than two hours, and three times the usual number of National Guard troops will be deployed for security, all so President Donald Trump can be the centerpiece for D.C.'s Fourth of July celebration, giving an unprecedented speech at the Lincoln Memorial.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We're going to have a great Fourth of July in Washington, D.C. It will be like no other.

FOREMAN: For all of the costly changes, it is still not precisely what he wanted early on, a grand military parade, as seen in some other countries, such as France, Russia and North Korea, but cost estimates for that plan quickly ran into tens of millions of dollars.

The D.C. City Council, mindful of expensive street damage, howled no tanks. The Park Service has remained quiet about how much it will cost to take on the additional requirements, and the Pentagon is not discussing the price tag for a flyover by the Blue Angels, a plane that serves as Air Force One, some other aircraft, and a couple of tanks and troop carriers that will also be there, but simply parked near the Mall.

TRUMP: We want to bring millions of people into the city and we want people to come who love our country. those are the people we want.

FOREMAN: The president tweeting: "The Pentagon and our great military leaders are thrilled" after asking the chiefs of every branch to stand with him during the celebration. The Pentagon not saying which, if any, are going. And adding to the

frustration of those who claim the traditionally nonpartisan event is being hijacked by team Trump, the White House and the Republican National Committee are reportedly giving VIP access to favored friends and colleagues.

Democrats say, on this scorching week, they are largely being frozen out. The White House response?

KELLYANNE CONWAY, COUNSELOR TO THE PRESIDENT: This is a public event. It is open to the public.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

FOREMAN: That said, one part of the public they may not be so happy to see, the people who operate the baby Trump balloon have secured a permit, and the baby Trump balloon will be flying over the festivities here -- Jake.

TAPPER: All right, Tom Foreman at the National Mall, thanks so much.

Joining me now is retired Four-Star Army General Stanley McChrystal, who served as commander of all U.S. and international forces in Afghanistan.

General McChrystal, thanks for joining us. Appreciate it.

What do you make of this? This is certainly a deviation from what we have done here on the Fourth of July in the nation's capital for decades.

GEN. STANLEY MCCHRYSTAL (RET.), FORMER U.S. COMMANDER IN AFGHANISTAN: Well, when I think of the Fourth of July, I think of the celebration of the concept of nation. Nothing is more central than that than the concept of citizenship and serving the nation.

[16:05:01]

I do think it is fine to honor people who serve the nation, but, actually, only 29 percent of our young people are qualified to enlist in our military; 71 percent couldn't, if they wanted to.

Why couldn't we potentially have some City Year, some Peace Corps, some AmeriCorps volunteers up there, honor them? Tanks and planes, they're things. They're not the sinew of the nation. And that is what I would like to see honored.

TAPPER: I know you want to talk about your national service proposal, and I want to get to that in a second.

But let just me ask you a couple questions, because you obviously spent a great deal of time in the military. The president tweeted today -- quote -- "The Pentagon and our great military leaders are thrilled to be doing this and showing to the American people, among other things, the strongest and most advanced military anywhere in the world." Do you think that is true, that military leaders are thrilled about this? And what would you be advising President Trump, beyond having people who serve in other capacities beyond the military to be there?

MCCHRYSTAL: Well, I won't speak for military leaders, but I will say that they are very proud of the young men and women who serve alongside them and for them.

But we prove that on the battlefield. We prove that around the world. I don't think we need to bring them on to the National Mall to justify their effectiveness.

TAPPER: Would you want to be there if you were still in uniform? Would you want to be sitting there while tanks are on display and elite planes and other things are being brought out in this way?

MCCHRYSTAL: If my soldiers were forced to come on a holiday and stand in the sun to do an event, I would want to be there alongside them.

TAPPER: Let me ask you about a couple other issues in the foreign policy realm. Iran just breached the limit of nuclear fuel production as dictated by that 2015 nuclear deal which the U.S. has withdrawn from.

The president pulled back on a retaliatory strike that he was preparing for after Iran shot down a U.S. drone. Do you think that some sort of military confrontation with Iran is going to happen?

MCCHRYSTAL: Well, I don't think it is necessary. But I think it's highly likely and dangerous that it occurs.

One of the things we have to do is back off and look at this through Iranian eyes. If we go back to 1953 and the overthrow of Prime Minister Mosaddegh, the Iranians have a perspective.

It may not be what we agree with, but it is a logical, rational perspective. And as long as we shout at each other over the transom and assume that the other just isn't listening, I think the chance of an accidental problem, such as the shoot-down of the Iranian airliner back in the 1980s, could easily happen, and that'd be tragic.

TAPPER: Let's talk about this initiative to encourage the candidates running for president in 2020 to come up with plans to expand national service.

What do you want to see the Democrats do? And let me also add, this comes at the same time that there's a Gallup poll finding less than half of respondents are extremely proud to be American, the lowest level in about 20 years.

MCCHRYSTAL: I think we're questioning how we feel about our nation and about ourselves.

I think it's time for us to look at citizenship and say often that with having contributed to the nation. Think of how you feel if someone thanks you for something you do. I have been thanked countless times for my service. But, in reality, there's so many people never given that opportunity.

So what I want is to give the equal opportunity for every young person in America to serve. Most aren't right for the military. But there's ways we can all serve. They have to get an opportunity to do a year of fully paid service -- we need to pay, because you don't want it limited to people whose families can support it -- in something that matters, so that we build better citizens in the long run, we heal the divides.

What I'm challenging, and the organization that I'm a small part of is challenging the candidates for presidency to stand on this. And what I'm challenging CNN to do is, in the upcoming July debate, ask the question on the debate floor. Make every candidate tell us where they stand.

TAPPER: All right, General McChrystal, thanks so much. It's always good to see you. And happy Fourth of July, sir.

MCCHRYSTAL: You're kind.

TAPPER: Allow me to thank you for your service.

MCCHRYSTAL: Thanks, Jake.

Today, counselor to the president Kellyanne Conway was asked how much the president's July 4 festivities will cost American taxpayers.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CONWAY: I don't know. You would have to ask the DOD, I assume.

But if you want a list of the things taxpayers actually pay for that they find to be outrageous, I can give you that too. This is a public event. It's open to the public . The public is welcome to come and celebrate our great country, the Constitution, all the amendments, not just the First Amendment that seems to only -- interest you only, the Second Amendment, all the others.

I'm not going to -- I'm not going to allow you to politicize it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: That was Kellyanne Conway when asked how much it's going to cost.

Jen Psaki, she was certainly very fired up. What do you make of it?

JEN PSAKI, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: She often is fired up.

One of my honors of serving in government as long as I did was getting to know a lot of men and women in the military, being in meetings with them, traveling around the world. The people who do not want to chest-thump or don't think we need to chest-thump is the American military, the men and women who are serving.

You know that well too, Jake. You have spent a lot of time with them as well. I think General McChrystal answered that question quite gracefully.

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But the fact is, what President Trump is trying to do here is use the men and women who are serving overseas, who are defending our country, as political props, as we know, because the RNC is selling tickets to this event. That's not normal.

When I was serving in the White House, and I'm certain before I was there, with past presidents, we invited men and women who are serving and their families to the White House to have a private event. We fed everyone. We gave everyone drinks. And we had an event with a band.

And President Obama, and I'm sure President Bush and others before him, spoke to them privately. That's appropriate. This is not.

TAPPER: Just I don't know if the RNC is selling the tickets or they're giving them away. It's certainly questionable that the RNC is being given tickets.

(CROSSTALK)

PSAKI: They're using it to their advantage. Fair enough.

TAPPER: Right. Fair enough.

PSAKI: Doug, do you understand why Democrats are concerned with how President Trump is handling this, and General McChrystal diplomatically seem to express some concern as well?

DOUG HEYE, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Sure. I have concerns as well when you hear about tanks coming up on the streets in Washington. That's not typically how we celebrate July 4, but I also caution everyone.

This is what we always do to Donald -- with Donald Trump. There's an old Frank Sinatra song, I have heard that song before. We hear this song with Trump all the time. He breaks a norm. We criticize the norm. Trump uses that criticism to say you're questioning my patriotism.

It's what he rallies around. It's the cultural fight that he wants, whether it's this, whether it's what we saw in the debate, with all the Democrats raising their hands for insurance for illegal immigrants for health care, or whether it's Nike and Betsy Ross, which nobody would have thought of 48 hours ago. This is the fight that he wants.

SARA MURRAY, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: I don't necessarily think that there's a question of whether Donald Trump is patriotic. I think we can agree that Donald Trump is patriotic and also that this is a vanity play more than anything else.

I mean, I was there when he saw this military parade in France. And he could not get over it. And ever since then, he's been asking people about the logistics of driving a tank down Pennsylvania Avenue. And ever since then, people have been explaining, you can't drive a

tank down Pennsylvania Avenue because you will not have Pennsylvania Avenue. That's not a matter of patriotism. That's just a matter of wanting to show off that our military is bigger than yours. We have bigger tanks than you do. We have better tanks than you do.

And that is not really, I mean, what the Fourth of July is supposed to be about.

TAPPER: And, Laura, the protesters will be out there. As Tom Foreman mentioned before, the National Park Service has issued a permit to a group to fly the baby Trump blimp on the National Mall.

So that also adds to the politics of this, in the sense that not only will President Trump be speaking, and who knows what he will say -- maybe it will be completely appropriate and modest. Anything could happen.

But also they will be the Trump protesters.

LAURA BARRON-LOPEZ, POLITICO: Right. It adds to the politics and the spectacle. And I'm not sure that the blimp is actually allowed to fly. I think that there's some concerns with that.

But, I mean, to Sarah's point, one of the concerns that a lot of Pentagon officials have said that they have about this is that -- and military officials have said that they have -- is the comparisons that will be drawn to authoritarian countries like North Korea and like China.

And so that's what they're worried about with this big spectacle of trying to show military might.

TAPPER: And, Jen, President Trump claimed that military leaders are thrilled to be participating in this. You heard General McChrystal say, if his soldiers were being forced to work on a national holiday and sweat, that he would join them.

But that certainly didn't sound like he would have been thrilled.

Newt Gingrich, a supporter of the president's, told "The New York Times" -- quote -- "What kind of idiot you have to be to complain that the president wants to celebrate the founding of our country?"

PSAKI: Well, I don't think this is how you celebrate the founding of our country. There are many holidays, for good reason, that celebrate men and women who have served and the current military, the former military. We should absolutely continue to do that.

I don't really take Trump at his word, because my experience from serving 10 years in government is that the military does not need to prove their prowess. They don't need to chest-beat. We do have the best military in the world.

But it's not appropriate, for many reasons, including the important point you just raised about dictatorships in comparison to other countries, but it's also just not who we are. The appropriate way to celebrate is to take politics out of it, have a barbecue, as I mentioned before, bring men and women of all backgrounds to the White House and celebrate them there.

This is certainly politicizing an important national holiday.

TAPPER: Everyone, stick around. We got a lot more breaking news.

CNN has some brand-new numbers about one of the most divisive issues in the U.S. right now.

Plus, more breaking news, new upsetting images from border detention facilities in Texas released by the government's own watchdog.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[16:18:23] TAPPER: And we have some breaking news in our national lead. The watchdog for the Department of Homeland Security just released these disturbing pictures from the U.S. border with Mexico. The images show overcrowding of facilities at detention center in McAllen, Texas. In one photo, people are crammed inside a -- fenced in cell, and others what looks to be children wrapped in an aluminum type cover and dated June 10th and 11th -- just a few weeks ago.

And the photos are coming as we get brand-new CNN poll numbers that show most Americans, 74 percent, agree the situation at the U.S./Mexico border is a crisis. But they differ on why. The split is right down party lines.

Look at this. Most Democrats, 54 percent, consider this a crisis because of the treatment of migrants. Sixty-three percent of Republicans, however, believe the number of migrants trying to cross the border is the reason for the crisis.

Let's bring in Democratic Congresswoman Madeleine Dean of Pennsylvania. She was among a group of lawmakers who visited two border facilities in Texas yesterday. She visited a migrant detention facility in Homestead, Florida, today.

Congresswoman, good to see you as always.

Tell me what you saw when you visited these facilities?

REP. MADELEINE DEAN (D-PA): Thank you, Jake. I had the opportunity in Texas to visit El Paso station number one, where we visited and got into the cell of 15 women who had just been brought in from outside. They had been there 56 days, most of the first cell of women were from Cuba. Many of them had cracked lips.

They were sitting on concrete floor and in very small jail cell with blue sleeping bags which apparently were just issued to them as a donation from the forestry service, very, very recently.

[16:20:00] Prior to that, they had been outside or in tented facilities for the 56 days prior to our arrival that morning.

They were crying. Their affect was sad, profoundly sad, scared. In that cell was a stainless steel toilet. We tried to operate the sink, when the sink didn't operate the women said to us, no, that sink isn't working. We were told we could drink out of the toilet. That's clean water. And that is what they had been doing.

TAPPER: Congresswoman Fredericka Wilson, a Democrat, who hosted the tour at Homestead today, said that you were only able to go to a classroom and an empty dorm. Were there efforts to try to show more of the Homestead facility?

DEAN: They certainly wanted to show us a lot of the property. We went to a very large auditorium-styled facility that was empty. We saw children playing in a playground at a distance.

We went into one area -- I said, where is the educational facilities? And somebody said, you were just in it. I missed that. I saw no curriculum. And saw sweet young children seated at long cafeteria- styled tables.

And there was a moment I have to tell you, Jake, where John Lewis, I asked him if he wanted to speak to the children and we brought over an interpreter and he very movingly and I have a piece of the pain-- a piece of the tape that I'd be happy to share with you, very movingly told the children of his experience meeting Martin Luther King and speaking about building a better America for people of all color, speaking about justice for all people. And he said, please don't become bitter, don't become discouraged. We will make this a better place and you are most welcome.

That was the only real time we had with children whatsoever. And when I said I'm a little disappointed, I'm a former teacher, I would like to see what you're doing in terms of educating these children while you have them for profit. After all, this is a for-profit center, 2,296 students -- detainees, children, detainees are there at a cost of $775 per head per day.

So, it's sadly, perversely profit-making location and that's not to say there aren't terrific people of good will trying to help these children. But there is a perverse incentive to hold on to them and to my mind to sanitize what we saw. We saw one dormitory, very neatly made up and not a personal item and when Joanna Hayes and I decided to go off course to find another dormitory room to see if it looked differently, of course, they didn't want us doing that but we did any way, and they did look differently, again, sparse but not the matching quilts, not that kind of thing. So, it was a sanitized version.

TAPPER: Let me ask you, the deputy commissioner of Customs and Border Protection acknowledged today that the system is oversaturated, migrants are staying at these facilities longer than they have been. He did push back on claims of any kind of inhumane treatment of the detainees, of migrants. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) ROBERT PEREZ, DEPUTY COMMISSIONER, U.S. CUSTOMS AND BORDER PROTECTION: I myself have visited many of these facilities where we're getting overly saturated and have been for the better part of a year, and I'm very confident that we are meeting and in fact most of the time exceeding these standards.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: Do you agree?

DEAN: No. And here is why, and I'll contrast. The experience with these 15 women, they were brought in only yesterday, and they were lying on concrete floors and told that they're drinking water could be out of the toilet. I don't call that humane.

One of the women, they were from Cuba, one of the women who spoke very good English said, I don't mind being called bad names and I won't use the name she used, but I mind being treated like animals. I mind being treated like dogs. Two of us have epilepsy, one woman wanted me to touch her back, she has a very profound large lump on her back and they said, you clearly need a biopsy, but we're not going to be able to provide that to you.

Let me contrast that. So there was inhumanity there. Let me contrast that and compare it to the children that we saw. Very importantly, we went to Clint yesterday. A facility that if you remember it is -- it's bedded for 106 adult males.

When we came in, we were told there were 25 children in that facility. I asked, didn't you have quite a few more two weeks ago? Yes. Two weeks ago they had 250. I said what was your top number at this facility meant for 106 males, adult males? They topped 700, two and a half months ago.

So I was haunted all night long, where did the other 600 and so go? What we saw there, Jake, we were not able to get into the cell that the children were being held in. Six children held in a similar concrete cell behind a thick heavy door, behind glass. And we tried to shout in and someone shouted into them we were members of Congress hoping to help them, hoping to learn as John Lewis says, but also hoping to help them.

[16:25:01] And when I actually -- I scribbled this note on a piece of paper and held it up to the glass. And the guard corrected me. The note simply says, we heart you. We love you. And the children smiled.

You know what they did? They passed a note under the floor, under the door. And we got in trouble. The guard worried we were sending something.

The children sent us a note out. And the note said, how can we help you? The children wanted to help us. That's inhumanity. Children in a cage behind glass unable to speak to leaders of Congress.

TAPPER: Democratic Congresswoman Madeleine Dean, thank you so much for telling us what you saw. We really appreciate it.

DEAN: Thank you.

TAPPER: More breaking news from that freshly released CNN poll, the president's latest approval ratings. That's next.

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