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THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER

Biden Fund-Raising Numbers Released; Trump Plans Fourth of July Celebration; Alarm Grows Over Migrant Detention Conditions. Aired 4- 4:30p ET

Aired July 3, 2019 - 16:00   ET

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


[16:00:01]

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Brooke Baldwin here in New York.

Let's go to Washington. "THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER" starts right now.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: How much will tomorrow's Fourth of July speech by the president be my country 'tis of me?

THE LEAD starts right now.

A sight you don't see every day in the nation's capital, tanks and armored vehicles lining the National Mall, as President Trump incorrectly touts just how easy and cheap it is to pull off his big Fourth of July extravaganza. And the cost is not the only concern.

Then, donors are showing Joe Biden the money, and lots of it, but one Democratic candidate you might not expect has a bigger haul than the former vice president. That politician joins us this hour.

Plus, the heartbreaking artwork from migrant children taken out of Customs and Border Protection custody, black and white images showing people held behind bars, and now the government's own watchdog calls the situation at the border a -- quote -- "ticking time bomb."

Welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.

We begin today with our politics lead and growing fallout over the President Trump's July 4 extravaganza, what the commander in chief called today the show of a lifetime.

A source telling CNN that some military leaders are expressing concerns about the politicization of the event, which will feature American military hardware, including tanks, bombers and elite vehicles, for all the world to see.

The Pentagon says that some members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and other top military officials will not be in attendance, citing prior commitments.

But the president will be flanked tomorrow night by acting Defense Secretary Mark Esper and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Marine General James Dunford, before delivering what will be unprecedented in the modern era for an Independence Day celebration, a presidential address on the National Mall, prompting concerns inside the Pentagon.

What should top military officials do if President Trump during his speech starts serving up a Fourth of July-sized helping of partisan red meat?

The Trump administration refuses to say, in addition, how much the event will cost, but the president did tweet today -- quote -- "The cost of our great Salute to America tomorrow will be very little compared to what it's worth. We own the planes, we have the pilots. The airport is right next door, Andrews. All we need is the fuel."

As CNN's Pamela Brown reports, however, that claim is a bit misleading, to say the least.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

PAMELA BROWN, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Those armored vehicles have started arriving at the National Mall, moved in overnight through Washington, D.C., carefully, so as not to damage local roads and bridges, for the president's so-called Salute to America, hyping it up as the show of a lifetime.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Some incredible equipment, military equipment on display.

BROWN: Acting Defense Secretary Mark Esper and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs General Joseph Dunford are among the military officials who will attend, but CNN has learned that some military chiefs have expressed reservations about politicizing the July 4 celebration, concerned about the tanks and armored vehicles on display.

And while the overall cost of the event has not been released, today, the president defended the plans, tweeting: "The cost of our great Salute to America tomorrow will be very little compared to what it is worth. We own the planes. We have the pilots. The airport is right next door. All we need is the fuel. We own the tanks and all."

But that tweet is misleading, as many of the aircraft involved in the ceremony will be flying in from around the country, F-35 fighter jets from California, a B-2 stealth bomber from Missouri, Apache helicopters from Kentucky, and the Blue Angels from Florida, all burning costly fuel to get to Washington.

TRUMP: We're going to have planes going overhead, the best fighter jets in the world and other planes too.

BROWN: And the president's checklist ignores additional costs and security, personnel and infrastructure. For example, the see-through bulletproof barrier needed for the president's speech at the Lincoln Memorial $24,000.

And that's not all. "The Washington Post" reporting the National Park Service will divert nearly $2.5 million extra from fees paid by visitors and intended to improve parks across the country for the president's event, compared to the usual cost of about $2 million for the entire Fourth of July celebration on the Mall. (END VIDEOTAPE)

BROWN: And the president caused some confusion today when he claimed his administration has not dropped the fight to include a citizenship question the U.S. census. He said the news reports about it were fake.

But, Jake, just yesterday, Trump's own Justice Department and commerce secretary said the administration had abandoned plans to include the controversial question and is moving forward with printing the questionnaire without it.

An official says, though, that there are ongoing discussions at the White House about a path forward to include the question. What that path forward may be, very unclear -- Jake.

TAPPER: All right, Pamela Brown, thanks so much.

Well, let's chat about all of this.

Alice Stewart, let me start with you.

[16:05:03]

Are you concerned about any of this? You have been in the city for a while. The Fourth of July celebration is usually not only nonpartisan. It's usually completely apolitical.

ALICE STEWART, FORMER COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR, TED CRUZ CAMPAIGN: Right. And it is a great event. I have been to it before. I don't really love the traffic.

But I do have a problem with the president making it seem like this is the Fourth of Trump celebration. It is not. It's the Fourth of July celebration.

But at the same time, I think it's great. If he wants to liven it up, if he wants to make it a salute to our current military who are serving and fighting for our freedoms that this day is about, I think that's great. If he wants to give a speech that says God bless America on our Independence Day, more power to him.

There is so much criticism, though, that he's going to be making it a political speech, as opposed to a patriotic speech. Let's wait and see what he does. It wasn't long ago where he gave a speech in Normandy that was very presidential, very stoic. I'm going to give him the benefit of the doubt that will be what tomorrow will be like.

If not, we will come back on Friday and we can talk about it.

(LAUGHTER)

TAPPER: You know who is not giving him the benefit doubt is the liberal group Vote Vets.

They are distributing 6,000 of these USS John McCain shirts. And in an effort to I think trigger President Trump, upset him, given the fact that the president is not a particular fan of the late senator.

KAREN FINNEY, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes.

No, I mean, look, here's the problem that I have with it. If we had any evidence to suggest that we could trust President Trump, then I would be willing to give him the benefit of the doubt. But just the way that he's talked about this, the way -- I mean, the lies in terms of how much -- the misinformation, shall I say, about how much it's going to cost, particularly if you think about the fights that we have been having about needing more money to take care of the crisis at the border.

He can -- you can find the money if it's a priority. And I also think the administration is not thinking about -- just think about the juxtaposition of those images of those children in cages. And here is Donald Trump. And there are these, you know, things flying overhead and the tanks.

Is that really the message we want to send about America? There's a much better way to honor our troops.

TAPPER: And, Seung Min, there's a piece that just went up in "The Washington Post" by Greg Jaffe, your colleague, noting that there's a real debate going on right now. What if these generals are standing there with the president, and all of a sudden he starts serving up red meat, he starts attacking his enemies, political enemies, he starts bad-mouthing the press?

What do you do if you're a general and you're sitting up there and you're seen as endorsing this?

SEUNG MIN KIM, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: And that is going to put the members of the military in a very difficult position, because, even at official events, a lot of times, the president has this campaign rally feel at these -- again, these official events.

I was just in Japan and South Korea, where the last event that the president had before we left again for Washington was an event speaking to the soldiers at Osan Air Base in Seoul. But when we got there, it did have this very campaign rally feeling.

And I think that's going to be a very difficult position for members of the military. We saw how difficult that was for the military, and also for the Acting Secretary Patrick Shanahan, when the issue with the USS McCain came up.

So that's, again, something that we're going to have to watch.

MAEVE RESTON, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: And it is such a fascinating contrast tomorrow with all of the Democrats out on the trail doing the usual Fourth of July thing, which we have all done, running behind a candidate along the parade route, where it's all about interacting at a one-on-one level with Americans.

And I think that it's problematic for Trump, in the sense that these are the optics, especially with -- we're going to have protest floats flying overhead, the baby Trump float.

And these are the kinds of optics that reminds people of what they don't like about him, that need for sort of self-glorification and to look like a big world power, when everyone knows that we are a huge world power.

So I think it'll be an interesting thing to -- contrast to watch.

TAPPER: Well, I mean, but your point, Alice, that we don't know, he might actually be very restrained. He might actually be very modest. It might be a lovely celebration and not my country 'tis of true.

STEWART: True. And that would be a reason for celebration right there, if that's the way it is. I'm going to be optimistic.

He has wanted to have a similar type of event and salute to our military for quite some time. It just hasn't worked out in terms of the proper venue, the proper time.

I think this was a wonderful time to do it. I think especially with the Democrats out there, they will be getting a lot of attention on the campaign trail at the Fourth of July festivities. And I think that's great.

But this is something that president has wanted to do. He is the president of the United States. He can do this. And instead of everyone getting so angry about he's hijacking this event, let's all take this as an opportunity to celebrate our patriotism.

FINNEY: Let me just make one prediction, that there will be days and days of conversation about how many people attended the event, right?

You know, given what we went through around the inauguration, we will be fighting for days about what this -- what the Park Service says was really there, how many he says we're really there. It's always about size with him, right, that it's going to be this big event, this bold event, when, actually, if you want it to seem presidential, he could just quiet -- that's what President Clinton used to do.

[16:10:05]

Just go quietly visit the troops and shake some hands and thank people.

(CROSSTALK)

KIM: That's such an interesting point, because Maeve mentioned the point of optics.

I mean, a lot of people obviously come into town in D.C. for the Fourth of July, but this is still a very Democratic area. There are a lot of people in this -- in the suburbs of Virginia and Maryland and in D.C. proper who do not support him, who did not vote for him.

So does it -- even the optics alone have a backlash on the president?

TAPPER: Though people come from all over, though, for the Fourth of July.

KIM: Sure.

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

A lot of questions for Joe Biden's campaign after he was outraised by an unlikely presidential candidate.

Plus, backlash for a judge after saying a teenage boy accused of raping an intoxicated teen girl, then bragging about it, cannot be charged as an adult because he -- quote -- "comes from a good family."

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

TAPPER: In our 2020 lead, you're looking right now at live pictures of three Democratic presidential hopefuls campaigning in Iowa right now, ahead of the Fourth of July holiday.

From left to right, it was Kamala Harris and Beto O'Rourke and Bernie Sanders.

[16:15:02].

This is just hours after former Vice President Joe Biden's campaign announced the second quarter haul, $21.5 million. That is more than Senator Bernie Sanders garnered but less than South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg did. All three candidates combined, of course, fall short of the $105 million raised by President Trump and the Republican National Committee in the same time period.

CNN's Arlette Saenz now reports from the campaign trail.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ARLETTE SAENZ, CNN POLITICAL REPORTER (voice-over): Joe Biden may be the Democratic front-runner but he's not leading the pack in the money race. The former vice president second quarter fundraising haul totaling $21.5 million. That amount puts him behind South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg at $24.8 million. But ahead of Bernie Sanders who raked in $18 million last quarter.

Biden entered the 2020 race three weeks into the second fundraising quarter. But he did devote a substantial amount of time to raising cash, holding more than two dozen high-dollar fundraising events since launching his campaign, gaining criticism from grassroots candidates such as Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, in this unprecedented campaign, we're doing it very differently.

SAENZ: Biden's numbers come as many 2020 candidates descend on Iowa this week, exactly seven months before the state's caucus.

JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Ninety-nine counties, here I come.

SAENZ: A poll yesterday found Biden still ahead in the Hawkeye State with 24 percent support, followed by Kamala Harris at 16 percent.

SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D-CA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It is my full intention to work very hard to earn the support of the people of Iowa.

SAENZ: Rounding out the top four, Elizabeth Warren at 13 percent and Sanders with 9 percent. But Biden's lead on the national stage has tightened in some polls, since the uneven debate performance.

BIDEN: My time is up.

SAENZ: As he looks to reassure voters he has the best chance of beating President Trump, Biden now turning to a new phase in his campaign, visiting early states like Iowa and South Carolina in the next five days and sitting for a rare national TV interview with CNN this week.

BIDEN: The marathon is just beginning. But at the end of the day, if you can't cross the line in Iowa, you don't win the marathon.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SAENZ: Now, Jake, a source tells us that the Biden campaign did hit the fundraising goal but they just weren't prepared for what Mayor Pete Buttigieg was going to post last quarter. They had built their targets estimating that the candidates would be bringing in no more than $10 million to $12 million in one quarter.

Now, one big question for Biden going forward is, can he sustain this momentum and continue to raise big campaign cash especially right now as he's seen that drop in the polls? Jake?

TAPPER: All right. Our Arlette Saenz in Iowa, covering the Biden race and so many others.

Let's talk about this.

Money doesn't mean everything, Seung Min, of course. Jeb Bush and Rudy Giuliani showed that, and yet, the fact that Pete Buttigieg outraised Joe Biden even though Joe Biden was in the race three weeks after the quarter began, it does seem to suggest some weakness on the Biden campaign's part.

KIM: A little bit. And you have to remember, a lot of the former vice president time spent doing the fundraisers so you would think that he would have a little bit of a leg up in terms of the money he's able to raise, and look, the vice president got in April 25th, so it is later than the beginning of the second quarter. But you are a former vice president of the United States being out-raised by a small city mayor. I mean, that's a little bit -- that might be difficult for the Biden campaign to stomach right now.

TAPPER: Yes. I mean, even if he's in the race three weeks less than Buttigieg, he's been in politics -- he was in the politics longer than Pete Buttigieg has been alive. He's 37.

RESTON: Yes. It is just another sign that if they want him to be -- if he wants to be the nominee, he has to get more aggressive. Not just events but in reaching out to this small dollar donors and really hustling which is what Buttigieg was doing with fundraisers all over the country, particularly out in Hollywood where he is a huge favorite out in California.

And I think that the fact that the Biden campaign did come in with a lower number is just one more thing that just suggests that he needs a real jolt and maybe the debate plus the fund raising numbers will provide that.

TAPPER: Before you guys weigh in, we have some breaking news from the campaign trail. I want to get you to respond. Here is Kamala Harris with strongly-worded comments about President Trump. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D-CA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I know predators. And we have a predator living in the White House.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: Calling the president a predator. This is somebody who is a former prosecutor and attorney general in California, San Francisco, prosecuted predators. Too strong, do you think?

FINNEY: Not at all. Remember, that in 2016 there was the "Access Hollywood" tape and all of the allegations against the president from various women about various incidents.

[16:20:07] And we have just a new one from E. Jean Carroll, and so, it is not --

TAPPER: Alleged rape.

FINNEY: Alleged rape.

TAPPER: Yes.

FINNEY: So there have been allegations over time. They have not gone away. And again, more seem to come out.

And I think we've established that this president is not someone who is particularly pro-woman. That is certainly our feeling from the Democratic side. And I think she probably felt like you got to get in there and be strong because that is what people are feeling.

And whereas before, they might have been willing to, you know, kind of put that aside and hold their nose and vote for Trump or didn't like Hillary and they voted for Trump. Now we know more about him and women, but we know more about his policies.

TAPPER: Alice?

STEWART: Clearly, she's trying to make headlines and she absolutely positively will by this. I think the wording is a little bit much.

I find a lot of the behavior that he did years ago extremely disturbing. I found the "Access Hollywood" tape very disgusting, I had a real problem with that. A lot of social evangelicals had problem with that, but at the same time we knew this is part of the past and something he did many years ago and as many have said, we'll give him a mulligan on that as long as it doesn't continue to happen and to our knowledge it has not continued to happen.

And the most important point is for social evangelicals who have a real problem with that kind of behavior, he has followed through on the policies that we support him on, which is Supreme Court and life and religious liberty. His personal behavior, yes, it has been disturbing, but his policies are the reason people stand behind.

TAPPER: And you cover Kamala Harris out of the L.A. bureau. Are you surprised that she called the president a predator?

RESTON: Not at all. Because what she's trying to do here is what she hasn't been able to do which is so sustain the momentum after the debate. She's got to show now that if she's going to make the case that she's the right person to prosecute the case against Donald Trump, she's got to keep that energy up, she's connecting with the core of who her base is going to be, which are women and particularly African-American women.

And all of those women who turned out in the 2018 midterm elections not just because of Trump's past because they really don't like the way the language that he uses to talk about women, and with the E. Jean Carroll allegation, for example, you know, to say she's not my type, that's the kind of thing that sets women's teeth on edge. And for Kamala to get to where she needs to be, I think she's going to have to be this aggressive.

TAPPER: So good tactic in the Democratic primary but it could be argued and has been by conservatives that even the Carroll story doesn't add anything new to what we already knew or had been sold by several women, dozens of women about the president. And so, if she got the nomination, would you expect her to continue to call the president a predator?

KIM: I would expect that at this point. But again, like you're completely right that the stories haven't stuck, there have been more than a dozen accusations from the women against the president and that has -- that has not changed his view by the public, in any discernible fashion. I mean, we've talked about Ms. Carroll's story, but with kind of the environment that we're in, with the news cycle that we're in, it would not sustain as long as you would think an accusation of the president should have.

TAPPER: His approval rating has stayed steady since her story came around.

Everyone, stick around. We have more to talk about. You don't miss, by the way, the CNN exclusive with Democratic

presidential candidate, former Vice President Joe Biden. You could see his sit-down interview with my colleague Chris Cuomo this Friday at 6:00 a.m. and 8:00 a.m. Eastern, only on CNN.

Coming up, he's a veteran who served in Afghanistan and he's out- fundraised current 2020 front-runner Biden. Mayor Pete Buttigieg will join me next.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[16:28:27] TAPPER: Welcome back.

Sticking with our top story, President Trump's planned military show case to honor July Fourth which some critics say he's politicizing the military, the tanks and other vehicles on display have arrived on National Mall for tomorrow night's event where the president will break with decades of tradition and address the nation directly.

Joining me now on the phone is 2020 Democratic presidential candidate and South Bend, Indiana, mayor, Pete Buttigieg.

Mr. Mayor, thanks for joining us.

You served in the armed forces, specifically in Afghanistan. What is your reaction to the planned display of military might and more tomorrow?

PETE BUTTIGIEG (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE (via telephone): Well, I think it makes America look smaller. You know, one of the reasons I joined the military was that in a small way, I wanted to be part of seeing to it that my country was not the kind of place where a leader feels the need to boost his own ego by rolling tanks down the streets of our capitol. We've always been bigger than that. We've been the kind of country that traditionally respects our military enough not to use them as props.

You know, more and more, you're seeing evidence that this president seems to think of the military as sort of ornaments for his ego or for his agenda. You saw it when troops were diverted to the border and you saw it in what happened around the USS John McCain, and now, I think you're seeing it here, at a tremendous cost to the taxpayer.

Fourth of July is our country, not about any one person, not about politics, definitely not about the ego of the president. After all, the people who got our country started in the revolution were skeptical of a presidency getting too much to look like -- like an imperial or royal office.

[16:30:00]