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THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER

Biden Unveils Health Care Plan; Trump Administration Tightens Asylum Rules; Prosecutors: Epstein Had Cash, Diamonds, Foreign Passport In Safe; Airlines Cancel Thousands Of Flights As 737 Max Delays Continue; Beloved Louisiana Civil Rights Activist Found Dead In Trunk Of Car, Police Ask Community For Help. Aired 4:30-5p ET

Aired July 15, 2019 - 16:30   ET

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


[16:30:33]

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Our national lead now.

A new immigration crackdown from President Trump starting tomorrow because of a new federal rule. Immigrants will no longer be able to seek asylum in the U.S. if they didn't apply for protections on their way to the U.S.

For example, someone from Guatemala traveling through Mexico must seek asylum in Mexico first, before applying for it in the U.S.

As CNN's Ed Lavandera now reports, this new rule comes as the widespread multi-city ICE raids on undocumented immigrants that President Trump warned would start yesterday largely don't seem to have happened.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The ICE raids were very successful.

ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Today, President Trump pounced on skepticism that his long-promised immigration rates have stalled.

TRUMP: Many, many were taken out on Sunday. You just didn't know about it.

LAVANDERA: Plans to deport thousands of undocumented immigrants across 10 U.S. cities did begin on Saturday, according to a senior immigration official, and they will continue in the coming days, this despite difficulty locating those who may have relocated after warnings from the administration itself.

MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: People will be separated from this country who our courts have ordered to be deported.

LAVANDERA: According to immigration advocates, the administration's televised threats caused millions to take precautions, skipping work, stocking up on food and staying indoors, for fear of being deported.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Now we're being very cautious. We're staying at home with the doors locked.

LAVANDERA: For now, few raids have been widely reported. And this morning, even Trump's acting director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services claimed not to have all the information.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Is it really happening?

KEN CUCCINELLI, ACTING DIRECTOR, U.S. CITIZENSHIP AND IMMIGRATION SERVICES: Well, when ICE is ready to do it, and maybe it's already begun, then they will execute on it.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

LAVANDERA: So, Jake, many communities, immigrant communities across the country waiting to see how all of this is going to continue to develop over the next few days.

And that asylum rule change that you mentioned off the top, Jake, very significant, especially when you consider how many thousands of people, Central Americans and Cubans, who are waiting in border towns along the U.S. southern border, as part of that remain-in-Mexico policy, as they wait their turn to request asylum in the United States.

So a lot of those people who have been waiting for months are left in limbo in all of this -- Jake.

TAPPER: All right, Ed Lavandera, thanks so much.

Today, Joe Biden's out with his version of a health care plan, a nod to Obamacare that one opponent is already picking apart by using President Obama's own words.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[16:37:29]

TAPPER: And in our 2020 lead today, Democratic presidential hopefuls are taking aim at Joe Biden after he unveiled his health care plan and attack their plans in the process.

Biden attaching himself further to his former boss with a proposal to expand Obamacare today and add a public option that Americans could buy into.

CNN's Arlette Saenz now takes a closer look at what Biden's plan might mean for your health care and how it's drawing a dividing line in the 2020 race.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) ARLETTE SAENZ, CNN POLITICAL REPORTER (voice-over): Joe Biden ramping up the 2020 battle over health care, unveiling his own proposal and taking on Medicare for All.

JOSEPH BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I understand the appeal of Medicare for All. The folks supporting it should be clear that it means getting rid of Obamacare.

SAENZ: At the center of his plan, building on the Obama administration's signature health care initiative, the Affordable Care Act.

Biden's proposal creates a public option, allowing people to buy into a Medicare-like program. The plan also provides massive subsidies to make coverage through Obamacare cheaper for everyone, regardless of income.

The 10-year price tag for this plan comes in at $750 billion. As many Democratic voters site health care as a top issue, Biden has escalated his pushback on some of his rivals backing a single-payer system.

BIDEN: We should not be starting from scratch. We should be building from what we have.

SAENZ: The former vice president even highlighting one area where he differed from Kamala Harris and Bernie Sanders at the recent debate.

BIDEN: The question was asked whether we support eliminating private health insurance. Some said yes. I said absolutely not.

SAENZ: A recent CNN poll found, while 85 percent of Democrats favor a national health insurance plan, only 30 percent back scrapping private insurance.

While Biden brands himself as the protector of Obamacare, Sanders is defending his Medicare for All plan, tweeting: "I appreciate that President Obama has said recently that Medicare for All is a good idea," referencing this comment from September of last year.

BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Democrats aren't just running on good old ideas like a higher minimum wage. They're running on good new ideas, like Medicare for All.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SAENZ: And we will be hearing a lot more about health care soon. Kamala Harris has teased a policy proposal, and Bernie Sanders on Wednesday will be making his case for Medicare for All -- these candidates drawing their battle lines ahead of the next debate just over two weeks away -- Jake.

TAPPER: Arlette Saenz, thanks so much.

[16:40:00]

Let's chew over all. Maya, you're chair of the Democratic Party in Maryland. You have not endorsed any candidate.

MAYA ROCKEYMOORE CUMMINGS, CHAIR, MARYLAND DEMOCRATIC PARTY: I have not.

TAPPER: What do you think of the Joe Biden approach to this? He's basically saying, no, I don't want Medicare for All.

Polls say 30 percent of Democrats might actually support scrapping of private insurance, but 70 percent don't.

ROCKEYMOORE CUMMINGS: So this is about the politics of incrementalism vs. going wholeheartedly at the issue.

And what they're arguing about is whether or not to embrace the social insurance system, where the cost of administering health care to people across America can be done effectively and efficiently at low cost, or allowing the role of private companies, profit-making companies, to continue, at the expense of full coverage for Americans.

And so the question becomes one of, what position do you take? Historically, when the market has failed -- and when it comes to health care, the market has failed -- we have at times in our history, like the creation of Social Security, embraced social insurance as a strategy and Medicare as a strategy, because, at one time in our history, companies weren't providing insurance to older Americans.

TAPPER: Right.

ROCKEYMOORE CUMMINGS: So what we have now is the debate is happening here and now. Are you an incrementalist? If so, you go with Joe Biden.

If you believe that people should have health care now, and that we should do it the most effectively and efficiently, then you have got options with Senator Warren. You have got options with...

(CROSSTALK)

TAPPER: Bernie Sanders, Kamala Harris, et cetera.

What do you make of this debate?

SEUNG MIN KIM, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I just find it fascinating, because the public option proposal, which is the centerpiece of the former vice president's plan, that was considered too liberal back 10 years ago in 2009, when Congress was engulfed in the Obamacare debate.

I mean, there were -- there were not 60 votes in the Senate. You had conservative Democrats such as Joe Lieberman, Blanche Lincoln, Ben Nelson saying they can't go for a public option.

And now the debate has shifted so far that now that is considered the conservative option. (CROSSTALK)

KIM: And you look at -- you see why -- just aside from the policy, why Biden is doing this.

I mean, he leads Trump still in head-to-head matchups. A lot of that strength comes from his strength with independent and moderate voters. And policy positions like that help reinforce that.

JACKIE KUCINICH, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Moderate Democrats I have spoken to, just since the Medicare for All debate kind of kicked up again, are scratching their heads, particularly those who went through the ACA fight, saying that a lot of the Democrats that are pushing this didn't go through that, particularly the younger ones in the House.

And they don't know how much it takes even to get an incremental step through the Congress. And they're also pointing back to 2018, where they just -- several of them won their seats because of the ACA, because of the pitch to protect the health care system that is here right now.

And they're worried if this continues to go forward.

TAPPER: And Senator Mike Bennet, who's also running for president, he's from Colorado, more of a moderate, he says that if the Democratic nominee embraces Medicare for All, then Colorado, for the first time in more than a decade, will go to the Republican. That's his warning.

BILL KRISTOL, DIRECTOR, DEFENDING DEMOCRACY TOGETHER: Yes, I think it's safer not to be for scrapping private insurance as a political matter and, personally, as a policy matter.

But you know what struck me? If I were Joe Biden -- they had this plan and they have a lot invested. You plan these rollouts. It's hard to change. Donald Trump said something really repulsive and objectionable yesterday.

Republicans have not risen to denounce him, unfortunately. But what is Joe Biden's selling point? A, he can beat Trump and, B, he could unite the country against Trump, right? He can win Republicans and independents.

Why didn't he say, you know what, I will announce my Medicare plan next week? I want to give a speech now about what this country stands for. I'm going to have my African-American supporters with me. I might have a couple of Republicans I have worked with in the past with me, even if they're not supporting me.

And, I mean, it would have been a dramatic moment, I think, for Biden. And he did a kind of prosaic here's my Medicare plan, as opposed to -- my health care plan, as opposed to the left-wing health care plan.

TAPPER: Maya, you're shaking your head. You disagree?

ROCKEYMOORE CUMMINGS: In 2016, Donald Trump was out there saying, well, nobody would be dying in the streets with my approach to health care in this country.

And then he along with the Republicans proceeded to not only undermine the Affordable Care Act and threaten to take millions off the rolls, including those with preexisting conditions. Then they launched a lawsuit to invalidate the whole law.

And so they have no interest and they have proposed no alternative. And so they have no interest in making sure that people have access to lifesaving health care in this country. And you got to wonder how he can absolutely win reelection with a strategy that has nothing to undergird it.

TAPPER: She was just staying on message, not really talking about what you talked about.

But one of the arguments by me that -- that might -- let me interpret that is that by staying on message and talking about health care, instead of talking about President Trump's tweets, Democrats won back the House last November.

(CROSSTALK)

TAPPER: Channeling Maya here. Maybe that's what she means.

KRISTOL: That's the Democratic conceit.

The real reason the Democrats won back the House is swing voters desperately wanted one body of Congress to check Donald Trump. I don't believe voters suddenly decided, hey, all those Democratic ideas that I haven't voted for in the past in Northern Virginia or in swing districts, I'm suddenly in love with.

[16:45:00] The Democrats had a lot of good candidates, most of whom were moderate, who won purple and swing districts.

So I personally think the Democrats -- I mean they should have idea. Obviously, they should run on their policies and so forth. But when the President of the United States -- ultimately this is going to be an election about Donald Trump, and the -- and the Democratic nominee has to make a case that he or she can govern this country in a way that will bring us together as opposed to Donald Trump.

I think that would attract Independent voters more than some really complex debate about exactly which version of Obamacare or Medicare for All is better.

TAPPER: All right, everyone, stick around. Find out which Democratic candidates are going to be facing off against each other on the night of the next debates. Watch the draw for the CNN Democratic debates. That's this Thursday night at 8:000 Eastern. Then on July 30th and 31st, it's the CNN Democratic presidential debates. Ten candidates each night moderated by Dana Bash, Don Lemon, and myself live from Detroit here on CNN.

Coming up, the lavish stash found in the locked safe that has prosecutors worried that Jeffrey Epstein could try to skip bail. That's next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[16:50:00] TAPPER: In our "NATIONAL LEAD" now. Cash, diamonds, and expired Saudi passport all removed from a safe inside the Manhattan mansion of accused sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein according to prosecutors.

In court today, the prosecution argued that the 66-year-old should be denied bail citing the severity of the charges, the strong evidence against him, his wealth, and the fact that he seems an "extreme flight risk." Prosecutors say the foreign passport had Epstein's photo but a different name in it.

Epstein's lawyers say he should be confined instead to his $77 million in New York City mansion. A bail ruling is expected on Thursday. Joining me now is former Federal Prosecutor Elliot Williams to talk about this. Do you think given what was discovered in the apartment and the nature of the crimes that ultimately he's going be denied bail?

ELLIOT WILLIAMS, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: I think he should be denied bail on it. And to me, it seems like a slam dunk. The law says either if the person is a flight risk or a danger to the community they should be denied bail. If a guy has got a Saudi passport, a private jet, and island in the virgin -- a home in the Virgin Islands or his own island or whatever, he's pretty clearly a flight risk.

And if they're finding additional child pornography at his house, you can -- you can't really say he's not a danger to the community. So no matter -- no matter how they cut it, he should be denied bail at this point.

TAPPER: And let's -- and let's talk about that because the prosecutor said in their sentencing memo that they thought -- that they discovered what they thought to be a trove of child pornography and that one of the victim's lawyers confirmed that one of the images was of her when she was underage. But there hasn't been a charge -- he has not been charged with child pornography. My understanding is that we should probably expect that to happen because it's actually a slam- dunk kind of accusation.

WILLIAMS: Yes. Sometimes these charges take a little while to build and I would guess -- I don't know -- but I would guess the Southern District in New York prosecutors and FBI are trying to authenticate the image. Clearly, you know who possessed it. You know it was him but you just have to make sure that it's something you can charge as a crime, but I think they're building a case.

And it carries an enormous penalty because often they stack the penalties on top of each other, each five-year mandatory minimum for the possession of some of these images. So if they bring the charges, he's definitely going to go away for a long time I think.

TAPPER: And one of the things that's so stunning about the contrasting the way that this case in the Southern District of New York by U.S. Attorney Geoff Berman versus the way that former U.S. Attorney Alex Acosta who resigned last week is a Labor Secretary, the way he did it.

Julie Brown the great reporter from the Miami Herald who broke a lot of this wide open says that when the Palm Beach Police back you know, ten years ago or whenever, went to Epstein's house all the computers were gone which the interpretation was somebody had tipped him off, either in the Palm Beach State Attorney's Office Mr. Krischer or the local police, whatever. The computers were gone, and ultimately, U.S. Attorney Acosta and the FBI never got his computers during that investigation.

WILLIAMS: Now again, a lot of this is on Acosta, but let's not give the Palm Beach authorities a free pass. They screwed this up too. But the number one rule in investigating anything is always get the computers, Jake. They've got the calendars, the drafts of e-mails, the documents and frankly the evidence of the crime themselves. It's the first rule.

And it is mind-boggling that they wouldn't have tried to at least issue a subpoena for their computer or try to find it. It just seems something doesn't smell right here, Jake.

TAPPER: All right Elliot Williams, thank you so much. I appreciate your expertise. The autopsy report just released in the mysterious death of a community activist found dead in a trunk of a car in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. The results of that, that's next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[16:55:00] TAPPER: In our "MONEY LEAD," going nowhere fast. You better check your booking because thousands more flights have been canceled after the three U.S. airlines that use the Boeing 737 Max jets, American Airlines, United, and South West all announced in recent days that they do not expect the planes to be back in the air until late fall.

The airlines are still waiting for the Federal Aviation Administration to approve a software fix and clear the plane for flying after those two deadly crashes in the span of five months that killed a total of 346 people.

Our "NATIONAL LEAD" now. We know a beloved Louisiana community activist found dead in the trunk of a car was killed. The Baton Rouge coroner just ruled that Sadie Roberts-Joseph had been suffocated. Now, police are asking for help on investigation where they have as of now no suspect and no motive.

Her body was found just three miles from her home but police are not saying who owned the car where she was found. Roberts-Joseph was a leader in her community. On top of her well-known civil rights work in Louisiana, she opened the Odell S. Williams Now and Then African- American Museum in her hometown and hosted an annual Juneteenth celebration. And breaking news now. In just minutes we expect four Democratic congresswomen to hold a press conference on Capitol Hill. Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Rashida Tlaib, Ayanna Pressley, and Ilhan Omar who seem to be the targets of President Trump's racist Twitter attack over the weekend in which he suggested they go back to where they came from. All four are U.S. citizens, three born in the United States. Their response is coming up.

Follow me on Twitter, and Facebook, and Instagram @JAKETAPPER or you can tweet the show @THELEADCNN.