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THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER

Bernie Sanders' Health Care Pitch; President Trump's Dishonesty Pattern; Trump Regularly Makes 20 Or More False Claims At Rallies; New Protests In Puerto Rico As Governor Apologizes For Chat Messages Scandal; W.H. Projects $1 Trillion Deficit For 2019. Aired 4:30-5p ET

Aired July 17, 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. BERNIE SANDERS (D-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You're looking at an industry which has spent in the last 20 years hundreds of millions of dollars on campaign contributions.

RYAN NOBLES, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): His campaign also releasing a video accusing Joe Biden of lying about Medicare for All.

SANDERS: We won't mention his name, but it might be a former vice president of the United States.

NOBLES: Sanders was responding to Biden's claim that the transition to Medicare may leave some without coverage. Biden wants to build on the Affordable Care Act, proposing a public option to allow people to buy into a Medicare-like program. But he warned that Medicare for All goes too far too fast.

JOSEPH BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Now there are a lot of people running in the party who want to get rid of Obamacare and start over something new. Well, folks, I'm not for that.

NOBLES: The future of Obamacare is at the core of the debate over health care. Kamala Harris, who supports Medicare for All, believes the single-payer system does not dismantle Obamacare.

QUESTION: So it is more moving on from Obamacare?

SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D-CA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: And making improvements on it. And President Obama himself said that there are improvements to be made.

BIDEN: If that's Kamala's position, she thinks you're able to keep Obamacare and Medicare for All, well, then that's maybe something I'm unaware of. I didn't know that was the case. I don't think it's possible.

NOBLES: But, unlike Sanders, Harris argues Medicare for All can be implemented without a tax hike on the middle class.

HARRIS: I'm not in support of middle-class families paying more taxes for it.

SANDERS: My guess is that people in the middle class will be paying somewhat more in taxes, but they're going to be paying significantly less overall in health care.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

NOBLES: And there's some argument that the Democratic primary is just a lot of different shades of the same color. And this health care debate shows that there are some stark differences. And that's part of the reason that Bernie Sanders is giving this speech here today.

And, Jake, we should also point out that Joe Biden was asked multiple times this week to respond to Sanders' claim that he's lost about Medicare for All. Biden either refused to comment or just flatly did not answer the question -- Jake.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: All right, Ryan, thanks so much. Appreciate it.

So, Abby, let me start with you. Or Biden lying, or is there an argument to be made that Medicare for All would result in the consequences that he talks about?

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: There's probably an argument to be made.

I mean, I think the fact of the matter is that we don't really know. And I think Joe Biden's strategy is predicated on this idea that this is not a policy that come the general election will be advantageous to Democrats, because when you get beyond the Democratic primary, it's going to be harder to convince people that they -- that they are willing to take that kind of risk with their health care, something that's incredibly personal and important to voters as, as per all of the polls that we have seen recently.

So it's hard for Bernie Sanders to say, this is absolutely not going to happen, because he really doesn't know. And in the places where it's been attempted, it's not really resulted in the -- actually the consequence is that Bernie Sanders says that it should result in.

So I think there's an open question. I think this is going to be Joe Biden's central strategy as he goes forward. He's staking out that middle lane. And if he survives the Democratic primary, we will see whether he's right about the general.

TAPPER: And, Jamal, Bernie Sanders accusing Biden of not only lying about Medicare for All, but using -- quote -- "lies straight out of the playbook of Donald Trump, Mitch McConnell, and the health care industry."

What do you think of that strategy?

JAMAL SIMMONS, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Yes, there's that quiz that he put up, the online quiz, where he says, who does this sound like? And it's one of those choices that you just named, which is pretty tough. If I were in another campaign, I would be ready for this at the

debates, because I feel like the Bernie-Biden debate if they're on the same stage is going to be one that is worth watching.

TAPPER: And, Sabrina, Senator Kamala Harris trying to position herself somewhere in the middle here. She says there's going to be -- quote -- "very little role" for private insurance under her plan, but also claiming she's -- quote -- "absolutely not" moving on from Obamacare.

Does that offer the clarity that a lot of people have complained Harris has struggled with?

SABRINA SIDDIQUI, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I think it's trying to have it both ways in some respects.

One of the challenges for a lot of the major Democratic contenders who have lined up behind Medicare for All is staking out where they stand on the issue of private insurance. Are they eliminating the role of private insurance providers altogether and moving entirely toward government-run health care?

Or are they perhaps supporting some sort of supplemental coverage? And that's where a lot of these contenders are trying to grapple with exactly where they can stake out some ground so it doesn't seem like they're perhaps going too far and, at the same time, they're embracing the more bold or progressive ideas that a lot of the base expects of them.

The Obamacare question is interesting, because this also goes back to what Joe Biden is trying to do, which is bank on the popularity of the Affordable Care Act within the Democratic Party. And so for those who are not, like Biden, prepared to embrace Medicare for All, I think the counter to that is, well, embracing Medicare for All would also effectively mean the end of Obamacare, which is something that the party has fought so hard to preserve over the last couple of years.

[16:35:05]

And so it will be interesting where exactly voters land in terms of who they ultimately choose.

TAPPER: And, Mary Katharine, you're somebody that has had Obamacare for the last few years.

Faithful readers of yours and viewers of the show will know that you have had problems with Obamacare. Does Medicare for All sound like the kind of -- I mean, obviously, you're conservative. So I don't expect you will say yes. But, I mean, there's there's Medicare for All, is that more appealing, because you always talk about how much you don't like Obamacare, which you actually have?

MARY KATHARINE HAM, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes.

So the pitch is hard for a couple reasons. One, because it's hard to answer how you finance this without admitting, yes, we're going to have to raise taxes on people. It's hard to answer how it will work without -- with the Medicare reimbursement rates and why people won't go out of business.

And it's hard to tell people, as we should have learned during Obamacare and that whole argument, that we're going to make giant regulatory changes to this market, but the market is not going to change and all the people who like what they like will keep what they like.

That was not true before. It was a lie. And many people lost the things that they liked. And those people who didn't lose what they liked are very protective of it because their trust has been betrayed on this issue.

And they have seen it happen to people. That is not to say that there aren't winners under Obamacare, and that some people like it, but there were losers as well. And there will be losers in any change you make to this market. So you should be honest with people about it.

And Bernie is saying, even in this four-year transition period, we have made plans for this, nothing will change. Things will change, because the market will change as a result of you putting this new part, this new mechanism in it.

And I would also like to say that Biden using the exact same verbiage as Obama on this just blows my mind, blows my mind.

(CROSSTALK)

SIMMONS: A lot of Democrats like the idea of this being really another public option. That was something we heard a lot during the Obamacare debate. Where's the public option?

And I think for a lot of Democrats...

TAPPER: Which is basically optional Medicare.

SIMMONS: Right.

What they mean is, like, make Medicare available to everybody, so if I don't qualify or don't like one of these private plans, I can get into Medicare and I can use that plan.

That's something I think may have real possibility even into the fall general election campaign.

TAPPER: And, Abby, Governor Steve Bullock, who let's remind people, the governor of Montana, who is also running for president, he told "The Washington Post" about Medicare for All -- quote -- "If Barack Obama got beat up for saying if you would like your health plan, or you like your doctor, you can keep it, well, who knows what would happen in this instance."

Basically, what Mary Katharine just said.

PHILLIP: Yes. I mean, this is -- when I say we don't know what's going to happen, it's because, even with our best predictive abilities, the actuaries and the economic analyses of all of these things, the markets might do things that we don't expect. People might lose things that they want to keep.

Things might change about the market that these candidates are not preparing people for. And so what he's voicing is probably, having watched the Obamacare debate saying, we shouldn't even bother to go there, because we know that, if that turns out to not be true, we will pay the price, maybe not in this election, but in the next one down the road.

TAPPER: And Sanders said today in a tweet -- quote -- "Candidates who are not willing to reject money from health insurance and pharmaceutical executives should explain to the American people why those interests believe their campaigns are a good investment."

He's really trying to up the ante here. He's trying to -- basically, he's saying, I want Medicare for All and if you're taking money from pharmaceutical companies, from health insurance companies, you're basically corrupted.

SIDDIQUI: Well, this goes back to a lot of what Bernie Sanders has said even in 2016. One of his central points about Hillary Clinton had to do with corporate influence in politics and removing money from politics.

So I think you're seeing him kind of revive a lot of the same arguments as he's now trying to hold onto that progressive mantle in a field where he has very much set the agenda.

TAPPER: Absolutely.

SIDDIQUI: There's no question that he has made his imprint on where these candidates stay in terms of policy, but because of that now, he also has less potential to distinguish himself.

And so I think this is another one of those areas where Bernie Sanders is trying to draw a red line and have everyone else line up behind it.

TAPPER: And you can watch these candidates battle it out at the CNN Democratic presidential debates. That will be July 30 and 30, live from Detroit, Michigan, moderated by Dana Bash and Don Lemon and me right here on CNN.

Coming up, listen up. President Trump's dishonesty pattern, the one word he often says that is usually followed by a whopper. That's next.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[16:43:37]

TAPPER: Our 2020 lead now.

The president is leaving the White House shortly to head to a campaign rally in North Carolina during what has been a rather dramatic and controversial few days, even for him.

And nights like this typically have fact-checkers in something of a frenzy. In fact, according to our calculations, Trump regularly makes 20 or more untrue comments per rally.

In Pennsylvania in August of last year, he set a record, making 36 false statements in just one speech.

Let's bring in CNN Reporter, Daniel Dale, who has fact-checked every single word President Trump has said since taking office.

Daniel, thanks so much for being here.

What are you expecting to fact-check tonight?

DANIEL DALE, CNN REPORTER: Jake, you watch enough of these, you know that there will be certain subjects that the president is dishonest about, immigration, health care, trade, his own record, his predecessor's record.

One thing I'm looking for tonight is whether he continues his dishonesty about Congresswoman Ilhan Omar. Earlier this week, he made an egregious false claim about her, claiming that she had praised al Qaeda.

This was a gross misinterpretation of a comment she made on a PBS show in 2013. So will he add to that? Will he continue that? We will see.

TAPPER: And talking about immigration, as you noted, is almost a given at these rallies. It's almost really honestly his main topic that he loves to talk about.

DALE: It is. And I can quantify that, having fact-checked everything he said.

It is his number one subject of dishonesty throughout his presidency. And I think especially at rallies, when he sees it as kind of red meat to throw at his base.

Just yesterday, Jake, he made a series of false claims about immigration.

[16:45:00] He claimed that human trafficking cannot happen through legal ports of entries, that it's all women being thrown in the back of cars and taken over unwalled areas of the border.

Experts say that's not how it happened. Much of it does happen through ports of entry. You claim that his wall is being built quickly. We know that no new models have been built.

He propagated a conspiracy about the governments of Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador saying that they were throwing criminals deliberately into migrant caravans to voice them upon the United States. So it just falls claim after false claim and I would expect him to continue that tonight.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: And as somebody who is such a learned disciple of President Trump's lies, and mistruths, and fibs, and all the rest, you've noticed a tell, a specific thing that President Trump does and when you hear you're like oh here comes a whopper.

DALE: Yes. And it is the word "sir." So you may have noticed that the president tells a lot of stories in which he recounts someone telling him something. And I found that the stories in which that unnamed person usually doesn't have a name calls him, sir, that story is almost certain to be inaccurate in some way.

TAPPER: And take a listen. Here is a little montage we made for you.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I have people come up to me, sir, we want to follow you. They don't let us on.

And they said: Sir, we don't want subsidies.

They said: Sir, we've been trying to get it passed for 44 years so I was good at getting things passed.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: A lot of people saying "sir" to him in these stories.

DALE: A lot of people are calling him "sir." And Jake, people do call him "sir" like reporters call him "sir." And yet when we fact check these "sir" stories, they are almost always wrong. So it's a telltale sign that rather than reaching into his memory to tell us something that has actually happened, he is conjuring something from his imagination. In poker terms, it's a tell.

TAPPER: All right, Daniel Dale, thank you so much. I appreciate it. Good luck tonight. Lots of -- lots of coffee I expect. Coming up next, the chat message scandal that has protesters calling on a certain governor in the United States to step down.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[16:50:0] TAPPER: And the "NATIONAL LEAD" now. In just minutes, the fifth day of protest will begin in San Juan, Puerto Rico where allegations of corruption and scandal have taken over the island. Governor Ricardo Rossello is defying calls to resign and apologizing for his role in what has now been dubbed RickyLeaks.

Nearly 900 pages of chat messages leaked. The governor and his top aide is caught using homophobic and misogynistic language to describe other politicians, journalists, and celebrities. And this all comes after the FBI arrested former members of Rossello's cabinet on alleged corruption charges. They're accused of misusing money meant for Hurricane Maria recovery.

CNN's Juan Carlos Lopez is in San Juan right now for us. And Juan Carlos, today law enforcement in Puerto Rico issued summons for those who participated in the so-called WikiLeaks scandal. Are these people coming forward?

JUAN CARLOS LOPEZ, CNN ANCHOR: Well, some of them, Jake, are lawyer up. Remember, Governor Rossello condemned this chat but he was one of the administrators of the group. And as you said, this is part of a wide number of corruption scandals on the island that have people really fed up.

Now, if you look at the conversations, the tone on what they said, they have a different very image of the one governor Rossello had before the scandal as a clean-cut, a very straightforward politician. One of those exchanges is with what his chief financial officer, one of his advisors, where they talk about the mayor of San Juan Carmen Yulin Cruz.

Now, the aide in the text messages which were edited, it's not a continuous chat says: I am salivating to shoot her. The governor replies on the chat. You'd be doing me a grand favor. Now he's -- he apologized. He went to a church. He said that he was elected but the chats don't look him -- make him or his government look very good even though there are investigations advancing.

And in Puerto Rico, local law says that phone communications are not of free access to the government and they're not considered evidences. And as I said, the chat is not continuous. It's an edited chat that was leaked to -- as a sort of revenge against the governor and his advisers.

TAPPER: And Juan Carlos, celebrities such as Ricky Martin were mentioned in some of the chat messages. And now Ricky Martin is going to be amongst those protesting this evening, right?

LOPEZ: Yes. They were very insulting homophobic messages in the chat. They said that Ricky Martin was such a male chauvinist that women weren't good enough for him. And so that's why he preferred to be intimate with men.

Ricky Martin is openly gay and he is one of the ones calling for those rallies today. Thousands are expected. Now, what we've seen today is a mix of tourists and protesters. It's been mostly peaceful. The only violence that have been registered is when the police -- you know, we're going to show what you is going on now, when the police have decided to either fire teargas or rubber bullets.

But this is what you see and this is what we saw last night. It's just people coming. That blue and white building you see at the end is the La Fortaleza. That's where the governor lives. There is no access after this corner and this is where they all come. They yell, they scream, and that's as far as it has gone so far, Jake.

TAPPER: All right, Juan Carlos Lopez in San Juan, Puerto Rico for us, thank you so much. I really appreciate it. One major fact you probably will not hear President Trump mention this evening when he's talking about the economy. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[16:55:00] TAPPER: The "MONEY LEAD" now. You know, I'm old enough to remember when Republicans raged against the deficit and President Trump promised to wipe it out when he was running for office and just Mr. Trump.

Well, now, President Trump's own White House is projecting that the federal deficit will surpass $1 trillion this year. This would be the first time the federal deficit had that many zeros on its end since the nation was recovering from the great recession. A much different time from the stellar economy that President Trump likes to brag about today.

There is a big moment coming up. CNN's Wolf Blitzer is going to reveal which candidates will make the cut to participate in CNN's two Democratic Presidential Debates. And then tomorrow you could find out who is going to face-off against who and when in that two-night event. You can watch The Draw for the CNN Democratic Debates. That's tomorrow at 8:00 p.m. Eastern. But until then, stick around and watch Wolf tell you who's made the stage.

You can follow me on Facebook, and Instagram, and Twitter @JAKETAPPER or you can tweet the show @THELEADCNN. Our coverage on CNN continues right now. Thank you so much for watching. We'll see you tomorrow.