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THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER

Trump's Racist Rhetoric Echoes Language Of Past Leaders; FBI Warrant: Trump Talked To Cohen Amid Hush Money Payment; Tonight: Second Dem Debate Lineups Revealed Live On CNN; House Passes Bill To Raise Minimum Wage To $15 An Hour; Viral Photo App Sparks Security Concerns Over Russian Ties. Aired 4:30-5p ET

Aired July 18, 2019 - 16:30   ET

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


DOUGLAS BRINKLEY, CNN PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: Well, Wilson was from Virginia and he -- even though he was of a, you know, president of Princeton University, New Jersey governor, he knew how to raise the race card to get votes, and that's what he was doing when he wrapped himself around the KKK back there.

[16:30:12] As you know, with your David Duke interview, when you asked President Trump about it, a lot of these white citizenship council, white supremacy groups adore Donald Trump, and he refuses to distance himself from it. We saw it with Charlottesville, and we saw it this week with the famous tweet against the so-called squad.

The fact that a president is doing this is just mind-boggling. We put him in the league of demagogues, Huey Long and George Wallace, Lester Maddox, Strom Thurmond, but those people ran kind of third party activities. They never really got the pulse of the United States.

Donald Trump is our president, and it's awful late in the 21st century to be doing go back to where you came from cards to a nation filled with new waves of recent immigrants.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: All right. Professor Douglas Brinkley, always insightful, thank you so much. Appreciate it.

Let's talk about this more with the panel.

Tim, you write in the author's note of your book, "American Carnage", trail-blazing as he might be, Trump is not the creator of this era of national disruption. Rather, he is its most manifest consequence. What do you mean?

TIM ALBERTA, CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, POLITICO MAGAZINE: Well, Jake, I wrote the book not necessarily to hold up a mirror to Donald Trump or even to hold up a mirror to the Republican Party, but to hold up a mirror to all of us, to a political culture that really invited the ascent of Trump in many ways. We've been living through an incredible polarization and national disunity I think dating back at least a decade and a half, if not much longer.

And, look, obviously, we've heard a lot today about the parallels between Donald Trump's remarks at this rally last night and the chants against Hillary Clinton to lock her up in 2016. I actually think that there's a strong parallel. I go to Charlottesville and the chants of, you know, Jews will not replace us. I had a conversation shortly after Charlottesville with Senator Tim Scott, the first black man to ever serve in both the U.S. House and the U.S. Senate.

TAPPER: That's for Republican.

ALBERTA: Yes. No, no, the only.

TAPPER: Really?

ALBERTA: Yes, the only --

TAPPER: Both?

ALBERTA: Yes.

TAPPER: Wow.

ALBERTA: So, Senator Scott, obviously, a figure of major historic proportion.

TAPPER: Wow.

ALBERTA: And we are talking about the chants, and he said, you know what I see in Charlottesville, you know what I hear from those chants? Fear.

And it's important to recognize that America is living through an unprecedented and sweeping demographic transformation right now. And when you layer that demographic transformation on top of a decade of tremendous cultural turmoil, everything from same-sex marriage to transgender bathrooms, and then you layer that on top of the economic dislocation, millions of jobs lost in Middle America, and the manufacturing hubs, and then you lay on top of that, all this political disruption and the zero-sum partisanship, this was a powder keg waiting to explode. We didn't know who is going to light the fuse for the dynamite. Trump obviously did, but this was a long time coming.

TAPPER: So, Vivian, a former Jeb Bush aide, Tim Miller, who has been rather outspoken against President Trump, we should point out, he tweeted, quote: I say to my friends going along with Trump, imagine how this video of a president leading a white mob in a "send her back" chant targeting a black refugee is going to look in your kid's high school governmental history classes. This hatred has got to be stopped.

But the truth of the matter is politicians don't look at things in terms of how is this going to look in 40 or 50 years. They look at, how is this going to look next November and can I get reelected?

VIVIAN SALAMA, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, WALL STREET JOURNAL: This is definitely a time for self reflection for the Republican Party and a lot of them having to kind of grapple with this sense of he is the leader of the party right now, how are we going to proceed? And a lot of them would rather just lay low and let this whole thing go until -- or turn a blind eye at least to what's been happening, so long as they get their policy through.

And a lot of them, as Scott was saying earlier, a lot of Republicans would like to just focus on policy. But unfortunately, they're having also to answer for the president, a lot of them don't want to do that.

It's very important to realize that when the House vote happened this week and they were passing resolution, a lot of Republicans did want -- did not agree with this, but they also chose not to vote for the racist comments.

TAPPER: And, Scott, let me ask you. You talk about how you prefer the president to talk about the substance. In a way, I could understand, not condone, but understand why President Trump would be doing this if unemployment was at 15 percent, and everything was going poorly, but the economy is doing great. He has a record he can run on.

Why not focus on that?

SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Not only that, but the Democratic Party up until this weekend and this week was on the brink of all-out civil war in the House Democratic conference. And he sort --

TAPPER: They were fighting. They were fighting.

(CROSSTALK)

JENNINGS: They were fighting. They were fighting. You know, you talk to these folks.

TAPPER: Yes.

JENNINGS: And so, sometimes you have to understand, when you're winning. I mean, in the most recent ABC News/"Washington Post" poll, he scored his highest job approval. You pointed out the good economic numbers. He has all the advantage of incumbency, time, resources, no primary. The other party is having a messy primary. They're fighting in the House.

It could be a lot like the period between '10 and '12 when the Republicans couldn't pull it together, and Barack Obama used the time, power of incumbency, to go on and coast to reelection.

[16:35:05] But these call into questions whether that advantage is going to be stunted. So, I want the president to focus on his record. I think he can win on his record. Remember, he can even lose a couple of states he won and still get reelected.

TAPPER: Right.

And, Karen, very quickly, if you could, nothing unites the Democratic Party more than President Trump attacking them in a racist way.

KAREN FINNEY, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I think at this point, we might seeing that nothing will unite most of the country more than this kind of racist tweets and comments.

TAPPER: All right. Coming up, nearly 900 pages of newly released documents revealing that the two top presidential aides Michael Cohen talked to moments before paying off porn star and director Stormy Daniels. That's next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[16:40:06] TAPPER: In our national lead now, new revealing details about just how big a role the president and his campaign team may have paid in those hush money payments during the 2016 election to cover up his alleged affairs. This is all coming from nearly 900 pages of court documents unsealed today in that case against the president's former lawyer and fixer, Michael Cohen.

The investigation into the Trump's role in campaign finance violation has been closed as of this week.

I want to bring in CNN's Kara Scannell, who's been going through these new documents, as well as former federal prosecutor, Shan Wu.

So, Kara, what information are you learning from the documents?

KARA SCANNELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I think there are two kind of big takeaways here. The first one is this is the first time the government has ever identified Donald Trump by name in any documents. It's always --

TAPPER: It was always individual one.

SCANNELL: Exactly.

TAPPER: Yes.

SCANNELL: It's always individual one. And what we see in this is just at what key moments during this alleged campaign finance scheme that Cohen pleaded guilty to, Trump is there at critical moments. I mean, this begins after the "Access Hollywood" tape is made public in October 7th of 2016.

TAPPER: Right.

SCANNELL: The very next day, we see Hope Hicks connects Cohen with Trump on a phone call. That kicks off a chain of events where Cohen is acting as a middleman. Phone calls between David Pecker of American Media, the publisher, and Donald Trump, and Hope Hicks.

And there's one key moments. You see, he speaks, Cohen speaks with David Pecker, and then immediately he talks to Donald Trump for eight minutes, then a couple of phone calls later with other AMI executives, Cohen receives a text message saying that Keith is willing to do this. That's Keith Davidson, Stormy Daniels' lawyer.

So that connects the dots here between the initial phone call and that this had to do with Stormy Daniels. But then it continues, because on October 26th, Cohen has two phone calls with Donald Trump, and then 30 minutes later, he begins the process of wiring the hush money payment to Stormy Daniels and her lawyer. And two days later, Cohen speaks again to Donald Trump on the phone, and that's the same day that Cohen is finalizing the paperwork to make the settlement stick.

So, you see there, Donald Trump is actually on the call with Michael Cohen during this process, and according to the FBI, Cohen on average was speaking to Trump about once a month. So, this shows a big increase in communications during this critical period.

TAPPER: And, Shan, President Trump obviously denied knowing anything about this hush money payment to Stormy Daniels. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REPORTER: Mr. President, did you know about the $130,000 payment to Stormy Daniels?

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: No. No. What else?

REPORTER: Then why -- why did Michael Cohen make this, if there was no truth to her allegations?

TRUMP: Well, you'll have to ask Michael Cohen. Michael is my attorney and you'll have to ask Michael Cohen.

REPORTER: Do you know where he got the money to make that payment?

TRUMP: No, I don't know, no.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: So the theory of the case and these documents suggest that that's just a complete lie. And actually, Rudy Giuliani basically came out previously and said that wasn't true.

What does this mean in terms of President Trump's culpability, say, theoretically, after he leaves office?

SHAN WU, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: I think, although, you're going to hear him and his team spinning this was a good day, because there was no further expansion of charges, it leaves the culpability squarely where it was when it started, Trump's shoulders. And that -- as Kara was summing up, that is a really tight nexus of calls and texts and there's just no way around that.

So, where it leaves him is if the Southern District was so inclined and if the power that be at main justice at the time were so inclined, that's a tailor-made case just ready to go.

TAPPER: And, Kara, what's the significance and what's the present of Kellyanne Conway and Hope Hicks in this? What does it mean?

SCANNELL: Well, for Hope Hicks, you do see that she has had a number of these calls, and in the filing that the prosecutors made when they were submitting this in court today, they said that they did look into whether anyone had given a false statement or testimony. And in the FBI affidavit notes that Hope Hicks told a different FBI agent that she wasn't aware about the payments until November, one month after all these calls. But sources tell us there's no indication that Hope Hicks is going to face any charges in this.

Now, Kellyanne came up in a different way where you see during the series of calls where Cohen has just finalized the settlement terms, this paperwork, he's trying to reach Trump. He can't reach him. He ends up reaching Kellyanne and they speak for six minutes. But it ends there, so you don't really know how significant or meaningful that is.

TAPPER: Interesting. The plot thickens.

All right. Thanks, once again, Kara Scannell and Shan Wu, I appreciate it. Thank

It is almost time to find out which Democratic candidates will face off against each other. We're going to handicap the possible matchups, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[16:45:00] TAPPER: In our "2020 LEAD," we're just hours away from learning which presidential hopefuls in the Democratic Party are going to face off against which other presidential hopefuls on which nights of the upcoming second Democratic debates.

Now tonight, CNN is going to host a live draw to determine the lineups for next week's debates in Detroit, Michigan or rather there on the July 30th and 31st. CNN's Political Director David Chalian joins our panel right now.

And David, how is this going to unfold tonight?

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: So Jake, as you noted, there are 20 candidates who have qualified for this second round of debating in Detroit so now we've got to split them between the stage. And one thing that we wanted to ensure was that -- and that the DNC I think wanted to sure as well is that there was no undercard debate as there was in previous cycles on the Republican side last cycle.

So the way we are making sure that doesn't happen, we're going to split it up into three draws tonight. So there's going to be a first draw and that'll be ten candidates who are lower polling candidates in the race. You see them there up on the screen.

Then there's going to be a second draw that's going to be a middle tier of candidates the six of them and these are folks that averaged since the Miami debate between one and ten percent in the eight qualifying polls that were released since then, and then there's going to be the final draw.

And this is what really will guarantee sort of equal distribution of the candidates because you're going to have the final four candidates there, Biden, Harris, Warren, Sanders splitting two and two across the debate stage. You remember in Miami, the night were split, four of the top five were

on one stage and Elizabeth Warren had a night to herself in terms of top five.

[16:50:26] TAPPER: And it helped a lot.

CHALIAN: And it did. And this now, that won't be able to happen this time. We will evenly split the field where Democratic voters are supporting them right now across those two stage.

TAPPER: All right, obviously, we'll see what happens tonight at 8:00 -- starting at 8:00. Vivian, you're hoping for a Kamala Harris-Joe Biden rematch.

SALAMA: Well, especially against the backdrop of what we've seen the last couple of days with the president's racist remarks and how they deal with it. Obviously, with Joe Biden, he had a little bit of difficulty on that kind of subject, and Kamala Harris really shined when she spoke very personally about these issues. And so it would be interesting to see how they do on this topic in particular.

I'd also like to see Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders. I realized that you say they might agree on too many things --

TAPPER: I think they're just going to -- I think they're just going to love each other have to death.

SALAMA: But they're going to have to distinguish themselves from each other too. And it's going to be very interesting to see if they're able to do that and how they kind of go at each other.

TAPPER: I just -- I just think that she won't criticize him because she's doing well. She's taking all his voters and it's you know, it's tricky for him to criticize her.

CHALIAN: But she has to make sure that -- he has to make sure she doesn't take all those --

SALAMA: Exactly.

TAPPER: That's true. What are you looking for?

FINNEY: I am curious to see -- so the Cory Booker's campaign thinks that this is going to be -- they know this is a moment they need to really have a moment. And apparently they're kind of taking a look at Mayor Pete. So if they end up on the stage together, it will be interesting to see how that shakes out. Then I also want to see Harris and Biden.

TAPPER: You do. Well, we want to rematch.

FINNEY: Let's see the -- let's see the rematch. And let's see Elizabeth Warren and Biden talk about the economy. I think that would be a fascinating conversation.

TAPPER: There is -- you know, there's a lot of bad blood between them dating back to that banking bill.

FINNEY: Absolutely.

TAPPER: That credit card bill. What about you?

JENNINGS: Well. first of all, I think Joe Biden is going to be like a zebra that wandered up to the wrong watering hole. There's going to be a bunch of alligators ready and waiting because they saw what Kamala Harris was able to do by taking him on. She's been the flavor of the month ever since. And so somebody is going to try to recreate that magic.

It could be on Iraq by the way. I think that issue is still laying out there and he's got to answer for it at some point in his primary. I also want to see what the Governor of Montana can do, Bullock. He's be the only rural sort of you know, a spokesman on the stage. And as somebody from rural America, I want to see if he's going to be willing to sort of stand up to some of the nonsense and say this isn't going to fly in middle America.

TAPPER: And do you think that Biden is going to be a real target this time? He was a little bit last time.

CHALIAN: He was and he will be. He's the front-runner in the race so I think that person always is a target. Listen, I think Joe Biden, the stakes are pretty high here for him to have a better debate than he had last time.

Now, that may not be saying much. He had a pretty poor performance I think overall in Miami, but he can't afford a second poor performance. He's got to come in and really show that he understands that that didn't go over well and that he is prepared to fight for this nomination. I think that's one thing that's going to be critical to watch.

FINNEY: But don't you think part of that is going to be -- he has to figure out how to have a moment. He certainly cannot go after Kamala Harris the way she went after him for a whole host of reasons, but he's got to figure out some way to break through whether it's a big idea or a big moment or a contrast point. I'm excited to see what that's going to be.

TAPPER: We haven't talked about as somebody who used to be the flavor of the month, was on the cover of Vanity Fair Magazine Beto O'Rourke.

SALAMA: Beto O'Rourke, we saw that he really fell short with his exchanges with Julian Castro on immigration in particular. And so I think that that's going to be something that he's really going to want to come back fighting on is the topic of immigration especially.

If he could take out Julian Castro, I'm sure he would love that. But anyone at this point, I think that's where he's going to want to shine this time around,.

TAPPER: OK. When we did see Castro have something of a breakout moment by taking on Beto O'Rourke. So that -- even though people love to say they hate negative campaigning, if there's a good shot, people like -- they liked it.

JENNINGS: Beto was lucky you all put him in the second tier. That has not been -- that's the best --

CHALIAN: We didn't do that.

(CROSSTALK)

JENNINGS: That's the best thing -- that's the best thing that happened to him. That's the best thing that happened to him in a long time.

TAPPER: That's his poll numbers. That's not us. He did it.

JENNINGS: Let me tell you something. It's not going in the right direction.

TAPPER: All right, the candidate lineups are going to be reveal in the draw for the CNN Democratic Debates. Again, that's tonight at 8:00 p.m. Eastern, and then of course on July 30th and 31st, the candidates are going to face off in the CNN Democratic Presidential Debates hosted by Dana Bash, Don Lemon, and myself.

Coming up, new concerns about a popular app that makes you look old. The Russia connection, that's next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[16:55:00] TAPPER: In our "MONEY LEAD today," today the House passed a bill to raise the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2025. That's more than doubling the current minimum wage which sits at $7.25 an hour. But the legislation is unlikely to go anywhere in the Senate, which is Republican-controlled. The last time the minimum wage was raised was a decade ago in 2009

In our "TECH LEAD" today, new security concerns about a viral photo app with millions of users, it's called FaceApp, and it uses artificial intelligence to edit your photos, and for example make you look decades older. It actually is owned by a Russian company. A company that says it has no ties to the Russian government and that it's not sharing or selling your data, but authorities in the U.S. are not convinced.

Senator Chuck Schumer is asking the FBI to investigate. And The Democratic National Committee is warning Presidential Campaigns don't use the app. They're a little gunshot I guess.

Follow me on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter @JakeTapper. You can tweet the show @TheLeadCNN. Our coverage on CNN continues right now. Thanks for watching.