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THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER

New North Korea Missile Test?; Democratic Debate Fallout; Gov. Steve Bullock (D-MT) is Interviewed About Race, Trade and Debate; Trump: I Don't Know If I Can Stop "Send Her Back" Chant. Aired 4-4:30p ET

Aired August 1, 2019 - 16:00   ET

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


[16:00:00]

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: The Dow down nearly 300 points here, after President Trump tweeted that he will place new tariffs on China starting September 1.

That would impact products like phones, laptops, sneakers, et cetera. Before the tweet, you can see the green on the screen. The Dow had been up quite a bit.

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

"THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER" starts right now.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Democratic candidates setting their sights on attacking President Obama?

THE LEAD starts right now.

2020 Democrats back on the campaign trail today after the big CNN debates. And the front-runner, former Vice President Joe Biden, responding to attacks from his opponents that he calls bizarre.

Is it getting chilly in here? The U.S. is about to test a new missile, as a treaty that helped end the Cold War crumbles. Is a new arms race on the horizon?

Plus, no pay, we stay. Kentucky miners block a train loaded with coal deep in Trump country after their company goes belly up, and they say they won't budge until payday comes.

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

TAPPER: Welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.

We begin today with breaking news in our world lead.

A U.S. official telling CNN that North Korea is believed to have launched two short-range ballistic missiles today similar to the missiles test-fired by Kim Jong-un's regime earlier this week.

I want to get right to CNN's Will Ripley, who's been to North Korea nearly 20 times. And, Will, this is the third launch in less than two weeks by North Korea. What do you make of this flurry of testing? Is he trying to send a signal of some sort?

WILL RIPLEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: He's absolutely trying to send a signal, Jake, both a signal to President Trump, to South Korean President Moon Jae-in, and, frankly, to the hawks inside his country who think he should go tougher on the United States because the North Koreans haven't gotten what they want, which is sanctions relief, before they do anything in terms of substantial steps to denuclearize.

The North Koreans have indicated a willingness to continue working level talks with the U.S. In fact, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was in Bangkok. He said that he's optimistic. He hopes that those talks will happen soon.

So these launches in some sense are posturing, but also a reminder to the U.S. of what North Korea could do if talks don't go the way they want. They could launch something much bigger. They could launch an ICBM or even conduct a nuclear test pretty much at any time -- Jake.

TAPPER: All right. Will Ripley, thank you so much.

Turning to our 2020 lead now and a new question for Democrats emerging from the CNN debates, how much to stay focused on defeating Donald Trump vs. how much to target each other, especially front-runner Joe Biden

As the candidates debated their records and proposals last night, the record of Barack Obama on trade, on immigration, on criminal justice reform was caught in the crossfire over and over.

And as CNN's Jessica Dean now reports for us, today, Biden is questioning why Obama and his legacy were even up for debate, as the vice president attempts to use the 44th president as something of a shield.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JESSICA DEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Former Vice President Joe Biden and California Senator Kamala Harris back on the trail today, hours after sparring at the CNN debate in Detroit.

SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D-CA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: In response to Senator Biden...

DEAN: Biden stopping by arrest strong with the city's mayor and the president of the Detroit NAACP.

JOSEPH BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It's not about moving left or right. I think I represent the party.

DEAN: While Harris shadowed a Detroit security officer who's also a local union member.

Biden today said the level of criticism directed at parts of former President Barack Obama's record was unexpected.

BIDEN: I must tell you, I was a little surprised at how much incoming was about Barack, about the president. I mean, I'm proud of having served with him. I'm proud of the job he did.

DEAN: Among the areas that came under scrutiny, the mass deportations by the Obama administration from a member of Obama's Cabinet.

BIDEN: We sat together in many meetings. I never heard him talk about any of this when he was the secretary.

JULIAN CASTRO (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Mr. Vice President, it looks like one of us has learned the lessons of the past and one of us hasn't.

DEAN: New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio repeatedly asked Biden if he used his power his vice president to advise Obama against the deportations.

BIDEN: I was vice president. I am not the president. I keep my recommendation to him in private.

DEAN: Which quickly led to New Jersey Senator Cory Booker calling out Biden for using his ties to the former president as a political shield.

SEN. CORY BOOKER (D-NJ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You can't have it both ways. You invoke President Obama more than anybody in this campaign. You can't do it when it's convenient and then dodge it when it's not.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

DEAN: Biden wasn't the only candidate center stage taking heat. Harris faced tough criticism over her time as a prosecutor in California from Hawaii Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard.

REP. TULSI GABBARD (D-HI), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: But I'm deeply concerned about this record. She fought to keep ...

TAPPER: Thank you, Congresswoman.

GABBARD: ... cash bail system in place. That impacts poor people in the worst kind of way.

DEAN: According to a CNN fact-check, Harris advocated for higher bail amounts for gun-related crimes after being elected San Francisco's district attorney in 2004.

But she also introduced legislation as a senator in 2017 to reform or replace the practice Gabbard criticized.

[16:05:00]

HARRIS: As the elected attorney general of California, I did the work of significantly reforming the criminal justice system of a state of 40 million people, which became a national model for the work that needs to be done.

And I am proud of that work.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

DEAN: Now, also out on the campaign trail today, Senator Elizabeth Warren. She had a big Tuesday, was quiet yesterday, as the rest of the candidates took part in the second part of the debate, and is now back on the campaign trail.

She, along with a host of others, her fellow top-tier candidates included, all headed to Las Vegas next, Jake. They will speak to a union group there over the weekend, and they find themselves back together once again.

TAPPER: All right, Jessica Dean, thanks so much.

Let's chew over this with my experts.

Mehdi, let me start with you.

Biden said today he was surprised that so many of his rivals went after him about the Obama-Biden record. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BIDEN: The world has changed since Obama. He changed what was going on. And the idea that somehow it's comparable to what this guy's doing is absolutely bizarre.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: I didn't really hear anybody comparing Obama to Trump.

MEHDI HASAN, THE INTERCEPT: No.

And also this idea that they're going after Barack Obama, no, Joe, they're going after you. And the idea that you're going to run for president with 40 years of experience, and then people aren't going to pick apart that record?

I mean, you had Gillibrand going back to 1981, pulling up an op-ed to go off Biden. I would go back much further to the '70s, which Kamala Harris did in the first debate, bringing up the busing?

So, I mean, you can go through all of his record. He has a bad record, and he has to deal with that. And he got a chance to deal with it. Bill de Blasio jumped and tried to take over your job and said, answer the damn question about deportation.

He wouldn't do it. Oh, I keep my advice private.

TAPPER: In fact, let's run that clip.

Mayor de Blasio challenging the fact that there were more deportations under Obama-Biden than under President Trump. Take a listen. We will come right back to you.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BILL DE BLASIO (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Did you say those deportations were a good idea or did you go to the president and say this is a mistake, we shouldn't do it? Which one?

BIDEN: I was vice president. I am not the president. I keep my recommendation to him in private.

BOOKER: Mr. Vice President, you can't have it both ways. You invoke President Obama more than anybody in this campaign. You can't do it when it's convenient and then dodge it when it's not.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HASAN: I think Cory Booker, that was one of the lines of the night when he nailed him on that point, pointing out the double standard.

And you saw Biden trying to hit back at Booker. This time, he came with notes, but he had to read his notes as he was kind of doing his putdowns. And he gaffed at the beginning of the night, calling Kamala Harris a kid. He gaffed at the end of the night with his own Web site.

He gaffed in the middle of when he endorsed Booker's presidential candidacy. I mean, I watched it, and I thought was a disaster. I know some people are saying Biden did better than we thought. But let's not start treating Biden like we treat Trump, where we grade him on a curve.

TAPPER: What do you make of it all?

PAUL BEGALA, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I think Biden had a perfectly good night, because...

TAPPER: Really?

BEGALA: Perfectly good.

(CROSSTALK)

HASAN: By his standards or...

BEGALA: No, by standards that he's like 30 points ahead, and they didn't really lay a glove on him.

But opportunity cost was very high. When Bill de Blasio said this about deportations, Joe, the vice president, should have said some people need to be deported.

The president -- in the Obama administration, the president targeted people who are violent, people who committed to felonies while they're here and, yes, some people who lied on their application, but that's a crime too. TAPPER: And also people who had been in the country just recently, had just arrived and been there for weeks and months, instead of years.

BEGALA: Yes.

By the way, Kamala Harris should have said, some people need to be incarcerated. She should have turned to Tulsi Gabbard and said, yes, I raised bail on people who create gun violence because gun violence is an epidemic.

(CROSSTALK)

BEGALA: This is my problem with the whole two-day debate is I believe many of these candidates seeking to win the nomination are setting themselves up to lose the presidency to Donald Trump.

TAPPER: By running so far to the left?

BEGALA: Yes.

TAPPER: Mary Katharine, what did you make of Joe Biden? Because I have heard a lot of people saying he seems to -- charitably, he seems to have lost his fast ball.

Take a look at this moment where he's stumbling, trying to hammer home a point.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BIDEN: It's no longer chemicals. It's about all these breakthroughs that we have, with the whole -- the whole -- excuse me -- immune system.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: Now, he struggled with a stutter when he was a kid. So I don't know if that's coming back.

I don't mean to make light of it. Or if maybe he's just not as agile as he used to be.

MARY KATHARINE HAM, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I thought his performance was OK-ish. But that's not good.

And he had, I think, an opportunity to improve a great deal, and he did not improve a great deal. That being said, a bunch of people were taking shots at him. And I thought he handled them OK.

There were times when I thought he was pretty good. And he went on the attack. And he defended himself. He also did defend the Obama legacy. And this is a problem the rest of them have, which is, yes, he does use Obama sort of his shield.

But if you're going to go after him in recent memory, Biden's record in recent memory, you do end up going smack into Obama's legacy. And when it comes to health care especially, some of those candidates are out there saying, look at this disaster, and he is within his rights to be like, wait, wait, wait, wait, look who you're going after.

AMANDA CARPENTER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, I would say the two biggest thing that Democrats are fighting over right now, immigration and health care, are two major crises that we're not resolved by the Obama-Biden administration.

So that is completely fair game. But what is hard to watch, when there's all these Democrats that are uncomfortable with the fact that they're having a policy debate, because they just want to unify and attack Trump.

[16:10:03]

You can't kick this down the road. It is much better to fight over this in the primaries, resolve the issues among yourselves, rather than let leave this linger for the general election.

TAPPER: And let's talk about Kamala Harris, because she also took a lot of incoming last night.

Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard in particular challenged Harris' record as a prosecutor. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GABBARD: She blocked evidence -- she blocked evidence that would have freed an innocent man from death row until the courts forced her to do so. She kept people in prison beyond their sentences.

HARRIS: I did the work of significantly reforming the criminal justice system of a state of 40 million people, which became a national model for the work that needs to be done.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: Now, she told CNN she expected this because she's a top-tier candidate and Tulsi Gabbard is not.

HASAN: I'm not sure she does expect it. I think she's managed to get away with not being held to account for her California record so far.

People are so happy that she's in the race. She's clearly brilliant at what she does. She was brilliant in taking down Biden in that first debate.

But people haven't really looked at her record. And when you look at her record in California, it's not a great record across the board. She did many good things. But there are innocent people in prison who were put behind bars.

You're going to Google George Gage, Daniel Larsen, Johnny Baca, a guy called Kevin Cooper. These are people who were then been released from prison because they were wrongfully convicted, either because of racism, corruption, false testimony presented in court by Kamala's prosecutors.

And she fought tooth and nail to keep them behind bars. She has to answer questions about that.

CARPENTER: That exchange is one of the benefits of having a big field.

The top-tier contenders might not have necessarily gone that hard at Harris because they fear her. But Tulsi Gabbard did it. And she did Harris a favor, because Harris is going to get that attack one day. And it better come from the Democratic side than it comes from a general election.

This all helps them become stronger, get these things resolved now.

TAPPER: There is an argument that Hillary Clinton was not as strong a general election candidate as she could have been because she didn't really face a vigorous primary, especially with so many people in the Democratic Party telling Bernie Sanders to hold his fire.

And you can tell that he maybe didn't want to, but he did for the most part.

BEGALA: I think the '08 primaries between Hillary and Barack were much tougher.

TAPPER: Sure, very brutal.

BEGALA: But Sanders did test Hillary. I don't think that was the cardinal problem with her campaign. And he won 19 states, I think, maybe a couple more.

CARPENTER: Well, he dropped the e-mail question, which became a major general election issue.

BEGALA: He did, but I think that's more -- we can get into that. That was more the fault of the press, frankly, than of Hillary or Bernie.

I mean, I think they overinflated...

(CROSSTALK)

TAPPER: Well, without going into Hillary's e-mails again, what about her e-mails?

(LAUGHTER)

TAPPER: I mean, there is the argument that this does -- I know there are a lot of Democrats who hate the Democrats fighting. But there are a lot of other people who say, this is good for the party in the long run, especially Democratic officials.

HAM: They have to be ready for this. And I have frankly been surprised at how little prepared Harris seems to be for what seemed to me to be very predictable lines of attack. I think Gabbard did it well, but you should have seen this coming

many, many miles away. And she didn't seem to. And here's the thing. She's very good on attack on stage. She's very good on stage. But then after the debate, there's a lot of walk-back.

And now with this first tier, top-tier candidate thing, there's a whiff of entitlement, and people do not like that.

TAPPER: All right, everyone, stick around. We got a lot more to talk about.

Coming up, it was his first debate, a Democratic governor of a red state. Will his performance give him a big enough boost to get him onto the stage next time?

We're going to talk to Montana Governor Steve Bullock next.

Plus, House Democrats are two steps closer to the one thing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi does not want them to do. That's ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[16:17:35] JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: In our 2020 lead, it's been less than 24 hours since the two-night Democratic debates. And some candidates are already reaping in the rewards.

Presidential hopefuls such as Bernie Sanders, whose campaign said they raised $1.1 million after the debate. Governor Jay Inslee announced they had 10,000 donation since last night. And Montana Governor Steve Bullock who tweeted: Big news, our campaign had the best fund-raising day since we launched today and it's all thanks to you.

Joining me now is Governor Steve Bullock.

Governor Bullock, thanks for joining us.

You're a big believer in transparency, especially when it comes to finances and fund-raising. You said you had your best fundraising day since you announced. How much did you raise?

GOV. STEVE BULLOCK (D-MT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think on that first day, it wasn't quite that $1.1 million. I think we were about $100,000 on the first day right after it. It's been rolling in as well since then. So, excited that we're getting contributions from all over the country, big and small, Jake.

TAPPER: All right. Today, President Trump announced he's going to put an additional 10 percent tax on $300 billion worth of Chinese products, in addition to the previous tariff, what do you make of that? Do you support it? What do you think?

BULLOCK: No, I think this is absolutely his sort of "America first" becoming "American alone" isn't the way to deal with this. It struck me when I was in Rippey, Iowa, when farmers said, every time that this president tweets, we lose hundreds of thousands of dollars. But now, he's also covering toys, consumers goods. You know, this is, as you say, it's not a tariff. It's a tax. And

it's a tax that every American family is going to be paying for to the tune of thousands and thousands of dollars. This isn't the way -- you don't conduct trade policy by tweet.

TAPPER: But I guess the counter-argument is the Chinese have been screwing the Americans for decades and President Trump says it's time to get serious, it's time to get tough, and the only thing they respect is actual use of tariff and economic force.

BULLOCK: They have. Look, I actually great with the president on the fact that we've got to be tough on China. You could look at from 1994 when their economy was about $500 billion to now $11 trillion. You could look -- they did this with steel, they did it with credit cards, they did it with microchips, now they're doing it with technology.

But the way to get about that, I mean, as he lifted the tariffs on ag products from the U.S., what did China do? They lowered the tariffs for the rest of the world.

[16:20:03] So, the way to do it isn't to do it alone. It's actually to bring in the global community and get tough on them because the only folks that will be suffering as a result of these actions are us in this country. Us not only just the farmers and the ranchers and folks in rural areas, but in urban areas as well, when it's effectively a tax on everything that Americans buy.

TAPPER: I want to change the subject. Right now, we're in the middle of an important conversation about race and racism in America. You heard some of that last night on the debate stage and as well as the night that you were there.

Now, you come from a state where 89 percent of the population is white, according to the U.S. Census, a very, very small black population. You have bigger percentages of Native Americans and Asians for example.

How can you reach out and win over this incredibly diverse Democratic voting base with that kinds of a background?

BULLOCK: Yes, raised in a single parent household, do I know how the challenges of dealing with what would be literally generations of discrimination? No. Do I -- have I had to talk to my son about, if you ever get pulled over, put your head down, your hands on the dashboard, no, I don't.

But what I do know is we can't let this president or anyone be dividing us by the color of our skin or who we love, or where we're from. And that's exactly what's happening. We have literally generations of systemic, at times certainly racism, at times inequities, and we've got to address those piece by piece.

We have to look at the criminal justice system. We have to look at the health care system. We have to look at the overall economy. And I think that's how we do it. First of all, showing up, listening more than you talk, and

recognizing that this isn't just about lifting all boats. It's recognizing that -- and I'm glad we're having this conversation in 2019, because the problems that we are dealing with right now in 2019, they didn't just start this year alone at all, Jake.

TAPPER: So, let me just ask, one last question, sir. The former Vice President Joe Biden today said that he was surprised by how many attacks last night were on the record of Obama administration, Obama/Biden administration when it came to immigration, criminal justice reform, trade. Were you surprised?

BULLOCK: Well, it is fairly stunning when -- I talked about wish list economics. Plans that are written without necessarily those direct connections to how people's lives are going to be impacted immediately. I think that we don't talk -- as somebody who comes from a state where Trump won -- places that we need to win back. We don't talk enough about folks' everyday concerns.

And there were many on the stage, including on my night where they seemed more interested in attacking Obama and Obama's record, than actually recognizing that Trump every day is trying to undermine and dismantle that. So, I would agree with the vice president on that.

We need to be making progress. There's so many ways to do it, but I think most folks watching that debate, especially even last night, that was pretty painful to watch. And they didn't even know most of the things that people were talking about, because it didn't impact their daily lives.

TAPPER: All right. Montana Governor Steve Bullock, thank you so much. Appreciate your time, sir.

BULLOCK: Thanks, Jake.

TAPPER: President Trump was just asked about the horrible "send them back" or "send her back" chants that broke out at his last rally, as he's heading to his first campaign event since the Democratic debate. His response, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[16:28:17] TAPPER: We have some breaking news. President Trump just spoke at the White House on his way to a campaign rally in Ohio tonight. The president gave a preview of the rally. It's the first since those ugly "send her back" chants broke out after the president said that a U.S. congresswoman, an American citizen, Ilhan Omar, should go back where she came from. She was, of course, a Somali refugee.

CNN's Abby Phillip is at the White House.

Abby, the president was just asked about those "send her back" chants. People saying he should have stopped them last night. He lied about whether or not he tried to stop them. What did he say this time?

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Jake.

After President Trump disavowed those chants and said falsely that he tried to stop them, he's now leaving open the possibility that they could appear tonight at his campaign rally and he's not sure what exactly he's going to do if that happens.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If they do the chant, we'll have to see what happens.

REPORTER: Will you stop them, sir? You think you will?

TRUMP: I don't know that you can stop people. I don't know that you can. I mean, we'll see what they do. I prefer that they don't, but if they do it, we'll have to make a decision then.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PHILLIP: Now, tonight, Jake, will be President Trump's turn to take a spotlight after two days of Democrats being in front and center on that debate stage, and President Trump also made it clear that he's paying attention to what's going on in that Democratic race.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

PHILLIP (voice-over): It's President Trump's turn in the spotlight as he campaigns in the battleground state of Ohio on the heels of two straight days of Democratic debates.

As Democrats slug it out for the chance to take him on in 2020, Trump weighing in from the peanut gallery, tweeting: The people on stage were not those that will either make America great again or keep America great. Trump adding: We will grow bigger, better and stronger together, strangely mimicking Hillary Clinton's campaign slogan.

HILLARY CLINTON, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: We are stronger when we grow together.

PHILLIP: It was an unusually mild response from Trump who on the first night of the debates quoted Louisiana Republican John Kennedy, calling Democrats socialists.

TRUMP: I am the least racist person there is anywhere in the world.

[16:30:00]