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THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER
Trump Announces New Trade Agreement with E.U., Imposes New Tariffs on China; Dem Candidates Walk Back Debate Attacks on Obama; Trump Slams CA After New Law Requires Him To Release Taxes; RFK Granddaughter Found Dead At Family Home, Cause Of Death Pending Toxicology Report; Any Moment: Puerto Rico Governor Stepping Down Unless He Changes His Mind. Aired 4:30-5p ET
Aired August 2, 2019 - 16:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[16:32:13] JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: We're back with our world lead now.
President Trump this afternoon announced a new trade agreement with the European Union as he simultaneously escalating a trade war with China, and pulling out of a decades-old agreement with Russia. The Russians were violating according to both Obama and Trump administration.
CNN's Pamela Brown has more now on the president's foreign policy moves.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: A wonderful day and a wonderful deal for a lot of people.
PAMELA BROWN, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Today, President Trump touted the art of his deal. This time enabling American ranchers to export beef to the European Union and other world markets.
TRUMP: You've never seen anything like that happen before, have you, huh? Not with other presidents you haven't.
BROWN: But news of the beef deal comes as America's negotiations with China and Russia reach a breaking point.
TRUMP: Until such time as there is a deal, we will be taxing the hell out of China. That's all there is, OK?
BROWN: Trump surprising global markets on Thursday by tweeting he's adding a 10 percent tariff on $300 billion worth of Chinese goods, which includes toys, shoes, laptops and, yes, iPhones. The China's Ministry of Commerce saying today, China is, quote, not afraid of a fight. Adding countermeasures will be necessary.
Russia is fighting mad, too. Calling it a, quote, serious mistake for the U.S. to formally withdraw today from the INF Treaty, a landmark nuclear arms control pact made in 1987. RONALD REAGAN, FORMER PRESIDENT: Trust but verify.
BROWN: The end of the trust was first announced in February.
MIKE POMPEO, SECRETARY OF STATE : We can no longer be restricted by the treaty while Russia shamelessly violates it.
BROWN: It is the latest international agreement the president has gone against. As promised, he abandoned the Paris climate accord.
TRUMP: So, we're getting out.
BROWN: And renegotiated NAFTA.
TRUMP: NAFTA has been a catastrophe for our country.
BROWN: As for his nuclear deal with North Korea --
TRUMP: We've had a great relationship. Singapore was a tremendous success.
BROWN: It seems Trump's agreement with Kim Jong-un can withstand a lot. The president today tweeting, Kim Jong-un and North Korea tested three short-term range missiles over the last number of days. These missiles tests are not a violation of our signed Singapore agreement. Adding: Chairman Kim does not want to disappoint me with a violation of trust.
BROWN: And I spoke to a senior administration official who said right now the view in the administration when it comes to North Korea is it is trying to send a subtle message to the United States, trying to get the attention of the president. But as of now, the calculation is that as long as these are short-range missiles and they're not the longer range that could hit Guam, that could hit the United States, the posture will be the same from the president, kind of dismissing it as hey, this isn't a violation of our agreement.
TAPPER: First time I've heard short-range missiles described as a subtle message. But OK.
[16:35:00] TAPPER: Pamela Brown, thank you so much.
Coming up next, changing their tune. Some presidential candidates now fully embracing President Obama after criticizing his policies at this week's CNN debates.
Stay with us.
TAPPER: In our 2020 lead now, candidates trying to walk back some of the attacks made on President Obama at the debate. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JULIAN CASTRO (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I don't think you're going to find somebody that's been more effusive in his praise about Barack Obama than I have been.
SEN. KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND (D-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: President Obama was a great president.
SEN. CORY BOOKER (D-NJ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Heck, if he was running for president for a third term I wouldn't be running.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: This as CNN has learned that former Obama administration officials were outraged over the attacks that Democrats made on that debate stage.
[16:40:03] Toluse, the Obama campaign is -- the camp, rather, isn't one you want to make angry, but do you think this is going to be enough or should they be refraining from criticizing President Obama's policies?
TOLUSE OLORUNNIPA, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I think this goes back to what we heard on Tuesday night which was Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren going against the moderates. The moderates are trying to reign in some of that leftward shift of the party. The party has shifted since Obama was in office and there are liberal activists who think that Obama didn't do enough and his record should be up for grabs, should be something that should be criticized.
But you are now seeing some of these other candidates say, listen, we don't want to be the party that said Obama was a moderate or Obama was too far to the right, because there are a lot of moderate voters and Obama remains very popular within the Democratic Party and also popular among independents and you need to be able to put together the Obama coalition once again which Hillary Clinton was not able to do and if you start offending people who like Obama by saying he didn't go far enough, then you're going to struggle to win the general election.
KUCINICH: But on immigration, the idea that anyone was surprised that these candidates would go against Obama's immigration policy, talk to anyone in that immigration advocate space during the during the Obama years.
TAPPER: They were very critical.
KUCINICH: They were very critical and they were open about it.
TAPPER: Deporter-in-chief they called him.
KUCINICH: Exactly. I mean, Luis Gutierrez, member of Congress from Illinois, he was very critical of the Obama administration. So, that -- I don't know -- and a lot of them don't want to go back to that.
TAPPER: And take a listen, David, to President Trump. He noticed the number of attacks on Obama. He talked about it last night.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: The Democrats spent more time attacking Barack Obama than they did attacking me practically.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DAVID URBAN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, to his point, right? So, the president is trying to say, look, the party is so far to the left that Barack Obama is not even mainstream now in the Democratic Party. That Barack Obama's health care plan, which was pretty radical at the time, isn't even close to where they want to be.
You know, David Axelrod, we were sitting around talking and he said we tried the public option and we couldn't get there.
URBAN: We tried. We tried really hard. And we couldn't get near to where these people want to go and now they're on the stage basically throwing tomatoes at the guy. I mean, it's incredible.
KIRSTEN POWERS, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: But it is because Joe Biden is the front-runner and they're trying to find some way to land a punch on him. And his Senate record is pretty old, you know? So, they are going back after that. But I think that they're trying to find something to attack him for. I think -- I don't think it is out of bounds, I just think it's not productive.
TAPPER: But the party has moved to the left.
POWERS: Yes, the party has moved to the left but it is always important to remember, those are the loudest voices. There are still a lot of moderate Democratic voters.
TAPPER: Voters, sure.
POWERS: Yes, African-American voters are pretty moderate, right?
TAPPER: They're more moderate than Democratic white voters.
POWERS: Yes. So, I think -- so they are speaking to the loudest voices in the room. And, look, there are fair criticisms to make about Barack Obama's record but Joe Biden could probably do a better job defending it. I think to say, look, we could have done a better job but you're living in a magic land where Barack Obama was a king and decreeing things, like there was a Republican Congress. They were other things going on.
You know, let's build on the things he did. If he could have done something more than in terms of Obamacare, he would have -- he couldn't because of the Republicans.
TAPPER: And there are laws saying that if you're in this country illegally, you get deported. URBAN: Well, not if half of the Democratic electorate up there on the
stage gets their way, right? Talking about decriminalization of the border, and when you come through, here's some health care, here's education. I mean, that's the problem. You stake out the positions, these radical positions and they become very hard to defend. The closer you get to a general election.
TAPPER: President Trump goes off on California days after passing a law that gets way too personal for his liking and might cost him millions of popular votes.
Stay with us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
[16:45:00] DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: What they are doing to our beautiful California is a disgrace to our country. It's a shame.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: President Trump slamming California last night just days after the state passed a law that could force the President to do what he's long been avoiding, releasing his tax returns. As CNN's Kyung Lah reports for us now, if he doesn't, it could cause him to lose millions of votes in 2020.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Secretary, call the roll.
KYUNG LAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Gauntlet thrown in the latest battle for President Trump's taxes. California Governor Gavin Newsom signed a bill that requires presidential and gubernatorial candidates to release their tax returns in order to qualify for the state's 2020 primary ballot.
GOV. GAVIN NEWSOM (D), CALIFORNIA: You have a right as an American citizen to know what's going on. You have a right to know someone's self-dealing. This latest move Pitts Newsom in another and more personal fight with Trump as California dives into the Trump tax battle.
SEN. MIKE MCGUIRE (D-CA): If the federal government is not going to be able to force his hand, California will.
LAH: State Senator Mike McGuire introduced the bill. He says it's all about presidential transparency.
MCGUIRE: If you are a Democrat or if you're Republican, you can choose not to release your tax returns, you simply won't be on the California ballot.
LAH: But there's only one person who has vehemently resisted releasing his taxes.
MCGUIRE: I think we all know that audit is hogwash. He simply wants to avoid releasing his tax returns.
LAH: For years, Trump has refused to budge.
TRUMP: I would love to give them but I'm not going to do it while I'm under it. It's very simple.
LAH: To force Trump's hand, states are jumping in. This year 18 states introduced similar bills. California's law is expected to immediately face legal challenges but Democrats say they're not worried.
[16:50:12] MCGUIRE: This bill applies to all candidates. It doesn't discriminate. And that's why I believe that this bill will be ruled constitutional.
LAH: The State GOP disagrees noting California's previous governor Democrat Jerry Brown vetoed a similar measure questioning the constitutionality and concerned about a slippery slope precedent.
In your opinion, what is this truly about?
JESSICA PATTERSON, CHAIRWOMAN, CA GOP: Politics. I think it's clearly a vendetta with President Trump.
LAH: That may not matter for Democrats, politically. A CNN poll earlier this year found 66 percent of Americans believe the President should release his tax returns, just 32 percent said he should not.
Republican Senator Brian Jones says if Trump's name isn't on the state ballot, all his party could do is use it as a tool to energize the GOP base.
SEN. SENATOR BRIAN JONES (R-CA): People are like OK, I don't like Trump but I don't like this idea either of the state of the majority party overreaching so I'm going to go vote just to show my distaste of this process.
LAH: Well, Trump's personal attorney Jay Sekulow released a statement after California's actions saying that California's attempt to circumvent the Constitution will be met and answered in court. California Democrats say they'll meet them in court and hope, Jake, to have some sort of expedited process to have an answer before California's primary on to Super Tuesday. Jake?
TAPPER: Kyung Lah, thank you so much. Also in our "NATIONAL LEAD," we are waiting for a toxicology report to determine the official cause of death for Saoirse Kennedy Hill, the granddaughter of Robert F. Kennedy.
She was just 22 years old and was found unresponsive at the family compound in Hyannis Port, Massachusetts. CNN's Jean Casarez in Hyannis right now. and Jean, Saoirse wrote about suffering bouts of depression in high school, do we know if that is related at all to her tragic death?
JEAN CASAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, late today we did get a statement from the Cape and Islands District Attorney's Office where they do say that the cause in the manner of death are pending toxicology report. So they are hopeful -- it is believed, but they are also saying that this -- the jurisdiction of this case is now with the chief medical examiner.
An autopsy has been performed that no trauma was found on her body except that trauma that is consistent with life-saving measures. Her family is devastated from this they are saying their hearts are shattered. "She lit up our lives with her, love her peals of laughter, and her generous spirit."
And her grandmother Ethel Kennedy said that the world and the country is a little less brighter today because of her death, Jake.
TAPPER: Jean Casarez, thank you so much. And our thoughts and prayers are going to the members of the family especially Stephanie and Paul. Remember, if you or a loved one needs help or needs to talk to someone, please call the National Suicide Prevention lifeline 1- 800-273-8255. There is love for you. There is help for you.
In just minutes, Puerto Rico's governor is expected to step down but state lawmakers just made a move that could change things. We're going to go live to Puerto Rico next. Stay with us.
[16:55:00] TAPPER: Breaking news now. We're just minutes away from Puerto Rico's embattled governor Ricardo Rossello stepping down after weeks of protests. The problem is right now nobody seems to have any idea who will replace him or when. CNN's Leyla Santiago is live for us in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Leyla, what's going to happen in just a few moments when Rossello is expected to officially be out of office?
LEYLA SANTIAGO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That is the key question, Jake. Here in front of La Fortaleza, the governor's mansion, there is a lot of celebration in hopes that he will step down. This is a crowd that is saying "pack your bags, Rossello" that is celebrating and counting down the two minutes and 20 seconds that still remain until he said he will step down.
But let's talk about the possibilities here because there's a lot of uncertainty as to whether or not that will actually happen. So here are the options. One they could go to a gentleman named Pedro Pierluisi. He was person who the governor appointed and was sworn in but he has not been confirmed by the Senate and the Senate says they won't consider until at least next week.
Then there's the next in line. That would be the Secretary of Justice Wanda Vazquez. She says she doesn't want the position but she will fulfill her duties if that's the case. You can see the crowd really getting pumped up and excited as we get to 5:00. The other option and I don't think it should be discounted, the option
that the governor does not actually step down even though that's what he said he would do that he will step down at 5:00 today. And as that moment gets closer, this is a crowd that is expecting that, hoping that, wanting that, but waiting to see what will actually happen.
TAPPER: Quite a mystery. Leyla Santiago in San Juan, Puerto Rico, thank you so much. I really appreciate it. You should tune -- you should turn into a Sunday on to the State of the Union. My guess will be Democratic presidential candidates Senator Cory Booker and South Bend Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg. Plus, we'll have the director of President Trump's Economic Council Larry Kudlow. That's at 9:00 a.m. and noon Eastern on Sunday.
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