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THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER

Man Accused Of Shooting Six Philadelphia Police Officers Had AR-15 And Handgun; Sen. Klobuchar Takes Gun Control Issue To Trump Country; Israel Bans Reps. Omar And Tlaib After Trump's Suggestion; Hickenlooper Ends White House Bid, Will Consider Senate Run; O'Rourke Restarts 2020 Campaign With Attacks On Trump; Freshmen Democrats In Red Districts Weigh Impeaching Trump; Dale Earnhardt Jr., Wife, Survive Fiery Tennessee Plane Crash. Aired 4:30-5p ET

Aired August 15, 2019 - 16:30   ET

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


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[16:30:41] JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: In our "2020 Lead," moments ago we learned the man accused of shooting six Philadelphia police officers, wounding them, likely used an AR-15 rifle and also had a handgun in his possession, that as Philadelphia's mayor renews his call today for new gun laws in the wake of that seven hour standoff.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MAYOR JIM KENNEY, (D) PHILADELPHIA: Our officers need help. They need help keeping these weapons out of the hands of the bad guys. No one should have access to the kind of weaponry and firepower that we saw in North Philadelphia last -- yesterday.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: Maurice Hill surrendered last night and has a long rap sheets, including multiple charges of illegal gun possession.

I want to bring in Democratic presidential candidate, Senator Amy Klobuchar, campaigning in Little Rock, Arkansas today. Senator, thank you so much for joining us. I know you just talked about guns --

SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-MN) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Thanks, Jake.

TAPPER: -- in your -- in a speech there. I want to ask you, the U.S. attorney of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, which is in Philly, pointed blame today at the city's district attorney, a crusading progressive who's been really trying to make criminal justice reform a big part of his reign there in Philadelphia, Larry Krasner. Take a listen to the U.S. attorney.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WILLIAM MCSWAIN, U.S. ATTORNEY OF THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF PENNSYLVANIA: We have plenty of criminal laws in this city, but what we don't have is robust law enforcement. We have diversionary programs for serious gun offenses. We have the routine downgrading of charges for violent crime, and we have entire sections of the criminal code that are ignored.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: Now, we're still learning all the details of what happened in Philadelphia so you don't need to weigh in on that. But I do want to ask you as a former prosecutor, what is the way to stop the kind of gun crime they had in Philadelphia? Here you have somebody who cannot legally buy a weapon. He would have been flagged, but he's able to buy them illegally.

KLOBUCHAR: Well, the first thing is just not to point fingers and blame, and I'd say that. We've tried to come together across the aisle on criminal justice reform, I think that's a good thing.

But one thing we know for certain, and I'm here in Arkansas where we had a major event on gun safety laws with a number of leaders here, including a legislator from a very red district who had beating a Republican in part on this issue, talking about the fact that there are too many guns in the wrong hands.

And common-sense gun legislation would be universal background checks, something that unites rural and urban voters. That is true. Over 90 percent of Americans want to see those done. They're sitting on Mitch McConnell's doorstep, that bill, waiting periods that make sense so that law enforcement can ferret out with people who have bad, bad records.

And then you've got my bill, I'm closing the boyfriend loophole, which basically says right now the law says if you've been convicted of a serious domestic abuse charge, then you can't go get an AK-47, if it's your wife. But if you're convicted of one involving a girlfriend, you can. That is just ridiculous. And that's why a number of Republicans voted to close that in the House, again, on Mitch McConnell's doorstep.

TAPPER: Well, let me ask you. If you are president in 2021, it is still likely that Mitch McConnell will be the majority leader. And if he is not, Republicans will still be able to, in all likelihood, use the filibuster to keep gun legislation like what you're proposing from even being voted on. So, how do you get through that barrier?

KLOBUCHAR: First of all, I don't concede any of that, Jake, because what I've seen is a sea change on this issue, the economic issues you were just talking about. People have had it out there.

And when someone can gun down and kill nine people in 30 seconds, despite the best efforts of the police who got there in one minute, which was unheard of. They were there on the scene and got rid of this guy in a minute, but in 30 seconds he still killed nine people because of the high-capacity magazines and the capacity of that military-style assault weapon.

When you've got the Republican congressman from that district now coming out to ban those weapons and to get rid of those kinds of magazines for sale to the public, I think you've got a sea change. And so I don't concede that we're not going to take back the Senate, especially if they keep resisting all these common-sense measures that the vast majority of American people support.

[16:35:10] And whether you're in a duck bind in Arkansas or you're in Minnesota like my uncle in his deer stand, when you look at this, people are starting to talk about this in a different way and see that this will not interfere with hunting, but it will save Americans' lives.

We are one America, whether we're in Philadelphia with those police officers who were so brave, or whether we are in rural Arkansas.

TAPPER: Israel today followed President Trump's suggestion and banned a visit by Congresswoman Ilhan Omar from your home state of Minnesota, as well as Congressman Rashida Tlaib of Michigan. What was your reaction to that?

KLOBUCHAR: I was actually pretty stunned and the fact that the prime minister did this right after a tweet from the President. I'm a strong supporter for Israel. I believe that they are a beacon of democracy in the Mid-East.

But you know what a democracy, a great democracy should do? A great democracy allows for vociferous debate on issues that is true, but they don't shut out American elected congresswomen from visiting. And that's what they did. And the President in precipitating this with his tweet, again, conducting foreign policy by tweet, which will end when I'm president, is just the worst.

He is literally exporting intolerance and I'm glad that the major Jewish organizations have come out against this and as well they don't agree with the words, as I do not either of these congresswomen on this subject. You don't ban them from visiting Israel. That makes you weaker, not stronger.

TAPPER: Senator Amy Klobuchar, running for president, Democrat from Minnesota, thank you so much. Good luck out there on the campaign trail. Have fun.

KLOBUCHAR: Thanks, Jake. It is great to be on.

TAPPER: Changes are a foot in the race for president. One candidate is returning to the campaign trail while another one is getting out of the race for good. Who am I talking about? Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[16:41:26] TAPPER: And we're back with our "2020 Lead." And the crowd of Democratic presidential hopefuls shrinking today as former Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper dropped out of the race. Hickenlooper says he's now considering a race for the U.S. Senate. A Democratic establishment in D.C. is hoping former Congressman Beto O'Rourke will make a similar move.

But as CNN's Leyla Santiago now report, O'Rourke dismissed calls to run for Senate in Texas today.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BETO O'ROURKE (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If at this moment we do not wake up to this threat, then we as a country will die in our sleep.

LEYLA SANTIAGO, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): That threat, according to former Texas Congressman Beto O'Rourke, is President Donald Trump.

O'ROURKE: Donald Trump is the greatest threat to our ability to make progress on anything that we care about.

SANTIAGO: O'Rourke is now going after Trump full force, blaming the President's rhetoric in part for the mass shooting that left 22 people dead in his hometown of El Paso.

O'ROURKE: We saw the realization of his rhetoric, his invitation of violence in our community, but it's not just in El Paso.

SANTIAGO: Also to blame, he says, guns. Returning to the campaign trail after a 12-day break to mourn with his community, he's not calling for more gun control, including a mandatory buyback of assault weapons.

O'ROURKE: I know that this is not politically easy. It's frankly why far too few people are proposing. It's frankly why I have not proposed it in the past.

SANTIAGO: And there's something else he's insisting.

O'ROURKE: There have been some who suggested that I stay in Texas and run for Senate, but that would not be good enough for this community.

SANTIAGO: As O'Rourke resumes his run, former Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper is dropping his presidential bid.

JOHN HICKENLOOPER (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Today, I'm ending my campaign for president.

SANTIAGO: Announcing his candidacy in March, the former Colorado governor struggled to gain support. He didn't offer specifics today about his future plans, but left open the possibility of a run for the U.S. Senate against Republican incumbent Cory Gardner, who Democrat see as vulnerable.

HICKENLOOPER: I've heard from so many Coloradoans who want me to run for the United States Senate, I intent to give that some serious thought.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SANTIAGO: And back to Congressman O'Rourke, former Congressman O'Rourke, he is in Mississippi tonight. He says he wants to show support for the immigrant community there, given the headlines that came out after the ICE raids. And that's something that you're probably going to see more of in this new reset, the new strategy of his, not just to focus on those early voting states, Iowa, New Hampshire, et cetera, but rather he says he wants to focus on the communities that have been made vulnerable by President Trump. Jake?

TAPPER: All right, Leyla Santiago in El Paso, thanks so much.

Let's bring our experts back. And Kirsten, let me start on that note. Listen to Beto O'Rourke describing his new 2020 strategy.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

O'ROURKE: We're going to go to every community that has been terrorized by Donald Trump. We're going to lift everyone up that he has sought to put down.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: Kirsten, what do you think?

KIRSTEN POWERS, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I think that obviously his campaign has been struggling he does need to find a new tack and I think this is one that fits really well with him. He is somebody who has spoken out before with, you know, about moral issues that base the country and it's where he's gotten a lot of attention. And so I think it's probably a smart choice for him to take this tack.

TAPPER: Mayor Gillum, as the other left-leaning panelist, what do you make of it? I mean, you could argue just on a crude level, you know, the Mississippi primary is not really important even if those ICE raids were.

ANDREW GILLUM, (D) FORMER MAYOR OF TALLAHASSEE, FLORIDA: Yes. I mean, but elections can be sometimes about contrast. And I really do believe, having observed Congressman O'Rourke these past couple of days as he's leaned into his community during a very, very difficult time. I get the sense that he's found greater clarity and quite frankly more purpose around his run for the White House.

I think if this is going to be a race about contrast, comparing how he's dealt with this in such a -- I think respectable manner. To that of Donald Trump, there's no contest at all. I think Beto runs circles around him.

TAPPER: Congresswoman Love, Beto says he's not going to consider a Senate run. He doesn't think it would be good enough for his community. What do you make of that?

MIA LOVE, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, the only thing I can make of this is just to give as many people as much advice as possible. For Independents, for Republicans that are looking for somebody else, they cannot continue on the path of promising everything to everyone when we've got $22 trillion of debt. They have to be honest, intellectually honest with the American people and say how are you going to pay for all of this. As I see all of these Democrat debates over and over again, that's the question that I keep hearing people say. How do you pay for all of this? So I would hope that instead of just contrasting with the president that you actually have solutions that can be paid for.

TAPPER: And Kevin Madden, on the other, hand Chuck Schumer, the head Democrat in the Senate got some good news with Governor Hickenlooper dropping out of the presidential race, maybe running for Senate where they think they can possibly pick up a Senate seat.

KEVIN MADDEN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, I think you know, one of the things about Hickenlooper is he was a -- he was a much needed centrist voice in a party that has seemed to have a big lurch towards the left. And with a statewide profile, with that statewide reputation as a centrist and an executive already well-known by the voters of Colorado, he stands a better chance.

TAPPER: All right, thanks one and all. A key issue for House Democrats possibly threatening some of them in next year's election. That's next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[16:50:00TAPPER: In our "POLITICS LEAD" now, a majority of House Democrats have now called for an impeachment inquiry into President Trump. Last night Congresswoman Deb Haaland of New Mexico added her name to the list making the new total 122 which is 52 percent of the House Democratic Caucus.

But members of Congress are not amidst to their colleagues right now. They're back home in their congressional districts where support for impeachment may not be as popular. And as CNN's Manu Raju reports, that's particularly the case in districts that went for President Trump in 2016.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: To a growing number of House Democrats, there's no question that President Trump must be impeached for breaking the law. But here in the Republican leading suburbs of Detroit, a major battleground in the 2020 presidential race and for control of the House the question is much more complicated.

Why not impeach if he's --

REP. HALEY STEVENS (D-MI): You know, I have mixed reviews on that from people in my district.

RAJU: Congresswoman Haley Stevens, a freshman Democrat is navigating a fine line in this bellwether district that's been dominated by the GOP for over a decade. She's projecting an image as a bipartisan pragmatist accessible to her constituents.

STEVENS: Well, I'm not going to let you down.

RAJU: Pushing on issues like education reform, manufacturing, and protecting the Affordable Care Act.

STEVENS: The sabotage agenda is showing that it will not stop. But your member of Congress is not stopping either.

RAJU: But she soon may have to pick sides in a debate raging in Washington whether to impeach the president. No matter what she does, voters in this closely divided district are bound to be angry.

If she were to vote to impeach the president, how would you feel about that?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I would not be happy about that and neither will a lot of my friends.

RAJU: Do you think that the president should be impeached?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't know what they want to do with them but I think they should get him out of there. He's -- I know, but he's an egotistical maniac and I don't really care for the man.

RAJU: Stevens prefers to wait until there's a conclusion to the court fights between House Democrats and the Trump administration.

STEVENS: I don't want to be in a rush to fail. Some of this Manu is so deeply personal. It really is. I'm spending time with my church, my family, evaluating the documents, and I'm holding tight here.

RAJU: The predicament helps explain why House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has so far resisted calls to move forward on impeachment. Pelosi is eager to defend the 31 seats won by Democrats like Stevens in districts that Trump carried in 2016.

It is fearful that a misstep by House Democrats could cost her party the majority and help reelect Trump. The divide is especially stark among the Michigan congressional delegation where a Republican left his party after calling for impeachment proceedings, one freshman Democrat and outspoken leader of the charge, and other Democrats in neighboring districts uncertain about pressing ahead.

REP. DEBBIE DINGELL (D-MI): I'm somebody who's conflicted myself about impeachment. I think we got to be very careful in our approach.

REP. RASHIDA TLAIB (D-MI): Many in my folks here actually elected me because I was very strong even during the campaign that this president needs to be held accountable to the United States Constitution.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

RAJU: But Jake, even though voters are decided, we split about moving forward on impeachment. Some told me that it won't make one difference at all how Haley Stevens would ultimately vote because views are just so dug in against President Trump. So some of these more moderate members, Jake, may have more freedom if the speaker decides to go down this route. Jake?

TAPPER: All right, Manu Raju, you thank you so much. I appreciate it. Why Russia's silence about a nuclear explosion is causing concern from a weapons experts. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[16:55:00] TAPPER: We have some breaking news for you in our "SPORTS LEAD." Incredible images coming in from Tennessee right now where a NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. and his wife both just survived a plane crash, thankfully. This happened when the pilot was trying to land. They crashed. The plane caught fire. You'll remember Earnhardt's father died in a horrific car crash at the Daytona 500 in 2001. The FAA is now investigating today's crash.

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

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