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THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER

2020 Presidential Hopefuls Court Young Black Voters; Saudi Arabia Rules U.S. Mother Too Western To Care For Daughter; New CNN Doc Looks At How Secretive Government Agencies Use Amazon. Aired 4:30-5p ET

Aired August 16, 2019 - 16:30   ET

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


[16:30:01] PHIL MUDD, CNN COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST: Yes, that's true. But look back at what we've had and it goes back 10, 12, 15 years. Devices in trash cans, in subways, if you have a backpack that's unattended, if you have a rice cooker, a pressure cooker in a trash can, if you have a pressure cooker in the subway, you know, you look at that and say regardless of whether that thing is an explosion of device, if it's unattended, if there's nobody around, you got to say, we got to be worried about that. That's sort of a new normal.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Would you call this a success story in the sense that they were spotted, the officials came in, nothing happened even if it was a hoax?

MUDD: Oh, heck, yes. Look at what everyone American says today. See something, say something. Whether it's an unusual person or a backpack unattended, now it's a rice cooker potentially that's unattended.

You want people to say, if I see something that is unusual, and I ride the metro in D.C. all the time, if I saw a backpack or a rice cooker that was unattended, I'd say somebody has got to know. I'm not sure it's a device, but somebody has got to know about that. This is a success.

TAPPER: All right. Phil Mudd, thanks so much. Appreciate it.

MUDD: Thank you.

TAPPER: Some 2020 presidential hopefuls are mixing politics with faith today in hopes of attracting some key voters. That's next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[16:35:34] TAPPER: In our 2020 lead today, a handful of Democratic presidential hopefuls courting today one of the most crucial blocs to winning the Democratic nomination and ultimately the White House, African-American voters. And a new poll fuelling Democrats shows not one, not two, but four of the 2020 Democrats beating Trump in a hypothetical match-up.

CNN's Vanessa Yurkevich reports now from the campaign trail in Atlanta.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

VANESSA YURKEVICH, CNN BUSINESS & POLITICS REPORTER (voice-over): Faith and politics taking center stage in the Democratic primary as three 2020 hopefuls made their pitch to African-American church leaders and black millennial voters in Atlanta.

SEN. CORY BOOKER (D-NJ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Christ does not strengthen you to sit on the sidelines. Christ does not strengthen you to sit on the couch. This is not a spectator sport.

YURKEVICH: Cory Booker joined today by Julian Castro and Pete Buttigieg, with Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders speaking Saturday.

Buttigieg, who has struggled to build support among black voters, hoping to make in roads with an electorate key to winning the Democratic nomination.

MAYOR PETE BUTTIGIEG (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I get why voters are cynical because I think a lot of promises have been made and promises have been made to black Americans. And they have not been kept.

YURKEVICH: But the openly gay South Bend mayor not directly addressing whether his sexuality might add to the challenge of winning over some black voters.

(on camera): Do you think that black voters of faith may have a difficult time connecting with you particularly because some may have very conservative, religious or moral beliefs around homosexuality?

BUTTIGIEG: I think the biggest thing on the minds of black voters and all voters is what difference our candidacies will make in their lives.

YURKEVICH (voice-over): A new Fox News poll shows Joe Biden maintaining his front-runner status with 31 percent support, with Elizabeth Warren surging into second at 20 percent. She's followed by Bernie Sanders at 10 percent and Kamala Harris at 8 percent. All four Democrats also lead President Trump in potential head-to-head match- ups with Biden holding a 12-point advantage.

This as Beto O'Rourke rolls out a new plan to combat gun violence, proposing a mandatory buyback of assault rifles and a national gun registry. It comes in the wake of the mass shootings in Dayton and O'Rourke's home town of El Paso.

BETO O'ROURKE (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I owe my family, my community, my country, my very best.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

YURKEVICH: Now, tomorrow, Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders will take the stage just behind me to make their pitch to church leaders and black millennial voters here and the two candidates, Warren and Sanders, are among the top in terms of polling with African-American voters. And tomorrow, Jake, they will continue to try to make inroads with this critical electorate of African-American voters needed to win the Democratic nomination -- Jake.

TAPPER: All right. Vanessa, thanks so much. I appreciate it.

Laura, let me start with you. You know, it's complicated where African-American voters have not yet come to like Pete Buttigieg the way he needs them to. But one theory is just that black Democrats are actually more moderate than white Democrats and Biden is the more moderate candidate.

LAURA BARRON-LOPEZ, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, POLITICO: Well, I think, right, there are two things. So the reason I think that Biden looks like he has more support amongst black voters is because the older black voters are polled more heavily than younger black voters and so young --

TAPPER: Because they turn out more, older voters in general. Yes.

BARRON-LOPEZ: Right, yes. Although 2018 suggests -- numbers from 2018 suggest that millennials turned out more than baby boomers and those older than baby boomers. So, if that trend line keeps in 2020, then younger voters could potentially surpass older voters. But young millennial voters, whether they're black or they're Latino are much -- are trending much more toward candidates like Warren and like Sanders and Buttigieg is a bit in the middle. So, that is possibly why he's having difficulty because he's trying to pull from both, and not really energizing either of those two segments.

TAPPER: What do you make of the theory that African-American voters are generally more conservative on social issues and may not embrace an openly gay candidate like Mayor Pete?

NAYYERA HAQ, FORMER STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESWOMAN: I think there is a lot there anecdotally, but we're also is African-American voters, the older generation, thinking who will other people vote for. I -- historically, we fought so hard for the right to vote as people of color, and black people specifically.

[16:40:01] So I don't want to throw in my vote that can't make the cut or stand up to Donald Trump.

TAPPER: Uh-huh.

HAQ: And then Mayor Pete comes into this with frankly some baggage of -- and he said he had his own evolution in growth on the issues dealing with police brutality and black lives matter and understanding the relationship in his own community between a black police chief who was fired even though there was racist comments within those police unit, and it leads to the idea that, well, if you can't handle this in your own community, how can you handle it at the national scale.

I think with millennial voters, as you said, it's going to be the largest voting block in the next coming election, we're starting to see people demand that people already are aware versus becoming evolved in the process and that is going to be a challenge as black voters and as candidates are looking to move to the left. TAPPER: And, David, I wanted to get your view on this Fox News poll

that shows this hypothetical 2020 matchups showing that Biden and Sanders and Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren, all not only beat Donald Trump, but they all keep him below 40 percent. Now, again, it's August.

DAVID URBAN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Right.

TAPPER: It's 2019. We are life -- several lifetimes away from the election.

URBAN: And, again, I'll just say, like numbers, when I -- 2016 during the election, we were at 39 percent when Trump won Pennsylvania, 39 percent.

TAPPER: Approval in the state of Pennsylvania.

URBAN: State of Pennsylvania. So I'm not super worried about any numbers right now. It's a long way away. The interesting -- I do think about these numbers is, you look at the vice president's number here at --

TAPPER: Biden?

URBAN: Yes, Biden's numbers and Harris rising and some of these other folks to move -- excuse me, or Warren rising and some of the other folks moving, you have to question, when those people starts dropping out of the race, where do those votes go? Do they go to Biden or do they go to Warren? Does her number -- her numbers continue to surge? Who is the beneficiary of a narrower field?

TAPPER: What do you think of that? Because we had one drop out this week. Hickenlooper might run for Senate. He didn't have a tremendous amount of support.

JACKIE KUCINICH, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: You know where his voters are going to go, Jake.

(LAUGHTER)

TAPPER: But ultimately, some of these lower tiered candidates are going to drop out and those voters are going to have to pick a lane and pick a candidate.

KUCINICH: Well, absolutely. And you could kind of see, I don't want to go through who's going to drop out and who won't but you could see the moderate folks at the bottom of the tier going to someone like Biden or a even a Harris, depending on the policy you're talking about.

And Bernie and Warren could pull from each other. You saw in this particular poll it is something like younger voters started to go toward Warren where in the past, they had been -- and more progressive voters have been more Sanders. And, you know, that could be for any number of reasons we were talking about in the break, what a good retail politician Elizabeth Warren is and how good she is at explaining policies versus Bernie Sanders where the "New York Times" did this whole very funny piece at the Iowa state fair where Bernie Sanders didn't talk to anybody.

TAPPER: Yes.

KUCINICH: Because he's just -- that's not his style. So what he's saying isn't fresh. In the same way that it is very similar to what Elizabeth Warren is saying. But it's not new any more.

TAPPER: Right, because he did it in 2015.

URBAN: But the Beto voters, Julian Castro, and where do the progressives go when it's all set.

TAPPER: I mean, as you're suggesting, Sanders and Warren I suppose.

HAQ: But we're seeing the rise of blue no matter who because every single one of these in the Fox News poll, the Trump favorables were really low.

TAPPER: OK. Everyone, stick around.

Up next, an American mother's heartbreaking fight. She's trapped in Saudi Arabia fighting for custody of her daughter because the Saudi court said she's too Western to raise her.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[16:45:00] JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: In our "BURIED LEAD" now. Those are stories we think are not getting enough attention. An American woman is expected to appeal a Saudi Court ruling this weekend after she divorced her allegedly abusive Saudi husband and was denied custody of their daughter.

A Saudi judge ruling that she's unfit to raise her four-year-old daughter Zaina because she's a westerner who is too new to Islam. This, of course, highlights the struggles that women continue to face in a place where the laws are geared to keep it a man's world. CNN's Nick Watt has the story.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

NICK WATT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Meet Bethany Vierra and her four-year- old daughter Zaina. They're in Saudi Arabia. Cell phone videos, all the contact, grandma and granddad back home in Wenatchee, Washington have right now. All the contact they might ever have.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If Zaina can't leave, she won't leave.

MYRON VIERRA, FATHER OF BETHANY VIERRA: It makes perfect sense that she won't give up. We also realized that she may lose her life doing this or we may never see her again.

WATT: Bethenny has divorced her Saudi husband, claims he was an abusive drug user which he denies. I messaged him for comment but got no reply. A Saudi judge just denied Bethany Vierra, an American citizen custody of her own daughter, ruling the mother is new to Islam, is a foreigner in this country and continues to definitively embrace the customs and traditions of her upbringing. We must avoid exposing Zaina to these customs and traditions especially at the early age.

M. VIERRA: We may have different languages but we're really the same. We're human beings. We should be able to get along.

WATT: Custody of Zaina now officially given to her Saudi grandmother. Both Bethany and her ex were found unfit. Her parents tell us there's now a warrant out for Bethany's arrest after she allegedly missed a visitation that her parents say she wasn't even told about, that Bethany has been banned from leaving the country for ten years and been told not to talk to the press that's why we're talking to mom and dad.

M. VIERRA: She wants to be able to have the right to go and come. She used to have that right. Bethany won't give up and -- because that's her daughter.

WATT: Saudi Arabia has softened slightly. In the past few years, women for the first time have been allowed to compete at the Olympics, vote in local elections, drive cars. But this remains one of the most male-dominated societies on earth. The so-called guardianship system is still in effect.

[16:50:11] ROTHNA BEGUM, SENIOR RESEARCHER, HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH: Which means that a woman from birth to death must have a male guardian. The idea is that they are not capable and they and men know better.

WATT: Under Saudi law, a woman's word still worth half that of a man.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: One plus one equals?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Two.

WATT: According to the judge who took Zaina away from her mother, she'd been speaking too much English not assimilating into Arab culture.

M. VIERRA: Bethany was talking to lawyers and they overheard the verdict and started counting in Arabic to prove that she could speak it.

WATT: The State Department official told CNN, due to privacy considerations, we will not have a specific comment at this time. Our embassies and consulates abroad have no greater responsibility than the protection of U.S. citizens overseas, but added that U.S. citizens abroad are subject to local laws.

M. VIERRA: We love our granddaughter. I think our deepest fear is that we might not ever see her again.

(END VIDEOTAPE) WATT: And Bethany Vierra is going to file her appeal of the judge's verdict on Sunday. She is hoping it is successful. She is hoping that someday she and little Zaina will be able to come back here to Wenatchee, Washington for a visit. Jake?

TAPPER: Nick Watt, thanks so much for that story. I appreciate it. Coming up, the CIA also calls out to Alexa. That's next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[16:55:00] TAPPER: Today is the first full day on the job for the new Acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire and he has a partner in trying to protect the nation secrets, a partner that might surprise you, Amazon.

Which brings us to a brand new documentary that airs tonight on CNN hosted by CNN's Poppy Harlow who explores how a retail giant once known just for online shopping is working with the U.S. government to try to protect national security. Poppy, how exactly does this partnership work?

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Hi, Jake! Well, most of us know Amazon as the everything store where you can buy just about anything online and have it delivered to your door sometimes within just a few hours. But working on this special documentary report, The Age of Amazon, we take a look at just how much more there is to the tech giant and online shopping.

In fact, Amazon's most powerful business may be one that many people don't know a lot about at all. Its cloud business or Amazon Web Services known as AWS. I sat down with AWS CEO Andy Jassy who is one of Jeff Bezos' top leaders who many people call the most powerful man in the cloud. Look.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ANDY JASSY, CEO, AMAZON WEB SERVICES: In the beginning, a lot of companies would (INAUDIBLE) the cloud and say that nobody was going to use it for anything interesting. And when the value proposition is that good for consumers, you can hell out the wind all you want but you can't fight gravity.

HARLOW: 13 years later, the cloud is now a $70 billion industry. And while formidable competitors have emerged, Amazon continues to dominate with a seemingly endless list of customers from Fortune 500 companies, to tech startups, to yes CNN, even secretive government agencies including the CIA.

The cloud is crucial to the economy. It's now crucial to national security. Do you think there should be more federal regulation of it?

JASSY: Governments are going to make their own decisions on what they feel like they need to regulate and what they feel like they don't need to regulate. And we expect that governments will want to understand how we're operating is more and more workloads are being put on top of AWS. HARLOW: For now, the federal government is busy deciding how much more of the nation's most sensitive data it wants to place in Amazon's hands. AWS is a final contender for the Jedi contract, a $10 billion Pentagon deal that would involve hosting government data for operations critical to military missions across the globe.

JASSY: We think it's integral for the Department of Defense to have access to the most sophisticated cutting-edge technology that exist, period.

HARLOW: Does having that much power give you pause.

JASSY: We have over 3,000 government agencies using AWS in a significant way. That's a significant responsibility. We're aware of that.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HARLOW: And Jake, Amazon's dominance of the cloud market has caught the attention of President Trump. Earlier this month, the president's new defense secretary made a surprise announcement that he plans to again review the lucrative Defense Department contract before it is awarded potentially to Amazon which has made a huge for it.

So to be continued, if Amazon lands that deal, but as you will see in this documentary, it is one of many fascinating twists and turns of Amazon's 25-year journey and we hope you will watch it tonight.

TAPPER: Thanks, Poppy. The CNN Special Report The Age of Amazon airs tonight at 9:00 p.m. Eastern only on CNN. And of course, be sure to tune in to CNN's the "STATE OF THE UNION" this Sunday morning. My guest will be Democratic Presidential Candidate Mayor Pete Buttigieg and President Trump's Trade Adviser Peter Navarro. That's at 9:00 a.m. and noon Eastern.

You can follow me on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter @JAKETAPPER, you can tweet the show @THELEADCNN. Our coverage on CNN continues right now. I will see you Sunday morning. Thanks so much for watching. Have a great weekend.

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