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Trump Cites O'Rourke's, Hell Yes, As Hurting Gun Talks; Document Circulating on The Hill Outlines New Gun Proposals; McConnell Says, We're Still Waiting for Guidance from Trump on Guns; Trump's Ex- Campaign Chief Openly Embraces Lying; Teen Activist Urges Congress to Listen to Scientists, Take Action; After Third Overdose, Top Democratic Donor Accused of Running Drug Den. Aired 3:30-4p ET

Aired September 18, 2019 - 15:30   ET

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


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JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: -- hands of Republicans

MAYOR PETE BUTTIGIEG (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Yes, look, right now, we have an amazing moment on our hands. When even this President and even Mitch McConnell are at least pretending to be open to reforms. We know that we have a moment on our hands. Let's make the most of it.

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ERICA HILL, CNN HOST: The Texas GOP, of course, responded with this t-shirt, Beto, come and take it. And then today the President offering his own criticism tweeting, dummy Beto made it much harder to make a deal. Convinced many of the Dems just want to take your guns away will continue forward.

CNN congressional correspondent, Sunlen Serfaty, joining us now with more. So, Sunlen, we know Attorney General Barr has been talking with lawmakers about possible measures on guns and there is a document making the rounds on Capitol Hill. What's in that?

SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, the lawmakers I've talked to, Erica, first and foremost say that this is a good thing that there's actually a document that exists, a one-page document that the Attorney General is essentially shopping around up here on Capitol Hill. That calls for expanded background checks on all commercial sales including at gun shows. So there has been some positivity that there is actually something down on paper put out by the administration, but certainly there is a whole lot of healthy dose, I should say -- excuse me, cautious optimism here.

That caution being those same lawmakers are questioning whether this document that the Attorney General is bringing around has the full weight of President Trump behind him and at this point they still do not know. The White House spokesman in fact today saying that the President Trump himself has not yet signed off on this plan. So when you talk to lawmakers, especially Republican Senators. And I just spoke to one just a few minutes ago. He said, look, this is good. I'm happy to check out this proposal. See exactly what needs to be flushed out here. The details of this proposal but he said certainly helpful to this process is when President Trump will come out and fully endorse something.

And you could sense some frustration, of course, coming from top Republicans on The Hill this week as they wait in bated breath to hear from President Trump what exactly he supports, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell just yesterday. Here's what he had to say.

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SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): I've said repeatedly, that we need some guidance from the President about what kind of proposal that would make a difference he would actually sign into law. I think given the multiple horrendous shootings in August we owe it to the American people to act and to act means pass the Senate, pass the House, and be signed into law by the President.

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SERFATY: And McConnell essentially saying there in a matter words that they are in a holding pattern. Which is exactly what Capitol Hill has been in, Erica, for quite some time waiting for President Trump's proposal. And certainly that potentially could come in the next few days but certainly many Republican lawmakers I talked to today took this document from Bill Barr as a good step, but certainly very, very far from getting any sort of solutions up here on Capitol Hill. And key there, of course, as we've been talking about, is President Trump.

HILL: Absolutely. Sunlen Serfaty, thank you.

Still to come, President Obama already told her he's on her team. And today a 16-year-old climate crisis activist who has gained international acclaim was on Capitol Hill. Hear her message.

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HILL: The fallout from that Capitol Hill circus involving Corey Lewandowski still generating shock waves in Washington. President Trump's former campaign manager openly embracing lying it seems, as he testified before the House Judiciary Committee in the first official hearing under the rules of an impeachment investigation. Lewandowski was asked about a February interview when he said he didn't recall any conversation he had with the President about former Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

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BARRY BERKE, ATTORNEY FOR HOUSE DEMOCRATS: Did you hear that, sir? That was you saying on MSNBC you don't ever remember the President ever asking you to get involved with Jeff Sessions or the Department of Justice in any way, shape or form. That wasn't true. Was it, sir?

COREY LEWANDOWSKI, PRESIDENT TRUMP'S FORMER CAMPAIGN MANAGER: I heard that.

BERKE: And that was not true, was it?

LEWANDOWSKI: I have no obligation to be honest with the media because they're just as dishonest as anybody else.

BERKE: So you're admitting, sir, you were not being truthful in that clip, correct?

LEWANDOWSKI: My interview with Ari Melber --

BERKE: Yes.

LEWANDOWSKI: -- could be interpreted any way you'd like.

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HILL: CNN political commentator Joe Lockhart is with us, former White House Press Secretary of course for President Clinton. All right, so, lying is never a good look. That being said, the American people sadly expected in many ways, of politicians. This feels a little different. You, obviously, your former boss, that was some very public lying. When we look at Corey Lewandowski essentially saying I only have to tell the truth when I'm under oath. A man who is considering a run for Senate. Where are we now?

JOE LOCKHART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I think it reflects his boss. You know, we have 12,000 and still running, you know, mistruths, untruths, distortions coming from Donald Trump and I think he was there to please his boss. Because his future political aspirations are tied to his boss. Where are we? We're where Donald Trump wants us to be and that's the scary thing. He wants to degrade the truth so it becomes something that's negotiable.

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Because that's how he got elected and t's how he'll get re-elected and I think it's important for everybody in moments like this to stands up and say, the truth isn't negotiable. You're either telling the truth or you're lying.

HILL: Right. There are facts for a reason. The truth is they're facts. They're not negotiable. They're not alternate facts. You know, you bring up an interesting point though. I wonder how voters feel about this. So Corey Lewandowski was pressed this morning on CNN. OK, so if you say you're only telling the truth when you're under oath, if you go for the Senate run in New Hampshire, what should voters think, what should think about what comes out of your mouth? Do voters care about honesty in 2019?

LOCKHART: Well, I think Trump voters don't. I think they have made clear that they don't believe, they're going to follow the President wherever he leads them. And he famously said, don't believe what you hear and what you see. Just believe what I say. But that's not enough to get elected anyplace, you know.

And I think Donald Trump and Corey Lewandowski and a lot of other Republicans are going to find out that the majority of voters do care. They do understand that politicians embellish and try to put some spin on things and -- but the idea that I'm going to tell you to your face, I don't have to tell you the truth. That's new. If it works, that is, that's a direct assault on our democracy. It is what Donald Trump is trying to do, you know, so 2020 becomes very interesting and very important for a lot of reasons but for that reason in particular.

HILL: I'm curious your take what we saw yesterday. Because I have to say sitting there watching everything that we saw in that hearing yesterday, Democrats seemed woefully unprepared for I think what a number of people, whether they work on Capitol Hill or not could have predicted what happened. Republicans united in their message, they knew what they were doing. Corey Lewandowski knew exactly what he was going to say going in there.

Democrats didn't seem to have a plan. They seemed thrown off at times actually by how combative he was and what his responses or lack of responses were. Are they just totally disjointed at this point?

LOCKHART: I don't think so. I think if you look at the five-minute format, and Democrats were on the opposite side of this, you know, when they were in the minority. If you want to create a circus, you're able to do it. If you want to get at some very complicated facts, the circus-like atmosphere doesn't work for you. I think, though, Democrats were very smart to have counsel come in at the end, and in those 30 minutes, Lewandowski got taken apart.

HILL: That was completely different.

LOCKHART: Totally taken apart and the reality is they are -- the Republicans and Lewandowski and whoever gets brought up perhaps with the exception of Don McGahn who I think has some integrity left are going to try to make this a big national joke. And Democrats have to do what Berke did. I think, you know, one of the reasons they're doing it is because if you strip away all the theatrics, Lewandowski made news yesterday. He made news in two ways. One is, he articulated and confirmed that Trump asked him to obstruct justice. That was very clear. You have to strip away all the nonsense to hear it.

The second is, he admitted, he committed perjury. Either in front of Mueller when he talked about the dictation from the President, or in front of the Committee. You can't have both of those be true. So I think as things settle down, the important things come out. And the important things that came out and sometimes it will come out with a good question from a member of Congress and more often with a trained cross-examiner, that the truth will come out. Even if it does resemble the lunchroom for second graders.

HILL: Right. We have to admit, though, the lunchroom for second graders, will be interesting to see is whether that truth makes its way to a broader swath of the American people. Because many people seem to have made up their mind. It's a lot. And we're not been covering, that's the great news. We'll keep talking about this, you and me.

LOCKHART: Yes, there we go, keep talking about it,

HILL: Always nice to see you, Joe, thank you.

Up next, he's been under scrutiny since two people died inside his home and now a top Democratic donor, Ed Buck is under arrest after prosecutors say a third man overdosed last week. Details on the drug den he is accused of running.

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HILL: She hasn't graduated high school yet, one Swedish climate activist though is certainly making her voice heard on Capitol Hill, 16-year-old Greta Thunberg testifying before Congress today imploring, rather, members to be

proactive when it comes to protecting the earth. She sailed into the New York harbor last month on a zero-emissions boat to attend next week's UN Climate Action Summit. And before the hearing today the teen protester actually met with former President Obama to discuss her mission.

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GRETA THUNBERG, CLIMATE ACTIVIST: All of these young people seem so eager. Very enthusiastic. Which is -- a very good thing.

BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Yes.

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THUNBERG: And, I mean, no one is too small to have an impact and change the world. So just -- do everything you can. And be creative.

OBAMA: You and me, we're a team.

THUNBERG: Yes.

OBAMA: Do you know about fist bumping? Do you believe in fist bumping? Good luck.

THUNBERG: Good luck. You too.

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HILL: The explosion at the end of the fist bump as we know Bill Weir is very important. Bill Weir of course is our chief climate correspondent. So you've been following this testimony today on Capitol Hill. How is she being received?

BILL WEIR, CNN CHIEF CLIMATE CORRESPONDENT: It is so interesting, Erica. She's by far the smallest human in these committee rooms. But everybody is leaning in to hear every soft-spoken syllable. And I met her and she admitted that her Aspergers diagnosis is a kind of a superpower on the subject. It allows her mind to stay super-focused on this topic and because she doesn't care what other people think about her, this unflinching ability to speak truth to power, and we saw it today in a setting normally reserved for snappy sound bites and bloviating opening statements, this is how Greta began.

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THUNBERG: I am submitting this report as my testimony because I don't want you to listen to me, I want you to listen to the scientists. And I want you to unite behind science. And then I want you to take real action.

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WEIR: It is so incredible when you realize it's been less than a year since she was inspired by the kids at Parkland who walked out of school to demand gun reform. She plopped down in front of Parliament within four months. She was scolding the richest, most powerful people from the U.N. to the World Economic Forum in Davos. Today in the halls of Congress, she'll speak to the U.N. General Assembly next week as well. She inspired about 1.4 million kids to walk out of school last March and they're expected to at least double that on Friday -- Erica.

HILL: She's a force to be reckoned with, clearly. And it is great to hear her say listen to the scientists. We'll see if they heed that advice. Bill Weir appreciate it, thank you.

WEIR: You bet.

HILL: We're staying on breaking details about an American Airlines mechanic accused of trying to sabotage a flight, prosecutors say he had disturbing items on his phone including an ISIS video.

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HILL: A prominent Democratic donor and LGBTQ activist in California arrested and charged with running a drug house out of his own home. Ed Buck has been shrouded in controversy after police say 2 men died from meth overdoses in his home. His arrest follows the alleged overdose of a third man who survived. CNN's Stephanie Elam is in Los Angeles with details on these charges. This is quite the story, Steph.

STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It really is and it is one that people here in the area have talked about for a couple of years now, Erica. And what we do know is that Ed Buck is now facing one felony battery charge, as well as two drug-related charges. One of those being administering methamphetamine and the other one being maintaining a drug house. In the documents that the L.A. County District Attorney's Office has filed with the court, they call Ed Buck, quote, a violent, dangerous sexual predator. And they go on to say, that he mainly preys on men made vulnerable by addiction and homelessness. So what we know happened here according to these documents, is what

they're saying that is on September 4th thereabouts, that a 37-year- old man went to Ed Buck's apartment in West Hollywood. It was that he said he was administered methamphetamine by Buck. One large dose. He felt like he was overdosing so he left to get help. But he came back on September 11th.

And then says according to these documents again that he was then administered two large doses by Ed Buck in his apartment. He said that he was not given help, was trying to get help. That Ed Buck was not helping him with that and so he fled for his own safety to a gas station and called 911. They say here in the documents that he did overdose. But he survived.

That is the difference here between the other two cases that we see. One of them, Gemmel Moore, that was in July of 2017 when he overdosed and was found dead in Ed Buck's apartment. That was ruled that they could not charge Ed Buck because there was insufficient evidence. Then Timothy Dean in January 7th of this year also deemed to be a meth overdose as well in that case, also inside of Ed Buck's apartment as well. That one is still under investigation here.

But Buck was apparently there for both of these, according to these documents. And that is why people have been saying what is happening there, what is going on? I did reach out to his attorney and have not received a comment back.

HILL: Wow, all right. Stephanie Elam, thank you.

Want to leave you this hour with my favorite story of the day. It's a clever attempt to raise money for beer. You've always got to applaud that. Turned into more than $60,000 for charity. It all started when college football fan, Carson King, brought this sign to hold up at a live taping ESPN's College Game Day on Saturday morning which jokingly asked people to send money for beer to his Venmo account.

When he saw his account though reach more than, $600, he decided well, maybe I'll give some of that money away to the University of Iowa Children's Hospital. If you're not familiar, they're amazing. And the kids can overlook the games at the University of Iowa. Well Busch Beer and Venmo agreed to match the donations and the total is now $60,000 for the hospital. He says he's going to keep the campaign going until the end of the month. A little good news to send you on your way to "THE LEAD" with Jake Tapper which starts right now.

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