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THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER
Battle For Wisconsin; Mueller Probe Documents Released; Warren Faces Escalating Attacks From Fellow 2020 Democrats Over New Medicare For All Plan; Trump Loses Appeal To Keep Taxes Secret, Judge Dismisses Immunity Claim. Aired 4:30-5p ET
Aired November 4, 2019 - 16:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: In our "POLITICS LEAD," new insights into how the president's former campaign chair Paul Manafort all the way back in 2016 was pushing the false conspiracy theory that it was Ukraine that interfered in the U.S. election, not Russia.
The details come from more than 270 pages of the former Special Counsel Robert Mueller team's notes, from interviews and e-mails and documents that CNN has obtained through the Freedom of Information Act.
CNN's Jessica Schneider joins me now.
And, Jessica, this is a conspiracy theory that the president has repeated recently. What are we learning from these new documents?
JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jake, we're really seeing just how far back Paul Manafort as campaign chairman really pushed this unsubstantiated theory that it was Ukraine, and not Russia, who was responsible for hacking the DNC servers.
Paul Manafort was pushing this at the height of the 2016 election, and potentially also pushing this to the president, who didn't really publicly go with this conspiracy theory until 2017.
So all of this information coming from interviews with Rick Gates, the deputy campaign chair. He was cooperating with Mueller's team. And the interview notes put it this way, saying, Gates recalled Manafort saying the hack was likely carried out by the Ukrainians, not the Russians.
Interestingly, Gates also noted that this conspiracy theory was being pushed by Manafort in part because of Konstantin Kilimnik, the dual Ukrainian-Russian citizen, a business associate of Paul Manafort. He was also a key character in Mueller's report.
He was indicted for potentially tampering with witnesses that may be testifying against Paul Manafort. So all of this unfolding, giving us this broader picture as to this conspiracy theory that the president has been pushing especially recently, and, of course, is that really the heart of the impeachment inquiry here. TAPPER: And we're also learning more about then candidate Trump's desire to get his hands on Hillary Clinton's e-mail?
SCHNEIDER: Yes, we have learned it was a constant topic of communication within the campaign, not just by Trump, but also his family members, top advisers, Rick Gates again giving this information to Mueller's investigators and putting it this way, saying: "Gates recalled a time on the campaign aircraft when candidate Trump said get the e-mails."
Flynn -- Michael Flynn, of course, the short-lived national security adviser -- said he could use his intelligence sources to obtain these e-mails.
So Gates talked to investigators about how Flynn had these Russian contacts, how he was pushing to get these e-mails as well. They were strategizing how they could possibly get these e-mails from WikiLeaks. So a lot coming out in these documents.
I will say a lot of these documents, about 300 pages' worth, redacted. But we will see more of these documents. It's a court order from a judge after a Freedom of Information Request from CNN. So just about once a month, we will be getting more and more of these documents, which will be shutting more light on potentially what happened in the campaign.
TAPPER: Yes, and Flynn had those intelligence contacts, of course, because he was head of the Defense Intelligence Agency and had worn the uniform of this country.
Jessica Schneider, thanks so much.
It's one of the key battleground states that could help decide the 2020 election. And guess what many voters there did not want to talk about?
Stay with us.
TAPPER: Today's 2020 LEAD, a red alert for Democrats.
A new poll shows President Trump could very well again win key battleground states. The polling surveyed the six states that Mr. Trump won by the slimmest of margins, Michigan, Arizona, Florida, North Carolina, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania.
"The New York Times" and Siena College poll found that, in hypothetical matchups against the top Democratic candidates, it is virtually a dead heat, including in four states that Obama won twice.
CNN's Kyung Lah is on the ground in one of those battleground states, Wisconsin, where it is already a daily fight for every possible vote.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let's do this, Wisconsin. Let's turn it blue. And we've got year from now to do that.
KYUNG LAH, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The 2020 battle for Wisconsin starts now.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hi, good morning. We will get you a clipboard and some lists.
LAH: Democratic foot soldiers fanning out across the Badger State.
(on camera): Are people talking about impeachment here?
SARAH GODLEWSKI, WISCONSIN STATE TREASURER: It's not what you're hearing at the coffee shops. It's not what I'm hearing when I'm at the hardware store.
LAH: A year from Election Day, this is a door-to-door mission. Find out what matters most to voters here.
TREVOR JUNG, WISCONSIN DEMOCRAT: My name is Trevor. So what's important to you in the selection?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Jobs and the environment especially.
LAH: Do you feel that it is a house-to-house battle?
JUNG: It is, completely. Here you have a community that is in a county that voted for President Obama and also Donald Trump.
LAH (voice-over): Racine, a swing county in a critical swing state. President Trump won Wisconsin by fewer than 23,000 votes.
We meet Democrat Bruce Dunn.
(on camera): How long did you work for Chrysler?
BRUCE DUNN, WISCONSIN DEMOCRAT: Thirty-six years and two weeks. There's not too many jobs like that now.
LAH: He's lived Racine's ups and downs. During Trump's term, he's seen some jobs come back. Dunn cares most about the economy and health care.
(on camera): What about impeachment? You didn't mention impeachment.
DUNN: Well, I kind of don't like the impeachment. The people that's on his side, I don't think they're going to jump ship because of it.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Absolutely ridiculous.
LAH (voice-over): Unlike the Democrats, Wisconsin Republicans are talking about impeachment. This Racine packers and politics party is one of the 150 GOP events in Wisconsin just this week.
KEN BROWN, WISCONSIN REPUBLICAN: These Republican people are very enthused.
LAH (on camera): Is impeachment than helping you or helping the Democrats?
BROWN: I think it's definitely helping the Republican Party right now. I say, go for it, bring it on.
SALLY FRANCIS, WISCONSIN REPUBLICAN: We're just digging in our heels deeper to fight, what they're going to do, and we will do it by voting.
ALICIA HALVENSLEBEN, WISCONSIN DEMOCRAT: Hi, my name is Alicia. I'm with the Waukesha County Democratic Party.
LAH (voice-over): But driving Democrats, the bitter sting of 2016 and the determination to not have it happen again.
HALVENSLEBEN: If I can convince at least one, maybe two every time I talk, and I take a packet out, that's going to sway an election.
LAH (on camera): We're talking and it's snowing.
HALVENSLEBEN: I'm going to keep doing it through the snow. I have done it through worse. We're a swing state. We have been a swing state, but we can swing back.
LAH: And Wisconsin Democrats say they knocked on more than 50,000 doors just this weekend. That is double the number that Trump won the state of Wisconsin by in 2016.
And here's some instant polling for you, Jake. I asked the party just now, did anyone bring up impeachment? And they said, no, it is not something that Democrats are bringing up organically, Jake.
TAPPER: All right, Kyung Lah in Wisconsin, thanks so much.
Let's get another look at that poll from "The New York Times"' Upshot and Siena College. It's not a runaway race for anyone in these states where Donald Trump won, barely in some cases, in 2016.
Jen Psaki, I heard from a lot of Democrats this morning, freaking out when they saw this polling showing that Trump was leading or at least within the margin of error, but ahead, over everybody, except for Biden, in a lot of these states. Bernie Sanders had a couple good states there too, but the idea is that Trump is in a good position.
JEN PSAKI, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Right. And it should -- there is some jolting data that was below the surface, including the fact that Democrats have not made as much progress with white working-class voters as they thought they had, or maybe perhaps many people thought they had. Also that two-thirds of respondents who said -- who had voted for
Democrats in 2018 said they would vote for Trump again. So there are some assumptions that are pretty dangerous that may have been made by Democrats in the past. It should be a jolt to people.
I'm happy to see they're door-knocking. That needs to be happening across the country. But, yes, Donald Trump is -- no Democrat is running away with this, and that should be a reminder to people they got to get acting.
TAPPER: We have four battleground states around this table.
I'm Pennsylvania. You're Ohio. You're Florida. And you're Michigan.
When you're back home -- and I know you're a Republican, you're a loyal Republican. But what do you hear that makes you think that state is still in play, if anything?
MIKE ROGERS, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, I will tell you this.
Back in 2016, I was home and went to a place where I have a lot of UAW guys in my district. We would go and have a drink. So we were just having -- catching up on old times. I would have thought that Donald Trump gave them talking points sitting at that bar.
ROGERS: And I came home, told my wife that. She said, I was nuts and crazy. I said, I don't know what it means, but I have never seen anything quite like it.
And, remember, they will vote issues before they vote what is happening in this town. Matter of fact, they're -- Republicans and Democrats and independents look at what's happening in this town and see a big mess.
At home, they're looking at things like, guess what, they're coming after my health care, the health care that my union negotiated, and I have worked hard for. When you have three of the top Democrat candidates telling me -- and these are Democrat voters normally -- that I'm going to take your health care away, you don't get to have that anymore, I'm telling you, people don't understand how that's working against the Democrat Party in places like Michigan.
And you watch, they're going to have to reconnect with these voters if they're going to try to get their votes away from a Donald Trump I think in this next election.
ANA NAVARRO, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: I'm from Florida.
I'm not only from Florida. I'm from the sovereign and independent republic at Miami. And, look, the amount of time that Donald Trump has spent down there talking about issues like Venezuela and Cuba, he's actually been down there himself and members of his administration doing events to announce policy specifically targeting those areas. Now, you have to ask yourself, why is it that he seems like every
other dictator in the world, except for those where there are big exile communities that vote in a swing state like Florida? I'm talking about Venezuelans, Nicaraguans, and Cubans.
He has been very effective at microtargeting bases in those states.
JACKIE KUCINICH, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: And Democrats I spoke to when I was in Ohio actually didn't bring up impeachment as well. We talked a lot more about health care and climate change.
The Republicans I spoke to actually thought they were part of the camp that thought impeachment was going to help this president. However, they're worried about the suburbs . They saw some state legislature seats go by the wayside this -- in 2018.
And so they're very -- there's some nervousness there. Perhaps it might not flip.
But it might be as much of a lock as perhaps some think -- some people think it is.
TAPPER: All right, we're going to keep talking about this, because, coming up: best-laid plans.
Senator Elizabeth Warren facing attacks from fellow Democrats after telling the nation how she'd pay for her Medicare for all proposals. Stay with us.
TAPPER: In our "2020 LEAD," Senator Elizabeth Warren has announced how she will attempt to pay for her Medicare For all proposals. She estimates it will cost $20.5 trillion. But some experts say that total slightly closer to $34 trillion over a decade. Listen to some of the criticism not from the Republicans, but from her 2020 Democratic opponents. [16:50:15]
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (D-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think that would probably have a very negative impact on creating those jobs. I think we have a better way.
JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Just to get. Real numbers, it's a very difficult way to get there what she's talking about.
SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-MN), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I will have plans that I can pay for, and deadlines that I can meet that are grounded in reality.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: That's the Democrats. Let's discuss. Jen Psaki, I said this a week or two ago before she was thrown into the briar patch and did exactly what Democratic opponents wanted to do. Why even do it? Why -- even if she wins and she does get some sort of health care plan pass, it's not going to be this. It's going to be something that she works out with Congress.
PSAKI: I agree. And look, when Democrats are running whoever the nominee is next year, they're going to be running against Donald Trump on a platform of he's going to take away your health insurance. He won't cover pre-existing conditions.
I think her team probably saw it is difficult for her to be the person with plans, who didn't have a plan on this and how to pay for it. Ultimately, I don't actually think the money piece is the biggest problem for her. I know people disagree with me.
We did lots of polling when I was in the White House about spending. People don't care that much, I hate to say. What they do care about is what Mike Rogers talked about, which is how this is going to impact them.
And the majority of the public still does not want their private insurance taken away. And they don't want to be told I'm going to take your private insurance away and everything is going to be fine. So I think that's the bigger challenge for her when you look at her plans.
TAPPER: And take a listen to this. This is from Jared Bernstein, the former economic adviser to Vice President Joe Biden but probably the most progressive economist in the Obama White House talking about how Elizabeth Warren is going to pay for the plan.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JARED BERNSTEIN, FORMER ECONOMIC ADVISER OF VICE PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: This debate, this is basically saying I'm going to buy a unicorn and I'm going to pay for it with the unicorn.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: I'm going to buy a unicorn and pay for it.
KUCINICH: That is not good bumper sticker.
TAPPER: One part of the reason is because she gets hundreds of millions of dollars to pay for this plan by solving the immigration reform issue which no president has been able to get legislation passed on.
KUCINICH: Come on, Jake. If you can dream it, you can do it. No, you can't. And that that is one of the many problems with this, is that it's in order to make this work, impossible things have to happen which is exactly what Jared Bernstein said there. And she is going to continue.
Just because she explained this she has a plan to pay for her plan, she's still going to get hit as we saw by Democrats in the next debate and the debate after that, and she's got to come up with a better answer than she's had in the past.
TAPPER: And Ana, here is her response to this very panel we're having right now. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Political pundits and even people in our own party don't want to admit it. They think that running a vague campaign that nibbles around the edges is somehow safe. But if the best Democrats can offer is business as usual after Donald Trump, Democrats will lose.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: What's your response to that?
NAVARRO: Guilty as charged. You know, look, I don't understand watching and observing this as a Republican who is desperately looking for a viable alternative to Donald Trump. I don't understand why Democrats have gotten so in the weeds to the point where it feels like a circular firing squad over some of these policy issues, primarily health care.
I'm OK with enabling. Just tell me look, I'm an enabler of health care. I'm going to address climate change, and Donald Trump is a misogynist racist, OK. Okay, I'm good. You know, as long as you acknowledge that we have a problem, that you're going to solve it, that you're going to work in a bipartisan fashion, that you're going to be vigorous about even acknowledging that there is a problem and then solving it, I don't understand the need to be into the minutia, and discussing it at this level.
TAPPER: And Chairman Rogers, let me just point out that Jen Psaki is right in the sense that Donald Trump has been president for three years. He has not introduced any legislation and all he has supported his attempts to repeal ObamaCare, repeal the protection for people with pre-existing conditions.
Is it fair that Elizabeth Warren is being held to the standard that nobody is holding President Trump to?
ROGERS: Well, I mean, I think they took it you know, pretty hard in the last election. I think they were held accountable for that. And the problem was, was not just their messaging, the replacement had a fix for pre-existing conditions, but they never got there. And I think that was their biggest mistake. I think they just decided they were going to come out with hey, we're going to repeal that's what took hold. They never came up with the replace piece.
But I will tell you this. People don't -- we should not underestimate when you tell someone you're going to take their health care away what that means for them and their family.
TAPPER: All right, everyone stick around. A new legal lost for President Trump that might end up in this Supreme Court. Stay with us. [16:55:00]
TAPPER: In our "MONEY LEAD" today, President Trump lost his appeal to keep his taxes secret. A federal judge ruled today he must turn over eight years' worth of returns to the Manhattan district attorney. That office is investigating the hush money payments made to porn star Stormy Daniels and Playboy Playmate of the Year Karen McDougal before the 2016 election.
The judge saying that despite the President's insistence, he is not immune from investigation. The President's Attorney Jay Sekulow is saying they will appeal all the way to the Supreme Court. Our coverage on CNN continues right now. You can follow me on Twitter @JAKETAPPER. Thanks so much for watching. I'll see you tomorrow.