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THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER

Trump Heads to NATO Meeting; Unrest in Iran; Supreme Court Hears Gun Case. Aired 4:30-5p ET

Aired December 2, 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]

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Right.

JEN PSAKI, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: They don't even have a dinner.

They have three hours.

(CROSSTALK)

PSAKI: They have three hours of a working session, because, basically, they're all wanting to -- they all want to ride out Trump's time as president of the United States.

This is not a functioning NATO right now, because President Trump is sitting...

DAVID URBAN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: New flash to NATO, they're going to be waiting for four more years.

TAPPER: Right.

Well, they are avoiding calling it a summit, so that they don't have to put out a communique.

PSAKI: Right.

TAPPER: You might remember there was a time when there was some controversy, when President Trump refused to sign the communique after the G7 in 2018.

MARY KATHARINE HAM, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes. Does he deserve some credit? Yes.

TAPPER: Yes. OK. So you're...

(CROSSTALK)

HAM: I often say that I don't like his messaging on NATO at all, but if, like, a little tough love does get some results, then I'm not mad about it.

(CROSSTALK)

URBAN: I think it's insane that countries like Norway, the largest sovereign wealth fund on the planet, trillion, trillion, five billion -- $1 trillion, $500 billion. They don't cough up 2 percent for their own defense?

PSAKI: Sure.

(CROSSTALK)

URBAN: It's insane.

PSAKI: Everybody is chugging along. Everybody gets credit. Yay.

(CROSSTALK)

URBAN: OK, so I'm glad you think the president is doing well.

And then I would just say this. I'd say let's look at the actions here, right? Marines stationed in Norway for the first time since World War II. U.S. tank brigade in Poland. U.S. tanks in Lithuania on the Russian border.

I mean, the U.S. is ponying up not just cash, but also soldiers right against the Russians and this NATO -- I hear Macron say, oh, it's brain-dead. The U.S. is flexing their muscle pretty strongly.

PSAKI: But, David, a weak NATO, which is what it is and what this meeting, which isn't even a meeting, means that helps Russia. They're happy about that.

(CROSSTALK)

URBAN: Jen, did you just hear what I said? Marines and -- Marines stationed for the first time since World War II. That didn't happen in the Obama administration. It's happening now. Tank brigades.

(CROSSTALK)

PSAKI: David, they're not even aligned and on the same page or working towards the same goals. That's not good.

(CROSSTALK)

URBAN: You're wrong.

TAPPER: Well, one of the reasons that Macron said NATO was brain-dead is because he said the U.S. does not communicate at all with the NATO partners.

And a different NATO partner, Turkey, just did something in Northern Syria, where there are a lot of NATO country interests, that was also not communicated. So that's one of the issues that it's hard to disagree with on.

MEHDI HASAN, THE INTERCEPT: It's one of the -- one of the biggest issues for everyone on the planet, from Americans to foreign governments, is this is a president who just makes stuff up as he goes along. His own team, his own advisers, his own defense secretary often doesn't know what's going on when it comes to foreign and security policy. He just tweets stuff out when it comes to -- as I said earlier, if you want to give him credit for this stuff, you also have to give him credit for threatening to withdraw from NATO, which he's done in the past.

He went and did an interview with Tucker Carlson where he said, Montenegro might start World War III by attacking Russia. He says ridiculous things without any forewarning. And that's why allies are trying to ride out the Trump presidency, regardless of whether on the right or the left.

They understand that this is an erratic president who cannot be relied upon in a time of crisis.

HAM: Yes, I think -- I like that people are kicking in more. I think it's part -- should be part of the deal. And it's OK to make that ask.

It also should come with an understanding and messaging from the American president that NATO is important, and we understand why it's important. And we don't have that part, even though you do sometimes with Trump have the opposite actions of his words, where he's backing up with action.

TAPPER: Everyone, stick around.

It's something that Supreme Court has not done in 10 years, but could have major ramifications for millions of Americans. We will explain next.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[16:37:21]

TAPPER: Welcome back.

In our national lead: Today, for the first time in nearly a decade, the Supreme Court heard a case about gun rights. Advocates on both sides are watching closely to see what this might mean for the Second Amendment and interpretation of it.

Let's bring in CNN Supreme Court reporter Ariane de Vogue.

Ariane, are there any signs from the justices today on which way they might have been leaning?

ARIANE DE VOGUE, CNN SUPREME COURT REPORTER: You're right.

Today, the big question is whether this new conservative majority on this court is ready to broaden gun rights. And in this case -- keep in mind, as you said, it's been a decade since they heard a Second Amendment case. And a lot of people think that was because maybe Justice Kennedy was sort of slow-walking the issue.

But this case is complicated by the fact that after the Supreme Court agreed to hear it, the law was changed. And in oral arguments today, the liberals on the court seized on that.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, maybe last month, she spent a weekend in the hospital. Today, she was very energetic. She was leading the charge. And she was saying, look, we shouldn't decide this case. The law has been changed. This is not the time to make a big Second Amendment ruling.

But, critically, Jake, Chief Justice John Roberts and Brett Kavanaugh, their votes are going to be key here, and neither one of them showed their hand. And, in fact, it was a little bit rare. Brett Kavanaugh didn't even ask a question.

So that, we're going to have to see where they are, if they think this case should be dismissed.

TAPPER: All right, Ariane de Vogue, thanks so much.

Let's bring in CNN legal analyst Elie Honig to break it down.

Elie, this case will be the first opportunity to test this newly composed court with Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh. What might this mean for supporters of gun rights who are hopeful that this newly conservative majority of the court will broaden the interpretation of the Second Amendment?

ELIE HONIG, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: So, Jake, this is the first major gun case we have seen in front of the Supreme Court in nearly a decade.

Now, the last time we saw major Supreme Court decisions, that gave a broad reading to the right of an individual to own a firearm inside his or her own home for protection.

Today's case goes to the right for a person to possess a firearm outside the home. New York City passed a very restrictive law that put very tight limits on what a registered firearm owner could do with the gun outside the home, essentially could only drive it directly to a shooting range within the city limits.

Now, that's been challenged. And this could be an opportunity for the newly comprised Supreme Court with Chief Justice Roberts as the new swing vote to give a broad reading to the Second Amendment and say, yes, it is illegal to restrict the ability of a person to carry a firearm outside of the home, as well as inside the home.

TAPPER: As Ariane mentioned, no surprises this morning from the justices on how they're likely to vote, but not much from Chief Justice Roberts, who, as you note, has become the swing vote.

[16:40:02]

Could we interpret the fact that they're even hearing the case, even though they changed the law in New York, so it's not even really relevant anymore necessarily? The fact that they're hearing it, could that not be seen as the conservatives want to weigh in here? They want to broaden the interpretation of the Second Amendment?

HONIG: I think that's the most logical conclusion, Jake.

It takes four votes of the nine Supreme Court justices in order to even take a case. And they haven't reached that four-vote minimum until now, in the past decade. And, yes, Chief Justice Roberts is very likely to be the swing vote here. There's a solid four justice liberal group and a solid for justice conservative group.

Chief Justice Roberts, his record on firearms cases, Second Amendment cases, has been pro-Second Amendment. He's typically in the last two big opinions in 2008 and '10 has come out in favor of a broader reading of the Second Amendment.

On the other hand, Chief Justice Roberts has been increasingly unpredictable and increasingly has sided with the liberal bloc, most recently in the case over the citizenship question the census. He surprised a lot of people, sided with the four liberal justices, and turned that case that way.

TAPPER: Elie Honig, thank you so much.

HONIG: Thanks, Jake.

TAPPER: Can former Vice President Joe Biden use his No Malarkey bus tour to translate his lead in the national polls to front-runner status in Iowa?

Do Iowans even know what malarkey means? That's next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[16:45:59]

TAPPER: The politics lead now.

For the kids out there, it's an old school, more polite way of saying B.S. Former Vice President Joe Biden is on an eight-day, 18-county No Malarkey tour across Iowa.

The barnstorming comes as polls have Biden solidly in the lead nationally, but with Mayor Pete Buttigieg surging to the top in Iowa, with just 63 days until the first votes in the race.

Mehdi, one Iowa voter told Politico she's afraid Biden is going to get the "OK, boomer" treatment with an old school slogan such as no malarkey. He's already chasing a much younger Mayor Pete in Iowa. What do you think?

HASAN: OK, so I'm a couple years older than Pete Buttigieg. I had to Google what malarkey means, which I did in the ad break.

TAPPER: You really -- you literally did not know what it meant?

HASAN: I mean, I have heard the word, but I don't know the exact meaning. And it refers -- do you know the exact meaning?

TAPPER: Nonsense?

HASAN: Yes, nonsense, meaningless talk.

And kind of, if that's Joe Biden, and he goes with no malarkey, I mean, he's the king of meaningless talk and nonsense. It's like -- we talked in the earlier segment it was like Trump running on no corruption.

I mean, is it -- you can't run on things you are identified with. It's madness. This is a guy who's so far in this campaign confused Vermont and New Hampshire, confused El Paso and Houston, speculated on the death of Barack Obama, referred pointlessly to record players, forgot Kamala Harris was in the Senate, even though she was standing next to him.

I mean, why would you use that as your slogan? I don't -- and aside from the age issue, just the accuracy of the word.

(LAUGHTER)

TAPPER: So I will put you down for three bumper stickers.

(CROSSTALK)

HAM: So, it's a bit of a callback, because he's used this before.

But a better callback, which would have hit younger voters, would have been the BFD bus...

TAPPER: Nice.

HAM: ... which would have, of course, used his phrase after Obamacare passed.

But I don't know. Young people like old stuff, like pour-over coffee and salvage jeans now. So maybe they will like malarkey too.

TAPPER: And old people vote.

PSAKI: True.

(CROSSTALK)

PSAKI: He's doubling down on what has worked for him to date. And we can all sit here and say it's not hip or cool. It's neither of those things. I think we all agree.

But he's trying to appeal and lock in the older vote, which malarkey is a term that is known by people over a certain age, older than most people at the table.

URBAN: It is a bus tour after all, right?

TAPPER: Right. URBAN: Yes. The whistle-stop, that's next.

TAPPER: But I have seen -- you have gone -- you were -- obviously, you think Trump's going to win. You work for Trump, the Trump campaign. You're an adviser to the Trump campaign.

But you have said in the past that you thought Biden was the best candidate. Then you have kind of backed off a little bit.

URBAN: Because I have been watching the campaign.

(CROSSTALK)

TAPPER: Right, right.

Where have you landed now? Where are you these days?

URBAN: Listen, I don't know.

I was discussing it in the green room. I have always liked Mayor Pete. I think he's the best political athlete, right? Like, if you're a GM and you're drafting a player, you don't need a shortstop. You take the best athlete. I think Pete Buttigieg is the best political athlete.

He's nimble. I don't know if he gets the nomination. So...

TAPPER: Yes.

What do you -- you're a progressive. We often have Democrats on the panel, but not necessarily progressives, people in the -- more in the Warren-Sanders camp of things.

So let me ask you, where do you see those candidacies right now? Because it looks like Elizabeth Warren has slid a little bit in the polls.

HASAN: She has slid a bit.

But I'm not sure how long that slide will continue. I think Bernie Sanders is the story that's not talked about enough. Nevada, New Hampshire, he's led in New Hampshire, the recent -- so many polls -- Quinnipiac.

He's leading New Hampshire. Iowa, he's in the top three. I mean, you could -- I saw Axios' story saying that a different candidate could win each of the first four states.

URBAN: Right. Yes.

HASAN: You know what? Bernie could also win three of the first four states. It could happen. There's no reason not to.

And I think that's what's interesting. We in the media are very obsessed with the athlete, Pete Buttigieg, who was very impressive earlier this year, less so now, I think, and obviously Joe Biden being the front-runner for a long time.

But it would be madness to write of Warren and Sanders, especially if at some stage you would assume one of them gets out of the race at some stage. And then does the other person pick up all those votes or not?

URBAN: What no one has said is Mayor Bloomberg, right? No one said Michael Bloomberg and his billion dollars.

(CROSSTALK)

PSAKI: No.

TAPPER: No. Did you see that quote of his? It was video of him talking about how it's good to tax poor people because then they can't afford to buy things that are bad for them.

It was from a conversation he had with Christine Lagarde that was going around the Internet. I don't know if you saw it.

(CROSSTALK)

TAPPER: Mayor Bloomberg.

(CROSSTALK)

PSAKI: Look, I think Mayor Bloomberg, you look at this record, he has done -- if it was just purely on paper, and what he has done on gun safety, and what he's done on climate change, and his ad, which is pretty good, that is running across the country, maybe he could make some headway.

[16:50:08]

But I continue -- I don't see a path for him. I don't think Democrats are looking for another candidate. You see every poll, they're not looking for another candidate.

That doesn't make sense, because somebody's going to win. Maybe somebody will win three states. Maybe somebody is going to win one or two. But it doesn't mean that any -- people wake up in the Super Tuesday states and say, wait, I need another person that's Mayor Bloomberg.

(CROSSTALK)

TAPPER: I want to ask you a question, Mary Katharine.

So, still a lot of candidates in the race. Two dropped out over the weekend and then this morning, Montana Governor Steve Bullock and Pennsylvania Congressman Joe Sestak from our home commonwealth.

(CROSSTALK)

URBAN: I like Governor Bullock. I didn't even know Sestak was running. TAPPER: So, 16 are still running, 16 Democrats. Only six have

qualified for this month's debate.

HAM: Right.

TAPPER: I mean, what do you think? Should the others drop out?

HAM: Well, I think first the debate stage being -- will make things a little bit clearer.

But I think all of this movement speaks to a dissatisfaction with the state of the field and something that Republicans went through in 2016, which was like, well, we got this one guy at the top who's like a little out there, but has really good name I.D. and we kind of know his story.

But then there's all these other people we would like to Frankenstein into one candidate. Well, you can't do that. You have to pick one. So I think there's a real possibility that each one of them keeps popping to the top, just as happened in 2016. And it gets real confusing as you go through the states.

TAPPER: Yes.

And Klobuchar said she's lining up surrogates, including her husband and daughter, in case that an impeachment trial pulls her off the trail. That will also affect...

HASAN: Will they tell better jokes than her, though?

(LAUGHTER)

HAM: The bar is low.

TAPPER: You're tough. You're very tough, very tough.

So, other candidates, including Sanders, warren, Kamala Harris, Cory Booker, could be a big disadvantage, a Senate trial.

HASAN: Booker hasn't qualified for the debates either. So he's got his own issues going on with his campaign.

I'm glad if the field gets winnowed. The Senate trial, depends how long it goes on. It could be a moment for them as well. I mean, one of the reasons people loved Kamala Harris at the beginning was because of her brilliant cross-examination of Brett Kavanaugh and others in the Senate.

So it could work both ways.

(CROSSTALK)

HASAN: But it could give them the boost in national momentum.

(CROSSTALK) URBAN: But you remember, in the Senate, they sit there in their chairs silent for a month. They don't get to speak. They don't ask questions.

PSAKI: Yes.

URBAN: They sit for a month, and then they vote.

PSAKI: I don't see any senator who's running for president who wants there to be a long trial, because it keeps them off the trail.

And with all the movement, somebody could pop up and really surge right before the Iowa caucus.

TAPPER: Thanks, one and all, for being here.

It is the deadliest unrest in more than 40 years, what is happening in one of the key countries in the Middle East next.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[16:57:08]

TAPPER: In our world lead: It is the deadliest political violence in Iran in 40 years.

More than 200 people have been killed, according to Amnesty International, thousands of protesters calling for an end to the Islamic Republic's government after a surprise 50 to 300 percent spike in gas prices two weeks ago.

CNN senior international correspondent Sam Kiley joins us now.

Sam, these protesters are demanding more than change. They're seeking revolution.

SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I think that's exactly right, Jake.

In 2009, we saw demonstrations, very widespread, particularly concentrated in Tehran, brutally put down. But that was a demand for reform in a sense. Now there is a much more grassroots revolutionary rhetoric, revolutionary actions coming right across Iranian territory in the south, the north, the east, the western and central, of course, in the capital, Tehran, with the use of violence by both sides.

The government are alleging that some 700 banks have been burned, 70 gas stations, and 34 ambulances, they claim, have been destroyed in these demonstrations. Now, of course, we have only got their word for it.

On the other hand, we're getting reports from Amnesty International at least 208 people have been killed by security forces, some, I have to say -- and we have seen the video evidence for this -- in clashes, violent clashes from the demonstrators, people wielding axes and other weapons against members of the security forces.

But these are -- Jake, these are -- this is an energy coming from the street, from the poorer elements. It's not the middle class, rather bourgeois demand for democratization that we have seen in the past, but rather something more earthy, something coming right from below, and, in particular, coming at a time when Iranian influence in the region is being questioned by demonstrators all over Central and Southern Iraq.

And, of course, we have seen a similar thing going on in Lebanon too, and this -- from the Trump administration, they would argue that this is all a result of the economic pressure that have been brought onto Tehran by the sanctions imposed by Donald Trump.

The question, really, for the Iranians and for the international community is, will this mean that President Rouhani, until now seen as a reformer, will survive as a reformer? Or will the harder-line elements within Iran take control in the face of these demonstrations?

And if they do, what will their actions be, not only internally, but externally, in countries where they have got all these proxy militias, Jake?

TAPPER: All right, Sam Kiley in the Middle East, thank you so much. Appreciate it.

President Trump just moments ago touched down in London, where he will be attending NATO meetings, and the big week in the impeachment inquiry here in Washington.

You can tune in this Thursday. We're going to have a special CNN town hall with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. I will be moderating that live event 9:00 p.m. Eastern on Thursday.

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 tomorrow.

Thanks for watching.

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