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THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER

Trump's Mount Rushmore Speech to Focus on Efforts to Tear Down History; New York Times Says Afghan Contractor Served as Middleman to Pay Taliban; Bolton Says, I Have Enough Scars from Bringing Up Russia with Trump; White House Says Trump Was Not Verbally Briefed Because Intel Not Verified; As Americans Grapple With Racial Reckoning Some Are Uncertain How to Celebrate Independence Day; Trump Says Black Lives Mural Outside Trump Tower Is a Symbol of Hate; U.S. Hits Record High of Coronavirus Cases in One Day. Aired 3:30-4p ET

Aired July 3, 2020 - 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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DORIS KEARNS GOODWIN, PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: They should be judged, those other presidents, in term of the totality of what they did. If they helped build a nation, if they helped provide the words for the Declaration of Independence. If they carried us through the Depression and World War II, and you'll find the flaws and weaknesses.

But the Confederate general where trying to tear down the Union, they were enslaving people as a permanent thing they hoped, in their own Confederate nation. And I understand totally the movement that wants -- it's a transformative movement we're having right now, to understand the impact not only of slavery, but racism on our country, and as long as those protests are peaceful and those statues get removed as they did.

I mean the great thing that just happened, I think, this last week in Mississippi was that they had been trying to remove the Confederate symbol from that flag for a long time and they couldn't get a majority in the legislature. But now because of the transformative mood that's happened now right now, public sentiment shifted, consciousness shifted. Businesses said they wouldn't come. There're sporting events said they wouldn't go there, and the legislature voted overwhelmingly to remove it.

It came down and there were crowds that were cheering and there was tears that happened. It's the leadership you need on the movement side, as well as the movement having to depend on leaders inside the corridors of power. But when it comes together like that, it's a grand moment and I hope that's what happens with the rest of these statues that should be coming down.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Some folks point out that the sculptor of Mt. Rushmore, Gutzon Borglum, was also a supporter of the Ku Klux Klan. What do you know about him? GOODWIN: Yes, I just, you know, have been really learning more that in

the context of this thing which is one of the great things that's happening now. History, we're learning things that we may not have seen right away. Yes, before he did Mt. Rushmore, he was working on a big project in Georgia and he was making a bond with the Ku Klux Klan people. And they were helping to support the building of this monument. And, you know, that becomes a common problem.

Again, it's different. You know, I think who does the sculpture, what the sculpture represents has to be thought about in proportion. But all these things demand discussion and the idea that we're looking back at our history and seeing it in a different way, but without not honoring the people who carried us through the war, who carried us through the Depression. Otherwise, we lose our sense of who we are in the strengths as well as the weaknesses we have. But I think it's going in a pretty peaceful direction right now and I think that's really helpful.

TAPPER: And lastly as a Presidential historian, what do you make of the President's leadership during this very divisive time? The time of the pandemic, the time of this reckoning with the racist history of so many leaders that are honored. What do you think of it all?

GOODWIN: The most important thing that a President does in a crisis as we saw during the Civil War, the Great Depression or World War II, is to focus energies entirely on the crisis. To bring the country together as best as you can, not to divide the country.

To mobilize the national resources and to set an example. And I think that's the standard that has to be judged right now to the leadership. Lots of other things are being talked about are distractions from the central task, the task that I think he will be judged on as Lincoln was judged on the Civil War in 1864, as FDR was in World War II, as Hoover was during the Great Depression.

So it doesn't make sense to me why if he'd only been able to get this thing under control by doing what his CDC wanted and maybe cutting down the economy at the beginning, he would have been in a good position, a better position. Because if you don't handle the crisis, then I think, that's the central issue, that the standard of leadership we looked on.

Does he have humility, does he have empathy? Does he have resilience? Has he been able to bring the country together? Those are the questions we should ask of leaders. Has he communicated clearly? All of those things we asked of the other leaders and now we need to ask it of him as well.

TAPPER: Doris Kearns Goodwin, thank you so much. And happy Fourth of July to you. We appreciate it.

GOODWIN: Thank you, Jake. I'm glad to be with you. Thanks.

TAPPER: And while you are having a safe Fourth of July, be sure to tune in to CNN for a one of a kind celebration. CNN's Don Lemon and Dana Bash host a night of fireworks and performances by all-star musical guests. It's tomorrow night at 8 P.M. Eastern. Stay in your living room. Don't get COVID. Don't risk it. Watch Dana and Don.

Coming up, the President's former National Security Adviser suggests Trump has earmuffs on when it comes to Russian intel. Is that music to Vladimir Putin's ears? A former CIA Russia Station Chief reacts to that. That's next.

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(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN BOLTON, FORMER NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: It's hard for me to believe that somebody didn't tell him about it. I'm confused by the White House's confusion over this. I don't think they have a grip on what actually is going on.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: That was President Trump's former National Security Adviser, John Bolton, excoriating White House national security officials and President Trump for the handling of intelligence about the alleged Russian bounty plot, a scheme a that reportedly paid Taliban terrorists to target and possibly kill U.S. and British service members in Afghanistan.

Joining me now to discuss if former CIA Russia Station Chief, Steve Hall. Steve, thanks for joining us.

President Trump and his top national security officials insist this information was what they call unverified and that there was no consensus within the intelligence community.

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What do you make of what you've heard from the White House during all of this?

STEVE HALL, FORMER CIA RUSSIA STATION CHIEF: Well, two things strike me, Jake. I mean the first thing is, is it's just silly to say that this is unverified. I mean this is threat information and threat information not unlike counter terrorism threat information goes very, very quickly right to the top because the consequences of not looking at that information carefully if you don't have a 100 percent of it, are just too dire to consider. In this case, the death of American troops.

So, you know, in my view, there's almost no way I would agree with John Bolton on this, that there's almost no way that the President could not have known about this or at the very least, his senior advisers.

But the second thing is, you know, we know that he's known it for at least a week, right? I mean it was last Friday when all of this came out in the press and the fact that the President has not made a public statement saying to the troops in Afghanistan, our troop, hey, I got your backs. Don't worry about this. I'm going to make a strong, you know, call to Vladimir Putin or something saying, OK, I don't know if this is true or not, but if it is, there's going to be hell to pay if this goes wrong.

So, you know, I just can't imagine there's American troops in Afghanistan not getting that message from their commander in chief is really remarkable.

TAPPER: If it is in fact true, the intelligence, would this operation by the Russian military intelligence unit, the GRU, would it have required Putin's direct authorization in your view?

HALL: This is a question that comes up pretty frequently and I think it's safe to say that although Vladimir Putin doesn't get in the weeds with every single thing that happens, when it has to do with the United States of America and especially when it comes to something as sort of emotionally important to Vladimir Putin as trying to kick us out of Afghanistan like we did to the Soviets in the late '80s and early '90s, which he remembers. It's difficult to imagine that he would not know about this and have approved it directly. So yes, I think there's a good chance that he was, you know, involved in the planning and knew about this.

TAPPER: I want you take a listen to something else Ambassador Bolton told me about the process of briefing the President and how the President does not like even hearing anything negative about Putin or Russian threats to the U.S. take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BOLTON: I think I have enough scars from bringing up things about Russia that he probably didn't want to hear.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: What would the reaction of Vladimir Putin be when he hears that from Donald Trump's longest serving National Security Adviser?

HALL: Yes, I mean Vladimir Putin I think is a very happy guy these days. I mean, he just, the Russian system just -- he basically just fenagled it so he can be President if he wants to be for the rest of his life. And he's got the American President, you know, so riled up, so upset, so, you know, a-twitter, when Russia is mentioned in briefings that the President apparently can't even hear about it.

This is something that Vladimir Putin really likes when we pay this much attention to him. I mean, in an actual real way, you know, Russia is nothing more than sort of a yippy chihuahua on the international stage. They're not that big and they're not that important to us, unlike China for example. And so when, you know, the President of the United States gets so worked up over Russia, it plays right into the Russian's hands and I think it's problematic in the long run.

TAPPER: U.S. intelligence agencies have agents and operatives on the ground in Russia, we assume. Would they have been involved in developing and verifying any intelligence on the bounty program for the U.S.? And if so, how would they even go about doing that?

HALL: Well, Jake, it's something that I really don't want to get too far into because I don't want to give Russia and Putin, you know, the goods on how it is that we do business, and what we're collecting on.

But certainly, when you're talking about the possibility that American troops have a bounty on their heads because the Russians are paying the Taliban to try to do this. Then you do have a situation where all of America's intelligence resources will be focused on this, because again, forced protection issues. The possibility that Americans could be killed, is a key collection issue for the intelligence community.

And again, that plays back into the concept of if it's a key thing for the intelligence community, it's going to go to the National Security Council and to the President when they get anything that might, you know, bring to bear or provide additional information on the security of American troops serving abroad.

TAPPER: All right. Steve Hall, thank you so much and happy Fourth of July to you. Really appreciate your time --

HALL: And you.

TAPPER: As we prepare to honor America's independence, we talked to some Americans who feel there may not be actually be that much to celebrate in the United States right now. That's next.

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TAPPER: In our national LEAD today, there has been something of a sea change in American public opinion in just the last few weeks when it comes to efforts to understand that members of minority groups, perhaps especially Black-Americans, can have a very different experience living in the United States than whites. And while Americans of all stripes celebrate Independence Day, the Fourth Of July, for some in these historically marginalized groups, the Fourth Of July holiday can be bittersweet, as CNN's Leyla Santiago reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

LEYLA SANTIAGO, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Fireworks, parades, ceremonies. The celebration of U.S. independence once declared by founding fathers that wrote, all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

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But the very rights being celebrated on Independence Day are the same rights that millions of Americans say they and their ancestors have not been allowed to enjoy.

SANTIAGO (on camera): What does Independence Day mean to you? JESSE HOLLAND, AUTHOR, "THE INVISIBLES": I will always be a proud

American. But that doesn't mean I don't realize the faults and the flaws that this country has,

SANTIAGO (voice-over): For historian and author Jesse Holland, that includes the injustice that has led to unrest across the country, the inequalities in communities of color highlighted by a pandemic.

HOLLAND: I think it's fair to sometimes question whether America loves African-Americans as much as we love it.

OPAL LEE, ACTIVIST CALLING FOR JUNETEENTH NATIONAL HOLIDAY: We can solve these problems if we just do it together.

SANTIAGO: For 93-year-old Opal Lee, independence must commemorate the freedom for all, including Juneteenth, the day enslaved people in Texas learned that all those enslaved in Confederate states had been freed.

LEE: And I'm advocating that we have Juneteenth from the 19th to the Fourth of July. You know, slaves weren't free on the Fourth of July.

SANTIAGO: As Americans face a reckoning over racism past and present, there's no message of healing from the White House. Instead President Trump is calling a Black Lives Matter street mural a symbol of hate after New York City announced it would be painted in front of Trump Tower. He's also demanding protection for symbols of Confederacy at campaign rallies.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The unhinged leftwing mob is trying to vandalize our history, desecrate our monuments, our beautiful monuments.

SANTIAGO: During diplomatic visits.

TRUMP: Not going to happen, not as long as I'm here.

SANTIAGO: And even on Twitter. And he's refusing to sign anything changing the names of military bases named after Confederate leaders.

HOLLAND: I am hopeful that we will, as a country, decide that the Confederacy is something to be studied, not something to be glorified, and we're able to actually celebrate who we are when we celebrate Independence Day.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SANTIAGO: And, Jake, kicking off the Independence Day weekend, President Trump will be at Mt. Rushmore where he'll be standing in front of a monument of two slave owners and on land wrestled away from Native Americans told that be focusing on the effort to, quote, tear down our country's history.

TAPPER: All right, Leyla Santiago with that report. Thank you so much.

On one hand you have several beaches across the nation staying open for the holiday weekend. On the other hand, you have local officials begging people to wear masks. Can the United States of America really get control of the coronavirus with all these mixed messages?

But first, as America prepares to celebrate Independence Day, there are discussions about our country's founding ideals of liberty, equality, justice and the pursuit of happiness and where we all stand today on living up to those ideals.

CNN HERO Harry Grammar who works on empowering incarcerated youth in Los Angeles shares his reflections.

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HARRY GRAMMAR, CNN HERO: On July 4th, 1776, 13 colonies claimed their independence from England. My ancestors never lived in England. In a Fourth of July keynote address,

Frederick Douglas wrote, the rich inheritance of justice, liberty, prosperity and independence bequeathed by your fathers is shared by you, not by me. The sunlight that has brought light and healing to you has brought

stripes and death to me. This fourth of July is yours, not mine. I must mourn. You may rejoice.

Back then Black-Americans were seen as unfit for the fruits of freedom. Nearly 250 years later, the scales are still tipped to one side, making it hard for us to subscribe to something that Dr. King would still call a dream. It's not until we balance the criminal justice system, root out systemic racism and provide equal freedom to all that we become a truly free country. And maybe then we'll have a day we can all celebrate.

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TAPPER: And welcome to this special edition of THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.

We continue this hour with our health LEAD, the coronavirus crisis. 36 states in the U.S. have rising number of infections, and for the second day in a row the United States is hitting a record high number of cases in one day. Now it's more than 52,000.

And with July 4th tomorrow, health officials are currently worried that celebrations will lead to another major surge in infections. What one infectious disease doctor called the makings of a perfect storm.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's leading infectious disease expert, is already warning that the nation is clearly headed in the wrong direction. And he is saying, it's in our hands as a nation to stop this crisis from getting worse. As the CDC is currently projecting 148,000 coronavirus deaths in this nation by July 25th.