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The Lead with Jake Tapper

Trump's Number of Lies Increasing?; House Votes to Subpoena Full Mueller Report. Aired 4:30-5p ET

Aired April 03, 2019 - 16:30   ET



JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: The politics lead now.

A new record for President Trump, one that he should not want to brag about, though. According to the fact-checkers at "The Washington Post," the president is now averaging 22 lies or misleading claims day. That's up from about six per day earlier in his presidency, with even more false statements spewed just in the past 24 hours.

The White House today unable to clarify some of those questionable remarks that reporters asked about.

And as CNN's Pamela Brown now reports, aides may not want to explain, if all the lies and exaggerations help give the president a political advantage.


PAMELA BROWN, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A day of eyebrow-raising and sometimes false claims from President Trump.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: My father is German, right, was German, and born in a very wonderful place in Germany.

BROWN: Except the president's father he was born in the Bronx. It was his grandfather who was born in Germany.

After ignoring repeated requests for clarification from the White House, an adviser finally telling CNN, "Sometimes, mistakes happen."

Then, during a nearly 90-minute freewheeling speech to the Republican congressional committee, Trump was long on the details...

TRUMP: President Xi, who is a strong man, I call him king. He said, but I am not king. I am president. I said, no, you're president for life and, therefore, you're king. He said, huh, huh. He liked that.

BROWN: ... but also short on the facts.

TRUMP: If you have a windmill anywhere near your house, congratulations. Your house just went down 75 percent in value. And they say the noise causes cancer. You told me that one, OK?

BROWN: Again, no proof that's remotely true.

The president also questioned the results of the 2018 midterm election, hinting, also with no proof, that the vote count may have been rigged.

TRUMP: There were a lot of close elections that were -- they seemed to -- every single one of them went Democrat. It was close. They say the Democrat where -- there's something going on -- you got to -- hey, you got to be a little bit more paranoid than you are, OK? I don't like the way the votes are being tallied. I don't like it.

BROWN: Signaling this could be a key theme of his reelection game plan, as he gave a peek into his 2020 playbook with a tough-love message to his own party about health care.

TRUMP: If you don't support it, you have no chance of winning. I mean, I just want to be blunt. You have no chance of winning. The Republican Party will be the champion of preexisting conditions. You have to do it.


BROWN: Now, as for the president's claim of windmills causing cancer, the White House director of strategic communications struggled to answer when asked by a reporter about that claim, saying she would get back to the reporters, which hasn't happened, to my knowledge.

And the White House still hasn't responded to repeated requests for comment, for clarification on the president's misrepresentation of his father's birthplace.

But, as you know, here, Jake, there is a theme here at this White House of not correcting the record when the president makes unfounded or downright false statements, politically if those claims are politically advantageous -- particularly, I should say -- back to you.

TAPPER: All right. Pamela Brown, thank you so much.

The full quote actually from the White House when asked about these lies and false claims and whatever was -- quote -- "Obama thought we had 57 states. Sometimes, mistakes happen."

Now, of course, when Obama said that, it was a misstatement.


TRUMP: It was a Trump adviser that said that. It was a misstatement, but that's not the same thing as what we're seeing here.

CUPP: It's not. You could have easily just gone to Obama's lie of the year, which was that you can keep your doctor if you like your doctor.

I mean, all politicians get caught lying. There's something pathological about Trump's penchant for lying. You could trace it back to maybe his career as a salesman, spinning. I also think he's just deeply, deeply insecure.

I mean, I didn't know men this insecure existed outside of like "Looney Tunes" cartoons. But he's very insecure. And so I think he reaches for lies to make him self feel and look better.

I don't want to put all of this on Democrats, because it's all the reasons I just said, but some of this isn't helped when Democrats overhype, overpromise and underdeliver. And they don't have to do that.

And I think, from time to time, whether it's on Mueller collusion, obstruction, the overhyping and then a failure to deliver just helps Trump sow the seeds of distrust. And they don't have to go that far. Wait, wait for the conclusions to be reached. Don't announce them before they're here.

TAPPER: On the other hand, one could say President Trump has -- look, he has succeeded by. I mean, he started his political career really by -- with the birther lie, which is not only false, but racist, saying the first African-American president was born in Africa, which, obviously, Obama was not.


So one could argue, in terms of risk-reward, he's only been rewarded for it.

VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, yes. If it's not broke, don't fix it, is one way to look at it.

I do think that it's more troubling, the longer that it goes, and the worse that it's getting. I think we thought that Trump was leaving the world of entertainment, climbing the wall over into politics, and we'd be able to kind of have a normal thing.

That's not -- he pulled the world of entertainment over the wall. And now we live in a reality TV show that he just kind of makes up every day. And that's just not healthy for the country. And it's a difficult thing for us to get our heads wrapped around, because you don't want to spend half the newscast just saying stuff is not true.

There's enough stuff that is true to talk about.

JOHN AVLON, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: And yet we're getting close to the point where the White House's official position on the president is that facts don't matter.

CUPP: Yes.

AVLON: And truth is relative.

And the problem is, it's getting worse. It's getting worse.


MARGARET HOOVER, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: I mean, alternative facts happened the first week of the administration.

TAPPER: Yes, we're there. We're there.


HOOVER: That's like getting closer?


AVLON: But now the people whose job it is to spin for the president are basically saying, I got nothing. It doesn't matter. Get over yourself with your commitment to facts and truth.

He lies about things that don't -- that there's a reason to lie repeatedly. I mean, the president doesn't just make a mistake once about his father being born in Germany. He said it four times in the last year.

TAPPER: But why even lie about that?

AVLON: There is no good explanation for that.

HOOVER: But for all -- I mean, 9,000 lies, I mean, there is no reason for that, other that this is a chronic condition the president can't help. Right?

He just -- when he opens his mouth, he lies. Why do you think his lawyers didn't let him talk to Robert Mueller? Why do you think they all agreed on written answers? Because, when he opens his mouth, he can't help but lie. And he would have perjured himself.

But I'm sorry. Were you talking? Because I think I should get in here.

AVLON: You should. We're totally fair.


HOOVER: I think what we actually need to do -- you can only do that with your husband. It's not creepy.


HOOVER: What we really, actually need to worry about, I think, is the downstream effect of all of this, by the way, not just on the Republican Party and other Republicans, but also internationally, because other world leaders take this as license.

The leader of the free world is doing it. We can do it too.

TAPPER: And, also, if I could just say, some of these -- some of these lies are about -- it doesn't matter where his dad was born.


HOOVER: No. TAPPER: His father, rest in peace, it doesn't matter if he was born in the Bronx or Germany in terms of policy. I mean, he shouldn't be lying about it.

But the president tweeted yesterday -- quote -- "Puerto Rico got $91 billion for their hurricane, more money than has ever been gotten for a hurricane before, and all their local politicians do is complain and ask for more money. The pols are grossly incompetent, spend the money foolishly, corruptly, and only take from USA."

In reality, Puerto Rico has received nearly $11 billion, not $91 billion. Hurricane recovery aid went to -- more hurricane recovery aid went to Katrina than this one. And Puerto Rico is in the United States. It's not a separate country.

So, there are consequences to some of these lies. Now you have an entire island, a commonwealth of Americans who the president's lying about them.

JONES: And that are still suffering.

And then the only time we talk about them is when he says something dumb. And it's terrible. I mean, my only hope about that, though, is that a bunch of those people now live in Florida, and they are beginning to register to vote, because they're American citizens. And maybe they will have a chance to say something about that in 2020.

AVLON: Look, it -- I'm glad you brought up Puerto Rico, because there are lies that are inexplicable and almost reflexive. And then they're ones that have to do with people suffering and American policy.

The problem is, they all get lumped together, and we start to normalize behavior. And the apparatus of the White House starts to exist to try to contain the president. And it basically becomes a giant delusion machine. It's the emperor's wearing no clothes.

That's not healthy for a republic, because it does demean -- it does define deviancy down. It demeans the value of truth. So it is our job as journalists and citizens to assist on the truth and not simply accept it.


TAPPER: Let me ask you a question, S.E., because you talked about how Democrats overhyping the Mueller report, for example, feeds into the president's strategy and his ability to sow discord.

CUPP: Why it works.

TAPPER: But let me ask you a question, because one of the things that's going on, on the campaign trail right now is this trail of contrition, of Democrats...

CUPP: Yes.

TAPPER: You have Elizabeth Warren with the DNA test. You have Amy Klobuchar with mistreating her staff. You have Joe Biden's video today.

I could go on.

CUPP: Yes.

TAPPER: Beto O'Rourke made some offhand comment about being a part- time parent. And he had to apologize for that.

Trump -- I said at the beginning of the show, Trump means never having to say you're sorry.

CUPP: Right.

TAPPER: Is there something about the fact that he just doesn't apologize that voters like, or at least his voters like?

CUPP: Well, it's certainly a cult of personality strategy. And it is effective, for sure.

I don't think we should want a cult of personality in the White House, and I think we should want better. We should want someone who acknowledges mistakes, admits them outright, talks openly about wanting to be better.

So I don't think we should -- anyone on the right or left should be emulating this president, even though it's been an effective strategy. I'm much more inclined to believe someone is authentic if they can admit reality sometimes -- it's a low bar, just reality -- let alone mistakes.

AVLON: But this is the Richard Nixon-Roy Cohn school of never complain, never explain.

CUPP: Right.

AVLON: It's the tough guy.

And the Democrats keep overcorrecting on the other side and playing into the playbook with the apology tour.


HOOVER: But that's the downstream effect that I mean.


HOOVER: And I think what you saw with Joe Biden's non-apology is that he wasn't apologizing, but he was acknowledging that he's learned something and he's going to do better.


HOOVER: It's sort of a step in between. It's not the self- flagellation of Beto O'Rourke, but it's not the utter defiance of the president.

CUPP: Right.

TAPPER: Everyone, stick around. We got more to talk about.

Democrats just fired a warning shot at the attorney general, but are they starting a losing battle?

Stay with us.


TAPPER: In our politics lead today, Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee putting Attorney General Bill Barr on notice, voting to authorize a subpoena for the full 400-plus-page Mueller report, including all of the underlying evidence.


REP. JERROLD NADLER (D), NEW YORK: I will give him time to change his mind. But if we cannot reach an accommodation, then we will have no choice but to issue subpoenas for these materials.

And if the department still refuses, then it should be up to a judge, not the president and not his political appointee


JAKE TAPPER, ANCHOR, CNN: The vote today was along party lines with Republicans decrying the move as purely partisan given that the Attorney General has said he will deliver to Congress the Mueller report with appropriate redactions by mid-April.


REP. DOUG COLLINS (R-GA), RANKING MEMBER OF JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: This is reckless. It's irresponsible and it is disingenuous and at this point in time, the Attorney General, although he is being smeared repeatedly is doing exactly what the regulation says and for that, congratulations Mr. Attorney General, you get a subpoena.


TAPPER: CNN's Sara Murray joins me now and Sara, so where do things stand right now?

SARA MURRAY, POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, CNN: Well, Jake, now we wait. You know, as you saw there, the subpoena has been authorized, but it has not been issued, so we're going to wait and see if Nadler and Bill Barr are able to work something out behind the scenes to make this entire report at least available to Congress, if it's not available publicly.

If that doesn't happen though, we could see Nadler move forward with this subpoena, which could set up a fight in court about whether the grand jury material can be handed over to Congress. Now, the Justice Department today is not commenting on this subpoena authorization from the Committee, but as you pointed out, Bill Barr has set a goal to make some version of this report public by mid-April. We will see if his plans change at all in the wake of the subpoena threat.

TAPPER: All right, Sara Murray. Thank you so much. Let's chew on this. Van, is this the right fight for Democrats right now.

VAN JONES, HOST, THE VAN JONES SHOW: Well, I mean, which Democrats? In other words, the ones who are running for President should not have anything to do with this. But you have this pent up demand for accountability inside the Democratic Party. There's a sense that Trump has just gotten away with too much stuff, whether the Mueller thing was right or wrong, he gets away with more stuff, and honestly, if you're on your job, you're like, if I acted like Trump, I wouldn't have a job. Why does Trump get away with all of this stuff?

And so, I think the Congressional Democrats trying to deal with the demand within the base of the party, they're going to be able to stay on this pogo stick. I don't think it's good for the party overall. But there is no way -- I am going to tell you right now, if the Congressional Democrats decide, well, never mind, we're going to move on, you're going to have an uproar from the base of the Party that still wants accountability.

MARGARET HOOVER, FORMER WHITE HOUSE STAFF FOR GEORGE W. BUSH: They don't have to say never mind, we'll move on.


HOOVER: But they should pick battles they can win and that demonstrate their credibility and their seriousness about the issue. Even if this goes to a judge, the likelihood that this wins is quite little. This is not an independent counsel. This is a special counsel that reported directly to the Attorney General. The likelihood is that a judge comes down in favor of what Barr has done and this goes back to the statute that empowered Robert Mueller. So pick a fight you're going to win.

TAPPER: Well, let me just say this because S.E., one of the things that's going on here is it does seem as though President Trump is shifting. He has initially said, "Oh, I want the whole Mueller report out there." And now, if you listen to things he is saying, he seems to be backing away and talking about how no matter what they do, nothing is going to please Democrats. Take a listen.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I don't mind. I mean, frankly, I told the House, if you want, let them see it.

I think it's ridiculous. Anything that's given to them will never be good enough. You could give them more documents than they've ever seen and it would never be good enough, so I think it's somewhat of a waste of time.


TAPPER: And he has made a lot of comments like that recently -- CUPP: I don't think it's a waste of time, but I think he's right. I

think in a lot of ways, Democrats will not be satisfied. And this goes to my last point. The report will come out. Bill Barr has said it would and already, Democrats are saying, I know there's collusion, and he's guilty of a cover up.

There's no need to get -- to go this far and I think it just discredits, and to Van's point, there are areas on which Democrats can beat Trump -- their policy areas. This one, they're not going to win.

JOHN AVLON, SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST, CNN: Look, it's not just a pent up demand on the part of Democrats though. Eighty six percent of the American people want the Mueller report released. I'm old enough to remember in mid-March when the House voted 420 to zero to release the full Mueller report.

CUPP: But Bill Barr has said he will release it.

AVLON: Not the full report and here's the point.

CUPP: Well, let's wait and see.

AVLON: But, but, but I agree with you. Setting an artificial deadline and saying that the Attorney General has got to meet it is not a fight you're going to win. Let's get the redacted report forward. See how much is redacted.

HOOVER: Right.

AVLON: And because what Trump --

CUPP: And then complain about it.

AVLON: Well, no. It becomes larger game, let's not kid ourselves, is to say when the other 17 cases come in, and the ongoing investigations into questions of money laundering that it's all wrapped up in the Mueller report. It's all sore loser-ship and none of those new facts matter. That will be false. That's an attempt to distract the American people.

TAPPER: And there's one other thing that happened today that was pretty momentous and it might seem a little inside baseball, but Republicans in the Senate used what is called the nuclear option to jam through changes to Senate rules that will allow them to confirm most of President Trump's nominees for judgeships and other positions at a much faster rate.

They've accused Democrats of holding it up and taking the maximum amount of time. It does seem to be a sign of worsening relations, more partisanship on Capitol Hill than before.

JONES: And right wing court packing, and that's very, very -- in other words, we spend a lot of time just trying to swat off the flies of just like this lie and this tweet and whatever. While we're doing that, real serious damage is being done to the country.


JONES: And I don't mean just because you have some Conservative judges. That's not the problem. The problem is, the sense of illegitimacy now in our courts. We have a lot of liberals who feel that you know, we were denied a Supreme Court seat.

TAPPER: Merrick Garland.

JONES: Merrick Garland -- and now the Supreme Court, you look at it as a political body and now, you're seeing throughout the Federal -- I mean, Trump has appointed more judges than most Presidents and he's just getting started.

And so I just think, you know, are you playing an infinite game where you really want to keep the country together? Are you playing a short-term game where you just want to get as many wins on the board as possible? Right now -- well, I mean, but the long-term damage to the credibility and the buy in of people, I think is significant.

AVLON: Yes, and Mitch McConnell is supposed to be an institutionalist.

JONES: Exactly.

AVLON; But what we're seeing is this, by doing the nuclear option here, when there have already been a lot of judges going through, it sets a terrible precedent. It will increase, as Van said, a sense that the courts are political bodies and partisan bodies, which they are not supposed to be. And it is going to be -- we're going to rip the whirlwind from this kind of stuff.

CUPP: But can I just -- and I don't disagree with anything you said, but to flip it around, it seems like to a lot of us, Democrats are also openly talking about literally stacking the courts.

HOOVER: Packing the courts.

CUPP: And changing the Electoral College because the can win.

AVLON: Well, the second part is not crazy, but the first part is.

JONES: Look, I have asked a number of Democrats, especially on the Electoral College stuff, why don't we just say we're going to go win those states?

HOOVER: Thank you. Thank you.

CUPP: Right.


TAPPER: Winning the states would be good for Democrats if that's actually what they want to do. Be sure to tune in to "The Van Jones Show" on CNN this Saturday night. Van is going to talk to 2020 Democratic Presidential candidate, Amy Klobuchar and "Empire" star, Taraji P. Henson, that's at 7:00 p.m. Eastern on CNN and that's not Van, by the way in case -- but here's who it is. Don't forget to catch "S.E. Cupp Unfiltered." The hour before that at 6:00 p.m. Eastern, Saturday. They're both lovely people.

JONES: Get moving on the ratings though. Get a move on the ratings.

TAPPER: Coming up, what does it look like when you seemingly break the Chicago political machine? It looks like history, and that's next.



TAPPER: Internationally today, in a city known for its well- fortified, often quite corrupt Democratic political establishment, Chicago voters seemed to buck the trend and picked an outsider as their new leader. Lori Lightfoot, the city's new mayor is making history as both the first black woman and first LGBTQ person elected mayor of Chicago, but as CNN's Ryan Young now reports, the mayor-elect sees her biggest accomplishment as quote, "beating the old entrenched Chicago machine."



RYAN YOUNG, NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT, CNN (voice over): A woman who's never been elected to office has busted Chicago's long-time Democratic political machine. Lori Lightfoot dominated Tuesday's mayoral runoff crushing her opponent, a career politician by nearly 50 points.

The former Assistant U.S. Attorney made fighting crime and the political corruption that has plagued Chicago politics for decades, bedrocks of her campaign. At least two city aldermen are currently caught up in FBI investigations with one already facing Federal charges.


LIGHTFOOT: We can and we will break this city's endless cycle of corruption. And never again -- never, ever allow politicians to profit from elected positions.


YOUNG (voice over): Born and raised in Ohio, Lightfoot's mother worked as a healthcare aide. Her father worked in a factor and as a janitor. Lightfoot often brings up her own background while promising to improve the city's school system and bridge the economic gap between city neighborhoods.


LIGHTFOOT: I want to make sure that kids who look like me and growing up in families like mine have the opportunity at their fingertips.

Together, we can and will make Chicago a place where your zip code doesn't determine your destiny.


YOUNG (voice over): But those promises could come at a price according to long-time observers of Chicago politics.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She knows what it's like to be poor and struggle and to be not heard and she's speaking to those people and those people are hearing her and they're going to hold her accountable as much the folks downtown are.


YOUNG (voice over): Lightfoot succeeds Rahm Emanuel, a former congressman turned White House Chief of Staff under President Obama who served two terms in office. His tenure coming after more than two decades of Richard Daley, whose father also ran the city for more than 20 years.


CLEOPATRA WATSON, LORI LIGHTFOOT SUPPORTER: This is actually historic because Lori is not a part of the Democratic machine, right? So this is the first time that the machine won't have oil under her leadership, which means that in a filibuster, we will have a seat at the table for change for all Chicagoans and that's very meaningful.


YOUNG (voice over): Not to mention, Lightfoot is also breaking barriers, becoming mayor of the largest U.S. city to elect an African- American female mayor who also identifies as a lesbian.


BRITTANY DABECA, LORI LIGHTFOOT SUPPORTER: It's a historical moment. A lot of hope for all women around the world -- all diversity.


YOUNG (on camera): I had a woman grab my hand last night and tell me this is hopefully the change they've been looking for, for quite some time, especially in some of the neighborhoods in the west and the south side. They really want the see a change in the violence in the city.

Lori Lightfoot says she is going to meet with the Superintendent today to start talking about the summer plans, to make sure they can knock out their problem especially with gun violence -- Jake.

TAPPER: All right, Ryan Young, thank you so much. Be sure to tune in to CNN this Sunday night for "Tricky Dick," the CNN original series explores Richard Nixon's rise and fall, featuring some never before seen footage. It airs this Sunday at 9:00 p.m. Eastern. You can follow me on Facebook.