Return to Transcripts main page
Jake Tapper Talks About Economy, Inflation, Recession And Midterm Elections; Poll: 44% Say Economy, Infrastructure Most Important Issues Facing U.S.; Trump Sits For Deposition In Defamation Case; Group Sues Biden, National Archives For JFK Assassination Docs; New Film " The School For Good And Evil" Debuts On Netflix; Paul Feig Reflects On "Freaks And Geeks". Aired 9-10p ET
Aired October 19, 2022 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: And it's a fascinating and at times funny conversation and I hope you listen and I hope it helps. "All There Is" is available on Apple podcasts or wherever you get your podcasts.
News continues. CNN TONIGHT with Jake Tapper starts now.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to CNN TONIGHT. The slightly (ph) annoying, but soft alarms on your smartphone. No, I mean one of those really obnoxious alarms that you might hear a few rows back on the plane.
Turn that off. But you can't turn this alarm off. And as much as we might all want to wish it away, it's clear, with less than three weeks until the midterm elections the forecast is doom and gloom. And maybe that's why President Biden today gave not one but two speeches on the economy.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Families are hurting. You've heard me say before, but I get it.
It's been a rough four or five years for the country. But a lot of folks here are still struggling. But there's some real bright spots.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: I get it. Folks are still struggling. But one word you did not hear from President Biden today, the word recession. But he did admit a recession was a possibility during our interview last week.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BIDEN: I don't think there will be a recession. If it is it'll be a very slight recession. That is we'll move down slightly. Look, it's possible. I don't anticipate it.
(END VIDEO CLIP) TAPPER: But now some of the world's leading economists are shouting
the word recession from the rooftops. Credit ratings firm Fitch warned just yesterday that the U.S. economy will sink into a recession next spring.
Bloomberg economists now put the odds of a recession at 100 percent over the next year. 100 percent, that's pretty -- that's pretty confident. Then again, this is a news organization founded by a guy who spent a billion dollars of his own money on a presidential campaign that lasted just over 100 days. So maybe the confidence is in the DNA.
But in any case, it's not just El Bloombito, all the members of the billionaire boys clubs are worried. Here's Jamie Dimon, the CEO of JPMorgan Chase.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAMIE DIMON, JPMORGAN CHASE CEO: . I mean, Europe is already in recession. They're likely to put U.S. in some kind of recession six, nine months from now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: Here's David Solomon, the CEO of Goldman Sachs.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAVID SOLOMON, GOLDMAN SACHS CEO: Its good chance we could have a recession. I think you have to expect that there's more volatility on the horizon.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: To which one of the wealthiest men in the world Amazon founder Jeff Bezos responded, it is time to batten down the hatches.
But even more important than the recession fears of those sitting at the boardroom tables are the worries of those just trying to put food on their kitchen tables who were already struggling, given how inflation has been gobbling up bank accounts nationwide ahead of Thanksgiving.
The average cost of groceries is up 13 percent Since last September, eggs of more than 30 percent, cereal 16 percent, milk and cheese 15 percent with gas prices hovering at just about $4 per gallon on average, and they could soon rise again.
Now look, there are lots of reasons for inflation. But the one that Republicans point to dates back to 2021, when President Biden signed a bill to spend another nearly $2 trillion -- Trillion with a tri (ph), to continue to ease the pain of the pandemic. That legislation included hundreds of billions and direct checks to Americans.
At the time. It wasn't just Republicans, it was also former Clinton Treasury Secretary Larry Summers warning Biden, this might be too much spending. It could lead to the inflation that we're seeing now.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LARRY SUMMERS, FORMER TREASURY SECRETARY: I think policy is rather overdoing it. We're taking very substantial risks on the inflation side.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: But the Biden Administration poo pooed the inflation warnings.
TAPPER: Summers added this warning, "we're in more danger than we've been during my career of losing control of inflation in the U.S." Is he wrong?
JANET YELLEN, SECRETARY OF THE TREASURY: I think he's wrong. I don't think we're about to lose control of inflation.
TAPPER: But Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen was the one who was wrong. How do I know she was wrong? She said so to Wolf Blitzer.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Was it a mistake, madam secretary, to downplay this inflation risk? Did that contribute to the problems we're all seeing right now?
YELLEN: Well, look, I think I was wrong then about the path that inflation would take.
TAPPER: The basic idea people were being given money, but there were not enough goods for various reasons, including factory shutdown abroad, and that made the prices of those goods go up, hence, inflation. And we have been here before.
Take a trip with me back to the future. The year is 1974, the year that Nixon resigned. The number one song was Barbra Streisand, "The Way We Were."
TAPPER: The way we were was that inflation was at more than 12 percent. President Gerald Ford tried to come up with a slogan, "Whip Inflation Now, WIN", part of the WIN campaign these shiny red buttons. A way to inspire Americans to spend less, conserve energy. Spoiler alert, it didn't work. The campaign was marked as "one of the biggest government public relations blunders ever." So Ford lost an economic hard times continues.
Three short years later, President Jimmy Carter called for some American sacrifice to combat a natural gas shortage, all while dressed like Mr. Rogers,
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JIMMY CARTER, 39TH U.S. PRESIDENT: All of us must learn to waste less energy, simply by keeping our thermostats, for instance, at 65 degrees in the daytime, and 55 degrees at night.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: 55 at night. Good luck. I don't control the thermostat in my house. But I digress. A few years later, America's inflation rate hit a record high of 14.6 percent. Voters kicked President Carter out of the White House. And then there's President George H.W. Bush, whose presidency was eventually doomed by a recession in the early 90s, a recession that economists say could be the model for what they say we're about to experience.
Now we should point out, there are some significant differences. First, unemployment today is low, like really low, and wages are relatively high. And there are the complications that we didn't see in previous downturns such as in China where they've got some insanely strict COVID policies. One case can shut down an entire city and all of its factories. That clogs up the global supply chain, which might explain why my Philadelphia Eagles hoodie has been on backorder since last winter. And that was all before Putin's war in Ukraine started.
Now recession is a scary word. It sends us spiraling back into the deep dark hole of the economic crisis of 2008.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm pissed off. American people are getting screwed by the big banks, and I'm getting madder and madder.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's unbelievable.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: But economists are not warning about a sequel to "The Big Short", because that rating from Fitch that we talked about earlier, they're predicting a mild recession. Key word, mild. Now mild could still mean 10s of 1000s of Americans losing their jobs and small businesses closing and wage cuts, all of which doesn't feel particularly mild if it's happening to you. But big picture there's bad and then there's catastrophic and catastrophic is not in the forecast.
Now the politics of this are unavoidable. The economy is the single biggest issue of importance for voters, some of whom have already cast their ballots. You might think it makes sense for Democrats to avoid this scary subject altogether. Senator Bernie Sanders was on this show last Friday, however, implying the Democrats have spent too much time running away from this topic. Sanders thinks that's a losing strategy. In other words, he's channeling James Carville, who worked to get Clinton elected after the 1990 recession.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAMES CARVILLE, AMERICAN POLITICAL ASSISTANT: It's the economy stupid.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: It's the economy stupid, almost as important as the word economy in that sentence is the last word. His message to Democrats, who were not talking about the economy back then, that's who he was calling stupid.
Now one politician taking Carville's advice to focus on the economy is New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu, who is thriving in the Republican Party, despite once mocking Trump as effing crazy. How is that possible? We'll talk to him about it, next.
TAPPER: Welcome back. The midterm elections are now less than three weeks away and fears are growing among Democrats that the party could take a real beating. Why? Well, a number of reasons. But also because new poll numbers show voters are feeling particularly pessimistic about the state of the economy.
A recent New York Times CNN poll found that 44 percent of likely voters said that the economy and inflation are the most important issues facing the country. And look at the other numbers, the next top ranking issue is abortion, immigration, crime guns are all at 5 percent or less.
So what might that mean for candidates across the country? Well, Republicans are seeing a boost in polls in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, even New York as Americans continue to struggle with rising prices. When I talked to Senator Bernie Sanders last week, as I mentioned, don't assume that Republicans have the answers.
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (D-VT): And the irony here is, Republicans say -- you know, they talk about the economy, really not one of them is going to vote to raise the minimum wage to a living wage, not one of them is going to vote for legislation that makes it easier for workers to join unions, not one of them is going to vote to do what every other major country on Earth does, and guarantee health care for all people. Nor will they vote to raise taxes on billionaires at a time when the richest people in this country, in some cases, pay nothing in federal income tax. So I have to think the Republican line is phony and Democrats have got to respond. (END VIDEOTAPE)
TAPPER: With me to discuss the economic outlook and what it might mean for Democrats and Republicans is Republican New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu. Governor, good to see you, as always.
How do you respond to Bernie Sanders argument there? Republicans love to talk about the economy, but they never vote for legislation that would help working people such as raising the minimum wage?
GOV. CHRIS SUNUNU (R) NEW HAMPSHIRE: Such as cutting taxes, such as returning surpluses back to lower property taxes and create a more economic opportunity at home. Look, I don't think I have to tell your audience Bernie Sanders doesn't even represent the Democrat party, right? He's a socialist. So no, there's absolutely no answers there.
He thinks we should look to Europe, Europe is in worse shape than America is, for goodness sake. So, no, sorry Bernie you don't have the answers. Good fiscal hawks, fiscal discipline is what is going to help bring us through the recession.
And yes, the recession is real. We haven't even begun to felt the beginning of it. And I can explain why if you really want to. But '23, '24, '25, that's when things are going to get really, really tight. We're still going to have high wages, still going to have high energy costs, fuel costs, energy, gas cost, this is also going to be elevated under this democratic administration. And so this is a tough storm to be weathered here to be sure.
TAPPER: What do you mean, so what do you what do you think is going to happen and why?
SUNUNU: So look, everyone talks about the $5 trillion into the economy that has driven inflation, that's absolutely true. There's no doubt. What a lot of people don't realize, I think governors and, and a few of us who are actually in charge of allocating those dollars and spending of them, only a fraction has actually been spent, right. It's all been allocated. But the actual number of checks that have been cut is very minimal.
ARPA funds, all of this, that's all designed infrastructure, all designed to be spent into '24, '25 and '26. And so inflation is going to be very exacerbated for the next few years. And the recession is going to be very real. Never in American history and world history you get inflation like this not followed by a pretty severe recession. And so that's why you're going to need Republicans, fiscal hawks, folks that are managers willing to make tough decisions to make sure that it isn't government that comes first, it's individuals. And that kind of opportunity at a real community level.
TAPPER: So Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, generally speaking doesn't believe in introducing agendas for Republicans to run on. What do you think Republicans, assuming they control the House, and let's just -- why not let's just say they control the Senate, what should they do to improve economic conditions so that inflation comes down and we avoid a recession?
SUNUNU: So a couple of things. First, you do exactly what you're telling people you're going to do. You're going to put the top issues first. Not top issues for the politicians. It has to be the top issues for folks at home, which is why November is going to be very strong for Republicans, because it's about inflation and cost of fuel and cost of putting food on the table. Those things are very real.
So what do you do? First, you keep going with the quantitative tightening. The Treasury has to keep pulling back and buying back those assets. Those -- especially the some of those long term assets. Pull money out of the economy, is the only way to really get inflation under control.
Unfortunately, these rates are going to have to stay high for a decent amount of time, which is why I get so upset with Secretary Yellen. She knew what she was doing. She knew that at the end of the day the roosters -- the chickens had to come home to roost, so to say, and that interest rates would ultimately have to almost outpace inflation to get this thing under control.
And then understand that, you know, making sure that the dollars that have been allocated are really going to one-time spending, not increasing the size of governments. A lot of states you see bigger government programs and that's the absolute wrong thing to do, because you're increasing your long term liabilities on your local taxpayers.
We don't have sales tax here, we don't have income tax, we're getting rid of our interest and dividends tax and all of that. But at the end of the day, you need fiscal hawks that know how to take what they have, spend the dollars efficiently, and make sure that you're just creating opportunity at that localized level. And you can do that in Washington. They're not very good at it, traditionally, but the opportunity is absolutely there.
The last thing I want to jump on his workforce, workforce, workforce. That's the key to our economy, that doesn't really get fixed long term for America, until you deal with securing the border and creating a legal immigration system. The right type of system that lets folks come in the right way and really start allowing that process to happen in a safe and secure way.
You stop the humanitarian crisis, you stop the drugs at the border, but you let that the immigration flow in a legal way the way it should. That in itself can create a lot of opportunity for workforce for America.
TAPPER: So you mentioned energy costs. I've spent four winters in New Hampshire. One of the issues that people in New Hampshire are currently struggling with is the cost of heating in their home, they need heat in those New Hampshire winters. In some parts in New Hampshire, the cost of electricity doubled in the summer. What are you doing to address those rising costs?
SUNUNU: Yeah, so look, Green New Deal is an absolute disaster, everybody realizes that. You have to incentivize using our own fuels. New England's at the end of the natural gas pipeline, right, because all the natural gas goes up through New York into New England. And unfortunately, a lot of our surrounding states have shut down their natural gas plants and things that provide reliability into our system.
Renewables are great, you got to have a good balance of renewables, you got to keep growing that, but there has to be a transition into that process. So first thing, do no harm. Stop signing bad legislation, stop just signing things for political reasons. And look at your energy policy through the lens of the ratepayer, because it's those folks on the low incomes, the elderly, folks on pensions, they have -- every time they turn on a light switch, they pay that electricity subsidy to subsidize all the renewables just like everybody else. So it's not that you say no to it, but it's got to be the right balance.
In other words, we -- I love hydro, right. The river doesn't get shut off at night, the sun does go down, so solar isn't nearly as efficient as hydro. Or offshore wind, probably not great for Kansas, but probably a good opportunity for New Hampshire. So smart energy balances as opposed to politically driven and energy policy is the way to go.
TAPPER: So let's talk about the politics of this because your dad is John Sununu, who at one point, was the chief of staff to then President George H.W. Bush. The President Bush at the time, the first year of his presidency. He compromised with Democrats on a tax bill to try to help the economy. The U.S. still entered a recession in 1990. It hurt Bush in the midterms, he ultimately didn't get reelected.
Did you get any insight on any of this politically from your father? What it was like watching the economic headwinds come, and look, that recession is why he wasn't reelected.
SUNUNU: Yeah, look, I would say my political insight comes from my experience as governor. I'm a three term, hopefully going on a four term, Governor. You got to know you have to give a little to get a lot, right. And so you got to know where to push and pull. You got to bring the other side of the aisle into your office.
I had a discussion with a bunch of Senators when they were trying to get me to run for Senate a while ago. And they said, you know, well, you know, balancing the budget is really hard because you need 60 votes, and that's not going to happen. And I said, well, if you're sure you need 60 votes, then build the 60 vote plan. That means you're going to have to get some Democrats. Go build the plan that brings Democrats on board, find out what they want, give a little to get a lot. At the end of the day, you'll be rewarded for doing right by the American people.
Businesses have to balance the budget, individuals have to balance a budget, why shouldn't the government have to balance a budget. I have to balance a budget here in New Hampshire. So that kind of philosophy, going in with the understanding that when you take your obligation first, understand the responsibility of getting stuff done, that drives you to find that compromise. And you got to work with Democrats, the Democrats have to learn to work with Republicans.
TAPPER: Well, the guy -- you didn't run for Senate and the guy that is the nominee in New Hampshire, the Republican nominee is a guy named Don Bolduc, and you recently have embraced him. Even though during the primaries you call them a quote, "Conspiracy theory extremist" who's not a serious candidate last year. This is what Don Bolduc said about you.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DON BOLDUC (via telephone): He's a Chinese communist sympathizer. He's in business with Saudi Arabian companies that --
INTERVIEWER: He is?
BOLDUC (via telephone): That gives money to terrorist organization.
INTERVIEWER: Who is -- who is?
BOLDUC (via telephone): He's a globalist world government guy.
INTERVIEWER: Who is in business with Saudi --
BOLDUC (via telephone): I have political differences with him. He -- Waterville Valley is in business with Saudi Arabian companies.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: There's so much crazy in there, I don't even know how to unpack it. I should point out your family is the primary investor for Waterville Valley in New Hampshire. But now you're telling Republicans in your state to vote for him? This guy is not all there.
SUNUNU: Well, look, I'm supporting the Republican ticket up and down, because you know, who's not there any of my Democratic Congressional delegation? They're literally not here. They literally spend years. Hassan has spent -- literally spent years out of state.
TAPPER: You know, I'm not talking about his -- I'm not talking about the physical presence. I'm not talking about his physical presence. He was a staunch --
SUNUNU: No, I know --
TAPPER: -- a liar. Before he before he won the primary, he was an election liar. Then he drastically swapped his position once he won the nomination, and realized, oh my god, there's a bunch of sane people in New Hampshire I have to appeal to. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DON BOLDUC (R) NEW HAMPSHIRE U.S. SENATE CANDIDATE: I signed a letter with 120 other generals and admirals saying that Trump won the election and dammit, I stand by my words. BOLDUC: I've done a lot of research on this. And I've spent in the past couple of weeks talking to Granite Staters all over the state from every party, and I have come to the conclusion and I want to be definitive on this. The election was not stolen.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: I think he's actually since backtracked on that, too. But look, Governor Sununu, you're a you're a sane Republican. At a time when a lot of people are looking for sane Republicans. Are you hurting the cause of sane Republicans when you embrace people like that?
SUNUNU: No, look, this is about having folks in Washington, DC that put New Hampshire first. Was the election stolen? Of course, it wasn't stolen. That's nonsense, absolute nonsense, and it's great to see him actually backtrack on that. But that isn't the issue folks are going to vote on. Mar-a-Lago is not the issue folks are going to vote on. The people vote in their own self-interest, as they should, right. We shall be a little bit selfish with our vote.
What's best for my family, what's best for my business, my opportunities, that's what a good vote is all about. And that's why again, I Don Bolduc is going to win this race. You have to be present, you have to be in the state, you have to understand these issues and be willing to make tough decisions.
I mean, the guy is a war hero. So he's making connections with folks who are otherwise other candidates don't and as our sitting Senator definitely doesn't. Senator Hassan doesn't. So there's a lot of opportunity. I'm supporting the Republican ballot up and down as the Republican governor. I don't think that shocks anybody. Right?
So at the end of the day, you got to be talking about the issues that matter to the voters. I know the press likes to talk about all this other stuff, but at the end of the day the voters are going to vote on who can deliver the most opportunity for their families, and by and large it's going to be Republicans.
TAPPER: Economy is important, Democracy is important too. Live free or die. Governor Chris Sununu, good to see you.
SUNUNU: Yeah. Good to see you, buddy.
TAPPER: It's deposition day for Donald Trump in a long running defamation lawsuit lodged by Writer E. Jean Carroll. Did Trump answer any questions today or did he take the Fifth? What does that all mean? We'll tell you next.
TAPPER: Earlier today Donald Trump sat for a deposition under oath. For now only a few select people know if Trump actually answered any questions or if he caught another case of, let's call it forgetfulness. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, 45TH U.S. PRESIDENT: I don't remember that. I don't remember the names. I don't know that I've said it. I don't -- I don't know. I don't know the answers. I mean I don't remember.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: By the way, that's the guy who once claimed to have the "world's greatest memory".
Speaking under oath in 2015 for a deposition about Trump University, that's the case that ended with Trump agreeing to a $25 million settlement.
But today Trump is facing a defamation lawsuit brought by former magazine columnist Writer E. Jean Carroll. Carroll claims that he raped her in the mid-90s. But this case isn't about that alleged assault. It's about comments Trump made about Carroll once she made the accusation. He said he never met her. He said she's totally lying. And he said she wasn't his type.
The reality is, even as Trump fights one defamation case, he's weaponizing defamation claims against others, including suing CNN for calling his lies, well, lies. I'm joined now by Ken Turkel, who represented both Sarah Palin and Hulk Hogan in their respective lawsuits against the New York Times for Palin and Gawker for Hulk Hogan.
Ken, thanks so much for being here. We really appreciate it.
KEN TURKEL, ATTORNEY FOR SARAH PALIN IN SUIT AGAINST THE NEW YORK TIMES: Good to be here.
TAPPER: It's good to see you. So Jean Carroll says she plans to sue Trump next month about the sexual assault claims. What are the chances that his answers in a defamation case might be used against him in that case?
TURKEL: So you've got this new law up in New York that's reviving statute of limitations. So what's interesting about this, she get these attributes of the two cases with a pending defamation case. Five years ago, when the MeToo cases were coming, that wasn't as strange, but this is a new vibe.
Of course, the answers are going to matter. They're going to matter for that case. You know, theoretically, if there was ever a criminal investigation, they matter for that. In other words, if it was fresh, and you were alleging rape, and the police were involved, you would take five on that all day. So yeah, of course, they matter. I'm not sure that there's any real strategy not to answer them in the context of to civil case.
TAPPER: Right. I would imagine that he just denied that he -- he didn't have a case of amnesia. That he actually said, no, it didn't happen, it didn't happen, it didn't happen. I can't think of anything else that make -- would make sense. But you're the lawyer tell me.
TURKEL: He's kind of all in on this one. In the sense that the public comments he made on social, but it's a very, he said she said thing I never knew her.
TURKEL: That's a hard one to get away from. Right?
TURKEL: If you qualify something, you may have a little wiggle room, a memory loss thing or I confused. But when you say I never knew her in the context of the accusations being made, you are playing a zero sum, he said she said credibility game to a jury.
TAPPER: So we're in an era now where there's -- it seems like there's a lot of defamation cases in the media. Johnny Depp and Amber Heard's divorce ended up with back and forth defamation claims. Blac Chyna lost her five year fight against the Kardashians over canceled reality show. Why do we seem to be in this new era of high profile defamation cases?
TURKEL: It's a great question. It's a great question. I'm answering literally every week now somewhere. Let's -- I was just talking to Laura about this. I was on her show a few times. Talking about Depp- Heard, talking about Alex Jones.
Let's pull away first and say are they defamation cases, because my position on Depp-Heard was that it wasn't really a defamation case. It was like counter allegations of domestic violence.
TURKEL: You didn't really hear talks about speech about public figure standards or provable falsity. You just had all this kind of mudslinging. Alex Jones took a default judgment on both cases, Texas and Connecticut. Meaning liability was not an issue. We weren't discussing First Amendment parameters, principles. There wasn't a hard dive on it. So are those really speech cases? All right.
We call them speech cases, because we know that that's what was the genesis of the claim. The issue, though, of why they're going to trial to me is the more fascinating one. And what I'm seeing I'm grassroots level, this is what I do.
TURKEL: Palin was a speech case. I mean, we were deep dive on actual analysis, deep dive on basic First Amendment principles there, motion practice, appeals, reversals? I think, and this is just gut feeling grassroot level, the judges are seeing more and more of what technology is doing in that arena, so be it with privacy, the interrelationship. And so what's happening is, they're putting Jake it was unheard of 20 years to try this many speech cases. I think the New York Times hadn't had to try a libel case. Jury trial one in something like 28 years before he tried Palin. All right?
You've seen four. And let's call them speech cases for argument's sake. OK? They involve speech, at least as a genesis of the claim. I think what you're seeing is a judge's recognition that like, enough is enough, right. There's all this noise out there. We're going to start developing some law here.
TURKEL: I think we have to for a lot of reasons.
TAPPER: Ken Turkel, very interesting. Thank you so much. Good to see you.
TURKEL: Thanks for having me here.
TAPPER: President Biden, now facing a very different type of lawsuit, this one for the laying the release of 1000s of secret government files that might shed light on the 1960s -- shed light on the 1963 assassination of President John F. Kennedy. What is still hidden? Why? Will we ever get to see it? That's next.
TAPPER: Tonight President Biden is facing mounting legal pressure over a mysterious action he took last year. Biden postponed the release of a final trove of 16,000 records related to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, nearly 60 years since the tragedy.
JFK's murder remains a source of tremendous intrigue. So much so that the Mary Ferrell Foundation, the nation's largest online source of JFK assassination records, is now suing President Biden and the National Archives demanding they release these remaining documents. The lawsuit also alleges that the Feds have unlawfully redacted other previously released records, and the law might be on their side.
Back in 1992, then President George H.W. Bush signed off on the JFK Records Act which required that all related documents be made public by October 26, 2007. Five years ago. The National Archives says at least 88 percent of the collection has already been released to the public since the 1990s. As for the remaining 12 percent, well, it was President Donald Trump who delayed some of it, citing national security reasons, while Biden last year blamed the Pandemic for slowing down the review process. The delay has prompted historians and transparency advocates, and even some members of the Kennedy family, to question the government's motives.
Here's what Robert Kennedy Jr., the Son and namesake of JFK, his brother told NBC News. "It was a momentous crime, a crime against American democracy and the American people have the right to know. It's bizarre. It's been almost 60 years since my uncle's death. What are they hiding?" Good question.
His cousin former Rhode Island Congressman Patrick Kennedy, told POLITICO that the record should be released not because of his family, but because, "American citizens have the right to know about something that left such a scar in this nation's soul. For the good of the country. Everything has to be put out there. So there's greater understanding of our history."
So many questions remain, mainly whether the accused shooter Lee Harvey Oswald, indeed, acted alone. Remember, in 1976, a House Select Committee on Assassinations said, "It believes on the basis of the evidence available to it, that President John F. Kennedy was probably assassinated as a result of a conspiracy." But, the committee said, "they're unable to identify the other gunmen, or the extent of the Conspiracy."
Do these unreleased files shed any light on that conclusion? We don't know what the documents will reveal. But it's clear that even as the CIA vows to adhere to a December 15 release date, the Foundation does not believe that the Biden Administration is going to stick to its word. What are you hiding? Release the documents. All right.
So moving on, it's Wednesday, also known as hump day, two days before the weekend, which means --
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm just feel like, I'm excited and I feel relaxed and I'm ready, chill, party.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: Me too. We're going to give you a much needed dose of relaxation with the Director of Bridesmaids, Paul Feig. He's here to tell us all about his new project that dropped on Netflix today. That's next.
TAPPER: There's a brand new movie that's challenging the idea of what it means to be a hero and what it means to be a villain. It's called "The School for Good and Evil", and features Charlize Theron, Kerry Washington and Michelle Yeoh, among others. It just dropped on Netflix earlier today.
It's based on the book series by Soman Chainani. The film centers around two best friends who discover were the children of famous fairytale legends such as King Arthur and Captain Hawk are being trained on how to be villains or heroes.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What is this all about?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Can you actually do me a favor? I was long overdue from makeover. If you wouldn't mind activating my powers? I'd be most grateful. Thank you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: It's a lot of fun. You can watch it with your kids. Behind this female driven film is Paul Feig one of my favorite writers and directors. And writer and director Paul Feig joins me now. Paul, so good to see you. You are known for movies such as the revamp of Ghostbusters, Bridesmaid, The Heat? This does seem like a real departure. What was it about the book, "The School for Good and Evil" that interested you?
PAUL FEIG: Well, first of all, it's funny because people say it was a departure. But it's really just freaks and geeks with magic. Do think about Jake.
TAPPER: That's funny.
FEIG: But I really -- you know, I responded to the story of these two young women. I love any stories about female friendship, because I feel like that's a dynamic that doesn't get portrayed as accurately as all the, you know, the women who I'm friends with, and their friendships are so strong. And yet I feel like when I see female friendship in movies, it's usually, you know, them fighting or whatever. And I just love the message of how strong their friendship is and how the friendship actually saves them at the end of the day.
TAPPER: Well, that is that is the one way it did not seem a departure for me. That it is about two young women and their friendship and also has Charlize Theron and Kerry Washington as older women with a relationship. You've been called Hollywood's accidental feminist for choosing to focus so many projects on so many female driven films with Melissa McCarthy with Kristen Wiig. Why is producing and directing films with all female leads, why is it important to you?
FEIG: Because I've watched movies for so long. And you know, when I was a kid, I watched a lot of movies from the 30s and 40s, with my mom. And the male and female roles were very equal, you know, they were really on the same footing.
And then over the years, watching them from the 70s on, I just watched women's roles get really one dimensional, especially in comedy. You know, they just became the foils for the funny guys, or they were like the mean girlfriend or the overbearing wife. And I have friends who are famous -- you know, famous comedians or actresses who would be in these movies, I'd be so excited to see them, and then they wouldn't be funny. They would just have to be mean, and I just -- it drove me crazy.
And so I just -- and I also just like telling women's stories. I think I was bullied as a kid. And so all my friends tended to be -- I just run over to the girls table, and like talk to them and all my friends were just -- women and I was very close with my mom. So it all kind of comes around to just going like I just feel more comfortable telling women's stories.
TAPPER: Well, and they're also -- I mean, those Melissa McCarthy movies and -- I mean, there's so funny, and it's such a crime, that there aren't more of them. You've said that you see this film -- and it does play a lot with archetypes.
I mean, I just thinking about it when Agatha, who's in the school for good is learning how to smile or when her best friend who's in the school for evil, is learning be ugly, it doesn't matter what you look like, because it will allow you to use your brain. You're like, huh, you're really playing with the villain hero or heroine roles. You've said, you see this as an anti-Disney?
FEIG: Yeah, very much. So, you know, people always ask me, like, what's your favorite fairy tale? I actually really didn't like fairy tales. When I was a kid. First of all, I found them either too scary, or they were too simplistic. There's just no nuance between these characters. And I really don't like the idea of this person is all good, this person is all bad. I mean, you know, we see where that gets us today in our country.
And I really liked it, this story kind of mixes that up. And I really like stereotypes and archetypes are fun to introduce. So people like they think they know what they're going to get and think they know what's going to happen, and then you start to mix it up and put the gray areas in and then -- you know, then it's like real life. Because you know, at the end of the day, as Agatha says, We're all just human.
TAPPER: Yeah. And you had some CGI in Ghostbusters, but you have a ton of it in this film. We're going to show a little bit of it right now. How different was it directing a film like this. It seems like a lot of your films and TV work, which is about comedy, it seems to have at least a lot of improv, especially with Melissa McCarthy and Kristen Wiig. How much of a departure was this as a writer and as a director?
FEIG: Not too much, actually. I mean, I really -- I have CG fatigue from movies, you know, of the past 10 years, and more. And so with this movie, even though we have a lot of CG, I tried to do as much practical as we could.
So the CG is almost laid on top of real things that people are acting with. Like when you see the Wish Fish Girl coming out of there, you know, there's that we're actually pulling a real girl out of there. Then we put the fish over her. But the sets were all real. I mean, we made sure not to do green screen sets.
And when we had some of the creatures that are, you know, big creatures that we had to do with CG, we would still build giant puppets, like these green screen puppets. And we had a puppeteer named Mikey would put on the green screen suit, and he had to fly around with this and act it out, so that I know what I'm acting.
And then when I'm shooting, and the actors are actually acting against something that the right size and not just acting against tennis balls. Because I think, you know, that's the sad thing when you're just on a green screen set and you're acting against nothing. Then I can't keep track of that and God knows the actors can't.
TAPPER: It seems like you really let Charlize Theron as the head of the evil school and Kerry Washington as the head of the good school. You really let them have fun with their characters. What was it like working with these powerhouses, these icons?
TAPPER: Well, it was great. I mean, I worked with Charlize when I directed Arrested Development. I did two episodes with her when we actually had her walking on water across the pool. So once you make Charlize walk across water, you're in.
But no, she's great. She has such a great sense of humor. And we were always looking for something to do after that. And when I read this script, I was just like, she can just embrace this sort of evil -- evilness with a deliciousness that I know she could bring to it.
And then carry, well, we've been trying to work together for a long time. And I know how funny she has, because when I watched her as host of Saturday Night Live a few years ago, I was like, she was really funny. So my favorite thing is to find people who -- people don't -- actors who people don't think have can do one thing or are funny, and then get -- let them do that.
You know, and she just brought -- she was so happy playing Professor W because she could really just bring out all her shades and she was just a wonderful.
TAPPER: So Freaks and Geeks show that launched you and Judd Apatow, and so many others, Jason Segel and Seth Rogen, and too many to name, honestly. It's such a shame, it was such a great show. When you look back on it, I mean, it's hard to argue that it was a failure because you and Judd and everyone else is so hugely successful. But -- I mean, but do you look back on it with sorrow? What do you think of when you think about it 20 years later?
FEIG: Yeah. I mean, I making it was -- I was -- I had such a great time. But it was really hard. I mean, we put -- I really put my heart and soul into it as everybody did. You know, and we got great reviews. We had glowing reviews, but we were always the bottom rated show on NBC at the time, which does show you how TV has changed.
We had 7 million viewers every week. So today we will be a giant hit with that. But it was devastating when he when he get canceled. My mom had just died like a week before -- or actually two days before we got canceled. So, yeah, so it was kind of a one-two punch.
And that sad thing is back then when you got canceled, you were gone. I mean, there was no streaming to go out on. They weren't going to put you out on DVD. So it's just like, OK, this show didn't exist anymore. But fortunately four years later we got Shout! Factory to put up the DVDs and that that kind of brought us back. So once we were back and people could see it, I was able to relax a little bit, and go OK it's not so sad.
TAPPER: The scene where Jason Segel sings lady is still one of the most upsetting -- one of the most upsetting and true to life stories about a teenager that ever existed.
FEIG: Very cringe -- Cringetastic as we like to call it.
TAPPER: Yeah. Paul Feig, thank you so much. Congratulations.
FEIG: Thanks, Jake. I really appreciate it.
TAPPER: And we'll be right back.
TAPPER: Thanks so much for joining us tonight. You can follow me on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and the TikTok @JakeTapper.
Tomorrow we're going to talk to Florida former Governor Jeb Bush. I have not seen much of him since the 2016 presidential campaign. We got a lot to talk to him about in terms of education, his passion, and the many issues facing schools, students, parents teachers today, COVID, book banning affirmative action in college admissions that's being debated in front of the Supreme Court. That's tomorrow at 9:00 Eastern.