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State of the Union

White House Mocks McCain's Brain Cancer; Interview With U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton; Interview With Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders; Mother's Day Advice From Former First Ladies. Aired 9- 10a ET

Aired May 13, 2018 - 09:00   ET




JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Historic summit.

President Trump touts his upcoming meeting with Kim Jong-un.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The relationship is good. I think it is going to be a very big success.

TAPPER: And welcomes home American prisoners freed by North Korea.

TRUMP: We want to thank Kim Jong-un. He was nice in letting them go.

TAPPER: But can the North Korean dictator be trusted?

And on message? President Trump delivers on a campaign promise.

TRUMP: The United States will withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal.

TAPPER: As legal troubles and contradictions distract the president. Will the drama overshadow his foreign policy efforts?

National Security Adviser John Bolton is here next.

Plus: defending decency. Lawmakers from both parties are outraged after a White House aide makes a crass comment about Senator John McCain.

SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I'm not going to comment on an internal staff meeting.

TAPPER: McCain's Senate colleague Bernie Sanders will be here.


TAPPER: Hello. I'm Jake Tapper in Washington, where the state of our union is global.

President Trump is trying to keep the focus on his major international moves, as unforced errors from his own White House compete for attention with foreign policy. The president took to Twitter Saturday to call former President

Obama's Iran deal -- quote -- "a big lie" and point to a new announcement from North Korea, saying -- quote -- "North Korea has announced that they will dismantle test site this month ahead of the big summit meeting on June 12. Thank you. A very smart and gracious gesture" -- unquote.

International stability may now depend upon President Trump's negotiating prowess. And the president is gearing up for another major foreign policy week. Monday, he will appear by video at the opening of the new U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem, as foreign ministers from Germany, France, and the U.K. plan to meet without the United States to try and save the Iran nuclear deal.


TAPPER: And here to discuss, President Trump's national security adviser, Ambassador John Bolton.

Ambassador Bolton, thanks so much for joining us. Appreciate it.


TAPPER: So, we have a lot of topics to get to.

I want to start with the Iran deal.

It took a decade of worldwide sanctions against Iran to get Iran to come to the table to make this deal, which I know you and the president feel is inadequate.

Can you explain to me how you're going to be able to get Iran to agree to a new tougher deal without the participation in sanctions of China and Russia and Europe?

BOLTON: Well, I think you have to start first with the fundamental deficiencies of the deal itself.

It would not stop Iran from getting nuclear weapons. Quite the contrary, it provided cover for Iran to continue its efforts. And if it continued, it would have given Iran extraordinary economic benefits, without any guarantees of Iranian performance.

So, the rationale for getting out of the deal is that it was contrary to American national security interests when we entered into it, and it hadn't gotten any better with age.

TAPPER: Can I just -- can I just -- for one second?

When you saying it provided cover for them to create an -- a nuclear program, you're talking about the sunset provisions that allow Iran -- I'm just seeking clarity here -- that allow Iran in seven or eight years to commence again a nuclear energy program?

BOLTON: Well, I think the sunset provisions were clearly a mistake. But I think Iran had never made a strategic decision to give up nuclear weapons. I think it was testing the limits of the deal's provisions, exceeding them in some cases. Its ballistic missile program, which continued essentially unchecked, was proof that what they were seeking was delivery systems for the nuclear weapons.

So, the president has to make a decision where America's national interests lie. And it did not lie in continuing this deal.

Now, the consequence of the United States getting out of it is to reimpose all American sanctions as they were before the deal came into effect. And I think what we've seen is that Iran's economic condition is really quite shaky, so that the effect here could be dramatic.

And I think there's another important point here that the president has made. Because of the deal, Iran was able to take advantage of turmoil in the region to advance its interests all across the Middle East, in Iraq, in Syria, in Lebanon, in Yemen, so that the consequences of being able to sell Iranian oil without restriction on the international market were providing them resources not just for their nuclear program, not just as the world's central banker of international terrorism, but conventional hostilities across the region as well.

TAPPER: OK, so I take your point on that.

But, still, the United States imposing economic sanctions is a far cry from the United States and China and Russia and Europe imposing economic sanctions. The U.S. essentially, at least as of now, going it alone, how will that force Iran back to the table?


BOLTON: But we're not going it alone.

We have the support of Israel. We have the support of the Arab oil- producing monarchies and many others. And the consequences of American sanctions go well beyond goods shipped by American companies, because of our technology licenses to many other countries and businesses around the world.

As those sanctions kick in, it will have an even broader effect as well.

TAPPER: So, President Trump said this week that -- quote -- "Any nation that helps Iran in its quest for nuclear weapons could also be strongly sanctioned by the United States."

Is the United States going to sanction European companies that do business with Iran?

BOLTON: I think the issue here is what the Europeans are going to do.

If they're going to see that it's not in their interest to stay in the deal -- we're going to have to watch what the Iranians do. They'd love to stay in the deal. Why shouldn't they? They got everything they wanted from the Obama administration.

But I think the Europeans will see that it's in their interest, ultimately, to come long with us.

TAPPER: With all due respect, I've been speaking to European diplomats. And that's not the impression I get. They -- they...

BOLTON: Well, that's not the -- that's not the impression now, because...

TAPPER: They say they're going to stay in the deal.

BOLTON: And -- and they may try to do so, in -- in part because, I think, despite the complete consistency of President Trump in his opposition to the deal, opposed to it as candidate Trump, opposed to it as president-elect Trump, opposed to it as President Trump, many people, including apparently former Secretary of State John Kerry thought that we never would get out of it.

Now, I don't know how to explain why people could miss what the president was saying. So, I think, at the moment, there's some feeling in Europe that they're really surprised we got out of it, really surprised at the reimposition of strict sanctions.

I think that will sink in. And we'll see what happens then. The president's very clear he wants to discuss the larger threat posed by Iran around the region. And this is what he discussed with President Macron. He's talked about it with Chancellor Merkel. He's talked about it with Prime Minister May, not just Iran's nuclear threat now, the threat in the future, the ballistic missile programs, and the instability that Iran is causing around the region.

TAPPER: Right.

But, with all due respect, I didn't get an answer to the question.

Is the U.S. going to impose sanctions on European companies that continue to do business with Iran?

BOLTON: I -- I think I did give the answer, and the answer...

TAPPER: But you said, we'll see.

BOLTON: The answer is, it's possible.

TAPPER: It's possible.

BOLTON: It depends on the conduct of other governments.


You've repeatedly pushed, before you were National Security Adviser, for regime change in Iran. I know that that is not the current position of the United States government. But are you behind the scenes pushing for it to become the position of the United States government, regime change? BOLTON: Look, let me make a general subject on that statement that

I've made on other competing networks of yours.

I've written and said a lot of things over the years when I was a complete free agent. I certainly stand by what I said at the time.

But -- but those were my opinions then. The -- the circumstance I'm in now is that I'm the national security adviser to the president. I'm not the national security decision-maker. He makes the decisions, and the advice I give him is between us.

TAPPER: Is it fair to anticipate that the advice you're giving is matched with the advice that you gave the United States when you were a free agent?

BOLTON: See my previous answer.

TAPPER: Well, let me ask you about another thing you've pushed for in the past, which is a preemptive strike against Iran's nuclear facilities.

What might prompt such a preemptive strike by the U.S. government?

BOLTON: Same question. Same answer.

TAPPER: Well, this is not theoretical. I mean, it's possible that Iran is going to resume its nuclear weapons program, given the United States withdrawing from the deal.

A warning to the Iranians about what they cannot do without risking a preemptive strike is certainly within your current bailiwick.

BOLTON: Right, but I'm not going to speculate on what those -- what those steps might be.

The president has, I think, very clear policies now both with respect to North Korea and Iran. Those are the policies we're pursuing.

TAPPER: Just yesterday, an Iranian military commander told reporters that Trump's decision would -- quote -- "speed up the annihilation of Israel."

Now, Iran is obviously a bad actor in the region, and Iran is responsible for its own behaviors. But I wonder, do you think the U.S. withdrawing from this deal has changed the calculus of the thinking of the military commanders and other leaders in Iran as to be more aggressive when it comes to cyber-attacks, attacking Israel or whatever?

BOLTON: Well, I think they've been plenty aggressive enough under the deal. That's part of the problem.

If you look at the enhancement of Iran's strategic position in Iraq, in Syria, in Lebanon, the arc of control that they're seeking to construct with conventional forces all the way from Iran to the Mediterranean, if you look at what they're doing in Yemen to support the Houthi rebels, to gain a position of control there behind the lines, in effect, of Saudi Arabia and the other oil-producing monarchies, they have used the obsession with the nuclear deal to continue to expand and threaten dominance throughout the Middle East.

I think getting out of the deal says to Iran, those happy days are over, from the U.S. perspective.


TAPPER: Let's turn to North Korea and the summit between President Trump and Kim Jong-un, now less than a month away.

I want to talk about the goals of this meeting. North Korea said it intends to denuclearize. President Trump was asked recently what that means to him.

Take a listen.


QUESTION: On North Korea, you said you believe in complete denuclearization. What does that mean exactly?

TRUMP: It means they get rid of their nukes. Very simple. They get rid of their nukes. And nobody else would say it.


TAPPER: OK, obviously there's a little bit more when it comes to the demands that would be met in an actual summit. There's missile capabilities. There's -- there's uranium enrichment. There's international inspections.

Can you clarify, heading into these negotiations, exactly what does complete denuclearization mean?

BOLTON: Well, I think the phrase that we've used and continued to use is complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization.

You -- you can look at some other commitments that North Korea made in the past and didn't live up to as -- as helping to define what that means.

For example, in the 1992 joint North-South denuclearization agreement, North Korea committed to give up both the front and the back ends of the nuclear fuel cycle, both uranium enrichment and plutonium reprocessing.

So, on the denuclearization side itself, that means all aspects of their nuclear program.

Clearly, the ballistic missile program, as with Iran, with the intention of being a delivery system for nuclear weapons, that has got to go. I think we need to look at their chemical and biological weapons programs as well. The president is going to raise other issues, the Japanese abductees, the South Korean citizens who were kidnapped.

So, there are a lot of issues to discuss. Secretary Pompeo, in his successful trip to Pyongyang, just returned last week, foreshadowed that. We'll look to see if there are discussions in the next few weeks that lay it out in more detail.

But it's an ambitious program. And that's why it's important to test whether, in fact, North Korea has made a strategic decision to give up weapons of mass destruction.

TAPPER: Ambassador Bolton, stay right there.

I have more questions for you about North Korea and more, including how President Trump is preparing for his meeting with Kim Jong-un.

Stay with us.





TAPPER: And we're back with U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton.

Ambassador Bolton, we were just talking before the break about the summit with North Korea.

I know that you and President Trump have made it very clear that reducing American troops in South Korea is not on the table. So, what is the U.S. prepared to offer North Korea in exchange for denuclearization?

Is it just sanctions relief? Might there be an embassy in Pyongyang? Might there be economic aid?

BOLTON: Well, I wouldn't look for economic aid from us. I think what the prospect of -- for North Korea is to become a normal nation, to behave and interact with the rest of the world, the way South Korea does.

And, if you've ever looked at a map of the Korean Peninsula at night or a picture of the North Korean Peninsula at night, the contrast between North and South Korea is the most stark of any...

TAPPER: Lights. Darkness.

BOLTON: Exactly. You can't tell North Korea from the Yellow Sea or the Sea of Japan on either side of it.

So the prospect for North Korea is unbelievably strong, if they'll commit to denuclearization. That's -- that's what -- that's what the president is going to say. I think the vision is clear. And we'll whether Kim Jong-un is up to it.

TAPPER: A great moment a few nights ago, when Secretary of State Mike Pompeo brought back the three American prisoners from North Korea.

I do want to point out, in 2009, when former President Bill Clinton went to North Korea during the Obama years to argue for the release of two American journalists who had been captured by the North Koreans, you wrote a "Washington Post" opinion piece -- quote -- "In Pyongyang's view, the two reporters are pawns in the larger game of enhancing the regime's legitimacy and gaining direct access to important U.S. figures. So, the Clinton trip is a significant propaganda victory for North Korea, whether or not he carried an official message from President Obama."

Was that different from what Secretary of State Pompeo did, bringing home these three detainees? Was that not also a propaganda victory?

BOLTON: Well, it's a fair question.

But the answer is, it is completely different, because of the presence, maximum pressure campaign. North Korea has come to a point that they never reached under any prior president. And I think what they did here was concede that holding these three Americans as pawns in a propaganda game wasn't getting them anywhere.

So, they came out without precondition. It was the right thing to do. But it's really because of the different policies that North Korea faces from the United States, I think, that they made that decision.

TAPPER: Don't President Bush and President Obama deserve at least some credit for imposing economic sanctions against North Korea that, in tandem with what President Trump did, helped created this moment?

BOLTON: Well, let's be clear. From the U.S. perspective, there have been stringent economic sanctions against North Korea ever since the Korean War.

TAPPER: Right.

BOLTON: But...

TAPPER: But they've gotten worse and worse.

BOLTON: What we've done internationally over the years is ratchet up the pressure. But they've never reached the level, particularly of Chinese cooperation, that Kim Jong-un has faced.

And I think the combined effect of all that, together with having a wretched internal economy to begin with, has brought us to the point we're at now.

TAPPER: How is President Trump preparing for this summit?

Obviously, he is somebody who prides himself in deal-making, but sitting across the table from Kim Jong-un is going to be more -- different from anything he's encountered, much different from Chuck Schumer, much different from Nancy Pelosi. I mean, I can't even...

BOLTON: I'm sure they'd be glad to hear that too.


TAPPER: But -- I don't think you disagree with it.

But -- but, I mean, this is something that -- that he's never faced before.

BOLTON: Well, and neither has any other American president.

TAPPER: Right.

BOLTON: So, his preparations have actually been extensive already.

He's talking to a lot of different people, foreign leaders. He had an extensive conversation with Xi Jinping of China earlier this week.

He's consulting with -- with all of his advisers.

You know, I -- I've been on the job about five weeks. I would say that Iran and North Korea probably have taken up over half of my time. And a lot of that obviously is -- is helping him make the decisions and get ready for these meetings.

So, I think his preparations are very intense. People have said, well, you can't prepare in such a short time for such a momentous meeting.

I -- I had exactly the opposite reaction when I first heard about it. There's real utility in bringing these two leaders together. Let them see each other and decide in our case whether we judge that Kim Jong- un has made a strategic decision to give up nuclear weapons.


Dragging this out just gives the North Koreans more time, if they are dissembling, to continue to make progress on their ballistic missile and nuclear programs.

Let's get the two leaders together and see what happens.

TAPPER: Let me be optimistic and say that he achieves some sort of treaty agreement.

Is it then worth President Trump bringing it to Congress to affirm the treaty, to vote the treaty into law, which would, of course, be a complete contrast with the way President Obama negotiated the Iran deal, and would -- and would give it the added benefit of making it so the next president can't undo it?

BOLTON: Well, it's entirely possible we'd proceed that way. We're still thinking about the different alternatives.

I wouldn't want to foreclose the president's options. But it's been one of the criticisms of the Iran nuclear deal, to be sure, that a -- that a deal of that level of consequence was not given to the Senate, as many people think the constitution provided.

TAPPER: I want to ask you about Senator John McCain.

In a private meeting this week at the White House, the information leaked out, Special Assistant to the President Kelly -- Kelly Sadler reportedly joked that his -- McCain's opposition to CIA nominee Gina Haspel didn't matter -- quote -- "because he's dying anyway."

As you know, Senator McCain is battling brain cancer right now.

It's a pretty horrific remark.

You've worked with Senator John McCain. My understanding is, you have a decent relationship with him. How do you feel about that comment. And -- and why won't the White House apologize?

BOLTON: Look, I -- I wasn't in that meeting. I don't know what was said or what was done.

I will just say this. John McCain, he came to my defense in 2005 when my nomination for the U.N. Ambassador was under criticism. He -- he and I didn't know very -- each other very well at the time. We certainly didn't agree on each and every position that he or I had taken.

But he spent countless hours trying to help me out. And much of it was behind the scenes. There was no political upside for John McCain in that effort at all, but he did it because he thought I was being treated unfairly.

I will never forget it. I will be grateful forever. And I wish John McCain and his family nothing but the best.

TAPPER: Meghan McCain said, "The thing that surprises me most is, I don't understand what kind of environment Kelly Sadler's working in, when that would be acceptable, and she could come to work the next day and still have a job."

BOLTON: I've just given you my view.

TAPPER: But doesn't the White House have an obligation to apologize for this horrific remark?

BOLTON: I -- I've said what I'm going to say on the subject.

TAPPER: All right.

Ambassador John Bolton, we really appreciate your time. Thanks so much. We hope you'll come back.

BOLTON: Glad to be with you.

(END VIDEOTAPE) TAPPER: Democrats are expressing confidence about victory in November

in the midterms, but are there new signs that the so-called blue wave turned into a blue trickle?

We will talk to Senator Bernie Sanders next. Stay with us.



TAPPER: Welcome back to STATE OF THE UNION. I'm Jake Tapper.

CNN's latest polling shows President Trump's approval rating at 41 percent. That's pretty much where it's been all year.

But here comes the number that really got our attention. Fifty-seven percent of Americans polled say things in the country are going well. We have not seen that high a number on that question and that much optimism since way back in January 2007, more than 10 years ago.

What does that mean for Democrats heading into the midterms in 2020?

Joining me now, independent Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, who caucuses with the Democrats.

Senator, thanks for joining us.

I want to start with that new poll number. The midterms are now fewer than six months away. The economy is stronger. We are at virtually full employment. Why would anyone want to vote for change right now?

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I), VERMONT: Well, I think what you have is a president who promised the American people to provide health care to everybody, and then proceeded to support legislation to throw 32 million people off of health insurance.

And most Americans think that health care should be a right of all people. We're moving in exactly the wrong direction.

You have a president, Jake, who said that his tax reform bill would not help the rich. Yet 83 percent of the benefits are going to the top 1 percent, and millions of middle-class families over a 10-year period will be paying more in taxes.

You have a president who campaigned, appropriately enough, on the outrageous ripoffs of the pharmaceutical industry, and he said he was going to take them on. And just the other day, he caved in, of course, and did not go forward in demanding that we negotiate -- Medicare negotiate prices with the drug companies or that we allow our pharmacists and distributors to re-import low-cost medicine from abroad.

So, I think what the American people perceive is, you have a president who says one thing and does another thing. And the fact is that we have -- while the economy is doing well, you have tens of millions of people who continue to work for wages that are far, far too low. We need to raise the minimum wage to at least 15 bucks an hour. The

president talked about that during the campaign, but he has forgotten that since he is -- has been elected president.

So, I think, in many ways, you have a president who said something during the campaign and is moving in a very, very different direction after he took office.

TAPPER: I want to get your reaction to my interview with President Trump's new national security adviser, Ambassador John Bolton.

He said President Trump is already undergoing extensive preparations on North Korea. What was your response to the interview?


B. SANDERS: Well, I got to say something.

Needless to say, I disagree with John on a whole lot, but I will give him credit for chutzpah.

This is a man who was a key adviser to President Bush, George W. Bush, in urging him to get involved and to invade Iraq because, supposedly, Iraq had weapons of mass destruction.

As I think most Americans now know, that effort in Iraq was the worst foreign policy disaster in the modern history of this country. We lost 4,400 American soldiers, brave soldiers, 31,000 wounded, half-a- million Iraqis dead.

And then Bolton talks about, appropriately so, the increased influence that Iran now has in Iraq. Yes, that's true. And that's precisely because of the war in Iraq.

So, I think you have some people, unfortunately, in Washington, Bolton being one of them, who believe that war and militarism is the answer to everything. We have spent over $2 trillion in the wars in Iraq, in Afghanistan, and yet, today, our infrastructure here in the United States is crumbling.

We have millions of people can't afford to go to college or are leaving college deeply in debt. Maybe, just maybe, we might want to be investing in the American people, rather than inflated military budgets and more and more wars.

TAPPER: You heard Ambassador Bolton say some nice things about Senator John McCain after this White House aide, Kelly Sadler, made this disgusting joke about his vote doesn't matter because he is going to die anyway.

You have served in the Senate with McCain for more than a decade. It was a meaningful moment last summer when he returned to the Senate. You gave him a hug on the Senate floor. This is right after he had returned from Arizona, where he was being treated for brain cancer.

What is your response to the comment from Kelly Sadler, the White House official who joked that McCain was dying anyway, so his vote doesn't matter? What was your reaction? And what do you think about the White House not apologizing?

B. SANDERS: Well, let me just say this.

I have known John McCain for many years. And, obviously, he and I have strong differences of opinion, although we did work together on a major veterans bill. And I personally like John very, very much. He is very well-respected in the Senate and in the country.

And, Jake, it is beyond my comprehension. It is one thing in the White House for somebody to say something crude and stupid and disrespectful about an American hero. It is another thing for them not to apologize.

So, it is beyond my comprehension. And I just don't know what goes on in that White House mentality for there not being an apology for that terrible remark.

TAPPER: White House Chief of Staff John Kelly did an interview with NPR this morning. He was asked about his response to people who say it's heartless for U.S. border officials to separate families of undocumented immigrants, separate parents from children.

He said -- quote -- "I wouldn't put it quite that way. The children will be taken care of, put into foster care or whatever. But the big point is, they elected to come illegally into the United States, and this is a technique that no one hopes will be used extensively or for very long."

What are your thoughts?

B. SANDERS: I think it is heartless.

I think the entire Trump views on immigration is heartless. You know, in the last polls that I have seen, some 80 percent of the American people believe that we should provide legal status to the 1.8 million people in the DACA program who are eligible for DACA. And that's a program that Trump killed.

The American people believe that we should move forward for comprehensive immigration reform. And Trump is moving in exactly the wrong direction.

And we see the cruelty of his immigration policies when you talk about the United States government separating children from their parents. We need to move aggressively and do what the American people want toward comprehensive immigration reform.

TAPPER: Senator, I want to ask you.

One of President Trump's major nominees is on the docket for the Senate this week, Gina Haspel, nominated to be the next CIA director, the first woman CIA director. You have announced your opposition to that pick. Now, I have to ask, both Gina Haspel and former CIA Director John

Brennan were in the CIA when enhanced interrogation techniques, otherwise known by human rights groups as torture, were used.

A lot of people who oppose Haspel's nomination now over water- boarding, et cetera, voted yes when John Brennan was nominated by President Obama back in 2013, including you.

Why? Why is Brennan OK, but Gina Haspel is not?

B. SANDERS: Well, on this one, I would agree with John McCain, and tell you that I think -- and tell you what our leaders in the armed forces say.


If the United States condones torture for other people, then that subjects our own men and women who are captured to be tortured as well.

I think Brennan did a good job in his position. I have serious reservations about this nominee. And I will oppose her.

TAPPER: But you didn't have reservations about John Brennan. You voted for John Brennan. I guess my question is...

B. SANDERS: Well...

TAPPER: ... whatever reservations you have about Gina Haspel, why didn't they apply to Obama's nominee?

B. SANDERS: Well, it's not -- it's not just -- yes.

Jake, it's not just the issue of torture. It goes, I think, deeper than that. And that is the foreign policy that we have seen from Mr. Trump, which was repeated today by -- by John Bolton, something that I also strongly disagree with...

TAPPER: Your former campaign...

B. SANDERS: ... which is one of the reasons I voted -- I voted against Pompeo as well.

TAPPER: Your former campaign chairman -- campaign manager, rather, Jeff Weaver is going to be joining us later on, on this show. He's out with a new book.

Here's what he writes about you in this book -- quote -- "I believe Sanders is the strongest candidate to reclaim the White House in 2020. In this moment of history, his authentic message of positive change and his appeal to a broad range of voters gives Democrats the best opportunity to put together the coalition that can reclaim elected officials at all levels. Run, Bernie, run."

I have the book right here. It has a blurb from you right on the very, very top talking about how great this book is. Run, Bernie, run. Are you going to follow Jeff Weaver's advice?

B. SANDERS: Well, I'm going to urge everybody to read the book. It is a very good book. And Jeff did a great job for me in my campaign.

You know, we started in that campaign at, I think, 3 or 5 percent in the polls. We ended up winning 22 states and 13 million votes. And Jeff was one of the reasons we accomplished that. It's a good book.

TAPPER: Not -- not really an answer to the question, but I understand you don't like answering this question.

Senator Bernie...

B. SANDERS: Well, let me also answer this.

TAPPER: Yes. Yes.

B. SANDERS: Jake, let me take this opportunity to wish my wife and all the mothers of this country a very happy Mother's Day.

How is that for an answer?


TAPPER: Well...


TAPPER: ... it's -- you went from a deflection to a pandering. So, I love it.

Thank you so much, Senator.


TAPPER: Appreciate it. Have a good Mother's Day to Jane, please.

Thanks so much for joining us.

Normally lawyers get you out of sticky situations but Rudy Giuliani seems to keep getting his client, President Trump, involved in more potential scandals. Is he helping or hurting? That's next.




MICK MULVANEY, DIRECTOR, OFFICE OF MANAGEMENT AND BUDGET: You have to have a freedom to speak in a private meeting to speak candidly. We've all said things in private especially in smaller groups that we work with what we would never say publically.

I think she has handled it appropriately. I'm really disappointed that someone would undermine the president by leaking that out of a private meeting.


TAPPER: That was Office of Management and Budget director Mick Mulvaney essentially defending White House staffer Kelly Sadler after the joke she made about Senator John McCain dying became public.

My panel is here with me. I want to point out we have two authors here. One of them, of course, Jeff Weaver, former campaign manager for Bernie Sanders with his new book "How Bernie Won: Inside the Revolution That's Taking Back Our Country -- And Where We Go From Here." Also, Amanda Carpenter, is the with us and she is the author of --

AMANDA CARPENTER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: "Gaslighting America: Why We Love It When Trump Lies to Us."

TAPPER: There we go. So two books perhaps for Mother's Day. You can go out and get them.


CARPENTER: If you love your mother.

TAPPER: Let me start with you, Congresswoman Val Demings from Florida. What do you make of the fact that not only do we have people in the White House refusing to apologize for this horrific comment, this joke made about Senator John McCain dying of brain cancer but actually seemingly more upset about the leak than they are about the comment?

REP. VAL DEMINGS (D), FLORIDA: Well, let me say this. First of all happy Mother's Day to all the mothers out there.

TAPPER: Well, let me -- I'm (INAUDIBLE) in that. Two mothers on the panel. Thank you for being here.

CARPENTER: Of course.

DEMINGS: But, you know, when I think about this country and all that it represents what we are currently hearing and seeing is not the America that I grew to love, the America that I worked hard for every day.

John McCain really represents all that is good and right with this country. He has served this country as a war hero, was a prisoner of war, has come back and continued to serve in Congress.

I have a ton of respect for him. And to say the comment in public or private is totally wrong. But if you make a mistake the America that I know apologizes.

If the mistake -- if this -- if it was said just say, I apologize for it, it was wrong so we can move on.

CARPENTER: Can we address for a second Mercedes Schlapp who widely -- (CROSSTALK)

TAPPER: Mercedes Schlapp, she's a White House staffer and she said in a private meeting that leaked out the other day -- quote -- "I stand with Kelly Sadler." And again in this private meeting with Sarah Sanders and Mercedes Schlapp talking to communications staff more upset apparently about the leak than they are about the comment.

CARPENTER: Yes. Obviously a horrible joke. But the for people to come out and say, I stand with the staffer who did it -- listen, Mercedes Schlapp is a person -- her and her husband there is a big "New York Times" profile who told America that they stood with Donald Trump (INAUDIBLE) worse times out of patriotism and duty to their country.

I'm sorry, Mercedes, you are never going to make America great again when you trash the legacy of someone like John McCain who has done more for this country, served more, suffered more than anyone in that White House ever did. So spare me the fake outrage over a bad White House Correspondents' Dinner joke when you stand by someone who denigrate someone like John McCain.

TAPPER: I guess what I want to understand, Michael, is I can't imagine anyone I know making that joke in private. It's just -- it's so cruel.

I mean, he is dying of brain cancer. It is horrible.

MICHAEL CAPUTO, FORMER SENIOR ADVISER, DONALD J. TRUMP FOR PRESIDENT: We have seen bad jokes in private and public.


I think that the White House is looking at the leak because, you know, there are so many leaks out of the White House. I understand that Kelly called Meghan McCain and apologized to her. I think she handled it well by doing that.

I think if this was a comment said "On the Record" by the White House they would absolutely have to apologize. This is a leak by some people who are working hard to undermine this president. I don't think it is White House's responsibility to apologize for it.

It's already been apologized for. I think we need to move on and stop wringing our hands about it.

JEFF WEAVER, FORMER CAMPAIGN MANAGER, BERNIE SANDERS FOR PRESIDENT: Jake, but this is -- look, this tone is set at the very top. We all remember when Donald Trump was insulting not only John McCain but every American service member who has been a prisoner of war as part of their service during the campaign when he said, I prefer people who didn't get captured.

So this tone is set at the very top. The White House does owe an apology to John McCain and to all other service members that the president had denigrated over the course of his campaign and as president of the United States.

CAPUTO: Listen, McCain has for the longest time been a combative senator. He has worked very hard against this president. He has done things to undermine this president.

You have to understand that not everybody on this planet loves John McCain. But at this point in time we all need to step back and let his family and the senator --

DEMINGS: It's really disappointing.


CAPUTO: -- to live in peace.

CARPENTER: You know what --


DEMINGS: It's really disappointing, though --

TAPPER: We'll come to you after the congressman.

DEMINGS: It's really disappointing though when the target suddenly becomes John McCain and not the person who made the comment or the person who stands with them.

It may have been said in private but it is public now. Making a private phone call to apologize is not enough.

Apologize publically. It's the right thing to do.

CARPENTER: Let the family be in peace. This is the second phone call Meghan McCain has to take from someone apologizing. Rather than spending those precious moments with her family she has to take the time to listen to these people apologize. That is grotesque and then go in the spot light and then have everyone watch her response.

That is a sick thing. A lot of people go through these terrible situations with family who have cancer but to do it in the public spot light and then pretend like you are the good guy because I called to apologize. No, that's a double whammy of disrespect against that family.

TAPPER: Mitt Romney who is running for Senate in Utah tweeted after this comment -- quote -- "John McCain makes America great. Father, grandfather, Navy pilot, POW hero bound by honor, an incomparable and irrepressible statesman. Those who mock such greatness only humiliate themselves and their silent accomplices."

"Silent accomplices," that is a strong statement for Mitt Romney.

CAPUTO: Yes. Mitt Romney has got a habit of making strong statements like that when it comes to mocking or coming out against the White House. I'm just -- listen, politics is not a bean bag. This is a very difficult arena. And John McCain has been out there punching with the best of them. But this is --


CAPUTO: -- with cancer. Of course you don't. I think it was a joke made in bad taste. It wasn't a joke made in the public arena.

We don't know that it actually took place. It is a leak. But at this point in time the White House needs to get a handle on who is leaking out of that place because this stuff is just absolutely outrageous.

TAPPER: Jeff --

WEAVER: Look, the problem they have at the White House, the reason they have leaks is because nobody over there who has loyalty to the principle.

He stands for nothing. They are all grifters (ph). They are giving the country away to the rich and the powerful.


WEAVER: There is no cohesion (INAUDIBLE). You didn't see this kind of leaking in the Bush White House. You didn't see this kind of leaking in the Obama White House because people over there had a common purpose.

There is no common purpose over there. It's a feeding frenzy.

TAPPER: Is that one -- is that one of the problems here?

CAPUTO: No, of course.

CARPENTER: Well, I could have -- a comment that Rudy Giuliani recently made sticks with me when he described Jared Kushner as possibly disposable in the Russia investigation. And I think that is the mentality at that White House.

Anyone who is not helpful to their agenda is disposable. Even if you're a war hero and keep in mind the context of this discussion. They were talking about John McCain's opposition to the CIA nominee who has a record supporting enhanced interrogation techniques what the Congress now considers torture.

We had a big debate over that but that is why they said, well, he's dying anyway. He has suffered through those kinds of torturous techniques and then they said, too bad, he is disposable.

TAPPER: Thanks one and all for being here. Really appreciate it.

Happy Mother's Day to you, Congresswoman.

DEMINGS: Thank you so much.

TAPPER: Happy Mother's Day to you, Amanda.

CARPENTER: Thank you.

TAPPER: Thanks everyone for being here. Good luck with your book.

WEAVER: Thank you.

TAPPER: It's Mother's Day. And while every mom out there deserves to be celebrated raising kids in a White House comes with its own unique challenges. We'll talk about that next. Stay with us.



TAPPER: Welcome back. And to my mom and to my wife and to you, Happy Mother's Day.

What does it take to raise a child in the White House? Well, first lady Melania Trump's predecessors offer some tips.


TAPPER (voice-over): In addition to all her other challenges, first lady Melania Trump also has to raise a son at the White House.

MELANIA TRUMP, FIRST LADY OF THE UNITED STATES: As a mother myself, I know what goes into raising a child.

TAPPER: She's always said she tries to provide as much normalcy as possible. Reportedly checking her son's homework and preparing him for school.

MELANIA TRUMP: I like to keep it -- life as normal as possible for my son, Barron.

TAPPER: But as Melania's predecessors learned, it's tough being first mom.

MICHELLE OBAMA, FORMER FIRST LADY OF THE UNITED STATES You know, they've got to be able to function as normal people.

TAPPER: Before Melania the last first lady to raise a boy in the White House was Jackie Kennedy.

JACQUELINE KENNEDY, FORMER FIRST LADY OF THE UNITED STATES: It is rather hard with children. There's so little privacy. I don't mind for myself, but I think it's very hard with them.

TAPPER: On the plus side, there's a lot of space for entertaining.

HILLARY CLINTON, FORMER FIRST LADY OF THE UNITED STATES: Lots of slumber parties. Lots of, you know, special occasion parties here. And just all the time we could, we spent with her friends up in the second and third floor, which are the personal private family parts of the house.


TAPPER: And although this first family is used to a lavish lifestyle, growing up amidst 18 acres of history is special.

MELANIA TRUMP: We love to live in Washington.

TAPPER: Former first lady Laura Bush spoke about the example she tried to provide for her daughters.

LAURA BUSH, FORMER FIRST LADY OF THE UNITED STATES: I think if we want our children to have healthy lifestyles, we need to show them how to do it so they can really imitate our lives.

TAPPER: And Melania has recently introduced a platform, which includes teaching children kindness.

MELANIA TRUMP: And it is our responsibility as adults to educate and remind them that when they are using their voices, they must choose their words wisely and speak with respect and compassion.

TAPPER: A task no doubt complicated by certain others who don't necessarily help set standards in that regard. Happy Mother's Day.


TAPPER: Will Vladimir Putin's fourth term in office bring in any change in U.S./Russian relations? A former U.S. ambassador to Russia will be here to discuss next.

Stay tuned.