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THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER
Interview With Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee; Ferguson Violence; Trump Under Fire; Trump Not Apologizing for Remarks About Megyn Kelly. Aired 4-4:30p ET
Aired August 10, 2015 - 16:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: To paraphrase Nietzsche, that which does not kill the Trump campaign only makes him stronger. Where will his latest controversy send his poll numbers?
I'm Jake Tapper. This is THE LEAD.
The politics lead. Once again, Donald Trump's mouth dominating the discussion after the GOP front-runner insulted one of the moderators of last week's big debate. Just moments ago, Hillary Clinton weighing in on Trump's remark. We will tell what you she had to say.
The national lead, happening right now, new arrests, new clashes and a state of emergency declared in Missouri, one day after a man is shot after first firing upon police, police say. It marred some peaceful protests marking one year since Michael Brown was killed.
Also breaking in national news, an aide to President Obama arrested after she allegedly shot at her Capitol Police officer boyfriend with his own gun.
Good afternoon, everyone. Welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.
What an odd news day we are having. The politics lead now.
Here are some of the issues, just some of the ones that Republicans would like the media and political worlds and voters to be discussing today, Democrats in Congress coming out against President Obama's nuclear deal with Iran, the head of the Iranian Quds Forces traveling to Russia, violating a U.N. embargo, the cyber-attack on the Joint Chiefs of Staff perhaps by Russia, lingering questions about why Hillary Clinton used a private e-mail server and why she deleted e- mails from it, the Black Lives Matter protesters who interrupted socialist Senator Bernie Sanders' well-attended rally in Seattle over the weekend.
Now, what the media and political worlds and voters are discussing instead? Whether or not Donald Trump was insinuating that a female FOX News anchor was aggressive in her debate questions last week because she was menstruating, comments Trump made, by the way, that caused Trump to be disinvited from a major conservative gathering this weekend with RedState.com, comments that will likely have Trump and his campaign spending the week trying to blunt headlines such as these.
Here's "The New York Times" front page, "A Word Too Far." "The Washington Post," "Growing Pains for a Sudden Front-Runner." "The Wall Street Journal," "Trump Won't Retreat From Latest Dust-Up."
And, look, it isn't just the lamestream media. Here are the front pages from two major influential conservative Web site. Take a look at "The Weekly Standard." Recognize that guy? How about "The National Review"? There he is.
Trump told me yesterday on CNN's "STATE OF THE UNION" that those who interpreted his remarks in that way, well, they're stick.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Only a deviant would say that what I said was what they were referring to, because nobody can make that statement. You almost have to be sick to sort of put that together.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: Let's get right to CNN political reporter Sara Murray.
Sara, absolute in his insistence that his remarks were not appropriate, but a lot of Republicans and conservatives should took him that way.
SARA MURRAY, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, certainly a lot of concern about this.
Jake, not only is Trump standing by the earlier comments. Today, he is going after Megyn Kelly once again.
MURRAY (voice-over): Donald Trump remains defiant.
TRUMP: I have been nice to you, although I could probably maybe not be.
MURRAY: Refusing to back down from his criticism of FOX News anchor Megyn Kelly, even demanding an apology.
TRUMP: The fact is, she asked me a very inappropriate question. She should really be apologizing to me, you want to know the truth.
MURRAY: An apology for a question he thought was unfair, so unfair that he described Kelly this way.
TRUMP: You could see there was blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out of her wherever.
MURRAY: Today, Trump took his attacks a step further, tweeting out an interview of Megyn Kelly sharing some intimate details with Howard Stern. MEGYN KELLY, FOX NEWS: When the sex is bad, it's 95 percent of a
marriage. When it good, it's 5 percent of a marriage.
MURRAY: Clearly, the blunt government GOP front-runner is showing no signs of moderating his tone, even after facing an onslaught of criticism.
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think Mr. Trump's approach, with all due respect, is not helping our party with women.
GOV. SCOTT WALKER (R-WI), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: For a lot of us, it's like watching a car accident instead of focusing on the direction we should be headed. It's a sideshow out there.
JEB BUSH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Do we want to win? Do we want to insult 93 percent of our voters? What Donald Trump said is wrong.
MURRAY: The Trump campaign staying on the offensive, releasing this video on Instagram, saying enough is enough. No more Bushes, but in yet another twist in the Trump saga, a report that Trump may finally rule out a third-party run, a pledge he refused to make at Thursday's debate.
QUESTION: You can't say tonight that you can make that pledge?
TRUMP: I cannot say.
MURRAY: A campaign spokeswoman dismissed the idea to CNN, saying, "There is no truth to this report that Trump is ruling out running as an independent."
For now, the Republican Party isn't pushing candidates to pledge their allegiance to the GOP. In a recent interview with CNN's Dana Bash, RNC Chair Reince Priebus says he's not concerned.
REINCE PRIEBUS, REPUBLICAN NATIONAL COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: If there's one guy that should be nervous about whether Donald Trump runs as an independent, it should be me, and I'm telling you I'm not.
MURRAY: As for Trump, a pre-debate memo shows he was fully prepped for that question about a third-party bid. His answer, all options are on the table.
MURRAY: Trump will be back on the campaign trail tomorrow at a sold- out event in Michigan, where we should get a better idea of whether any of these comments are hurting him with voters -- Jake.
TAPPER: Sara Murray, thank you so much.
Even as he talks about Trump, Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin is trying to pivot back to that other front-runner with a famous last name who the Republican nominee could face in the general election. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WALKER: I want to talk about another candidate running for president. And I'm not going to talk about the one the media wants me to talk about.
Instead, I'm talking about the guy who was in the middle of the stage the other day. We need to talk about the real threat in this race, and that is the possibility that Hillary Clinton could be elected president of the United States.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: Let's go to CNN's senior Washington correspondent Jeff Zeleny. He is in Exeter, New Hampshire, with the former secretary of state, Hillary Clinton.
Jeff, Clinton out on the trail today pitching a plan to make college affordable, she says, but she also took an opportunity to talk about Mr. Trump.
JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: She did, Jake.
Just a few moments ago, she was asked by reporters about this. She not only addressed his comments, she seized on them saying -- quote -- "The comments were offensive, outrageous, pick your adjective." But she didn't stop with Donald Trump. She painted a broad brush on all Republicans, warning that women voters should be on the lookout for all of the candidates.
Let's take a listen.
HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: What Donald Trump said about Megyn Kelly is outrageous.
ZELENY (voice-over): Donald Trump spilling over into the Democratic primary.
CLINTON: Megyn Kelly is a strong woman, and more than capable of defending herself against Donald Trump. I'm worried about what Republican policies would do to the rest of America's women, and I will continue to speak out and speak up about that.
ZELENY: Today in New Hampshire, Hillary Clinton weighed in for the first time on Trump's most recent controversial remarks.
CLINTON: If you just focus on maybe the biggest showman on the stage, you lose the thread here. The thread is that the Republicans are putting forth some very radical and offensive positions when it comes to women's lives.
ZELENY: The Clinton campaign may be smiling about Trump and his dominance over the campaign, but they aren't laughing about Bernie Sanders, who is drawing considerable attention in the Democratic race.
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (VT-I), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This campaign is sending a message to the billionaire class. Yes, we have the guts to take you on.
ZELENY: Bernie Sanders has the guts and the crowds. With a populist cry, he's filling arenas across the country. Weekend rallies in Seattle and Portland only the latest signs Sanders is a summer sensation on the campaign trail
SANDERS: The issue of wealth and income equality is the great moral issue of our time.
ZELENY: He seldom mentions Hillary Clinton by name, but he doesn't have to. His progressive policies are a direct shot at her front- running campaign.
SANDERS: We need an economy that works for working people, not just billionaires.
ZELENY: In New Hampshire, the Democratic fight is on. As Clinton opened a two-day campaign swing today, she's only six points ahead of Sanders. She unveiled a plan to rein in student loans and make college affordable, issues Sanders has been talking about for months.
CLINTON: No student and no family should have to borrow to pay tuition at a public college or university.
ZELENY: She is the undisputed leader in the Democratic race. But the Sanders surge is real, at least for now.
ZELENY: Now, while Sanders may be a Democratic distraction, all of her aides tell me they believe it's temporary. She believes the way to win over all these Democrats who may be open to an alternative is to be tough against Republicans.
And, Jake, that's exactly what he heard here today in Exeter.
TAPPER: Jeff Zeleny in New Hampshire, thank you so much.
Let's continue this conversation with Republican presidential candidate former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee.
Governor, thank you for joining me. Good to see you, as always.
MIKE HUCKABEE (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Thank you very much, Jake.
TAPPER: So, Governor, when you heard Donald Trump makes those comments about Megyn Kelly on Friday night, did you think he was referring to her nose and her ears? Or did you think this was, as many of your fellow conservative interpreted it, a sexist attack?
HUCKABEE: I simply didn't know.
I knew that I would probably be asked to comment on Donald Trump all day. Sure enough I was. And sure enough, I mostly just said, look, Donald Trump doesn't need me to help him get on television and get publicity. I will focus on what Mike Huckabee stands for and my issues. And that's what I have continued to do.
TAPPER: How do you respond to people who say, boy, it really seems like Republicans are afraid of criticizing Donald Trump, maybe they're afraid of him attacking them, maybe it's because they want his voters? You do seem reluctant to criticize him.
HUCKABEE: It's not that.
I don't criticize any of the other candidates. I have got a job to do. If I were still a pundit over at FOX News, as I was for six-and- a-half years, I would weigh in on this all day long, but, you know, what I have to focus on is why I'm running for president.
After being a governor 10.5 years, a lieutenant governor for three, I have got lots to talk about. And, frankly, if I had a dollar every time somebody mentioned Donald Trump to me, I would have the best funded campaign in the entire Republican field right now.
TAPPER: You would be the next Donald Trump.
TAPPER: Well, let me ask you some follow-ups from Thursday's debate on issues that you do want to talk about.
You said that the next president should invoke the Fifth Amendment of the Constitution guaranteeing due process and the 14th Amendment guaranteeing equal protection when it comes to protecting the unborn. At what point would President Huckabee, given his druthers, establish personhood? Would it be at the moment of conception or would it be fetal viability?
And once personhood has been established, how far, in your view, do you think the government should go to ensure these proposed constitutional protections?
HUCKABEE: Well, conception is the logical place to declare life, because that's when 23 chromosomes from the mother and 23 from the father create that imprint of that individual and DNA that is going to last him or her the rest of one's life.
Viability is an ever-moving target. What's viable now wasn't viable a few years ago. So I really want to focus on the fact that we have let this issue be about abortion. It's the wrong issue. The issue is about, do we believe that the unborn child is a human being?
Because, if we do, and if personhood is really the issue, then the 5th and 14th Amendment would automatically apply to that individual. And I really think we have missed it for a long time. And we have talked about defunding Planned Parenthood. But, Jake, this is a bigger issue, and I think the Planned Parenthood videos kind of help put it in perspective. This is savagery. When people are selling baby parts? I just can't deep in me believe that any American can look at that, think about that very intently, and come away with the nothing that that's really the mark of a civilized people.
TAPPER: President Obama is out there today aggressively pushing the Iran deal.
One of his basic arguments is that the Chinese and the Russians and others were already ready to forgo sanctions against Iran altogether, so this deal is the best deal they could get. What's your response? It doesn't seem as though he's wrong when he's analyzing the Russians and Chinese and their desire to lift the sanctions.
HUCKABEE: Yes, the real shame is that it used to be the United States was the leader. And when we decided we would do something, the other nations followed us.
What we are seeing is the consequences of his philosophy of leading from behind, which in the case of the world events means we're getting left behind. That's why the president's entire foreign policy has been a dismal failure. And this is a very dangerous deal. I'm delighted to see that prominent Democrats like Chuck Schumer have come to the conclusion that it's a dangerous deal.
He's made this decision, Schumer has, in the face of extraordinary pressure. And I have got to hand it to him. This is a real act of statesmanship, not partisanship, on Schumer's behalf, but he's having to take this stand because the president doesn't seem to be able to find that kind of courage.
TAPPER: Governor Mike Huckabee, thank you so much. We will see you out there on the campaign trail.
HUCKABEE: Thanks, Jake. Great to be with you.
TAPPER: Can the candidates continue to brush aside Donald Trump's comments and keep this race focused on the issues they want to talk about? That task will likelier be easier said than done, no matter the tax plan or strategy to make college more affordable.
We will discuss it next.
[16:18:46] TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD.
We're going to stick with our politics for now, where Donald Trump shines dangerously bright, as these latest remarks about FOX News Megyn Kelly are sucking up all the attention.
But will his blood comment finally kill his credibility with would-be Republican voters? Or will it only make him stronger?
Here in Washington, D.C. to talk about all of this, CNN political commentators S.E. Cupp and Dan Pfeiffer.
And I will apologize to our audience, our viewers ahead of time. I have not been this trepidatious about double entendres since the Anthony Weiner story.
S.E. CUPP, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Sure.
TAPPER: So, we will try to avoid them. That's my declaration, period.
CUPP: What? You mean exclamation.
TAPPER: Exclamation point.
Let us -- let me start with you. You heard Donald Trump on "STATE OF THE UNION" and every other venue saying that he was not referring to Megyn Kelly's time of the month of the month. He was saying blood could be coming out of her ears and nose.
Do you buy it?
CUPP: I don't. I think he said that intentionally, because he talks off the cuff like that. I think he talks to get a rise out of people. And, you know, walking it back now, I just think nobody is buying it. I really haven't heard anyone --
TAPPER: He's not walking, he's denying, he's saying that's not what I --
CUPP: No one is buying it. No one is buying it.
[16:20:00] I mean, if everyone hears it that way, then I think at the very least, he has very poor judgment about how he talks and gives very little consideration of how he talks on national stage.
He has to recognize the presidency is as much about discretion --
TAPPER: I just want you to see how Dan (INAUDIBLE)
TAPPER: He's just laughing at what we're talking about, at the problems of the Republican Party.
CUPP: It's very uncomfortable. It's very uncomfortable.
TAPPER: I have to tell you, Wednesday night during the debate, I thought, wow, the Republican Party is really energized. They have a bunch of candidates. They have a whole, you know, they're really excited. This is like really a thing.
And now, it seems like a different thing is going on. Other than your basic joy --
DAN PFEIFFER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Unfettered joy.
TAPPER: -- in fact, that we're talking about this, do you this is this is going to hurt him? I really don't know.
PFEIFFER: I don't know. Like by all usual -- for a normal candidate, this would be death. You'd be out of the race by tomorrow. But everything that would destroy a normal candidate seems to make Donald Trump stronger. So, I don't think we're going to know for a few days, but it wouldn't shock me if he went up in the polls, as crazy as I did. Nothing surprises me with Donald Trump anymore.
TAPPER: And here's the thing, S.E., because, OK, he went after Mexican illegal immigrants, that's popular with the base. He went after John McCain, not extremely popular with the base.
I thought going after Megyn Kelly would be death, but he's turned this into FOX News equals the Republican establishment and they were being unfair.
CUPP: Yes, Donald Trump is the victim, right? And he's very comfortable being the victim, the victim of the establishment of the establishment, the victim of the media. It doesn't matter what side of the media, he's a victim.
You know, I actually thought if he had just gone quietly about his business after the debate, he would have enormous gotten enormous positive attention for his performance that I didn't was good, but more sort of like it. But he had to live tweet all night, retweet all the hate tweets against Megyn and say what he said. Now, it's actually just a big distraction for anyone, and I think he was about to attempt to launch a fairly serious in hindsight, and now, clearly not.
TAPPER: Do you think he has been a point about there being some sort of FOX News conspiracy to take him down. I mean, that first question from -- let me just say I don't, but in terms of the first question being, raise your hand if you can't pledge to stand by -- that was clearly aimed at him.
PFEIFFER: I don't think -- I don't think it was a conspiracy to get Trump. I think it was a conspiracy to have really good television. They succeeded in that.
And this is not unusual when you have other people in 2011 you were popping up like Herman Cain or Michele Bachmann, FOX and other debate moderators like held their feet to fire.
PFEIFFER: But at the end of the day, what FOX wants is good TV and good ratings, and they got both. And Trump helped them do that.
CUPP: I mean, the CNN debate, you know, with the Newt Gingrich question, the first question in that CNN debate a supple cycles ago was a similar kind of moment, right? There's a figure on the stage who's got a big, you know, story line, let's make the most of it. I -- you know, I think that that debate was, as Dan says, more about
theater than it was about substance.
TAPPER: Let me -- I just want to change the topic to one quick thing about Bernie Sanders who is attracting huge crowds, but he has Black Lives Matters protesters interrupting one of them, recently, basically shutting down a rally in Seattle.
Dan, I don't know if you have any idea about the answer is to this is, but why are they only going after Bernie Sanders and to a lesser degree, Martin O'Malley? How come they're not going after Hillary Clinton, how come they're not targeting Republicans?
PFEIFFER: I think at the beginning of this campaign, in the speech I think that Hillary Clinton gave to the U.S. Conference of Mayors, she addressed a lot of the issues. They talked a lot about the issues. They talked about, she put some serious policy in criminal justice reform. Martin O'Malley got shouted down, he went about meeting with them and putting out very serious policy.
I think, ultimately, Sanders will do the right thing on all the issues in matters of Black Lives Matter people, but he needs to do -- he needs to do a better job of outreach and to show them that that's the case. Otherwise, this is going to dog him for the rest of his campaign.
TAPPER: All right. Dan Pfeiffer, .S.E. Cupp, thanks so much for being here. Appreciate it.
Breaking news in our national lead, the state of emergency just declared in Ferguson, Missouri, just hours after a new shooting. We are live in Ferguson as police try to keep peace in a tense situation.
Plus, the world lead, you've heard the big names who say they will not support the Iran nuclear deal. But now, a rough count of members of Congress for and against the plan is currently on the table.
[16:28:52] TAPPER: Breaking news in our national lead today, a state of emergency declared in St. Louis County in the last hour. This comes after violence erupted overnight in Ferguson, Missouri, one year after the shooting death of Michael Brown.
While there were peaceful protests, police also say that rival groups fired upon one another on West Florissant Avenue last night. Police also saying that one young man fired upon four plain clothed police officers after which they returned fire. Police have also arrested up to 56 protesters in St. Louis, which is about 20 miles away from Ferguson. There were three separate shootings in Ferguson overnight, not directly related to the protests.
This video shows a shooting which send people running for cover.
All of this, needless to say, has ratcheted up tensions in a city already on edge. Sara Sidner is in Ferguson, Missouri.
Sara, what is the mood like there right now.
SARA SIDNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Look, it's very calm right now, but the tensions are underlying. We've seen that time and again. And this shooting didn't help matters. Of course, the protesters say it really detracts from the message that they are trying to achieve of justice.
SIDNER (voice-over): On the same day, hundreds came to remember the reason for what some are calling the rebirth of a civil rights movement, the police killing, of teenager Michael Brown.