Return to Transcripts main page

THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER

Pair of Suspected Drug Lords Headed from Mexico to U.S.; Kim Davis Says She Met With Pope Francis In D.C.; Son, Daughter Accuse Sect Leader Of Sex Abuse. Aired 4:30-5p ET

Aired September 30, 2015 - 16:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[16:32:03]

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: We have some more breaking news for you now on THE LEAD.

We are learning that a pair of suspected drug lords are now headed from Mexico here to the United States.

Let's get right to CNN justice reporter Evan Perez. Also with me, CNN law enforcement analyst Arthur Roderick.

Evan, first of all, what exactly is going on? What can you tell us?

EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Jake, these are cartel suspects that the U.S. has long wanted to bring to justice.

At this hour, about a dozen of them are on planes headed to the United States from Mexico. Mexico has been resisting sending high-level cartel suspects to the United States in recent years. But that appears to be changing in the wake of the prison escape of El Chapo Guzman, the notorious boss of Sinaloa cartel, who slipped out of prison in Mexico in July.

Here's a couple of the men we're talking about, Edgar Valdez Villareal and Jean Baptiste Kingery. Valdez is known as La Barbie. He's a dual Mexico and American citizen who grew up in Texas. And the DEA considers him a ruthless person who has unleashed a war for control of the Beltran Leyva organization.

Kingery is also an American and he allegedly confessed to the Afghan that he ran a factory making grenades and explosives for the cartels. Now, law enforcement here in the United States tell me that this is a big deal. We haven't had many extraditions from Mexico recently. Take a look at a couple of these numbers from 2012.

Mexico extradited 115 people to the United States. That was down just to 54 in 2013 and 66 last year. And that's now changing, Jake, because there's a new attorney general in Mexico who says she wants to do more of these.

TAPPER: Arthur, so this is a pretty big deal?

ARTHUR RODERICK, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: This is huge. I mean, we have to take advantage of this as long as we can.

There's been doors open in other countries also. And we have always jumped on it and tried to get these high-value targets out as quickly as we can. So, this is a great opportunity for us. It looks like the government of Mexico is making some concessions based on the El Chapo case. So, we have got to jump on this and get them out as quick as we can before that door closes again.

TAPPER: All right. Arthur Roderick, Evan Perez, thank you so much. Appreciate it.

Time now for the politics lead. Another new national poll and another big lead for Donald Trump over his Republican challengers, a fresh Suffolk University survey finding Trump sitting pretty at 23 percent, 10 points ahead of everyone else. But when you add Democrats and independents to the mix in the polling, Trump comes out a little bit more Mr. Hyde than Dr. Jekyll, at least according to the polling director.

Trump's negatives shoot up. And some voters have some pretty harsh things to say about the businessman. When asked what one word describes the Republican front-runner, 10 percent of all voters, and that's all voters, not just Republicans, say idiot, jerk, stupid or dumb.

Let's get right to CNN political Sara Murray. She's in Keene, New Hampshire, where Trump is holding a campaign rally.

Sara, what some voters had to say about Trump was not so nice, but that's Democrats, independents, Republican voters still very, very kind to him in this poll.

SARA MURRAY, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: That's absolutely right, Jake. Donald Trump will be here in just a couple of hours to talk to a lot of Republican voters., this as the latest poll shows him still on top of the pack.

[16:35:07]

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MURRAY (voice-over): Donald Trump still towering over the GOP, using his perch to take aim at Marco Rubio.

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: He has the worst voting record in the Senate. He never shows up. I mean, he's not going in for votes. And that, you can't do. He's weak on immigration. Unbelievably weak on immigration.

MURRAY: A new "USA Today"/Suffolk University poll shows Trump pulling 23 percent support from Republican primary voters, a full 10 points ahead of his closest competitor, Ben Carson and Carly Fiorina tied in second, both at 13 percent, with Rubio, Trump's target du jour, coming in fourth at 9 percent, and Jeb Bush at 8 percent. Carson looking to capitalize on his Washington outsider status on the trail today.

BEN CARSON (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I really don't care that much about political parties. That's probably why the establishment of both political parties don't like me that much. But it's OK, because I don't really care about them.

MURRAY: Meanwhile, Trump working on softening his sharp edges in a "People" magazine interview, lamenting how often he's on the road, saying, "I just don't have the time that I would love to spend with my children and wife," adding, "I see less of my grandchildren than I might like."

As his wife, Melania, treads cautiously around her husband's often controversial comments, telling people: "He is who he is. Even if you give him advice, he will maybe take it in, but then he will do it the way he wants to."

Trump even seemed to set aside his ongoing beef with FOX News.

TRUMP: We're talking tremendous amounts of money.

MURRAY: Giving more specifics on his recently announced tax plans to Bill O'Reilly.

TRUMP: If you look at some of the things that are happening in the country in terms of...

(CROSSTALK)

BILL O'REILLY, HOST, "THE O'REILLY FACTOR": Give me one big thing you're going to cut, one big thing you're going to cut right away.

(CROSSTALK)

TRUMP: I'm going to cut big, big Department of Education, as an example.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MURRAY: Now Trump may be hoping showing his softer side will help him out in the polls. In that latest poll, he has the worst favorability numbers of any of the 10 candidates polled, Jake.

TAPPER: Sara Murray, thank you so much.

Let's go right now to CNN chief political correspondent Dana Bash. She's about an hour east of Trump in Bedford, New Hampshire, where Jeb Bush, Republican rival Jeb Bush, spent the day.

Dana, you grabbed a coffee with Mr. Bush at a Dunkin' Donuts. What did he have to tell you about the state of his campaign?

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jake, despite the fact that yet another national poll that came out that was not good news for him, fifth place in single digits in this new poll, he insists that there are new ads running here in New Hampshire and early contest states that are really explaining his record. A combination of that, digital media efforts, voter outreach in all kinds of way, his campaign will outlast his competitors.

But I have talked to some supporters who are getting nervous.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BASH (voice-over): The irony of Jeb Bush being labeled low-energy is that he's a tireless campaigner.

JEB BUSH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Each and every day, I wake up with joy in my heart, with excitement. Yes, Mr. Trump, with high energy.

BASH: Barnstorming the early contest states with a breakneck schedule. But some worried backers tell CNN all that effort makes his declining support with voters even more alarming.

(on camera): One of your significant donors told me it's as if we keep investing in a company. And as a shareholder we're not seeing any sales.

BUSH: Who was that?

BASH: What do you say?

BUSH: Who was that person?

BASH: I don't want to say.

BUSH: Yes. He doesn't either I guess. Look, the fact is that we have got a plan. We're executing on the plan. I'm convinced I'm going to win the Republican nomination. And I'm going to do it in a way that will actually make it actually possible to win the general election as well.

BASH (voice-over): Once the front-runner, Bush has lost 50 percent, half of his support nationally since July. Even here in the Granite State, where Bush was leading in June, he's now tied for fifth place according to a CNN/WMUR poll last week. The result, Bush aides are spending a lot of time trying to reassure anxious donors and supporters what Jeb Bush himself told us, be patient, that Bush rivals may be generating buzz, but Bush is building a nationwide infrastructure team to keep him alive through the GOP contests well into the spring.

BUSH: Patience. That's my first part of this strategy. The second part would be more patience.

BASH: But the long haul does not lead to victory unless Bush can actually win Republican delegates. To do that, even Bush campaign advisers admit the central thesis of his campaign has to work, that he can shed the Bush baggage and convince voters he is the Washington outsider they're looking for.

BUSH: I think people want authenticity. They want someone who has the leadership skills to turn ideas into reality. I got to do that as governor of Florida. I can do it as president of the United States. And I'll convince people of that.

BASH: But even some Bush backers worry the problem is fundamental. Republican voters are looking for excitement and change. Endurance is one thing. Electricity is another, something Jeb Bush is lacking.

[16:40:10]

BUSH: I'm the tortoise in the race. Slow, steady progress each and every day.

BASH: Often, voters leave Bush events impressed, but not excited. Bush aides insist that's OK. Voters are now letting off steam by backing Donald Trump and other first-time politicians, but when it comes time to pull the lever, they will go for the adult in the room.

BUSH: Ultimately, this is not about the loudest -- you know, it's not an entertainment. We're not auditioning for some kind of show here. We're running for president of the United States.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BASH: Now, as you mentioned, Jake, Donald Trump has an event about an hour from here. They're going to be at the same exact time this evening.

I asked Bush what he would tell voters who are trying to decide between which event to go to and he said to me, "If you want a show or entertainment, you can go to Donald Trump. If you want to come somewhere where someone's going to show leadership skills, the ability to fix things, come here" -- Jake.

TAPPER: And, Dana, yesterday on this show as well as on some other shows, the candidate for speaker of the House, Republican House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, suggested he was going to under his leadership have a lot more special committees and investigations.

And he suggested that the Benghazi committee that had been set up helped bring Hillary Clinton's poll numbers, at least according to how many Americans view her as untrustworthy, bringing that down, bringing her untrustworthy numbers up.

My understanding is that Hillary Clinton just responded to that comment by Majority Leader McCarthy. What did she have to say?

BASH: That's right. She said on MSNBC that that statement demonstrates unequivocally that this was always meant to be a partisan exercise. And she kind of slapped back at him saying that it does a great disservice and dishonors the memory of the four Americans killed in that Benghazi attack.

But, you know, Republicans privately, and this is according to great reporting from Deirdre Walsh, are saying on Capitol Hill they knew that this was bound to happen, that Hillary Clinton would come back at them and they are not happy with Kevin McCarthy's statements. They have been trying for months and months and months under the leadership of Trey Gowdy, the Benghazi committee chairman, to make this as nonpolitical as possible to make clear that this isn't about her presidential race, this is about getting to the bottom of the facts.

And they're concerned that Kevin McCarthy just undermined this in one fell swoop. It's not a great thing -- great timing for McCarthy considering the fact that he needs these Republicans to be behind him for his speaker run. And that election is going to be next week.

TAPPER: Dana Bash in New Hampshire, thank you so much.

Don't go anywhere. You will not want to miss the rest of Dana's interview with Republican presidential candidate former Florida Governor Jeb Bush.

And just minutes from now on "THE SITUATION ROOM," coming up, a mysterious meeting between Kentucky clerk Kim Davis and Pope Francis. The Vatican will not give any details about their meeting, but Davis' attorney is here. And he will tell us what happened next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[16:46:01] JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Welcome back to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper. Making headlines in our National Lead today, a mysterious meeting between one of the most beloved religious figures in the world and one of the most controversial people in the United States, Kim Davis, the Kentucky county clerk jailed for refusing to issue same-sex marriage licenses because she says it goes against her Christian faith.

She says she had a private audience with Pope Francis during his visit to Washington, D.C. last week. The devout Christian telling ABC News that the Vatican set up the secret meeting and that the Holy Father encouraged her to, quote, "stay strong."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KIM DAVIS, KENTUCKY COUNTY CLERK: I put my hand down. And he reached and he grabbed it and I hugged him, and he hugged me. And he said thank you for your courage.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: The Vatican staying quiet on the details, but is essentially confirming that the pair did speak. Let's get right to CNN's Vatican correspondent, Delia Gallagher in Rome -- Delia.

DELIA GALLAGHER, CNN VATICAN CORRESPONDENT: Jake, the Vatican spokesman, Father Lombardi, said today that he did not deny that a meeting had taken place, but that he had no further comment to add. Now, the fact that the Vatican is not denying the meeting suggests that it probably did happen.

But that the Vatican may want to keep their distance publicly from what they see as an internal U.S. affair, especially as it regards a local government employee. Now, we know that Pope Francis generally does support the idea of conscientious objection.

On the return flight from the U.S. in response to a journalist's question, he said conscientious objection is a human right that should be allowed for by systems.

When pressed if that right applied also to government officials, the pope said a government official is a human person and therefore also has that right -- Jake.

TAPPER: Delia Gallagher in Rome, thank you so much. Joining me now is Kim Davis' attorney, Mathew Staver. Mr. Staver, thank you so much for joining us. Why do you think the Vatican is refusing to discuss the details of the meeting or even release photographs of it?

MATHEW STAVER, FOUNDER AND CHAIRMAN, LIBERTY COUNSEL: Well, I'll defer to the Vatican on that. But I do know Pope Francis was very kind and generous to spend time with Kim Davis and her husband, Joe, last Thursday afternoon at the Vatican Embassy in Washington, D.C.

And at that meeting which was a private meeting, it wasn't a group meeting. It was just between him and Kim and Joe Davis, he did hug her as Kim Davis said. He did encourage her for standing. He said that his words were stay strong.

And the meeting was conducted in English from beginning to end. Kim Davis was incredibly amazed that a man such of his stature was so humble and caring and kind. It's a moment she'll cherish for the rest of her life.

TAPPER: Who at the Vatican arranged the meeting? How did it come about?

STAVER: Well, I won't go into details in terms of how it came about. There's a lot of speculation and how did she get in and out without being seen by the media surrounding the Vatican Embassy. I will say that the bigger issue is not how or how it happened is that it did happen.

[16:50:07] And as you just reported on the papal plane back, one of the questions was by a reporter and I've learned from those on the plane that those were group questions that they all agreed upon.

One of those questions was about issuing marriage licenses and whether you would have a conscientious objection to which he said is a human right when pressed by a follow-up even when it applies to a government official and he said, yes, government official being a person it is a human right.

And I think that theme that he echoed there is a theme he has echoed throughout his papacy and throughout his life that this universal human right of religious freedom ought to be respected.

And I think because of that you have an individual who was jailed because of her faith. And Pope Francis being the kind of individual he is and the pontiff he's been to reach down even to the least of these or reach down to have this meeting with Kim Davis to encourage her and to stay strong.

He also gave her two rosaries, a black one and a red one. Kim Davis' parents, her mom and dad are lifelong Catholics. And so she was able to present her mom and dad with these gifts from the pontiff.

And her dad said if he lives to be 200 years this will be the most cherished important gift he's ever received in his life.

TAPPER: Well, it's no secret that Pope Francis supports religious liberty. He said so at the White House. Met with the Little Sisters of the Poor, it doesn't surprise me at all that he met with your client.

I don't know that you can credibly say she was jailed because of her faith. She was jailed because she refused to carry out the services of her job. Nonetheless we appreciate hope you'll send photographs of the meeting when you get a chance.

STAVER: We will soon do that as soon as we get them.

TAPPER: Great. Thank you so much, Matthew Staver, must have been an incredible event. Appreciate it.

Coming up, a secret world exposed after a polygamous sect leader was convicted of abusing children. Now his children are talking to CNN. Lisa Ling series "This Is Life" is back. She'll join me next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[16:56:14]

TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper. Our Buried Lead now, Warren Jeffs well known for his crimes, he was one of the FBI's ten most wanted. The leader of a polygamist rogue Mormon sect jailed for life for the sexual assault and abuse of minors.

For the first time two of Warren Jeffs children are sharing their tragic stories about life with their infamous father speaking exclusively to CNN's Lisa Ling as part of CNN's premiere episode "This Is Life."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I tried to convince myself it didn't happen but all my life I never told anybody.

LISA LING, CNN HOST, "THIS IS LIFE": Why didn't you tell anyone?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Because father knows best. To me he was so perfect that I kept telling myself this is an accident. Something's wrong.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: And Lisa Ling joins me now from New York. Lisa, what was it like to hear these horrific tales from his children, who have been in hiding for so long?

LING: You know, Jake, any time someone divulges details of sexual abuse it's always difficult. But when I heard their story it was particularly heartbreaking. It showed a tremendous amount of courage on their part because they've been living in this closed world all of their lives.

They know nothing about the outside world and they are still in fact adjusting. But they felt it was so important to convey soon information about what their father was like before he became the prophet because he's still even though he's in prison controls thousands and thousands of people. These people in the FLDS still believe he's the hand of God.

TAPPER: This sect is so highly secretive, what was it like to try to dig in and investigate this story? It must have been very tough.

LING: Well, it was tough because when we go into the community on the Arizona-Utah border as soon as we saw people they would rush inside. But it is a unique time right now. Warren Jeffs' control over his people is so severe and every family has been affected.

He is just breaking families up at will and sending patriarchs off. Some of the men haven't seen their families and children for years. And people are starting to really wonder why. Things are at a standstill right now.

Warren Jeffs is the only person who can perform marriages and he has stopped performing marriages. So right now people are really, really frustrated. And Becky and Roy want to seize this opportunity to try and convey information to people inside the FLDS that their father is not who they think he is.

TAPPER: Can you explain and I'm sure you go into much more detail in your show, but can you explain how he still controls these people even though he's in prison?

LING: Well, I mean, the people believe he's a hand of God. What Becky said before she was out of his good graces, she was able to visit him early on. And she would go in with other family members and they would always be wearing these watches that she believes were recording devices.

Some of his brothers, some of his wives would wear these watches. And when they would go into visit him he was allowed ten people on his list, they would record revelations.

That he would espouse from inside prison and they the next day he would mysteriously be able to translate directly these messages from Warren Jeffs. She believes that's how his messages have been getting through to the people.

TAPPER: That's astounding and terrifying at the same time. Lisa Ling, thank you so much. You can catch the full episode on this topic on the season two premiere of "This Is Life" with Lisa Ling tonight here on CNN at 9:00 p.m. Eastern and Pacific. Be sure to follow me on Facebook and Twitter @jaketapper or tweet the show @theleadcnn. That's it for THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper. Turning over to one Mr. Wolf Blitzer in "THE SITUATION ROOM."

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now, breaking news. Russia strikes suddenly with little warning Russian jets go into action over Syria.