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THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER
Will Joe Biden Throw His Hat In The Ring?; Sanders Gaining Momentum; CIA Director's And Department of Homeland Security Secretary's Private Email Accounts Reportedly Hacked; American Claims He Battled ISIS; Regulators Consider Owner Registration For Drones. Aired 4:30-5p ET
Aired October 19, 2015 - 16:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hillary Clinton came out of this debate a bit strengthened in the national polls, not a lot, but a little bit. If Biden doesn't run, she's still in a commanding place, as we wait, as we wait and we wait for that decision.
TAPPER: And we are also looking at this poll to find out if Democrats want Vice President Joe Biden to run.
What's -- what are we being told there?
KING: An interesting number, not an overwhelming shift, but look at this for the vice president.
In August, 53 percent of Democrats, Democrats, said, Mr. Vice President, please jump in, join the fray. After the debate, just 47 percent say, Mr. Vice President, join the race, so a six-point drop. Could that be they're just tired of waiting? Could it be they like the candidates they saw on the debate stage? Could it be a combination of those things?
Most likely a combination of those things. But as the vice president mulls his decision -- we're told it will come any time, definitely by the end of the month -- he could take note fewer Democrats say, come on in, Mr. Vice President. So, for one reason or another, they want that decision.
TAPPER: All right, John King, thanks so much.
CNN senior White House correspondent Jim Acosta is also here to talk about that subject itself.
Jim, Vice President Biden delivering remarks at a climate change event right now. He has not said anything yet at this event about his 2016 decision.
JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right.
TAPPER: Do we have any better idea if he's going to jump into the race or not? ACOSTA: A better idea? No.
I think we're starting to get some sense that, yes, this week, there should be an announcement. But having said that, the usual caveats apply. He could change his mind. He could potentially put this decision off. But several Democratic sources that we're talking to, Jake, they continue to believe that some sort of announcement from Vice President Biden could come this week.
But those expectations have been dashed before. And some leaders in his party believe Biden has waited too long to get in. The latest tea leaves, though, Biden is said to be meeting with advisers tonight. His team is setting up interviews with potential campaign staffers. Biden has also personally spoken with the president of the International Firefighters Union, Harold Schaitberger.
A source familiar with that call told me over the weekend that Biden told Schaitberger on Friday that his decision is imminent. The two talked strategy. Biden sounded like he was running. Now enter this. Pennsylvania Democratic Congressman Brendan Boyle tweeted just this morning that his own source says Biden will run. I talked to Boyle this afternoon. The congressman says his tweet is accurate. He's standing by it.
He says about Joe Biden, if he does not run, if he didn't run, it would be pulling back from a decision that's already been made.
But, Jake, the White House is fielding questions on this matter every day and sources close to the vice president say he has not made a formal decision yet. There's a lot of wiggle room. But when you talk to senior Democratic leaders in Washington right now, they're saying what they're hearing from the vice president's team is that they know they have to make a decision soon, that the vice president has to make a decision soon.
The question is when. A lot of people pointing to this dinner, this J.J. Dinner in Iowa.
TAPPER: Jefferson Jackson Dinner.
TAPPER: Oh, it's not called that anymore, is it? Right. OK. Never mind.
ACOSTA: It depends on the state, but, yes, on Saturday, there's a major Democratic dinner. Hillary Clinton and other Democratic candidates will be there. Will Joe Biden be there? If he misses this, people are saying it's kind of over at that point.
TAPPER: I'm still waiting to hear his path to the nomination, but that's another talk for another day.
Jim Acosta, thank you so much. If Vice President Biden does decide to run, well, "Saturday Night
Live" will have to find somebody new to play him now that Jason Sudeikis is no longer kicking around Studio 8H. But "SNL" already pulled someone in off the street to play the role of Democratic Senator, independent Senator, rather, Bernie Sanders.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LARRY DAVID, ACTOR: I don't have a super PAC. I don't even have a backpack.
DAVID: I carry my stuff around loose in my arms like a professor...
DAVID: .. you know, between classes. I own one pair of underwear. That's it. Some of these billionaires, they got three, four pairs. And I don't have a dryer. I have to put my clothes on the radiator.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: Let's go down to CNN's Sunlen Serfaty. She's in Oskaloosa, Iowa, where Bernie Sanders held a rally at William Penn University just a few hours ago.
Sunlen, Sanders says that our latest poll is evidence that he has some momentum.
SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right. And the Sanders campaign, Jake, will point to his boost in favorability ratings in this poll that he received after the debate.
They believe that the more people are introduced to him, the more people see him, the better he does. And that's certainly one of the big reasons why the Sanders campaign seems to be really embracing and using to their advantage this moment on "Saturday Night Live" with Larry David.
Sanders in fact the last two days since it happened on "Saturday Night Live" has really been at every campaign event mostly mentioning that moment, really playing it up, using it to his advantage. And I spoke to him earlier today about this poll and also if he intends to see a Larry David boost. Here's what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (VT-I), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The momentum is with us. There was a poll that came out in New Hampshire today that had us pretty comfortably ahead.
But I freely concede, we started off this campaign, I was at 3 percent in the polls. And kind of people thought I was a fringe candidate. I think we have made a lot of progress in the last five months. And I think we have got a real shot to win this. [16:35:00]
I'm giving serious thought, Larry Davis does Bernie Sanders better than Bernie Sanders does Bernie Sanders. So maybe we will invite Larry to do the next rally. I don't know.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SERFATY: And right there is what the challenge is and has been for this duration of this campaign for Bernie Sanders, is that he has to really appeal to a broader group of voters, going from, in his words, this fringe candidate to more of a mainstream candidate.
So, certainly, the campaign here is believing that this Larry David moment gives him a small opening to introduce him to many more people. Certainly going to play that to their advantage, but key, Jake, as you know, is turning this into tangible votes -- Jake.
TAPPER: All right. Sunlen Serfaty in Oskaloosa, Iowa, thanks so much.
The national lead now. Did the man who runs the CIA get hacked by a high school computer whiz? That teen claims he not only access John Brennan's home AOL account. He's also explaining how and why.
Stay with us.
TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.
Making some headlines in our national lead today, two top national security officials reportedly had their e-mail accounts hacked. The FBI and Secret Service are now investigating claims made by an anonymous American teenager who says he was able to access the private e-mails of CIA Director John Brennan and Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson.
Let's get right to CNN justice reporter Evan Perez.
Evan, CNN has spoken to the alleged hacker. How did this happen and what was his motive?
EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: We don't know exactly his identity. But we have talked to somebody who we believe is purporting to be the hacker, Jake.
And he says a lot of things, about that he's got anti-government feelings. Essentially, he wanted to shame John Brennan and Jeh Johnson. We have a quote from him. He spoke to Wesley Bruer, a producer here at CNN.
"John and Jeh are both very big people and high-ranking people. So, I mean, if we hack them, they would be ashamed. But it was really because the government are killing innocent people. They also fund Israel for killing innocent people."
Obviously, this is a reference to U.S. policy with Israel and Palestinians. We also note a few of his tweets that he's put out today. "As promised, here's the head of CIA's e-mail contact list." He says he has a lot of information that came from John Brennan's AOL account.
And, as promised -- I'm sorry -- there's another one -- as he says: "Jeh Johnson's Comcast account has been compromised yet again." OK, this is not e-mail account, but more of a Comcast e-mail that Jeh Johnson didn't really use very much. It appears more important here is John Brennan's information from this AOL account.
TAPPER: And how sophisticated an attack was it? Was there any sensitive information that was compromised?
PEREZ: I'm told by officials that no classified information is in there, but there is some sensitive stuff.
There is the SF-86 that John Brennan filled out.
TAPPER: What is the SF-86?
PEREZ: SF-86 is a government form that he would have filled out in order to get a classified security clearance. This is something that he would have sent from his private e-mail because this was done before Brennan came back to government service.
So there's that, and perhaps some other information from CIA personnel that he might have been in touch with.
TAPPER: And what's been the response from either the CIA or the Department of Homeland Security?
PEREZ: Well, neither of them is confirming that these -- the accounts of these two officials, but we do have a statement from the CIA that says that the -- where was this statement?
"We are aware of the reports that have surfaced on social media and have referred the matter to the appropriate authorities." A similar statement from DHS. Again, this is something that the FBI and the Secret Service are investigating.
TAPPER: Presumably, they would just say it wasn't true if it wasn't true.
PEREZ: That's what we think.
TAPPER: All right. Evan Perez, thank you so much.
TAPPER: Next in the buried lead, instead of just talking about fighting ISIS, one American veteran did it. Now he's telling CNN how he Googled how to take on the terrorist group without any military backup. And cracking down on a free-flying business in the money lead, why it
soon could be much easier to keep drones from flying off the handle and into places they do not belong.
TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. Now it's time for our Buried Lead. That's what we call stories that don't get enough attention in our view. We have covered the westerners who've left the home countries to fight alongside ISIS terrorists.
Less publicized are those who've braved the battlefield to try to kill ISIS terrorists. Clay Lawton, a 27-year-old Rhode Island man had enlisted in the U.S. Army, but the former infantry man never saw combat.
That is until he took it upon himself to join the armed forces of the Kurds in Syria and do what the Obama administration has said it will not do engage ISIS in Syria as a ground troop in all-out ground warfare providing his own boots on the ground.
CLAY LAWTON, ANTI-ISIS FIGHTER: Running across the field getting an RPG and I was on the roof and hit him.
TAPPER (voice-over): The 27-year-old American veteran, Clay Lawton, says he recently killed an ISIS terrorist in Syria.
LAWTON: It felt good. I came to do something and I finally did it.
TAPPER: He finally completed a personal mission to take the fight to the enemy. One he never got close to in the U.S. Army. He never saw combat there.
LAWTON: I was always upset about not getting deployed or anything like that. So I wanted to make up for that and I think I did.
TAPPER: Back home in Rhode Island after months of fighting war abroad, Lawton tells CNN that finding a way into the fight against ISIS was easy, he Googled it.
LAWTON: During my lunch break, I looked up how I could fight them. So I did some research on that and I found a YPG.
TAPPER: Lawton reached out to Syria's anti-ISIS militia group, the Kurdish YPG on Facebook. The page titled "Lions of Rojava" boasts pictures of western fighters who were lost in battle along with a packing list for potential new recruits including socks, zip ties and ballistic eye wear. Lawton says he was quickly given a contact number and told to call when he arrived at the airport in Iraq.
LAWTON: In all reality it could have been ISIS. I have no idea. You can't really tell. I put my trust in this source and it ended up working out, thank God. TAPPER: Once in Syria, Lawton filmed as he participated in raids like this which he posted to Facebook. He took photos. When the "New York Times" Jennifer Percy interviewed him near the city of Teltamer (ph), it all captures a life in stark contrast to the picturesque peace of his hometown in Rhode Island.
According to a recent study, joining the militia is something more than 100 other Americans and many Europeans have done in the past year alone.
LAWTON: We just hang out in here.
TAPPER: Among the first was Army Veteran Jordan Matson from Wisconsin, who helped recruit Lawton and others through social media.
JORDAN MATSON, ANTI-ISIS FIGHTER: I've had ex-military from Eastern Europe, Western Europe, Canada, the United States, Australia. You name it, they've been asking.
TAPPER: CNN spoke with Matson in Syria last year just months later Lawton joined in describing the group as a bunch of friends with guns more than an organized army.
[16:50:04] LAWTON: A lot of people I think might have been running away from something. What we all had in common was we all just wanted to fight ISIS.
TAPPER: Lawton says he witnessed the number of westerners fighting ISIS on the battlefield growing by the month. But the number of ISIS fighters they face is much larger than he ever imagined.
LAWTON: It's not just a couple of pockets of terrorists. It's a huge army. It's important that they be stopped.
TAPPER: Going on your own to stop them however is not recommended. The Justice Department stopped short of saying it was against the law but added, quote, "Regardless of the legality, it is a bad idea and we strongly discourage it."
Lawton says food supplies and support in Syria were scarce. But the only reason he returned home to these quiet manicured streets was because he wasn't able to fight more.
LAWTON: There's a lull in the fighting at that time and we were really getting tired of guard duty. We wanted to attack. We wanted to relentlessly move forward and that wasn't the case. We just needed a break, you know.
TAPPER: Next in our Money Lead, setting some new rules for the booming drone business. Stay with us.
[16:55:26] TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. Our Money Lead now, drones are becoming a booming business, so much so the Federal Aviation Administration expects more than a million drones to fly off the shelves this holiday season.
Meanwhile, regulators are still trying to catch up. Drones have flown too close to commercial flights. They have crashed at major sporting events. They have even wrecked on the White House lawn.
Rogue drones going where they should not go is nothing new, but now federal regulators hope to reign them in with plans to register each drone to its owner.
Let's bring in CNN's Rene Marsh. Rene, how are regulators planning to combat illegal use of drones. Is this a serious proposal?
RENE MARSH, CNN AVIATION AND GOVERNMENT REGULATION CORRESPONDENT: The spike in these near misses, in these close calls with drones they really have the federal government uneasy. Today what they announced is create a registry to help track drones to their owners and they hope to have it in place before the Christmas holiday.
MARSH (voice-over): They've breached some of the most secure air space in the United States including the White House and they've nearly collided with commercial planes, even medical choppers en route to emergencies.
UNIDENTIFIED MEDIVAC H1: Tower, medevac we almost got hit by a drone just to let you know up here.
MARSH: The LAPD arrested this man for nearly crashing his drone into a police chopper. In most cases authorities get the drone but not the operator. Federal safety regulators say that's about to change.
ANTHONY FOXX, SECRETARY OF TRANSPORTATION: We're going to require operators of drones to register their aircraft.
MARSH: The FAA hopes to force consumers to provide personal information when they buy a drone so it can be tracked back to the owner.
FOX: I think many if not most users will comply because there are penalties associated with using these devices and the national air space without complying with the registration requirement.
MARSH: The FAA says this year pilots report around 100 drone sightings every month with nearly 1,000 drone sightings so far this year the number of reports has nearly quadrupled since 2014. But the FAA says it's only penalized 20 rogue operators.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Register is a first good point of getting to know whether the pilot is and who the pilot is, but surely it's not enough. It does not protect anything so that you need a little bit more because the bad guys certainly will not certify their drones and not have them registered.
MARSH: The Department of Transportation hopes to have new rules in place in time for the holiday season.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MARSH: The idea is if authorities have the rogue drone they can run a serial number against a national registry which would trace it back to the owner. But the key question that remains is what kind of personal information will consumers have to provide?
And also, how will regulators enforce this to make sure that new drone owners as well as current drone owners actually register? Jake, it is very clear that this is not a silver bullet.
TAPPER: The market has far outpaced the government on this. Rene Marsh, thanks so much.
A new trailer for the latest installment in the "Star Wars" series is set to make its debut tonight. Disney's subsidiary ESPN will air the preview for "Star Wars, The Force Awakens" during halftime of tonight's Monday night football game where the Philadelphia Eagles will take on the New York Giants.
Fly, Eagles, fly, by the way. Disney acquired Lucas Film from "Star Wars" creator, George Lucas, for $4 billion back in 2012. Once the trailer airs you can buy your tickets to the film's December 18th opening. So may the force be with you, and with the Eagles.
Oprah Winfrey known for her Midas touch anything she touches immediately becomes consumer gold. Now Weight Watchers is hoping for a little piece of that magic. Today the company announced the partnership with her royal Oprahness.
She will buy a 10 percent stake or about $43 million and take a seat on the board of directors. The company says that the move is part of moving away from just focusing on weight loss to also look at overall health and happiness.
Its business has been on a diet of its own. Profits have been down nearly 50 percent this year. But after today's news shares more than doubled, Midas touch indeed.
A reminder about this programming note, Republican frontrunner, Donald Trump, will be a guest on "NEW DAY" tomorrow morning at 6:00 a.m. Eastern here on CNN. Be sure to follow me on Facebook and Twitter @jaketapper or tweet the show @theleadcnn.
That's it for THE LEAD this Monday. I'm Jake Tapper. I now turn you over to one Mr. Wolf Blitzer right next door in "THE SITUATION ROOM."