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THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER
Sen. Cruz Addresses Media After Crazy Campaign Day; Scalia's Sons Reflect on Father's Life and Legacy; Could Billionaire Candidate Balance The Budget?; Trump Vows To Fight Fraud Allegations. Aired 4:30-5p ET
Aired February 26, 2016 - 16:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: And I'll tell you, on Tuesday, we're going to have a very good night. We saw yesterday in my home state of Texas.
[16:30:02] We got a double digit lead in the state of Texas, the crown jewel of Super Tuesday, 155 delegates. Nearly 15 percent of what's required for the nomination.
In contrast we saw yesterday, poll numbers showing that Marco is behind by double digits in his home state of Florida.
Anyone who wants to win the nomination has to win a state somewhere. And I believe we're going to have a very good Super Tuesday. And that in turn will tee up a very clear choice. Do you want to go with Donald Trump, and have the general election in November be two rich New York liberals? Or do we want a real choice of a proven constitutional conservative who will fight for the working men and women?
And let me know, one of the things that was abundantly clear last night -- Donald Trump has framed the corner piece of his campaign around illegal immigration. And yet the debate last night highlighted that Donald Trump is the only person running who has had a million- dollar court judgment against him for participating in a conspiracy. And that's what the federal court found was a conspiracy to hire illegal aliens.
Not only that but it was reveal that Donald right now today -- this is not even in past practice -- this is today what he's doing right now, continues to bring in hundreds of foreign workers at his Florida hotel, rather than hiring American workers. It was reported yesterday that roughly 300 Americans applied for those jobs and he hired only 17 Americans. And yet he certified to the government he couldn't find any Americans to do the job.
I've got to say it was striking. Donald did an interview on CNN after the debate last night where he said the reason he brings in all these foreign workers is because no American is willing to do the job of being a waiter or waitress or being a bell hop. That is astonishing statement to the millions of Americans who worked as waiters. Go down to TGI Fridays.
And, by the way, this isn't just a waiter anywhere. This is a waiter at really chichi hotel in Palm Beach. Donald Trump is really maintaining there are no Americans he can find willing to be waiters and waitresses at a fancy hotel in Palm Beach?
What he is really saying is from his perspective, he would rather foreign workers who can't quit, who are captive, who he can pay a lot lower wages, and a man who has a multi-decade history of exploiting the immigration laws to take advantage of the little guy is not someone we can trust to stand with the working men and women of this country. Just three years ago, 2013 was the epic battle over amnesty. Anyone who actually cared about amnesty, cared about illegal immigration. Where you stood in 2013 answers everything the voters need to know.
When I was leading the fight against the Rubio-Schumer "gang of eight" amnesty bill, Donald Trump was firing Dennis Rodman on "Celebrity Apprentice". But not only that, Donald funded the "gang of eight". Donald gave over $50,000 to the "gang of eight", five of the eight members, three Democrats and two Republicans, Donald Trump gave over $50,000 to.
Now, how can a candidate possibly hold himself out as opposed to the illegal immigration, opposed to amnesty, when he financed the politicians that led the epic effort to push for amnesty? And by the way, Donald's natural response, he said, "When I gave money to politicians, I was doing it to help my business interests, for me to get rich."
Well, that says something if Donald puts his own financial interests above the national security of this country, above the interests of working men and women of this country. Above the interests of all the people who are losing their jobs. And the people whose futures are at stake that I want to speak to here in Tennessee and all across Super Tuesday are the men and women, the construction workers, the carpenters, it's the truck drivers, it's the electricians, it's the mechanics. It's the people getting hammered by the Obama-Clinton economy. It's the people who illegal immigrants are taking their jobs and driving down their wages.
I have spent my whole life fighting for you. Donald Trump's agenda, Donald Trump's socialized medicine will take away your jobs, will kill even more jobs, will hammer small businesses. And Donald Trump's proposal to allow the 12 million people here illegally to become U.S. citizens will only continue to drive down the wages of working men and women.
There's only one person on that stage that has fought against amnesty at every stage, has beaten amnesty in the U.S. Congress, despite Donald Trump giving $50,000 to the authors of the amnesty bill. And there is only one person I believe the voters can trust, will stand consistently with the working men and women against the corrupt career politicians of Washington and the special interests.
[16:35:02] Last night, Donald Trump said, "Ted, I know Washington politicians a lot better than you do. He's right." That's why he supported Jimmy Carter and Harry Reid and Chuck Schumer and John Kerry and Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden. Donald Trump has supported liberal Democrats for 40 years. He
supported open border Democrats for 40 years.
And I think the stakes are too great. The threats to the future of our kids are too great to roll the dice with a Donald Trump nomination, or a Donald Trump presidency. Instead, we need a proven consistent conservative.
You know, Donald has said, the day after he's elected president, he can be an entirely different person. He can be the most politically correct person on earth.
Let me tell you, the day after I'm elected president, I will be the same person I am today -- consistent, steady, standing by my principles. I think that's what the voters want, because we've been burn too many times before.
REPORTER: How are you doing in Tennessee, sir?
TAPPER: Senator Ted Cruz talking to reporters in Nashville.
The death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia left an enormous hole on the bench. What about the hole it left in his family? For the first time since Justice Scalia's passing, we will hear from two of Scalia's sons about their father's legacy. That interview, next.
[16:40:37] TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.
The late Justice Antonin Scalia leaves behind a monumental legacy as one of the most brilliant legal minds in American history and as the leading conservative voice of the U.S. Supreme Court. His opinions were unforgettable, even if your social beliefs and philosophy clashed with his.
But what about Nino Scalia -- an Italian-American from New Jersey, a father of nine children, a devout Catholic, the personal stories about the man that the American people rarely had a chance to see?
Joining me now are Gene Scalia and Father Paul Scalia, two of the nine children of the late Justice Antonin Scalia. This is the first sit- down interview they've done since their father passed away.
Thank you so much for joining me and really, really appreciate it.
And first off the bat, how is your mom doing? And how is the rest of your family doing?
FR. PAUL SCALIA, SON OF LATE JUSTICE ANTONIN SCALIA: Well, this is where nine children and 36 grandchildren make all the difference. She's not alone and she's got plenty of people there to support her and to come by and visit her. A lot of life around her. So --
TAPPER: Fifty-five years of marriage is quite a thing. EUGENE SCALIA, ELDEST SON OF LATE JUSTICE ANTONIN SCALIA: That's
right. And nine children and 36 grandchildren. And it helps to have a priest in the family, too.
TAPPER: Right. I'll bet.
When your father passed away, eight of his colleagues made a rare public appearance all together without their black robes. It's something you don't see very often.
Father Paul, you were there leading the prayer when they came by the casket and they stood in front of his casket.
What did they have to say to you and your family?
P. SCALIA: Well, we had a chance to visit with them before and after for a longer time after that brief prayer. And they were very gracious and expressed their pain and their mourning because they genuinely really liked him. Even those who are so opposed to him in terms of jurisprudence. They really felt the loss as well. And so, it was just consoling one another, that loss. And they had some great stories to tell about him as well.
TAPPER: It is really a remarkable thing, how many people who didn't agree with a word he had to say on the law, loved him dearly. You saw the outpouring of individuals who work at the Supreme Court and one of the most touching obviously is his friendship with Ruth Bader Ginsburg, perhaps the most liberal member of the court.
E. SCALIA: It was a wonderful friendship that goes back even before their time together on the court of appeals they both served on. And as has been reported, the families would often have dinner together on New Year's Eve. And I remember years back, sitting there and feeling comforted that my father had such a wonderful friend on the court and that my mother also was so close to her husband Marty who was a wonderful man.
It was wonderful to see that, although they didn't always agree on cases there was still that strong friendship between my father and that colleague and others too.
TAPPER: Your homily for your father was very beautiful. And that's the right term, right?
P. SCALIA: He would prefer sermon.
TAPPER: Sermon, OK.
E. SCALIA: But you persuaded him that was wrong and that was correct.
P. SCALIA: Well, one of our last conversations, we had that argument yet again and I think I got him around to my way of thinking.
TAPPER: So, I'll go with you, given that you're the judge here. And you started it with a very interesting writerly, sermonly method. You started talking about -- well, let's take a listen. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
P. SCALIA: We are gathered here because of one man, a man known personally to many of us, known by reputation to even more. A man loved by many, scorned by others, a man known for great controversy and for great compassion. That man, of course, is Jesus of Nazareth.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: Of course, we, I thought you were talking about your father, not Jesus. It seems like that's something your dad would have liked, based on my limited knowledge of him. He would have liked the cleverness of it and also the focus back on the faith.
P. SCALIA: Well, he certainly did not want it to be about him and, which is why he didn't like eulogies at funerals. There's a place for eulogies, a place to remember the good a person has done and everything, and to tell the stories.
But the funeral mass is different and the funeral mass is really focused on Jesus Christ and on giving thanks for what has been accomplished. And even more so, praying for the deceased.
TAPPER: Was it difficult for you as a son or others in your family, when you heard the way that many liberals, progressives and even many main stream people in the media talked about your dad? He was a lightning rod.
E. SCALIA: He had his critics. He got used to it. We got used to it. Certainly we understood that there were many people who didn't agree with him on certain legal questions, who nonetheless had a lot of respect for his approach to the law.
And I think we're seeing that even more now. So we got used to it and we certainly have drawn support from a lot of the nice things that have been said over the last couple of weeks.
TAPPER: You also in the homily or sermon referred to an interesting moment between you and your father. Let's play a little of that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
P. SCALIA: He had found himself in my confessional line and he quickly departed it. As he put it later, like heck, if I'm confessing to you. The feeling was mutual.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: What role did faith play in his life?
P. SCALIA: Well, it was, I mean, very important. It was central and I think faith and his family were the two most central things. Most people of course will see him as just the legal scholar. That's what he was most known for and visible for.
But behind that is really how much he valued the family and his faith. And I mean, I think each sibling has different takeaways and everything. Most important to me is the example he set and how I saw him strive to live that.
TAPPER: Obviously the vacancy has become a huge political issue in Washington. Just hours after he passed away it became, I'm sure he would have wanted to be replaced by a conservative justice.
Do you have any idea what he would have thought about this debate about whether or not the next president should be the one who decides to fill the vacancy or whether as the president, the current president argues, it is his constitutional duty to submit a name?
E. SCALIA: I would only be speculating. My father was careful to try to avoid getting into what is a political controversy now unless it appeared before him as a case. I should stay clear of that one, I think.
TAPPER: Last question for both of you, what do you want people to know about him that they might not know? They know he was a brilliant legal mind, that he was a conservative icon, they know that he had a way with words. What are we missing? What should we also know?
P. SCALIA: Well, I think what I said before about how devoted he was to the family. How much he saw that really as his achievement. To be the father of a big family and to have all those kids and grandkids around behind that he really treasured and that's not some go that shows up a lot.
E. SCALIA: How wonderful his wife was for him as well. And his faith. Again, easy for Paul to talk about. That's his job. But I didn't appreciate until now how important his faith would be to me dealing with the circumstances we're now in and finding grace in it.
TAPPER: We're so honored that you came here. Thank you so much for talking to us. Again, our deepest condolences on your loss. I know it is a big loss.
E. SCALIA: Thank you for having us.
TAPPER: People pay thousands of dollars to learn the art of the deal from Donald Trump and his top executives. They claim, some of them, that they were had. Now Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz are seizing on the billionaire's legal troubles from Trump University. That story next.
TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper. Let's move now to our National Lead. Waste, fraud and abuse, kind of has a ring to it. The problem, however, with Donald Trump's line last night is that we still don't know how the billionaire would really get the country out of $19 trillion in debt as he says he would.
In today's segment, "America's Debt and The Economy," we'll take a closer look. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST, "THE SITUATION ROOM": The current deficit this year is $544 billion. Where will you come up with the money?
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Waste, fraud and abuse, all over the place. Waste, fraud and abuse.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: OK. So let's imagine that we had accurate accounts of all the government's waste, fraud and abuse and that President Trump fixed all of it like magic. Quote, "improper payments" by the government account for nearly $137 billion. That's less than one-third of this year's deficit. That's according to the best available estimate from the Government Accountability Office.
There are $639 billion worth of potential cuts according to the think tank, "Citizens Against Government Waste." That's well above the annual deficit. So it all depends on who you ask and what their definition of waste, fraud, and abuse is.
When the watch dogs in Washington can't even agree, it becomes a question. Donald Trump's plan becomes even more perplexing.
[16:55:06]But even if Trump's plan were to fix annual deficit and this is the key moment now, it would do nothing to fix the $19 trillion in long term debt that already exists.
At last night's Republican debate, Donald Trump also found himself taking quite a bit of fire from his rivals, hoping to halt the GOP frontrunner's momentum including this attack from Marco Rubio over Trump's now defunct school, Trump University.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARCO RUBIO (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: There are people who borrowed $36,000 to go to Trump University and they're suing him now. That's a fake school.
TRUMP: By the way --
RUBIO: You take a picture of a cardboard cutout of Donald Trump. That's what they got for their $36,000.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: Trump is currently being sued by a number of former students who enrolled at the university and who now claim that the real estate billionaire is nothing more than a fraud. CNN investigative correspondent, Drew Griffin, has been looking into the allegations. He filed this report.
DREW GRIFFIN, CNN INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This was the promise of Trump University when it launched direct from the university chairman's own mouth.
TRUMP: At Trump University we teach success, that's what it is all about, success. It's going to happen to you.
GRIFFIN: It operated from 2005 through 2010 and enrolled 10,000 students in real estate courses that ranged from free seminars, up to $35,000 for advanced training and mentoring. Trump University took in an estimated $40 million from people who believed they too could someday become successful.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Put proven Donald Trump secrets to work for you.
GRIFFIN: But it turns out not everything Donald Trump promises comes true and not all of his businesses lead to success. Trump University is closed.
(on camera): And it ended. Why did it end?
ALAN GARTEN, DONALD TRUMP'S ATTORNEY: The economy crashed. The real estate market crashed and demand fell off a little bit.
GRIFFIN (voice-over): Alan Garten is Donald Trump's attorney. He is defending the school from three separate lawsuits. Two class action lawsuits filed in California and one filed by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.
It is one of the California cases Donald Trump has been named as a witness. Pretrial motions in May. Trial date set for August, but all three cases are similar. New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman filed his in 2013. Then went on CNN to explain it.
ERIC SCHNEIDERMAN, NEW YORK ATTORNEY GENERAL: It was a classic bait- and-switch scheme. It was a scam starting with the fact that it was not a university. They promised they would teach people with handpicked experts by Donald Trump. The teachers were neither has not picked nor experts.
GARTEN: He was very involved. From the early stages he was meeting regularly, every week, every two weeks with the people who would run the day-to-day operations of the course.
GRIFFIN (on camera): So the allegation that he had nothing to do with this, that he didn't pick a single expert as the New York attorney general has claimed, you say is completely false.
GARTEN: It is completely untrue, 100 percent untrue.
GRIFFIN (voice-over): The New York attorney general declined to be interviewed for this report, but provided CNN with six of the 150 affidavits he says he's collected from unsatisfied Trump University students, who mostly complained their education at the school was worthless.
Those suing claim they were promised the tools and strategies and mentoring it would take to make them success in real estate. In reality, they claim they learn not much at all. One student wrote, "I've not been able to get in touch with anyone after I signed up for the Trump gold elite program." Another student who paid $25,000 to have special access to high level mentors, claims he hasn't been able to get in touch with his nonexistent power team.
GARTEN: There's at least 10,000 people who paid so you can go pick three or four affidavits or 30 affidavits. It is a miniscule amount. I have in my bag and I'm happy to read to you all the people who loved the course.
GRIFFIN: He did provide CNN with 14 affidavits from satisfied student. Garten says Trump will continue to fight all three lawsuits until he eventually wins. Even if legal fees wipe out any profit he may have made.
GRIFFIN: Jake, it is a strategy Donald Trump reiterated last night. He intends to fight this case and win it. But there is a real possibility that the Republican presidential candidate could be called to a witness stand in a fraud trial right during the middle of a presidential campaign.
We're a long way from that though. Pretrial motions set for May. The trial date is in August, but this year's long case could drag on and on for a lot longer than that -- Jake.
TAPPER: Drew Griffin, thank you so much. Be sure to follow me on Facebook and Twitter @jaketapper or tweet the show @theleadcnn.
Don't forget to watch "STATE OF THE UNION" this Sunday at 9:00 a.m. Eastern and noon Eastern. Among my guests, Republican presidential candidates, John Kasich, the governor of Ohio, and Ted Cruz, a senator from Texas.
That's it for THE LEAD. I am Jake Tapper. Thank you so much for watching. I turn you over now to Wolf Blitzer who is right next door in "THE SITUATION ROOM."