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THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER

Tense Protests Outside Trump Speech in California; Interview with U.S. Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama; Zika Fight Worth Emergency Funding?; Host Larry Wilmore Talks Race, And Dissing The President. Aired 4:30-5p ET

Aired April 29, 2016 - 16:30   ET

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


JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Is this the new normal, do you think, when it comes to Trump rallies, that there's just going to be this violence surrounding it?

[16:30:01] KEVIN MADDEN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: It is. I think what's interesting about a lot of these scenes is a lot of it is not really new to us if you've been following the Trump campaign to this point. I think the interesting thing to see, one of -- if there's a change in the political dynamic is and how the public starts to react to it.

And I think the candidate himself, Donald Trump, has fed off the clashes of political civilizations, where it's protesters and then his protesters battling back and forth, and he's sort of given rise or served -- offered up himself as a vehicle for a lot of the voter anger that you've seen at some of these events. I think now, it will be interesting as we move closer and closer to a general election, on whether or not it begins to start to turn people off, and if other -- some of his supporters start to worry that this doesn't look like a campaign that can win in a general election because it looks too divisive. It's not unifying sectors of the electorate. That would be interesting.

But the coverage of it --

TAPPER: Yes.

MADDEN: -- is breathless live action of, you know, a lot of the anger out there, I think we're going to be seeing all the way to the general.

TAPPER: Paul, let me ask you. Is there a risk for Democrats? Obviously, we've seen baked into the Trump support and his high negatives is concerns about whether he encourages violence among his protesters against -- among his supporters against protesters.

But in the last day or so and previously as well, we've seen the anti- Trump forces displaying violence. Last night, we saw some of that. Those anti-Trump protesters against police. It got bloody and then the Trump supporters came out and it got even uglier. PAUL BEGALA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Exactly. And my sister and

brother progressives need to take heed. You know, protest is a great American tradition but we should never resort to violence and we should never resort to the heckler's veto.

Donald Trump's views are in the eyes of most progressives, and in my eyes, odious. He has a perfect right to articulate those views and should not be blocked from going into his speech or shut it down.

But I do think Trump incites and encourages this. I think he wants that. He wants this sort of backlash effect. I think progressives shouldn't give it to him. There's no excuse for violence.

And, again, I hate the hecklers. Don't ever want to shut anybody's speech down.

TAPPER: Yes.

BEGALA: But he has said in his previous speeches, he said there would be riots at the night of the convention. He said he wanted to punch a protester in the face personally. He has said in the old days -- he said this in Fayetteville, North Carolina, where there was violence at his rally -- in the old days, they were very, very rough on how they treated protesters. So, shame on him for inciting that and shame on anybody else for feeding it.

TAPPER: Let's talk about the Clinton interview. I'm really eager to hear what Nina thinks.

Nina, you're a supporter of Bernie Sanders. You had a lot to say about Bernie Sanders, about what he wants to be in the platform, about what he might be going through right now. What did you take away from it? What struck you?

NINA TURNER, BERNIE SANDERS SUPPORTER: Well, thank you for that, Jake.

I mean, still -- I still get the impression that many Clinton supporters believe that Senator Sanders is a minor annoyance. That he is somehow a sparring partner for the secretary.

He is still very much in his face to win this race. We know that the path is very narrow, we will admit that. But he is still in it and he's going all the way to the primary.

And the issues that he's fighting for, this is not just about setting a platform. This is really about changing the dynamics of America to be what Congresswoman Barbara Jordan once said, what the people want is simple. They want America as good as its promise.

So, it's not just about adopting a platform as much a it is putting forth the energy and political will to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour. To fight for, as hard as it will be but as much as it takes for universal health care as a moral right in this country, and to make sure that we protect Social Security and expand it. To make sure that we -- for our young people, make sure that they don't graduate with debt in one hand and a degree in the other one.

And, Jake, the other thing about the whole notion of one woman, one man, one vote, that as Democrats, we've been standing up proudly and fighting against voter suppression, I think both parties will do well to look at their agendas and make sure that we are not suppressing votes and I'm speaking particularly to the closed primaries that take place in the United States of America.

And, one more point, Jake. I know the secretary said that she's been able to deal with men off the reservation. As an historian, I would caution any of us in this country to talk about anybody being off the reservation. Let us not forget that the colonists of this country stole the land from our Native American brothers and sisters --

TAPPER: Right.

TURNER: -- and government put them on reservations. So, we have to be careful with that type of language as well.

TAPPER: A lot -- yes, a lot of people not aware of it. But the term "off the reservation" is very offensive to a lot of Native Americans. Thanks for that reminder.

TURNER: Yes.

TAPPER: Paul, I do want to ask you a question about Clinton saying she's not going to respond to Trump's personal attacks. That's what Jeb Bush tried to do.

BEGALA: Yes, I think she's doing it in a very different way. Look at the ad she's running right now. She ran -- the last ad she ran in Pennsylvania, it's called "Love and Kindness". Very much evocative of the speech that Robert Kennedy gave on the night Dr. King was murdered, where he said, what we need in this country is more love and kindness. That's the better answer I think. I don't ever worry about Hillary's ability to counterpunch, OK?

TAPPER: What do you think, Kevin, having watched the Republicans deal with Trump's attacks?

MADDEN: Yes. Well, I think one of the things that was odd during the Republican primary was that these super PACs that were well-funded, they didn't do the job of what -- that they should have been done, which was defining Donald Trump negatively while their candidates sought to bring together --

[16:35:07] TAPPER: Yes, they went after Rubio --

MADDEN: Right. That part of the electorate that was never Trump could have been consolidated much earlier.

So, I think what Hillary Clinton will do is focus on really drawing some contrasts that are favorable for her with the key demographics that she knows right now Donald Trump is alienating -- independents, women, suburban voters. As long as she does that and leaves the dirty work to all these guys on the outside with a lot of the money -- TAPPER: Like Paul?

BEGALA: A labor of love. A labor of love.

(CROSSTALK)

BEGALA: I can't wait. Mr. Trump should not worry. I can guarantee him --

TAPPER: All right. Paul Begala, Kevin Madden, Nina Turner, thanks to all of you.

Next, we're going to ask the only sitting senator to endorse Trump why he seems to be the only candidate -- Mr. Trump is -- who attracts this kind of violence at his campaign events.

Stay with us.

(COMMERIAL BREAK)

[16:40:08] TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD.

We're giving you a live look now at the protesters outside the Hyatt in Burlingame, California. That's in the San Francisco area. That's where Donald Trump just spoke to the California Republican Party.

This is the second day in a row that we've seen tense protests outside a Trump event.

Joining me now to talk about it all is Republican Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama, a Donald Trump supporter and chairman of Donald Trump's national security advisory committee.

Senator Sessions, thanks so much for being here. Good that you're here.

SEN. JEFF SESSIONS (R), ALABAMA: Good to be with you.

TAPPER: So, why is it that you think we see violence so much around and at Trump events more than any other candidate? And does it concern you at all?

SESSIONS: Well, he's a strong leader. I mean, he makes bold statements, he's challenging a lot of orthodoxy and particularly on the left, some of these hard left, this MoveOn.org crowd, people waving the Mexican flags. They're not happy with that.

And I think it's unfortunate. People have a right to protest. They have a right to free speech, the right to assemble and have a speech. But a presidential candidate has a right, too.

TAPPER: Yes.

SESSIONS: But they have a right to protest, but not disrupt.

TAPPER: Mathematically, Mr. Trump is the only Republican candidate who can win the nomination before the convention, all the others have -- just can't do it. The math just isn't there. Although, who knows if nobody gets the magic number, who knows what will happen at the convention.

But why do you think, when it just seems like he is the only one who can get the nomination before the convention, why are you the only sitting U.S. senator who has endorsed him still?

SESSIONS: Well, that's a good question. I don't know, but people will make of their own minds. A few people have endorsed sitting senators that are still in the Senate for the presidency.

But I believe that he is challenging establishment orthodoxy.

TAPPER: Yes.

SESSIONS: He is saying working Americans are not being well-served, that we don't need an unlimited immigration. We need a lawful system of immigration. We need to be sure that trade agreements are serving the average guy. And we need to make sure that our foreign policy is not excessively interventionist and too focused on nation-building.

TAPPER: And these philosophies upset your colleagues?

SESSIONS: Well, I think it does challenge the establishment in a lot of ways, and it's a frontal discussion of moving this party, this Republican Party, not the voters. I think they are proving that they are receptive to this message, but I think our establishment needs to understand the depth of the unease out there and why the Trump movement is so strong.

TAPPER: I don't want to go through the list of comments that Donald Trump has made about women that the anti-Trump super PAC that is being run by some Republicans who oppose him is running in commercials. But I do want to show results of a recent CNN poll, which found that 73 percent of female voters, that's a general electorate, have an unfavorable view of Mr. Trump, only 26 percent have a positive view.

Now, I know that that's not the number -- those are not the numbers within the Republican Party, but obviously, he needs to appeal to the entire electorate in November. Are you worried about that --

SESSIONS: Well, he'll have to address that. Absolutely. He is a delightful person to be with personally. He's so courteous and if he wants a Coca-Cola, he goes and gets it himself. He's just a fun person to be with.

And I think that --

TAPPER: He's not going to be able to get a Coca-Cola for most people. Most people are just going to hear the things he says and your eyebrows must be raised every now and then.

SESSIONS: Well, I'll just tell you this -- every American needs to be treated fairly. Women can never be discriminated against and wages and job opportunities and I'm sure Donald Trump shares that view and he'll make it clear as time goes by if he hasn't already.

TAPPER: Earlier today, a Russian jet barrel-rolled a U.S. Air Force plane. It's very alarming to the military. This is the third provocative act by the Russians.

If our foreign policy is more -- isolationist is not the term he will use, but let's say America First under Mr. Trump, won't rivals like Vladimir Putin perceive the U.S. possibly as weak and unwilling to respond to provocations?

SESSIONS: It is a dangerous situation. I don't know how we've gotten in such a cycle of hostility with Russia. That makes no sense in a geo strategic view that we'd be at this loggerheads with Russia. Can it be we have a breakthrough? Trump thinks he can and will try. But he says he will promptly decide whether or not they're serious, and if they're not, he knows how to walk away and will walk away.

But we really do need to see what we can do to put this world on a safer course than these events are showing.

TAPPER: Former House Speaker John Boehner had some choice words for Senator Ted Cruz, calling him Lucifer in the flesh and a miserable SOB. I know he's a friend of yours, even though you endorsed Donald Trump -- Senator Cruz is a friends of yours. What do you think of those comments by John Boehner?

SESSIONS: Well, I don't think that's a fair comment at all. Ted is aggressive, strong person. He's advocated his views and sometimes he's been in conflict with the speaker.

TAPPER: Right.

SESSIONS: So, I don't know the details of all of that, but I wouldn't agree with that comment.

TAPPER: All right. Senator Sessions, always good to see. Thank you much for being here. I really appreciate it.

SESSIONS: Thank you.

Zika fears realize the first death in the United States due to complications from the virus have been reported, first time on American soil. So what's the federal government doing to fight this outbreak? That story next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

TAPPER: Welcome back, everyone. It's time for our National Lead now. New urgency surrounding the Zika virus after the first death due to complications from the mosquito-borne virus on American soil.

CDC says that a 70-year-old patient died in Puerto Rico from a condition related to a low number of platelets in the blood. The man did have underlying health conditions before contracting Zika.

[16:50:08]His death comes as Congress battles it out over $1.9 billion the White House has requested to fight Zika. Should money for this urgent spending be borrowed from other programs or tacked on to the emergency fund tab?

That debate is this week's segment, "America's Debt and The Economy." There are nearly 900 confirmed cases of the mosquito-borne disease Zika here in the U.S. and on U.S. territories.

Republicans say they need more information on the budget before they approve new spending. Democrats say there's no time to wait, but even Republican Senator Marco Rubio joined Democrats in demanding some answers yesterday.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SENATOR MARCO RUBIO (R), FLORIDA: You're going to have to explain to people why it is that we sat around for weeks and did nothing on something of this magnitude.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: Lawmakers other than Rubio agree that Zika is urgent, but they believe it doesn't necessarily call for emergency funding. That's the designation that means the money does not have to be offset and it can go beyond budget caps. House Speaker Paul Ryan says money borrowed from last year's Ebola crisis fund should suffice for now.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PAUL RYAN (R), HOUSE SPEAKER: The administration has a bit of a track record of over requesting what they need. We take this very seriously. The $600 million has already been reprogrammed so they have money right now and now our appropriators are getting answers to their questions to figure out how to go forward.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: Congress is on recess next week. It looks as though the emergency funding can is being kicked down the road into next month.

He makes people laugh late at night, but now Larry Wilmore is preparing for his toughest audience yet perhaps, the president of the United States and a bunch of media elitists. Mr. Wilmore will join me next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[16:55:58]

TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. There's a buzz in the air here in the nation's capital and that's because tomorrow night is the White House Correspondents' Association dinner dubbed in D.C. "The Nerd Prom."

It's the intersection of journalists, political elites and the occasional celebrity but among comedians, the dinner is one of the toughest hosting gigs around. Playing the role of comedian in chief tomorrow night will be Larry Wilmore, host of the "Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore," which airs on Comedy Central. Larry, it's a pleasure. Thanks so much for being here. Appreciate it.

LARRY WILMORE, HOST, "NIGHTLY SHOW WITH LARRY WILMORE": Hey, man. My pleasure. Thanks for having me, Jake.

TAPPER: So people say -- comedians say that the White House Correspondents' Association dinner is the worst, toughest room in the world. How are you preparing?

WILMORE: Well, they've never worked strip clubs in Alaska. That's all I have to say. That was an actual gig that I did. I'm not making that up. That was back in the day.

You just have to -- there is a couple of ways you have to prepare. You have to prepare something that you think is funny and entertaining, right?

But you also have to realize that you're following a very funny president who has got jokes, too. So you have to be aware that, well, I want to make sure that I'm not doing something that he might do. So there is double thing going on there. It's very challenging.

TAPPER: This will be President Obama's last White House Correspondents' Association Dinner. Are you planning on taking him on at all? Are you nervous at all about making fun of him?

WILMORE: No. There's no time to sic the IRS on me. Yes, it's the last year, you know, and, yes, you may as well go for it as far as I'm concerned. If I were doing this early on, I'd be a lot more concerned. You're right about that.

TAPPER: So you and I have talked about this off camera in terms of what material you think is on limits, what material you think is off limits.

WILMORE: That's right.

TAPPER: Some comedians in the past have crossed the line. How are you calibrating that?

WILMORE: Well, yes. And thank you, Jake. I know you and Jimmy kummel ran a couple of jokes and you were very kind to let me try out a few of your mama jokes. I really appreciate that. That's very nice of you. I'm going to open with that.

TAPPER: It's classic.

WILMORE: You know, I think you just have to kind of -- it's a whole series of things. You know, there are certain types of things that you just can't do. You don't want to use foul language and that type of thing. But if you can be sly and if you can push the envelope enough, you know, whether it's with content or subject matter that type of thing then that's kind of fun. Because you realize the president probably won't be edgy in certain ways, but he may push it in other ways.

TAPPER: Race has been front and center on the campaign trail and in the news the last few years a lot of people got to know you first as -- on "The Daily Show" as Jon Stewart's senior black correspondent.

WILMORE: Yes.

TAPPER: You talked about racial issues a lot on your show. Are you going to bring some attention to those issues tomorrow night?

WILMORE: I hadn't even considered race as a topic. I'm so glad -- of course, it's the first black president and I'm a brother doing the show. Absolutely. Oh, yes. Oh, yes. There will be plenty of that subject matter.

I think I'll have a lot of fun with that. And I have a feeling -- see, that's the area, I don't know how far Obama is going to go on that. I think he'll do a couple of jokes but I'm hoping -- you never know.

He may do a whole live at the Apollo act. I mean, who knows? I have no idea. You know, white people do this. White people will be president like this. He may just open like that.

TAPPER: We're really looking forward to it and I look forward to seeing you. Larry Wilmore, thanks so much.

WILMORE: Thanks, man. I'll see you.

TAPPER: You can watch CNN's full coverage of the White House Correspondents' Association Dinner tomorrow night beginning at 7:00 p.m. Eastern.

Don't forget, Sunday morning, tune in to "STATE OF THE UNION" at 9 a.m. Eastern. My guests will include Ted Cruz and the top advisers to all five presidential campaigns.

That's it for THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper. I turn you over to Wolf Blitzer. He's in "THE SITUATION ROOM." Have a great weekend.