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THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER

Japanese Prime Minister to Visit Pearl Harbor; Carrie Fisher Dies. Aired 4-4:30p ET

Aired December 27, 2016 - 16:00   ET

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


[16:00:03]

JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: I sense a great and sad disturbance in the Force.

THE LEAD starts right now.

Losing Leia, from a galaxy far, far away, but nothing but remarkably and dazzlingly human. Actress and writer Carrie Fisher dies at just 60 years old. And for many of us, part of our childhood goes with her.

I do solemnly tweet. President-elect Donald Trump's thumbs are at it again, slamming the United Nations, as his incoming press secretary says Twitter is going to make his presidency really exciting.

Plus, how far we have come. President Obama appearing in just moments along with Japan's prime minister during a visit to Pearl Harbor, remembering a day that will live in infamy. Will there be an apology from the prime minister for the infamous sneak attack?

Good afternoon, everyone. Welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.

We will begin today with the pop culture lead and the loss of yet another icon. Actress Carrie Fisher, the wise-cracking, truth- telling, beloved pop culture fixture for nearly 40 years died today in Los Angeles. She was 60 years old. Fisher was of course best known for her role as Princess Leia in the "Star Wars" series.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "STAR WARS: THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK")

HARRISON FORD, ACTOR: I think you just can't bear to let a gorgeous guy like me out of your sight.

CARRIE FISHER, ACTRESS: I don't know where you get your delusions, laser brain.

(LAUGHTER)

FORD: Laugh it up, fuzz ball. You didn't see us alone in the south passage. She expressed her true feelings for me.

FISHER: What? Why, you stuck-up, half-witted, scruffy-looking nerf herder!

FORD: Who is scruffy looking?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: Fisher, of course, was much more than just an actress. She also was an author and a screenwriter, a relied-upon script doctor.

The photo here shows her handwritten notes from "The Empire Strikes Back" screenplay, trying to improve Leia's dialogue.

And perhaps most importantly to millions of Americans, Fisher was also a hero for her openness about her struggles with mental health issues and drug addiction, hoping to destigmatize the topics.

Her death comes four days after she suffered what was called a cardiac event on a flight to London to Los Angeles. Fisher's longtime co-star Harrison Ford just released a statement saying -- quote -- "Carrie was one of a kind, brilliant, original, funny and emotionally fearless. She lived her life bravely."

Last month, "Rolling Stone" asked Fisher if she feared death. Her response? "No," she said. "I fear dying. But if I was going to do it, I would want someone like me around. And I will be there."

CNN's Paul Vercammen is in Los Angeles covering the story for us.

Paul, do we know anything more about the circumstances surrounding her death?

PAUL VERCAMMEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Jake, what we know is last Friday she was approaching Los Angeles, just about 20 minutes away from landing, when she reportedly suffered a massive heart attack.

There were some nurses on board. They tried to revive her. She was transported to UCLA, a hospital there, and she remained there throughout the weekend. There had been some talk that she was in stable condition, but she was in intensive care the whole time.

And at 8:55 this morning, she passed away, Jake.

TAPPER: Carrie Fisher told "Rolling Stone" that she was -- quote -- "trained in celebrity." And, of course, it was a family business for her in many ways.

VERCAMMEN: Absolutely, Hollywood royalty. Think about this. Debbie Reynolds was her mother. Eddie Fisher was her father. At one point, Liz Taylor was her mother-in-law because of his remarriage. She got a heavy dose of that Hollywood royalty, and she talked a lot about that, openly, in her book including some of her passages from "Postcards From the Edge," where she reckoned with the royalty, all the pressures, the fame, being born in Beverly Hills into that family.

It was quite a tale to tell, Jake.

TAPPER: We just read a quote from Harrison Ford, with whom she became a star at the same time. This year, Fisher discovered the journal that she kept during the making of "Star Wars." And this year it was published. It was called "The Princess Diarist."

And she revealed she had been romantically involved with Harrison Ford, which caused quite a few headlines.

VERCAMMEN: It sure did. In fact, that might have been the most revealing part of all of these diaries.

She talked about basically being Leia and Han during the week, and on the weekend, it was Carrie and Harrison. She told all about this to NPR's Terry Gross. Take a listen.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

TERRY GROSS, NPR: How did the affair affect the chemistry on screen?

FISHER: I think it made us more comfortable with one another. I think it made me more able to wisecrack to him, even if I was insecure. We were having an affair, so there was something to base some security on.

I don't know. But we were -- there was chemistry there, and you can see it. So I don't know which came first, the chemistry in the film or the chemistry in the world.

[16:05:08]

GROSS: And, I mean, your characters end up having a child together.

FISHER: A really good child, don't you think? I mean, Hitler.

(LAUGHTER)

FISHER: That is sort of perfect. I think that's perfect. Harrison and I have Hitler as a child.

(LAUGHTER)

(END AUDIO CLIP)

(CROSSTALK)

VERCAMMEN: Well known throughout Hollywood...

TAPPER: Go ahead.

VERCAMMEN: I was going to say, well known throughout Hollywood for how absolutely unvarnished her opinions were, self-deprecating, open beyond belief, and celebrated for that on a myriad of different levels, Jake.

TAPPER: And it's really interesting. If you read in "The Princess Diarist," she talks about -- at age 19 about this rather unsatisfying relationship with Harrison Ford, even at the age of 19, talking about issues, trying to find herself. It was really interesting.

She also was known as a sex symbol. And there is this obviously iconic, but also somewhat controversial gold bikini seen from "Star Wars." She wasn't necessarily comfortable in that role.

VERCAMMEN: No.

And I am smiling because Carrie Fisher, she was absolutely funny, I mean, razor-sharp wit. At one point, she said something to the effect of, about that bikini., why would I keep a stupid outfit like that? She made a lot of wisecracks about it. She talked a lot about that that in the scene they didn't want to see any creases in the bikini.

And this was also told to Terry Gross of NPR. Let's listen.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

FISHER: When he showed me the outfit, I didn't believe -- I thought he was kidding. And it made me very nervous. And, you know, they wouldn't let me -- I had to sit very straight because I couldn't have lines in the side of -- on my sides, you know, like a little crease. No creases were allowed. So I had to sit very, very rigid straight.

GROSS: So did do you think there is something Fay Wray-"King Kong" about that scene?

FISHER: Yes, but I -- you know, what redeems it is that I get to kill him, which was so enjoyable.

GROSS: Yes. Did you see that as like female empowerment?

FISHER: Oh, absolutely. I sawed his neck off with that chain that I killed him with. I really relished that, because I hated wearing that outfit and sitting there rigid straight. And I couldn't wait to kill him.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

TAPPER: She often referred to Jabba the Hutt as a disgusting slug that she had to appear with in that movie.

But there she is coming to terms with some of the more exploitative parts of that role, but she gets to kill Jabba after all.

VERCAMMEN: Well, as we said, she relished that moment.

She said when George Lucas -- you might have wanted to know who she was referring to when she said him. It was George Lucas who first brought up the idea of that bikini. And that's when she shook her and said, is this some sort of joke? And of course it ended up being a -- we will call it a worldwide phenomenon.

And, of course, there were the "Star Wars" figures. And there was even one who was famously Princess Leia in the golden bikini that is being sold around the world right now.

TAPPER: All right, Paul Vercammen in Los Angeles for us, thank you so much.

Joining me now to talk more about Carrie Fisher is the editor in chief of "People" magazine, Jess Cagle.

Jess, thank you so much for joining us.

Princess Leia was known for hair buns. Carrie Fisher was known for being brutally, brutally open and honest and revealing, spread-eagle in terms of how revealing she was. That's how she put it in the interview with Terry Gross. Here see is talking to Larry King in 1990 about her struggles with addiction.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LARRY KING, "LARRY KING LIVE": You know why you were an addict, Carrie? Is that explainable?

FISHER: No. Well, I don't know. I mean, I think my father is, or was, one. He just got out of Betty Ford. And I was very like him in my tastes.

I liked -- I didn't like illegal drugs. I liked legal drugs. So I liked medicine, because I like the philosophy of it. You're going to feel better when you take two or eight of these.

And I always wanted to feel better. And one of the side effects of Percodan is euphoria. And I thought that was a side effect that I could easily live with. Doesn't matter that the rest of them that follow that are palpitations, heart attack and death.

I couldn't get over euphoria.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: Think about this, Jess. That's 26 years ago, and she still is more open and honest about her dependence issues when it comes to drugs than a lot of people in my business, in your business, all over the world.

[16:10:03]

JESS CAGLE, "PEOPLE": Right.

She lived her life as an open book, which was really fascinating, given her background. As you have said earlier, she grew up as a celebrity. She came from the world of Hollywood.

But there was something about her intelligence. And there was also something about her mental issues that made her always feel like she sort of didn't belong. She was a woman who was somewhat uncomfortable in her own skin. And those two facets of her life kind of gave her this incredible outsider's perspective.

So she was able to relate to us her experiences growing up the child of movie stars in Hollywood, you know, succumbing to drug addiction, going into rehab, playing Princess Leia in "Star Wars." She was able to tell us about these extraordinary experiences in ways that we could relate to and in really, really entertaining ways. In the -- I guess it was the late '80s when she did "Postcards From

the Edge." It was a semi-autobiographical novel about a young woman who was the child of a movie star and had ended up in rehab. And I think people were shocked at that time that Carrie Fisher, number one, that she had gone through that, that she was being so honest about it.

But also people were incredibly impressed at what a great writer she was. This is the woman in the gold bikini from "Star Wars." And she was brilliant. There were so many sides to her. She really never stopped surprising us.

It's been great lately having her once again sort of back in pop culture because of the new "Star Wars" films.

TAPPER: And when you think of her as a pop culture icon, you think about the "Star Wars" movies, and you think about Harrison Ford and their on-screen chemistry. Here is one of their most memorable scenes.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "STAR WARS: THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK")

FORD: Hey, your worship, I'm only trying to help.

FISHER: Would you please stop calling me that?

FORD: Sure, Leia.

FISHER: You make it so difficult sometimes.

FORD: I do. I really do. You could be a little nicer, though.

Come on, admit it. Sometimes, you think I'm all right.

FISHER: Occasionally, maybe, when you aren't acting like a scoundrel.

FORD: Scoundrel? Scoundrel. I like the sound of that.

FISHER: Stop that.

FORD: Stop what?

FISHER: Stop that. My hands are dirty.

FORD: My hands are dirty, too. What are you afraid of?

FISHER: Afraid?

FORD: You're trembling.

FISHER: I'm not trembling.

FORD: You like me because I'm a scoundrel. There aren't enough scoundrels in your life.

FISHER: I happen to like nice men.

FORD: I'm a nice man.

FISHER: No, you're not. You...

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: It's amazing to watch the scene years later. They really have just such incredible chemistry. And that was one of the most important love stories in film in that decade.

CAGLE: Yes.

She was also great, great casting in that role, because she could -- Carrie Fisher was -- you know, the role might have been sort of played as a damsel in distress, but, actually, despite the gold bikini and all of that stuff, it was an incredibly strong character.

And Carrie Fisher was so talented and so fiercely intelligent that she just brought a lot to it. And you got a sense she could go toe to toe with anyone.

TAPPER: And, Jess, many people don't know that behind the scenes she was really used a lot in Hollywood until about 2008 or so as a script doctor. She finessed screen plays for George Lucas, and she did "The Wedding Singer," "Sister Act," "The Blues Brothers," the "Star Wars" prequels.

She showed it before, reporter Richard Chambers tweeting her notes from "Empire Strikes Back." Really talented and so rare to have somebody who would be uncredited, but still making so much money fixing Hollywood scripts.

CAGLE: Yes. I think she made a fortune working on -- probably more money that she made on "Star Wars," at least until recently, was doctoring other people's scripts, because she was not only funny with a one-liner. She was also great with story and character motivations.

And, again, that came from her wit and her intelligence and her talent for writing. If you go back to "Sister Act," in fact, a movie that was an incredibly troubled production with a lot of problems, but ultimately became a really entertaining, massive hit, all of the -- a lot of the Maggie Smith stuff -- Maggie Smith played the Mother Superior in that movie.

And a lot of her dialogue came straight from Carrie, and the way she made that character make sense and sort of likable, despite the fact that she was at odds with the heroine, Whoopi Goldberg. All of that came from Carrie. She was so smart.

TAPPER: Yes.

Jess Cagle, thank you so much. Really appreciate your time today.

CAGLE: Thank you.

TAPPER: We're going to be right back.

But as we go to break here, here's a look at Carrie Fisher in the romantic comedy "When Harry Met Sally".

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SALLY: Harry, you and Marie are both from New Jersey.

MARIE: Really?

HARRY: Where are you from?

MARIE: South Orange.

HARRY: Haddenfield.

MARIE: Oh!

HARRY: So, what are we going to order?

SALLY: Well I'm going to start with the grilled riddichio.

HARRY: Jess, Sally is a great orderer. Not only does she always pick the best thing in the menu but she orders it in a way that even the chef didn't even know how good it could be.

JESS: I think restaurants have become too important.

MARIE: Mmm, I agree. Restaurants are to people in the eighties what theatre was to people in the sixties. I read that in magazine.

JESS: I wrote that.

MARIE: Get out of here.

JESS: No, I did, I wrote that.

MARIE: I've never quoted anything from a magazine in my life, that's amazing, don't you think that's amazing? And you wrote it!?

JESS: I also wrote "Pesto is the quiche of the eighties."

MARIE: Get over yourself!

JESS: I did!

MARIE: Where did I read that?

JESS: New York Magazine.

HARRY: Sally writes for New York Magazine.

MARIE: You know that piece had a real impact on me, I --

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

TAPPER: Welcome back. Our politics lead now. Christmas is over -- Christmas Day at least.

And Donald Trump has got his phone back. As the president-elect vacations with his family at their Mar-a-Lago resort, he is back on Twitter, suggesting that he has brought back hope and prosperity to a, quote, "gloomy world." And he is painting the picture of the soon to be shuttered Trump Foundation as something of a beacon in the philanthropic field.

One problem, though, the claims he's making don't quite stand up with scrutiny. We'll have more on that in a moment.

But, first, CNN chief political correspondent Dana Bash joins me.

And, Dana, lots of decisions being made by president-elect and his transition team that have to do with national security.

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right.

[16:20:00] And, you know, there are a few White House jobs are as important with regard to national security and have as much pressure on them than homeland security adviser. It's a relatively new position created by George W. Bush after 9/11. Well, Donald Trump reached back to those Bush years for his counter-terrorism adviser and a lot of Republican skeptics of Trump are breathing a sigh of relief.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BASH (voice-over): Thomas Bossert, a new name added to the top Trump White House staff today, one with a crucial portfolio, homeland security, counterterrorism and cyber threats.

THOMAS BOSSERT, FORMER BUSH AIDE: There's nobody out there that can't be penetrated. If there is, I'd like to know about them.

BASH: Bossert speaking there at a conference about cyber terrorism was a deputy homeland security adviser under George W. Bush and is well-regarded among Republicans in Washington, even those vehemently opposed to Trump for president.

DOUG HEYE, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Tom is a smart, diligent person who knows those issues about as intimately as anybody I can think of. And for folks like myself who were hesitant or negative on Donald Trump, these are the kind of hires that Donald Trump makes that's very reassuring.

BASH: Especially since according to the transition, Bossert's position will be elevated in the Trump White House, on par with the national security adviser, Michael Flynn, with Bossert in charge of domestic security and a special focus on cyber terrorism.

BOSSERT: Government in the United States, at a federal level, needs to do something to address the threat.

BASH: And Flynn on international issues.

MICHAEL FLYNN, INCOMING NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: We must regain our ability to truly crush our enemies.

BASH: Because although security issues intersect so often, Obama officials tell CNN they think it could lead to confusion in the Trump administration and unnecessary turf battles.

FLYNN: That's right. Lock her up.

BASH: But declaring that Bossert will be on equal footing to Flynn is also intended to be reassuring, even to many Republicans who see the retired general as an unpredictable and controversial figure, thanks to statements like this.

FLYNN: Islam is a political ideology. It is a political ideology. It definitely hides behind this notion of it being a religion.

BASH: What won't change from the Obama White House is people in both positions will have direct access to the president and seats at the principal's table at the president's national security meetings.

Here is how the current homeland security and counter-terrorism adviser, Lisa Monaco, described the job earlier this month.

LISA MONACO, ASSISTANT TO THE PRESIDENT FOR HOMELAND SECURITY: When I go upstairs, about 50 paces from my cave office in the West Wing up to the Oval Office, the president knows it's because something bad has happened, quite frankly, domestically usually, or to U.S. persons abroad. That is my focus, and he knows it.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BASH: Now, it is a reminder that presidents must be surrounded by people like that to help deal with crises which unfortunately happen, large and small, on a regular basis.

What Republicans here and around the country are pleading with Donald Trump to avoid are distractions like the one that week with the Trump Foundation which he said he would dissolve which, of course, Jake was only met by the New York attorney general saying, no, you can't because I am still investigating.

TAPPER: Dana Bash, thank you so much.

And let's talk more about that. President-elect Donald Trump is saying the media is not reporting the good that his charitable foundation has done. "Washington Post" reporter David Fahrenthold might take issue with that, having devoted months of his life diving into the intricacies of the foundation and detailing it for the public, exhaustively documenting hundreds of calls to charity after charity to find any who had benefited from the Trump Foundation. And David joins me now by phone.

David, thanks for joining us.

President-elect Trump tweeted, 100 percent of my foundation's money goes to wonderful charities. What does that statement gloss over when it comes to what the money has been spent on? DAVID FAHRENTHOLD, WASHINGTON POST (via telephone): Well, this is a

really important point and it's sort of the most basic thing you learn when you start a charity, which is, if you are the charity's president, as Trump is, you can't take the money out of the charity and use it to buy things for yourself or do things that benefit your business.

And so, there are a number of instances where Trump spent money from his charity to benefit himself. He used it to buy two very large portraits of himself, including one that is hanging as art in one of his sports bars. And he also used it to pay off his businesses' legal obligation. His businesses got into lawsuits and as a result, they had to pay money to charities. Trump used his charity basically to pay those bills and saved his businesses money.

So, even in those cases where the money ultimately goes to a charity, he is still violating the law. And I think that's something most people who run a charity get literally on day one.

TAPPER: Mr. Trump also tweeted, quote, "I gave millions of dollars to the Donald J. Trump Foundation, raised or received millions more, all of which is given to charity and media won't report."

You looked into this. What did you find out about the philanthropic giving by him?

FAHRENTHOLD: Well, so, Trump -- this is a really unusual foundation. Most of the times when a rich person sets up a foundation with their name on it, the understanding is it's their money.

[16:25:02] They give to the foundation and the foundation gives it away. But Trump -- not the case with the Trump Foundation. He has given about $6 million over the time period since 1987. So, his foundation, other people have given about $9.5 million. So much more.

And Trump didn't give any money from his own pocket to his foundation between 2008 and 2015. In that period, it was all other people's money. That's very, very unusual.

TAPPER: We know that the attorney general of New York, Eric Schneiderman, who, of course, was a Hillary Clinton supporter, he has said Trump cannot shut down his foundation like he wants to because of the ongoing investigation. What is the status of that investigation?

FAHRENTHOLD: Well, I know they've requested a number of documents from Trump about these instances of what's called self-dealing. So, cases where he used the money to benefit himself. And they -- Trump has actually admitted to the IRS that he, for the first time in November, after the election, he admitted having violated the self- dealing rules at some point in the past.

So, I think what we're waiting on now is for Trump to specify what he is admitting to, what specific acts does he say, OK, look, I broke the law here and here and what sort of penalties is he going to offer to pay in response. TAPPER: Is there anything they've admitted when it comes to having

broken the law? Did they not admit they violated something in the IRS code?

FAHRENTHOLD: Yes. So, they have admitted without giving details that they broke the self-dealing rules.

But there's something else. Earlier this year, in response to something we reported, Trump admitted to the IRS that he violated another charity law -- another federal law about charity, which is charities are not allowed to give their money to help political candidates. In 2013 at a time when Pam Bondi, the attorney general in Florida, her office was considering whether or not to join a lawsuit against Trump University, Trump used his foundation to give $25,000 to a campaign committee supporting Bondi. So, that's against the law.

Trump has now admitted to that and paid a $2,500 penalty tax after our story came out.

TAPPER: Also interesting is that Trump was very critical of those who gave money to the Clinton Foundation and expected or did in his view receive some sort of consideration or extra attention when Hillary Clinton was at the State Department. But we know that one of the biggest contributors to the Trump Foundation was Linda McMahon and her husband, Vince McMahon, of world wrestling fame, and President-elect Trump has picked Linda McMahon to be head of the Small Business Administration in the Trump administration.

FAHRENTHOLD: That's absolutely right. Vince and Linda McMahon gave a total of $5 million in 2007 and 2009. They haven't said why. That's an enormous amount of money for the Trump Foundation which has always been very small, and it enabled Trump to basically run his foundation without money from himself for a long period of time.

You remember, Trump needs this foundation because he lives in a world where rich people are expected to give money for banquets and galas and things like that. So, Linda McMahon's donation enabled him to basically participate in that world and appear philanthropic for free for all those years. And so, yes, now, he's appointed her to this pretty prominent position.

TAPPER: Assuming the New York investigation does finish up, is there anything impeding Trump from dissolving his own foundation at that point?

FAHRENTHOLD: I believe -- so, the IRS could be investigating. They haven't commented. It might be a holdup. But if not, the New York A.G.'s investigation is the final hurdle.

TAPPER: All right. David Fahrenthold of "The Washington Post" -- thank you so much. Appreciate it.

FAHRENTHOLD: Thank you.

TAPPER: A moment 75 years in the making. We are about to see the first Japanese prime minister to visit the USS Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii.

And then, Kim Jong-un might have a frightening New Year's resolution. Why the North Korean nuclear threat could be greater than ever before. That's coming up.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)