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THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER

Terror in Sweden?; New Travel Ban Coming. Aired 4:30-5p ET

Aired February 20, 2017 - 4:30   ET

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


[16:30:02]

GOV. TERRY MCAULIFFE (D), VIRGINIA: We all want to work together to keep our communities safe.

But we also need to protect civil liberties and protections that have made us the greatest nation on Earth.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: I'm sure you will be discussing as well a modified travel ban order as well.

Governor McAuliffe, thanks for taking the time today.

MCAULIFFE: Thank you. Thank you.

SCIUTTO: President Trump says something bad is going on in Sweden. Is that actually true? We are going to fact-check that claim right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCIUTTO: Welcome back to THE LEAD.

And sticking with politics, Swedish officials aggressively pushing back at the president's claims that there has been a surge in crime due to increased immigration there.

President Trump says he was citing a FOX News report and tweeted today -- quote -- "Give the public a break. The fake news media" -- there it is again -- "is saying to say that large-scale immigration in Sweden is working out just beautifully. Not!"

[16:35:07]

Swedish officials saying, in effect, we know better because, well, we live here.

Ivan Watson joins me now live from Stockholm.

Ivan, tell us what the official reaction is from Sweden. And I suppose, how riled up are people there about this?

IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jim, first of all, there was -- the Swedish Embassy in Washington after the statement made by President Trump on Saturday reached out to the U.S. State Department asking for clarification and offering to share some more information about that.

Then you have the prime minister of Sweden in the last couple of hours coming out saying he was really surprised by the kind of statements that were coming out about his country. He said there are challenges here, there are problems here.

But he also had some words of advice or almost criticism for the U.S. president. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

STEFAN LOVEN, SWEDISH PRIME MINISTER: Yes, we have opportunities, we have challenges, we are working with them every day. But I think also we must all take responsibility for using facts correctly. And for verifying any information that we spread.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WATSON: Now, the immigration issue is a divisive issue here, Jim.

There have been a lot of people that have come in here over the last couple of years. There are political problems here. It's helped a right-wing party rise in the polls of late. But I think the point that Swedish officials want to make is that it's not a crisis. This is not a country that is burning down right now -- Jim.

SCIUTTO: So, Ivan, what exactly are the facts and figures on the ground when it comes to crime rates and how they relate to increased immigration to Sweden?

WATSON: OK.

Let's run through some numbers here. Between 2012 and 2015, there were a little bit more than 100,000 refugees who were granted asylum here. That is for a country of 10 million people. That is a sizable amount and part of why it's been difficult.

In 2015 alone, there were more than 160,000 applicants for asylum here. And if you look, the majority of them come from countries that are war zones right now, Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq, all countries that the U.S. has been involved in these conflicts, by the way.

The number of reported crimes in Sweden between these four years, it went up approximately 7 percent. The population grew at some 3 percent. The U.S. State Department says the crime rate grew around 4 percent between 2014 and 2015, Jim.

And a big part of that surge was computer-related fraud. The government here says that violent crime has actually gone down over the course of the last 25 years.

However, during that same period, 2012 to 2015, the number of Islamophobic crimes, attacks on Muslim targets, has practically doubled. One last figure. In 2015, the justice department here -- ministry -- here says there were 112 lethal events, murders, basically, in this entire country, 112 in a country of 10 million people in one year -- Jim.

SCIUTTO: Incredible difference with numbers in the States.

Ivan Watson, thanks very much.

I want to bring this my panel now.

Bill, if I could start with you, first of all, you look there. The numbers do not back up Trump's claim by any measure. In fact, if there is a spike in crime there, it's against Muslims there. There is a substantive conversation you could have about the effects of immigration coming too quickly, migrants, et cetera, assimilation, et cetera,

Instead, you take it off in this direction here not based on fact. Is that a missed opportunity for the president?

BILL KRISTOL, EDITOR, "THE WEEKLY STANDARD": I don't know if it's a missed opportunity. It's offending a nation we don't have to offend.

Look, we published an article. Chris Caldwell went to Sweden. He went to Lomma over there. Real problems with the integration of immigrants there, and not just refugees in the last few years, just like in France, just like in Belgium. This is not news if you have watched things in Europe for the last 10, 20 years.

But why offend the -- what's the point of Trump saying it? It would be as if -- we had a crime rate went up in the '70s and '80s, right, a lot of problems in the inner cities. Would we have been happy if a European prime minister or president had said, look at the United States, what a wreck that place is, all they have is riots and crimes?

It's just offensive, unnecessarily offensive. If you are not making any -- there is nothing to be gained from it, right?

SCIUTTO: Right. Right.

Now, the White House response to this fits a pattern, right, where first the president says, well, I wasn't really talking about that, I was actually just talking about -- I wasn't talking about some sort of specific event, I was talking about the general problem. And then you have the fake news charge in there as well.

Ruth, is this what we should expect going forward?

RUTH MARCUS, "THE WASHINGTON POST": Yes, it's what we should expect.

What I love here is that the president says something false, fake, if you will, look at what happened in Sweden last night, and then he uses that, somehow manages this magnificent Trumpian pivot to attack us in the media for fake news.

We absolutely have to get used to it. But I think one of the interesting things of this moment, and it's kind of similar to what we saw at the press conference last week with electoral votes and biggest since Reagan, is, it's really different when you say something that is not true as a president, than even as a presidential candidate.

[16:40:11]

And you get called on it. You get called on it in real time by a reporter at a press conference and you get called on it by another country when you are doing it to them. And so I think it would be too much to say this is a learning moment for the president, but it should be.

SCIUTTO: Yes. I think expectations might be a little high.

I want to listen to what White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus said yesterday about the media in general, because it relates to issue. Have a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REINCE PRIEBUS, WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: I think that the media should stop with this unnamed source stuff, put names on a piece of paper and print it. If people aren't willing to put their name next to a quote, then the quote shouldn't be listed, period.

The storyline should not be about bogus Russian spy stories. They should be that this president has accomplished more in the first 30 days of this presidency than people can possibly remember in a very long time.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCIUTTO: Let's set that claim aside just for a moment.

(LAUGHTER)

SCIUTTO: But the bigger picture here, I think this is concerning. First of all, Reince Priebus, Kellyanne Conway were, I imagine, unnamed sources on stories in the past.

MARCUS: Never.

(LAUGHTER)

MARCUS: I'm looking forward to that first White House background briefing or second or third where they ask not to be named.

SCIUTTO: Absolutely.

JACKIE KUCINICH, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Right. And every administration kind of plays that game, and they will and have, too.

So I think the lecture on journalism ethics from Reince Priebus falls a little flat in this regard. And then he proceeds to tell us what the news is, which isn't.

Again, no one out there really cares that they are criticizing the media, but also, as you said, I mean, this is what the administration does. (CROSSTALK)

KRISTOL: Just come back on the Sweden thing for a minute.

(CROSSTALK)

SCIUTTO: You want to talk about Sweden.

(CROSSTALK)

KRISTOL: You know, again, you said correctly that it matters much more when you say something as president than when you are a candidate.

But also we have to cooperate with the -- the Swedes do have some probably potential terrorists there. We would like it if Swedish intelligence got us the names of those people if they were trying to enter the U.S. The delicate relations we have with counterintelligence, counterterrorism.

(CROSSTALK)

SCIUTTO: They have been demanding better cooperation both within Europe, but across...

KRISTOL: If we think Sweden is particularly a place where there are some dangerous people, you don't really need to insult them and make them less likely to work with us.

(CROSSTALK)

MARCUS: Just do that to Australia.

(CROSSTALK)

SCIUTTO: The travel ban as well, because that is going to be apparently resurrected this week, possibly in modified form, but likely targeting those same set of countries, which include countries, Iraq, you know, specifically, where you have -- you want to have these cooperative relationships.

I mean, Iraq in particular, you have General James Mattis there, the secretary of defense now, having to say in public we are not going to take your oil, because the president said that repeatedly.

This is the thing. It does affect key relationships because they are asking hard questions now.

KUCINICH: Words matter. They just matter.

But I just want to make one note why unnamed sources are used. They are used because -- usually because people fear retribution or because they are trying to get something out that gives insight into a problem. It's not because, oh, I want to make something up so I'm going to say it off the record.

Every good reporter knows not to print that sort of thing.

MARCUS: If we didn't have unnamed sources, would General Flynn still be there?

SCIUTTO: Well, fair point. Absolutely.

And, listen, there were some unnamed sources during the Trump campaign as well getting convenient information out.

MARCUS: Right. Should there be fewer unnamed sources? Yes, would we love to have everybody on the record. Yes. Are there times when we are too lazy to go back or just fail to go back to people to try to press them to go on the record, or use them to give kind of snotty quotes that we shouldn't do?

Yes. And we should be aware of that. Those are fair criticisms. But, fundamentally, we would not have had the Watergate reporting. We would not have had a lot of other really important reporting for government accountability if we were not able to rely on unnamed sources and just print the kind of stories that make White Houses happy.

KRISTOL: Who was the most unnamed source actually in the last 20, 25 years? It was a pseudonymous source. It was Donald Trump.

(CROSSTALK)

SCIUTTO: I'm glad you brought it up, Bill.

(CROSSTALK)

KRISTOL: Didn't Donald Trump used to call up and say -- what was the name he used?

SCIUTTO: He didn't use his own name. Yes.

KRISTOL: He didn't use his own name.

(CROSSTALK)

MARCUS: John Barron, yes.

SCIUTTO: Ruth, Bill, Jackie, thanks very much.

A big conservative conference in Washington hasn't even started yet, but there is already drama over its guest list. Coming up, why the group just disinvited a well-known alt-right speaker.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[16:45:00] JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Welcome back to THE LEAD. Sticking with politics and news. An abrupt reversal by a conservative group and its invitation to a controversial speaker. The Conservative Political Action Conference, aka CPAC, has rescinded its invitation to Milo Yiannopoulos. This afternoon, an interview emerged in which Milo appearance to advocate, for relationships between young boys and adult men. Milo is the self- described provocateur, banned on Twitter for among other things. Harassing SNL star, Leslie Jones, and who's college bust to wish sparked violent protest, that you see Berkeley earlier this month. I want to bring in CNN, Suzanne Malveaux. So, Suzanne, what does CPAC say about why it even had him on the roster in the first place?

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN INTERNATIONAL AND NEWSROOM ANCHOR: Sure, Jim. Well, I reached out to CPAC officials today, who initially defended their choice for Milo. They told me that CPAC is a constructive forum for controversies, those attending the conference could certainly handle this controversial figure like, Milo. But interestingly enough, it was the most prominent voices in conservative circles, who began to complain the loudest to push for this reversal.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

[16:49:30] MALVEAUX: The Conservative Political Action Conference ads proclaim, CPAC 2017 will be a revolution. The first revolt from Conservatives and Democrats alike, over a controversial proposed speaker, Milo Yiannopoulos, known as Milo, the professional provocateur, and Breitbart Senior Editor, who advocates for free speech in nearly any form. Now, he's decidedly off the schedule, just two days after he was announced. And it's not the first time he's gotten the hook. After being thrown off Twitter for attacks on African-American comedian, Leslie Jones, calling feminism a cancer, and targeting Muslims in his routine. Protests erupted during his controversial college campus tour.

MILO YIANNOPOULOS, BREITBART SENIOR EDITOR: Well, this is a university. This is a place you're supposed to be on to hear anyone.

MALVEAUX: This time, the cancellation came after the conservative website "The Reagan Battalion" published this pod cast this clip. Highlighting Milo's discussion about sex with minors.

YIANNOPOULOS: In a homosexual world, particularly, some of those relationships between younger boys and older men, the sort of coming of age relationships - the relationship in which those older men help young boys discover who they are.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It sounds like catholic priest molestation, to me.

YIANNOPOULOS: And you know what? I'm grateful for father -

MALVEAUX: He continues on to say, he would never be as good at a certain sex act without the priest. Milo later took to Facebook, to clarify his comments posting in part, "A note for idiots, I do not support pedophilia. I am completely disgusted by the abuse of children." CPAC Chairman, Matt Schlapp, posting a statement to Twitter today, calling the Facebook apology, "insufficient." Writing, "there is no disagreement among our attendees on the evils of sexual abuse of children." Some, from the American Conservative Union, the group that host CPAC say, they were in the dark about Milo's invitation. Board Member, Ned Ryan, tweeting, "while I'm all for free speech, there is such a thing as vile, hateful, speech that does not deserve a platform." Earlier this year, Milo told CNN, spurring this kind of discussion is exactly his goal.

YIANNOPOULOS: You don't just inherit, you know, the first amendment, you have to fight for every generation. You have to - you have to reaffirm and relearn its importance. And it takes, people as preposterous and ridiculous as me to thrust that back into the public consciousness.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MALVEAUX: Today, CPAC announced President Trump would be addressing the conference and it should not go unnoticed, the connection to the Breitbart site. It's founder name sake, Andrew Breitbart, spoke there in 2012, and its former Chairman, Steve Bannon, who will also speak at this conference serves one of President Trump's most influential advisers. So, there is this connection, Jim.

SCIUTTO: A lot of connections to Breitbart, no question. Thanks very much, Suzanne Malveaux. A high profile North Korean is poisoned in public, in an airport. Now, we've got the surveillance video as it happened. That's next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[16:51:40] SCIUTTO: We're back now with the "WORLD LEAD". New grainy surveillance video, appear to show the airport attack of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's half-brother. Watch this closely, it's amazing to watch. The person, in the white long-sleeved, t-shirt there, in the bubble seems to put something over Kim Jong-nam's head. This was at Kuala Lumpur International Airport just one week ago, today.

Another camera shows Nam, walk up to an information desk. Two hours later, he was dead. Kim Jong-nam had been known to openly criticize his estranged half-brother, Kim Jong-un, the North Korea leader. He was the oldest son of his late dictator father. Four people are now in custody as North Korea tries to cast doubt, that it was really Nam, who was attacked and killed. I want to go down to CNN's Saima Mohsin, with more on how the investigation is going and where it stands now.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SAIMA MOHSIN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: These are the extraordinary moments that purport to show a man who appears to be Kim Jong-nam, walking through Kuala Lumpur Airport allegedly, attacked. The CCTV footage first broadcast on Japanese television, shows a woman in a white top grabbing the man from behind. He was dead within two hours. North Korea's Ambassador to Malaysia, criticized Malaysian authority saying, they carried out an autopsy without North Korea's permission or presence. He said, the North, will not accept the results, claiming Malaysia "had something to conceal."

The response came Monday. Malaysia recalling its Ambassador to North Korea from Pyongyang for, "consultations, and summoning the North Korean Ambassador to Malaysia to the Foreign Ministry." In a statement, later, Malaysia says it's following law by carrying out an autopsy. The government is transparent and North Korea's criticism is baseless. Then, in yet another twist in this murder mystery, North Korea's Ambassador didn't identify the victim as Kim Jong-nam, instead using the name on the passport he carried. But in a press conference last week, Malaysia's Deputy Prime Minister said, "it is indeed Kim Jong-nam," confirmed and I quote, "by the identity issued by the North Korea embassy." Malaysian police say, they won't release the body unless identified by a family member or DNA.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The request for the DNA is simple, from the family of the deceased is preposterous.

MOHSIN: South Korea says, it has no doubt North Korea is behind Kim Jong-nam's death. Malaysia's Deputy Prime Minister has said, that is purely speculation. The police investigation continues. Four suspects are in custody. Three people not listed as suspects are wanted to assist in the investigation. And there's a man hunt on for four North Korean men, all newly-named suspects in the Kim Jong-nam or Kim Chol, murder investigation. Well, that man hunt is going to prove to be very difficult because police say, all four North Korean suspects left the country on the day of the attack. In the meantime, they're awaiting results of the toxicology and pathology tests to complete the autopsy. Jim?

[17:00:05] SCIUTTO: Saima Mohsin, thank you. That's it for THE LEAD. I'm Jim Sciutto, in for Jake Tapper. I turn you over now to Wolf Blitzer in, "THE SITUATION ROOM."