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THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER
Trump Voters Still Supporting President?; Ivanka Booed for Defending President Trump's Treatment of Women; Interview With New York Congressman Dan Donovan; CNN Takes Pulse Of Trump Voters In Red States. Aired 4:30-5p ET
Aired April 25, 2017 - 16:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: They held the crew hostage for a while back -- back then.
And the soldiers said that, this time around, North Korea has a weapon that could sink the USS Carl Vinson carrier strike group. They also talked about the nuclear submarine that arrived in the waters off South Korea, made a stop in Busan yesterday.
And those trilateral joint exercises, the naval exercises between Japan, South Korea and the U.S., they say they are not alarmed. They say they have faith in their leader, Kim Jong-un, that he has the weapons and the manpower to fight back against the U.S.
Now, of course, this is a nation where there is no political dissent. It's an authoritarian regime, so, of course, all that you're going to hear is 100 percent support about the path that he's taking this country down, even as outside observers believe it's a dangerous path.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: That spooky wakeup call is always just so jarring when we come to you at the half-hour, Will.
When it comes to North Korea, China has always taken positions to condone their fellow communists in North Korea, but there are signs now that China might be sending more of an aggressive message to Kim Jong-un to cut it out, right?
Obviously, the Chinese government is usually pretty restrained in the statements that they put out, but "The Global Times," a state-run news outlet, often puts out a little bit more provocative editorials that give us some insight into what the government is thinking, because, of course, "The Global Times" is sanctioned by the state.
I want to read you a quote from an editorial out just hours ago. It says: "If North Korea carries out a sixth nuclear test, as expected, it's more likely than ever that the situation will cross to the point of no return," going on to say, "All stakeholders will bear the consequences with Pyongyang sure to suffer the greatest losses."
This the does mark a public shift from China's position, and they do have economic leverage that they haven't used yet over North Korea. They could cut off the flow of oil into this country. They could discontinue trade. We were at a supermarket here in Pyongyang yesterday where 90 percent of the canned food items were coming from China, so there are things that the Trump administration believes China could and should do.
Will they do it? We don't know. They just resumed Air China flights to Pyongyang after suspending them for a little over a week, so mixed messages from China right now on that.
TAPPER: And, Will, what's the latest on the American professor who was detained in North Korea over the weekend?
RIPLEY: Still no information on Tony Kim, that professor who was pulled just as he was about to board his flight to leave this country.
And I was going back looking over the Otto Warmbier case. He's that University of Virginia student who was detained, he was arrested just after New Year's last year. North Korea waited two months before they actually presented him, before his parents in the United States saw the first images of him.
So it could be quite some time before we learn what charges this U.S. citizen is facing, how long he's going to be held, but given the 15- year sentence of hard labor for Otto Warmbier just for taking a sign off his hotel wall, it could be a while.
TAPPER: All right, Will Ripley, reporting from Pyongyang, North Korea, thank you and stay safe, my friend.
Joining me is Congressman Dan Donovan. He's a Republican from New York City. He serves on the House Foreign Relations and the House Homeland Security Committees.
Thank you so much for joining us. We appreciate it.
REP. DAN DONOVAN (R), NEW YORK: Thanks. Good to be with you again, Jake.
TAPPER: You have said that North Korea's actions represent an imminent threat to U.S. national security interests. Do you think that right now we are the closest to war with North Korea that the U.S. has been since the armistice?
DONOVAN: I don't know if we're closest to the war, Jake, but I do know that they are a threat. Their leader is a madman.
And I just listened to your reporter talking about the Chinese. I think it was -- I was glad to see the president communicating with President Xi when he was down in Mar-a-Lago. I'm sure a lot of that talk was about North Korea.
The Chinese are very vulnerable when it comes to that madman. They share a border with him. All these attempted missile strikes and these tests that he's doing and these failures of these missiles not succeeding, I mean, one of those things, when it lands in China, the Chinese are in more danger right now than probably our own country is.
TAPPER: I want to turn to Russia, if we can.
When it comes to information about General Flynn's contacts with foreign nationals before the inauguration, the White House today said that it doesn't have any information about that activity during the transition. When it comes to contacts after the inauguration, when General Flynn was a national security adviser, they say they are not going to turn them over to the House Oversight Committee.
Does any of that bother you?
DONOVAN: Well, you know, I don't know what the White House knows and doesn't know. I do know that there were some comments by the chairman of the Oversight Committee and the ranking member about their feelings after they have done their investigation into General Flynn's contacts with Russia.
I trust both the Oversight Committee and the Intelligence Committee. They have been investigating the White House's contact with Russia. The FBI has been investigating as well. I think we should wait until these reports come out, just so we know what actually happened.
I was a prosecutor, Jake, for 20 years. I know a lot of information when it comes out in dribs and drabs isn't accurate, it's taken out of context. So I would wait until all of those investigative bodies conclude their investigations before we reach any conclusions.
TAPPER: Do you think that General Flynn was sufficiently vetted before he became the national security adviser to the president of the United States?
DONOVAN: I have no way of knowing that, Jake. I don't know the vetting process that was used by the transition team or the FBI.
They do it. When you have such clearances General Flynn was going to have, the FBI has to give you clearance. They do thorough background checks. I just don't know what was involved in it.
TAPPER: Speaker Ryan promised that Republicans were very close on another health care plan, although now he's stepping back, possibly suggesting that he's not going to have a vote until he's certain it will pass.
Where is the Republican health care plan now? Is it dead? Is it alive?
DONOVAN: Well, I don't think it's dead at all. We made a commitment to the American people. We have a broken health care system. And we need to repair it.
My goal has always been, Jake, to help the people that were harmed by the Affordable Care Act without harming the people that were helped by it. It's a very difficult balance. And the speaker has a very difficult balance trying to get his conference on board.
You know, one of the criticisms of the Affordable Care Act was that it was done with just Democratic votes. There was no Republican input in the plan. I would hate to see that happen again. We can't have a different health care system every time there's a change of administration. Health care is an American issue, but the speaker is courageous trying to put this thing together so that we can fulfill our promise that we made to the American people.
TAPPER: Let's talk about trade for a second.
The White House is making a big issue out of this today, the president tweeting earlier -- quote -- "Canada has made business for our dairy farmers in Wisconsin and other borders states very difficult. We will not stand for this. Watch."
This, of course, followed the president slapping tariffs on imported softwood lumber coming from our neighbors to the north. What's your take on this? Why is the president picking on the nation's biggest trade partner and perhaps best friend?
DONOVAN: I'm not sure he's picking on them, but the president, you know, during his campaign and since he took office, has said he's got to protect American interests first.
And, you know, our governor in New York was concerned about the trading with dairy products with Canada. I know Governor Walker is concerned about what's happening in Wisconsin. And I think the president is just reviewing and looking at, what are America's interests, and are we taken advantage of? Are we at a disadvantage of what the current trade agreements are? And how do we correct those so we can protect the farmers in the United States?
TAPPER: On the other border this morning, the president also tweeted -- quote -- "Eventually, but at a later date, so we can get started early, Mexico will be paying in some form for the badly needed border wall," although I have to say, Congressman, it doesn't sound like funds for the border wall are going to be in this resolution to fund the government.
I had read similar reports, Jake, that what we're going to pass by Friday will not include funding for the border, the southern border. You know, the president has a lot of options. I don't think he ever believed that the Mexican government was going to write him a check. But he's talking about renegotiating trade agreements that would cause Mexico to pay for the border.
He could always withhold foreign aid. We give a lot of foreign aid throughout the world, and he could withhold that foreign aid until the border is in whatever form it's going to be is paid for.
So, I think there's a lot of options that the president has at his disposal. But you're right. What I'm hearing now -- we just arrived back from the Easter break today. We will get briefed on all of this between tonight and tomorrow morning, but I believe the reports I have been hearing I believe do not contain any budgetary funding for the border.
TAPPER: All right. Congressman Dan Donovan, Republican from New York, specifically from Staten Island, thank you so much. Appreciate it, sir.
DONOVAN: Thank you, Jake.
TAPPER: They helped make Donald Trump president, but are they happy with his performance so far? We traveled to three deep red states to find out.
Then, Ivanka Trump making her debut on the world stage as an official adviser to her father -- why defending her dad led to some hisses and boos.
Stay with us.
TAPPER: Back with our politics lead now.
President Trump might be seeing the lost approval ratings in modern presidential history, but he has at least one reason to feel confident about his latest poll numbers. He's still doing extraordinarily well with his supporters; 96 percent of the people who voted for him say they have no regrets.
But as we learned back in November, poll numbers don't always reflect the reality. So as we approach President Trump's 100-day mark, CNN's Martin Savidge traveled to deep red states to speak to voters for our new series, "Red, Purple and Blue: First 100 Days."
MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Asheville, Alabama, the sun has been up for three hours, and Greg (ph) Weston has been up for six.
He's a farmer. And what he grows, he and his wife, Brandi, sell at an old gas station on the edge of town. Around here, the only thing redder than the maters is the politics. The county where Greg and Brandi live voted 89 percent for Trump.
(on camera): How do you think Trump is doing?
GREG WESTON, TRUMP VOTER: I think he's doing good.
SAVIDGE (voice-over): They like Trump, even though his first actions haven't really helped them. Trump's tough immigration talk has made it harder for Greg to find migrant workers to harvest his crop.
WESTON: If you can't get it picked, then you're in trouble. SAVIDGE: Then there's Trump's efforts to replace Obamacare, which
Greg and Brandi are on.
(on camera): What do you like about it? Why do you like it?
WESTON: Well, I pay $88 a month for me and my wife, where I was like, before Obamacare come in, I was paying like $660.
SAVIDGE (voice-over): Obamacare is working so well, Brandi feels guilty. She says she knows people who can't afford their private insurance or who can't get insurance at all. She's OK with Trump's efforts to replace it.
[16:45:07] BRANDI WESTON, AMERICAN FARMER: It still doesn't make sense to pay so little and still the poor people get nothing.
SAVIDGE: You think you should pay more?
Yes, in other words, yes.
SAVIDGE: In Birmingham, it's also another long day for Quinton Posey cab driver. In the past, he's voted democratic but in 2016 voted Trump.
QUINTON POSEY, AMERICAN CAB DRIVER: The thing about a businessman is that its action and it's not policy.
SAVIDGE: Black Trump voters are rare in the south, only about 9 percent. Quinton is even more rare since he is black and gay. 100 days in, how do you feel he's done?
POSEY: 100 days in, I'm not pleased.
POSEY: I'm not pleased.
SAVIDGE: What don't you like?
POSEY: He's a little too brash, is that the word?
SAVIDGE: Quinton hasn't seen as much change as he expected and he worries about what a Trump budget might cut.
I mean, do you wish you haven't voted for him?
POSEY: I don't I hadn't because, I mean, according to the alternatives, I don't have any regrets.
SAVIDGE: Right. You were not going to vote for Clinton?
POSEY: It's not -- no, I'm not going to vote for Clinton.
SAVIDGE: In Des Moines, Iowa, I find another surprise named Alberto Alejandre, a 32-year-old public school teacher who teaches Spanish to inner city kids. Who did you vote for this go-round?
ALBERTO ALEJANDRE, PUBLIC SCHOOL TEACHER: I voted for Trump.
SAVIDGE: Born in Mexico, he became an American through an amnesty program in the '80s, yet voted for a President who has called Mexicans criminals and threatens mass deportations.
ALEJANDRE: Here we are 100 days after he was sworn in, and he has not acted against innocent undocumented workers.
SAVIDGE: Some would disagree, but what's certain is that Alberto feels good about the administration so far, including on immigration.
ALEJANDRE: Being in America, to begin with, isn't a right. It's a great privilege.
SAVIDGE: Madison County Iowa, famous for its bridges and home to a man many feel personifies America, John Wayne. Brian Downes knew the duke and found similar qualities in the Donald when he met Trump at a campaign event.
BRIAN DOWNES, TRUMP VOTER: Meeting him.
DOWNES: Made a huge difference, yes, made a huge difference. It's because -- somebody who -- he really felt like one of us. I had the feeling
SAVIDGE: The big campaign issue for Brian was the same as Alberto.
DOWNES: Borders, Immigration, and I think the national security is all part of that.
SAVIDGE: And like Alberto, Brian is pleased by Trump so far.
DOWNES: I think he's doing great.
SAVIDGE: And he also admits that Trump's had to deal with a bit of a learning curve.
DOWNES: And he has as much as admitted, I didn't know it was going to be this complicated.
SAVIDGE: From the birthplace of John Wayne to a scene right out of the old west. John Flocchini's family has been raising buffalos since the '60s. Today the Durham Ranch is more than 3,000.
JOHN FLOCCHINI, DURHAM RANCH OWNER: They are great story. I mean, they have a great comeback story, you know.
SAVIDGE: Wyoming may be the cowboy state, but here coal is king. But a King (INAUDIBLE) scale, Wyoming produces 40 percent of America's coal, Dwarfing, West Virginia and Kentucky. There's also oil, natural gas, and wind. LOUISE CARTE-KING, GILLETTE WYOMING MAYOR: We are the energy capital
of the nation.
SAVIDGE: Here if you're not mining or drilling, you're selling to those who do. This past election only one issue really mattered, jobs and energy, and, yes, that's two, but in Wyoming, they're one in the same. Jeff Dale runs a business running industrial generators. He voted for Trump saying democrats were anti-energy.
JEFF DALE, BASIN ELECTRIC POWER: The path that we were on was definitely crippling this industry so there's too many regulations and too many hurdles.
SAVIDGE: That could explain why Wyoming was the reddest state of all.
MICHAEL WANDLER, L & H INDUSTRIAL INC 24,000 pounds.
SAVIDGE: Michael Wandler's family-owned business has been repairing monster-sized mining machinery for decades. He voted for Trump and says things have been improving ever since.
WANDLER: Business is better now, we had our worst year in -- since 2008 last year. It's better now. We feel like it's going to be a 10 percent better, maybe 20 percent better this year.
STACY MOELLER, COAL MINER: Want your spot at the table?
SAVIDGE: Stacy Moeller is a single parent, a grandmother and a coal miner. She operates a P&H 41,00 electric shovel. That's larger than her house.
One mistake and you really could do a lot of damage.
MOELLER: Yes, yes. We don't make mistakes.
SAVIDGE: She also voted for Trump even though she was reviled by his words and actions towards women.
MOELLER: And I was offended, but it was not about me. It was about the people I work with and the people I love, and I had to make a choice that was bigger than me. So I did.
SAVIDGE: For Stacy and all the voters I talked with, Trump was not a perfect candidate and is not a perfect President. They voted for him believing he would make their lives better, and 100 days later, they still do. Martin Savidge, CNN, Wyoming.
[16:50:14] TAPPER: And our thanks to Martin Savidge for that report.
Ivanka Trump greeted with boos and hisses in Germany. What prompted such a reception? But, first, be sure to tune into CNN this Thursday at 10:00 p.m. for "SOUNDTRACKS, SONGS THAT DEFINED HISTORY."
BACKGROUND MUSIC: I'm in a New York state of mind DWAYNE JOHNSON, ACTOR, PRODUCER, SINGER, PROFESSIONAL WRESTLER: The
Music and the artists post- 9/11 are reflective of the many emotions we feel.
BILLY JOEL, MUSICIAN: We are not going anywhere.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We played for an audience of police, firemen and emergency rescue workers when they needed a boost.
JOEL: I put a fireman's helmet on the piano just to help me concentrate because if I didn't have that, I might have just lost it.
BACKGROUND MUSIC: New York state of mind
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is kind of an anthem for New York City. I didn't think of that when I wrote it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The events that transpired define the music and made it bigger than it was intended to be.
JOHNSON: The music will always remind us that it is possible.
RANDY JACKSON, MUSICIAN AND PRODUCER: Somebody's got to put this into words and emotions. That is what anthems are made of.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: "SOUNDTRACKS: SONGS THAT DEFINED HISTORY" Thursday at 10:00 on CNN.
[16:55:00] TAPPER: Welcome back to our "WORLD LEAD." Ivanka Trump faced not the friendliest crowd on the world stage today at an International Summit on Women's Entrepreneurship in Berlin, Germany. The first daughter was booed and hissed when defending her father's commitment to families. This is a video of the event, the crowd was not mixed up but the booze were certainly audible in the room. That moment happened shortly after some of the most accomplished women in the world including German chancellor Angela Merkel took this group selfie. Let's bring in CNN White House Reporter Kate Bennett who's live for us from Berlin. And Kate, Ivanka acknowledging the criticism her father faces but suggested that it was coming from the media, not the public or the many women who have accused the President of inappropriate if not harassing behavior.
KATE BENNETT, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Well, that's right, Jake. She actually said that you know, she's heard the claims on the media and the media perpetuates those claims but it really was the audience today taking a little bit of a moment with -- in the middle of this hour-long panel to voice their displeasure with some things she was saying about President Trump's supporting American families. Might not have been the way Ivanka Trump wanted to really premiere on the global stage for her father's administration, but it was just a blip on her big appearance in Berlin.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: First daughter and adviser to the U.S. President --
BENNET: Ivanka Trump started a whirlwind day in Berlin with an esteemed panel for a discussion on women's economic empowerment.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Whom are you representing, your father, the President of the United States, the American people, or your business?
IVANKA TRUMP, PRESIDENT TRUMP'S DAUGHTER AND ADVISER: Well, certainly not the latter, and I am rather unfamiliar with this role as well as it is quite new to me.
BENNETT: The event quickly turned into a grilling over her father's policies and his past comments about women.
I TRUMP: He's been a tremendous champion of supporting families and enabling them to thrive and the new reality --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You can hear the reaction from the audience.
BENNETT: The President's top advisers receiving loud hisses and some boos from the crowd. Ivanka later told reporters, quote, "politics is politics. I'm used to it. It's fine." But then more tough questions on foreign policy. When asked whether she influenced her father's decision to bomb Syria, the first daughter, said, quote, "that would be a flawed interpretation" adding that the decision was, quote, "incredibly well-informed and advised at every level." Her visit at the invitation of German Chancellor Angela Merkel comes just weeks after a rather chilly first meeting between Merkel and President Trump at the White House. The invitation and offer perhaps to warm relations with Germany where media has deemed Ivanka, quote, the first whisperer to President Trump.
I. TRUMP: Thank you for having me here.
BENNETT: The international spotlight followed as Ivanka played the role of Chief Diplomat touring a technological school where she joked about coffee.
I. TRUMP: You may need to pour me a cup.
BENNETT: Ivanka who converted to Judaism before she married her husband Jared Kushner then toured the Berlin holocaust memorial. A delicate visit taking just as President Trump spoke at a holocaust remembrance back in Washington.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Thank you very much.
BENNETT: The President spoke with Chancellor Merkel on the eve of Ivanka's trip and she will cap the day by dining with the German leader, an opportunity, no doubt, to make an impression on her father's behalf just as he gears up to visit Europe next month.
BENNETT: Now, whether or not this trip from Ivanka Trump has helped smooth things over with Angela Merkel and the German people for her father and his visit, it certainly was a smart move by the German leader to bring Ivanka into these conversations on the global stage and we'll see what happens when President Trump gets here to Europe in May. Back to you, Jake.
TAPPER: All right, Kate Bennett live for us in Berlin, Germany. Thank you so much.
That is it for THE LEAD, I'm Jake Tapper. I will be back again today this evening at 9:00 p.m. Eastern for a special primetime edition of THE LEAD that we're doing all week. It's marking President Trump's first 100 days in office. We have many guests for you tonight. We have Mick Mulvaney, the Director of the Office of Management and Budget. We have Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey and the Chief Operating Officer of Facebook, Sheryl Sandberg, all three tonight at 9:00 p.m. Eastern.
I now turn you over to Wolf Blitzer, he's in "THE SITUATION ROOM." Thanks for watching.