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THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER
Female Scientists Report Gender Bias In Labs; Reports: White House May Pay Billions to Health Insurance Companies; American Sisters Found Dead During African Vacation; Trump Goes on Twitter Tirade Against Clinton, Miss Universe Winner; Officials: 10,000 Syrian Troops Amass Near Aleppo. Aired 4:30-5pm ET
Aired September 30, 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 ANCHOR: So, your candidate, I'm sure you know, was up all night tweeting about a former Miss Universe, insulting her, saying people should check out her sex tape, which as far as I can tell does not actually exists.
[16:30:09] A lot of people when seeing his tweets were fairly aghast. What was your reaction.
SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, SENIOR ADVISER, DONALD TRUMP CAMPAIGN: Look, my reaction is the same as it has been, is that Hillary Clinton has still to date said the far most offensive thing that's taking place in this campaign, and I want to know why the media hasn't spent the same amount of time talking about her comments about deplorable, redeemable. I think that's not only the most insulting thing this campaign cycle, but probably in the history of modern politics, to call millions of Americans deplorable and irredeemable.
And I think that's why we should be focusing on, if this is the type of media circus we're going to go have in the name-calling. Why are we not spending more time talking about what Hillary Clinton has said?
TAPPER: Well, I think Secretary Clinton clarified that she was referring to the people who followed Donald Trump and support Donald Trump, who are members of Ku Klux Klan, who are neo-Nazis, who are members of the so-called alt-right conservative movement, people who are proud to being racist.
Erick Erickson is a well-known conservative. He wrote an article today, the headline is, quote, "Why is Trump's campaign letting him hate-tweet at 3:00 a.m.?" He says it's bizarre that no one in the upper echelon of your campaign has taken away Mr. Trump's phone.
It seems that Mr. Trump would be doing so much better in the polls if he were able to convince the American people, a plurality at least, that he has the temperament to be president and these 3:20 a.m. hate tweets against a former Miss Universe are not helping his cause.
Why hasn't anyone taken away his phone?
SANDERS: I don't think anybody's taking anybody's phone away but I do think as far as the polling goes is we're doing quite well. There's a new poll out today, "L.A. Times", that shows Donald Trump is expanding his lead, when we're talking about national security, when we're talking about the economy, which our campaign has day by day tried to do. We're winning.
But, unfortunately, Hillary Clinton brought this topic up. This is what she wants to talk about because it's a distraction from her 30 years of government service that she has nothing to show for. It's a total failure. She doesn't want to talk about those things.
TAPPER: Obviously, you're right. Secretary Clinton brought up Alicia Machado and she baited him. And Donald Trump, he ate that bait, like a starving trout and he will not stop talking about this former Miss Universe.
Why can't he stop? Why is he unable to have the disciplined to say, you know what, I hear you campaign staff, you're right, talking about the time I insulted this woman's weight is not a winning issue. I should be focused on trade. I should be focused on jobs. But instead, he's up in the middle of the night tweeting. He's the one keeping the story alive.
SANDERS: Look, you guys kept it alive all day yesterday. It's all we talked about. He was attacked all day long. He's counterattacking. And he made it very clear, any time he's attacked, he will respond.
And Hillary Clinton unfortunately is using everything she can and frankly the media plays right into it. If you want to talk about somebody that acts like starving trout, it's the media. Any time Hillary Clinton comes up with these outrageous attacks to distract from her own record, the media jumps in hook, line and sinker and you spend days talking about it.
What you should have been talking, if we're going to spend days talking about problems, let's talk about the pay to play scandal. Let's talk about the e-mail scandal. Let's talk about Hillary Clinton's 30 years of failure. Why don't we spend nearly the time talking about those things as we do the things right out of the Clinton playbook?
TAPPER: Because your candidate is not as disciplined as you are, Sarah. And the fact is, I don't think that the media other than maybe Latino media or some progressive media, I don't think that any of us would be talking about Alicia Machado on Friday after this was brought up if weren't for the fact that Mr. Trump keeps on bringing it up.
Let me ask you one question. A "Newsweek" report alleged that Mr. Trump sought to invest in Cuba in the late 1990s, and they suggest that he potentially violated U.S. law. Kurt Eichenwald who reported the story, he even posted documents showing Trump paying a consultant for the trip. Senator Marco Rubio called the development very troubling.
Does it bother you at all that Mr. Trump might have potentially violated the U.S. embargo against Cuba?
SANDERS: Well, might have potentially I think is kind of a ludicrous statement, when he's made it very clear he's never done business in Cuba and doesn't intend to. So, I think we're talking about a false allegation when again we could be talking about real allegations like e-mail scandal, like the pay to play scandal, like 30 years failure. Those were the things, if we're going to talk scandal, let's talk about it. But let's talk about Hillary Clinton's not made up scandal about Donald Trump.
TAPPER: All right. Well, my suggestion to you would be a memo to your boss saying if you get up in the middle of the night maybe 3:20 a.m. tweet storm about Hillary Clinton scandals, instead about -- instead of your own maybe would be better for setting the table for the next day's media coverage.
[16:35:15] But, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, as always, we thank you for your time.
SANDERS: You bet. Thanks Jake.
TAPPER: Be sure to tune in to CNN on Tuesday night for the first and only vice presidential debate between Senator Tim Kaine and Governor Mike Pence. Our coverage will start at 4:00 p.m. Eastern.
We want to warn you that the video you're about to see might be hard to watch. In the middle of death and destruction, a baby is found alive after an air strike. It's hard to imagine, but this baby is one of the lucky ones at the situation in Aleppo, Syria, gets worse.
Stay with us.
TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.
[16:40:00] Our world lead now: growing fears that the rebel held side of Aleppo, Syria's largest city, could completely fall into the hands of brutal force of dictator Bashar al Assad. An estimated 10,000 Syrian-led troops are amassing east of the besieged city, with some are describing devastating firepower. This comes as the aerial bombardment of Aleppo by the Syrian-Russian army shows no signs of letting up.
The United Nations says at least 96 children have been killed there since last Friday, nearly 15 kids slaughtered each day. But amidst all the horror there are rare miracles, this baby girl, for instance, pulled from the wreckage from a bombed out building, moving her rescuer to tears.
CNN senior international correspondent Nick Paton Walsh is in Beirut, Lebanon, for us. He's travelled frequently to Syria.
And, Nick, at this point, how close is Aleppo to completely collapse?
NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Internally, I think they are struggling for a long time to find food and water. The fighting appears to be focused around the water station itself.
In terms of the military collapse, yes, well, we have what thought to be maybe 10,000 Syrian-led troops. That would include Shia militia, other fighters, a bit of rag tag group frankly massing on the outskirts. It will be a lengthy and ugly task for them to move in and kick out the rebel forces that have frankly been dug in there for years.
They're deeply struggling, though. Their hospital is being frequently struck, in what the U.N. Secretary Ban Ki-moon has referred to as potential war crime here. This is the bleakest moment, frankly, Jake, we will probably see in the Syrian civil war, with 300,000 civilians trapped in that eastern area of Aleppo.
Today, we hear a barrel bomb landing in one of the key parts being fought over right now in this renewed regime offensive. That killed seven. You mentioned 96 children killed in the last week.
These numbers frankly are hard to digest at times. What's perhaps easier to understand is an aid worker we spoke to who said his nerves are fraught. He can't really speak anymore about what he's seeing. He just saw three rockets land and body parts everywhere and said we have no hope in anybody now apart from God -- Jake.
TAPPER: And civilians on the rebel side, they have been calling for help for years really. Is there anything the U.S. or other powers could do and are refusing to do?
WALSH: Well, obviously, the potential that the U.S. might suddenly reverse years of policy here and launch substantial military incursions to protect this area, that's simply never going to happen. Barack Obama, and some may say historically wisely, is going to stand out of this quagmire.
The problem really is the U.S. policy has begun to have the rug pulled under it. John Kerry having frankly no other option has insisted on diplomacy with Russian counter part despite U.S. cynicism that wasn't going to go anywhere, it didn't go anywhere, and now they are threatening the Russians with no further cooperation diplomatically, a pretty weak threat.
But if you look cynically at what Moscow has been doing for past few weeks, talking peace, they must simultaneously a massing hardware and fighters to be able to be ready for an incurious like this. That kind of duality is a broad problem. Russian using the paralysis potentially in Washington, during this electoral campaign, to inflicting a military solution here in Syria, Jake.
TAPPER: Nick Paton, thank you so much. Appreciate it.
Two sisters in paradise both found dead with no marks on their bodies. What do the autopsy say?
Plus, women being pushed out of the sciences. It's an eye-opening CNN investigation, coming up.
[16:48:04] JAKE TAPPER, CNN THE LEAD HOST: Welcome back to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper in our "BURIED LEAD." For years we've heard that women are underrepresented in the sciences and both the public and private sectors. Educators have determined to correct this imbalance, but something demeaning is happening in grad school science labs all across the country, something that has some women abandoning their scientific dreams. Sarah Ganim brings us this investigation.
SARAH BALLARD, ASTROPHYSICIST: Over the course of time, those conversations became increasingly sexual.
JESSICA KIRKPATRICK, ASTROPHYSICIST: It became clear that he actually wanted a sexual relationship.
[16:48:37] SARA GANIM, CNN INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT: Across the country, cases of sexual harassment have surfaced in their field of astronomy. Prominent scientists accused of going after vulnerable students they're supposed to be advising.
BALLARD: Physical touching like skin on skin and on my neck.
KIRKPATRICK: Got very drunk and physically separated me from the group.
ALESSONDRA SPRINGMAN, ROCKET SCIENTIST: He would actually come up to where I was staying at the observatory at 11 p.m. at night and knock on the door and wait on my porch as I would hide under the bed with all the lights off.
GANIM: These women, all accomplished astronomers, are talking about what they have experienced over their careers, multiple times from different men.
SPRINGMAN: When I finally did report it, I was told that nothing can be done about sexual harassment because it just turns into "he said, she said."
KIRKPATRICK: I also had the comment of how do you feel about ruining a man's life.
GANIM: Universities are sometimes hesitant to fire offenders and lose researchers who bring in federal funding. When university does take action, harassers are often allowed to leave for another institution with an unblemished record, a practice known as "passing the trash."
BALLARD: Departments implicitly will dismiss the claims of younger women who are most vulnerable. And instead, take the word of their older male tenure colleague.
GANIM: And according to one study, more than 90 percent of those being harassed or assaulted were students or departmental employees.
SPRINGMAN: A lot of people in science don't hold their fellow scientists responsible for their behavior.
GANIM: These women sat down with us to talk about the culture they've been battling. Sarah Ballard studies planets and other solar systems and has already discovered two new worlds. Alessondra Springmann is a rocket scientist who studies asteroids and comets. And Jessica Kirkpatrick is an astrophysicist.
A lot of times women don't have an out, they can't just leave, because leaving their advisor - sometimes leaving their harasser means leaving their research, right?
KIRKPATRICK: Yeah. It would be pretty much impossible to report your advisor for harassing you and then be able to continue working with them as them being your thesis advisor.
GANIM: Ballard and Kirkpatrick both studied at Berkeley where one of the most prominent scientists in the country was accused of sexually harassing female grad students, Ballard said she was one of Geoff Marcy's victims. He was once held in so much esteem, he was considered for a Noble Prize. He retired last year following the allegations. Marcy released a statement at the time saying, quote, "I never intended to cause distress and I apologize deeply for having done so. I take full responsibility and hold myself accountable for the harm done."
Marcy's attorney told CNN that throughout his career, Dr. Marcy has been committed to and then an activist for the advancement of women in science. He has also demonstrated a vigorous and unwavering support of the long-overdue efforts to eliminate sexual assault and sexual harassment from all workplaces including academia."
Berkeley said that tenured professors cannot be fired and Marcy quit before disciplinary procedures could begin. It is taking a comprehensive look at our processes regarding sexual harassment and assault cases involving faculty and staff.
KIRKPATRICK: So, I think what the situation of Berkeley has really highlighted is the fact that institutions are incentivized to protect their faculty.
BALLARD: So, when I think of change, I don't know that ever will really come within Berkeley. I think instead of coming from the federal level.
JACKIE SPEIER, U.S. REPRESENTATIVE FOR CALIFORNIA: If you're going to use mice in your research, there are all of these federal requirements that have to be complied with.
GANIM: Congresswoman Jackie Speier says universities need to be held accountable for how students are treated.
SPEIER: And yet, when it comes to your teaching assistant, no such requirement that you treat them in a humane way.
Thank you Mr. speaker.
GANIM: Speier made news when she took to the house floor, earlier this year, highlighting a case of a professor who was investigated for sexual harassment and later hired by another university. Now, she's proposing legislation that would force federal agencies to take any harassment charges into consideration before handing out research funds. SPEIER: And if someone is engaged in sexual harassment, if someone is discriminating, if someone is a sexual predator, they should not have access to federal dollars.
GANIM: Sarah Ganim, CNN, San Francisco.
TAPPER: And then thanks Sarah for that report. Two sisters found dead in their luxury hotel bed. New clues about what happened, next.
[16:57:48] TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. The Obama administration may be preparing to pay $2.5 billion to health insurance companies going a run around to congress to give what Republicans are branding a bail out. That's this week's installment of "AMERICA'S DEBT & THE ECONOMY." Healthcare is one of the biggest drivers of national debt, of course, and providing care gets expensive, especially if you're an insurance company participating in ObamaCare. These market places have not made enough money for the insurance companies. The losses are massive. Insurance companies on the exchanges bled $2.5 billion in 2014 alone, now more than 10 million Americans are now able to get health insurance through ObamaCare and market places, but insurers say, "Too many of these new customers are sicker than expected with healthcare costs continuing to rise exponentially." So, insurers sued the Obama administration, they want the government to make them whole again. Instead of hiding the suit, The Washington Post and others are reporting that the Obama administration is now taking to insurance companies and signalling that the government might try to steal your money from a rainy day fund, meant to cover federal legal claims to insurers. Republicans are telling the Obama administration not to make these payments while the administration ceases this away to keep ObamaCare alive.
In world news, an international mystery deepening after two American sisters were found dead in a luxurious resort in the Seychelles Islands. 42-year-old Robin Korkkiwere and her sister, 37-year-old Annie were found motionless in their $1,800 a night villa last week. The Seychelles Police said the sisters had been drinking and had to be helped to their room the night before they were found dead. Now, an autopsy report shows that the older sister dead from excess water in her lungs, whereas the younger sister was found with water in her brain and lungs. According to the local police, there were no visible signs of violence. An itinerary found in the sisters' hotel room showed that they had been touring Africa and recently visited Kenya and Tanzania. Be sure to tune in to CNN's State of the Union this Sunday at 9 a.m. Eastern. My guest will be Senator Bernie Sanders. That's it for THE LEAD, I'm Jake Tapper. I now turn you over to Wolf Blitzer in "THE SITUATION ROOM." See you Sunday. Have a great weekend.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN THE SITUATION ROOM HOST: Happening now, 140 character assassination, Donald Trump unleashes a (INAUDIBLE) stepping up his attack on a former Miss Universe linking her to what he calls a sex tape. Hillary Clinton calls it -