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THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER
Secret Putin-Trump Meeting Revealed; Interview With California Congresswoman Jackie Speier. Aired 4:30-5p ET
Aired July 19, 2017 - 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: And we didn't find out about it until Ian Bremmer broke this story.
The White House says this is simply an exchange of pleasantries, the president doing his job. What do you think?
REP. JACKIE SPEIER (D), CALIFORNIA: Well, once again, the lack of transparency always causes us to perk our ears up, right?
I think, one, it wasn't good optics in terms of all of our allies that were at that dinner watching the president move from his assigned seat over to Vladimir Putin, and then spending an hour talking with him exclusively.
Beyond that, I would say that it's not good form, and it's actually somewhat dangerous to be in a situation where you don't have a U.S. person as a translator.
Ambassador McFaul, who was the ambassador of Russia under President Obama, said he wouldn't allow the president to be with Vladimir Putin alone for five minutes.
So, for all those reasons, I think it was very poor judgment. And, again, added with everything else we know about the Putin/Trump bromance, it raises lots of questions.
TAPPER: There are also a lot of questions right now about the eighth person who was present at that meeting between the Trump representatives and the Russian lawyer who supposedly had dirt on Hillary Clinton.
Ike Kaveladze, he was caught up in a U.S. money laundering investigation back in 2000. We should point out he was never charged with anything.
Do you have any evidence or knowledge of whether or not he was working on behalf of the Russian government or whether he had a role other than serving as a potential translator for that Russian lawyer?
SPEIER: I really have no information about that, Jake.
TAPPER: The Russian lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya, says she is willing to testify to clear up any discrepancies about that meeting, as long as her safety can be guaranteed. Is the House Intelligence Committee planning to interview her?
SPEIER: I can't speak to whether or not the Intelligence Committee will interview her.
But what's really important here is that we went from Donald Trump, the candidate, said he never had any meetings with the Russians. We have the White House saying there never was a meeting with Russia. We had his family saying there never was a meeting with the Russians eight times.
And then, all of a sudden, it comes out that there was a meeting, and then it was just a couple people, and now it has grown to eight people. And if you look at the e-mail, it's very clear that what was being traded was dirt on Hillary Clinton that could be used, and that Vladimir Putin was interested in making sure that Donald Trump got elected president.
TAPPER: And you and some other Democrats, you sent a letter to the acting FBI director, Andrew McCabe, asking him to review Ivanka Trump's security clearance, citing a -- quote -- "potentially serious issue."
What is the potentially serious issue? Is there anything that you know of that Ivanka Trump did wrong?
SPEIER: I think what we're very concerned about, this -- the SF-86 document is 121 pages' long. It's not something you blithely fill out and press send, as has been suggested by the White House, it was a mistake, it was a clerical error.
It's a voluminous document. You're supposed to talk about every single meeting, contact you have had with a foreign national. And we see that Jared Kushner has changed his three times and changed it from zero to over 100 contact contacts.
And we're interested in knowing if Ivanka Trump's is accurate as well. Furthermore, the question has to be raised, why do they have security clearances at all?
TAPPER: All right, Congresswoman Jackie Speier of the House Intelligence Committee, thanks so much for joining us. We appreciate it.
SPEIER: Thank you.
TAPPER: North Korea possibly getting ready to launch another missile, as U.S. intelligence warns Kim Jong-un may have an extremely powerful and extremely unpredictable arsenal. Stay with us.
TAPPER: Welcome back.
Sticking with politics, President Trump's new Advisory Commission on Election Integrity is holding its very first meeting today. The panel, of course, came together after President Trump's bogus claim that three to five million illegal votes were cast in the 2016 election, the excuse he came for, for losing the popular vote so substantially to Hillary Clinton.
Vice President Pence is chair of the commission. Joining his leadership is Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach. Kobach has been called king of voter suppression by the ACLU. Kobach also suggested President Trump might be correct in that evidence-free claim about millions of illegal votes.
Let's bring in CNN's Dianne Gallagher now.
Dianne, you have been watching this commission's first thing all day. What do they say is going to be the main goal?
DIANNE GALLAGHER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jake, fraud involving dead, non-citizen and non-resident voters, were the main topic today.
It really seemed to be more of an ideas session. The commission still seems to be working on exactly what the full scope or goal of its mission will be.
The panel has, of course, dealt with this cloud of controversy around it since inception, the bipartisan blowback over data collection, the handful of lawsuits and, of course, the fact that, well, a lot of people believe the purpose is somehow to validate the president's baseless claim that voter fraud cost him the popular vote.
Commission leadership Mike Pence and Kris Kobach have pushed back on that for weeks now, insisting they aren't searching for anything.
But the president walked into the room today, Jake, and within two minutes undermined all of that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If any state does not want to share this information, one has to wonder what they're worried about. And I asked the vice president, I asked the commission, what are they worried about? There's something. There always is.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GALLAGHER: Vice President Pence playing cleanup, insisting afterward, look, this is not about preconceived notions here.
But the majority of the conversation did focus on who is voting and how they're doing it. Members discussed differences in registration methods, voter rolls by the states.
And they briefly talked about protecting state databases from hackers. Jake, we should probably mention that the word Russia was hardly mentioned. TAPPER: Of course, that's the issue that actually took place last
President Trump also said today that 30 states have agreed to share voter information with the commission. How does that square with all the pushback we have heard from different states in recent weeks?
GALLAGHER: Let's call it true, but maybe a little misleading, Jake.
Red states and blue states, they haven't been shy about expressing their frustrations with the commission's request. Mississippi's secretary of state basically told Kobach to go jump in the Gulf of Mexico.
But the majority of the states have said they would turn over at least some public information. That could just be a name. For other states, it could be an address or party affiliation.
It varies state by state, although none of them are OK with turning over Social Security or partial Social Security numbers. Kobach claims that 14 states plus D.C. have just outright refused to turn over any data, even the public information, but, Jake, here's the thing. At this very moment, the commission isn't even accepting any data because it's all tied up in court.
TAPPER: Dianne Gallagher, thank you so much.
We have lots to talk about today with the panel.
First, let me just start. Kevin Madden, the whole reason this commission exists is based on this thing that President Trump has said that is demonstrably false, three to five million people voted illegally. There is no evidence of that. Sure, there are examples of voter fraud here and there, as there are always are. But it's in the dozens. It's not in the millions.
Do you think anything good and worthwhile can come out of this commission?
KEVIN MADDEN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: I have a hard time believing that, just because they haven't really consistently communicated to the public exactly why they need it and how it would help and what they would do with it.
And I think that's why you see the bipartisan pushback across many different states. And I think if they do that more consistently, they may be able to build some greater public level of public support on this, but right now what you're only doing is just talking to a partisan audience.
And we know that things don't get done when you only have just a partisan audience. You need to have a bigger, broader level of support for an initiative like this.
TAPPER: I remember, after 2000, and that was a horrible situation, the election that lasted forever, the election night that lasted forever, there was an election commission.
It was Jimmy Carter and Gerald Ford, bipartisan, working together, issues about voter fraud, issues about voter access. And that seemed to be an effective way to do it. Just that's not the model being followed here.
JEN PSAKI, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: No.
There is zero evidence of mass voter fraud. It didn't impact the latest elections, maybe didn't even impact the local dogcatcher's race.
What they should really be spending their time on -- resources are not unlimited in the government -- is on this cyber-threat, and they should be doing an outside commission or a group of experts on that.
We could nominate Mike Rogers here to serve on that. See if you agree.
MADDEN: Nominations accepted.
PSAKI: I would bet there are a lot of high-level Democrats and Republicans who would be a part of that. That's ongoing. That's the real problem.
This is voter suppression. It's nothing more than that.
TAPPER: What do you think, Congressman?
MIKE ROGERS, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: I think they made a huge mistake by not bringing in the secretary of states.
If you're going to do -- listen, I won that -- in that year 2000, I won by 111 votes. So, I learned a lot about the integrity of the ballot box.
And were there anomalies? Yes. But it was done through the secretary of state's office to make those determinations. So, if you really wanted to do this in a big and broad way so that it would encompass some notion that there's something out there we can't see, then you need the buy-in of a bipartisan -- and I would bring in -- it should have been all of the secretary of states, candidly, at this first meeting presenting materials and kind of finding ways that they could work together to solve the problem and put the right information on the table.
Let's talk about this meeting that we just found out about last night between Vladimir Putin and President Trump. The argument being made by the White House is, this is no big deal, world leaders at a G20 dinner are of course going to talk.
You're a former White House communications director. What do you think?
PSAKI: World leaders do talk at meetings, and you're seated next to world leaders you talk to.
But there is a huge difference between President Obama or even President Trump having a conversation with the leader of the U.K. or France or Germany and having a conversation with the leader of an adversarial country who is continuing to intervene in our electoral system.
So, there is a huge difference. I think there is a lot of problems with what happened here, but one of the biggest one is the lack of disclosure for them because they didn't tell anybody about it. It seems more mysterious than perhaps it was.
People are going to leap to their own conclusions. And certainly, no matter who you're meeting with, any White House discloses even pull- aside meetings at these larger meetings.
TAPPER: How do you think this should be handled?
MADDEN: Well, I think this is one of the problems that we have seen, which is this White House has eschewed the idea of protocol and past precedents.
And that -- to a large degree, that approach has worked well for them. They are in the White House, for example. But that is why I think so many national security and foreign policy folks believe that that's important, because going into a meeting like that with an adversary or a geopolitical foe like -- like Russia, you have to have a -- really sense of clarity of the purpose of the meeting, and then also what you want to communicate was your goals for it, and then also how do you communicate to your larger public? Not just the American public but your friends and allies around the globe about that meeting. And when it's left to folks to just discern on their own, you have a model message. And model messages are never good when you're dealing with issues as important as national security and foreign policy.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: There is an issue here, Congressman, in the sense that just week after week we're finding out about meetings between the President, members of his team, members of his family and Russians. And they have been not transparent about them at the very best and lied about them at the very worst, and it just keeps happening and happening. You would think somebody in the White House would be like, we should just brief. He sat down with Putin at the dinner, no big deal, and by the way, nobody would have said anything about it.
MIKE ROGERS, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY COMMENTATOR: Exactly. And my only concern in this meeting, I mean, he's an unconventional President for sure. It's not completely unusual for pull-aside meetings. The one fact is, I would not rely on a Russian interpreter only in the room.
TAPPER: That's right. There was no American translator.
ROGERS: I thought that's where somebody should have grabbed the cow or sent someone into the meeting to - just to make sure there's some balance in the room. That just to me was not a good decision and you have to wonder where was the team around him to make sure that didn't happen. If they wanted to have a pull-aside one-on-one meeting with two interpreters, they should have absolutely had the opportunity to do that.
TAPPER: And let's - Congressman, let's also note that the new season of your show "DECLASSIFIED" premieres on Saturday night. And it couldn't be more timely. It's called "THE SPIES NEXT DOOR, OPERATION GHOST STORY," some real James Bond stuff about deep cover Russian sleeper agents infiltrating the U.S. Here's a clip.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Christopher Metsos is now in possession of what we believe to be a quarter million dollars meets Richard Murphy passes him almost about half the cash to sustain his operations. And then GPS shows that Metsos' car traveled approximately 80 miles north of New York City to a small rest stop in Wurtsboro, New York. Metsos buries the final portion of the money at the baseball pole underneath an inverted brown bottle. Agent in New York set up cameras to monitor that drop. The (INAUDIBLE) of that camera became a whole new case, separate code name, we didn't know how long it would be there.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But we had to be ready to document that whenever it happened.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The whole role of intelligence agencies is to be ahead of the game and not to be surprised. If you are surprised, then the chances are that you failed to do your job.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: You're a former FBI agent, tell us about this series.
ROGERS: Well, first of all, we take - the stories are told by the agents and the case officers and in some cases last season we had a KGB officer on to tell these very detailed and difficult spy stories. So this particular one, it was the largest counter intelligence investigation done by the FBI and it had nearly a dozen of Russians who came here. So they're trained intelligence officers, they come to the United States, they assume American identities. They could be your neighbor, they could be the guy next to you at work. These folks - and you would never have known it. And their goal was, over time, to get close to policymakers, try to infiltrate the U.S. government, and what you saw was the FBI doing a great job of wrapping this case up. It's fascinating. You should cancel your plans on Saturday night and watch this show.
MADDEN: It seems a little timely.
TAPPER: It seems a little timely.
ROGERS: I'd like to tell you I knew exactly what I was doing.
TAPPER: Thanks so much everyone. Be sure to tune into CNN this Saturday night at 9:00 p.m. Eastern for the new season of "DECLASSIFIED: UNTOLD STORIES OF AMERICAN SPIES."
He's called climate change a Chinese hoax and wants to slash spending at the EPA and National Institutes of Health. Now President Trump policies are turning scientists into would-be politicians. Stay with us.
[16:50:00] TAPPER: We're back with our "WORLD LEAD." Moments ago, CNN learned that North Korea may be getting ready for another ballistic missile test. This as the second highest ranking U.S. Military Officer said Kim Jong-un's missiles may have the range to reach the United States. Remember, President Trump, tweeted back in January, "North Korea just stated that it is in the final stages of developing a nuclear weapon capable of reaching parts of the U.S., it won't happen." Let's bring in CNN Pentagon Correspondent Barbara Starr. Barbara, North Korea possibly getting ready for another ICBM, or Intermediate Ranged Missile Test just days after the initial ICBM launch. What does that tell the experts?
BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jake, what officials are saying is you have to assume now that North Korea is in a continuous state of being ready for these missile launches. They are seeing some very specific indicators of radar intelligence and imagery that the North Koreans are in a phase right now where they could launch again in about two weeks. Too soon to say if it will be the second ICBM test or another Intermediate Range Test. All of it, however, very concerning to officials because North Korea clearly on this track to be able to launch missiles that can eventually hit the United States. The big issue is when will they have the ability to precisely target an area in the U.S. Jake?
TAPPER: And Barbara, it's not just the missiles program. Of course, CNN has also learned that North Korea's most advanced submarine is engaged in unusual activity in the East Sea. What are you learning?
STARR: Well, it's right now been noticed that it's about 100 kilometers, about 60 miles or so off shore North Korea. Not a very advanced submarine, by the way. It's diesel, it can't go underneath the sea, it can't descend for very long. It has to stay on the surface. It can't stay out of port for very long but concerning nonetheless because it was a different deployment pattern than the North Korean sub had done in the past to go so far afield. So it's being watched because, in the past, North Korea has used these submarines, used their torpedo attack capability to attack shipping, especially South Korean shipping in the past. So again, everyone keeping a very close eye on this, trying to determine what the North Koreans might be up to next, Jake.
[16:55:42] TAPPER: And a lot of people alarmed yesterday when General Paul Selva the Vice Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, confirmed what many had feared and expected that North Korea's ICBM could potentially reach the U.S.
STARR: It indeed. This is really the fundamental question right now. So they launched an ICBM. It has the theoretical capability to go the distance someday, to hit the western United States. But the key question is their guidance, their control, their re-entry of that missile into the earth's atmosphere. How soon will they be able to achieve that, and General Selva was very clear that one of his big worries right now is North Korean deception, the North Koreans by the day getting better at deceiving the world about their intentions, hiding their launches until the very last minute. That is a huge worry, Jake.
TAPPER: All right. Barbara Starr at the Pentagon for us, thank you.
More on our "POLITICS LEAD" now, President Trump has been at direct odds with science on several key issues. For one, Mr. Trump has suggested vaccines cause autism. They do not. He also repeatedly called global warming a Chinese hoax. It is not. His differences with scientific consensus are now leading experts to protest what they call Trump's war on science. CNN's spoke to some scientists who are going so far as to put away their lab coats to run for office.
KYUNG LAH, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: In the climb to the2018 Congressional Race, a new kind of first-time candidate is emerging.
JESS PHOENIX (D) CALIFORNIA CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE: I would say scientists are angry, they're frustrated, they're concerned because this is our life's work.
LAH: Geologist Jess Phoenix who spent her career chasing volcanic movement around the world, now Democratic Candidate for Congress against California Republican Incumbent Steve Knight. Phoenix calls Congressman Knight anti-science just like the President.
PHOENIX: What Trump is doing to actually make America great again is to wake up people like Scientist who maybe were a little checked out of the political process before and it's given us not only something to fight for but a reason to fight for it.
LAH: That fight visible in a public resistance by scientists. They call it the administration's war on science. From budget cuts to the EPA and the NIH -
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: So we're getting out.
LAH: - to the pull out of the Paris Climate Accord. For the first time a concerted effort to get more scientists to run in vulnerable Congressional Districts across the country. 314 Action, named after the first three digits of pi, is a political action committee. It says 6,000 scientists have reached out this year alone to run from school boards to Congress.
SHAUGHNESSY NAUGHTON, 314 ACTION FOUNDER: Politicians are unashamed to meddle in science, and I think the way we push back against that is to get more scientist into public office and to claim a seat at the table.
LAH: Like Hans Keirstead, another first time Democratic Candidate. He's running in California's 48th District.
HANS KEIRSTEAD (D) CALIFORNIA CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE: The impact on my field has been nothing short of devastating.
LAH: A world-renowned Neuroscientist and health care entrepreneur, Keirstead private company pursues cures for paralysis and cancer using cutting edge stem cell technology.
Why are you going into politics when you could curing cancer?
KEIRSTEAD: I feel that Congress is a greater stage to do good on, frankly.
LAH: Keirstead is gunning for a longtime incumbent Dana Rohrabacher seat, Vice Chairman of the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee.
DANA ROHRABACHER (R-CA) VICE CHAIRMAN, HOUSE SCIENCE, SPACE, AND TECHNOLOGY COMMITTEE: But I am personally a skeptic about global warming.
LAH: Keirstead used that as an opportunity to topple him in a district where Hillary Clinton narrowly beat Donald Trump.
KEIRSTEAD: The time is now because people are very, very tired of this Trump shenanigans every day that we're hearing on Twitter and just embarrassing things.
LAH: Now, both Congressman Rohrabacher and Knight did decline to speak with CNN for the story. National Democrats do see Jess Phoenix as a little bit more of a long shot. They do point out though it is very, very early. As far as Hans Keirstead, they are quite excited. They think, Jake, that he could mount a formidable campaign. Jake?
TAPPER: All right, Kyung Lah for us. Thank you so much. That's it for THE LEAD, I'm Jake Tapper. You can follow me on Twitter or @jaketapper or on Facebook. I now turn you over to Brianna Keilar who's in for Wolf Blitzer in "THE SITUATION ROOM." Thanks for watching.
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Happening now, breaking news, back from the dead.