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THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER
Interview With Gretchen Carlson; Interview With Hawaii Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard. Aired 4:30-5p ET
Aired October 17, 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: The soldiers killed include two Green Berets, Staff Sergeants Bryan Black and Dustin Wright, also killed, Staff Sergeant Jeremiah Johnson and Sergeant La David Johnson.
Among the many questions that the Pentagon is now asking, did intelligence officers miss any warning signs about this ISIS- affiliated group in the area and how did one of the soldiers get left behind?
CNN's Barbara Starr has more for us from the Pentagon.
BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Twenty-five- year-old sergeant La David Johnson left behind a widow and two young children. A third is on the way. His body was not found for two days.
Now, two weeks later, a U.S. official tells CNN it's still not clear what exactly happened. A team of military experts is now looking at everything about the ISIS attack that killed four soldiers and the confusion that shrouds the incident, starting with how the 12-man Green Beret-led team went into a village in unarmored trucks and no intelligence that they were walking into an ambush by 50 heavily armed ISIS fighters.
SEN. JACK REED (D), RHODE ISLAND: I have questions about intelligence. Were we aware of the capabilities and the intent of the ISIS forces?
STARR: Defense Secretary James Mattis says intelligence is often not perfect.
JAMES MATTIS, U.S. SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: If you want a guarantee in my line of work, go buy a General Electric toaster. We do the best we can with the intel.
STARR: The team had been in the area before, helping train local forces. This time, the Americans were attacked with machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades.
MATTIS: This was a hard fight. This was a very tough fight. STARR: Still no answers why Sergeant Johnson was left behind when the
helicopters came in. At first, they thought he might be alive. Navy SEALs scrambled for a rescue mission, but 48 hours later, local Nigerian troops found him dead.
No one can yet say if he was alive for a short period of time. The incident already raising the potential prospect of a Benghazi-like investigation, when Congress looked at that attack on an American diplomatic compound in Libya that resulted in four U.S. deaths.
SEN. MIKE ROUNDS (R), SOUTH DAKOTA: In the Benghazi incident, you had a case of where there was clear testimony, there was information coming out saying there were hours and hours of activity going on. We don't have the facts on this yet. If similar facts were to be determined in this particular case, you may very well see the same type of a demand for a review.
STARR: Still, the Pentagon is talking about the good news.
LT. GEN. KENNETH MCKENZIE, JOINT STAFF DIRECTOR: I would say that what was actually very positive about it was the fact that they were able to have close air support overhead about 30 minutes after first contact, which is pretty impressive.
STARR: The reality, those aircraft did not have the authority to bomb ISIS fighters, leaving the Americans in a firefight for 30 minutes with no help and a struggle to get the wounded and dead evacuated.
STARR: And a U.S. military official very much following this whole situation tells me if they had anticipated an ISIS attack, indeed they would have handled it all very differently -- Jake.
TAPPER: All right. Barbara Starr at the Pentagon for us, thank you.
Joining me now to discuss this is Democratic Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii. She is serves on the Armed Services and Foreign Affairs Committee in the House. She's also a major in the Army National Guard and did two tours of duty in the Middle East.
Congresswoman, always good to see you.
Do you have a better sense of what these soldiers were doing in Niger and why they didn't have the proper military support when they needed it?
REP. TULSI GABBARD (D), HAWAII: Yes, thanks, Jake. It's good to talk to you always.
First of all, my heart goes out to the family members of our brothers who paid the ultimate price. There's an investigation that's going on. We should wait to get the details of that investigation, rather than to speculate, but I can tell you that the question that I know that the American people are asking and that should be asked of this administration is, what are they doing in Niger? What is the objective that they are there to try to accomplish? What
is the overall strategy in this so-called war on terror? On the one hand, we have got our young men and women who are putting their lives on the line for this country. We are spending taxpayer dollars in different parts of the world to support this war on terror.
But, on the other hand, we have got just a few months ago the Trump administration doubling down on its partnership, on the United States' partnership and alliance with countries like Saudi Arabia, who continue to be one of the biggest backers of these terrorist groups like ISIS and al Qaeda all around the world.
So this contradiction is very clear to the American people, and this is the answer that we need to get from this administration, is, what exactly is the strategy for this war on terror? What is our objective that we're trying to accomplish?
TAPPER: As somebody who has served, they were attacked by about 50 ISIS-affiliated fighters.
Do you suspect that this may have been an intelligence failure in some way?
GABBARD: Yes, again, I don't want to make any guesses or estimates about specifically what happened on the ground there.
I think we owe it to our service members to actually just get the facts on the situation, but, again, I think it's important for the American people, as well as a member of Congress, to hold the administration accountable to answer the larger question here of exactly what are we doing in Niger? Why are our soldiers, our service members on the ground there?
And how does that fit into this -- quote -- "war on terror" that is contradictory to the administration's policy on Saudi Arabia? But also if you look at Trump's move just this past week to pull out of -- begin pulling out of the Iran nuclear deal, again, this is another part of this, the Trump administration picking sides in this sectarian war that's been going on for so long between the Sunni faction, which is Saudi Arabia and others, and the Shia faction, which is Iran and other countries.
All of these things have to be answered, because it's very confusing.
TAPPER: Are you concerned that the U.S. is overextended with so many fighters all over the world, so many U.S. service members?
GABBARD: I am very much concerned about this, and have been speaking out against our tradition, this history of American foreign policy that has led to us this place where we have spent trillions and trillions of dollars on these interventionist, counterproductive regime change wars.
So many American lives have been lost. So many lives of people in these countries have been lost. And it's left us in a situation today where we have cash-strapped communities all across the country who don't have money for infrastructure. We have got -- look at the situation in Puerto Rico, for example.
You can look to the situation in Flint, Michigan, with infrastructure. You can look at so many different examples of how we have paid the price for these decisions that have been made, crossing different administrations, both Republican and Democrat, that have cost our military, our service members, their families and every single American across this country very much.
TAPPER: I want to ask you about North Korea. It's an issue of importance all over the United States, but especially perhaps in Hawaii, where you are right now and where you represent in Congress.
The regime of Kim Jong-un threatened today that nuclear war with the United States could break out at any time. Now, North Korea has said it doesn't want diplomacy until it has a missile capable of reaching the United States. What should President Trump do?
GABBARD: You're right, Jake. This is a very real concern to the people of my home state of Hawaii especially because of our proximity to North Korea and knowing that we are directly within range of their intercontinental ballistic missiles.
So this nuclear threat is an existential one for us. Very simply, President Trump needs to engage directly with Kim Jong-un to find a peaceful diplomatic way to resolve this crisis.
One of the major reasons why these negotiations have failed in the past is because there have always been these preconditions set that have frankly been a fantasy. They have not been realistic.
To say, for example, that we will not negotiate or speak directly with North Korea until they get rid of their nuclear weapons program is a fantasy, because it points to the fact that we're not recognizing why North Korea's built this nuclear weapons program in the first place, to protect themselves from a threat from the United States of toppling their regime.
So, if we understand that our history of interventionist regime change policies have brought North Korea to this place of holding onto nuclear weapons as the only deterrent against regime change, then we can begin to understand how important it is to have this direct conversation that will ultimately, could ultimately result in saving many people's lives, what -- to speak of a massive war.
TAPPER: Democratic Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii, always good to have you. Thank you so much.
GABBARD: Thanks, Jake. Aloha.
TAPPER: Her lawsuit publicly exposed a widespread pattern of sexual harassment at FOX News Channel.
And now the former anchor Gretchen Carlson is weighing in on the allegations against Harvey Weinstein. Does she think this is the moment where things might actually change?
Stick around. We will talk to her.
TAPPER: We're back with the money lead.
Harvey Weinstein, the filmmaker, no longer has a position with the company he helped create. The Weinstein Company told CNN that he resigned from the board when it met this morning.
Last week, Weinstein was fired from his position as co-chair. All this, of course, in the wake of sexual harassment accusations that first surfaced in "The New York Times" almost two weeks ago.
And that brings us to our pop culture lead.
After brave women spoke up and told their stories of Weinstein's alleged harassment and assault and even rape, many credited women such as Gretchen Carlson for helping to get the conversation started.
The FOX News anchor had made headlines herself when she filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against FOX News chairman and CEO Roger Ailes last year, eventually contributing to his ousting from the network.
TAPPER: And Gretchen Carlson joins me now.
Gretchen, congratulations so much on the book. It's "Be Fierce: Stop Harassment and Take Your Power Back," a great book, incredibly timely, unbelievably...
GRETCHEN CARLSON, FORMER FOX NEWS CORRESPONDENT: I planned it that way.
TAPPER: Unbelievably timely.
So, I do want to get your reaction to the Harvey Weinstein scandal. These were incidents not only of alleged sexual harassment, but assault and even in some cases rape going back decades, didn't come forward until the last few weeks in such a public way.
Do you buy that the board of directors and his brother, that they had no idea that this was going on?
CARLSON: Absolutely not. I mean, this is what happens in corporate America when you have an alleged predator like this. There's no way that this could be going on. It's a cover-up. I mean, people would have to know. We've heard stories from some of these women coming forward saying that his assistants certainly knew because they were setting up some of these meetings that there's no way that other higher-ups, lawyers there, et cetera, didn't know about possible settlements being paid out, et cetera. I mean, this is what we need to change within corporate America. We need to go from covering up to encouraging the people to speak up, 180 degrees in a totally different direction.
TAPPER: So the story, the Weinstein scandal has been covered a lot here on CNN and other places, also at your former employer, Fox News. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEAN HANNITY, HOST, FOX NEWS: All the -- all the coverage the New York Times and NBC and CNN over any allegation of the Fox News channel, Dr. Gorka, or anywhere else or any conservative or any pastor or minister. They seem to love when ministers fail. They want them to be perfect. They're not perfect, we're not perfect. But Hollywood knew, everybody knew for decades about this guy. NBC News spiked the story as did the the New York Times as sanctimonious as they are, Dr. Gorka and then they're going to lecture about words, locker room talk, allegations that aren't proven?
TUCKER CARLSON, COMMENTATOR, FOX NEWS: Not all accusations of sexual harassment are real. This one is. It is time for the federal government to get involved. The Department of Justice should launch an immediate investigation into Hollywood's culture of systematic sexual abuse.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Weinstein Company should shut its doors.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: Now, let me explain to the audience, you can't talk about Fox News channel. That was part of your agreement as you left. So stepping away from Fox News Channel, there is a lot of righteousness on display on television right now, and some of it I have to say sitting from where I sit is coming from people who work at places, plural, where sexual harassment and worse is part of the culture. You're a smart person. You've been in this business for a long time. You cover a lot of different industries. How does that make you feel when you see people talking about this sort of thing and excusing it where they live.
G. CARLSON: This is exactly why the American public hates politics right now and hates the divisive nature of this country. It's total hypocrisy. It's total hypocrisy to pretend like something didn't happen. And this is exactly why the American people are fed up with actually both sides of the aisle. But I've gained so much perspective in the past 15 months from watching all different news outlets, and I cannot believe that nothing was mentioned about a story that had taken as much national attention just 15 months before.
TAPPER: No, it's incredible. And of course one of the other big stories, and it was covered at the time, the allegations against President Trump himself. Allegations of harassment and in some cases assault. His campaign is now being subpoenaed by one of the accusers, Summer Zervos who has accused him of aggressively kissing her or touching her breast, et cetera. He's denied the claims. He called it fake news this week. How does this concern you as somebody who has -- is now making a big cause of the issue of changing the culture to have the President of the United States, not only accused of these things but also if you'll permit me a moment, just kind of blithely knocking them down, saying it's all lies.
G. CARLSON: Well, first and foremost, I'm working on Capitol Hill to get a bill passed, bipartisan bill to take the secrecy out of arbitration clauses regarding sexual harassment. So it wouldn't it be interesting if I were successful at getting a Democrat and Republican to come together and whether or not the President would have to sign that bill or not, about whether or not sexual harassment should stay in the shadows within companies. Because that's the issue we're facing with women, that's why they don't come forward, amongst a million other reasons. But I also feature Natasha Stoynoff in my book who was another one of the Trump accusers and she tells her entire story. She was the People Magazine reporter who says that when she was down a Mar-a-Lago, that she was assaulted by President Trump.
Listen, when that tape came out from Access Hollywood last summer, that was right in the heart of my story breaking. That was a teachable moment for me and I think millions of other parents who were forced with trying to explain to their children about human decency. And here's what I told my kids. I don't care what your political policy is on immigration or tax reform, I care about how you treat one another. And above all, human decency supersedes any political policy. And I showed my kids that videotape because I wanted them to know how not to treat other people.
TAPPER: There have been a lot of teachable moments, unfortunately, the wrong kind of teachable moments. I should disclose that you mentioned me in the book because not long after -- you don't have to read it, but not long after you came forward, I noticed that you were following me on Twitter and I reached out to you on direct message and I thanked you because I think it's so important what you did and so brave what you did. Now, a media executive Lauren Zalaznick is crediting you with some of these accusers coming forward against Harvey Weinstein. She says Gretchen Carlson was the igniter of a tinderbox that had embers swirling around it for decades. That must -- that must make you feel pretty good.
[16:50:33] G. CARLSON: It does. Listen, I'm incredibly proud if I gave any of those Weinstein women the courage to come forward. I've heard from thousands of these women across the country. It was the impetus for the book. This is pervasive. It's across every single profession from waitresses to Wall Street bankers. It's everywhere. But guess what? I actually am optimistic based on the Harvey Weinstein story. Allegations horrific, but look at where we've come in just 15 months since my story broke.
I actually believe this is the tipping point and it's a lot due to men like you, Jake Tapper, who I featured in the book -- no, I'm serious because you have no idea how much it meant to me that as a man you reached out to me in my darkest days and you said that I was a role model for your children, both your son and your daughter. And that meant the world to me. And we need men like you in this fight. I have a whole chapter, you included in the book, men who defend. We need you to help us with this mission, so thank you.
TAPPER: Well, it's I who thanks you, but I do want to ask you about some of the other things in the book because there is a lot of advice for women, empowering advice. And one of the things you note is unfortunately in the experience of far too many women, the H.R. department, the human resource department and you quote someone saying, it might as well be the KGB.
G. CARLSON: That was my attorney. Yes.
TAPPER: That was -- yes, and they're not your friends necessarily.
G. CARLSON: Well, and I have heard from a lot of other H.R. executives, one even today when I was at a speaking engagement who said, look, we are on the side of women who want to come forward. So I don't want to malign the entire profession. However, I do say that there might be better options like having an ombudsman, for example, an independent person where women would feel more comfortable. Keep in mind, if the harasser's at the top of the company and signing the paychecks for the people who work in H.R., whose side are they going to be on?
G. CARLSON: Right? So there's an inherent problem I believe within the corporate culture of how women feel comfortable coming forward.
TAPPER: Well, you are a brave woman. The book is Be Fierce, Stop Harassment and Take Your Power Back. I recommend it for everyone. Thank you for being here. Please, don't be a stranger. I want you - to have you back some time.
G. CARLSON: I'd love to --
TAPPER: To talk about other stuff, too.
G. CARLSON: Of course.
TAPPER: All right.
G. CARLSON: And thank you so much for having me.
TAPPER: Thank you. It's great having you, Gretchen.
ISIS losing its grip, the terrorists are no longer in control of their self-proclaimed capital in Syria. What does this mean for their ability to recruit, attack and kill? Stay with us.
[16:55:00] TAPPER: Welcome back. In our "WORLD LEAD," ISIS routed from Raqqa. It was once the center of power for one of the most extreme terror groups on the planet. Today, President Trump is taking credit as ISIS' self-declared capital of Raqqa was liberated by U.S.- backed forces. Syrian Democratic Forces say they're now in control of the city. CNN's Senior International Correspondent Arwa Damon joins me now. And Arwa, while it looks as though these forces are on the verge of complete victory, there is still ways to go to make the city safe again.
ARWA DAMON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: There most certainly is, Jake. They're saying that they hope that they can announce the full liberation of the city from ISIS in about two to three days, but meanwhile, some exclusive drone footage that CNN has obtained from inside Raqqa shows the scale of the devastation, the destruction, but also shows some of those SDF fighters celebrating their victory and just being able to get this far. You see them in some of these images driving their vehicles around a round-about. You see a number of them piled on top of armored personnel carriers spinning them around. This is the very same roundabout, Jake, where ISIS carried out some of their most horrendous atrocities. The public beheadings, the executions, the crucifixions, and this is such a moment for those fighters that have really made a very direct and distinctive effort to try to get this far.
Now, the coalition is saying that they do believe that there are around100 ISIS or so holdouts. And the other great concern, of course, is trying to clear this city of explosive devices that ISIS tends to use to line the roads, the alleyways, the buildings. You also have the population. When are they going to be able to go back? What kind of a life are they going to go back to? And, remember, even though ISIS has lost significant territory, the battle is not yet over against ISIS when it comes to the small pockets of territory it still holds in both Iraq and Syria. Jake?
TAPPER: And Arwa, quickly if you can, what can you tell us about the Iraqis squaring off against the Kurds?
DAMON: This is pitting to key U.S. allies against one another, Jake, and it does not bode well for stability in the region, to say the least.
TAPPER: All right, Arwa Damon, thank you so much. I appreciate it. Be sure to tune in tomorrow night for a special live CNN debate. Senators Bernie Sanders and Ted Cruz will face off. The debate will be about taxes and tax reform. I'm going to moderate along with my colleague Dana Bash. It all starts at 9:00 p.m. Eastern only on CNN. That's it for THE LEAD, I'm Jake Tapper, turning you over to Wolf Blitzer in "THE SITUATION ROOM." Thanks for watching.