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Putin Steals The Show; Chicago's "Most Urgent Problem"; He Helped Save The World

Aired June 5, 2014 - 16:30   ET


POPPY HARLOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We don't know how much. They didn't give a number today. Feinberg is going to accept family -- basically, applications for this come August 1st. So it's going to be a long, drawn-out process, Jake. But an interesting important thing here to tell you. Bankruptcy complicates this. Technically, under bankruptcy law, the new GM is not liable for the sins of the old GM and they are not waving that protection. So at this point, we're going to see if these go to court or if they accept what Feinberg doles out.

TAPPER: Poppy Harlow, thanks as always.

Coming up next, the delicate dance. How the leader of France is trying to keep both presidents, Putin and Obama happy when they clearly are not really all that interested in seeing each other. From separate dinners to private meetings, will it work?


TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper. The Politics Lead now, calling it the dueling dinners perhaps. Now if this were high school, it might have been an acceptable way to handle a tiff between rival teenagers, just stick them at different lunch tables in the cap.

Tonight in Paris, French President Francois Hollande will be using a somewhat similar diplomacy tactic to keep two world leaders, President Obama and Russian Leader Vladimir Putin from being within slapping distance of one another.

CNN White House correspondent, Michelle Kosinski is in Paris with the detail. Michelle, Putin was persona non-grata at the G-7 summit, which just ended in Brussels. What is he doing in that city at all? Why is he in Paris?

MICHELLE KOSINSKI, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Well, this isn't being portrayed as some kind of avoidance, but it definitely comes off that way, right? He's here in Paris on his way to Normandy tomorrow for the D-Day commemorations. You know, back in the days when the United States and Russia were united in fighting the Nazis, but in the meantime, he's meeting with some world leaders, not just with President Obama.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) KOSINSKI (voice-over): The G-8 for now is the G-7 since Vladimir

Putin was essentially kicked out of the club. But his actions in Ukraine, again, managed to steal the show. And the big topic of discussion in Brussels -- and Putin's words still made it around the world, sexist comments about Hillary Clinton.

An interview with French TV, asked about Clinton's comments weeks ago comparing Putin to Hitler, he replied, "It's better not to argue with women. Ms. Clinton has never been too graceful in her statements. When people push boundaries too far, it's not because they are strong, but because they are weak. But maybe weakness is not the worst quality for a woman."

But now, come Paris, Putin will appear in the flesh making for some uncomfortable greetings, meetings and non-meetings among these leaders. To map it out, Putin will meet directly with England, France, and Germany. President Obama will meet with England and France but not Putin.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: But I will see Mr. Putin and he and I have always had a business-like relationship.

KOSINSKI: Right or may be call that as chilliest cold potato soup on a Russian winter's night these days. Making it plenty of fodder for awkward photo-ops and late night TV jokes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I've been trying to call you. What are you doing?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm playing iPhone game "Candy Crush."

KOSINSKI: So frozen, in fact, that President Hollande of France found it necessary tonight to schedule not one but two delicious French dinners just to keep the two apart.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The first one for President Obama followed by one for Vladimir Putin. Yes. Hollande was pretty worried about keeping them separate then his girlfriend and his mistress was like, you'll figure it out.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Should we have the opportunity to talk. I will be repeating the same message that I've been delivering to him throughout this crisis. That Russian armed forces annexing pieces of a neighbor is illegal and violates international law.


KOSINSKI: Maybe this is all just as well because at a prior G-8 meeting, an insider told us the talk among world leaders were Vladimir Putin's poor table manners -- Jake.

TAPPER: Michelle Kosinski in Paris, the complex Putin/Obama relationship, along with violence in places such as Ukraine, Syria, Libya, it seem a little scary, but just compare it to the early 1960s where nuclear war was a real threat. Tonight's episode of the CNN documentary series "The Sixties" focuses on that time and on the cold war.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Early on in the '60s, you had this backdrop and it was palpable fear in the United States and in the Soviet Union that the two sides were going to get into a nuclear war.


TAPPER: That was presidential historian, Robert Dallek. He's author of the book "Camelot's Court, Inside The Kennedy White House." Professor Daller, great to see you. So we'll get to the sixties in a second, but just for historical sake, history sake, can you compare the Obama/Putin relationship with any other similar relationship?

ROBERT DALLEK, PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: Well, Jake, we're light years away from the '60s now, but I think the similarity is that both sides understand both Obama and Putin understand, you have to talk. You can't just ignore each other. We live in a dangerous world, nuclear weapons. We still both sides have nuclear weapons and you can't just walk away and turn your back on each other and, also, the interconnections over the economy. After all, the Russians supplied a lot of oil to Western Europe and it's a very important economic tie that they have.

TAPPER: France going ahead with $1.6 billion sale of a warship to Russia. What do you think when you hear people say we're in a new cold war?

DALLEK: Well, I think that's an exaggeration. That cold war was really just terrifying because in that Cuban missile crisis, we came within a hair's breadth of actually getting into a nuclear exchange. No one feels that way now. You know, Jake, I teach university students in the '60s I taught, kids were afraid of the nuclear war. Nowadays it's terrorism but not nuclear arms.

TAPPER: Let's give our viewers a real sense of what it was like to live under a threat of the nuclear war. It's Americans describing preparations for a nuclear attack.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That we could control such a thing as that and all civilization that we built up would just be washed out.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It gives you quite a scare to think about sometimes that happening to us.


TAPPER: People were really ready for that to happen. You say we were within a hair's breadth. Seriously? It was about to happen?

DALLEK: Well, if we had bombed and invaded Cuba, the Soviets --

TAPPER: We kind of invaded Cuba, a little bit, right. We failed to.

DALLEK: The Bay of Pigs, which was a disaster. But during that missile crisis, which the joint chiefs were pressing President Kennedy to do that, they had missiles ready to launch at the United States. They had intermediate range missiles that they could have hit the United States within 1500 miles within inside the U.S. So, yes, Bob McNamara, he looked back on this, George Bundy, I spoke to both of them. They said they were startled at how close they came to such a conflict.

TAPPER: That's because Kennedy didn't listen to his generals.

DALLEK: No, he didn't. Kennedy said later, it's better to be cautious and get a lot of criticism and flack than to jump into something you'll regret for the rest of your life. And you know, I think President Obama takes this lesson from Kennedy as well. He's cautious about using the military, very cautious. And I think he learned something from John Kennedy.

TAPPER: So you think, based on your research, that he would perhaps be approaching the Ukraine situation the same way?

DALLEK: Absolutely. I think it would be very cautious. I think his rhetoric would be firm and direct as Obama's has been. But he certainly wouldn't be mobilizing troops or doing anything that would be terribly provocative.

TAPPER: All right, the historian, Robert Dallek, thank you so much. We appreciate it. You can watch CNN's original series "The Sixties," tonight at 9:00 p.m. only on CNN.

Coming up, he is known for getting results any way he can, coming up, Mayor Rahm Emanuel talks about his latest moves to lower the crime rate in Chicago, but his tactics are raising some questions.

Plus, the mental scars of war etched in his mind 70 years later. One World War II veteran travels back in time to the moment he was dropped from the sky behind enemy lines in Normandy, France. His story coming up ahead.


TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. In our National Lead, gun violence is unfortunately a common occurrence across the United States. Chicago is no exception. Just yesterday, an 18-year-old was killed and six others were shot in the city. A local reporter reported that a sister was yelling through her tears, what is Rahm Emanuel going to do about this? She's referring to the mayor of Chicago.

Emanuel has called gun violence Chicago's most urgent problem and now he has a set of proposed requirements for gun stores in his city, which he is mandated to allow. These requirements include employee background checks for employees, video surveillance of gun sales and limiting a buyer to one handgun a month. And Chicago mayor, Rahm Emanuel, joins me now. Mr. Mayor, good

to see you, as always. You have a wide swath of proposals. You definitely have had success bringing down the crime rate in 2013. But critics say that these laws that you're proposing will really not affect people who are committing gun crimes in Chicago. Don't they have a point, that the people who commit these crimes are not going to the gun store and buying guns illegally, right?

MAYOR RAHM EMANUEL (D), CHICAGO: I would say no and yes. One is, we are under court order to do this. So we took six months and developed what we think is a strong, tough, and legal way if we're under order to allow gun sales within the city limits, but do it in a way that does not undermine the safety that the public is demanding. Our challenge here is the flow of guns into the city. The main share of the guns comes from outside of Wisconsin and Cook County and down state. For those very critics I would say, join me in making sure that we have a foundation, which is a national background check, a limit on one gun a month. Rather than criticize what we are doing, join us in the effort of passing comprehensive gun legislation nationally.

TAPPER: The NRA and other organizations are quick to point out that there really isn't the gun's prosecutions that need to take place. Northern Illinois, which obviously includes Chicago, is ranked 90th among the U.S. territories when it comes to federal gun prosecutions. Does the federal law enforcement in Chicago have a problem there?

EMANUEL: No. The good news is, we have a new U.S. attorney. They are right about past. Zach has decided and focused the office on gun prosecutions working in conjunction with the local police department. ATF has been incredibly cooperative on gun tracing and gun tracking with us. And the new leadership at the federal level is very helpful. But you know what, you can say its gun prosecution and I'm for the federal government stepping up.

You can say it has to be tracing or what the ATF is doing. We also have a responsibility for comprehensive legislation. Now, in the report we issued earlier a week ago, the city of Chicago has, as it relates to non-gun violence, the same level of crimes that are violence in the areas that New York or L.A. do, meaning not with a gun, knives, or other things.

It's access to guns that is the challenge. It is the fact that the bulk of the guns come from Indiana and Wisconsin and down state, which is why I've been an advocate since the days of fighting the Brady bill and assault weapons ban, you need national legislation. This is not looking for one combination to the lock.

It's a series across all fronts that you have to do, which mainly deals with access to guns and limiting that access to the individuals that are trying to seek them for their illegal purchases.

TAPPER: Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, thank you so much for your time.

EMANUEL: Thank you, Jake.

TAPPER: When we come back, it's been 70 years, but he remembers it like it was yesterday. His vivid memories of D-Day. Coming up next, why this World War II veteran says he will never forget the man he killed.


TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. In national news, it was a day that would change the course of history. Tomorrow, 70 years ago, we're remembering the courage and sacrifice of those who fought and those who died on D-Day, who jumped and swam and stormed into Normandy, France, to stop the Nazis from their hideous mission. We want to introduce you now to one of those veterans, 93-year-old Thomas Blakey who we met at the National World War II Museum in New Orleans.


THOMAS BLAKEY, WORLD WAR II VETERAN: I was here. I had to get to this bridge here.

TAPPER (voice-over): For three days every week, 93-year-old Thomas Blakey sits at this table and takes tourists back in time. He's part of the allied invasion on the beaches of Normandy, a member of the Airborne Division, parachuting behind enemy German lines on D- Day. Seventy years later, that airplane ride is still fresh in his mind.

BLAKEY: And everybody was very quiet. Some of their fellows were dealing with their beads. Some fellows were faking sleep. We got a break in the weather and we could see the boats going toward France. Tons of boats. Hundreds of them. And we said, how could we lose with this in?

TAPPER: As they got closer to shore, bullets started to hit their plane.

BLAKEY: Back to the Coast of Normandy and then it really got hot. We were hooked up, we were ready to go. Eighteen men are going out that door in 11 seconds.

TAPPER: Blakey landed in a cemetery and made his way to the target.

BLAKEY: We were to take a bridge, take it before daylight and hold it until relieved. Well, the bridge was there. We had to clean out some of the Germans around it. They were coming down the road and they were coming down right into our rifle barrel. We killed a lot of Germans.

TAPPER: The battle for that bridge was dramatized in one of the final scenes of "Saving Private Ryan."

BLAKEY: I fired at him and saw the bullet at the time it hit and he jumped in the air, raised his arms above his head, dropped his rifle, and fell backwards. TAPPER: For decades, that image hunted him.

BLAKEY: I didn't get a scratch, but I had a lot of opportunities.

TAPPER: But all that changed, Blakey said, when he walked through the doors of the National World War II Museum.

BLAKEY: I haven't seen the little man since I've been to the museum.

TAPPER: Blakey is heading back to the bridge and to Normandy to mark 70 years since he and 150,000 troops took that beach and turned the tide of the war.

BLAKEY: We wanted to go home. We wanted to do our duty. We wanted to create a good world and that's what we were trying to do.

TAPPER: When Blakey comes home from this trip to Normandy, he'll return to his new post, the one he has manned for 14 years, where he'll keep their memories of his friends and their sacrifices going strong.


TAPPER: And we can never thank him enough. Tomorrow, 70 years to the day, I'll sit down with Stephen Colbert as he shares his uncle's incredible story of escaping from the Nazis in the 101st Airborne Division, which you probably know from the movie and the book "Band of Brothers."

Make sure to follow me on Twitter @jaketapper and also @theleadcnn. That's it for THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper. I now turn you over to Wolf Blitzer who is right next door in THE SITUATION ROOM -- Mr. Blitzer.