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Border Battle on the 4th of July; Clinton: Snowden Has Right to Legal Defense; The '90s: The Last Great Decade?

Aired July 4, 2014 - 16:30   ET


JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Coming up next, a chaotic scene this July 4th as protesters, yell, push, and shove neighbors in their own community. Why they're battling each other over buses filled with men, women and children.

Plus Hillary weighed in over NSA leaker, Edward Snowden. What she said about his possible return to the United States. That's coming up next.


TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. Time now for the Politics Lead. A tense battle over the border this 4th of July. It could just moments away from boiling over the Southern California City of Murrieta, made national headlines when protesters blocked three buses loaded with undocumented immigrants transferred from Texas, where a surge of children crossing the border illegally has immigration facilities overflowing.

It's a situation that the governor of Texas, Rick Perry, calls a humanitarian crisis. The government is expected to bring in more busloads of immigrants to Murrieta today. They could potentially be rolling down the road any minute now. And protesters from both sides are out in full force. Our Kyung Lah is in the middle of this tense July 4th standoff. Kyung, any sign of the buses yet?

KYUNG LAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: No. And we should stress that these are expected or anticipated. We do not know if they are coming because immigration and customs enforcement does not want to reveal where they are and release any sort of tic-toc citing safety concerns. Why? Because this is what is greeting them. You can see there's a police force here. Officers have now separated the protesters. The pro-migrant rights. The anti-immigration people.

They have been separated. They are yelling at each other. It is tense. It is a hot day. They are agitated. This is one camp. Take a look at our other camera. This is about a quarter mile away from us. You can see the rolling road. And then to the right you see that some American flags, it's about a quarter of a mile away from us, you're standing at the entrance to the border patrol station.

People are extremely passionate about this issue especially considering the fact this is the fourth of July. The pro-migrant rights people are saying we are a nation of immigrants, calling the other side racist. The other side saying we are a nation of laws. Here's what a couple of them told us.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I love -- we're a nation of immigrants. You know, most of us have immigrants from somewhere. This isn't about that. It's about we're a nation with borders. We're a nation with laws. We have orderly immigration policies so that people are safe, so our citizens are safe, so that people that are trying to get here are safe. You know, we're not a borderless nation.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There's 11 million undocumented people here and there's people that keep migrating to the United States. It's not of us versus we situation. It's a we. It's everybody together.


LAH: Back live here in Murrieta, these ladies are actually sitting down because of heatstroke, Jake, one problem that they're now facing is that it's so hot out here people are starting to suffer from heatstroke -- Jake.

TAPPER: Kyung Lah in Southern California. Thank you so much. Let's bring in our political panel, CNN political commentator, Ross Douthat, columnist for "The New York Times," Christina Bellantoni, editor-in- chief of "Roll Call" Sahil Kapur, senior congressional correspondent for "Talking Points Memo." This all comes as President Obama today was naturalizing more than two dozen active duty service members at the White House pressing lawmakers to do immigration reform.

But I have to say this immigration reform pitch that President Obama and Democrats to a lesser extent have been making, it really seems to be overshadowed by this border crisis and what's going on with all these children.

CHRISTINA BELLANTONI, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, "ROLL CALL": The timing makes it really difficult. The House Republicans were never really going to vote on the Senate bill. That was pretty clear from a year ago when that Senate bill passed. But looking at these pictures and getting people so enraged just 4-1/2 months before the midterm elections it puts this in just such a difficult position.

At that field hearing you mentioned Governor Rick Perry spoke at on Friday, they talked about the fact that the president is asking for more money for the border to deal with this crisis. They also don't want to vote on that. Taking a vote on either side is just a really difficult political position.

TAPPER: Don't you think, Sal, that this -- it makes it look as though President Obama is not addressing what the number one immigration issue is right now. Obviously immigration reform, larger issue, can be discussed and debated. This is a crisis right now.

SAHIL KAPUR, SENIOR REPORTER, "TALKING POINTS MEMO": It absolutely is and I think everybody agrees it is. The problem here is this is accentuating the passions on both sides of the issues. What the conservatives are saying is this proves we're not enforcing the law and we have to get the border secure before which do anything. What the president and Democrats are saying is this makes the case for immigration reform because that will bring a whole new surge of folks at the border and make our border a lot stronger.

The president does have a humanitarian crisis on his hands here. There are over 52,000 of these unaccompanied minors and it's going to be very difficult for him to get reform through, not that it's going to happen anyway, but it's going to be harder for him to make the case until this crisis is passed.

TAPPER: Ross, how much do you think this crisis is President Obama's fault to some extent? I hear a lot of Republicans saying he created this crisis by not enforcing what's going on at the border.

ROSS DOUTHAT, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I mean, the timing is striking, right? If you look at trends in child migration and migration of children often only with their mothers, the border patrol was picking up I think 15,000 to 20,000 a year ago. And then you hay spike that's still ongoing. This year is expected to bring many, many more and it is timed from the point of view of American politics to the White House basically taking the step of saying we are relaxing deportation for people who arrive here with minors.

Now, that being said, obviously, these people are coming from Central America. They're not following the ins and outs of U.S. immigration policy. If the White House -- if American policy is playing a role here, it's happening through a very complicated game of sort of transcontinental telephone, basically.

TAPPER: Let's turn to another issue if we can. Hillary Clinton giving an interview to "The Guardian" newspaper about Edward Snowden saying that he should have the right to a legal defense. Take a listen.


HILLARY CLINTON, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: In any case that I'm aware of, as a former lawyer, he has a right to mount a defense and he certainly has a right to mount both a legal defense and a public defense, which of course, can affect the legal defense. Whether he returns or not is up to him. He certainly can stay in Russia, apparently under Putin's protection, for the rest of his life if that's what he chooses. But if he's serious about engaging in the debate, then he could take the opportunity to come back and have that debate, but that's his decision.


TAPPER: She seems to be trying to walk a line here. You know, there's the people who think Snowden is a traitor. There's the people who say he's a freedom fighter. He's a patriot. She seems to be kind of like in the middle a little bit.

KAPUR: It's an interesting statement because what she's saying is theoretically non-controversial. Everyone gets to make a defense.


KAPUR: But it's very rare to see political leaders at the highest levels making an overture in the direction of Snowden. This tends to be one issue where Democrats and Republicans really strongly agree on including the White House, that what he did was very, very wrong.

TAPPER: Christina?

BELLANTONI: I just think it's all in the context of her running for president and when you have Republicans like Rand Paul and like that sort of Paul coalition that are going to be some sort of force in the Republican presidential fight she needs to really address the civil liberties issue because it's addressing young people in a certain way.

It's exactly like you said. Some people view him as a hero. Others say he should be tried and throw away the key. So she needs to keep both sides engaged in this, but that's not really answering the bigger picture issues for bills that by the way she voted for with the patriot act and some of the bigger picture, you know, what are our civil liberties when it comes to surveillance?

TAPPER: The previous comment that I'd heard from her on NSA was that she was expressing anger at the bugging of Angela Merkel, the chancellor of Germany, her phone. But she was part of the system that OK'd it one way or the other.

DOUTHAT: I'm pretty sure that she -- as president she would be OK with bugging just about any foreign leader that anyone was interested in bugging.

TAPPER: You view this politically as well, that she's --

DOUTHAT: Sure. But I think the interesting dynamic is this sort of -- you know, there's the Democratic issue, right? Where you do have a sort of civil libertarian flank within the party and in the event she attracted a serious primary challenger she would want to finesse the issue probably in this kind of way. And then there's the question of nobody knows what the Republican nominee's position on these issues will be. It's more likely that they'll be more hawkish. But if it were Rand Paul, it would be a very different political landscape.

TAPPER: All right, Sahil, Ross, Christina, thank you so much. Happy fourth. Thanks for coming in today. For our next segment, I'm going to go into makeup and get some frosted tips. How the '90s are still impacting our lives no matter how distant a memory they become.

Plus, in sports, can I get a little reverb from the control room? Today I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth. The speech that echoed through Yankee stadium and history 75 years ago today.


TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper. The Pop Culture Lead now. We're 15 years removed from the partying as if it's 1999. So while it seems so far in the past, just imagine Edward Snowden carrying around all those state secrets on a stack of rubber-banded floppy disks. The '90s is the decade that's still too legit to quit, especially when it comes to Monica Lewinsky and her ability to steal headlines from Hillary Clinton.


MONICA LEWINSKY: To have my narrative ripped from me and turned into the star report and things that were turned over or things they delved out of my computer that I thought were deleted, I mean, it was just a violation after violation.


TAPPER: That interview comes from the new National Geographic three- part special "The '90s: The Last Great Decade." Earlier I spoke to David Sirota, a contributor to the program about the Lewinsky scandal and how the '90s defines us, even in the middle of 2014.


TAPPER: David, thanks for joining us. The series is called "The '90s: The Last Great Decade." Let's start right there. Was this the last great decade, do you think?

DAVID SIROTA, WRITER, "PSEUDODAILY" AND SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: Well, we asked the question in the show, and I think the question is a good one. And I think to a lot of people who are voices in the show they would say yes. And I think the poll that came out about the 1990s, that just came out, says that a lot of Americans think it was the last great decade as well. I think that's because there were a lot of really good things that happened in the '90s.

The economy was expanding. There was a push for more rights for people. There was a lot of good things that happened in the '90s. It was the expansion of the internet. But I think that the consequences of a lot of the excesses of the '90s wasn't felt until after the 1990s were over. So in hindsight the 1990s looks like a time where the problems we faced were relatively small.

The cold war was over, we weren't at war, and we didn't face the kind of problems sizably that we face today. But I think there's an argument that we're dealing with a lot of the hangover of the 1990s still right now in this year.

TAPPER: That's one of the things I wonder about, is whether the '90s were built on a foundation of sand. You have the bust of the dotcom bubble and arguments made on the show include that the '90s were a vacation from history. Were we naive in the '90s, perhaps?

SIROTA: I certainly think there was a lot of naive in the 1990s. We were deregulating Wall Street, and obviously that came crashing down and the financial collapse a lot later, after the '90s. There was a dotcom bubble. We may be in the milled of a dotcom bubble now. There were signs ever a threat of terrorism with the World Trade Center bombing. There was Columbine, which I think was a warning on a lot of the gun issues that we're now still dealing with. And I think that there was obviously the end of the cold war, which made -- I think gave Americans the sense of global security and obviously we've seen that that's not the case anymore.

TAPPER: David, you're one of the many contributors for the show. There were a slew of high-profile people interviewed for this. Cast members from "Real World," Christopher Darden, the assistant district attorney who tried O.J. Simpson for murder. Monica Lewinsky of course. What did she specifically have to say about the Clinton affair and about the '90s?

SIROTA: Well, she provided some insight into how -- what she was thinking about during that -- the impeachment. And I think she made a lot of points about how she actually didn't -- she said she didn't expect nearly the media attention that it generated. You could say how could you not expect that if it came out in the media?

But I think what she reminds us of is that was really a time when tabloid news became political news and the boundaries between what we call tabloid news and, quote/unquote, "serious news," it sort of blurred into what we have now, which there really aren't any boundaries at all.

TAPPER: Let's play a clip from the show. This is where you describe this shift of how we the media covered all these things.


SIROTA: At the beginning of the 1990s there's still a distinction between tabloid culture and news. Those two things mean different things. By the end of the 1990s there's no distinction between what's tabloid news and what's news news.


TAPPER: Where do you think that began? Was it with Tonya Harding and Nancy Kerrigan? Was it with Monica Lewinsky?

SIROTA: I think it was all of those things. I mean, I think even the O.J. Simpson trial, it was a real trial, it was a real criminal justice matter, but it became covered in such a 24/7 kind of way that it really transcended to dominate the news and now there are no boundaries. The Princess Diana death and how that was covered. That was -- Princess Diana was kind of a tabloid figure who then became a huge news figure in general.

There wasn't that distinction anymore and that's the world we live in now. And I think it's actually exacerbated now by the fact that the technology that came out of the 1990s with the internet then ultimately became the internet in your pocket and now everybody can post video to the internet. And so it only increases the idea that we're living in a world where what's TV and what's really, what's tabloid news and what's serious news, all these things are in one mishmash. TAPPER: The three-night miniseries "The '90s: The Last Great Decade" premieres Sunday, July 6th 9:00 p.m. David Sirota, thanks so much.

SIROTA: Thank you, Jake.


TAPPER: Coming up next, a celebrity event without much international or national fanfare or publicity. So what exactly is the big slick? And why do so many Hollywood heavyweights participate every year?


TAPPER: Welcome back to "THE LEAD." In Pop Culture news, the Paul Rudd-Amy Poehler absurdist comedy romp "They Came Together" premiered last weekend in selected theatres and while the film's limited release is not expected to give "Transformers: Age Of Extinction" any competition, it has racked up some nice reviews.

Rudd himself is busy preparing for the next Marvel blockbuster "Ant Man," which begins shooting in a couple months. But there's another project that Rudd invited me and some others to check out a few days ago, one that's really like nothing I've ever seen before.


TAPPER (voice-over): They are some of the funniest dudes in the country. "Anchorman" pals, Paul Rudd and David Koechner.

"Saturday Night Live" alum Jason Sudeikis, "Modern Family's" Eric Stonestreet, and "22 Jump Street's" Rob Riggle. Believe it or not, all this funny comes from the same place, Kansas City. A few days ago the Yucksters came back to their hometown on a gravely serious mission, to raise funds for sick kids. Of course, they did it with a smile.

These are patients from children's Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, and they're battling some of the most challenging forms of cancer and other illnesses. The five-year-old event started out as a poker tournament organized by Riggle. They called it the big slick, which is a poker term, and they wanted to raise about $50,000.

Every year since the event has gotten bigger with more famous friends. The stars' families have stepped up to help run it. Here's Cathy Sudeikis, Jason's mom. This year I was lucky enough to be included. It's a special event because even while the moments are zany, the seriousness of what's being faced by these brave children and their families, it looms large throughout the weekend.

Such as 4-year-old Aubrey Sanborn from Wichita. Just weeks ago she was in a moped accident. She's now paralyzed from the neck down. I'll be thinking about her for a long time. Unlike a lot of celebrity charity events, the big slick's not about headlines in New York City or Hollywood. It's really about the community here in Kansas City.

Local businesses and donors sponsor a whiffle ball game at Royals Stadium and a bowling tournament with stars like James Marsden and Johnny Knoxville. It all ends with a big performance and an auction. The result this year -- they raised a million dollars and a lot of spirits.


TAPPER: Our thanks to Children's Mercy Hospital and the big slick for letting us participate and for sharing some of their footage from the weekend. If you want to learn more about the event or donate to Children's Mercy, check out

Turning now to the Sports Lead, for a tournament with so many goals, today's quarterfinal match between Germany and France not exactly the most thrilling thing in the world. Germany scored early and then was content to sit back on its heels and coast to a 1-0 victory, putting them through to their fourth straight semifinal.

That's a place the U.S. team has never been. So winning the World Cup, you probably shouldn't even call it a pipe dream instead give the American fans what they really want, goalkeeper, Tim Howard for secretary of defense. After his 16-save performance against Belgium Tuesday, President Obama didn't exactly shut down the possibility.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: And I know there's actually a petition on the White House web site to make Tim Howard the next secretary of defense. Chuck Hagel's got that spot right now. But if there is a vacancy, I promise to think about it.


TAPPER: So Mr. President, you're telling us there's a chance. Yes, and finally today, an anniversary, not the one from 1776 we're all celebrating but one much more somber. It has been 75 years since baseball's iron horse, Lou Gehrig, said goodbye, thanking the 61,000 fans jammed into the wooden seats at Yankee Stadium. In the last game he played he was only 35 years old. July 4th, 1939. Standing before all those people, the first baseman, one of the greatest hitters ever, would soon be bedridden, who had every reason to be angry at the world, at god. He called himself lucky.

Today I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth. But unlike Gary Cooper's take on the speech, that's not how Gehrig's speech ended. He called himself lucky a few more times. He called his hand in life a blessing. Gehrig had been diagnosed with the still incurable and rare disease that would claim his life just two years later, and it bears his name today. But despite knowing his premature death was inevitable, Lou Gehrig still said this -- "I've got an awful lot to live for.

That's for THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper. Happy 4th of July. I now turn you over to Brianna Keilar. She is filling in for Wolf Blitzer in "THE SITUATION ROOM." Have a great weekend -- Brianna.