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THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER
Interview With Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton; Sanders Endorses Clinton; President Obama's Message of Hope; Clinton, Sanders Appear on Stage Together; AG Lynch Testifies About Decision Not to File Charges; Obama, Bush Pay Tribute to Slain Officers. Aired 4-4:30p ET
Aired July 12, 2016 - 16:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Two U.S. presidents in Dallas attempting to heal a nation in pain.
I'm Jake Tapper. And this is THE LEAD.
President Obama trying to give the country hope in Dallas today after a week of brutality and killings that left many Americans feeling hopeless, but he has given versions of this sermon so many times already. What, if anything, could change?
Plus, he's sick and tired of hearing about damn endorsements. Bernie Sanders, after 36 days of hinting, finally says he is with her. Donald Trump says Sanders endorsing Clinton is like Occupy Wall Street endorsing Goldman Sachs.
Doubling down. The notorious RBG, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wading again into the presidential contest, saying she would rather sleep with sheep than imagine life under -- quote -- "faker" Donald Trump. Critics say that kind of talk from a sitting justice crosses an important line.
Good afternoon, everyone. Welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.
Earlier this afternoon, just minutes ago really, President Obama took part in what has become a tragically familiar ritual in the United States, he addressed an interfaith service for victims of yet another mass shooting.
This time, it was in Dallas, where he joined former President George W. Bush and other notable voices, all trying to console the families, the friends, the colleagues of the five police officers killed in an ambush Thursday night.
More broadly, of course, he was also trying to console the nation.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Scripture tells us that in our sufferings, there is glory, because we know that suffering produces perseverance, perseverance, character, and character, hope. (END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: That choir music and emotional prayers of the service were infused with a stark sense of frustration about the senselessness of the murders of these five men in blue, five men specifically targeted because they were white, and more specifically because they were white police officers.
It was a massacre that today the White House called a hate crime.
CNN's Suzanne Malveaux joins me now live from Dallas, where today's service has just drawn to a close.
Suzanne, the president has made, in our count, at least 11 speeches in cities where there was horrific mass gun carnage, but this was the first time when police officers were the victims.
SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: And this was a very different kind of speech, Jake, when we heard this.
It was really extraordinary, the president saying this is the America I know and then really trying to bring the American people along to face the truth, saying, protesters, you know it, police, you know it, going through saying that the Dallas police, that they were doing the right thing, that they should not be scorned.
There as something for them, and then also mentioning Black Lives Matter and the history of African-Americans having a difficult time being oppressed by some police officers.
It was almost as if you were seeing a State of the Union address where some people would get all up together, and a standing ovation for one part, and then half would be sitting on their hands. This is an attempt by this president to unify this country, but he has tried this time and time again, Jake. It will be interesting to see how this is received.
OBAMA: If we're to sustain the unity we need to get through these difficult times.
MALVEAUX (voice-over): President Obama in Dallas today sending a powerful personal message.
OBAMA: I'm here to insist that we're not divided as we seem. And I know that because I know America. I know how far we have come against impossible odds.
MALVEAUX: Carefully writing his own words of support and solidarity for a nation in mourning.
OBAMA: When all of this takes place more than 50 years after the passage of the Civil Rights Act, we cannot simply turn away and dismiss those in peaceful protest as troublemakers.
MALVEAUX: The stage was set by deadly shootings that have claimed lives, both black and blue.
OBAMA: We ask the police to do too much and we ask too little of ourselves.
MALVEAUX: Perhaps more enduring than the words are the images, a lasting tribute for the five officers killed in Thursday's sniper attack.
OBAMA: An act not just of demented violence, but of racial hatred.
All of it has left us wounded and angry and hurt.
MALVEAUX: Former Republican President George W. Bush joining his successor in a rare show of unity.
GEORGE W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Those of us who love Dallas and call it home have had five deaths in the family.
MALVEAUX: Each expressing their condolences.
BUSH: Your loss is unfair. We cannot explain it. We can stand beside you and share your grief.
MALVEAUX: En route to Texas, the president also called the families of Philando Castile and Alton Sterling, the two African-American men killed by police last week in Missouri and Louisiana.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He was very pleasant. And he spoke of his concerns and sent his condolences, as well as Michelle.
MALVEAUX: The trip to Dallas marks a return for President Obama to yet another city heartbroken, his 11th visit to grieve an American mass shooting since taking office.
OBAMA: I have seen too many families go through this. But then I am reminded of what the lord tells Ezekiel. I will give you a new heart, the lord says, and put a new spirit in you.
MALVEAUX: And, Jake, as you know, this speech that the president gave very reminiscent of what he did back as a candidate, speech on race in Philadelphia back in 2008, calling it a racial stalemate then and asking for us all to strive to deal with the complexities of race in this country.
The president going to take that back to the White House tomorrow, meeting with not only law enforcement officials, but also civil rights activists, to try to feel if there is a way, try to determine if there is a way forward -- Jake.
TAPPER: All right, Suzanne Malveaux in Dallas, Texas, thank you for the report. As the question looms whether or not the nation could heal from the
three separate shootings that happened in the span of three days, investigators in Dallas, in Baton Rouge and in Falcon Heights, Minnesota, are all trying to answer the same question, how did this happen?
Meanwhile, we now know how the Dallas sniper attack suspect, Micah Johnson, got his hands on that rifle.
Let's bring in CNN correspondent Ed Lavandera.
Ed, CNN spoke with the man who allegedly sold the AK-47-style weapon to the killer, and what did he have to say?
ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This is a man who spoke to CNN on condition that we do not reveal his identity, but he told us that the weapon was sold to him back in 2014 for $600, and that he is tormented by the possibility that this was the gun that was used in the attack.
LAVANDERA (voice-over): The streets around El Centro Community College, where Micah Johnson launched his deadly attack, have started to reopen, revealing our closest views of the destruction unleashed in the gun battle, blown-out windows, bullet holes in the walls of the building where police pursued the killer.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Gunfire came from a window that he blew out above our dock area.
LAVANDERA: The community college police chief says the final standoff between police and Micah Johnson occurred at the end of a second story hallway. The robot armed with a pound of C-4 explosions moved down the hallway toward the killer.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The hallway that he barricaded himself in could not be reached by SWAT personnel. And they came up the plan of sending down a robot to save police lives.
LAVANDERA: CNN has learned that Micah Johnson purchased an AK-47- style assault rifle from a Facebook firearms group. The sale was made in a parking lot.
But it's not clear if the weapon was the one used in the attack. In Johnson's home, police found a journal and bomb-making materials that suggested he was practicing to take aim at larger targets. A federal law enforcement source says there were about 3.5 pounds of explosive materials, including a small amount of a substance called Tannerite, which the FBI began looking into several years ago after learning terrorists were interested in using it.
Other bomb-making materials were also discovered, including a can of acetone, two canning jars of black powder, hobby fuse, and three feet of PVC pipe. Dallas Police Chief David Brown says investigators are still trying to
figure out what Johnson was planning to do with this material.
DAVID BROWN, DALLAS POLICE CHIEF: We just don't know ow the bombing aspect of is plans were going to play out. We're rooking for those answers and the concern is that we have not found something that is out there.
LAVANDERA: And, Jake, those protests continue across the country from New York to California.
And as well in Baton Rouge, a development there in the case of Alton Sterling. The owner of the Triple S Convenience Store, where that shooting took place, is filing a lawsuit against the Baton Rouge politics, saying he was wrongfully detained and that police took the surveillance video from his convenience store without a warrant -- Jake.
TAPPER: Ed Lavandera, thank you so much.
I want to bring in Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton now.
Mr. Attorney General, thank you so much for joining me.
We just heard from Ed Lavandera about how the killer got one of his guns. What other pieces of information is law enforcement cobbling together right now?
Hold the phone. We're going to talk about this and much, much more after this quick break.
[16:15:18] TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD.
We're going to get to our interview in just one second. But, right now, I want to turn to the other big story today, our politics lead.
Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders burying the hatchet today, officially putting an end to their political rivalries. Sanders today endorsed the former secretary of state at a joint appearance in New Hampshire.
CNN senior Washington correspondent Jeff Zeleny was in New Hampshire and filed this story.
JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): He finally said it. He is with her.
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I), VERMONT: Hillary Clinton will make an outstanding president and I am proud to stand with her today. ZELENY: Bernie Sanders jumped on the Hillary Clinton bandwagon today,
showering her with praise and even a hug, 35 days after she clinched the Democratic nomination. It was an awkward dance after a long fight, yet standing side by side spoke volumes about which party is more unified for months before Election Day.
HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESUMPTIVE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: I can't help reflect how much more enjoyable this election is going to be now that we're on the same side. We are stronger together.
ZELENY: Today's rally in New Hampshire has a feel of an arranged marriage. And in many ways, it was, with more than a few holdouts in the crowd.
ZELENY: But Clinton uploaded Sanders as he spoke.
SANDERS: This campaign is about moving the United States toward universal health care.
ZELENY: And Sanders returned the favor.
CLINTON: We're not cutting the minimum wage, we're raising the minimum wage.
ZELENY: They're united behind the goal of defeating trump.
SANDERS: Hillary Clinton understands that our diversity is one of our greatest strengths.
ZELENY: His message was more anti-Trump than pro-Clinton. Yet, Clinton being today, mindful of how it felt to be on the other side of the peace-making effort.
CLINTON: To the next president of the United States, Barack Obama.
ZELENY: Eight years after that race, the Clinton-Sanders dual has sown equally deep and passionate divisions. Several Sanders supporters like Marie Clark (ph) told us they won't be following his lead.
(on camera): He says he will vote for Hillary Clinton. Will you?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No.
ZELENY (voice-over): Sanders made clear he will work to bring his supporters along.
SANDERS: I want to be in every corner of this country to make certain that happens.
ZELENY: Trump pledged today to go after any dissenters, tweeting, "To all the Bernie voters who want to stop bad trade deals and global special interest, we welcome you with open arms."
But Clinton dismissed Trump and welcomed Sanders' team into her fold.
CLINTON: I am proud to be fighting alongside you because my friends, this is a time for all of us to stand together.
ZELENY: And, Jake, standing together starts here in New Hampshire. Don't forget, this is a state that Hillary did lose by some 22 points back in February and it is a key battleground state that she needs to win in the fall. Other places Bernie Sanders may be helpful, I'm told, are states like Michigan where he also won, working class areas of Ohio and Pennsylvania as well.
But, Jake, the key question here is, will Sanders supporters follow him? I have to tell you, I was struck having many conversations with him today. They weren't necessarily moved by his argument. The question here is, will Donald Trump end up unifying this party far more than Bernie Sanders or Hillary can on their own? Jake?
TAPPER: Interesting. They should send Sanders to Iowa, a new poll out today showing Trump up two over Hillary in Iowa today. Jeff Zeleny, thanks so much.
The lingering controversy over Hillary Clinton's private e-mail server was front and center today on Capitol as U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch defended the Justice Department's decision to not charge the former secretary of state for mishandling classified information. It's an attitude towards secrets that the FBI director called "extremely careless".
This all comes as top Republicans are calling on federal prosecutors to investigate whether the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee lied while testifying before Congress.
Let's get right to CNN senior political reporter, Manu Raju, live on Capitol Hill.
Manu, Republicans, they're not satisfied.
MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: No, absolutely not, Jake. In fact, one Republican congressman, Doug Collins of Georgia, actually said he missed the days when Eric Holder was the attorney general, pretty remarkable statement given how much Republicans have demonized Eric Holder. But they were very frustrated at Lynch's refusal to talk about the FBI investigation into Hillary Clinton's e-mail server or to actually weigh in on her thoughts about James Comey's criticism of Hillary Clinton's handling of classified intelligence.
[16:20:05] And take a listen to this exchange between her and Congressman Darrell Issa to get a real flavor for how that hearing went today, Jake.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REP. DARRELL ISSA (R), CALIFORNIA: So far today you have rarely said absolutely yes, or absolutely no, correct. You mostly have talked in terms of "I can't answer that" or "it's not appropriate", or "see the FBI director". So, in light of that, and this is in question to what do I tell the marines, the sailors, Army personnel in my district, the veterans, the contractors, all those who work for the government with classified information, former secretary of state in an unambiguous way repeatedly both under oath and to the public time and time again, "I did not send or receive any in formation marked classified." Ands you're aware of that, that she definitely said this repeatedly, right?
LORETTA LYNCH, ATTORNEY GENERAL: I believe her comments are on record and I defer you to that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RAJU: Now, Jake, one of the things that she was pressed on was that meeting between her and Bill Clinton on the tarmac at a Phoenix airport as this investigation wound down, what she said that was a social conversation, only her husband was there, and they did not discuss the e-mail investigation -- Jake.
TAPPER: All right. Manu Raju, thank you so much.
Don't forget, I will be moderating a town hall this evening with House Speaker Paul Ryan, that will be at 9:00 p.m. Eastern Time, 6:00 p.m. Pacific Time, right here on CNN.
Coming up, in a new interview, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg doubles down on her comments about Donald Trump, this time calling him a faker. Did she cross the line?
Plus, we will have that interview with the Texas attorney general in just minutes.
[16:26:20] TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.
Let's return now to our top story today. The five Dallas police officers who were ambushed and killed during a sniper attack were memorialized by no less than two presidents. But the investigation into their death continues.
Now, let's bring in Texas attorney general, Ken Paxton.
Sir, thanks so much for joining me. I appreciate it and I apologize for the bright lights we're shining on your face so that we can see you.
First of all, our deepest condolences to you and the people of Dallas and the people of Texas.
You heard Presidents Obama and Bush speak, how do you think their messages were received? KEN PAXTON, TEXAS ATTORNEY GENERAL: Well, let me just say that I'm
really proud of Dallas today. I thought it was a great show of unity, having over a thousand police officers in there, and having the support of the community was amazing, awesome, and inspiring. I thought President Bush hit a great note talking about how the fallen were the greatest among us. And so, it was just really inspiring and to finish the service with Battle Hymn of the Republic and everybody holding hands was just inspiring and awesome.
TAPPER: We've been told some conflicting information about how much explosive material was found in the killer's apartment. Can you clarify that for us? Is there enough to suggest that there definitely would have been a larger attack?
PAXTON: Actually, I've been in that -- I would have been in that service for the last couple of hours, so I'm not up to date on that latest information on that particular issue.
TAPPER: The mayor of Dallas today said that the state's open carry law and culture made the job of law enforcement more difficult during the extent because for police it was difficult to tell the difference between a protester marching while holding a firearm and the killer. I don't know if you have heard from Texans, other Texans who have raised this issue. But how would you respond to the mayor of Dallas?
PAXTON: So, here's what I'd say. We'd really focused -- my office really focused on encouraging law enforcement and standing with the families. We stayed away from the political issues. I've always been a believer in the Second Amendment and I was certainly in favor of what the legislature did and passing open carry.
TAPPER: How are the police in Dallas and how are the police in Texas doing? This is obviously a very difficult time. .
PAXTON: You know what? I have been amazed. They are so (VIDEO GAP) it has been such great support. I talked to several of 'em and I feel like the people of the community and people of the state have really come behind them. And I think it really makes a difference because they're people that are not making a lot of money. They're doing this for service. They're doing this for the love of the community, and there's obviously a tremendous sacrifice for them even for those who weren't killed. So, it's been, I think, a very strong support for law enforcement.
TAPPER: I don't know if you know the answer to this, but Dallas Police Chief Brown urged protestors to get off of the street and join the Dallas Police Department to become part of the solution. Do you happen to know if the department has had any takers?
PAXTON: You know what? I don't know, but I thought it was certainly a great suggestion. It's easy to sit back and complain especially when you're talking about police officers having to make split second decisions and involved life and death, not just their own life and death, but the life and death of the community. So, I thought it was a great suggestion for Chief Brown to offer up those positions. TAPPER: We've heard from a lot of people in the last week, obviously
before the shooting of the police officers, there were the shootings in Minnesota and Louisiana, of African-American men, details about those shootings coming forward. But obviously this is an era in this country where there is a lot of tension and a lot of it between police officers and minority communities.
What is your message when you hear from minority communities in Texas who are concerned about whether or not they are being treated fairly?