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THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER
Trump-Russia Probe Deepens; White House Focuses on Made in America Week; Interview with Congressman Will Hurd of Texas; McCain's Medical Scare Delays GOP Health Care Plan. Aired 4-4:30p ET
Aired July 17, 2017 - 16:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The people are coming up to me. They can't even believe it.
We took the farmers' land away. We took the homebuilders' land away. They have their land back now, and they're building homes and they're farming their farms. And it's a beautiful thing to see. And they're so thankful.
So, a lot of those regulations have been taken off. The rest are coming off. And, by the way, we will have better protection than we have ever had, but we will also have something where you don't have to wait 15 years for a permit, and then, when you go to the board, you lose.
And that's a big portion of your life wiped out waiting for a permit. But four nation to really prosper, we must lower the tax on business, one of the highest in the world, and we must repeal job-killing Obamacare. We have to do that.
TRUMP: And I can tell you we hope John McCain gets better very soon because we miss him. He's a crusty voice in Washington. Plus, we need his vote.
TRUMP: And he will be back, and he will be back sooner than somebody else would be back. He will be back soon.
But we need that vote and we need a number of votes because we do have to repeal Obamacare. And we will end up replacing it with something that is going to be outstanding, far, far better than failing Obamacare, where premiums have gone up in some cases over 200 percent this year, where your -- every single element of it is bad, and the insurance companies, by the, way are fleeing, so people have -- some states, you have no insurance companies.
And we have some governors here and we have senators here and we have congressmen here and women. And I will tell you, it's a very, very hard time they're having with the Obamacare situation, so we're going to get that done, and I think we're going to surprise a lot of people. But they're pushing very hard. The Republican senators are great people.
But they have a lot of different states. Some states need this, some states need that. But we're getting it together. And it's going to happen, right, Mike?
MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Yes, sir.
TRUMP: I think.
TRUMP: And when it does happen, that will be a big day in America, believe me, big day in America.
But we must also fight the unfair trade practices that have gutted our industry, and that includes cracking down on the predatory online sales of foreign goods, which is absolutely killing our shoppers and our shopping centers. If you look at what is going on at the shopping centers and stores and jobs in stores, it's been very, very tough for them.
They have had a very hard time, closing at numbers and records that have never been seen before. So we have to stop that, the online predatory practices.
Since the beginning of the year, we have already created over 50,000 brand-new manufacturing jobs. And we're just getting started. We will lift our citizens from welfare to work. We will turn boarded-up communities into new outposts of American commerce.
And we will once again rediscover our heritage as a manufacturing nation. We used to be a manufacturing nation. Not so much anymore, but I will tell you, you look at Michigan, you look at some states that have really moved -- you know, in Pennsylvania, two weeks ago they opened a mine, the first mine that was opened in decades. Opened a mine.
And you know all the people that were saying the mining jobs? Well, we picked up 45,000 mining jobs in a very short period of time and everybody was saying, well, you won't get any mining jobs. Picked up 45,000 mining jobs. And the miners are very happy with Trump and with Pence. And we're very proud of that.
But that's just the beginning. We have jobs coming from all over. Restoring American manufacturing will not only restore our wealth. It will restore our pride and pride in ourselves. It will revitalize our independence. And it will rebuild the bonds of kinship between our communities and our citizens, which has been lagging, wouldn't you say?
For most of our nation's history, American president -- and, you know, we see this. American presidents have understood that in order to protect our economy and our security, we must protect our industry and much of that comes at the border. George Washington encouraged Americans to produce their own goods, so that our young nation could become truly independent. [16:05:01]
President James Garfield said of our nation's manufacturers that to them the country owes the splendor of the position it holds before the world, meaning protect us.
Theodore Roosevelt declared in his first message to Congress that reciprocity, my favorite word, reciprocity, because we have countries that charge us 100 percent tax on a product, and when that product is sold by them to us, we brilliantly charge them nothing. And people say, oh, that's free trade. No, that's stupid trade. That's really stupid trade.
TRUMP: It's incredible.
You will actually have people, no, we can't do that, that's free trade. It's just -- it's so incredible, but what are you going to -- oh, what happens in Washington, you just wouldn't believe the things.
But reciprocity must be treated as the handmaiden of protection. And William McKinley proclaimed that we ought to take care of our nation and her industries first. We have to look at our nation first for a change. We have been looking the other way for a long, long time.
And if you look at what's going on and the success of other nations, even in Europe, you look at some of those countries, one in particular, it's not fair to the United States, and that's why I'm here. And I believe it's one of the primary reasons you elected me and Mike. I mean, that's why we're here.
And I think you're going to see a big, big -- I don't think -- I don't think -- I know you're going to see one of the great differences, and you're already seeing it, but it's going to get more so and more so.
And we're going to end up having a level playing field. I don't want to say any more than level. But if the playing field were slanted like a little bit toward us, I would accept that also. OK?
TRUMP: So, once again, we will celebrate craftsmen, producers, innovators like the incredible men and women in this room today. We will protect our workers, promote our industry and be proud of our history, because we will put America first.
America will be first again. We will make America great again. Remember that. And we will meet in the same room in a year and in two years and you will see what happened. Thank you all for being here.
God bless you and God bless America. Thank you very much. Thank you. Thank you.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper. We were just listening to President Trump there kicking off Made in
America Week at the White House, showing off all kinds of America-made products, including everything the Gibson guitars behind him to landscaping tools.
Before he spoke, he and Vice President Pence went outside where they saw a yacht manufactured in Maine, a forklift from Mississippi, a fire truck from Wisconsin, which the president in particular seemed to enjoy.
Golf clubs from Arizona, and door hinges from Missouri were inside the White House. All these products made in the United States. The president talked about the importance of repealing Obamacare. He talked about deregulation and tax reform.
CNN's Jason Carroll joins me now live from the White House.
And, Jason, the White House trying to get the focus off Russia and on to the president's agenda, in this case, made in the USA.
JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Right, that's what the focus will be about all this week.
The president and this administration want it to be about all things being made in America. But the new cycle has really been about Russia, Russia and Russia, not America.
So this is part of what you're seeing today. This is a rollout of Made in America Week, 50 products representing 50 states. You talked about the fire truck there from Wisconsin. There was also a hat, Stetsons hat from Texas.
But, you know, critics are looking at this and they're saying, what this is, Jake, is somewhat of a dog and pony show, because when you look at Trump businesses, specifically Ivanka Trump's businesses, many of those products made in places like China and Bangladesh.
So the question then becomes, why does not this administration lead by example and have Trump products made overseas?
Well, Sean Spicer was asked about that just a short while ago. He basically dodged the question and said, look, this is really not about Trump businesses, this is about this administration's overall goals, which is to improve conditions here in this country to make it easier for businesses in this country to succeed.
TAPPER: Jason, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer just wrapped the briefing off-camera per usual these days.
He seemed to contradict what President Trump had tweeted this morning when the president had talked about how the meeting that Donald Trump Jr. attended in June 2016 with that Russian lawyer was about opposition research and just politics as usual.
Sean Spicer seemed to say something a little bit different.
CARROLL: Yes, that was puzzling.
And you're absolutely right, because, as you know, the president tweeted this morning basically saying that any politician would have taken that meeting to get some sort of opposition research on an opposing candidate.
And we have all by now seen those e-mails as well where Donald Trump Jr. himself says the reason for taking that meeting.
Sean Spicer, in defense of the president's son, offered this explanation.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I'm not going to get into the specifics of this.
But I will say that it is quite often for people who are given information during the heat of a campaign to ask what that is. That's what simply he did. The president has made it clear through his tweet and there was nothing as far as we know that would lead anyone to believe that there was anything except for discussion about adoption and the Magnitsky Act.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
CARROLL: So, once again, Jake, this administration all week trying to change the narrative to being made in America, but very clearly in terms of the news cycle, it is all about being made in Russia -- Jake.
TAPPER: Yes, there is nothing that would lead anyone to believe it was about anything about adoption, except for the subject line of the e-mails, the content of the e-mails, and every single thing related to setting up that meeting.
Jason Carroll at the White House, thank you so much.
Sticking with our politics lead, as the White House tries to plow forward with his agenda, there is increasing concern among Republican officials in Washington about the president's son-in-law Jared Kushner, the only member of the president's White House team that we know of who attended that meeting a year with a woman billed as a Russian government official ready to provide high-level dirt from the Kremlin Hillary Clinton.
Democrats are publicly calling for Kushner's security clearance to be revoked.
But even some Republicans are saying that the issue needs to be looked at, while privately they have many more questions.
CNN's Sara Murray starts us off with this report.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) SARA MURRAY, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Top Democrats are training their fire on Jared Kushner, saying one of the president's top advisers isn't fit to hold a security clearance.
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), HOUSE MINORITY LEADER: The GOP must hold Kushner accountable for the false statements on his national security disclosure form and revoke -- his security clearance must be revoked immediately.
MURRAY: Republicans are not going that far yet. But officials on both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue are concerned about the controversy.
Kushner, the president's son-in-law and a senior adviser in the White House, has repeatedly amended his security clearance questionnaire, raising alarm among some lawmakers. While the first version submitted before the inauguration left a question about foreign contacts blank, Kushner then updated it in the spring to include more than 100 foreign contacts.
He updated it yet again on June 21 to include the meeting with Donald Trump Jr. and a Russian lawyer who purportedly had dirt on Hillary Clinton as "part of Russia and its government's support for Mr. Trump."
That's according to an e-mail chain related to the meeting. The drip- by-drip disclosure is alarming Democrats like Mark Warner, the vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, who told Jake Tapper on "STATE OF THE UNION" the repeated changes to Kushner's security applications are troubling.
TAPPER: Do you think Kushner's security clearance should be suspended?
SEN. MARK WARNER (D), VIRGINIA: Listen, I think -- I'm trying to give all these people the benefit of the doubt until I get a chance to talk to them, until we get a chance to interview them.
But it's very bothersome to me that Jared Kushner has forgotten not once, not twice, but three times to put down this information.
MURRAY: But the changes are rankling some Republicans as well.
SEN. SUSAN COLLINS (R), MAINE: That's an issue that we need to look at, but right now we don't have enough evidence. I don't know who advised him on the forms. I don't know how many meetings he had in total. I don't know whether most of them were listed.
MURRAY: Kushner's team said his original paperwork was submitted in error before it was completed and that Kushner hasn't intentionally omitted any information. "As Mr. Kushner has consistently stated, he is eager to cooperate and share what he knows," his personal lawyer said in a recent statement on the matter.
Obtaining a full security clearance is an exhaustive process. The FBI conducts an investigation and delivers the results to the White House, which then makes a determination on a security clearance. Kushner has been operating with an interim clearance and a broad portfolio that includes Mideast diplomacy.
Ultimately, President Trump could override any reservations from others in the White House and ensure Kushner receives a full security clearance. But such a move would likely come with a political price at a time when Trump has little political capital to spare.
MURRAY: Now, Jared Kushner is regularly at the president's side, whether it's when he is considering national security decisions, meeting with foreign leaders, or in his capacity helping to figure out the Mideast peace process.
[16:15:02] And talking to experts, they say it would be basically impossible for Kushner to do his job in the White House if he did not get a full security clearance.
Now, we went to Kushner's team today, asked them if they wanted to add any additional comments. They referred us back to previous statements from Kushner's lawyer -- Jake.
TAPPER: All right. Sara Murray, thank you so much.
Joining me now to talk about this all is Republican Congressman Will Hurd of Texas. He was a CIA officer and now serves on the House Intelligence Committee.
Congressman, good to see you. Thanks for joining us.
REP. WILL HURD (R), TEXAS: Hey, Jake. No problem. Always a pleasure to be on.
TAPPER: So, Congressman, President Trump tweeted earlier today, quote, must politicians would have gone to a meeting like the one Don Jr. in order to get info on an opponent. That's politics.
Is that politics, sir? Is that your experience?
HURD: Well, I wouldn't have attended the meeting. I spent 9-1/2 years as an undercover officer in the CIA, a lot of that chasing Russian intelligence officers. I definitely would have not sat down with anybody claiming to be part of the Kremlin or Russian intelligence. And I just hope everyone who was connected with the campaign has reviewed their outlook files and made sure all the details are out there now, because this is becoming a nuisance and distraction from some of the conversations we should be having.
TAPPER: You're somebody who has a stronghold on Russia and how it is a geopolitical foe of the United States in many ways, although, of course, there are areas where the two countries can work together. Does it bother you at all to see this attempt to normalize this meeting with what was billed as a Russian government official with high-level dirt on Hillary Clinton?
HURD: Well, on the little bit of information that I have seen out in the press, I think they did believe that they were meeting with officials of the Russian government. But I'm going to withhold judgment since I sit on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, we need to be able to review the documents, get everybody in the room, have them raise their right hand, and talk through what was known, what was obtained in those meetings. And ultimately, it's going to be the special prosecutor, Bob Mueller's, responsibility to figure out whether a crime was committed or not.
TAPPER: So, Jared Kushner has had to amend his security clearance form now at least three times that we know of to update meetings with foreign nationals, including that one with the Russian lawyer. Some of your colleagues on the House Intelligence Committee, Democrats, are expressing serious concerns about his ability to handle classified information. What do you think?
HURD: Well, I'm in line with some of Mark Warner's comments, what he said earlier about, you know, give people the benefit of the doubt, and they want to see what the reasons were. Having filled out this form myself before I join in the CIA, I know how complicated it is. Oftentimes you may forget. When you have hundreds of meetings with people, sometimes you forget individual interactions. But I think it's enough that we need to have a conversation around that.
TAPPER: You as somebody who has dealt with Russian intelligence, do you think that the type of meeting which what has been described by former American spies as a possible, quote, cutout, this Russian lawyer, do you think it's possible that it was an effort by the Russian government to do what Mike Rogers, former House Intelligence Committee chairman, refer to as a dangle, to suss out whether the Trump campaign might be willing to take this kind of information?
HURD: We can't -- we can't preclude that. We can't cut that out, because one thing the Russians have been doing for decades is covert influence, right? They know they can't take on the United States military. They know they can't take us on economically, so they have to resort to asymmetrical warfare and a lot of that is running dangles, running, you know, double agent operations.
And so, this is something that does sound like it did come out of their playbook. But it needs to be -- we need to review this, we need to be thoughtful to make sure that we're not jumping to conclusions.
TAPPER: The Russian government -- I want to ask you a policy question here -- the Russian government says it's going to reject any conditions from the United States in order to secure the return of those seized diplomatic compounds. The Obama administration in December seized these two compounds in the United States as retaliation for Russia's election interference.
What do you think about the notion of the Trump White House giving these compounds back without any guarantees from Russia on any issues, including Ukraine or Syria or anything else?
HURD: I actually think we should go further. I think we know the level of activity the Russians are taking in the United States. I had been calling for the removal of the Russian Ambassador Kislyak last summer. I think we should be tightening sanctions. So, I -- when a previous administration deems these locations to have potentially been involved or involved with Russian intelligence, I don't think you give that back.
TAPPER: All right. Republican Congressman Will Hurd of Texas in the House Intelligence Committee, always good to have you on, sir.
[16:20:02] Thank you so much.
HURD: Thank you.
TAPPER: The Senate health care bill is on hold right now because Senator John McCain had emergency surgery. What could that mean for the health of the bill, and how is Senator McCain doing? That's next.
[16:24:29] TAPPER: We're back with more in our politics lead today.
Plans for a vote this week on moving ahead with a Republican Senate health care bill were scrubbed this week after Senator John McCain had to have emergency surgery Friday to remove a blood clot above his left eye. A source familiar with the situation says the Arizona Republican who's 80 remains at the Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale and has been taking calls. Without McCain in the Senate, Senate Republicans lack the votes needed to even begin debating the bill.
CNN's Ryan Nobles is live for us on Capitol Hill.
And, Ryan, CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta suggested that McCain's condition is fairly serious.
[16:25:02] What might happen if the Arizona senator is out for longer than a week?
RYAN NOBLES, CNN WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's going to make life a lot more difficult for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Jake. That's because right now, he is holding onto 50 Republican votes in order to even get this bill even to the floor to begin debate. And the longer that this debate goes on behind closed doors, the more difficult it's going to be to keep those 50 senators intact at this point.
There are two Republicans who have said that they can't vote for the bill in its current form or even vote for the motion to proceed to get it to the floor. Many of these senators remain undecided because there has yet to be a score from the Congressional Budget Office, and exactly the impact this bill will have on insurance coverage numbers and exactly how much it's going to cost. But even the president understands how important John McCain's role is in this entire process.
Listen to what he said at the White House just a few minutes ago.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We hope John McCain gets better very soon because we miss him. He is a crusty voice in Washington, plus we need his vote. And he'll be back.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
NOBLES: Probably not the most complimentary thing you can say about Senator McCain. It shows how there is a bit of friction in that relationship between he and President Trump, but President Trump also recognizing how important John McCain's role is in this health care vote, Jake. Just one Republican senator needs to step away from this bill and it is essentially dead, so President Trump understanding that he needs John McCain back here in Washington if they have any hope of passing this health care bill.
TAPPER: All right. Ryan Nobles for us in Capitol Hill, thanks.
The vice president made a fairly stunning claim about Medicaid and the disabled, but is it true? We'll talk about that coming up.
But, first, when it comes to products made in America, will it be more do as I say, not as I do from President Trump or will his own companies start to lead the way? Stick around.