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THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER

Trump Attacks Former Staffer With New Book Out; Democrats Pushing Medicare for All. Aired 4:30-5p ET

Aired January 29, 2019 - 16:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[16:30:00]

JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: And put the government in charge of a universal health care system.

The debate quickly highlighted a chasm between the liberal and moderate voices that aim to defeat President Trump.

CNN's Ryan Nobles picks up our coverage.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

RYAN NOBLES, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz today launched a direct attack at California Senator Kamala Harris after she endorsed a Medicare for all health care plan during a CNN town hall in Iowa Monday night.

SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D-CA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The idea is that everyone gets access to medical care, and you don't have to go through the process of going through an insurance company, having them give you approval, going through the paperwork, all of the delay that may require.

Let's eliminate all of that. Let's move on.

HOWARD SCHULTZ, CEO, STARBUCKS: Well, you just played Senator Harris' saying she wants to abolish the insurance industry. That's -- that's not correct. That's not American.

What's next? What industry are we going to abolish next, the coffee industry?

NOBLES: The billionaire coffee magnate says he's considering an independent presidential bid because Democrats have moved too far to the left on policy.

SCHULTZ: In order to run as a Democrat today, you have to fall in line with free Medicare for everybody, free, free college for everybody, a free job for everybody.

NOBLES: Today in New Hampshire, former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who's weighing a potential presidential bid as a Democrat, also took a whack at Senator Harris' proposal.

MICHAEL BLOOMBERG (I), FORMER MAYOR OF NEW YORK: I think you could never afford that. You're talking about trillions of dollars.

NOBLES: Harris isn't the only one backing Bernie Sanders' Medicare for all bill.

She joins other 2020 candidates, including Senator Elizabeth Warren and Kirsten Gillibrand, as well as potential contender Cory Booker. It's a divide between the progressive and moderate wings of the party that will play out in the coming months.

Schultz, who's possible independent run has sparked concerns among Democrats it could help the president by splitting the anti-Trump vote, he's not limiting his criticism to just health care. He also took aim at Warren's plan to tax the assets of Americans worth more than $50 million.

SCHULTZ: When I see Elizabeth Warren come out with a ridiculous plan of taxing wealthy people a surtax of 2 percent because it makes a good headline or sends out a tweet when she knows for a fact that's not something that's ever going to be passed, this is what's wrong.

NOBLES: The Massachusetts senator fired back on Twitter, writing Schultz's potential campaign was "a ridiculous attempt to buy the presidency."

(END VIDEOTAPE)

NOBLES: And while Schultz and Bloomberg are warning the Democratic candidates to ease up a bit on their populist policy pitches, the field as it currently stands shows no sign of backing down.

These hot-button issues like free college, free health care, even a $15 minimum wage, once thought to be radical, appear to be the starting line in this Democratic primary -- Jake.

TAPPER: All right, Ryan, thank you so much.

Let's talk about this.

We should point out, even if Howard Schultz that Medicare for all alienates the silent majority of Americans, it's vastly popular with Democrats. And according to a Kaiser Family Foundation poll released this week, 56 percent of the American people in general support Medicare for all.

(CROSSTALK)

TAPPER: I will get to you in a second -- as opposed, 42 percent.

But Ryan's point is also on point. A lot of these proposals that, in 2008, 2004, 2000 Democrats would have perceived as radical are now pretty much the price of admission.

PAUL BEGALA, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I think Democrats are looking for bigger ideas.

And I like Ryan's report, but I think it going to be very difficult to analyze the Democratic primary in a right-left continuum, because the truth is there's not that much difference between the most moderate Democrat and the most liberal Democrat.

There's not an Iraq War vote which divided Hillary and Barack. It was a monstrous issue, really important, and a chasm between the two. I think what Democrats, we're looking for are things like charisma, talent, brains, heart.

I thought -- and I don't have a favorite -- I don't have a candidate, first time in my life. I thought Kamala Harris in your town hall last night did a terrific job of that. It's fine that she's for Medicare or this or that.

More importantly, Democrats are looking for someone who can beat Trump and who can unite the country.

DAVID URBAN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: So that poll -- I just want to point out, I think that poll did say when asked if you would pay more taxes to have Medicare for all, that number dropped precipitously.

TAPPER: It's true.

(CROSSTALK)

URBAN: When people say, do you want to pay for this stuff, people say, well, no, I don't want to pay for it.

Everybody likes free things. Everybody wants free education. Then when you say, hey, would you have to pay more taxes, people say probably not.

(CROSSTALK)

BEGALA: Your not against free education, are you?

URBAN: Free college?

(CROSSTALK)

BEGALA: You just said education.

(CROSSTALK)

URBAN: No, no, free college for everybody, I'm against, I oppose.

I think we should do something to rein in costs of college. Absolutely. Shouldn't rise way above the consumer price index, it shouldn't be crazy.

But, no, things -- people have to pay for things in this country.

(CROSSTALK)

BEGALA: So, instead of writing a check to Aetna, you write a check for Medicare. (CROSSTALK)

MIA LOVE, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: In all of this debate, in the back of everyone's mind, we have to remember how much debt this country is in.

[16:35:01]

And somehow they still have to answer the question. I know the language speaking with heart, making sure that they can relate to people, I have always said it's one of the things that Republicans need to do better.

But, on the policy side, they have to be able to explain what they're going to do. It's not enough to say, OK, I'm for Medicare for all. At some point, you have to lay out a plan and figure out how you're going to deliver that.

And, also, there are that silent majority that likes their private health care, likes their private insurance, they're not going to be so silent when it's -- when there's the threat of taking it away from them.

TAPPER: Let me ask you a question, because one of the people who was helping Howard Schultz is a former colleague of yours in the Obama White House, Bill Burton, who is taking a lot of flak from Democrats on this.

What do you make of that?

JEN PSAKI, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I can simultaneously love Bill Burton and be grateful for him -- to him for being a friend and colleague and mentor for me for 20 years, and wish Howard Schultz was not running as an independent for president.

This would be an entirely different conversation if he was running in the Democratic primary. I have heard his argument as to why he doesn't want to do that. But that's a debate that can happen within the Democratic primary as well.

And I think the reason why he, Howard Schultz, is getting attacked and people who work for him and believe in him -- I have talked to Bill about it -- believe in him, think he's pulled himself up by the bootstraps -- why they're getting attacked is because of that, because Democrats and many independents are scared as heck about Donald Trump getting reelected.

And anything they see that could lead to that, they're going to fight against.

URBAN: Ross Perot ran and Clinton got elected. So I mean, there's been third-party candidates. And Democrats win. So, why are you afraid?

PSAKI: Well, this is obviously many years later.

And as you well know, David, every election is different . He would certainly be somebody who would take a chunk of the...

(CROSSTALK)

LOVE: There is a fear because he is going to push Democrats to actually state political...

(CROSSTALK)

TAPPER: And, in fact, take a listen.

Schultz claiming today that progressive candidates like Senators Harris and Warner are alienating the majority of American people with their proposals. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ: The Republicans want to get rid of the Affordable Care Act. I don't agree with that. The Affordable Care Act should stay and it should be refined. But to think we should get rid of the insurance industry?

Again, this is exactly the situation. It's far too extremes on both sides. And the silent majority of America does not have a voice.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(CROSSTALK)

TAPPER: Go ahead.

PSAKI: I was just going to say, look, I think part of his problem is he's having a conversation that is not aligned with the conversation that many people are having.

What people are struggling with -- and you saw this in the "Washington Post"/ABC poll is still health care. It was the number one issue. They want affordable health care.

Medicare for all, people may know what that means, they may have different definitions of what that means, but the support for that represents a desire to do something better.

(CROSSTALK)

URBAN: Isn't that what he just said?

PSAKI: He's talking about eliminating the insurance industry.

(CROSSTALK)

PSAKI: He's responding to Kamala Harris.

Look, what I would say for him is that I'm not sure why he's spending all this time attacking all the Democratic candidates. I would like to hear more about specifically what his proposals are.

LOVE: He is offering a different idea. He's offering a different perspective.

(CROSSTALK)

LOVE: And I would actually say that it's nice, it's really refreshing to get someone who is actually in the real world.

One of the problems is, there's so much legislative going on at the White House, up at the -- in Washington, that it's nice to get a perspective. I would say that he's actually talking about things...

(CROSSTALK)

TAPPER: That's what I said when yesterday I told you that you're a Howard Schultz voter. He's going for somebody like you.

LOVE: Oh, maybe. I don't know.

(CROSSTALK)

TAPPER: He's going for somebody who was a Republican.

(CROSSTALK)

TAPPER: Schultz-Love 2020.

BEGALA: He says the biggest issue facing America is the debt.

I worked for the last president that balanced the budget. I know how you do it. You raise taxes and you cut spending. That's what you do.

Well, he wants to cut spending for the most vulnerable people, for sick old people. He wants to cut their Medicare. He wants to cut their Social Security. I think that's monstrous.

But then what does he say about...

TAPPER: Schultz wants to do that?

BEGALA: Yes, he does. He calls it entitlements, which means Social Security and Medicare.

Then he's asked about taxing the rich. He's a billionaire. And somehow he's against that? Well, wait a minute. You want sick old ladies to help pay down the debt that was created by tax cuts for the rich. And you're rich, and you don't want to tax the rich.

You go take that to the American people, Howard.

(CROSSTALK)

URBAN: I'm defending Howard Schultz. I don't why. But he didn't say it.

(CROSSTALK)

TAPPER: He's certainly thrown a lot of curve balls into the 2020 race.

Everyone, stick around. Apparently, President Trump does watch CNN -- his real-time response to a former White House official who knocked his negotiating skills next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[16:43:43]

TAPPER: We are back with the politics lead now.

President Trump woke up today facing another potential government shutdown, another former close associate facing jail time, and a slew of top intelligence chiefs publicly contradicting him on major national security issues.

So, of course, the president began the day by attacking a former staffer from his White House who has a new book out.

CNN's Kaitlan Collins picks up the story.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The government runs out of funding again in 17 days, and skepticism about finding a compromise stretches all the way from the White House.

SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The president is taking them at their word, and hopes that they'll negotiate in good faith.

COLLINS: To Capitol Hill.

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY), MINORITY LEADER: President Trump touched a hot, hot stove, and hopefully he won't do it again.

COLLINS: A group of bipartisan lawmakers in charge of hashing out a border security deal that can not only clear both chambers of Congress, but win President Trump's a signature.

SEN. RICHARD DURBIN (D-IL), MINORITY WHIP: I think we can find by purchasing answers to most of the issues involving border security. But if the president has the last word, it may not be enough.

COLLINS: The potential dealmakers have until February 15 to reach a compromise. The White House says Trump isn't looking for another shutdown...

HUCKABEE SANDERS: The president doesn't want to go through another shutdown.

COLLINS: ... but, if there's no agreement, say he will declare a national emergency.

HUCKABEE SANDERS: It needs to be fixed, and the president's going to do what it takes to address it. COLLINS: Though that's a move that would likely face legal

challenges.

The Office of Management and Budget says most of the 800,000 employees who returned to work should get paid by the end

[16:45:00] The Office of Management and Budget says most of the 800,000 employees who return to work should get paid by the end of the week. Testifying on Capitol Hill today, FBI Director Christopher Wray said his agency is still feeling the impact.

CHRISTOPHER WRAY, DIRECTOR, FBI: What's quite clear is that it was incredibly negative and painful for the 37,000 men and women of the FBI and their families.

COLLINS: But even a former Trump Organization executive who has criticized him in the past says he's no negotiator.

BARBARA RES, FORMER EXECUTIVE, TRUMP ORG.: There's no documentation that says Donald Trump is a great deal maker. He's made good deals, he's made bad deals. He's caved more often than I can tell you.

COLLINS: A shutdown looming as the President is lashing out over the latest tell-all book dismissing former communications aide Cliff Sims as a low-level staffer who pretended to be an insider. That tweet landing in the middle of Sims' interview on CNN.

CLIFF SIMS, AUTHOR, AUTHOR, TEAM OF VIPERS: My identity is not wrapped up in being a Trump staffer. My identity is wrapped up in you know who I am in my faith.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COLLINS: Now, Jake, after the President learned about his book, he began questioning other aides asking them if they thought I was going to be nice and in recent days those same aides tried to convince the President not to tweet about the book saying that would only drive publicity but clearly after a string of television appearances this morning, the President couldn't resist, Jake.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: He couldn't hold back. All right, Kaitlan Collins, thanks so much. The President, in fact, guys, seemed to respond in real-time. Here's what Sims said during his interview with CNN about the President's negotiating skills in the shutdown. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SIMS: I think there's probably a reason why Nancy Pelosi hadn't got a nickname yet and I think he respects her as a negotiator. I will say the shutdown was a little bit out of character for Trump because I noticed in his negotiating style he's always looking for ways to increase his leverage, look for ways to invent leverage if he can, and he seemed to be negotiating right out of the gate from a position of weakness.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: Well he calls that position of weakness. President Trump didn't like that. And as Sims went on, the President tweeted calling Sims a low-level staffer and a gofer. It sounds like he hit a nerve there.

MIA LOVE (R), FORMER CONGRESSWOMAN, UTAH: I am so triggered by this. Because for somebody to say he's always looking for to gain leverage, let's remember how we got here to begin with. It was a campaign trail where he says I'm going to build a wall in Mexico is going to pay for, right? Everybody goes out and they start talking about border security and why border security is important.

So then he says, OK, now, Mexico is not going to pay for it, the taxpayers are going to pay for it and we're going to make sure we that we get a bipartisan deal. He gets in and he says I will own the shutdown. I was a member of Congress at that time I was like whoa, wait a minute. I'm not owning the shutdown. So then we get to the point where he has all of these people that are walking in lockstep behind him, legislators that will not vote for a bill that does not allow for the government funding and then he throws him under the bus.

So 800,000 workers thrown under the bus for no reason, legislators that stayed with him for no reason, so that's the big - that's what's frustrating. I don't know what's going to happen in three weeks. That's going to give him more leverage. He gave all of his leverage away.

And I will say this though, Nancy Pelosi has -- she's got some things that she has to do. Because she said if you open up government then I will negotiate border security. Also, I think she lost a golden opportunity for something that is incredibly important and that is again immigration reform.

We already lost $3 billion that's unrecoverable. That's about -- that's about half the wall. She could have gotten everything on immigration, TPS, DACA, you know, pathway to citizenship if she had just --

DAVID URBAN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: She can't.

TAPPER: She can't get that?

URBAN: No, she can't. She can't do it because of the caucus won't let her go there. I mean, look, the people who just got lucky.

LOVE: She is the Speaker of the House.

URBAN: Listen, no, no, (INAUDIBLE) those were perplexed.

(CROSSTALK)

PAUL BEGALA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Democratic caucus, David. You know a lot of stuff but --

URBAN: Listen, I'm just a smart guy. I'm a smart guy. Listen, Paul. The people who got elected to the House, they are not centrist. There are people who are far to the left than Nancy Pelosi and they don't want to see compromise. They want to see burn the place down.

TAPPER: Let me ask you, Jen, because last time --

URBAN: Am I missing something? Am I missing something?

(CROSSTALK)

TAPPER: Sorry, let me ask -- last time we had -- we had a DACA recipient, a woman looking for legal status and ask Kamala Harris what is she going to do about her. Kamala Harris give a very impassioned speech tour. And I said, would you vote for the wall $5.7 billion and give her permanent legal status and she said she said no.

URBAN: Oh, there you go. Oh, there you go.

TAPPER: But that's what I'm saying. She said --

JEN PSAKI, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Kamala Harris is running for president. That is different from the hundreds of members of the Democratic Party who are going to be part of this process. There are many Democrats who have voted for many different packages of border security and I think they're not only would be happy to negotiate, they would be eager to negotiate for their own political will.

They're not going to vote for the wall. But they don't need to. They have the leverage, not Donald Trump. They will support a border security package and that's what the discussion will be about.

BEGALA: The Democrats who gave Nancy Pelosi majority are moderates. They were Trump district. They were in Republican districts and they're all moderate.

PSAKI: With only a few exceptions.

BEGALA: They would take in a heartbeat a deal not for permanent second-class status, but the President offered them permanent -- not permanent, three years.

TAPPER: Right.

(CROSSTALK)

[16:50:03] URBAN: You come back with another proposal. That's how you negotiate.

BEGALA: Excuse me for talking while you're interrupting, Urban, but you might learn something. When the President said three years for DREAMers but a permanent wall, tear down the wall in three years, we have a deal. Path to citizenship is what these young people deserve.

TAPPER: Or at least a path to legal status, permanent legal status.

BEGALA: If they can earn citizenship -- if they can earn citizenship, they should be allowed to because they came here -- URBAN: So Paul, why didn't everybody come back and say that?

BEGALA: That's an easy deal.

URBAN: Why didn't somebody say that?

PSAKI: Because you can't get that done before you reopen the government.

URBAN: What?

(CROSSTALK)

LOVE: We had a deal in the House that we have --

URBAN: She was there.

LOVE: -- a pathway to citizenship. We had security at the border. We had family staying together getting rid of the Flores Law that made it so that children can stay with their families. We had all of this, pathway -- TPS.

TAPPER: What happened to it?

LOVE: We got Republicans to vote for it. We couldn't get the far right or any Democrats to vote for it. Because -- I don't know why you would say that this is something that is important when it's not even being put at the table saying I will give you this in return.

URBAN: Wait, stop, and let Paul -- I want to hear from Paul. I want him to say to that.

BEGALA: Democrats should take the deal tomorrow. They offered -- excuse me. They offered the President $25 billion for a stupid wall if you could give a permanent citizenship --

TAPPER: I don't think -- we're not going to solve it right now. I'm going to take a quick break. Can you even believe your own eyes when it comes to the next election? A new warning about the rise of what are called deepfake videos where trolls could make a person look like he or she is saying anything they want. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[16:55:00] TAPPER: The "WORLD LEAD." There will be no State of the Union this evening but the nation's intelligence chiefs came to Congress to deliver the states of the scary and perhaps the most frightening part of the hearing is how their intelligence assessments are decidedly not on the same page as President Trump. Perhaps not even in the same book.

Let's start with ISIS. President Trump has repeatedly said ISIS has been defeated making his case for pulling out of Syria. Today the Director of National Intelligence said this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DAN COATS, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE: Well, ISIS is nearing territorial defeat in Iraq and Syria. The group has returned to its guerrilla warfare routes while continuing to plot attacks and direct its supporters worldwide.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: It doesn't sound very defeated to me. The Commander in Chief also told us that North Korea is no longer a nuclear threat and to sleep well America.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

COATS: We currently assess that North Korea will seek to retain its WMD capabilities and is unlikely to completely give up its nuclear weapons and production capabilities because its leaders ultimately view nuclear weapons as critical to regime survival.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: Then there's the threat from cyberspace. And if you thought there was a lot a lot of fake garbage on your social media feeds in 2016, wait until it's virtually impossible to tell the difference between real video of a politician making a stunning remark and fake video created with technology and called deepfake.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TAPPER: Today Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats offered a very real warning about media manipulation.

COATS: It poses a major threat to the United States.

TAPPER: Former President Barack Obama appeared to share a similar concern last year.

BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Our enemies can make it look like anyone is saying anything at any point in time.

TAPPER: Both men cautioning that those enemies can use technology to --

COATS: Create new and unforeseen challenges to our health, economy, and security.

TAPPER: Coats' message is real.

OBAMA: This is a dangerous time.

TAPPER: But former President Barack Obama's message was not real. BuzzFeed published altered video voiced by the actor and director Jordan Peele to show how easy it is to be convinced by so-called deepfake videos.

JEFF SMITH, NATIONAL CENTER FOR MEDIA FORENSICS, UNIVERSITY OF COLORADO, DENVER: This is actually my face swapped on to his face. So this is a deepfake of me and my student Reid.

TAPPER: Jeff Smith from the University of Colorado Center for Media Forensics says the artificial intelligence technology used to create realistic videos such as these is becoming more advanced and more accessible.

SMITH: In the future, maybe five to ten years, the technology will be in your pocket and with the flick of a button you can become a deepfake.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The fake news media back there.

TAPPER: In an environment where real reporting is already being vilified, the potential national security risks of deepfake media cannot be understated, experts say. The Department of Defense has commissioned researchers nationwide to help develop digital defense strategies.

SEN. BEN SASSE (R), NEBRASKA: Are we organized in a way that we could possibly respond fast enough to a catastrophic deepfakes attack?

COATS: We cannot rely on status quo where we are now. We're the best in the world and we have to stay the best in the world but we've got real competitors and technology is giving them the opportunity to shorten that gap very, very significantly.

HANY FARID, DIGITAL FORENSICS EXPERT: Here's the nightmare situation for me. A video of Donald Trump saying I have just launched a nuclear weapon against North Korea goes viral online.

TAPPER: CNN Business Reporter Donie O'Sullivan spoke with Hany Farid who is researching deepfakes at U.C. Berkeley and at Dartmouth.

FARID: 60 seconds later we have a global nuclear meltdown. I don't think that's likely by the way but I don't think it's out of the question and that should scare us.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

TAPPER: Experts say that large-scale fakes such as a phony police shooting video is right now a bit farfetched. Currently, the technology is focused on detecting deepfakes on faces and voices.

You can follow me on Facebook and Twitter @JAKETAPPER. You can tweet the show @THELEADCNN. We actually read them. Our coverage on CNN continues right now.