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THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER

Weiner Gains Ground; Peace Or Arms In Syria?; Nike Stops Making Livestrong Products; "Fast And Furious 6" Tops $120 Million; Rough Reviews For New "Arrested Development"; Yahoo! Lowballing In Bid For Hulu

Aired May 28, 2013 - 16:30   ET

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


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Welcome back to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.

The National Lead. It's the coup de grace of all dares. The sinister triple dog dare. President Obama plans to up the ante to keep Republicans from blocking three key federal court nominations. It's a move that's already got some members of the Republican Party throwing around the f word -- as in filibuster.

The Politics Lead. He's been the butt of jokes ever since his twit pic scandal, but Anthony Weiner may end up getting the last laugh. New proof that his attempt at a political comeback might just pay off.

And It's not me. It's you. Lance Armstrong finds himself getting dumped again by the company that made his Livestrong charity a global brand.

Welcome back to THE LEAD. In other national news, CNN's chief congressional correspondent Dana Bash is reporting that the House Judiciary Committee is investigating whether Attorney General Eric Holder lied to Congress when he said this just days ago.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ERIC HOLDER, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: With regard to the potential prosecution of the press for the disclosure of material, that is not something that I've ever been involved in, heard of, or would think would be a wise policy.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: Not involved in the potential prosecution of the press, he said. But some are pointing to the fact that the attorney general was involved in the vetting process for a search warrant on Fox News Channel reporter James Rosen and his personal e-mail account. The search warrant, obtained in part because there was probable cause, prosecutors said, to believe he had broken a law or, quote, "at the very least either as an aider, abettor, and/or CO-conspirator."

Stop the presses literally. This sounds like a case for a First Amendment expert. Luckily we have one on our show today. Joining me now is Floyd Abrams. He's the author of the upcoming book, "Friend Of The Court: On The Front Lines With The First Amendment." Floyd, thanks so much for being here. We appreciate it. I have the book right here, just so you know.

FLOYD ABRAMS, AUTHOR: Good to be here.

TAPPER: So, Attorney General Holder was asked today about a "Daily Beast"/"Newsweek" article that said he felt personal remorse about his role in the investigation. One of our CNN producers caught up to him today at an event and asked him about it. I want to play this for you.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

QUESTION: Is it right that you have regrets? Was that a right term that we saw in "The Daily Beast"?

HOLDER: I'm not satisfied.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HOLDER: I'm not satisfied, he says. So, what is your take on Attorney General Holder and his testimony before Congress and his lack of satisfaction with how aggressively the DoJ has been going after reporters?

ABRAMS: I'm not sure what he means by he's not satisfied. I am not sure what he is not satisfied about. I do think that the Department of Justice has really over stepped the bounds, and in particular with just what you're talking about. Basically, and in so many words, accusing a reporter of being a criminal, violating the Espionage Act no less, for doing nothing more or less than asking questions of a government official -- about classified material, to be sure -- but asking questions and asking to see certain documents about them. I mean, that's what's usually called journalism, not espionage.

TAPPER: I'm going to have to play devil's advocate here because obviously, I've been fairly outspoken in saying I generally agree with your point of view on this. As a reporter, I'm biased. So, let me assume the position of the administration here. These are state secrets. These are national secrets, and there is no special protection for reporters when it comes to obtaining things that they are not allowed to obtain. What would your response to that be?

ABRAMS: Well, first, you're right that they are secrets and that there is a genuine national security component in all this. But when you say that when a reporters asks someone who has information what it is that that can be deemed a crime, I don't think so. And I certainly hope not. I mean, a long time ago, maybe 60 years ago, the American secretary of state Dean Acheson wrote a letter to a journalist and he said, "Your job is to pry. Mine is to keep secret." Well, that division between what the government does and what the press does has led to sort of a contest throughout the years. Back and forth, we get this. You don't get that. But never the imposition of the criminal law. And that's the line I think that the attorney general crossed. TAPPER: Okay. This is an example of leading the witness. I'm going to turn to your book for a second. In 2011, you interviewed all the government witnesses from the time that you were involved with the Pentagon Papers. You defended - you are one of the lawyers that defended "The New York Times." And you asked them, and this is what you wrote: quote, "None could cite a single example of harm sustained by the nation as a result of publication and some -- a number, in fact -- commented on benefits from publication."

So, if the Pentagon Papers helped the nation, have any press leaks that you've seen hurt the nation?

ABRAMS: You know, it's really hard to know the answer to that. The Pentagon Papers did help the nation to know more about how we got in the war in Vietnam and what lies we've been told about it.

But have there been more recent situations or information leaked which could have hurt national security? I can't deny it. I just can't come out myself with one example. It's the sort of thing that we wouldn't read about much, anyway.

TAPPER: All right. Floyd Abrams, author of "Friend Of The Court." Thank you so much, and good luck with the book.

ABRAMS: Thanks a lot.

TAPPER: Coming up, former Congressman Anthony Weiner is in full campaign mode. In fact, he is participating in his first debate right as we speak. We're watching to see if he'll be asked the question. Our Politics Lead is next.

Plus, it's called a threat to the entire world. One illness sickening people in the Middle East is now responsible for the death of a man in Europe. Could it spread to the U.S.?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. Now it's time for the Politics Lead. The so-called bromance continues. President Obama and Governor Chris Christie are spending their second date in Asbury Park, New Jersey, surveying the recovery efforts after Superstorm Sandy. It recalls for the classic song, "Jersey Girl" made famous by the barred of New Jersey Turnpike exit 8. "'Cuz down the shore everything's all right. You and your baby on a Saturday night. You know all my dreams come true when I'm walking down the street with you." Or rather, this is how governor Christie put it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: Everybody came together, Republicans, Democrats, independents. We all came together because New Jersey is more important and our citizens' lives are more important than any kind of politics at all.

(END VIDEO CLIP) TAPPER: Let's bring in our political panel to talk about it. Ryan Grim Washington bureau chief for The Huffington Post. Jennifer Millerwise Dyck, former George W. Bush campaign spokesperson and Republican strategist. And CNN chief political analyst Gloria Borger.

Now, we've heard this from Christie before when the storm first hit and the governor appeared on the shore with the president. He said this in no uncertain terms. He didn't care about the ramifications.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHRISTIE: I don't give a damn about Election Day. It doesn't matter a lick to me. At the moment, I've got much bigger fish to fry than that. So do the people of the state of New Jersey.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: Now, I don't doubt that. You know, the storm was very serious.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Right.

TAPPER: But, Gloria.

BORGER: Yes.

TAPPER: It's also true --

BORGER: Get real.

TAPPER: That is a Democratic state.

BORGER: Yes, blue, blue, blue.

TAPPER: I can't imagine if he had been the governor of Alabama that he would have been the same way.

BORGER: Right, Democratic state. By the way we should point out Chris Christie is like 30 points ahead in the polls right now, so he is not exactly worried about his re-election.

(INAUDIBLE SPEAKING)

BORGER: That's right, exactly. So, he reminds people, I get it done. And if the president's here by the way, blue state, not so bad for Chris Christie. Works also, I might add, for President Obama, who is very happy to get out of Washington right now.

TAPPER: He's always happy to get out of Washington.

Ryan, do you think this potentially hurts Governor Christie if he does run for president in 2016?

RYAN GRIM, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, HUFFINGTON POST: Well, no, because I think what he's planning is this. He knows he can't go to the right and then still win the general election. So, he is banking, look. I'll try to be the moderate guy, the guys that can win a general election. And if that means I can't get through a Republican primary, then fine, because I'm going to lose the general election anyway even if I manage to squeak through on the right. So, he's saying, look. I'll be as popular as I can, try to be a consensus type candidate and, you know, see where that takes him. So, I don't think it hurts him at all.

TAPPER: Jennifer, you worked for the last Republican who actually walked that line well, George W. Bush. Conservative enough to win the nomination, moderate enough, or at least in perception in both of those, to win the general election. How is he doing? How is Governor Christie doing?

JENNIFER MILLERWISE DYCK, APCO: I think there's still a lot of time but he's --

(LAUGHTER)

TAPPER: That means not good.

DYCK: No. There's still a lot of time, but what he is doing is very smart. He knows he has to get past his election first before he starts looking at a White House. He has a lot of time to find some wedge issues, like Obamacare, etcetera, he can put between him and the president. And I think he'll have a real shot.

I think there's been too much talk about whether or not he is conservative enough for this particular Republican Party right now. The fact is he is a leader, and that's what this Republican Party has been missing since my old boss was in power. We have not had an articulate, charismatic leader who really united and excited Republicans across the spectrum.

BORGER: But there is no united Republican party right now. The fact is the Republican Party is completely split. You see what's going on in Congress between John McCain and conservative Republicans, and "pulling a Christie" has now become a phrase that conservative Republicans use, i.e. getting too close to the president or getting too close to Democrats.

DYCK: A leader can transcend all those things. They (ph) just had to have someone that people have felt energized about in my party.

GRIM: He's trying to replace tone with ideology. He's trying to say, look. I'm as angry as you are. And so, if you just replace the ideology you want to implement with the anger that I have, then we'll be okay

BORGER: Well, truth telling --

GRIM: And if that is enough to bridge it, then he can do it.

TAPPER: There are two races that we always look to in the year after a presidential election. One is the New Jersey governor's race. The other one is the New York City mayor's race. Right now as we speak, Anthony Weiner is in a debate with some of his fellow Democrats the frontrunner Christy Quinn not there.

Amazingly the latest poll has him in second place. He was already in second place, but now he is going up from 15 percent to 19 percent, undecided, of course, 23 percent. Jennifer, after a scandal, how long does it take the public to forget?

DYCK: You know, New Yorkers seem to have ability to forgive a little faster than I think other parts of the country would. I don't know how they are not haunted by the images that were associated with this story, which I still, you know, --

TAPPER: You're still haunted?

DYCK: I am haunted. But I think what really what people are going to have to start focusing on and what I would be focusing on if I were running against him would be judgment. That's what he lacks. The kind of judgment that thought his behavior was acceptable or he could get away with it, either way when you are that reckless with your own personal reputation what are you going to do when you're leading that kind of city?

GRIM: Right. On a typical day in New York you can see that kind of thing yourself on the subway.

BORGER: I'm New York. Wait a minute.

GRIM: I don't think he can win a run off.

TAPPER: He can force a run off.

GRIM: I think he could get to the run off sure.

TAPPER: Last word, Gloria.

BORGER: He tends to be something he is not. He is the ultimate insider bred in Washington mentored by Chuck Schumer and the Clintons and he has to run as an outsider grassroots kind of fellow because nobody is endorsing him. I don't know if that's --

TAPPER: Well, we'll see. Brian Grimm, Jennifer Millerwise Dyck and Gloria Borger, thanks so much. Great job.

Next on THE LEAD, is President Obama getting serious about military intervention in Syria? An explosive report is suggesting a change in course perhaps.

Plus, are you recovering from your arrested development hangover? The reviews are in. Did it live up to the hype? Our "Pop Lead" is coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper. Now it's time for our "World Lead," a lot of developments in the war in Syria. The Russian ambassador to the U.N. tells CNN's Christiane Amanpour that, yes, delegates from the Assad regime will be attending proposed peace talks in Geneva, but it is still unclear if the Syrian rebels will be joining them.

The European Union decided to end the arms embargo against Syrian rebels. Russia's response, go ahead with delivery of surface to air missiles to the Syrian government, you know, to keep things from getting out of hand. The biggest news may be coming from the White House.

Josh Rogin is the senior correspondent for "Newsweek Daily Beast," and he joins me now with an exclusive. Josh, before we get to your exclusive, I want to play something President Obama said about his options in Syria back in April.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: As early as last year, I asked the Pentagon, our military, our intelligence officials to prepare for me what options might be available and I won't go into the details of what those options might be.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: So he wouldn't go into the details of what those options might be, but you have exclusive reporting on what at least one of them is.

JOSH ROGIN, SENIOR CORRESPONDENT, "NEWSWEEK DAILY BEAST": Exactly. We've discovered that the White House has passed the Joint Chiefs of Staff to plan for a no-fly zone inside Syria that would be done on a multilateral basis with countries such as France and Britain. This wouldn't be a NATO option like in Libya. It wouldn't be a U.N. option. It would be U.S. and countries that are willing to participate. Those plans are being drawn up and that is new information.

TAPPER: This is a story that you're breaking right now in "Newsweek Daily Beast." I want to read something an administration official told you. Quote, "The White House is still in contemplation mode, but the planning is moving forward and is more advanced than it's ever been, all this effort to pressure the regime as part of the overall effort to find a political solution." But what happens if Geneva fails? It is only prudent to plan for other options beyond. Talk us through how the diplomatic options are going at this point.

ROGIN: Right. We have a dual track strategy. The Obama administration wants a politically negotiated solution between the regime and opposition. The upcoming conference in Geneva is the best chance to do that. But most people think that is likely to fail. The opposition wants Assad to go. Assad isn't going to agree to go.

So we have to plan for options after Geneva. It is not just the no fly zone. They are also considering arming the Syrian opposition, elements that are moderate and support the United States and switching recognition from the Assad regime to the opposition. There is a menu of options the Obama administration is now considering more than ever if and when the political solution becomes more and more unlikely. TAPPER: As if the scoop wasn't enough, you had another one yesterday about Senator John McCain, a leading Republican, visiting with the Syrian rebels in Syria, the highest ranking U.S. official to do so. Tell us about the significance of that visit.

ROGIN: Right. So John McCain is doing two things. He is communicating to the Syrian rebels that there are people in Washington who support arming them and who support greater intervention. He is also collecting information to bring back to the United States about what they want, who they are, and how they're working together.

He also proved that you can go into Syria and you can meet with the rebel leaders and they will meet with you and they are organized. And this has not happened before on such a high level. So now you can anticipate that a lot more officials and lawmakers will want to go into Syria and see what is going on for themselves.

TAPPER: Amazing. Josh Rogin with "Newsweek Daily Beast," thanks so much, great reporting as always.

France is reporting its first death from a SARS-like virus that's infected more than 40 people worldwide. According to a French hospital, the first of two people to be diagnosed in the country died of organ failure. The patient had been hospitalized since May 9th. The virus which is in the same family as SARS has killed 22 people. Most of those infected have been in the Middle East.

Coming up, it once adorned the wrists of everyone from Matt Damon to Bono and maybe that woman at the grocery store wearing mom jeans, but soon a symbol of strength turned fashion fad turned badge of shame will be off the market for good.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

TAPPER: Welcome to THE LEAD. Now it is time for the "Sports Lead." For Nike, just do it. Those are words to live by. Unless of course doing it means lying about using performance enhancing drugs to win the Tour De France seven times then not so much. So it is no surprise the company is further distancing itself from disgraced cyclist Lance Armstrong.

Nike will stop making products for the Live Strong Foundation at the end of the year including the yellow wrist bands that were once so popular. The charity was founded by Armstrong to raise cancer awareness, but he stepped down as chairman at the height of his doping scandal.

Nike released a statement saying in part, quote, "We will continue to support the Live Strong Foundation by funding them directly as they continue their work serving and improving outcomes for people facing cancer."

The "Pop Culture Lead," "Fast and Furious 6" was in the driver's seat at the Box Office this weekend and if that pun isn't doing anything for you no worries. I have a few more. The action flick took a victory lap at the Box Office to put the pedal to the metal speeding past the competition. I'll stop.

The film earned more than $120 million making it the fourth highest Memorial Day opening in history. Meanwhile, it was a more sobering opening for the "Hangover 3." The final instalment of the trilogy fell short of estimates earning $63 million, a hangover indeed.

The reviews are in and they are a resounding -- season four of the cult favorite "Arrested Development" posted to Netflix this past Sunday. All 15 episodes dumped into the streaming video world at once forcing fans to ditch the barbecue and binge. Many critics who were the only fans of the show when it first aired a decade ago are now saying, something of a letdown. Netflix stock took a 6 percent hit today.

Maybe there isn't always money in the banana stand. Make sure to follow me on Twitter @jaketapper, that's all one word @jaketapper and also @theleadcnn and check out our show page at cnn.com/the lead for video, blogs, and extras.

Yahoo! had no problem making it rain when it came to buying the social blogging site Tumblr. It is almost surprising that the internet giant is trying to low ball its way into a deal with Hulu. Yahoo! reportedly offered between $600 million and $800 million to buy the popular video subscription site.

The company is in a bidding war against power houses like Time Warner, Cable, and media mogul Peter Chernin, but sources say Hulu's parent company has made it clear it won't entertain any offers under $1 billion. None of the offers so far passed that benchmark.

That's it for THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper. I'll now turn you over to the able hands of Wolf Blitzer. He is right next door in "THE SITUATION ROOM." Mr. Blitzer, take it away.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Jake, thanks very much.