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THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER

Tornado Threat; Michele Bachmann's Future; What Did Eric Holder Know, and When?; LeBron James Now Hiring Interns; Bringing Home the Bacon

Aired May 29, 2013 - 16:00   ET

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


JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: A new potential rash of tornadoes, and we are right on their tails.

I'm Jake Tapper, and this is THE LEAD.

The national lead, the Plains, the section of the country already reeling from killer storms, now in the bullseye for more. And they could strike at any time. CNN is already there on the ground.

The politics lead. Some of you will miss her. Some of you will miss the jokes about her, Congresswoman Michele Bachmann today making a major decision about her future in Congress.

And the pop lead, John F. Kennedy portrayed by an actor who might lean a little bit to the right. Well, it's hardly the first time a role has conflicted with personal ideologies. How do actors do it?

But we begin at this hour with the national lead. Right now, dangerous storms are breaking out all over the Plains, where people are storm-weary after days and days of violent weather, including, of course, the deadly tornado in Moore, Oklahoma, just last week. Now, this monster hit Kansas just yesterday.

It was on the ground for 30 minutes. It did not do much damage, thankfully, but today, well, we're talking about huge hail, winds strong enough to peel the paint off your home, and possibly, possibly tornadoes that could make some missing paint the least of your worries.

Now, when most of us smartly are running away from tornadoes, there are men and women who run towards them and stare with an unblinking eye at the destruction, capturing images like the one you just saw.

Our meteorologist Chad Myers is on the ground with brave and/or crazy storm chasers.

Chad, where are you right now and what are you seeing?

CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: We're in Laverne, Oklahoma, about to head into Texas and we're seeing the sunshine. And let me tell you, Jake, that is a bad thing. You don't want to see sunshine on a severe weather day. That means your air is heating up. Hot air, like a hot air balloon, wants to rise and so therefore you get thunderstorms. And the wind is blowing terribly here. Let me just step out. I'm kind of shielded by the truck.

I am going to just step out of the wind -- out of the way here. It's going to be very hard to hear, even hear what I'm saying in the wind as we just -- the whole area, this wind is blowing in from the south, blowing in very humid air from the Gulf of Mexico. That's the humid air that is going to go up into the sky and is going to create these big severe thunderstorms, and, yes, they're going to be all day and possibly even all night long.

TAPPER: All right. Chad Myers, stay safe. Thank you so much.

MYERS: You're welcome, Jake.

TAPPER: The politics lead. She's moving on.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. MICHELE BACHMANN (R), MINNESOTA: My good friends, after a great deal of thought and deliberation, I have decided next year I will not seek a fifth congressional term to represent the wonderful people of the Sixth District of Minnesota.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: So is this really bye-bye Bachmann or merely until we meet again?

Well, one thing is for certain. Her political legacy is already written. She is a fierce critic of the Obama administration, a champion of social conservatives, and a White House hopeful who started her career as a volunteer for Jimmy Carter's 1976 campaign, seriously.

Still, as a religious die-hard conservative, Bachmann was irresistible to late-night comedians.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS: Simply to the Iowa voters, I want to say, thank you. I so enjoyed my time with you and in turn I hope you enjoy a future that will be littered with death panels, reeducation camps and forced immunizations, all ending in an Iranian nuclear bomb that will bring about the Rapture.

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: Beyond her conservative accolades as an opponent of legal abortion and a die-hard defender of -- quote -- "traditional marriage," the U.S. Constitution, and the state of Israel, Bachmann and her husband, Marcus, also raised five children and opened their Stillwater, Minnesota, home to 23 foster kids.

In 2006, she became the first Republican woman from Minnesota to be elected to the U.S. House of Representatives. She founded the Tea Party Caucus. Bachmann's career reached its peak in August 2011 during the Republican presidential primary when she won the Ames straw poll in Iowa, the state where she was born. Here is what she told me about that win the very next day.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BACHMANN: I had a mother last night come up to me here in Tampa, Florida, after the debate. She told me that her little daughter took that vaccine, that injection, and she suffered from mental...

TAPPER: How do you expand beyond the Republican base? Why would a moderate Republican vote for you?

BACHMANN: Well, everywhere I have gone all across Iowa, there isn't an event I do that I don't have people come up to me who say that, Michele, I'm a Democrat and I'm voting for you. I'm an independent and I'm voting for you. And I think what people see in me is that I am a real person, I'm authentic. And they want someone who is going to go to Washington and represent their values.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: Bachmann, of course, had some message issues. There were gaffes. We just had one ourselves when we accidentally showed you a different clip.

One gaffe, she confused action star John Wayne with the serial killer John Wayne Gacy. And then there were more substantive moments when she alienated supporters with comments like this one about the HPV vaccine where she talked about how it possibly caused mental retardation.

That comment, shall we say, is a tad untethered to medical fact. Bachmann lost steam quickly, eventually placing sixth in the Iowa caucuses on January 3, 2012. She ended her presidential bid the next day. Her congressional seat was always competitive. She won her first race with 50 percent of the vote. Last November, she was barely able to hold on to her House seat, eking out a win by a little more than 4,000 votes.

She spent more than $11 million to do it, $65 per vote, more than any other congressional candidate. The question now, is this the end of the Bachmann era or is it just the beginning of something big?

Joining me now by Skype, Michele Bachmann's former faith coordinator for her presidential campaign, Peter Waldron.

Peter, you brought charges against Bachmann having to do with campaign finances. They're being investigated by the House Ethics Committee. Tell me about that. What are these charges?

PETER WALDRON, FORMER FAITH COORDINATOR FOR BACHMANN PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN: Sure.

I filed a complaint with the FEC, the Federal Elections Commission, in January. And in the complaint, I had five allegations, allegations that dealt with payments to a sitting senator in the Iowa Senate. I dealt with issues of MichelePAC, a political action committee, contributing to the compensation for an employee of the Bachmann for president. There are five allegations in total.

TAPPER: Do you think that's why she is not running again, or do you think -- do you take her at her word that there are just -- she wants to move on to some other challenges?

WALDRON: I believe that any reasonable person who is under investigation by five separate entities, to include the FBI, the Office of Ethical -- of Ethics at the House -- there is the Senate Ethics Committee in Iowa.

There are so many investigations. There's five investigations. There is a lawsuit that's in the process of settlement. I think that's a lot for any one person to handle just one of the issues, but I believe that the strain of having to sustain all the questions that are coming as a result of the investigation, talking to investigators, the lawyers, the lawyer fees, settlement talks, it gets to be quite a chore to carry that.

And then, of course, there's (INAUDIBLE) services to the people of the Sixth District of Minnesota. So she has got a lot on her plate. I think it was a good decision. I think it benefits her. It benefits her constituents. And I believe that the issues that I have raised in the various investigations will be addressed, they will be investigated, and justice at the end will prove out the allegations I have made.

TAPPER: All right.

Peter, let me bring in CNN's chief congressional correspondent, Dana Bash, who covers Congresswoman Michele Bachmann on the Hill, and political reporter Peter Hamby, who covered her presidential campaign last year.

Dana, do you think that Peter Waldron is right, that the reason she is announcing she is not running for reelection is because she is just so burdened by these House ethics investigation dealings?

DANA BASH, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The truth is we don't know the answer.

We know that she explicitly said that wasn't the reason. She also explicitly said that she's not retiring at the end of her term because she wasn't afraid of losing. But we also know, as he just laid out, that there are big problems that she has, and it was going to be a tough go for her.

I mean, this is a -- she represents a Republican district that Democrats really thought that they could win because she has that seat, because she is a lightning rod. They were very much gunning for it. And now Democrats admit if she's gone it might be hard for her to get -- for them to get. And every single seat in the House as the Democrats try to get the majority back matters. That was a key one.

TAPPER: And, Peter Hamby, you know that covering -- from covering her, as I do, that she is a very personable person, very likable to the likes of us. She had a very high rate of staff turnover in Congress.

PETER HAMBY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, she absolutely did. She had a high rate of staff turnover in Congress. She cycled through multiple chiefs of staff.

She also did on her presidential campaign. And I was e-mailing with a number of former advisers today, just kind of checking in trying to get some insight into this decision. And I was actually kind of shocked by how many of them are like, haven't talked to her for a while. Got no idea. Haven't been in the loop for a long time. Can't help you, sorry.

(CROSSTALK)

HAMBY: So, she keeps a very tight circle, and during the presidential campaign, she was very sort of sheltered, you know, aside from media interviews here and there. They tried to keep her away. She traveled with a large security entourage in a lot of situations and would literally push reporters away some situations, yes.

TAPPER: Literally push reporters away, I remember that.

Dana Bash, Peter Hamby and Peter Waldron, thank you so much.

Coming up, what did FOX News know about the Obama administration's investigation into one of its reporters, and when did they know it? We have got brand-new information.

Plus, the pop lead. Is this the face of a president? Rob Lowe will reportedly become JFK in a new movie, but will his personal politics get in the way? That's coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.

In national news, who really cares if the government snoops on the lamestream media, right? The privacy concerns of journalists probably are not at top of your list or even on your list at all.

Well, this is all about what your government decides you're allowed to know and what you just can't handle. The Obama administration has indicted six people for leaking information that landed in the media's lap. Think that's not so many? Well, it's more than all previous administrations combined.

And now CNN can report some new developments in the saga threatening to engulf Attorney General Eric Holder. There has been this endless back and forth over what Holder knew or didn't know about his Justice Department's investigation into leaks made to FOX News reporter James Rosen.

FOX its parent company, News Corp., have denied that the government told them it was subpoenaing the phone records of their reporter Mr. Rosen. But CNN has just learned that the Justice Department did in fact notify News Corp.'s lawyer on August 27, 2010, via certified letter.

That is all a little a little confusing, I know.

So, we have CNN contributor Ryan Lizza from "The New Yorker" to sort out the timeline with us.

Ryan, thanks for being here.

We're going to start -- we're just going to focus on this one leak to James Rosen.

RYAN LIZZA, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Yes.

TAPPER: Now, it starts on June 11, 2009. What is the significance of this day?

LIZZA: This is when James Rosen posts on FOX News' Web site a major scoop. He cites sources inside North Korea and reports what North Korea is likely to do in response to U.N. sanctions.

TAPPER: And intelligence officials are very concerned about these four words. Why?

LIZZA: That's it. The intelligence community is outraged that Rosen has apparently found out that we have sources inside this hermetically sealed country, North Korea, very hard to penetrate. And that is why the government claims they go after this leak so hard.

TAPPER: They went the very next day June 12, 2009, trying to figure out who had access in the State Department to this classified information about North Korea. How did they figure out it was Stephen Kim?

LIZZA: This is where it gets interesting. So, this report was disseminated to a very small circle of people. The FBI finds out 95 intelligence -- 95 people were allowed to view this document. They look at phone records. They look at security badge IDs coming and going at the State Department. They look at this gentleman Steven Kim's computer. And they find out that of the 95 people that had access to this information, only one of them was in communication with FOX News' James Rosen.

TAPPER: And were they able to determine that there was proof that he was looking at the information and sharing with Rosen?

LIZZA: Well, they had this -- they had this guy nailed. Let's be honest. They have a record of a phone call between Rosen and Kim while Kim is logged into his computer looking at this report. Three hours later, James Rosen's piece gets posted on FOX News' Web site.

TAPPER: So, throughout the summer of 2009, they're looking into Steven Kim. They're investigating him.

LIZZA: They're investigating. They're looking at his hard drive. They're imaging it. There are some more contacts between Rosen and Kim in the summer. In August, there is an e-mail. They execute a search warrant for Kim's e-mails in November, 2009.

TAPPER: But then they take it a step further and then it's in the spring of 2010 when they actually start going after James Rosen and investigating him. Here is where people get really worried.

LIZZA: This is where this investigation jumps from a leak investigation of someone in the government who provided classified information into an investigation of a journalist and a target on a journalist. The government in a search warrant for James Rosen's e- mail calls him an aider, abettor, and/or conspirator in the crime of espionage.

That is what has media watch dogs so outraged. They crossed a line previous administrations have not crossed and it suggests if you read the search warrant that they were at the very least considering the potentially indicting this person.

TAPPER: For doing his job as a journalist.

LIZZA: Yes.

TAPPER: And who do we know -- how high did this go up in the Justice Department?

LIZZA: So, we've only found out recently that Eric Holder himself, the attorney general, had to sign off on this very controversial search warrant of James Rosen's private e-mail.

TAPPER: So, let's flash forward and go to not that long ago, May 15th, 2013. Holder testifies before Congress. This is before the public knows about the warrant into James Rosen, the FOX News reporter.

LIZZA: Yes.

TAPPER: But after attorney general holder has signed off on the warrant.

And this is what he says when asked a question.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ERIC HOLDER, 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 or heard of, or would think would be a wise policy. In fact, my view is quite the opposite.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: This is a very controversial sentence. He has now said in light of the news that he signed off on the Rosen warrant. Why? LIZZA: That's the statement that has Republicans in this town furious. Republicans are now saying, if that -- if you went to a judge and asked for a search warrant for James Rosen's personal e-mail and you alleged to that judge that he was a criminal -- well, that means you were thinking about prosecuting James Rosen.

So, the House Judiciary Committee is now going after holder. They wrote a letter today and asked him to explain the -- explain how he -- how that statement we just heard doesn't contradict the search warrant he approved.

TAPPER: And they have not explained that.

And this brings us to May 28th, 2013, in "Politico's" playbook, we didn't get leak. Mike Allen from "Politico" is told Holder is meeting with bureau chiefs, including our own Sam Feist here in the CNN Washington, D.C. bureau. What is Holder doing now?

LIZZA: So, this is where I think you -- in Washington, this is how you know Holder thinks he is in a little trouble. So, he leaked to "Politico", he's leaked to "The Daily Beast" or people around him have that he regrets the search warrant to James Rosen, that he wants to do things differently and that this dialogue with the media bureau chiefs is a way to clean up the rules and regulations at the Justice Department and not go as far as they went in the Rosen case.

TAPPER: All right. Ryan Lizza from "The New Yorker", CNN contributor, thank you so much.

LIZZA: Thanks, Jake.

TAPPER: Coming up on THE LEAD: 40 percent of women are now the breadwinners for their families. But not everyone is happy about it. What the smaller details of a new study are revealing about modern marriage.

Plus, interns wanted, must love basketball and speak Spanish. By the way, you'll be working for LeBron James. What does an intern for an NBA star do? Well, that's coming up next in our "Sports Lead".

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. Now, it's time for "The Sports Lead".

The Yankees are beat up this year and the Mets are just as bad. But did you ever think a subway series game in the Big Apple would be just another game on the schedule? Last night when the Bronx Bombers visited Queens to play the Mets, there were 10,000 empty seats at Citi Field, the smallest crowd to ever see a game between the two New York rivals since interleague play started in 1997. Now, there was a 90- minute rain delay and there no Derek Jeter or Alex Rodriguez, but maybe after close to a hundred games, fans are just played out.

Pulling off monster jams and leading your team on a quest for back-to-back NBA titles, that's just another day at the office for LeBron James. But now, he is looking for interns. James posted a link on his Facebook page, "Seeking college students who want to work at least 10 hours a week".

On his official Web site LeBronJames.com, you must have social media skills and be fluent in Espanol and be interested in digital sports management. We're not sure if you're going to be doing more than tweeting in another language for James or whether you'll be paid or whether you'll ever actually get to meet him but you have until June 4th to apply.

So, who would you take in a fight? Justin Bieber or an ex-NFL player? Because Justin Bieber is being accused of reckless driving after he was spotted tearing through his gated community in L.A. in his white Ferrari by a couple former NFL stars, including Keyshawn Johnson who according to TMZ chased Bieber down in his Prius to tell him to slow down. Bieber reportedly ran inside his house and refused to come out. Smart. That's what I would do too.

Hall of fame running back Eric Dickerson also tweeted I live in Calabasas too and Justin Bieber needs to slow his butt down. He didn't say butt but we censored it for you.

Let's check in with our political panel. Nixonian, that's the adjective that just won't go away for the White House. Now, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is using footage of President Richard Nixon and recently testifying IRS officials to bash President Barack Obama in a new ad.

Doug Thornell, do you think it will have any traction? It's Kentucky after all.

DOUG THORNELL, POLITICAL STRATEGIST: I doubt it, Jake. I doubt it. People care about jobs and the economy and that's in a red state nor blue state.

TAPPER: All right. Well, we're going to check in with Doug and others.

More and have a lot more for you when THE LEAD continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD.

Now, it's time for "The Money Lead". The cartoon the Jetsons made us imagine a world filled with flying cars and space malls. But it turns out the most farfetched notion of all might be this scene where Jane meets her husband's wallet to go shopping.

It turns out moms are now the family bread winners in 40 percent of all American homes. Compare that to 1960 when only 11 percent of women were bringing home the bacon.

THE LEAD's Erin McPike now joins us with a look at what is behind the dramatic shift over the past 50 years -- Erin. ERIN MCPIKE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jake, I don't know if I myself can explain this, but one of the findings in this Pew Center study is this: the total family income is higher when the mother not the father is the primary breadwinner. So, maybe more people are waking up to that. But whatever it is, shifting attitudes are taking place now, too.