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Christie Calls Election In October; "I Need The Senate To Do Its Job"; "The Queen Of Mean" Returns; Recall Rejected; OSU President Out After Catholic Jab; GQ's Revealing Interview With Kim Jong-Il's Former Chef

Aired June 4, 2013 - 16:30   ET



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

The National Lead. The top brass of our country's military, all in the same room at the same time. Contrite in the face of an epidemic of sexual assault within their ranks. But standing fast against any changes in the way these crimes are prosecuted.

In the Politics Lead, fighting words. President Obama names three nominees to the powerful federal appeals court in Washington. He tells the Republican Party to get out of their way.

And the Pop Lead, she's the patron saint of mean girls. The ice queen of horrible bosses. Miranda priestly returns in the sequel to every fashionista's favorite novel, "The Devil Wears Prada." Did poor Andie Sachs land on her heels a decade later? The long-awaited sequel is out today, and we'll dish with author Lauren Weissberger.

Our National Lead. There were an estimated 26,000 cases of unwanted sexual contact last year alone in our military, one study says. But only about 3,400 of them were actually reported. That's a dismal record. And it comes as we hear about officers in charge of preventing unwanted sexual contact allegedly engaging in it. Answering for it all today on Capitol Hill, all of the joint chiefs of staff, a long table of 11 men and just one woman, testifying before the Senate Armed Services Committee as to why removing these investigations from within the chain of command as many in Congress are pushing would not be effective.


GEN. MARTIN DEMPSEY, JOINT CHIEF CHAIRMAN: The rule of the commander should remain central. Our goal should be to hold commanders more accountable, not render them less able to help us correct the crisis.

GEN. RAYMOND ODIERNO, ARMY CHIEF OF STAFF: Removing commanders, making commanders less responsible, less accountable, will not work.


TAPPER: One by one, each of the joint chiefs told the committee that military sexual assault cases should remain within the command. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, one of seven women on the committee, has a bill that would let prosecutors decide which cases move forward, not the alleged victim's commanders. She was none too happy at the joint chiefs resistance of the idea.


SEN. KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND (D), NEW YORK: You have lost the trust of the men and women who rely on you that you will actually bring justice in these indications. Not every single commander necessarily wants women in the force. Not every single commander believes what a sexual assault is. Not every single commander can distinguish between a slap on the ass and a rape.


TAPPER: We should note that this is not just about the victimization of women. The Pentagon survey estimates in more than half of the estimated 2,600 sexual assaults last year, men said they were the targets.

I want to bring in Trina McDonald, a Navy veteran who has a horrific story of her own of being drugged and raped by her superiors. Thanks so much for joining us. I want to get your reaction to what the joint chiefs chairman and the chief of staff of the Army just said, that taking this out of the chain of command would be a bad idea.

TRINA MCDONALD, CLAIMS SHE WAS SEXUALLY ASSAULTED IN THE NAVY: Oh, I think it's just an atrocity to hear such things come out of a commander's mouth. To hear him say that REALLY takes away from what we're trying to do, is making people feel safe and not revictimized.

TAPPER: How would it take out of the chain of command, if I can get personal for a second -


TAPPER: -- how would it have changed your case?

MCDONALD: In my particular situation, what would have changed is, I would have had an outlet to be able to go somewhere. In my situation, I was sexually assaulted by military police. And being assaulted by military police, the people I would have reported to, left me alone. That I didn't have an outlet to be able to go and report. And some of the other people involved were senior officers to me. So, all people I would have reported to have now been taken out of my chain of command.

TAPPER: You should tell your whole personal story. I'm sorry, I kind of jumped ahead.

MCDONALD: That's okay.

TAPPER: But what happened with you? What happened to you?

MCDONALD: I enlisted in the military when I was 17 years old. And I was on delayed enlistment for a year. I left when I was 18 from a small town in Kentucky to go to the United States Navy. I was in Orlando, Florida. Did my training and my school in Orlando. From Orlando, I went to a naval station in Alaska. And it was at that place -- I was supposed to be there for 18 months. I was there for two months before I was sexually assaulted for the first time.

TAPPER: And you were drugged?

MCDONALD: I was drugged and raped.

TAPPER: And what happened when you -- did you tell anyone?

MCDONALD: I didn't tell anyone because the first person -- I was raped multiple times. Drugged and raped multiple times.

TAPPER: Multiple times?

MCDONALD: Multiple times.

TAPPER: Over a period of how many --

MCDONALD: Nine months.

TAPPER: And there was no one you could tell?

MCDONALD: No. No, they make it clear to me if I came forward, they were going to kill me. They threw me in the Bering Sea at one point and left me for dead. So -- there was nowhere for me to turn, and they were making it very clear if I did come forward that something worse was going to happen to me.

TAPPER: But you have now told your story. Has anything happened to these individuals?

MCDONALD: No, not at this particular point in time. For the first time, I've actually said their names out loud. I've said their first names; I won't go into what their last names are. But I am making it known these people exist.

TAPPER: How many were there?

MCDONALD: There were four people I know of. There's three assaults that I remember. I came in and out of the assaults -- of consciousness. And the other ones that I don't remember I woke up in my bed just -- I would be in one place and then I would wake up, just tucked away in my bed, but having known something had happened to my body.

TAPPER: Have any of the Navy, the officers who run the Navy -- have any of them reached out to you and said, I heard your story in the media, I read your story in the newspaper, I saw you on CNN? Has anybody reached out to say, what can I do? Who are these men? What can we do to make sure this doesn't happen to anyone else?

MCDONALD: No. I haven't had any type of -- any personnel reach out to me at all. And say, you know, we understand, we know, we're sorry that this happened, what can we do to help. I haven't had any of those types of responses.

TAPPER: Do you think that people, when you watch these hearings, do you think that the people who command the military -- and we have to say that they're patriots, they love their country, they want to help. They're there for the right reasons, one assumes. But do you think they have any idea of the extent of the problem as experienced by people like you?

MCDONALD: I don't think that they get the full impact of what's really going on with people that have been sexually assaulted, especially being in the military. When something like that happens, when you're in a unit with your brothers and your sisters and everything's so cohesive, and when you take those things away, when you're sexually assaulted by someone that's supposed to be your brother or be your sister, you know, that you would have laid your life down for and you take those things away from yourself - or when they take those things away from you, then you're left with being a broken person.

TAPPER: Well, I thank you for your courage for coming forward today. I know somebody at the Navy. I want to put you two in touch. Because they need to hear your story.

MCDONALD: I appreciate that.

TAPPER: Trina McDonald, thank you so much.

Coming up on THE LEAD, he says he's just doing his job. He tells the senators, do yours. What is President Obama challenging them on now? Our Politics Lead is next.



GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: It's about guaranteeing the people of New Jersey both a choice and a voice in the process and the representation that they deserve in Washington. Whoever it's going to be, our next United States senator should be nominated by a primary of the people and voted on by all the people of the state of New Jersey.


TAPPER: So it is game on in New Jersey. And let's bring in our political panel to talk about it. CNN contributor Democratic strategist Van Jones. CNN contributor and Republican strategist Ana Navarro. And Peter Baker, White House correspondent for "The New York Times."

Ana, you heard Dick Armey in the open; he is very upset out there. Republicans out there very, very upset that Chris Christie did not just give this seat to a Republican for the next year-and-a-half. Did he make the wrong decision?

ANA NAVARRO, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: I don't think so. I think that's why he's governor and has great numbers in a blue state of New Jersey. And people have to remember, Dick Armey has to remember, Chris Christie's not representing Texas, he's representing New Jersey and the people of New Jersey.

I think what he did was actually pretty smart. I've seen this in Florida play out with Governor Charlie Crist -- former Governor Charlie Crist when he did his appointment. And it can be -- being able to fill a vacancy in the U.S. Senate for a governor can be the best of times and it can be the worst of times. It can be a huge political gift and it can be a huge curse. Because almost no matter what you do, you end up making some folks angry. You could appoint the reincarnation of Mother Teresa, and some people would be antagonized and angry.

So, I think he left it to the people. It's the people's choice.

TAPPER: Van, there is this interesting coincidence, shall we say, that the special election will be in October, not November when Christie himself will be on the ballot. And so, let's assume your friend, the mayor of Newark, New Jersey Cory Booker - let's say he's the nominee. So if he's on -- if he's on the ticket in October, then he will not be bringing a bunch of Democratic voters to the polls in November when Christie --

VAN JONES, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: This is a very interesting thing. First of all, usually in politics, you have these two big personalities. You're kind of looking for the clash of the titans. You want Chris Christie and Cory Booker.

TAPPER: And yet, Peter, he probably will have - Cory Booker will probably have a primary. They're talking about Congressman Frank Pallone running. He can run now and not having to worry about losing his congressional seat because he's not up until 2014. So, this actually in a way encourages competition for Cory Booker in some ways.

PETER BAKER, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": It does, but it accelerates the process. We're not talking about a primary next year, which is what they had been looking at before Senator Lautenberg died. Now the advantages of the candidates who have access to money, who have been already doing the groundwork, getting activists lined up, getting political consultants lined up. And that's going to work in favor, I think, of anybody like Mayor Booker who's been eyeing the seat for a while.

NAVARRO: I have to tell you, this notion that Chris Christie is afraid of Cory Booker is a little laughable. Let's just remember that Cory Booker got scared out of the governor's race, as you said, even though most Democrats in the state wanted him to run. Let's also remember, there's still a lot of Democrats in the state who are a little upset at Cory Booker because he basically pushed out an old and infirm Frank Lautenberg from running again before Lautenberg was ready to make the announcement. That didn't go well. New Jersey is New Jersey and there will be a primary. And it will be tough, and, you know -- Chris Christie's numbers are 60 percent approval. I don't think he's going to be afraid.

TAPPER: He's going to say what he wants about you. You may as well let him go on. JONES: Here's what I love about you. I honestly believe that you think that Chris Christie may have made this decision for some laudable reason, that he loves the boys of New Jersey, I think that's great. Here's what's going on. Chris Christie needs to be able to win by massive numbers in November to make the case for himself in 2016. If Cory Booker were running, the Democratic coat tails would take his numbers down to minimal.

NAVARRO: It's a little funny for you to tell me -- you pry every time President Barack Obama opens his mouth.

JONES: Not just when he opens his mouth, when he wakes up in the morning.

TAPPER: It also helps Chris Christie get a more Republican legislature. Let's move on to the course, President Obama is naming three nominees to fill the holes in the 11-member Federal Appeals Court in Washington. He was pretty clear about wanting to see them confirmed without any trouble from Congress.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: I didn't just wake up one day and say, let's add three seats to the District Court of Appeals. These are open seats. And the constitution demands I nominate qualified individuals to fill those seats. What I'm doing today is my job. I need the Senate to do its job.


TAPPER: Peter, break it down. What is President Obama doing here?

BAKER: Well, you don't see the president get out in the Rose Garden very often to nominate appeal court level jobs. I mean, those are normally Supreme Court level things. It has happened before, though. I mean, President Bush did this in 2001, the same reason he wanted to challenge the Senate with the other parties obstructionists, to make them embarrassed about stopping his judicial appointees. In this case, this court, the D.C. Circuit Court, second most powerful in the country. He's setting up some people who might be future Supreme Court nominees.

TAPPER: All right, thank you so much, Van, Ana and Peter. Appreciate it.

Next in the "Pop Lead," she started as a lowly assistant and became a millionaire by dishing the thinly veil dirt "Vogue" editor Ana Wintor. I'll talk to the woman behind the "Devil Wears Prada" and the new sequel that is out today on bookshelves. Does the bad blood remain?


TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. Now it's time for the "Pop Culture Lead." She throws things at her assistant. She makes ridiculous demands and she would likely roll her eyes at the suggestion that the world revolves around anything but her. No, Naomi Campbell, I'm not talking about you. I'm referring to Miranda Priestly. The fictional character from the highly successful novel turned movie, "The Devil Wears Prada." And if you didn't get enough of Priestley and her evil sheik the first time around, you'll be happy to know that she's back in a new novel by bestselling author, Lauren Weisberger.

I recently had a chance to talk with Weisberger about her much anticipated sequel filled with high fashion and of course, high drama, which hits bookshelves today.


TAPPER (voice-over): By now we know what the devil wears and how she takes her coffee. Ten years after "The Devil Wears Prada" hit bookshelves. The author who gave us Miranda Priestly is back with a sequel, "Revenge Wears Prada."

LAUREN WEISBERGER, AUTHOR: So much happens in our lives in 10 years, especially in your 20s and 30s. I just really got curious and I wanted to check in again with Andy, Emily and of course, Miranda.

TAPPER: Lauren Weisberger wrote her first sinfully successful novel about the fashion industry just two years after leaving her job at "Vogue."

WEISBERGER: I will never forget it. I just walked in there and thought, this is wild.

TAPPER: As you may have guessed, she served as an assistant to incredibly successful and notoriously icy editor Ana Wintor.

WEISBERGER: The Miranda character is a fictional character, but she certainly was inspired by my time working at "Vogue." I did work there and it was such a crazy experience that I pull so much of time there and it finds its way into the book.

TAPPER: Coincidentally or not, both the fictional Priestly and the real life Wintor have recently been promoted. Wintor is now the artistic director of publishing heavyweight Condi Nest.

WEISBERGER: In my book, I really needed Miranda in a greater position of power and then I heard the news that the same thing had happened with Ana, I smiled and thought, sometimes life imitates art.

TAPPER: Millions of copies of Weisberger's first book in 40 different languages helped propel her characters to the big screen. In 2006, Anne Hathaway was cast as Andy and Meryl Streep played an award- winning witch of a boss.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think that depends on what you --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, no, that wasn't a question.

WEISBERGER: As an author, you're not supposed to necessarily love when they adapt your work. In this case, I just thought they did such a terrific job that I would love if it happened again.

TAPPER: Vogue has published more than 120 issues since the devil last got dressed and readers have been wondering what happened to Andy since she bid adieu in Paris.

WEISBERGER: Thinking how Andy would be different and how much would have changed. And so much have changed in my own life at that time.

TAPPER: During this devil-free decade, Weisberger has gotten married, had two children and written three other novels. Meanwhile, her protagonist, Andy, has launched her own magazine and fallen in love. The challenge for Weisberger, will the characters still be recognizable after all these years?

WEISBERGER: I was thinking with Andy. She too is growing up. She is getting married. I'm not going to say with whom. I'm not going to give any spoilers, but motherhood does play into the book. Crazy things happen in playgroup and I would definitely say that a lot of that is informed by my own experience.

TAPPER: Selling the devil has earned Weisberger millions. As the sequel hit shelves today, her publisher hopes success will be the best revenge.


TAPPER: Weisberger admits there's already been some talk about making a movie based on her latest book, but we'll just have to wait and see.

Coming up in the "Buried Lead," if you want to learn a man's secrets, just ask his cook. Kim Jong-Il's former sushi chef is telling all to "GQ," and you have to hear some of his strange requests.


TAPPER: Welcome back. Now it's time for the "Money Lead." It's rare when the feds call for a major recall and the car company says I don't think so. But Chrysler is refusing the request from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to recall close to 3 million SUVs over placement of the gas tank.

This involves Jeep Grand Cherokees for model years 1993 to 2004 and the Jeep Liberty from 2002 to 2007. Many of those cars are probably off the road already anyway. The government says placement of the gas tanks could cause fires in rear end crashes. But Chrysler, which is now owned by Italian automaker, Fiat, says the risk is not different from any other cars, so it's not fixing anything right now.

Moving to the "Buried Lead," that's what we call stories that are not getting enough play, hot mic alert, Ohio State University confirms to CNN that their long serving President Gordon Gee, Mr. Buck Eye bow tie himself is out as of next month.

The announcement of his retirement comes after "Sports Illustrated," part of our parent company released a tape of comments he made to his athletic council about rivals like Notre Dame, calling them those damn Catholics. Gee also took patch at the South Eastern Conference suggesting its member universities have students who do not know how to read or to write.

We see what life is like in the entourage of a movie star. What about the entourage of one of the world's most notorious dictators. In a revealing interview with "GQ" magazine, a former sushi chef for the late Kim Jong-Il reveals how each grain of Kim's rice had to be inspected for perfection.

Kenji Fujimoto also says the North Korean leader could not resist a Big Mac attack. He would have his chef fly to Beijing to pick up McDonald's, but perhaps what's most shocking is that the former chef says he wants to return to North Korea and that he feels like a traitor for having defected. The North Korean government invited him back for a two-week visit earlier this year.

Make sure to follow me on Twitter @jaketapper and also @theleadcnn. Check out our show page for video, blogs and extras. That's it for me and for THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper. I will now leave you in the very capable hands of one Mr. Wolf Blitzer who is right next door in "THE SITUATION ROOM" -- Wolf.

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