CNN CNN


 

Return to Transcripts main page

THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER

Chasing the NSA Leaker; Mandela Remains in Critical Condition; Wild Day on Wall Street

Aired June 24, 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: How do you catch a man who already knows all the tricks you are using to try to find him?

I'm Jake Tapper and this is THE LEAD.

That world lead, he keeps zigging when he's expected to be zagging. Edward Snowden, the man who's been spilling U.S. intelligence secrets, is on the move. But where is his final destination?

The money lead, stocks on a roller coaster. If you are following the markets closely today, seek a chiropractor for your whiplash. A wild day on Wall Street for your portfolio and your 401(k).

And the pop lead. Actor Jim Carrey denouncing one of his own movies and, no, it's not "The Grinch." Why you may not see the funny man on talk show couches in the next few weeks in support of his movie "Kick- Ass 2."

Everybody, it's Jake Tapper. Welcome to THE LEAD.

Now it's time for our world lead. It's a manhunt that seems to be quickly turning into a high-stakes game of where's Waldo, only, there's no telltale striped hat to help us pull Edward Snowden out of the crowd, so where is he? Right now, no one really seems to know.

We do think he left Hong Kong yesterday when he was reportedly seen on a flight to Russia. Meanwhile, speaking from his hideout in Ecuador's London Embassy, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange stood by his support for Snowden in a conference call with reporters, saying that Snowden was with a WikiLeaks spokesperson and was both healthy and safe.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

JULIAN ASSANGE, FOUNDER, WIKILEAKS: This morning, the U.S. secretary of state called Edward Snowden a traitor. Edward Snowden is not a traitor. He is not a spy. He is a whistle-blower who has told the public an important truth.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

TAPPER: But Assange would not give up the location of the WikiLeaks activist and Edward Snowden.

So where could they be? Well, there are a few theories and endless possibilities. They could be sitting in the Moscow airport. The Russian Foreign Ministry has said that Snowden has not entered Russia, implying that he remains somewhere on the transit of airport immigration.

He could also potentially be hiding on the Aeroflight 150. That's the flight scheduled to land in Cuba in about two-and-a-half-hours from now. The flight plan, which the aircraft appears to be following, takes a route right over the Mid-Atlantic United States.

CNN's Phil Black is on board that flight. Last we heard before takeoff, there was no sign of Snowden on the flight. Still, a van reportedly pulled up alongside the plane right before departure and someone was seen boarding. We will bring you the latest as soon as that plane touches down.

But there's also another flight that had filed a plan to leave Moscow for Havana just after noon Eastern time today. That plane was listed as an Airbus A-330Q. Other planes with that Q designation have taken flight paths that avoid U.S. airspace. But ground crews in Moscow are now denying to CNN that there was ever such a flight scheduled.

Wherever he is, the White House says they are outraged that China let Snowden slip through their fingers yesterday when he fled Hong Kong.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: In regards to your question about the Chinese government, we are just not buying that this was a technical decision by a Hong Kong immigration official. This was a deliberate choice by the government to release a fugitive, despite a valid arrest warrant, and that decision unquestionably has a negative impact on the U.S.-China relationship.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: And here to talk about this all is Glenn Greenwald, columnist for "The Guardian" and one of the two reporters who broke the story of Snowden's leak and has written extensively about these leaks since then.

So, Glenn, do you have any idea where Ed Snowden is right now?

GLENN GREENWALD, "THE GUARDIAN": No, I actually have no idea. And the last time I spoke with him, he was in Hong Kong and I don't know anything more than media reports, which also don't seem to know anything about his whereabouts at the moment.

TAPPER: So we have a general idea of the path that he seems to want to take, from Hong Kong to Russia and now, perhaps, to Ecuador via Cuba. Now, none of these countries are exactly beacons of freedom especially Russia and China and Cuba.

Why do you think he's headed to Ecuador?

GREENWALD: I think the reason is -- is very simple and it's really twofold. Number one is that the United States, unfortunately, is not a beacon of press freedom, either. If you read the column by "The New York Times" writer David Carr, today, what he says is that the fact that there is a war on the press being waged by the Obama administration is not a matter of hyperbole, but a matter of math, meaning that the number of people -- of whistle- blowers who have been prosecuted under the Obama administration is far more than any other president in American history. And he knows that he will face extremely severe punishment simply for having come forward.

And that leads to the second reason, which is he needs to find a place that is both able and willing to grant him asylum and shield him from that prosecution. There aren't many places on the earth willing or able to do that.

He's not searching for political nirvana, he's searching for a place where he can be safe and -- and remain free and participate in the debate. And Ecuador, it seems to be -- it seems to be the case is -- is the place that he has chosen.

TAPPER: Well, Glenn, you -- the -- the new law in Ecuador that was passed actually restricts what the press can write. What President Obama is doing is going after leaks. And that, according to investigative reporters, is having a chilling effect on what they can report. But it's certainly not the same type of war on free press that we see in Ecuador.

GREENWALD: Yes, I'm not suggesting that they're equal. As I said, he's not just running around the world searching for what he thinks is a beacon of liberty. He's running around the world searching for a place that he can be free from American prosecution.

And personally, as an American citizen, as an American journalist, I'm much more interested in the repressive steps being taken by my own government, by the spying apparatus being built in the dark, by the lies being told by U.S. officials to the American public than I am in what country Mr. Snowden tries to live in.

That, to me, seems to be a much more significant question.

TAPPER: By reaching out to Julian Assange and the WikiLeaks organization, but especially Assange, who is currently wanted for questioning over allegations that he raped one woman and sexually molested another -- allegations, I should say, not -- not proof -- proof, in fact -- but by affiliating himself with Julian Assange, is Edward Snowden risking changing the dynamic, changing the mean, the narrative that he wants out there about himself being -- standing up for -- for something, standing up against the -- these surveillance programs that the National Security Agency is standing for?

GREENWALD: Well, I mean I'm not certain that what the extent of Mr. Assange's personal involvement was in any of this, as opposed to the WikiLeaks organization which has never been charged with a crime, let alone convicted of one. And as you pointed out, Mr. Assange has never been convicted of a crime either.

But I think the -- the more important point here is that anybody who leaks classified information and who brings transparency to the United States government is going to be the subject of an extremely aggressive and sustained demonization campaign.

That was true of -- of Bradley Manning. It was true of Daniel Ellsberg. It was true of Thomas Drake, it is true of every single person who does what it is that Mr. Snowden did.

So the attacks on him, on his personality, on claims to be able to assess his psychological state, that he's a narcissist, all of that, were well underway long before WikiLeaks began to be involved.

I do think that the involvement of WikiLeaks will be used as another pretext to distract attention away from what we ought to be focusing on, which is the corruption and deceit of the United States government, the government that's the most powerful government on Earth and the one under which we live.

TAPPER: Glenn, you got into a debate yesterday with David Gregory of NBC News, who essentially said you've aided and abetted Edward Snowden.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DAVID GREGORY, MODERATOR, "MEET THE PRESS": To the extent that you have aided and abetted Snowden, even in his current movement, why shouldn't you, Mr. Greenwald, be charged with a crime?

GREENWALD: I think it's pretty extraordinary that anybody who would call themselves a journalist would publicly muse about whether or not other journalists should be charged with felonies. The assumption in your question, David, is completely without evidence, the idea that I've aided and abetted him in any way.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: Fox News Channel's James Rosen encouraged his leaker to give him documents and set up what he thought was a secret way to e-mail him. I'm not going to launch any accusations at you, Glenn, but did you do anything beyond what James Rosen did in terms of communication with Snowden?

Did you work with him to get him a job at Booz Allen?

Did you advise him on how to transfer the documents?

GREENWALD: The reason I've been reluctant to answer that question up until this point is because the theory on which those questions are based -- and I'm not suggesting you're embracing it, but you're -- you're referencing the theory that others have embraced -- is really quite pernicious, that if you're a journalist and you work with your source and in -- and in cooperating with them and in obtaining documents that you think ought to be released to the public that somehow that's called aiding and abetting.

I call that investigative journalism. There is no investigative journalist on the planet who doesn't work cooperatively with their sources in order to obtain the information they need to inform their readers.

That said, not only did I not do more than Mr. Rosen was accused of doing by the Justice Department when he was called a co-conspirator, I did much, much less. I didn't even know where Mr. Snowden worked or what his name was until after he was on -- in Hong Kong with the documents.

We had some preliminary communications with him about how to communicate secretly in a way that would be secure but other than that, nothing.

And so anybody who wants to raise this insinuation against me, against "The Washington Post," Bart Gellman or anybody else that we somehow aided and abetted Mr. Snowden, anyone who wants to even raise that, let alone claim it ought to be compelled to point to specifics or point to evidence to support that accusation, because there is none.

Otherwise, it -- it's just reckless insinuation and shouldn't be tolerated.

TAPPER: And, Glenn, before I let you go, I know you wanted to talk about a story that was reported in McClatchy a few days ago about ways in which the Obama administration is trying to make sure that no one leaks any information to anyone, whether it's national security related or not.

GREENWALD: Right. I think that's really the key context, Jake, for everything that we discussed about why he's going to Ecuador, about why it is that he's trying to travel through these other countries.

We do have a climate in the United States that has been created over the last five years in which leakers and whistle-blowers, people who step forward to inform the public about classified information because they think it reveals wrongdoing, are treated, as this McClatchy article said, as enemies of the state, basically traitors. They're not people who work for a foreign government, sold the information, worked at the behest of foreign governments, just anybody who disclose anything that the government marks "classified" is deemed to be an enemy of the state and punished severely.

And that is a very dangerous threat to the news gathering process. And it's the reason why whistle-blowers who come forward, like Mr. Snowden, feel a need to flee, because the government has become so oppressive with regard to that behavior.

TAPPER: All right, Glenn Greenwald, thank you so much.

GREENWALD: Thanks, Jake.

TAPPER: Coming up: the market in total freefall at one point. Is this the beginning of another white-knuckle week on Wall Street? That's our money lead.

And in the world lead, no more bunga bunga for Italy's former leader. A court says Berlusconi's wild bashes were not just creepy; they were downright criminal. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD.

In world news, few have shown the spirit and determination of Nelson Mandela. He endured 27 years as a political prison for challenging apartheid, only to emerge and become the first black president of South Africa.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back to THE LEAD.

In world news, few have shown the spirit and determination of Nelson Mandela. He endured 27 years as a political prisoner for challenging apartheid, only to emerge and become the first black president of South Africa. Now, at the age of 94, Nelson Mandela remains in critical condition suffering from a stubborn lung infection. His loved ones are by his side.

I want to bring in Nkepile Mabuse live in Pretoria, South Africa.

Nkepile, thanks for joining us.

What can you tell us about Mandela's condition at this moment? Is there any sign of progress or conversely, deterioration?

NKEPILE MABUSE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: You know, Jake, the last update we received was from the president of this country, Jacob Zuma, who addressed the media on Monday morning, and he says that former President Nelson Mandela's health has not changed at all. He still remains critically ill in this hospital behind me.

President Zuma saying doctors are trying every single thing possible to try and help Mr. Mandela recover, but reminding the nation that he is an old man and it's about time that people started accepting that. Nelson Mandela is 94, due to turn 95 next month, Jake.

TAPPER: And, Nkepile, President Obama and his family, they're traveling to Africa Wednesday, as you know. What do you think are the odds that they will stop by to visit Nelson Mandela? Are there preparations going on for such a contingency?

MABUSE: You know, President Zuma was asked that question today and he doesn't seem to think that Mr. Obama's trip will be affected at all. I think we're looking at two scenarios here. If Mr. Mandela is still in the intensive care unit in the hospital behind me, we're unlikely to get that much anticipated photo-op of the first black South African president with the first black American president, because the White House has made it quite clear they're in constant communication with the family of Mr. Mandela, and they will do whatever is in Mr. Mandela -- whatever is the best interests of Mr. Mandela's health.

Of course the other scenario could be that Mr. Obama may have to include in his itinerary the attendance of a very, very important funeral.

Back to you.

TAPPER: All right. Nkepile Mabuse, thank you so much. Appreciate your time.

Also in world news, to read the Italian tabloids for years, he's read a social like resembling something like the Caligula of the E.U. But now, former Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi has been convicted of having sex with an underage prostitute at one of his infamous bunga bunga parties. Berlusconi says they were just refined dinner get- togethers. But prosecutors portray them as eyes wide shut style orgies.

Berlusconi was sentenced to seven years and was banned from taking public office again. But that does not mean he's necessarily going to prison. He still has two more appeals before the sentence is final.

Coming up, "The Money Lead," a wake-up call for your morning jolt. It's healthier to eat a Big Mac than it is to drink some Starbucks drinks. And now, that information is staring you right in the face.

And in pop news, the last time we saw, Jim Carrey, he was mocking the NRA and the late Jack Heston in a web spoof. Now, he's turning down his own new movie in name of ending gun violence.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD.

In the "Money Lead", the Dow finished the day down 139 points, but that's actually good news compared to how low it dipped earlier in the day. The Dow cratered early, dropping nearly 250 points. Shortly after trading started. It crawled back up from there but kept slipping, never managing to break even.

Let's get right to Alison Kosik at New York Stock Exchange.

Alison, what happened there and why?

ALISON KOSIK, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Investors, Jake, are in a big tizzy because they continue to be on edge about when the Fed is going to start pulling back on that $85 billion that has been pumping into the economy every single month. It's essentially looking to begin to sort of pull away the punch bowl from investors, to see how the economy does its own. Although Fed Chief Ben Bernanke last week only said he may start to scale back, the market's been freaking out ever since, even though nothing's actually been done because it's really the stimulus program that's been propping up stocks, creating this wealth effect. Now, besides the Fed, a lot of the wild moves that stocks made today, a lot of that was also related to China because China's central bank came out today and essentially told the country's biggest banks there to get it together, stop handing out loans so freely. So, now, what's happening is there's concern that there's going to be this credit crunch that's not only going to hurt China, which by the way is the world's second biggest economy, but it would have a ripple effect around the world, making it difficult to borrow for everybody. Basically, it would be difficult to have access to credit.

So, the news, Jake, out of China, came as more of a surprise to investors and investors don't like surprises.

TAPPER: Alison, before you go, last week, we saw the worst single-day loss of 2013. Are traders there afraid that we're in for another bad week?

KOSIK: You know, the volatility that we're seeing is probably going to stick around, especially seeing triple-digit moves in, what, five of the last six sessions? And analysts are saying expect more days like this. You know, some are saying, maybe even until the end of the year, especially since that's when the Fed is supposed to scale back on the stimulus.

Now, many believe, though, it's not such a bad thing to see this pullback because the market has been going up, up, up so far this year, breaking new record highs. You know, one analyst says, you know what, this selloff is kind of cathartic. That's one way to look at it, I guess, as investors go through this adjustment period, trying to re-price stocks and get themselves ready for a marketplace that doesn't have a government stimulus program as a crutch -- Jake.

TAPPER: All right, Alison. It sounds like a lot of traders there think this is a correction of sorts.

Coming up on THE LEAD: a Texas University win of some sort in a Supreme Court decision on using race as a factor for admission. We'll talk to the university's president in his first sit-down interview since the decision about whether today's ruling will change how they accept students.

And another search involving an NFL star in a murder investigation. We'll bring you the latest on where they are looking, coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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

"The National Lead": Supreme Court decisions over the next few days could change the fabric of our country. A week full of rulings on high-profile, controversial issues. And the justices kick it off by kicking the can down the road on affirmative action.

In money news, just how many calories are you gulping down with that venti latte? You might be horrified to find out and now Starbucks is going to tell you whether you want to know or not. And "The Pop Lead": Jim Carrey would like to eternal sunshine one of his movies out of his mind and it's not even out yet. Why is the actor, who could use a hit, bad-mouthing his next big screen release?

(MUSIC)

TAPPER: This just in: you've already heard about the IRS office in Cincinnati targeting groups with "Tea Party" and "patriot" in their names. Apparently, it did not stop there. The temporary head of the IRS, Daniel Werfel, said today that multiple lists of inappropriate criteria were used to review applications for tax exempt status, but he assures that that is over with -- though, an IRS document on attend by CNN showed that some of those lists were used as recently as this month.

Werfel also claims that his external review shows that the practice did not extend to other areas of the IRS.

"The National Lead": Would the Supreme Court back affirmative action? Would the court strike it down throughout the country? The justices surprised many by doing none of the above. The court tossed it back to the lower courts for more review. The case involves Abigail Fisher, who sued the University of Texas at Austin, claiming she was unfairly rejected for admission compared to less qualified minority students who got in.

The ruling chastised the lower court for not applying strict scrutiny in the case, meaning that lower court failed to make the university demonstrate that there were no other ways to achieve diversity than by considering race.

Fisher seems undaunted.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ABIGAIL FISHER, PLAINTIFF: I'm very honored. We have more work to do but I'm looking forward to the next steps in the process. Of course, we're happy with it. But, you know, they gave us everything that we asked for. I'm very confident that U.T. wouldn't be able to use race in the future.

(END VIDEO CLIP)