Return to Transcripts main page


Source: Clintons "Livid" With Weiner; Coming Soon: Hillary Clinton Miniseries

Aired July 29, 2013 - 16:28   ET


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

In world news, before there was Edward Snowden, there was Bradley Manning. And tomorrow at 1 p.m. Eastern, the former U.S. Army intelligence officer who showed the world the American military secrets in the largest leak of classified information in U.S. history, well, Manning will learn his fate when it's handed down in a verdict from a military judge.

Manning has spent the last three years in detention, including months in solitary confinement for leaking three-quarters of a million pages of classified documents and videos to the Web site Wikileaks. Manning could now spend the rest of his life behind bars under the charge of aiding the enemy.

So what does the man who helped Manning leak those secrets to the world think about all of this? Julian Assange joins me now live from his safe room in the Ecuadorian embassy in London. I'm also joined here in studio by his lawyer, Barry Pollack.

We're less than 24 hours of finding out Manning's fate, Julian. You are, of course, somewhat confined, staying as you are in the embassy. But you're not in jail, which is where Manning may find himself living out the rest of his life. Do you feel any sense of responsibility, any sense of guilt? What are your feelings on the eve of this verdict?

JULIAN ASSANGE, FOUNDER, WIKILEAKS: Well, look, as the publisher involved in this case, there's no doubt that our publishing activities are connected in some way to Bradley Manning's fate. That's why the embarrassment that the U.S. government is working against.

But first, let's contextualize. We heard lots of spin back in 201, 2012 with people from Congress like Peter King placing bills for all our staff to be renditioned, declared enemy combatants before the Congress. And at that time, there were accusations that the material we had published might in some sense lead to people coming to harm. Those have all been false. There's been no accusation in this entire case that any person has come to harm as a result of any of our publications, which are alleged to be derived from Bradley Manning.

In fact, it's quite the converse. There's - Amnesty International reports that (INAUDIBLE) in Tunisia, its overthrow by the people was directly triggered by these sorts of publications. And seemingly, there's a wide range of investigations and prosecutions of people for torture, resignations of different figures in various people in the world as a result of corruption fueled by this information.

TAPPER: Julian, do you think the list of accomplishments the Arab Spring and other things you talked about, do you think that is ultimately worth potentially the rest of this young man's life?

ASSANGE: Well, it's not my place to weigh that out. Obviously that's something that Bradley Manning has to weigh up. But the alleged statements that he made, yes, he was willing to take that risk from his alleged (INAUDIBLE) because he believes apparently that the result is so important. And we call those types of people that are willing to risk -- not be a martyr but to risk being a martyr for all the rest of us, we call those people heroes. Bradley Manning is a hero --


TAPPER: Let's talk about another person that I know you think is a hero, which is NSA leaker Edward Snowden. Yesterday, the Senate intelligence committee chairwoman Dianne Feinstein suggested on CNN that Snowden may be leaking secrets to China and Russia. Let's take a listen.


SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN (D), CALIFORNIA: He went to two big cyber intruding powers, China and Russia. And left China and went to Russia. You've got to ask why did he choose those two? You've got to also ask do the Chinese have all this material? Do the Russians have it?


TAPPER: Julian, what's your response to that? Why did he go to China and Russia and do the Chinese and Russians have any of this material?

ASSANGE: Well, look, this person I'm not sure who it, was but some congressman like Peter T. King, they're playing a particular sector. They farm out fear to make it look like they're doing good work for the people who give them donations. And you can see that in the recent bill (ph) before Congress, that the vote is to not investigate, not to put controls on the interception of Americans' e-mails. It came from people who are predominantly funded by the military contractor industry in the United States.

Mr. Snowden did not try to go to Russia. Mr. Snowden tried to go to South America. And the State Department, in the most idiotic diplomatic act of the age, cancelled his passport en route. So he was left stranded in Russia. We have exercised as much ability as we can to protect Mr. Snowden from any state, the United States, Russia and China from exploiting him. But the U.S. State Department has worked counter to that purpose, marooning him effectively in Russia.

TAPPER: Julian, I want to bring in Barry right now. Barry, how certain are you that the United States would try to extradite Assange if he was forced to return to Sweden, where there are some questions about his behavior in the past?

BARRY POLLACK, ATTORNEY FOR JULIAN ASSANGE: Well, I'm certain that Julian is at tremendous legal risk here in the United States. Ecuador found that. That's why they gave him asylum. He's invited the Swedish investigators to talk to him in London; they refuse to do that. They're only willing to talk to him in Sweden. One has to wonder why they're trying to draw him out of the embassy.

TAPPER: Do you think if he left the embassy that he would be immediately be snatched and whisked off to the U.S.?

POLLACK: I think there's a tremendous risk that he would be taking if he left the embassy. If you look at the Bradley Manning prosecution, he had already pled guilty to leaking classified information. That wasn't good enough for the U.S. government. They want to treat him as a traitor, they want to say he's the enemy because he gave somebody truthful information to publish, and anybody can read that information. If you're at risk for life imprisonment as the person who leaks the information, think what the government thinks of you as the person who publishes the information.

TAPPER: Julian, before I let you go, do you have any predications? What do you think the judge is going to decide tomorrow?

ASSANGE: Look, there's a really serious issue here, which is the aiding the enemy charge. Now, the aiding enemy charge is a charge -- it's a military-based charge but it applies to all of us. It's one of the few cases where the U.S. military government can prosecute anyone under it. The precedent will be set where if you give information to a publisher, to a journalist, and they publish, then anyone in the world can read it. And the U.S. military is saying that means the enemy can be aided because al Qaeda, for example, could read that information.

So, this is a really serious attack. It's the most serious attack the administration is pursuing in its war against investigative journalism. It will be the end essentially of national security in (ph) journalism in the United States.

TAPPER: All right. Julian Asange and Barry Pollack, thanks so much. We hope to have you back soon.

POLLACK: Thank you, Jake.

TAPPER: Coming up, an unprecedented bust by the FBI. They just freed more than 100 teenagers from sex slavery. We've got the latest on the biggest sex traffic crackdown in U.S. history. That's coming right up.


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

In more national news, it is a shocking underworld, one that we usually associate with faraway places like Taiwan and Cambodia. But a recent FBI sting reminds us of the horrifying reality that is human trafficking here in the U.S., that it is a real and widespread problem here. The FBI says a raid in more than 70 cities led to the arrest of 150 pimps and the rescue of more than 100 sexually exploited teenagers, some as young as 13 years old. Joining me now live is Ronald Hosko, assistant director of the FBI's criminal investigative division. Agent Hoscow, how was your agency able to track these people down?

RONALD HOSKO, ASSISTANT DIRECTOR, FBI CRIMINAL INVESTIGATIVE DIVISION: We do this through a collaboration with state, local law enforcement and other federal law enforcement agencies, through our collaborative efforts for the National Center For Missing and Exploited Children.

TAPPER: But how do you find them? Are they online? Are they on street corners?

HOSKO: Frequently they're online, frequently they're in social media sites, they're on street corners, in the casinos or outside of the casinos. They're in areas we refer to as tracks. And so we collaborate with our law enforcement partners and identify some of these targeted areas. We focus on them and we move closer.

TAPPER: And when most of us think about the Super Bowl or the Final Four, we see it in a sports context. But you say there's a correlation between these high-profile sports events and a spike in sexual exploitation?

HOSKO: That's right. There is money flowing in and around these events, and we use those events to focus our energy and focus our intelligence and move closer and try to identify some of these young victims.

TAPPER: I want to bring in Asia Graves. She's a survivor of human trafficking and now works as an advocate for victims. Asia, thanks so much for being here. Do you think these arrests will do anything to slow down the problem of sexual exploitation and human trafficking in this country

ASIA GRAVES, HUMAN TRAFFICKING SURVIVOR: Actually no. I don't think it's going to -- it's making a dent, but you have to go after the johns who are buying the sex because the demand side -- you mentioned the Super Bowl. More girls are going to be sold at the Super Bowl than probably tickets, probably. Which is amazing because you think about each girl that's sold --

TAPPER: Yes. That's horrifying. And then the FBI used the Web site Back Page to target many of these suspects. How big a role do you think that Web site plays in these sex crimes?

GRAVES: Well, it's a $27 million industry that Back Page is making per year. I was sold myself on Back Page myself as a minor, so I understand that Back Page -- you can pay $5 per ad. And if you think about how much they're making just on the adult section alone, $27 million, that's a lot of money --

TAPPER: It's horrifying.

GRAVES: -- just for the adult section alone.

TAPPER: I want to bring you back, because she raises an interesting point, which is where are the johns in all this? It's the demand, really. That's what's feeding this. Is there enough attention given by law enforcement to the people who their vile and disgusting needs are the ones being fed here?

HOSKO: This is a continuum of activity here. There is adult prostitution going on, as well as that involving juveniles or young victims. And so the FBI's traditional role hasn't been in adult prostitution. However, we see folks commonly where they appear to be adults and they turn out to be a juvenile. Or we see adults that were prostituted as a juvenile. So, we're trying to work closely with local law enforcement and have the greatest impact that we can.

TAPPER: Lastly, Asia, do you think this problem is going worse with the advent of places like Back Page and the Internet, or do you think is it making it easier for these pimps to be caught?

GRAVES: It's a double-edge sword because on one hand, we are able to use Back Page like - we use Back Page to look up girls and find girls that we can use to rescue as well as -- it's an industry that's going to keep making money because men are able to sit in front their computers -- and women - are able to sit in front of their computers and buy sex.

GRAVES: And I mean, there's one thing I want to mention. There are services for all the youth that are found like (INAUDIBLE) comprehensive case management for the girls that are found.

TAPPER: OK, we'll make sure to put those links when we post this online. Thank you so much for your advocacy, and we're so glad you're okay. Thank you so much for your hard work. We appreciate it.

Coming up next, he's already put his wife through the ringer, and now sext machine Anthony Weiner is infuriating the Clintons.

And speaking of the Clintons, we'll tell you who is playing Hillary in a new miniseries about the most-talked about woman in politics. Stay with us.


TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. In politics, add this to Anthony Weiner's problems. Mr. Carlos Danger is in hot water with the Clintons. The political power couple is reportedly livid with New York mayoral candidate, Mr. Weiner, after his latest sexting scandal and his naughty num deplume hit the airwaves and the headlines. A source close to the Clintons say they're upset because they care about Weiner's wife, Huma Abedin, a long time aide to the former secretary of state.

Let's bring in our political panel, CNN contributor, Paul Begala, a former adviser to President Bill Clinton, Susan Paige, Washington Bureau Chief for "USA Today," and Michael Warren from the "Weekly Standard."

Paul, the Clintons reportedly say that this is not political. They're just worried about their friend, but there is something political afoot here. You don't think this could leave a taint with Hillary Clinton at all?

PAUL BEGALA, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: I don't. I think it's preposterous. I'm sorry to be rude. The notion that three years from now might say may like Hillary Clinton on jobs and education, but I'm going to base my vote on her aide sending personal pictures. This is personal, not business.

TAPPER: Michael?

MICHAEL WARREN, REPORTER, "THE WEEKLY STANDARD": I think Huma did herself some damage when she took the mic at that press conference last week or whenever that was in terms of having a public role with Hillary Clinton. I agree with Paul that three years is a really long time in politics. Hopefully for the good of America, we've all forgotten about Anthony Weiner by then.

SUSAN PAGE, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, "USA TODAY": I disagree with both of them, by the way. It doesn't matter because people will say I won't vote for Hillary Clinton because Anthony Weiner is a creepy guy. And it's a reminder of all the drama that surrounds the Clintons. That's not helpful and it's also a reminder that Hillary Clinton who escaped this kind of scrutiny as secretary of state because she was secretary of state and Bill Clinton was on the scene.

It's a reminder that's we're going to have -- this is not going to be the last time the impeachment, the Monica Lewinsky affair comes up in a presidential campaign with Hillary Clinton. They're going to end up having to deal with it.

TAPPER: We should note that there is a brand new poll from Quinnipiac about the New York City mayor's race that has Weiner in fourth place, fourth place. You can see there, Christine Quinn 27, Bill De Blasio at 21, Thompson 20, Weiner 16 percent. He's certainly sinking in the polls and I think it is conventional wisdom and may in fact that his mayoral chances are over. Do you think?

PAGE: I think that's right. I think he doesn't make it into the runoff. The question is which two of the other three main candidates make it into the runoff. You know, I think Bill Thompson is somebody to watch. He's a narrow third in this new Quinnipiac poll. He came close against Michael Bloomberg in the last mayoral election when nobody gave him a shot. I think he's somebody to watch.

TAPPER: It seems to me, Paul, you're certainly an expert on this, I'm not, but it seems to me like Weiner could have handled this in a way -- like it wasn't a foregone conclusion that it wasn't going to work and we should say who knows what's going to happen the next month. But it did seem like the voters in New York were at least ready to give him a second chance and then he blew it. If he had called you into his office three months ago and said, Paul, I want to come back, what would you have told him that he didn't do?

BEGALA: Not run.

TAPPER: Not run at all?

BEGALA: Because of this episode or third or whatever.

TAPPER: So you don't think he could have gotten that out in the "New York Times" piece?

BEGALA: Maybe think that having then said this is behind me, having given interviews to the "New York Times" and "People" magazine, seeming to tell his potential wasn't, he's going to lose because of that. People are forgiving. They'll give a second chance, but third, fourth, fifth chances, I think it was an unwise decision of him getting in the race.

TAPPER: Michael, we've already seen the "Stop Hillary PAC" dredging up ads from Hillary Clinton. Let's play a little clip from there if we have it.


HILLARY CLINTON: I, Hillary Clinton, do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the office of president of the United States.


TAPPER: There's certainly no shortage of things to bring up from the Clinton years. You don't think that this Weiner scandal and Huma will feed into this at all.

WARREN: Again, three years, long time, who knows what else could come from this Weiner scandal. If somehow huma is more involved than just stand big her husband, if she knowingly hid parts of this and that somehow reflects on her relationship with Hillary Clinton maybe. It's just too hard to say. I just don't see how voters across the country in places like Iowa, New Hampshire and Florida are going to make this connection to this New York race.

TAPPER: I want to move on to the infighting going on in the Republican Party right now. Chris Christie took a swing at Senator Rand Paul. We played a little of that in our Ted Cruz interview and yesterday, Rand Paul swung back.


SENATOR RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY: The people who want to criticize me and call names, they're precisely the same people who are unwilling to cut the spending and they're give me, give me, give me all my Sandy money now. Those are the people who are bankrupting the government and not letting enough money be left over for national defense.


TAPPER: Just to repeat what he said, the people who want to criticize me and call me names are the same people who wanted to cut the spending, give me, give me, give me money for Hurricane Sandy. That is very directly aimed at Chris Christie -- Paul.

BEGALA: Why is it? And if his attack is that Chris Christie fought too hard to help victims who did nothing wrong and we're wiped out in the storm. I think that's the attack Chris Christie wants. This is not my party but this is going to be a defining debate in the Republican Party. Do they want to go this very, very libertarian view and get rid of social security and everything else or do they want a slightly more moderate take?

TAPPER: Quick last thoughts, Michael?

WARREN: It's interesting that Rand Paul brought that up because I don't think Chris Christie mentioned Sandy at all. So it's interesting to see --

TAPPER: He talked about 9/11.

WARREN: He talked about 9/11 but not Sandy. It's interesting to see that Rand Paul is sort of looking at the field and saying, all right, this is what I have to do to win.

TAPPER: Susan Page, Paul Begala and Michael Warren, I got to cut it off right there. Thank you so much. Coming up in the "Pop Culture," we can stop the speculation. The answer to a burning Hillary Clinton question is finally revealed.


TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. Now it's time for the pop culture lead. There's been plenty of speculation and unconfirmed rumors but now final, finally we have the answer to that Hillary Clinton question that's been gnawing away at all of us. That's right, the rumors are true, Clinton is definitely going to be portrayed in an upcoming miniseries by Oscar-nominated actress Diane Lane.

Wait, did you think I was talking about something else? My bad, the miniseries will run on NBC, but the air date has yet to be released. We do know is that depending on how Clinton is portrayed. It could turn out to be a four-part commercial for her 2016 presidential campaign.


TAPPER (voice-over): Clinton, a name in the national spotlight since as long as any 25-year-old can remember. His campaign, his campaign, his scandal, her campaign, her cabinet appointment and, well, you get the idea. And now as the glare of 2016 lays in wait for Hillary Clinton's possible presidential journey, Hollywood is seeking to capitalize on it all.

NBC announced over the weekend it will produce a four-hour miniseries based on the former first lady and the role of Rodham will go to Diane Lane. Her most recent role was as Superman's earth mom in "Man of Steel" this summer. Perhaps more relevant, she played a secret service agent looking into a murder at the White House in the 1997 Wesley Snipes thriller "Murder At 1600."

This latest project will return Lane to that setting with a different kind of scandal at foot, the one involving the president and Monica Lewinsky. NBC says the miniseries will begin at that period in time and proceed through today.

BRIAN STEINBERG, SENIOR TV EDITOR, "VARIETY" MAGAZINE: She's a compelling figure, she's polarizing sometimes and she has been in the public eye for years making controversial decisions.

TAPPER: Lane is far from the first to portray HRC. Emma Thompson played a Hillary like character in the film version of "Primary Colors," a fictionalized story based on the Clintons.

"Saturday Night Live" had Amy Poehler face her character head on in 2008. And more recently, Sigourney Weaver, stepped into her pant suit to play a strikingly familiar character in the 2012 series "Political Animals." Weaver's character was divorced and of course the real Clintons remain together and at least one of them has given thought to who could best portray them in the movies.

Bill Clinton sat down with Hollywood producer, Harvey Weinstein on CNN last year.

HARVEY WEINSTEIN: If I were to make a movie about your life, who would you want to play you, Mr. President?

BILL CLINTON: Gosh, I don't know. I don't know. I would trust your judgment more than mine on that.

WEINSTEIN: Brad Pitt, George Clooney.

CLINTON: Too good looking, but you could put bulbous things on his nose, do make-up on him.

WEINSTEIN: And Hillary, who would you have play Hillary in this movie?

CLINTON: Meryl Streep.

STEINBERG: It's very challenging project for any actor or actress to play this large of a personality who has had a big hand in running the country and the world.

TAPPER: There are, of course, any number of potential problems in producing a film about a character who in real life maybe trying to cast herself as commander in chief. Conservatives are suspicious that this NBC miniseries will be a puff piece, one that serves as an infomercial for the Clinton candidacy. NBC insists it will be, quote, "even handed" in terms of criticism and praise when it comes to dealing with Clinton and her work.


TAPPER: And we should also note that CNN Films is planning a documentary project on Hillary Clinton by Academy award-winning producer and director, Charles Ferguson. Since it's a documentary, the role of Hillary Clinton will be played by Hillary Clinton.

Make sure to follow me on Twitter @jaketapper and also @theleadcnn and check out our show page for video, blogs and extras. That's it for THE LEAD today. I'm Jake Tapper. I right now turn you over to the able hands of Mr. Wolf Blitzer in "THE SITUATION ROOM" -- Mr. Blitzer.