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Interview With Father of Edward Snowden; Bradley Manning Verdict; Guns in School; Virginia Governor's Gift-Gate

Aired July 30, 2013 - 16:00   ET


JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: Bradley Manning gets the book thrown at him, except for perhaps the most serious chapter. I'm Jake Tapper. And this is THE LEAD.

The national lead, Private Manning found not guilty of aiding the enemy, but convicted of nearly everything else for the largest leak in U.S. history. Is this a preview of things to come for that other famous leak source, Edward Snowden? We will ask our first guest about it, none other than Ed Snowden's father.

In other national news, reading, writing, arithmetic and rounds. Teachers will soon be packing heat when students at one Arkansas high school return to class. Will it make them any safer?

And the money lead. Double meat, double cheese, double our wages already. Thousands of fast food workers walk off the job demanding more money. Would that spend the end of the dollar menu?

Good afternoon, everyone. I'm Jake Tapper.

We will begin with the national lead today on THE LEAD.

It was the charge that could have assured that 25-year-old Army Private Bradley Manning would spend the rest of his life behind bars, but a military judge today found Manning not guilty of aiding the enemy in the largest leak of classified intelligence in U.S. history.

Manning already pleaded guilty to 10 of the 22 total counts he faced and he was convicted for most of the rest of them today, including five counts of espionage. The former intelligence analyst showed the world what one man with a thumb drive and a head full of ideas can do, for right or for wrong.

He admitted swiping about 700,000 documents while serving in Iraq and giving them to WikiLeaks, the outfit run by Julian Assange, which threw them up online for the world to see. The prosecution claimed that Manning knew al Qaeda could use that information and they said some of the information turned up in Osama bin Laden's compound, hence the unsuccessful aiding the enemy charge.

WikiLeaks reacted to the verdict today on its Twitter account, calling it -- quote -- "dangerous national security extremism from the Obama administration and a very serious new precedent for supplying information to the pressure." Manning may not get an outright life sentence but his guilty plea and conviction on the other counts could bring more than 130 years in prison. The Army will not keep us in suspense on that. Sentencing is expected to happen tomorrow.

If Edward Snowden has learned the news about Bradley Manning, it was probably in Russian and probably on a TV in the Moscow Airport, where he's been stuck for more than a month now has he seeks asylum. Snowden of course is that other former intelligence worker who has leaked a treasure trove of U.S. intelligence secrets in this case to media outlets, such as "The Guardian" newspaper and "The Washington Post."

Snowden told "The Guardian" that he admires Manning, but he sees himself as different from Manning because he evaluated each document before disclosing it.

Right now, I want to welcome Edward Snowden's father, Lon Snowden, along with his attorney, Bruce Fein, to THE LEAD.

Thanks so much for being here. I appreciate it.

Lon, after the verdict today, Manning found not guilty of aiding the enemy, guilty of 20 other charges. Does that give you any more hope that your son could get a fair trial in the U.S.?

LON SNOWDEN, FATHER OF EDWARD SNOWDEN: No, not that he could get a fair trial in the U.S., absolutely not. And there are certainly different circumstances. People want to compare both cases, completely different.

TAPPER: How are they different?

SNOWDEN: Well, first and foremost I think my son has exercised discretion in the information that he has shared. I know you mentioned that he admires Bradley Manning. I think while he certainly admires -- he's an individual who took a stand and most Americans aren't aware of I think the initial video that Bradley Manning released.


TAPPER: That showed a U.S. helicopter killing innocent bystanders.


SNOWDEN: ... of the two Reuters reporters and shooting the two children through the windshield of the vehicle, that's correct.

BRUCE FEIN, ATTORNEY FOR LON SNOWDEN: I think what we can assess with regard to how the members of Congress and the public have responded to the disclosures of the dragnet surveillance of the NSA on every American citizen that, in the case of Mr. Snowden, he's disclosed government wrongdoing in the minds of Americans and members of Congress of the United States who may be on the verge of enacting remedial legislation. (CROSSTALK)

TAPPER: Although a minority of the member of the House of Representatives. It was almost -- defeated last week, but it did not pass.

FEIN: For a variety of procedural reasons. It may come back in a different form in September and pass.

But we certainly know the majority of the American people now have voiced grave concerns about the scope of that program. And it seems somewhat odd to be prosecuting somebody for disclosing government wrongdoing. You have a First Amendment right to petition government for redress of grievances. The other difference I think with regard to the statement about fair trial, there have been a half dozen or dozen high member -- high-profile people in Congress, including John Kerry, secretary of state, already convicting Mr. Snowden of treason.

They have stated categorically he's guilty. There hasn't even been a trial, not a peep of a presumption of innocence. The president of the United States has derided him as some kind of a hacker. If you're going to have a fair trial, you have to have an unpoisoned jury and that is not the case right now.

TAPPER: Lon, if your son is watching right now, which he may be -- CNN is an international organization -- what's your message to him?

SNOWDEN: My message to him is to stay safe, stay secure and I hope he does in fact find refuge in Russia until we are confident that he can receive a fair trial back on U.S. soil.

At this time, my message to him is that I am not confident at all. I have stated it last night. I have absolutely no faith in the attorney general of the United States, Eric Holder.


TAPPER: Hold on one second. I'm sorry.

SNOWDEN: We have attempted to work with the Justice Department and the people who are conducting this investigation. And I have -- I have lost faith in their interest in ensuring that he is given a fair trial.

I think the focus is to bring him back in and prosecute him to the fullest. The focus is not justice. It's to prosecute him.


TAPPER: Is this because of the comments of people like Secretary Kerry and others?


(CROSSTALK) FEIN: In addition to that, the attorney general had written a letter to the administrative justice of the Russian Federation. He was trying to outline all the protections that Mr. Snowden would enjoy if he returned.

TAPPER: It would not seek the death penalty. He would not be tortured.

FEIN: And he would not be tortured, yes. And it sort of speaks volumes that a Justice Department official has to promise that he won't commit torture, because otherwise there's suspicion that they'd get the Bradley Manning treatment.

But, moreover, if you read the letter, it's deficient in several very critical respects. It doesn't argue that Mr. Snowden would enjoy the right to confront adverse witnesses again him, maybe trying to get information that's secret. It doesn't say that he would enjoy the right to call favorable witnesses in his defense.

It doesn't promise a venue which hasn't been poisoned because it's the venue where NSA employees work or contractors work. If it was attempting to try and provide a comfort level that there would be a fair trial, it was deficient. And, lastly, it didn't even say that he would enjoy a presumption of innocence.

TAPPER: Lon, surely you understand the basic idea that your son broke the law and is going to be punished one way or another in the eyes of the United States justice system. You don't dispute that.


SNOWDEN: No, I do...


FEIN: I need to interject here.


FEIN: You said that he broke the law. That's not at all clear.

TAPPER: You disagree with that.

FEIN: It could be that there was constitutionally protected speech that was there, but that's why we have trials. That's why there's a presumption of innocence.

And if there's a message I think that we need to send to Mr. Edward Snowden, the American people, what he hoped to accomplish had been achieved. He has sparked the conversation that Mr. Obama said was urgent that is now occurring in the Congress of the United States and on this program today. If it wasn't for his courage, there would be no second-guessing of these dragnet surveillance programs.


TAPPER: I do want to get you're view. As a father, though, you don't accept the proposition that he did anything illegal?

SNOWDEN: At this point, what I would like to see is the justice system applied fairly.

Let's go back 50 years, almost 50 years to the day when Martin Luther King gave his "I Have a Dream" speech and he reminded us that the U.S. Constitution is a promissory note to the American people and he reminded people correctly the American people that the government at that time was defaulting on that promise.

And the reason being is we had laws, Jim Crow laws that were recognized as they're legal, it's legal, but you know what, they were unconstitutional? And so did my son face a moral hazard in which he had to make a choice between doing something that was unconstitutional, spying on the American people, unethical? You know, I believe he's seen much more than what we're aware of.

And did he face the moral hazard of having to continue to do that day in, day out with a big paycheck and knowing that our government was violating the constitutional rights of over 300 million Americans?

TAPPER: Let me just give you a last word here because we're going to have to take a break.

But that is, President Obama presumably watches CNN as well. What would you say to him if he's watching?

SNOWDEN: Stay true to your oath. Support and defend the Constitution of the United States to the best of your ability. That is the top line of your job description. You have said that you can't have 100 percent privacy and 100 percent security without 100 percent -- without some inconvenience.

You know, what I would say as an American citizen is I expect to you respect my constitutional rights 24 hours a day, seven days a week. That's your job as the president of the United States.

TAPPER: All right, Edward Snowden's father, Lon Snowden, thank you for being here.

Bruce Fein, we welcome you to come back again to talk more about these important issues.

SNOWDEN: Thank you.

TAPPER: We appreciate it.

The world lead coming up. Sure, numerous administrations going back decades have failed and tried to broker a Mideast peace deal, but Secretary of State John Kerry is giving it a shot anyway with a nine- month deadline. Kerry announced his ambitious plan flanked by Israeli and Palestinian negotiators at the State Department.

Some might say that he's already crossed one major hurdle by getting both sides to come to the table, except, of course, there's more than two sides. The Palestinians have two factions, the Palestinian Authority on the West Bank and Hamas in Gaza. Hamas is not part of this negotiation, though it surely is part of the problem.

This latest round of peace talks hope to tackle all the big issues, such as those Jewish settlements on Palestinian territories, the status of Palestinian refugees and their descendants, and, of course, terrorism. But Secretary Kerry says it's in everybody's best interest to find common ground once and for all.


JOHN KERRY, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: I think everyone involved here believes that we cannot pass along to another generation the responsibility of ending a conflict that is in our power to resolve in our time. They should not be expected to bear that burden, and we should not leave it to them.


TAPPER: President Obama has said he will stay out of the peace talks, but he did end up meeting privately with the negotiators today at the White House.

Coming up next, will we start seeing back-to-school sale signs outside gun shops? It's an NRA dream come true at schools in one Arkansas town with teachers packing so much firepower, how can your kids not feel safe?

And in world news, what do prisoners at Gitmo have in common with middle-aged women from coast to coast? The slightly kinky pleasure that they're all into coming up next.


TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD.

We're following some developing national news out of Missouri right now. Police say an SUV rear-ended a Cadillac and sent it crashing through the front wall of a day care in Kansas City. The driver of the SUV and at least three children were hurt when the car came crashing into the Christian Academy Child Care building. The victims were taken to the hospital with serious but non-life threatening injuries. We will have more on this story as it develops.

Call it take your gun to school day for 20 teachers and faculty members in Clarksville, Arkansas. Ever since the horrific mass shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, last December, the school district has been training staff to react in live action scenarios with student actors in case a similar nightmare were to unfold in their schools.

But beginning this school year, teachers and school staff will start carrying concealed weapons through the hallways to function as their own security guards. And it's all perfectly legal under a little- known state law that allows licensed armed security guards on campus. So, will it work?

And Clarksville's superintendent David Hopkins joins me now.

Thanks for being here, sir.

So, 20 school employees carrying guns. What is their training like?

DAVID HOPKINS, SUPERINTENDENT, CLARKSVILLE SCHOOLS: Well, sir, we made sure that they had really good training for this. They had 53 hours of training through an outfit in northwest Arkansas, Nighthawk Custom Training Academy trained by Jon Hodoway. He's an expert in what he does. They're really good people and I think they've done a fine job for us.

TAPPER: There's been some pushback on this idea, at least one parent planning to pull her child out of the school system in reaction to this decision.

We also spoke today with Brenda Robinson. She's the president of the Arkansas Education Association. She tells us this, quote, "Guns have no place in cools unless they hire trained security guards or police officers. This training they're receiving does not equate with the same training as a paid professional," unquote.

How can you, sir, reassure parents the risk won't be greater now that you're basically putting 20 guns into the school, into the hands of teachers?

HOPKINS: Right. Well, unfortunately, the lady you talked to doesn't understand the source or understand the training that they've gone through because, in fact, it is police training they've gone through. It was police officers, active duty police officers, in fact, SWAT trainers that are trainers for SWAT teams that gave classes to our teachers through the Custom Training Academy.

TAPPER: But I think the point she's making is that 50-some-odd hours of police training does not equal the experience of being a police officer. As you know, many police officers, very training (ph), go their entire careers without drawing their guns ever. There are a lot of statistics about guns, of course. Each side disputes the other.

But a recent study in the Southern Medical Journal concluded that the dangers of having a gun at home far outweighed the safety benefits. That's because of accidents, suicides, impulse of act, kids getting guns.

Where will these guns be?

HOPKINS: These guns will be concealed on the employees in the district. And again, the training that they've received is first class training. And, you know, if you hire a new police officer out of the police academy, as far as the firearms training portion that they received, we have received as much or more training than they would receive. In fact, more training. I believe the course is 40 hours here in Arkansas and our individual received 53 hours of training.

TAPPER: Who plays for the guns and what is this all going to cost?

HOPKINS: The cost is about the cost of one additional resource officer, approximately $50,000 to provide the stipends to our ERT members, that's our emergency response team. They each received an $1,100 stipend and they used that to purchase the firearm, to purchase holsters and other equipment that they would need. We outlined what they needed to purchase. We went through Walter Arms out of Fort Smith, Arkansas, and they were very good to work with us and helped us acquire the firearms that we needed and put this program together.

TAPPER: Lastly, sir, very quickly, if you would -- a lot of other schools that have tried this had problems with insurance. The insurance companies refusing to allow a policy with teachers armed in the school. How are you dealing with the insurance issue?

HOPKINS: Right now, we're not having a problem with the insurance issue. I believe a lot of that is probably politics unfortunately. But, currently, we're doing fine with our insurance company.

TAPPER: All right, Clarksville, Arkansas, superintendent David Hopkins, thank you so much. We certainly hope this is a safe operation.

HOPKINS: Thank you.

TAPPER: Coming up, he had to give back the Rolex, along with all the other presence showered upon Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell by a key campaign donor. So, now, we're good?

Plus, what's a fair wage to flip burgers? A battle is brewing in the fast food industry. How much are you willing to pay for your Big Mac?

Stay with us.


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

Now, time for our politics lead. Here's some good news for Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell, if he still wants to run for president in 2016. There's a good chance many Americans have already heard his name -- name recognition. That's good.

The bad news, of course, is we'll know him as the guy who got hundreds of thousands of dollars in loans and gifts from a campaign donor, gifts which are now at the center of a federal investigation. Maybe there is such a thing as bad publicity. McDonnell says he won't resign over the unreported gifts but he will give them back, including the Rolex and catering cost for his daughter's wedding.

THE LEAD's Erin McPike is here with more.

Erin, clearly, this is McDonnell's attempt to move past the scandal. But the investigation is going to continue, right?

ERIN MCPIKE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The investigation is ongoing, Jake.

But today, Governor McDonnell didn't want to talk about that. What he did try to do is express contrition about all that has happened and he did also try to lay out all his accomplishments he's done for the state over the last four year. But it's clear that McDonnell is very much under fire because he got testy today in a series of interviews.


REPORTER: Have you at all thought about resigning? I mean, has it crossed your mind at all?

GOV. BOB MCDONNELL (R), VIRGINIA: Not at all. No, I intend to work this next 160 days to do everything possible to be able to finish out a very good term.

MCPIKE (voice-over): But embattled Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell is still apologizing. The latest revelation, "The Washington Post" reported this weekend his wife, Maureen, used about $10,000 in PAC money to buy items from Nordstrom's, Saks Fifth Avenue and Macy's.

Already, McDonnell admitted friend and donor Johnny Williams, the wealthy CEO of dietary supplement company Star Scientific, showered the governor's family with loans for his side business, $15,000 of clothes for the commonwealth's first lady, 15,000 bucks more for catering the first daughter's wedding, and even a $6,500 Rolex for the man in the governor's mansion.

Williams may be a personal friend but Mrs. McDonnell promoted one of Star Scientific's products at a conference in Florida, and the governor's political organization hosted a lunch at the governor's mansion also to push the supplement.

REPORTER: Governor, are there any more gifts or loans that have yet to come out, or is this the end of it?

O'DONNELL: Listen, I can only say that I have disclosed under the law what I believe the law requires me to disclose.

MCPIKE: The law requires him to reveal just the gifts given to him but not the ones to all of the other members of his family. Despite that distinction and McDonnell's insistence that he's followed the letter of the law, the controversy has caused an uproar with Virginia's residence.

REPORTER: But are you concerned it's been enough of a distraction that it could hinder your ability to do your job effectively?

MCDONNELL: Yes, it has been -- that's one of the reasons I thought an apology was proper. It has been a distraction to the citizens of Virginia because of the press attention. It has been somewhat of a distraction to me personally.

MCPIKE: The governor has said he will repay all of the loans made to him personally. And, today, he went a step further.

MCDONNELL: I announced today that we are making arrangements through my counsel that tangible gifts that I have are also going to be returned. MCPIKE: But for an enterprising business-friendly Republican who once showed so much promise, it hasn't been a fond farewell tour in this critical swing state. Instead, there's a lasting stain.

REPORTER: Nationally, people talked but as a presidential candidate. Are you disappointed that this has maybe changed --

MCDONNELL: They maybe have talked about it. I haven't expressed much interest in that. I'm ready to be -- I'm ready to be a normal guy and a normal dad.


MCPIKE: One thing I found striking about this is he kept saying over and over the reason he's repaying these loans and giving back the gifts is simply because Virginia's residents have gotten upset about this.

TAPPER: And not because he's done anything technically or legally wrong because Virginia's laws don't require him to report it.

MCPIKE: Exactly.

TAPPER: Very, very unusual story.

Erin McPike, thank you so much.

Let's check with our political panel in the green room.

Ryan Lizza, here's a hypothetical question for you, Ryan Lizza. Let's say the White House calls you and leaves you a message, how long would it take you to call them back? An hour, two hours, I think three days is kind of money.

RYAN LIZZA, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: You know, don't the kids -- don't they text nowadays, Jake?


LIZZA: You know, in all seriousness, I think this negotiation that started today, it will be real when it's all done in private, right? It's not when they're publicly calling one another. I think that's the thing to look for, when they stop making the public statement and get down to business in private.

TAPPER: Exactly, without talking to us. A White House official told me it took Boehner's office at least one night, a half a day to get back to them. We'll talk more about that with President Obama's new offer of a grand bargain with the politics lead. That's coming up.