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THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER

What It Means to be a Republican; Jill Kelley Sues Government for Allegedly Sliming Her; Reviews Lukewarm for "Jobs"; "Duck Dynasty" Star Escorted From Hotel; Romanian Royal Busted for Cockfighting

Aired August 16, 2013 - 16:30   ET

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


JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: The politics lead now here on THE LEAD: who am I? What am I? What's it all mean? It's an obvious stretch to call the Republican rebranding theme an existential crisis unless you ask the pundits.

Politico.com recently ran with the headline, "Eve of Destruction," forecasting doom over the party's internal divisions. And yesterday, at the Republican National Committee gathering in Boston, Governor Chris Christie demanded an end to the navel gazing.

But today Chairman Reince Priebus fired back.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REINCE PRIEBUS, CHAIRMAN, RNC: There are also people who want to turn the healthy conversations we're having in our party into headlines. They want to make a family discussion look like division. We should be roiling with new ideas, new leaders and, yes, some internal debates.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: So who is right, who is wrong and what does it all mean for the future of the Republican Party? Let's ask editor-in-chief of cnsnews.com and former campaign manager for Pat Buchanan Terry Jeffrey; co-host of CNN's "CROSSFIRE," Stephanie Cutter; and Washington correspondent for "The New Yorker," Ryan Lizza.

Terry, is division -- the divisions we're seeing in Boston, et cetera, is it dangerous for the Republican Party?

TERRY JEFFREY, FORMER CAMPAIGN MANAGER FOR PAT BUCHANAN: Well, it would be dangerous if they accepted the notions that some political establishment Republicans gave to Politico today. The bottom line is there are some people who would like to see the Republican Party move left, particularly on issues like ObamaCare, immigration, even things like same-sex marriage.

If the Republican Party would do that, they would explode their base and really dissipate their reason for being. It would be suicidal.

TAPPER: Ryan? RYAN LIZZA, "THE NEW YORKER: Well, actually, I'd be interested in what Terry thinks of this analysis, but the debate seems to be basically between the congressional wing of the party, which is, look, Congress is gerrymandered, it's very easy for Republicans to win when they stick to, frankly, the Terry view of conservatism, right?

They're more scared about challenges from the Right than a Democratic competitor. So the split is between those folks and folks who want to run for president and need a national coalition and need a lot more swing voters. And I think the congressionalization of the Republican Party, just like the congressionalization of the Democratic Party 20 years ago, pulls apart -- is a constant force pulling the party to the Right. To me that's sort of the debate here.

TAPPER: Stephanie, how are Democrats looking at this fight, discussion, family squabble, whatever it is, whatever it properly should be called, how are Democrats looking at it?

STEPHANIE CUTTER, CNN HOST: Well, we certainly don't mind that it's happening. But there's one other element to this that I find interesting, that it's not that the party is moving left or right, it's that somebody's -- they're trying to say that, yes, we can stick to our principles, but let's not self-destruct as we try to convince the American people that we have these principles and we have these good ideas, like the government shutdown.

JEFFREY: (Inaudible) she says if they shut down the government. What they're talking about doing is having the Republican-controlled House of Representatives pass funding for the government that has language in it that prohibits the implementation of ObamaCare next year.

If Harry Reid and the Senate and President Obama refused to enact that legislation, it's not the Republicans who are shutting down the government, it's the president who is saying if you don't give me the money to implement ObamaCare, even though I'm exempting big businesses from the mandate, I am going to shut down the government by not signing the funding bill.

TAPPER: But it's not as though Republicans want big businesses to be included. That's not the issue. They just oppose ObamaCare.

CUTTER: And then they know that this will lead to a government shutdown and they're OK with that. And I think that at the end of the day, they're principled, they're against ObamaCare. They have two problems. They want to defund ObamaCare by shutting down the government and, number two, they don't have a policy of their own, which is something that my co-host, Newt Gingrich, said this --

(CROSSTALK)

CUTTER: -- they need a health care policy of their own.

JEFFREY: But if they, in fact, pass that legislation prohibiting funding for ObamaCare next year, what they would force is a massive national debate over ObamaCare. If the Republicans had excellent national leaders, they would want that fight, they'd want the debate because they knew they would win it against President Obama and they'd actually persuade people to join them rather than drive people away.

TAPPER: Do Republicans have an obligation, Terry, to pass a bill that would replace it?

JEFFREY: No. What I think the Republicans have an obligation to do is return freedom to the people. What ObamaCare ultimately is that it's taking freedom away from individuals and giving it to the government.

TAPPER: Ryan.

LIZZA: (Inaudible) I was going to ask you, isn't -- look, Reince Priebus is in a very difficult position here. As the chairman of the party, he came out after the election and said, look here's where we went wrong in 2012 -- we, the Republicans.

Now he has got to deal with the fallout from starting that debate.

But isn't the onus on conservatives who disagree with Reince and disagree with the way he's going to win new voters?

Isn't the onus on you guys to say, Reince, you're wrong: we can actually win voters X, Y and Z?

What's the alternative to the previous views --

JEFFREY: You know, I think the way that Priebus is actually going out, someone has to go out, run for president and get elected. The Republicans in the last two election cycles have nominated people who masquerades as conservatives in the primary, John McCain and Mitt Romney, and then moved left in the general and lost.

I think the greatest model of Republican politics in the last century is Ronald Reagan, got elected twice, the second time in a landslide. By the way, he proved the swing vote in America -- at least then and I think it still is -- is culturally conservative.

So people argue move left in culture are wrong (inaudible).

TAPPER: I just also want to note -- and I do want to get to you weigh in, Terry, is that the RNC unanimously today approved a resolution barring CNN and NBC from hosting the Republican primary debates because NBC's doing a mini-series about Hillary Clinton; CNN is doing a documentary about Hillary Clinton.

Your view on that?

JEFFREY: (Inaudible) I know I'm sitting here in a studio at CNN -- and thanks for having me on your show --

TAPPER: I didn't ask you the question thinking that you disagreed with it.

Why is it important?

(LAUGHTER)

JEFFREY: Here's the thing: CNN, I don't think, did a documentary about George Herbert Walker Bush, who's a World War II hero like that --

TAPPER: They did one about Nixon a couple weeks ago. JEFFREY: (Inaudible) Bob Dole, right, and Richard Nixon is not up for election, as you know.

So I don't blame the Republicans for not wanting to do a debate on CNN. Of course, I will say, form a guy who has watched a lot of these debates, I believe that if you had Mark Levin and Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh asking those Republican candidates questions, they would actually ask tougher questions from a perspective that would be of interest to Republican primary voters. They would be more likely to do that than an establishment news (inaudible).

TAPPER: I'm biased. But I think that CNN and I think that I would love to host a debate. So but thank you very much. We'll let you have the last word, and we'll have you all back again soon, Stephanie Cutter, Terry Jeffrey and Ryan Lizza.

Coming up next, she says her life was turned upside down and her reputation was ruined after her name was leaked by the government. What Jill Kelley wants now from the U.S. government.

Plus forget the puffy gowns and tiaras. Try cockfighting. That's how apparently one princess gets down. Stay with us.

(MUSIC PLAYING)

TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper. Now it's time for the "Buried Lead," stories that we think should be getting more play.

In the debate between security and liberty, the argument for strong government surveillance powers often boils down to two words : "trust us." We're the U.S. Government, trust us. We have your interests at heart, trust us. We're here to keep you safe, trust us.

For many Americans that is often good enough. But consider Jill Kelley. You may remember her from the David Petraeus-Paula Broadwell sex scandal, the scandal that ended the career of CIA Director Petraeus as well as a general who was supposed to become NATO's supreme allied commander. The scandal all started last summer when Kelley went to the FBI to report a case of cyber stalking.

Then according to a new lawsuit she and her husband are bringing against the Obama administration, seeking an apology and compensation, Kelley was then slimed by law enforcement, military and government officials with her privacy violated and her reputation allegedly destroyed, even though she says she was the victim of the cyber stalking.

Trust us.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER (voice-over): In the other woman, seductress, in the line of booty, like phone sex.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: General Allen now has to experience nearly 20,000 pages of e-mails with the comely Ms. Kelly.

TAPPER (voice-over): In her new lawsuit against top government agencies under penalty of perjury, Jill Kelley swears that descriptions like these are inaccurate and defamatory and that she, quote, "has not had an affair with anyone."

So how did it happen that this woman saw her reputation allegedly destroyed by anonymous government officials?

ALAN CHARLES RAUL, KELLEYS' ATTORNEY: Being in the position that Ms. Kelly and her husband are in today is not something they asked for. They came forward to do the right thing, and everything that was unleashed from that point forward was a result of the government's lack of restraint and in protecting their privacy and dignity of the witnesses and victims here.

TAPPER (voice-over): The Kelleys' attorney, Alan Charles Raul, explains that the mess started in May 2012 when a four-star general, John Allen, began receiving e-mails from kelleypatrol@gmail.com. According to the Kelleys' lawsuit against the government, the e-mail disparaged Jill and referred specifically to her and the general's individual, private schedules.

The suit also claims e-mails sent by General Petraeus' mistress, Paula Broadwell, were then sent to the Kelleys under the alias Tampa Angel. The messages made reference to private information, leading the couple to believe they were being followed. The Kelleys claim the e-mails also threatened all concerned with, quote, "embarrassment for all, including spouses, such as info in national headlines."

So Jill Kelley reached out to a friend in the FBI and an investigation into cyber stalking was launched. But then as the Kelleys see it, the investigation took an odd turn. The Kelleys assert that Jill gave FBI investigators permission to view just one bothersome e-mail sent to the couple's account.

But the FBI kept pressing for access to others and, quote, "searched, obtained and reviewed personal, irrelevant, private emails belonging to the Kelleys."

RAUL: There's a case study if next year the Department of Justice does training on victim and witness assistance and protection, that really the poster child case of how not to do it is how Ms. Kelley and Dr. Kelley were treated in this instance.

TAPPER (voice-over): According to the complaint, in July 2012, FBI agents appeared at her home in Tampa, Florida, and essentially ordered her to get into an SUV or else they would, quote, "do something in front of her children that may terrify them."

The agents told her she didn't have time to call her lawyer and, she says, they made insinuations and accusations regarding her relationship with CIA Director Petraeus and General Allen.

RAUL: She was not treated with the respect that someone who comes forward as a victim of cyber stalking, someone who really believed that her physical security and that of her family was in jeopardy.

TAPPER (voice-over): In November, Petraeus abruptly resigned and his affair with Broadwell became known internationally. Within days, the Kelleys say the few investigators who knew her name, quote, "willfully and maliciously leaked it to the media," and into the, quote, "maw of public scrutiny."

RAUL: So they essentially make her collateral damage. The government didn't do the right thing about the Kelleys. It adopted a "blame the victim" approach, instead of treating them as the victims and as the witnesses who came forward with evidence of a potential crime.

TAPPER (voice-over): At issue were e-mails between Kelley and General Allen. They both denied anything untoward, but descriptions of the e-mails from anonymous officials called them, quote, "the equivalent of phone sex over e-mail." Both of them flatly denied it, as he told ABC News.

Gen. ALLEN: Any time you're investigated and you have remember back across three years, I didn't have any concerns about what was in the content of the e-mails.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (Inaudible) emails with General Allen?

TAPPER (voice-over): But the media came calling. Aggressive reporters hounded the couple and according to their complaint, their former lives became unrecoverable. Jill Kelley was active with the local military community, an honorary consul to South Korea and was deeply interested in speaking with Afghan leaders, but she says she saw her reputation indelibly damaged by the government.

RAUL: The senior policymakers ought to ask themselves ought we to defend this conduct? Is this conduct defensible? Which is to say the cavalier disclosure and disparaging comments and leaks of Ms. Kelley's name and the treatment of her?

TAPPER (voice-over): Allen's nomination to head up NATO was put on hold and then it was essentially scrubbed. He retired.

But for the Kelleys, the fallout has continued.

RAUL: A lawsuit, even a successful lawsuit, can only go so far in restoring the victims to where they were before this all happened. This has had an impact on them in every way, an emotional toll, a toll on their lives, their families, their reputations, their economic livelihood. (END VIDEOTAPE)

TAPPER: We should note that Petraeus, Broadwell, the Pentagon, the FBI and the Obama administration all denied to comment for this report. The Justice Department dropped the cyber stalking investigation into Paula Broadwell with no explanation, though the probe into how she obtained allegedly classified material is ongoing.

The Obama administration has until September 4th to respond to this lawsuit. I should also note that I peripherally knew Scott Kelley in college, though have I not communicated with him in any way in 25 years.

Coming up next on THE LEAD, was casting the guy from "Dude, Where's My Car?" really the right pick to play perhaps the most forward thinking tech guru in modern history? The reviews are in.

And later, don't judge a book by its cover or a burly woodsman by his beard, "Duck Dynasty" just got dissed. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper. Now it's time for the pop culture lead.

Looks aren't everything. Sure Ashton Kutcher does indeed bear a passable resemblance to Steve Jobs. But beyond the beard and bad glasses, does the new biopic on the Apple founder miss the mark?

Erin McPike is here with that story.

Erin?

ERIN MCPIKE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's getting some mixed reviews. And my head was actually spinning reading some of them today, because they're all over the map on what's right and what isn't.

The movie takes us back to when Apple was just a concept and long before we had our very own iPods and iPhones. Critics are saying it may help you understand the history behind how you got your personal computer but it may not help you understand Steve Jobs.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ASHTON KUTCHER, ACTOR: The sexiest thing in the entire world is being really smart.

MCPIKE (voice-over): Ashton Kutcher is a matinee idol but as he told the crowd at the Teen Choice Awards, he learned something valuable from tech superstar Steve jobs, who he plays in the new biopic.

KUTCHER: And you can build your own thing. You can build your own life that other people can live in. So build a life. Don't live one, build one. MCPIKE (voice-over): Kutcher threw himself into the role of the Apple founder, even dieting on fruit only. That landed Kutcher in the hospital.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "JOBS")

KUTCHER, "STEVE JOBS": It's mine and they're taking it away from me?

MCPIKE (voice-over): It's not the only tough part that comes with playing a public figure, especially one who died as recently as Steve Jobs.

JOSHUA MICHAEL STERN, DIRECTOR, "JOBS": It's a real warts and all story. And in fact, Steve comes off pretty harsh. Very honest, sort of brutal, exacting sometimes in the way he deals with business.

MCPIKE (voice-over): Director Joshua Michael Stern wanted to focus on the early days of Apple.

STERN: It really started with a sort of bunch of geeky guys fiddling with computer boards and old black and white TVs. And that's what was fascinating about the whole story for me.

MCPIKE (voice-over): Jobs and his business partner, Steve Wozniak, built Apple from the garage up.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Nobody wants to buy a computer. Nobody!

MCPIKE (voice-over): Wozniak has called the movie inaccurate.

PIERS MORGAN, CNN HOST: This scene apparently has you doubting that anyone's ever going to want to buy a computer.

Was that true?

STEVE WOZNIAK, COFOUNDER, APPLE: No. It was absolutely the opposite. It was more like myself convincing Steve Jobs that these great social revolutions were going to be made possible by this device. He didn't even suggest we start a computer company back then.

MCPIKE (voice-over): Critics say the film delivers a sanitized version of a man who was widely recognized as a genius but one with a prickly persona.

HAYLEY TSUKAYAMA, "THE WASHINGTON POST": If you're going to watch a biography, you want to learn a little bit more about what makes someone tick and about what drives their personality. And I think in a lot of ways by taking on so much, this movie failed to really accomplish that.

MCPIKE (voice-over): Jobs died in 2011 of cancer. His legacy is still being shaped.

TSUKAYAMA: If you had made a movie about JFK's life a year or two after his assassination, that would paint a very different picture of JFK at that time than it would if we made it now.

And so I think this movie will capture sort of the affection for Steve Jobs and the admiration for Steve Jobs that a lot of people have, but in terms of capturing sort of an accurate portrayal of where he fits in history or of who he really was, it may not be as good at that.

MCPIKE (voice-over): Movie-goers may get another shot at a Jobs movie soon. There's a competing biopic in the works by Aaron Sorkin. It's based on Walter Isaacson's authorized biography.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MCPIKE: And, Jake, the movie opens tonight. I think I'm going to see it eventually. Maybe it will psych me up to learn how to use this iPhone 5 that I still obviously don't know how to use.

TAPPER: You're still struggling with that.

All right, Erin McPike, thank you so much.

In other pop news, I've heard of no shirt, no shoes, no service, but no beard? Apparently at one New York hotel, yes. "Duck Dynasty" star Chase Robertson was in town this week promoting the start of the fourth season when he got escorted out his hotel for what he called facial profiling.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

Yes, I asked where the bathroom was, and he said right this way, sir. He was very nice.

(LAUGHTER)

He walked outside, he pointed down the road and said good luck. (Inaudible).

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: "Duck Dynasty" fans, do not flood the streets of New York with your anger. The Robertson clan said the man was "very nice," and it was all just a big misunderstanding.

Coming up, somewhere agents Scully and Mulder are saying, "I told you so." A declassified NSA document now acknowledges the existence of Area 51. We'll tell you exactly where to find it. Stay with us.

(MUSIC PLAYING)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. More buried news now. We know mermaids aren't real but the U.S. government blew that fantasy out of the water. But the Area 51 rumor has legs. CIA released documents and maps confirming the existence of the famous patch of Nevada, but there's nothing about alien spaceships. The documents say Area 51 was just a testing site for aerial spy programs. But before you ride your unicorns to the nearest grassy knoll and drown your sorrows with Sasquatch and a bottle of scotch, keep this in mind: the archivist who convinced the CIA to release the information says Uncle Sam might spill more secrets in the future.

An Romanian princess and her American husband are charged with running a cockfighting operation in Oregon, not exactly croquet or badminton. Irina Kruger Walker is the third daughter of Romania's last king and like many people with blue blood, she's related to the British royal family.

In fact, she's 95th in the line of succession to Queen Elizabeth. So close and yet so far.

But now it's looking like she blew her chance. The only roost this alleged cockfighter will rule will probably be in prison. Convictions could put her away for years.

That's it for THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper. I now turn you over to the able hands of Mr. Wolf Blitzer. He's in "THE SITUATION ROOM" right next door.

Mr. Blitzer, take it away.