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THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER

Senate Committee Votes 10-7 to Authorize Strike on Syria; Putin Leaves Door Open to Strikes on Syria; Search for the Missing Flag; Gremlins Hit Nasdaq's Back End; Car Sales on a Roll; Did Google Accidentally Reveal New Phone?

Aired September 4, 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: Dana, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee voted for the new authorization, 10-7. Break it down for us. What was interesting about the vote for you?

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, first and foremost, how close it was, 10-7 is not a resounding approval for the president, for this authorization. He got it, that's all he needed, but it wasn't overwhelming.

And also the fact is only three Republicans voted with the president --Senator McCain, Senator Corker, and Senator Flake. And on the Democratic side, the man is now taken the seat of John Kerry, vote to president, Ed Markey of Massachusetts. We are waiting to hear from his office about just exactly why he did that. It was a perplexing vote. I think is fair to say.

But when you look at the whole sort of the big pictures of what this means, you can also look, you know, at the Republican side, which (INAUDIBLE) with the Republican voted yes. That means the majority of Republicans really felt comfortable voting no. And that includes two of the most prominent Republicans looking ahead at 2016, just remember, everything is about politics at the end of the day, Marco Rubio, who had been very aggressive about Syria decided, you know what? The better course is to vote no, and then, of course, Rand Paul, who is it was more expected for him to vote no because he tends to be more of an isolation as that kind of the MO along with his father. So, it that really set the tone, again big picture certainly cleared a hurdle for the president, needed to do it. And it is going to go to the Senate, but not without a lot of really heavy momentum.

TAPPER: If you look at the ratio of Democrats who voted for this versus voting against it, and Republicans who voted for it versus voting against it, and you apply that ratio, this is a very flawed math, if you apply that ratio in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, to the House of Representatives, it doesn't pass. It doesn't pass at all. You can't have 70 percent of Democrats voting for it and a vast minority of Republicans voting for it and get it through the house. Where do you see the momentum of this going from here on out?

BASH: You know, I'm going to stick with the maximum of the senior House Democrat, who said to me yesterday, anybody who says they know where this is going to go should get out of the prediction business? I think certainly yesterday it felt like this had more momentum from the president, and I think it's still true, certainly more than Saturday when the president surprised everybody by announcing he wanted this vote, but particularly after listening to what happened in the house, just as Gloria laid out, there's so many -- this is like legislative whack-a-mole. The president, anytime he want to make an argument to one faction, for example that, you know, that is just going to be limited, he alienate another faction which say why limited? Why don't you do more than that. So it's very difficult, a very difficult needles to thread, and they have got a lot of work cut out for them.

TAPPER: Dana and Gloria, we have to take a very quick break. We will be right back with both of you. Stay with us. You too at home, stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

TAPPER: Welcome back to the lead. We are back with two congressional correspondent Dana Bash and chief political analyst, Gloria Borger.

I want to play some sound from President Obama a year ago talking about this red line. And also sound from President Obama today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We have been very clear to the Assad regime, but also to other players on the ground that a red line for is we start seeing a whole bunch of chemical weapons moving around or being utilized.

First of all, I didn't set a red line. The world set a red line.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: President Obama, last year and this morning.

Gloria, he said a red line for us last year, he also said that would change my calculus. And then today, he said I didn't set the red line. The world set a red line.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, what he's trying to do is depersonalize this because he has come under a lot of criticism. Because people are saying it's your red line, you set it, now we have to take military strikes, so you don't lose your credibility. Then he went on to say this morning it's not only my red line, it's not my credibility, it's the world's credibility. In fact, it is his red line. He drew the red line, he spoke about it. The two are not mutually exclusive. It could be the world's and his.

He is going to Congress asking for this military action. I think he owns the request. He clearly feels strongly about it, but what he was trying to do is say to Republicans in particular, you don't need to do this for me. He knows how they feel about him, take me out of this. This is about the world.

BASH: Jake -- TAPPER: Dana very quickly, obviously, he was trying to make the point that Congress and most countries in the western world, well, actually throughout the world have ratified a ban on chemical weapons -- Dana.

BASH: That's right. I think it depends on what the meaning of "us" is, if I may borrow a phrase. But your point about chemical weapons and ratifying that that is very, very interesting and important. And also, what you're going to start to see is, and I've already started to see it in my inbox, in my e-mail, some reminders about the fact that some of the senators, even in this foreign relations committee today who voted no, did support the Syria accountability act before. So questions about whether there's a contradiction there. You are going to see more of that, especially if this vote is tremendous tight.

TAPPER: I'm sure.

Dana Bash, Gloria Borger, thank you so much.

Coming up on the LEAD, the offer is on the table. Several countries saying they will pay for military action in Syria. But there is one little catch to that offer and that's coming up next.

And how does one of the most important icons of American strength, in the face of adversity get lost? CNN is on the hunt for the missing flag from the site of the world trade center disaster. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

TAPPER: In our world LEAD, what are we to make of these comments by Vladimir Putin? The Russian president said in an interview with the "Associated Press" and Russian's stat television that Russia doesn't exclude the option of United Nations back resolution on military strikes on Syria. But the evidence, quote, "ought to be convincing. It shouldn't be based on some rumors and information obtained by intelligence agencies through some kind of eavesdropping, some conversations and things like that," unquote.

Secretary of state John Kerry proclaimed that this is a good sign.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN KERRY, SECRETARY OF STATE: I would interpret his comments today as hopeful that perhaps at the G-20, he and the president will have a good conversation and they may be erode for where Russia would consider not blocking action.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: Putin also said he felt sorry that the president canceled their one-on-one meeting. He said, quote, "we work, we argue about issues, we are human. Sometimes one of us gets vexed."

Right, vexed. No big deal. But seriously now, is there any chance we can count on Russia as a partner in any way? Is the country willing to do anything? Let's bring in former state department's spokesman P.J. Crowley and Julia Ioffe, senior editor of "the New Republic."

Julia, what do you make Putin's comments here? Is he extending a hand to President Obama or he is just being his kind of Cheshire cat self.

JULIA IOFFE, SENIOR EDITOR, THE NEW REPUBLIC: I think it's probably the latter. As a good friend Russian friend of mine once said, you know, Putin doesn't ever exclude anything. But he does tend to kind of surprise us, but I doubt he is going to allow Russia to vote yes for intervention in Syria.

TAPPER: P.J., I want to play something that secretary of defense Hagel said today that maybe you can give us some clarity on. He was asked about the source of the chemical weapons that Assad allegedly used against his own people.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Where did the chemical weapons come from?

CHUCK HAGEL, DEFENSE SECRETARY: Well, there's no secret that the Assad regime has had chemical weapons, significant stockpiles.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: From a particular country?

HAGEL: Well, the Russians supply them, others of supplying them with the chemical weapons. They make some themselves.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: The Russians supply them, is that recently? Have the Russians done this recently? Are these old stockpiles from before the ban?

P.J. CROWLEY, FORMER STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESMAN: I think they have had them for some time. I would say this is probably not a new development. Russia, like the United States, is eliminating its chemical stocks, but Syria is one of a handful of countries that have not agreed to the chemical weapons convention. They still see them as a deter deterrent, and obviously as the secretary laid them out last week, they see it as a tool in this civil war.

TAPPER: Let's look more broadly in something President Obama said earlier today. He talked about it's the world 'red line. It's the world's red line. And it is true that a significant majority of the nations in this world have signed onto the chemical weapons treaty.

P.J., where is the rest of the world? We have President Obama, maybe France, make Turkey, a couple other gulf nations quietly saying go get them. But if this truly is an atrocity that the world has signed on to oppose, how come we are so alone?

CROWLEY: I think there's far more support privately than we have seen publicly, but I think it really is about Syria. You look at the contrast between Syria and Libya. There are lots of people in the region that said, OK, let's go after Gadhafi. Gadhafi had no friends. Syria is a complex country. It's attached to everything in the Middle East. In many of these countries, they've hedging their bets to see ultimately will Assad be defeated or will he survive?

TAPPER: The Obama administration clearly behind closed doors blames Russia for the fact this is not even going through the United Nations Security Council right now. They say it's not a relationship of ideology. It's just that Syria is a client. They buy arms and other things from Russia. Is it that simple?

JULIA IOFFE, SENIOR EDITOR, "THE NEW REPUBLIC": I don't think it's just that and you have senator -- Secretary Kerry in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee yesterday saying that it's also some ideological relationship, but a geopolitical one. I think that's more accurate. I think Putin especially sees himself as a cold war guy. He's not shed that mentality. He sees himself as a foil and counterweight for to the America and the world. So if America attacks somebody, we have to defend them. If America defends somebody, we have to attack them. And as for weapons, you know, India buys -- orders of magnitude more weapons than Syria does. So if Assad goes, they'll find other clients.

CROWLEY: The two of those go together. You know, through all of the transitions since the cold war, Russia has lost states they supported during the gulf war, particularly in the Middle East. Also, Putin to some extent reminds me of Dick Cheney. You know Cheney has White House chief of staff saw what he thought was the diminution of executive power and that animated him. Likewise Putin as a product of the cold war, you know, has seen Russian influence decrease significantly and he is trying to use various levers, energy where he can, to try to elevate Russian influence.

TAPPER: We only have about a minute left. Secretary Kerry today said that there basically had been offers from these anonymous countries that are rooting on the United States, that they would pay for the entire thing if we toppled Bashar Al Assad, if we had complete regime change. Who are these, you know, big money rollers that we're talking about whose names shall not be mentioned? Is it Saudi Arabia --

IOFFE: The Gulf states.

CROWLEY: You've got a situation where I think that they're conscious of the fact that the United States is going to do something meaningful, but not something decisive. These are guys who either see these things not in shades of gray. They see these things as if you're going to knock him off, knock him off. We'll pick up the pieces, but if you're not going to knock him off then we're going to hedge.

TAPPER: In 30 seconds left, what is Saudi Arabia's interest in having Bashar Al-Assad out of power other than him not being such a great guy?

IOFFE: Well, they take -- they get to get out of Iran, right? And part of the larger sectarian tensions in the region.

TAPPER: Sunni versus Shia?

IOFFE: I think also against, you know, Saudi Arabia versus Iran playing --

TAPPER: Supremacy in the region?

IOFFE: Yes.

TAPPER: Great, Julia Ioffe, P.J. Crowley, thank you so much.

There are a few icons more powerful than this flag, so how does a relic like that just disappear? Stay with us. That's coming up next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

TAPPER: Now it's time for the "Buried Lead," the story not getting enough attention. It was an uplifting moment when the country needed it most, the raising of the stars and stripes over ground zero, but this symbol of American hope has been missing. Now a new CNN film follows the search for the flag.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tom's photo comes in, and we huddled around the computer. He brings up this photo.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And that popped out because of the flag. Everything had this greyish blue tint, and there you saw the red, white and blue.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I sat there and said that's an incredible picture. Danielle was saying that's not a picture, that's an icon.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think there's one meaning of a flag but many interpretations. Each of us can have a personal connection with that symbol.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: Joining me now is the director of "The Flag," Michael Tucker. Michael, thanks for being here. How did you find out about the story?

MICHAEL TUCKER, CNN FILMS: "THE FLAG," PRODUCER AND CO-DIRECTOR: We learned about the story from David Friend, who is an editor at "Vanity Fair." He wrote a book about called "Watching the World Change" about the images of 9/11 and this chapter that he wrote about the flag was fascinating. We didn't know that that flag was missing, and like many things 12 years later, it's just coming into perspective now, the story.

TAPPER: You're covering this more than a decade later. What took so long?

TUCKER: Well, like I said, I think just now, 12 years later we're beginning to understand these events as history. Before we saw them as immediate, current, and now the 9/11 museum is probably in the spring it's going to open. We're beginning to view this in historical terms, and not so immediate.

TAPPER: And you've -- you think this flag is important to a lot of people. I remember first seeing that image. It almost looked to me like a Norman Rockwell painting, that it could not actually be real but it was. Why do you think so many people connected to this picture and to that flag?

TUCKER: Well, you know, the flag, as we look for this flag, more than looking for the flag, we're looking for that feeling. I think most Americans in that moment fell united. That's what the flag represents, the sense of togetherness, that sense of purpose, and, you know, it's interesting. In a week where we're debating potentially going to war, to go back and see where we came from.

TAPPER: Michael Tucker, thank you so much. You can watch the CNN films presentation of "The Flag" tonight at 9:00 p.m. Eastern, only on CNN.

Coming up in our "Money Lead," it's the phone that supposedly infuriated Steve Jobs. Now comes a sneak peek of the latest version of Google's Android smartphone. It may have leaked online.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper. Now it's time for the "Money Lead." Someone get the Nasdaq some water or maybe put a bag over its head. Nasdaq can't seem to shake the hiccups. Today yet another tech failure, customers couldn't see quotes in some stocks for 6 minutes from big firms like Microsoft, Yahoo and Tesla. Nasdaq officials say trading was not affected, but the latest glitch has some people wondering just how secure the system is. A problem two weeks ago shut the Nasdaq down for more than three hours.

There wasn't a time not long ago when it seemed like Detroit's auto industry was about to go the way of the waterbed, but the big three have bounced back in a big way, posting their strongest sales in six years. General motors, Ford and Chrysler, all reported a double-digit increase in sales last month and sweetening the bulk of those sales were from individual buyers, not from the government or corporations. That means while the economy may still be improving at a sluggish pace, consumers are not nearly as concerned as they used to be.

Google's top-secret next generation of the Android Nexus phone may have been leaked online by Google. The company released the promotional video pumping up its new operating system, named after the Kitkat candy bar, but a few seconds into the video, savvy techies noticed someone holding up an undeniably distinct version of the Nexus phone. There's speculation it was the upcoming model of the smartphone. Google only fuelled the speculation by then making the promotional video private on its YouTube account.

Make sure to follow me on Twitter @jaketapper and also @theleadcnn and check out our show page at cnn.com/thelead for videos, blogs, and extras. That's it for THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper. I now turn you over now to Wolf Blitzer in "THE SITUATION ROOM." That's right over there, next door -- Mr. Blitzer.