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THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER

Ted Cruz's Mission?; Interview With Jeff Bezos; Interview With Utah Senator Mike Lee; Interview with Former U.S. Congressmen Martin Frost & Tom Davis; U.N. Security Council Agrees on Resolution Language; First Images from Inside Navy Yard Massacre

Aired September 25, 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 HOST: Was it a marathon against Obamacare or a telethon for Senator Ted Cruz's presidential hopes?

I'm Jake Tapper. This is THE LEAD.

The politics lead. Senator Ted Cruz could use a lozenge or maybe saltwater to gargle after speaking out against Obamacare for more than 21 hours straight. Did Cruz actually accomplish anything besides increasing his profile?

The national lead. Until now, we only saw images of the aftermath of Navy Yard massacre, but now for the first time we are seeing chilling looks inside as it was happening, Aaron Alexis stalking the halls with a shotgun in his hand.

And the money lead. If books are dinosaurs, the kindle is the asteroid. Amazon is announcing brand-new models and owner Jeff Bezos sits down with us to show off the new bells and whistles.

Good afternoon, everyone. I'm Jake Tapper. Welcome to THE LEAD.

We will begin with the politics lead and the almost full-day-long speech on the Senate floor given to protest Obamacare by Texas Republican Ted Cruz, who even read some Dr. Seuss to his children from that august chamber as night-night time fell. Not in a box. Not with a Fox. Not in a house. Not with a mouse. Senator Ted Cruz does not like Obamacare. He does not like it here or there, he does not like it anywhere.

The Senate rules brought an end to Cruz's talkathon this afternoon he spoke practically nonstop for 21 hours against Obamacare. That's how you filibuster is what I would say if it actually had been a filibuster, which it wasn't technically. Cruz couldn't hold up Senate business indefinitely. Parliamentary procedures forced him to yield and allow the Senate to begin considering the bill that the House approved last week which in its current form would keep the government running a few more months but also take away all funding from Obamacare.

The Democrats who control the Senate will almost certainly strip the defunding Obamacare language out of the bill, send it back to the House. But time is running out. If our lawmakers cannot agree on a spending bill, the government will shut down on Tuesday and that also happens to be the day, October 1, when Americans who are uninsured can start signing up for the new health insurance exchanges under Obamacare, hence the timing of Senator Cruz's epic display of verbosity and bladder control, targeting a health care law that he views as an attack on freedom and liberty.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. TED CRUZ (R), TEXAS: Nothing is hurting the American people more. Nothing is hurting the economy more. Nothing is damaging jobs more than Obamacare.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: But even for Cruz filling 21 hours with nothing but fear and loathing of Obamacare proved to be a difficult task. But he did fold in some other topics. We will get to more substance in a second. But please permit us this fun, brief highlight reel.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CRUZ: I'm a big fan of eating White Castle burgers. Do you like green eggs and ham? I do not like them, Sam I am.

Words of wisdom from "Duck Dynasty." You put five rednecks on a mower, it is going to be epic. Chinese gooseberries actually come from New Zealand. Just like in the "Star Wars" movies, the empire will strike back. Thank the men and women who have endured this baton death march.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: Depending on your view, it was either a highly principled stand or an attention-grabbing stunt.

I want to bring in Senator Mike Lee, Republican from Utah. He gave Senator Cruz an assist by taking the floor and firing some questions at him.

Senator Lee, thanks for joining us.

Twenty-one hours of talking. The Senate voted for cloture anyway. Did Cruz and you, did you accomplish anything?

SEN. MIKE LEE (R), UTAH: Well, I have to point out that the vote we had today was on cloture on the motion to proceed, not to be confused with cloture on the bill, which won't occur for a couple of days now.

What we intended to do with this, what Senator Cruz set out to do at the outset of this 21-hour speaking marathon was to help to highlight the debate surrounding the procedural posture in which we now find ourselves. The House of Representatives has acted and passed a continuing resolution to keep government funded while defunding Obamacare.

And when that comes over to the Senate, we have got basically three options, two of which are perfectly acceptable. One would be to vote on it as is. Another would be to vote on it and have amendments, allowing members of both parties to submit amendments and have those considered and voted on themselves.

But the third option is the one that we are not OK with, and it seems to be the one that Harry Reid is gravitating toward, which is he wants to have his amendment, one amendment only, to gut the House-passed continuing resolution and nothing else. And we're not OK with that and that's what we were talking about on the floor.

TAPPER: Senator Lee, you don't have the votes to defund Obamacare in the Senate. The Republicans -- your Republican colleagues have said as much. President Obama said he will veto the bill. You don't have the supermajority necessary. Why are we talking about this if you don't have the votes to do this?

LEE: Well, they don't have the votes in the House of Representatives. They didn't have the votes in the House of Representatives at the time they considered this continuing resolution to pass a continuing resolution that didn't contain this.

So, look, there is a disagreement between the two chambers. We have Republicans in both houses who want to defund Obamacare. We have got Democrats in both houses who don't. And this is part of the discussion. It is going to be iterative process with legislative proposals bouncing back and forth in the next few days between the two chambers.

TAPPER: Senator McCain, the 2008 Republican presidential nominee, said today that the American people talk a lot about Obamacare, heard a lot about Obamacare in the 2012 election, and they ultimately reelected President Obama.

Why are you so convinced that the American people, who did vote to reelect President Obama, want you to defund Obamacare?

LEE: The more the American people learn about that, this law, the less they like it. It's never enjoyed a solid majority of support among the American people.

But its support has been eroding rather steadily in the recent months, as Americans are learning that they are going to be losing jobs, as they are learning that their hours and their wages will be cut, as they are learning, as 20,000 Home Depot employees learned just the other day, that they will be losing access to health care upon which they have relied for many years.

And so with the passage of time, this has become a less popular law and Americans are asking for relief from this law, especially considering that this law is one that the president himself has described as not ready to implement. The president is not going to follow the law as written. We shouldn't fund it.

TAPPER: Senator Lee, where's the Republican bill that will solve the problem of rising health care costs and millions and millions of uninsured, making sure that insurance companies are not able to discriminate against people with preexisting conditions? Where is the alternative to help the American people who want some sort of health care solution?

LEE: There are a lot of Republican proposals. I introduced one last year in my Saving the American Dream plan, which dealt with a system of tax credit which would have allowed for interstate transportability of policies and would have increased the affordability of health care through a system of tax credits available to all Americans that they would be in charge of.

(CROSSTALK)

TAPPER: I'm sorry for interrupting, but there are a number of -- and this is the answer I get every time I ask a Republican who opposes Obamacare, where is your bill? They say, well, this bill exists and that bill exists.

Well, you guys have the majority of the House of Representatives. And you obviously have a large minority in the Senate. Why aren't you uniting behind one of these bills and trying to push it through? It used to be repeal and replace. And now all I hear from you guys is repeal.

LEE: Yes, that's right, because we have a piece of legislation that people have recognized is going to be harmful to the American people.

I agree with you. We do need to offer something else. Several of us have. The fact that we don't yet have consensus on it does not mean that there isn't good reason to protect Americans who are fearful, justifiably and understandably, for what is going to happen for them under Obamacare.

And I keep asking my colleagues the question, how many more people will have to be told that they will be losing their jobs, how many more people will be told that their hours are being cut or that their wages are being slashed, how many more people will have to be informed, as 20,000 Home Depot employees were told on Friday, that they will be losing their health coverage before we turn to the fact that this law is not ready for prime time? It's not ready to be implemented. The president himself is not implementing it as written.

TAPPER: One last question, sir. And, obviously, you have made a lot of assertions that people disagree with. I don't want to go through each one of them right this second.

But I work hard and I have health insurance. Lots of the viewers right now work hard, they have health insurance. How -- when did the Republican Party start opposing the idea that individuals who can afford health insurance, but don't pay for health insurance, and, therefore, I end up paying for them and viewers who are responsible and end up paying for them, when did Republicans start saying, that's OK, you should freeload, it's OK, everybody else will pay for it?

LEE: I don't think that's a fair characterization of the Republican position on this at all. I don't think that's a position that any Republican that I know has said, yes, I'm just fine with that.

(CROSSTALK) TAPPER: If you are against the individual mandate -- if you are against the individual mandate or any sort of requirement that people have health insurance, then that is your position.

You are saying, this is the health system, and those who are responsible will pay for those who are irresponsible, those who can afford insurance, but don't do it.

(CROSSTALK)

LEE: I understand that that's the position you want to cast me in, but I assure you that's not my position. I don't know any Republicans who feel that way.

This is a complex problem. It is a problem that we have to address in terms of making sure that people have access to affordable health insurance and that it is portable across state lines and from one job to another. There are lots of proposals out there that we can consider that don't involve Obamacare, that don't involve these massive exchanges that people can't even predict as to their cost, that don't involve this individual mandate that is a massive intrusion into individual privacy and liberty.

(CROSSTALK)

TAPPER: To you, it is an intrusion into privacy and liberty. But you oppose the individual mandate, right?

LEE: Yes.

TAPPER: So you do not support requiring Americans to have health insurance?

LEE: If a state government wanted to do that, I'm aware of no constitutional impediment from the federal Constitution that would prohibit them from doing that.

The federal government, in my opinion, does not have the power to do that. I understand that the Supreme Court of the United States reached the opposite conclusion, and it reached that conclusion, in my opinion, on an invalid basis that amounted to rewriting the law, casting what was enacted as a penalty and could not be enacted as a tax as, in fact, a tax. And I think that was wrong.

TAPPER: So, would you support in Utah -- would you support a requirement in Utah, in your home state, that individuals be required to have health insurance, so people like me and responsible viewers who are watching right now don't have to pay for these freeloaders who can afford insurance, but don't pay for it because they don't want to bother and they know that the emergency room is there, and I'm going to pay for it and you're going to pay for it? Will you support that in Utah?

LEE: I'm not a state lawmaker, and you are not going to push me into a battle regarding state policy. I don't know that the people of Utah would support such a policy, but I'm not going to speculate on what I might do if I in fact were a state lawmaker, because I'm not and never have been.

TAPPER: All right.

Senator Mike Lee of Utah, thanks. And thanks for diving into the individual mandate with me.

Coming up on THE LEAD: What if Congress does not get its act together? Two former congressmen know what it's like to be in this situation. Neither one of them could prevent a government shutdown during their time in office. And they will join me next.

And later, they sell out arenas and just won a Grammy for album of the year and they're the only reason people under 30 know what a mandolin is. So, why is one of the hottest groups in rock calling it quits?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD.

In politics, mark your calendars, everybody. On October 17th, the U.S. Treasury will be left with a little more than $30 billion cash on hand. Not a lot if you are running the United States government. And if Congress doesn't agree to raise the debt limit to borrow more, then according to Treasury Secretary Jack Lew, quote, "It would be impossible for the United States of America to meet all of its obligations for the first time in our history."

But wait, there's more. In just five days, on October 1st, the government could shut down unless Congress comes up with an agreement on the budget and decides what to do with the Obamacare funding that's currently tied to that bill. Federal agencies have already been instructed to get their houses in order, just in case.

It would be the first shutdown since Alanis Morissette owned the airwaves back in 1996. Now, that shutdown lasted three weeks, the longest in U.S. history. And, according to studies, it costs the American taxpayers more than $1 billion.

My next guests lived through that polarized political era. Martin Frost, former Democratic congressman of Texas and former chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. And Tom Davis, former Republican congressman from Virginia, and former chair of the National Republican Congressional Committee.

First question to both of you, gentlemen, and I'll start with Mr. Davis.

Will the government shut down again this time?

TOM DAVIS (R-VA), FORMER CONGRESSMAN: I don't know. I certainly hope not. I would hope, at a minimum, they can get some kind of interim and move this off with greater debate and tie it to the debt ceiling or something.

But I don't know. It's the question of whether the House Republicans can respond in a united manner or not.

TAPPER: Congressman Frost, you give the odds at 51-49 that it will not shut down.

MARTIN FROST (D-TX), FORMER CONGRESSMAN: That's correct.

TAPPER: That's not a lot. That's not a big margin.

FROST: No, but we have seen this movie before. We saw it in 1995.

It hurt the Republicans. It embarrassed Gingrich. They ultimately lost nine seats in 1996. I was chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee that year.

I think that they will find a way to keep it open, and defer this until the debt ceiling vote. And then, it gets really interesting. I don't know what's going to happen then.

TAPPER: Congressman Davis, Congressman Frost says this was damaging to Republicans, politically. Do you think this would also be damaging to Republicans this time?

DAVIS: Well, I think it hurts everybody. Let me just start by saying I think everybody's numbers plunge. This shouldn't be about winning or losing.

But at this point the fact that the Republicans are divided and Democrats united, it's advantage Democrats.

You saw with your interview with Senator Lee, you can't have two different quarterbacks. The majority leader, the speaker, call the play and members decide they want to run their own play. You are never going to win against the united opposition and with public opinion or legislatively with that strategy.

TAPPER: Congressman Frost, just to bring us back a little in time, you called then-Speaker Newt Gingrich, my CNN colleague, you called him a crybaby over the 1995 shutdown. Take us down -- that trip down memory lane.

FROST: It was a very interesting situation. Bob Livingston, who is the chairman of the Appropriations Committee, came before the Rules Committee to seek a rule for a C.R., same situation.

That morning, Gingrich had been interviewed. He had been to the Sperling breakfast and he had belly-ached about the fact he had been mistreated when he was on the delegation to Rabin's funeral in Israel. And he was going to close down the government because Clinton had mistreated him.

Well, I was on that same delegation. And so, Bob Livingston comes before the Rules Committee. And I said, "Bob, I know the speaker actually was treated very well because he was the only one who got to take his wife on the trip", and then I said -- just popped into my head, "Don't you think the speaker is acting like a crybaby?" That was live television, C-Span.

The next morning, "The New York Daily News" ran a front page cartoon of Gingrich in a diaper and baby bottle. It was downhill from there.

It was just one of those historic footnotes, one of those very interesting things. It kind of happens. It was a colossal mistake on the part of Gingrich. The Republicans did pay for it.

I think they've learned something from that. That's why I don't think they're going to close it down this time, although the debt ceiling gets very interesting.

TAPPER: Congressman Davis, what's the lesson for Republicans from that shutdown in 1995?

DAVIS: Well, one of the problems is that most of the members that were there in 1995 were no longer there. You have a whole crop of new members that don't recognize what happened.

Secondly, this shutdown will be far worse than 1995 because this is every agency of government. In '95, it was restricted to a few federal agencies and the blowback was still pretty harsh.

I'd remind, Martin, I don't know that it had that much effect in the following election because the Republicans cut their losses in January. I was from a district of 60,000 federal employees, Republican, got re-elected 2-1 in the district Clinton carried.

So, I think that over time this stuff could be forgotten but it's not going to helpful to the country or party in the short term.

FROST: But, Tom, in '96, they lost nine seats. And we actually had a real chance of taking the House back, but there was a last-minute Chinese money scandal involving the Clinton administration. And that cut into our ability to --

(CROSSTALK)

FROST: Even with that, even with that, we picked up nine seats.

TAPPER: I'm going to end this edition of "I love the '90s."

Thank you so much, Congressman Frost and Tom Davis. Appreciate it.

FROST: Thank you.

DAVIS: Thanks, Jake.

TAPPER: Coming up next, now we know what his victims saw. New FBI video of the Navy Yard shooter stalking the halls as he coworkers flee in fear. What we are learning about his weapon and his mind on the day of the shooting, coming up next.

Plus, is it him or not? One man says he spotted Abraham Lincoln on the day of the Gettysburg address. But there are doubters. You can judge for yourself, ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD.

Breaking news in our world lead. We are learning the United Nations Security Council has agreed to the language of a resolution that would remove and destroy the Syrian regime's chemical weapons stockpile.

Our Nick Paton Walsh is live at the United Nations with the latest.

Nick, how significant a step is this and layout to us -- for us what happens now?

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it seems like after weeks of wrangling, they are pretty much there. A U.N. diplomat explains to me that Russia seems to have signed off on three basic premises for what would be in the resolution. There are a couple of small hurdles still in the way. And, of course, we know it could fall apart.

But the three basic points are there will be in this resolution a suggestion those behind the August 21st attacks around Damascus sparked all of this and will be held accountable. He won't quite say how, but the phrase accountability will be in there.

Secondly, this is the key bit, there will be binding and enforceable language in that resolution that if Syria does not meet disarmament obligations and use chemical weapons again it can face some measures that -- resolution itself won't be on the Chapter 7, which is the complicated of the U.N. charter, which potentially allows force if someone is in violation of a resolution. But it will refer to Chapter 7 for the consequential vote they would need if Syria's found in violation to decide what measures are going on.

And the third point is more technical. It says that the Security Council remains, quote, "seized of the matter", which basically allows them to expedite further discussion.

Now, there is one hurdle remaining in all of this, Jake, which is a separate discussion and division between what's going on in Washington playing out in The Hague, in The Netherlands, and monitoring body the U.N. used to check chemical weapon use. It's called the OPCW. There's a little dispute there about how to monitor. That seems to be coming to an end.

So, we may see a potentially vote on this at some point of the coming three to four days, Jake.

TAPPER: All right. Nick Paton Walsh with breaking news at the United Nations -- thank you so much.

Now, let's turn to our national lead. Sandy Hook, Aurora, Fort Hood, the images during and after those horrific mass shootings have been limited pretty much to the worst that our minds can conjure up, because we've never seen actual pictures of the gunman carrying them out. Now, this is not the case with the Navy Yard massacre.

The FBI just this afternoon released surveillance video from inside Building 197. The video shows Aaron Alexis stalking the halls with his sawed-off shotgun.

I want to bring in our justice reporter Evan Perez.

Evan, walk us through what we are seeing here.

EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE REPORTER: That's right.

You see, the FBI video that was released this afternoon shows him driving into the Navy Yard in his Prius. He parks it. You see him exiting, I'm sorry, you see him going into the building, going into the bathroom where he has this bag. He comes out with just the sawed- off shotgun and you can see him seeming to like walk down the hallway stalking victims.

At one point, you see people down the hallway seeming to be running scared for their lives. But, you know, from the picture, you can see he's almost looking like he's at a SWAT team. He's basically looking for victims and the FBI did not release actual video of him shooting. But you can see him going down the hallway, going down the third floor, the first floor, coming back up.

The FBI said the entire shooting took place about one hour -- took about one hour to go down before law enforcement was able to shoot him.

TAPPER: And, Evan, the FBI also released more information about the killer today. What did they reveal?

PEREZ: Well, they said that -- apparently, from what -- from his computer, you can get a sense that his mental health was deteriorating. He said that he was being subjected to extremely low frequency, which is a Navy term for communication was submarines. It appears he believed this was something being used to control him.

The FBI says that they have no indication that he was looking to shoot anyone in particular in the building and Navy Yard, Building 197. Instead he was -- seemed to be shooting randomly and, again, the focus is on his mental health.

TAPPER: All right. Evan Perez, thank you so much.

I want to bring in Tom Fuentes, our CNN law enforcement analyst.

Tom, you are a former FBI. First of all, walk us through. Why would the agency release video of this incident? We rarely see anything like this?

TOM FUENTES, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, I think they just want to inform the public that they do have that kind of security coverage within the facility like the Navy Yard to show that they can try to identify somebody and what their mannerisms are and their behavior. I think you clearly see, as Evan just said, that, you know, he's acting like a SWAT team member, carefully going down the hall and peeking around corners and looking for somebody that he can shoot at, frankly. They don't show us the actual shootings but you can see clearly he is looking for a victim right then.

TAPPER: The FBI says that it retrieved a document in which Alexis claimed he was the subject of an ultra low frequency attack. I'm not sure what that is. Can you explain it?

And, also, do you think that's the closest we are ever going to come to getting a motive?

FUENTES: Fortunately, I'm not as delusion as he is. So, I can't tell what you that means exactly. What in his mind he thought was occurring to him, what kind of frequencies are -- or electronic attack was going on against him. I don't know.

And -- I know the terms and he is using the term analogy that the Navy is identifying what the terminology is. But how he's acting and what he is basing that on, we still can't say positively. Even though he is saying, OK, these ultra low frequencies -- well, even if you think you are being bombarded, what does that have to do with shooting anybody you can find to shoot?

TAPPER: The FBI also saying today that it appears the killer acted alone and was ready to die. So, it sounds like this shooter falls in line with the image we have of the men who do things like this.

FUENTES: It would seem so. Again, you don't know -- you know, the variances of their brains as to, you know, what causes them to do pretty similar behavior.