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THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER
Ernie Banks Receives Presidential Medal Of Freedom; U.S., Afghanistan Agree On Security Deal; "Atliens" Invading Coachella?; "Animal Planet" Host Busted
Aired November 20, 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: Coming up in the buried lead, he defied his church to officiate his gay son's wedding. Now that he's suspended, will this pastor find another branch of the faith?
In the Money Lead, it's been called the biggest settlement with a bank in American history. But is JP Morgan really on the hook for all $13 billion? Stay with us.
TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.
Now it's time for the Buried Lead. These are stories we think are not getting enough attention.
His faith forbid it, but that did not stop a Methodist minister from putting his job on the line to officiate at his son's same-sex marriage. Now, that was six years ago. Now he's paying the price. Pastor Frank Schaefer of Lebanon, Pennsylvania, was found guilty by a jury of 13 ordained clergy members on two counts, officiating a same- sex wedding and being disobedient to the discipline and order of the church.
He was sentenced to a 30-day suspension and asked by church officials not to officiate anymore gay weddings. But the minister is refusing to make that promise.
TAPPER: And Pastor Frank Schaefer joins me now. Pastor Frank, thanks for being here. When the jury pronounced your sentence, your supporters started ceremoniously turning over chairs in the courtroom, and allusion to the Bible story of Jesus overturning the money changers' tables in the temple.
FRANK SCHAEFER, METHODIST PASTOR: Yes, that was quite the dramatic moment, actually. It was loud, and I think some people were scared and they turned around and started looking at what's going on. And so then after that, singing -- the singing started, of an old hymn. And people joined in and then it turns into a communion service.
But it was quite dramatic. And I think it was a statement that the supporters of the LBGT community made that day, a very strong statement that said we are not okay with this verdict of guilty.
TAPPER: But, sir, with all due respect, this is what your faith preaches. This is what they think of same-sex marriage and homosexuality. Why not find another sect of Christianity where your views are more aligned with church teachings?
SCHAEFER: It's -- that's a good question. But, you know, it's like living in a state where same-sex marriage is not allowed. Does that mean that if I were a homosexual, does that mean that I leave my state, my surroundings, my neighborhood and leave my friends and my family behind to relocate to a different state because the laws aren't right and aren't just?
And it's the same with the church. You know, I've been a member of this church for 20 years, and my children grew up in this faith. And there are many people in the United Methodist Church that are LBGT folks or that are supporting LBGT folks. So there's a sizable group, and I think this group needs to be heard. And we have to start talking about these things instead of sweeping this issue under the carpet.
TAPPER: Lastly, sir, if you decide to officiate another same-sex marriage, you could be defrocked, not just suspended. Would it be worth it to you to take a stand for what you believe is a stand for equality?
SCHAEFER: I think it's absolutely worth it. I think we do need to look at this. And I appreciate the attention that this issue got in the media, just because it does pressure the church to take another look at this and to open the discussion.
There are different ways in dealing with these things. I mean, homosexual weddings happen all the time, even in the United Methodist Church. Pastors do them all around the country. And not every incident leads to a complaint and to a trial. And I think we need to realize that we need to stop bringing these events, these joyful events of same-sex marriages to trials. And I think the bishops in our church have that power to say no, you know what, let's not do that. Let's deal with this in a different way. Let's open the discussion and the dialogue. And hopefully, at the end of that, there might be a change.
TAPPER: Pastor Frank Schaefer, thanks and good luck.
SCHAEFER: Thank you so much.
TAPPER: In our Money Lead, JP Morgan has agreed to pay $13 billion for selling mortgage-backed securities before the financial crisis. The Justice Department calls it, quote, "the largest settlement with a single entity in American history." Sounds pretty dramatic.
But David Dayen, a contributing writer for Salon.com, isn't exactly putting this in the win column for the Justice Department or for justice in general. And he joins us now from Los Angeles. Welcome, David. Thanks for being here. And the headline of your column calls this settlement "a scam." Why?
DAVID DAYEN, CONTRIBUTING WRITER, SALON.COM: Well, you know, the settlement, first of all, isn't $13 billion. The FHFA announced a $4 billion settlement with JP Morgan Chase over -- to settle a lawsuit a month ago. And the Justice Department just, you know, stuck that in to their top line number to make it look bigger.
There are various other reasons that are $7 billion is tax deductible in this settlement, which means taxpayers will essentially pay $2.75 billion of settle settlement, roughly. A lot of the settlement in consumer relief for homeowners, which sounds all right, but as far as a cash value to JP Morgan Chase, it's things they already do or are in their financial interests to do.
So when you get right down to it, you have a $13 billion settlement, allegedly, which is really maybe a $3 billion settlement in the grand scheme of things in terms of the monetary value that JP Morgan Chase will actually have to suffer.
TAPPER: Okay, so you don't think it's a strong enough penalty in terms of the size of it. But to play devil's advocate, isn't JP Morgan settling in agreeing to pay anything a win, especially since some of the money is going to help consumers?
DAYEN: Well, I don't think so. I mean, millions of people lost their jobs in the financial crisis. Millions more people lost their homes. And what we want to do, if we're going to settle with these companies, is make sure it doesn't happen again. And the best and swiftest deterrent is not only a big fine, but prosecution of the people who authorize and directed this conduct.
And, of course, we're not seeing that at all. Criminal charges are not cleared by this settlement, but if you want to take a bet with me on whether or not there are going to be criminal charges for executives out of this settlement, we can make that bet.
The bottom line is that JP Morgan Chase basically goes on their business, and the homeowners who were really affected by this, the ones that already lost their home, get nothing. And because of a quirk in the way that principle reduction goes, in this settlement, principle reduction is going to probably be taxes. It's going to be taxable income to the borrowers. So people who think they're getting a nice gift and getting some of their debt forgiven are actually going to be on the hook for a very large tax bill. The people who might hurt most from this settlement are the homeowners who get the principle reduction.
TAPPER: And lastly, David, part of the settlement is JP Morgan acknowledges that they, in some cases, lied to investors or made misrepresentations. Isn't that a positive development, an admission of guilt?
DAYEN: It would be if it was an admission of guilt. They are admitting to a statement, a series of facts that have been laid out. Bloomberg's Jonathan Weill and others believes there is no legal repercussions that could ever come from that document. JP Morgan just last week settled with a bunch of institutional investors over this very conduct. And this statement of facts does nothing to help them. It would have been something that would have been nice for it to have come out before they engaged in this settlement. And you might, if you were cynical, want to say that JP Morgan deliberately delayed this settlement from coming out until after they finished with the institutional investors, and they wouldn't have to suffer anything from this statement of facts. TAPPER: If I were cynical, indeed. Thank you so much, David Dayen. We appreciate it.
DAYEN: Thank you.
TAPPER; Coming up next, he's a baseball legend. One who's on a first- name basis with the president. So what was it like for Ernie Banks today when Barack gave him the Medal of Freedom? And which current player does he think is most like him? Mr. Sunshine tells me next.
Plus, it's one of the greatest rock 'n' roll songs ever. And now finally, there's an equally amazing music video to go along with it.
TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper. Now it's time for the Sports Lead. He came into the Major Leagues with a spirit of positivity and possibility and that unmistakable smile that even gave Chicago Cubs fans faith and he continued to blaze a trail that Jackie Robinson started when he broke baseball's color barrier.
Ernie Banks is a hall of famer, but he never won a World Series, never even made the playoffs. But now he has something bigger than even the most blinged out championship ring. Today Ernie Banks was one of the 16 recipients, including President Clinton and Oprah, of the 2013 Presidential Medal of Freedom.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: In the sweltering heat of a Chicago summer, Ernie Banks walked into the Cubs locker room and didn't like what he saw. Everybody was sitting around, heads down, depressed, he recalled. So Ernie piped up and said, boy, what a great day. Let's play two! That's Mr. Cub.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: And joining us now from the White House East Room, it is my pleasure to introduce you to Mr. Cub, Hall of Famer, Ernie Banks. Mr. Banks, thank you so much for being with us. Give us your thoughts on this incredible day.
ERNIE BANKS, PRESIDENTIAL MEDAL OF FREEDOM RECIPIENT: It was so incredible. I'm just overwhelmed by this day here. To be with all these people, to be with the president, and to have this award passed on to me is certainly a great joy. I mean, it's something I'll never forget.
TAPPER: You were the Cubs' first black player, by way of the legendary Kansas City Monarchs and the Negro leagues, and you dealt with racism on your way up. Today, the nation's first African- American president awarded you the Presidential Medal of Freedom. It must be a remarkable moment, not just as an American, but also as a black American.
BANKS: That's correct. And what I did today, I'll let you in on a little secret. I presented him with the Jackie Robinson bat. And Jackie Robinson was my idol, as you know, and he was the first black to play in the Major League. So my life is, really a happy moment to be with Jackie Robinson, who was my idol as a player.
TAPPER: That's incredible. Just so you know, I share your feeling on Jackie. My son is named after Jackie Robinson. He is an incredible man. Why give -- that must mean more to you than giving the president something of your own, I would think.
BANKS: Well, it means a lot, I mean, because he's the president, you know. Barack is from Chicago. I met him here there, he was a senator, and I just feel like I know him. That he's my brother. And the same thing with Jackie, I just felt I knew them, as my brother, that I could talk to them. That they could understand what I was saying. And that's what I did today with Barack, just talked to him like I've known him for years.
TAPPER: That's incredible. So President Obama alluded to this famous remark of yours, but tell us the story of "Let's Play Two."
BANKS: Well, it's very simple, it was a bad day in Chicago and I came into the locker room and I was feeling great. And I said to all my teammates, it's a beautiful day! Let's play two! And Billy Williams and Jenkins are here with me today in Washington. So we're talking about that. So that was a time in my life that I was really excited about going to Wrigley Field. We played all day games, we had no lights at Wrigley Field, and I was just so happy, that's what I said. It's a beautiful day, let's play two. I'll say that today. It's a beautiful day, let's play two.
TAPPER: And what a great spirit. Presidential historian, Michael Beslosh today tweeted a photograph of your scouting report from 1953. Let's put that up. He talked about your ability all around, outstanding arm, good hitter, served two years in the military, has good habits. Which Major League player in ability and character most reminds Ernie Banks of Ernie Banks?
BANKS: Just good habits.
TAPPER: Is there anyone out there playing today that reminds you of yourself in any way?
BANKS: Yes, he played in New York and his name is Derek Jeter.
TAPPER: Really, how did he remind you of yourself?
BANKS: He plays shortstop, which I play.
BANKS: He's very into the game. He knows how to play the game. He's very alert and his main thing, like mine was winning and going home. That was it. Winning and going home. That was it.
TAPPER: Last question for you, sir. Did you say anything to the president, who's a White Sox fan, to try to convert him from the south side to the north side?
BANKS: No, I didn't try to -- I just told him, I admire him because he's like me. I'm loyal to the Cubs. He's loyal to the White Sox so we're loyal. And he said, yes. We're both loyal to the teams that we follow and we love.
TAPPER: All right, Hall of Famer, Medal of Freedom recipient, Ernie Banks, thank you. God bless you. Congratulations, sir.
BANKS: Thank you very much.
TAPPER: Coming up next on THE LEAD, an undercover sting nabs a television host from Animal Planet trying to sell endangered animals. Stay with us. Our Pop Culture Lead is next.
TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper. The World Lead now, after the tense back and forth, the U.S. and Afghanistan have agreed to a deal that would keep some U.S. troops in the country after the 2014 deadline for American troops to withdraw. At issue was whether troops would be able to enter residential neighborhoods in Afghanistan to hunt down suspected terrorists or insurgents.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai initially would not budge on the plan, saying Afghan troops should carry out the raids. But the Obama administration played hardball. Threatening to not only remove all American military, but to cut off billions of dollars in aid, now this initial agreement is just a draft that still has to go before the council of Afghan tribal leaders for approval.
Now turning to the Pop Culture Lead, maybe you like the way they move or maybe you just like being told to shake things like a Polaroid picture. Either way "Atliens" fans are getting news that they have waited years to hear. The group is rumored to be reuniting. According to "Billboard" magazine, the duo will join forces for next year's Coachella. The April festival could possibly kick off a slate of appearances featuring Big Boy and Andre 2,000 across the country.
Like a Rolling Stone, it has stood the test of time as one of the greatest rock 'n' roll songs of all time, but only now does it have its own music video, one this is interactive and features cameos from "The Price Is Right" and cast members from the reality show "Pawn Stars." So Bob Dylan, when you hear this little master piece going viral, how does it feel? That might look like a bunch of clips randomly edited together, but the video is actually one that users can control. You can scroll from channel to channel, each of which features different actors mouthing the lyrics to the Dylan classic. Dylan himself does not show up until the very end. It's a clip of him singing a song at a concert back in the '70s.
A former Animal Planet host now has about as much credibility as Tracy Morgan's old "SNL" character, Brian Fellows. Today Donald Schultz pleaded guilty to of all things, selling endangered lizards. Under a plea deal, Schultz admitted to trying to sell the exotic lizards back in 2010. The prospective buyer turned out to be, wait for it, an undercover federal agent.
Schultz was a host of the discovery TV show "Venom Hunter" and the Animal Planet show "Wild Recon." As part of his sentence, he'll have to pay a $6,000 fine and perform 200 hours of community service or 800 in dog years.
That's it for THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper. I now turn you over to Wolf Blitzer, right next door in "THE SITUATION ROOM." Mr. Blitzer, take it away.