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Interview With Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan; Pope Francis 'TIME' Person of the Year; Mom Takes on Revenge Porn Websites; Selfie- Gate

Aired December 11, 2013 - 16:00   ET


JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: If the budget deal was a Festivus miracle, it is now enduring the airing of grievances, but will it pass the feats of strength in the House of Representatives?

I'm Jake Tapper. This is THE LEAD.

The politics lead: One day after Congressman Ryan helped hammer out a bipartisan spending plan that will hopefully avoid another government shutdown, well, he's here to sell it to you.

The national lead, he helped angry ex-boyfriends get revenge by posting sexually explicit selfies of their ex-girlfriends on the Web. Classy. Now the guy behind the sleazy, dare we say evil Web site You Got Posted , he's got big problems.

And it was the presidential selfie seen around the world. No, now that one, this one with the seemingly unimpressed first lady in the background. Now the guy who snapped the photo of the photo is setting the record straight.

Good afternoon, everyone. I'm Jake Tapper. We begin with the politics lead on THE LEAD today.

It's a deal that has ticked off both sides Congress, which may be the best sign yet that it will actually pass. The House and Senate have until Friday to approve a budget plan that would fund the government for the next two years and avoid the threat of another shutdown, but if it goes through, it would symbolize something even greater, that our lawmakers can not only get things done, but work together to do it.

Imagine that. The deal was orchestrated by Republican Representative Paul Ryan of Wisconsin and Democratic Senator Patty Murray of Washington. It would set spending levels and reduce the deficit. It would also replace some of the forced budget cuts that took effect earlier this year, thanks to the so-called sequester.

But what's catching the ire of the left and right are all the things it won't do. The deal will not extend unemployment benefits for more than a million people, something Democrats are pushing for, and Republicans argue this steers clear of any changes to those programs that are the big drivers of the debt, such as Medicare.

The mere fact that no one is perfectly happy suggests that maybe, just maybe it will get the green light. After all, one party couldn't possibly be seen as letting the other party win.

Joining me now from Capitol Hill is Congressman Paul Ryan, the chairman of the House Budget Committee and the man being labeled the grownup in the room, who played a major role in working out this compromise.

Congressman Ryan, thanks so much for joining us.

You and Senator Murray have succeeded here in coming up with a proposal, where other bipartisan duos before you had failed. So, I know it hasn't passed yet. It hasn't become law yet, but you did come up with a compromise. What's the secret? Allowing yourself more time to deal with each other? Setting low expectations? Never going to bed angry? What's the advice for future negotiators?

REP. PAUL RYAN (R), WISCONSIN: Actually, all of the above. All of those are pretty good pieces of advice.

We decided from the outset, number one, to talk a lot, get to know each other, keep our emotions in check. The other thing was, we wanted to make sure that we didn't demand or insist that somebody -- that the other had to violate a core principle, that we would instead look for where the common ground exists.

So we basically took all of our budgets, ours, including the president's and the Senate's budget, kind of overlapped them all, and then looked through that prism to see where the common ground existed. Then we solicited other ideas from our colleagues to see if we could get common ground, add that up, and see what that would do with respect to replacing the sequester.

Look, the sequester is sort of an across-the-board approach. We think that's crude. That doesn't let Congress set priorities. So we wanted to see if we could find smarter spending cuts in other parts of government, and there's a lot of government that's on autopilot spending that's just not been attended to by Congress. And that's where we got that additional set of -- those additional spending cuts, so basically we came up with $85 billion of savings from what we call mandatory spending to pay for $63 billion of some relief from the sequester.

We still keep the fiscal discipline. We still keep on track. And this will actually result in more deficit reduction. That's very important to me, to my Republican colleagues.

Patty got a lot of the things that she wanted. And neither of us had to give up a core principle to get this. And that's how we were able to achieve this, I think.

TAPPER: So, speaking of your Republican colleagues, you just a few hours ago met behind closed doors with conservatives at the Republican Study Committee, which meets every Wednesday, where you tried to sell this plan. These are the most conservative members of the House Republican Caucus. How did that go? What were their concerns?

RYAN: Yes, it went very well. It went very well with not only with the RSC, but also our House Republican Conference this morning. A lot of members were very excited and pleased that we actually have an agreement, that we found a way to make this divided government work. We have basically a broken, divided government.

We would like to make it work. This prevents future government shutdowns from happening either in January or October. And what a lot of my members, my colleagues were pleased with is that we're taking the power of the purse and bringing it back to Congress.

When we pass these continuing resolutions every year, like we have done for the last three years, we're basically ceding the lawmaking power to the executive branch, and we're reclaiming that. That, we think, is a very good step in the right direction. And that allows Congress to actually prioritize spending, something we haven't done for like three years around here.

And so those things were very, very attractive to our members. And the fact that we have excessive savings, which results in net deficit reduction, and that there isn't a single tax increase in this is what made most of our members very pleased.

TAPPER: Still a lot of criticism from people like Senator Marco Rubio, Senator Rand Paul. It doesn't sound like the Senate minority leader, Mitch McConnell, is going to support this. Are you going to ultimately have the votes to pass it?

RYAN: We will. We feel good about that. We feel good where we are.

We're in the majority. We have to govern, just like Patty Murray is in the majority, and she has to govern. You can't get everything you want, but you can get things done if you focus on that common ground area.

I'm not going to begrudge anybody who, for one reason or another, chooses not to vote for it. These things are not perfect, but we think this is a step in the right direction. Look, we have laid out our vision very clearly, Jake.

Our budget, which balances the budget and pays off the debt, is our vision. It's ultimately where we want to go. But we know in divided government, we're not going to get that, so the question that we are asking is, can we get a step in the right direction?

I clearly think it is a step in the right direction. Others would like us to go farther in that right direction. I don't begrudge them of that. I want to go farther in that right direction. But I think this is a step in the right direction. And that's why I think this is very important that we do this, and also just show that we can make this government work a little bit.

TAPPER: When you talk about you want to go farther in the direction of deficit reduction, a lot of the critics out there, a lot of the conservative groups say this kicks the tough decisions down the road. I don't think you would even dispute that necessarily in terms of the big budget items that are causing the national debt and the annual deficits.

RYAN: Right. Right.

TAPPER: Does your having worked with Patty Murray give you any confidence that those big decisions that would probably necessitate both of you violating core principles, that there's any solution there to be had?

RYAN: You know, I'm going to focus on this right here, Jake, this moment, getting this done, making this Congress work.

The reason I hesitate to even speculate is because the president and the Senate Democrats have never once ever proposed to balance the budget, let alone reduce the debt. Our budget does balance the budget, and it does -- it pays off the debt ultimately.

And so we are so far apart on that issue, you have to deal with entitlements, the big entitlements like Medicare and Medicaid, that are primary drives of our debt, let alone Obamacare. You have to take those on. You have to reform those programs in order to prevent a debt crisis to balance the budget.

I have shown -- we have shown in our budget exactly how we would propose to do that, but we simply do not have much interest from the other side to do that. So, I don't know if there's movement on that side to bridge that gap, but you can't tax your way out of this fiscal problem. You have to reform entitlements to do that.

We have offered entitlement reforms in these negotiations and every other way we could conceivably do so. There just doesn't seem to be much take-up in interest in that. But I don't want to make that spoil this moment, which is just getting us to common ground and getting this government working.

TAPPER: Sorry to be such a spoiler.

RYAN: Yes, thanks, Jake.

TAPPER: That's kind of my role.

But let me ask you about some criticisms from the left. Many Democrats are balking at this deal because it doesn't include extending unemployment benefits. They say that's 1.3 million people who face being cut off at Christmas. Why not include it?

RYAN: Well, there are a lot of things that people wanted in here that aren't in here.

They wanted farm bill things in here. They wanted stimulus spending in here. They wanted a tax increase in here. There are a lot of things that they wanted in here that we just weren't going to do. And we're basically passing an agreement that we can pass that we can agree to. There was no offset requested for that. That's $20 billion that would have shot a hole right through our deficit reduction. So, look, there are a lot of things that are not in this agreement that people wanted in the agreement. And that is just the way compromise and common ground works.

TAPPER: Another criticism from the left, this package does not include closing a single tax loophole.

RYAN: Right.

TAPPER: Yet it would increase TSA fees that all Americans pay.

So, how would you respond to a critic the next time you're having a town hall in Wisconsin who says, why are you in favor that what is, by any other name, a tax increase on middle-class Americans?


RYAN: It's not a tax. It's not a tax at all. It's a user fee.


TAPPER: The user fee, the TSA -- well, you can call it whatever you want, but pretend I'm being Joe Blow in Wisconsin here and say, you're making me pay more at the TSA.


RYAN: OK. Jake, I'm going to pretend your a Wisconsinite and I'm in a town hall meeting.

TAPPER: That's exactly...


Before 9/11, the person getting on an airplane paid for all of their security when they paid for their ticket. They covered all of it. Since 9/11, that person is paying for less than 40 percent of their security, and then the non-flying public, the non-flying taxpayer is subsidizing the rest of it.

We think that the users should pay for the services that they're using, instead of making of some hardworking taxpayer that never uses those services paying for it.

So, this -- and here's what the fee does. It says if you have a connecting flight, you pay $5. If you have a direct flight, you pay $2.50. We're saying just do $5 across the board. And then there was this tax on airlines that was distributed in a very strange way, not treating them the same. And we got rid of that tax, and that's added to this fee, so it's $5.60 a ticket, whether you're connecting or whether you're flying direct.

And it helps defray the costs of the security. And even with this, Jake, that general fund taxpayer who never gets on an airplane is still subsidizing that person who does fly on an airplane.

TAPPER: All right, if I'm a Wisconsinite, I'll take that, I'll take that, just because I only have one further question.

And that is, it's obviously easier to say no and criticize a deal like this than it is to say yes. But are you at all concerned that this deal could hurt you with grassroots Republicans should you ever need grassroots Republicans to support you in the future?

RYAN: Yes, people ask me that kind of question all the time. Gosh, if you compromise, isn't that going to hurt your personal political career?

Look, if I think like that, then we're going to get nothing done. Look, I was elected by people in Wisconsin to solve problems here. I'm the chairman of the Budget Committee, so my colleagues have asked me to be a leader in helping solve problems.

And if I cloud my judgment but what is good for me politically or not or how does this help me juxtapose against somebody else, that's just not right, in my opinion. So, I'm going to do what I think is right, what people in Wisconsin elected me to do, and what my colleagues asked me to, and I'm not going to let any personal political consideration down the road cloud that judgment, because I, quite frankly, just don't think that's right.

And then with respect to the future, I'll just let the chips fall where they may, and I'll sleep really well.

TAPPER: All right. Congressman Paul Ryan, I hope you, your wife and your beautiful children have a wonderful holiday season. Thank you so much for being with us.

RYAN: You, too. Thanks, Jake.

TAPPER: Coming up next: He helped former boyfriends post racy pictures of their exes online, then demanded hundreds of dollars from the women to take the photos down. How did the so-called man behind a so-called revenge porn Web site get away with it so long?

Plus, he didn't twerk or leak thousands of secret documents, but he still came out on top -- the inside scoop on why Pope Francis was chosen as "TIME" magazine's person of the year. That's coming up.


TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD.

And more national news, the arrest of one California man is being held as a victory against dirt bags everywhere. The 27 years old is accused of running a revenge porn Web site, demanding the victims whose pictures are posted pay him, to get the photos removed. He's facing 31 counts of conspiracy, identity theft and extortion.

For those of you who don't know, revenge porn is basically when a scorned lover posts racy pictures of an ex online, usually the photos are something they got through sexting, but were supposed to be kept private.

But earlier this year, California passed a law making revenge porn illegal and one more played a crucial role in making them happened. Her daughter's photo appeared on a revenge porn site after she says their computer got hacked. She says it took a relentless campaign to get the pictures removed, but it spurred her to take up a cause that could help other victims of this cowardly act down the line.

Joining me now live from Los Angeles is Charlotte Laws.

Charlotte, first of all, give us some background on what happened with your daughter?

CHARLOTTE LAWS, CRUSADER AGAINST REVENGE PORN SITES: Well, my daughter had taken some photos in the mirror, alone in her room, and sent them from her cell phone to her e-mail to her computer, and then, she was hacked three months later. Nine days after that, her photo -- her topless photo ended up on a revenge porn Web site. That's how it all got started. That's the first time I heard about revenge porn.

TAPPER: You've been called the Erin Brockovich of revenge porn, ever since you started your campaign to go after these sites. What's been the most difficult obstacle you faced during this fight?

LAWS: Well, getting the photo down was extremely difficult, because the Web site operator didn't want to comply with copyright law, even though we served him with a digital millennium copyright act notice, or takedown notice, he didn't want to comply with the law. And so, I had to go through so many maneuvers to try to get this photo removed. And I also reached out to victims all over the country in order to help them get their photos removed.

So, it ended up being a huge ordeal. These Web site operators tend to not be afraid of civil law. They're very afraid of law enforcement and that's why criminal laws are so important to put them in place.

But with civil law, most of these Web site operators don't have assets. They're not afraid that a victim is going to sue them, because it's going to cost the victim $60,000 to bring a lawsuit to fruition and then they're probably not going to get any money on the other end of the deal.

And, plus, they have to have their names linked with the lawsuit, which means they're going to be linked to the nude pictures, which is exactly what the victims don't want to have happen.

TAPPER: What's your response to what the attorney general in California did today?

LAWS: I'm really encouraged. I'm so happy that law enforcement is taking this seriously. And so, it's a huge step in the right decision. So, it sends a message to these other Web site owners and to those who may submit photos of victims, and so, it's really encouraging.

I'm also happy that the FBI was able to take the case that I took to them about my daughter and about all the other victims who are hacked. That case is still open, and I'm really hoping that down the road, there would be some sort of arrest with respect to that case.

TAPPER: I want you to listen to what the founder of one revenge porn site you've targeted had to say during an interview with ABC last year when he was asked whether he feels bad about what he does.


HUNTER MOORE, FOUNDER, REVENGE PORN WEBSITE: I mean, to me, I don't know these people and it's kind of anonymous to me. I think the people submitting it are the ones who should be, you know, feeling bad when they click that submit button.


TAPPER: Given what your daughter went through, what would you say to him in response?

LAWS: Well, I think he is just as guilty as those who submitted photos. And what Hunter Moore wants to do is hide behind the Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which is the biggest barrier right now to holding the Web site operators responsible. And that's why a federal law is needed, because there's no state law that is going to be able to trump the Communications Decency Act.

So, in other words, you can never hold a Web site operator responsible unless you put a federal law in place. And that's why, for the last few months, I've really been pushing Barbara Boxer's office to move forward with some sort of federal law. She says that she is looking at California, she wants to see what happened with the amendment, and we are bringing an amendment forth in about a week. Senator Cannella in California is going to announce that amendment, which is very strong, and she wants to see what happens with that before she makes a final decision.

TAPPER: All right. Senator Barbara Boxer on the spot. We'll be watching.

Charlotte Laws, thanks so much for being with us.

LAWS: Thank you.

TAPPER: Coming up on THE LEAD: You've surely seen the shots of the president caught snapping a selfie and the first lady looking less than amused. But the man who took that picture says that's not the whole picture. He joins me next.

Plus, when you think the marijuana, you'd normally think of munchies and (INAUDIBLE) movies, not a $7 million start-up, that just added a former DEA agent to its payroll. We'll talk to that DEA agent about his new gig in legalized weed.


TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper. In other national news, President Obama gave what some observers say was one of his most stirring speeches Tuesday when he honored Nelson Mandela, waxing eloquent about how the South African political legend inspired his improvable journey to the Oval Office.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And while I will always fall short of Madiba's example, he makes me want to be a better man.


TAPPER: But somewhere along the way from Johannesburg to the United States, the gravitas of his speech got drowned out, and the focus of the story for some in the media somehow became this -- the president hamming it up and taking a selfie of himself with British Prime Minister David Cameron and Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning- Schmidt.

Here's "The New York Post's" take, mirroring that of several other outlets.

But we wondered, do those pictures tell 1,000 lies?

Joining me now on the phone from South Africa is the photographer who took these shots, "AFP's" Roberto Schmidt.

So, Roberto, a lot has been made of the first lady's reaction in the picture. Mrs. Obama looks rather solemn while her husband is snapping the selfie. Is that what you saw?

ROBERTO SCHMIDT, AFP PHOTOJOURNALIST (via telephone): She was, you know, talking with Cameron, and with the Danish prime minister. They were all together in a group and they were talking. Michelle Obama just minutes before this happened was having a long conversation with Cameron, not a long conversation, but they were talking with Cameron all in a group.

So, yes, the fact that she's kind of looking furious in the picture, I think she just wasn't involved with that moment, but I don't think it says more than anything -- than that really.

TAPPER: But she wasn't furious based on what you saw, she was in a good mood, the camera just caught her and give a misleading impression?

SCHMIDT: Absolutely. I really think, you know, what people are making out of her reaction is just misleading, absolutely.

TAPPER: You wrote --

SCHMIDT: But I don't know -- listen, I don't know whether she was serious, or mad, or jealous or whatever, that's a question that you guys should maybe ask her. I cannot say.

TAPPER: Right, of course. You wrote an entry on the "AFP's" "Behind the News" blog about the controversy. You said this, quote, "I didn't see anything shocking in my viewfinder, president of the U.S. or not. I thought the world leaders were simply acting like human beings."

Of the 500-something photos your organizations published and the thousands more posted by other news outlets, why do you think this pictures and ones like it are drawing so much attention?

SCHMIDT: Well, I think it's because we never get to see them in such light, you know? Nowadays, access is so controlled that we just don't see that, which I think is a shame. You know, I think if we had more access to them, and showed them more -- as humans, which they are, then maybe, you know, these images like this wouldn't be so shocking or so entertaining or so -- they wouldn't make such a big buzz.

TAPPER: That's actually a big debate going on here in the U.S., the White House photographers objecting to the White House not letting them into events and instead using their own photographer almost as a substitute in many instances. It's a big point of contention. So, basically, you're arguing if they did less of that, maybe a picture like this wouldn't have become as big a deal.

SCHMIDT: I completely agree. I mean, I know that the White House photographer was there. I don't know, I don't see the White House distributing a picture of them taking a selfie. I'm sure he has it, but I don't see the White House distributing it. I don't think they would, either. But -- so, it's a little bit of a shame.


TAPPER: Roberto Schmidt, thank you so much. We appreciate it.

SCHMIDT: No problem, Jake.

TAPPER: Let's check in on our political panel in the greenroom. Guys, guys -- this isn't time for a panel selfie. I have some very important political observations to make with you.

S.E. CUPP, CO-HOST, "CROSSFIRE": Jake, we're trying to capture a moment here. It's not always about you.

TAPPER: So, guys, do you think that some in the media missed the real message of President Obama's historic trip. Some in the White House seem to think so.

And we'll talk to our panel about it. Stay with us. THE LEAD will be right back.