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Journalist Beaten On Street In Crimea; Rand Paul, Rick Perry Win Over CPAC; Is Money At Core Of Britain's Russia Stance?

Aired March 7, 2014 - 16:30   ET


JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: And we know we saw a lot of journalists during the protests in Ukraine in Kiev. We saw a lot of reporters targeted by the Yanukovych government. We know that one of the channels of the Russian TV is now broadcasting Russian state television. What do we know about the state of the Bulgarian journalist? Have you heard if he's OK?

COREN: Yes, look, he seemed unharmed. I mean, very much shook up. The footage sort of shows he's quite traumatized there on the street. Not too many people helping out either. You know, there were a number of paramilitaries. There are also Russian Cossack soldiers helping these paramilitaries get this confiscated television equipment out of the building. They then fled to the van and race off.

And this journalist sort of picked himself up and you can see that he's sort of shell shocked. What the hell just happened? You know, Jake, with this referendum now just nine days away, we can only presume that they will be more and more attacks and certainly, you know, much more of a crackdown in the coming days.

TAPPER: Anna Coren in Crimea, stay safe. Thank you so much. Of course, this week was the anniversary of Winston Churchill's famous iron curtain speech. Historic landmark that did not pass by without some small measure of irony.

Coming up next, a preview of what's to come in 2016. Former Republican Senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania takes a shot at New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. What he's saying to his potential presidential rival coming up.


TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. It's day two of CPAC, the Conservative Political Action Conference. And at CPAC it's all really about being seen, getting your name out there, maybe winning the straw poll. For some, picking up more buzz about a 2016 candidacy. Kentucky Senator Rand Paul received a 40-second standing ovation today and he brought down the house. Classic Rand slamming the NSA.


SENATOR RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY: I believe what you do on your cell phone is none of their damn business.

(END VIDEO CLIP) TAPPER: Texas Governor Rick Perry also spoke. He spoke earlier in the day. He warmed up the crowd by channelling his inner Tony Robbins.


GOVERNOR RICK PERRY (R), TEXAS: My fellow conservatives, the future of this nation is upon you! It belongs to you! You have the power to change America! You have the power to speak to our newest hopes.


TAPPER: And you get a car! And you get a car! I'm sorry. I thought Perry was channelling an offer there. Both Perry and Rand Paul fired up a very friendly audience. So who wins the car? I mean, the momentum moving forward.

Joining me now to talk about this and more, Margaret Carlson, a columnist for "Bloomberg View" and Matt Bai, the national political columnist for Yahoo News and star of "House of Cards" Season Two, spoiler alert.

So Matt, Rand Paul according to everybody in the room, reporters in the room, Rand Paul was probably the biggest hit at CPAC. Could he win the nomination? Should he be taken seriously as a presidential candidate? Could he actually -- could he actually win the nomination you think?

MATT BAI, NATIONAL POLITICAL COLUMNIST, YAHOO NEWS: Who shouldn't be taken seriously? Let me tell you something. Rand Paul gave a very good speech. That was very intellectual. It went all the way from William Lloyd Garrison to Roger Waters and everywhere in between. Let's leave aside the weird mixed metaphor, but taking Lemmings in a crushing embrace that creeps me out a little bit.

There was a weird little line. Other than that, you know, the thing for Rand Paul I think as a presidential candidate, the thing that really animates him that he was so good on today. It was a very good speech is this civil liberty stuff. I think it's a critical issue. It's not going to drive a presidential race.

It's going to be an issue when you talk about an attorney general or intelligence, you know, picking intelligence officials, but that's not the larger current of economics or foreign policy, you know, can he get animated, can he present a vision of something else. I think on that issue, he's very compelling.

TAPPER: Now Margaret, the other big speech today, although from my understanding, Rand Paul's was slightly better received, but Rick Perry was -- pretty well received, as well. I spoke with him yesterday about what mistakes he made in 2012 that he won't repeat should he run in 2016. Take a listen.


PERRY: I won't have major back surgery six weeks before -- TAPPER: Good idea.

PERRY: The announcement.

TAPPER: How much was that a factor?

PERRY: I think it was. Listen, this was a very humbling experience for me.


TAPPER: He does say that the back surgery and the pain he was in and the painkillers, et cetera, were a reason, a big reason for his race not going the way he wanted it to in 2012. What other lessons do you think he needs to learn?

MARGARET CARLSON, COLUMNIST, "BLOOMBERG VIEW": He peaked at his announcement and you know, when you think of some of his big gaffes like forgetting which departments he wanted to close, it could be Vicodin related. It could be a painkiller issue. And God knows, he was so animated at CPAC, if he'd done that ever during his primary, you know, it might have turned out differently.

But it was a very low key performance. He had in the debates. I loved, he was doing the fire and brimstone and then he promised to deliver the mail on time and on Saturdays. But, boy -- he really did. I thought, this is small board, but it brought people out of their seats.

BAI: People want those --

CARLSON: He had a huge ovation, as well.

TAPPER: Right. But there is this subtext going on at the CPAC convention about winning, losing and Perry's fellow Texan Ted Cruz yesterday made something. He made a comment, he was talking about how conservatives need to stand for what they believe in. When they don't, they lose, and it's raised some hackles. Take a listen.


SENATOR TED CRUZ (R), TEXAS: And all of us remember President Dole and President McCain, and President Romney, now, look, those are good men, they are decent men. But when you don't stand and draw a clear distinction, when you don't stand for principle, Democrats celebrate.


TAPPER: Now Senator McCain had something to say about this today. Not necessarily because of what he said about him, but because of what he said about Bob Dole.


SENATOR JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: I wonder if he thinks that Bob Dole stood for principle on that hill top in Italy when he was so gravely wounded and left part of his body there fighting for our country. I hope that Ted Cruz will apologize to Bob Dole.


TAPPER: Bob Dole responded himself saying, quote, "Senator Cruz needs to check the record before passing judgment." Do you think Cruz crossed a line here, Matt?

BAI: Actually, you know, I think if Senator Cruz wants to say that Bob Dole or John McCain are unprincipled, I supposed that's fine. People say that every day. Words are cheap now in Washington. I wouldn't hire him as a political analyst because his read of the electorate seems bizarre to me.

Last time, I checked, all the Republicans he's talking about lost independence that they need to win clearly, historically for their party to win. They didn't fail to turn out Republicans, they actually failed to capture the broad center of the American electorate, in the suburbs, the places that are very competitive still in the country. So, I just think his theory of what's happened in the Republican Party is kind of weird.

CARLSON: Yes. I mean, the theory that these people just aren't conservative enough. The only thing wrong with them, but I thought John McCain, it was an example of Washington's false bridge, when you take offense where none was really intended in that way. But John McCain did it once removed. He was really speaking about himself and being a prisoner of war against Ted Cruz not serving. I don't think Ted Cruz served, right?


CARLSON: Yes. And he used Bob Dole for that purpose rather than do it personally. So I think the whole thing was a dust-up that didn't need to happen.

TAPPER: One last thing is that Rick Santorum took a little bit of a shot at Chris Christie. Chris Christie yesterday when he spoke talked about, yes, it's good to have principles, but it's also good to win elections. Here's what Rick Santorum had to say.


RICK SANTORUM (R), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: So we're told that we have to put aside what we believe is in the best interest of the country. So Republican candidate can win. Now, that may result in a win for a Republican candidate, but it will be a devastating loss for America.


TAPPER: Obviously Santorum is paraphrasing what Christie said.

BAI: He really is.

TAPPER: But this is really the big debate in the Republican Party right now. BAI: Well, it's a debate in both parties. It's a perennial debate, but I think sometimes we hear or the speech we expect to hear instead of the one that's actually given. And by we -- I don't mean -- I think the media. I read today, a lot about that one quote from Christie, which to me was a throw away quote. It had no bones to it.

He made no particular point. He did not confront. That was a, I think, from what I have heard of him, that was his most, you know, ideological speech in trying to win over the base of those conservatives. There was very little mollifying -- confronting of the base on issues of trying to be more of a compromising --

TAPPER: No, I agree. Margaret Carlson, Matt Bai, thank you so much. We appreciate it. When we come back, how hard will it be for the U.S. to get Britain on board with sanctions against Russia? Well, given how much cash the Russians pump into the U.K. economy that's going to be a tough sell. We're going to follow the money next.

And later, tainted beef that could make you sick. The possibility it's in a store near you. Well, just got greater.


TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper. Now it's time for our Money Lead. We're going to follow the money. President Obama had not even yet outlined the sanctions he wanted to impose on those whom the U.S. government deems responsible for the Russian land grab in the Ukraine before the world learned that the U.K. perhaps America's closest ally was dead set against the sanctions.

This secret document photographed being carried by a British official into the prime minister's residence and office at 10 Downing Street outlines just what the U.K. is and is not willing to do to get Russia to stand down. Among the more telling points in the document that Britain should, quote, "not support for now trade sanctions or close London's financial center to Russians."

Why? Well, it has to do with people like this man, Andrei Yakunan, a fund manager who lives in London. His dad, a former KGB agent is chief executive of Russian rail waves and a long time friend of Vladimir Putin or how about this man? Alisher Usmanov, a Russian industrialist who was named the U.K.'s wealthiest man in the annual "London Sunday Times" rich list, and on and on.

In the past few years, the U.K. has put out the welcome mat to hundreds of tycoons, oligarchs, and other magnates from Russia, another former Soviet Republics and the Brits happened to be fond of that money. Those Russians nearly bought 5 percent of London's premium properties last year according to the "Daily Beast."

Joining me now is Oliver Bullough. He is the author of "The Last Man in Russia." He recently wrote a telling article in the "New Republic" explaining why Britain's timid response to Putin may all come down to the cold, hard cash. Oliver, thanks so much for joining us. Explain for us how Russia has gained so much influence over in the U.K. over the past few years. OLIVER BULLOUGH, AUTHOR, "THE LAST MAN IN RUSSIA": Well, what you've got to know about Britain and London, we like to present an image it's about Princess Kate and Downton Abbey, but essentially we're here for business. If you can afford the entrance fee, we're up for it. So in 1991, when the Soviet Union fell apart and Russia started to privatize fast, small number of well-connected Russians got extremely wealthy and some Brits realized there was an opportunity here.

And that we could start selling off chunks of our capital. We could start selling off what we do best. We could sell our cars. We could sell our hotels. We could sell our football clubs even. Who you mentioned, owns one of arsenal, one of the leading football clubs in the U.K. And they like it here. We like their money so, yes, we've come to a mutual arrangement.

TAPPER: And you say this relationship goes way beyond the financial sector. It impacts real estate, schools. Tell us about the potential ripple effect if Prime Minister Cameron were to get tough with Russia. What would happen?

BULLOUGH: Well, I mean, obviously, schools, the rich Russians really, really do like to send their children to private school in England. The school where Princes William and Harry studied or lesser schools. Sort of the gold standard among oligarchs. That's 2,000 plus Russian children are boarding school in England at the moment, far more at private day schools and far greater number at universities.

So I mean, that's $100 million alone in school fees, which if Cameron were to get tough, would have to forego. That's a tough sell to (inaudible) to constituency. Again, state agencies mentioned, 5 percent of the prime London property market, 3 percent of the London new build market. It's an awful lot of money and again that's the state agents who will have to postpone buying a new car.

And that's a tough sell for a prime minister in a city that is, as I said, open for business. But, actually, this isn't just about rich people. This is a story that goes much further than that. BP, a company that maybe in America's best known for the gulf oil spill. And one in 4 barrels of oil that BP pumps comes out of Russia.

And BP makes up about 5 percent of the average British person's pension fund. So if Britain imposes sanctions on Russia then BP takes a hit. And that means everyone in this country takes a hit. This is a serious question that is being asked of us.

The difference in a way between America and Britain or wider with Europe is that our economic ties since '91 with Russia have gotten very, very close indeed. And this does make it difficult for our governments to make any kind of independent judgment on a question like this.

TAPPER: And we should point out, of course, that some, not all, but some of these Russian elites who are part of this London system you are talking about, they didn't exactly make their money on the up and up. Do you think journalists who have been following the money have only scratched the surface on how dependent aspects of the British economy are on Russia's plutocracy, kleptocracy including criminals?

BULLOUGH: Absolutely, no question about it. There's an institution in Britain called the limited liability partnership. It is an absolute vehicle perfectly designed for the criminal. You cannot investigate this -- the ownership of it. You cannot investigate the accounts. Yanukovych, the deposed president of Ukraine, it has been revealed almost all of his most construct deals were done via LLPs in the U.K.

That has only now come up after he's been deposed. Naturally when he was in power, our police have no interest in investigating that at all. I have no doubt, in fact, no one who looks into this has any doubt that the elite in Moscow, Putin's friends, they all have that here. And route their money via London. And we can deal with that.

We have tax havens. We have Guernsey. We have Jersey. That's pretty respectful. We have the Olive Man, it's a bit less respectable. If even that's too respectable for you, we have Bermuda. We have the British Virgin Islands. We have the Cayman Islands. We have a range of tax havens for any customer from the most dirty to the most discerning.

So London, as I say, we like money. It's tough and that does make it very difficult for our government to make any kind of independent judgment.

TAPPER: Fascinating and chilling. Oliver, thank you so much. We appreciate it. Wolf Blitzer is here with a preview of the "SITUATION ROOM." You don't typically interview singers, but you have a pop show on your show tonight who was involved in the protests in Ukraine.

WOLF BLITZER, HOST, CNN'S "THE SITUATION ROOM": She is the major pop star of Ukraine. She happens to be in Washington right now. She met with the first lady. She met with the vice president. She met with John McCain. She's a political activist. There you see some of the video. She's going to be with me in the situation room. We're going to talk about the situation and her country in Ukraine right now. She's amazing. She won the euro vision contest. The song contest back in 2004, which I'm sure you were watching.

TAPPER: I was well aware of that award. Well, we're looking forward to it. Thank you so much.

BLITZER: Thank you.

TAPPER: Still ahead, if one lawmaker has his way, there'll be a lot less to see at SeaWorld. How a CNN documentary could end one of the most famous shows on earth. The Buried Lead coming up next.


TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. In the Buried Lead, it's a story that came to surface thanks to the CNN film "Black Fish." A documentary about Orcas and their history of hurting even killing their trainers has left SeaWorld scrambling in the wake.

Now what could be the biggest blow to the theme park yet, a California lawmaker is proposing a bill to put an end to SeaWorld San Diego's famous shamu show. The legislation would ban using killer whales in aquatic theme park shows.

State Assembly member, Richard Bloom, says he was moved to draft the bill after watching the CNN film "Black Fish." SeaWorld says it's yet to see the legislation, but it is blaming extreme animal rights activists for nudging the lawmaker into action.

The government wants to know why Graco has recalled nearly 4 million child car seats, but it's not doing the same for Graco infant seats. If you're a parent, you might know this company. Graco issued a voluntary recall last month for the child seats because the red release button on the harness can get stuck. That could create problems in an emergency when you need to get the child out quickly.

Apparently the infant seats have the same issue, but they're not being recalled. Graco says those seats for infants can be released a second way from the base so they were not included in the recall. Still, highway safety regulators have asked Graco to explain its reasoning.

Just in time for supper, a beef recall that's gotten much bigger. The USDA is now telling 35 states and Guam that tainted beef could be in their stores. The meat came from Rancho Feeding Corporation in Northern California.

Last month, the company recalled nearly 9 million pounds of beef, 9 million after learning the cattle might have had diseases and not been inspected properly. The recall covered six states at first. Now, as we said, that number ballooned to 35 states.

We're talking about thousands of stores, big and small, possibly carrying the tainted products the USDA web site has a complete list. That's it for THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper. I now turn you over to Wolf Blitzer. He is right next door in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Have a fantastic weekend.

I'll see you on Monday -- Mr. Blitzer, take it away.