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THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER

Kerry Challenged On Deal Specifics; Ayatollah Tweets Image Of Obama With Gun To Head; Sources: Massive Fraud In Disabled Work Program. Aired 4:30-5p ET

Aired July 28, 2015 - 16:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[16:30:04]

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: In our politics lead: a new undercover Planned Parenthood video released just hours ago, this as rallies popping up across the country pushing to prohibit federal funding of the organization.

Republican presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson was at one of the rallies here in Washington, D.C. And he will join me next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.

In other politics news today, anti-abortion activists released a new undercover video purporting to show Planned Parenthood employees seeming to discuss per organ pricing of aborted fetal tissue and body parts. This comes after two similarly secretly recorded videos released by the same group, the Center for Medical Progress, over the past two weeks.

Forty anti-Planned Parenthood rallies are said to be scheduled across the country today. The rallies are demanding that Congress strip the organization of the more than half-a-billion dollars it receives in federal funding annually. All of these videos, Planned Parenthood notes, appear to have been heavily edited.

[16:35:04]

And Planned Parenthood insists that they do not profit from the sale of these tissues, which they say go to medical research.

CNN investigative correspondent Chris Frates takes a closer look.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I see someone come in.

CHRIS FRATES, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Fueled by a new undercover video and nationwide protest, abortion opponents on Tuesday upped the pressure to defund Planned Parenthood.

The latest graphic and highly edited video from the activist group the Center for Medical Progress features an interview with a woman who used to work for a company that bought fetal tissues from Planned Parenthood.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The harder and the more valuable the tissue, the more money you get. So, you're -- if you can somehow procure a brain or a heart, you're going to get more money than just like just like chorionic villi or umbilical cord.

FRATES: The video also includes a Planned Parenthood official discussing per organ pricing.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think the per item thing works a little bit just because you can see how much we can get out of it.

FRATES: Planned Parenthood said today they don't use federal funds for abortion, nor profit from fetal tissue, saying any money received covers the procedure's costs.

DAWN LAGUENS, EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT, PLANNED PARENTHOOD: The politicians have not wasted one minute trying to go from finding the facts to turning things into a political circus.

UNIDENTIFIED PROTESTERS: Planned Parenthood's got to go.

FRATES: Today, abortion opponents gathered in dozens of cities, calling on Congress to defund the group. The rally in front of the U.S. Capitol drew three Republican presidential contenders.

SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Today, the U.S. Department of Justice should open a criminal investigation into all of those individuals.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

BEN CARSON (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Are we going to become a culture of life or a culture of death?

SEN. RAND PAUL (R-KY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Today, I have good news. The Senate will vote on defunding Planned Parenthood before we go home in August.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

FRATES: Senate Republicans on Tuesday were looking for how to move forward on a vote to defund the group. And in the House, Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell defended Planned Parenthood, noting that federal money does not fund abortions.

SYLVIA MATHEWS BURWELL, U.S. HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES SECRETARY: What I think is important is that our HHS funding is focused on the issues of preventative care for women, things like mammograms and cancer prevention screenings.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

FRATES: Planned Parenthood hasn't yet released a formal statement on the newest video today. But in a conference call with reporters, an executive there said the video was put out by militant anti-abortion extremists who took the conversations out of context.

TAPPER: Chris Frates, thank you so much for that report.

Joining me to talk about the Planned Parenthood controversy, and much more, including the race for the 2016 presidential nomination, is Republican presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson.

Dr. Carson, thanks so much for being here.

(CROSSTALK)

TAPPER: We always appreciate your popping by.

You spoke at the rally, as we saw in the report. I want you to take a listen to what the executive vice president of Planned Parenthood Federation for America, Dawn Laguens, said to CNN earlier today.

CARSON: OK.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LAGUENS: When they talk about defunding, Americans need to know what we're talking about is cutting women off of cancer screenings, breast exams, birth control, all STD testing and treatment. Abortion doesn't come into play at all with federal funding.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: The argument is that none of the federal money pays for abortion, that is separate funding, and that by defunding Planned Parenthood, you would be eliminating all these other vital medical procedures, which you as a doctor know. I know you oppose legal abortion, but what's your response to Ms. Laguens?

CARSON: My response would be that all of the services that she mentioned are available through multiple other sources.

And to take an organization that not only makes money by selling baby parts, but doesn't seem to understand the sanctity of human life, and is willing to destroy that, an organization whose founder believed in eugenics...

TAPPER: You're talking about Margaret Sanger.

CARSON: Yes.

And even today, the plurality of their clinics are in minority communities.

TAPPER: Well, doesn't that make the argument that they would make, which is that the services that you're talking about -- forget abortion for a second -- but the services you're talking about are not available everywhere, and that's where minorities and people who are lower income get mammograms and treatment for STDs and birth control, et cetera?

CARSON: I thought that they were supposed to be able to get all of those things based on Obamacare. Why do we need Planned Parenthood?

TAPPER: I know you oppose abortion.

Let me take a turn to the other part of this, which has to do with the research. As a doctor -- you're a pediatric neurosurgeon -- what is your take on research that comes from -- either from fetal tissue parts or embryonic stem cell research? Where do you draw a line?

CARSON: Well, almost -- virtually everything that can be attributed to progress by using fetal tissue can also use other types of tissue.

[16:40:03]

So, I'm -- if it were the only way to do something, and there was no other way, that might be an argument. But under these circumstances, it really is not a legitimate argument.

TAPPER: I want to talk to you about obviously a lot of other issues in the news.

You oppose the Iran deal that President Obama and John Kerry are trying to sell to Congress. Arkansas Governor Mark Huckabee said, in very vivid language, that he thought the deal would lead Israel to the door of the oven, obviously a direct reference to the Holocaust. Jeb Bush has criticized Huckabee. Rick Santorum has defended him.

What's your take? Is that language offensive? Is it vivid and accurate? What do you think?

CARSON: It's pretty colorful.

I, early on, was guilty of very colorful language. And I discovered...

TAPPER: Certainly true.

CARSON: ... that people could not hear what I was saying.

So, I have dialed that back. I still believe what I believe, but I have learned how to say it in a way that you can actually get it across to people, without them stopping and saying, oh, and not able to hear anything else you have said.

TAPPER: Speaking of people using vivid language, I want to show you a tweet from an adviser to John Kasich, in an apparent reference to Donald Trump, in talking about preparing for next week's Republican debate,

John Weaver wrote: "Imagine a NASCAR driver mentally preparing for a race, knowing one of the drivers will be drunk. That's what prepping for this debate is like."

You don't have to defend the language. It's not from your campaign, how are you preparing for this debate, and are you thinking about what strong, controversial, crazy comments might come out of opponents' mouths?

CARSON: Well, I have prepared for debate on a regular basis, because I do a lot of town halls, and I never screen the questions. I take all questions.

So, I have had hundreds, if not thousands, of questions from people. And I don't know of a better way to prepare than that, and talking to experts, doing a lot of reading. I'm actually looking forward to helping some people recognize that doctors know more than medicine.

TAPPER: More than politicians about medicine? We will be looking forward to it.

What do you want people to come out of the debate thinking about you?

CARSON: I want them to recognize that I'm a very reasonable person. Some of the detractors would have you believe that I'm totally crazy and a wild person who has no information. And it would be nice for people to be able to see that that's not the case.

TAPPER: Thanks so much for joining us.

This is the first time I have seen you since you lost your mother. And I just wanted to say, my deepest condolences on your loss. I know she meant a great deal to you.

CARSON: Well, I appreciate that, but she actually sprang back.

TAPPER: She sprang back?

CARSON: It looked like she was on her deathbed. We all went down to say our final goodbyes. Everybody started praying, and she sprang back.

TAPPER: Oh, my God.

(LAUGHTER)

TAPPER: I didn't get the memo on the -- I just saw the news and said my condolences.

Well, that's the best news I have heard all day.

CARSON: It is wonderful.

TAPPER: Dr. Ben Carson, thank you so much.

(LAUGHTER)

CARSON: Thank you.

TAPPER: Talk about breaking news.

Coming up: Secretary of State John Kerry taking fire today on Capitol Hill, defending a nuclear deal with Iran. Now a brand-new CNN/ORC poll shows he needs to be doing more convincing of the American public as well.

Plus, a CNN investigation discovers massive problems in a federal agency that's supposed to help disabled workers. And it involves $3 billion in taxpayer money -- that story ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN KERRY, SECRETARY OF STATE: I don't need lessons from you about who I represent. You don't need to give me lessons on that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: Welcome back to the World Lead. That's Secretary of State John Kerry in a testy exchange as he is trying to sell the Iran nuclear deal to the House Foreign Affairs Committee, as you saw, his selling technique is apparently not winning over everyone.

In fact our brand new CNN/ORC poll shows that most Americans seem to be siding with the skeptical members of Congress, 52 percent of those surveyed in this poll said Congress should not approve the nuclear deal with Iran.

Let me bring in CNN global affairs correspondent, Elise Labott. Elise, this is the second intense hearing for John Kerry.

ELISE LABOTT, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: That's right. I mean, he got a grilling last week by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. We thought today this committee is usually a little tamer, this committee got acrimonious.

It was kind of like, you know, the chairman, Ed Royce, really cutting him off for time, using the clock against him and also basically attacking him. And times got really acrimonious. Listen to this other exchange with Congressman Scott Perry of Pennsylvania.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KERRY: They were marching toward a --

REPRESENTATIVE SCOTT PERRY (R), PENNSYLVANIA: You must understand. The American people see Iran as a crocodile or shark that does what it does. We're saying, we are going to give the crocodile or shark a few more teeth and let's see if it does something different.

KERRY: That's not accurate.

PERRY: That's what we see. Let me say this too, you have said that we don't have a better option. People say, you haven't provided a better option. First of all, Mr. Secretary, with all due respect, it's not Congress's job. This is the administration.

(END VIDEO CLIP) LABOTT: Resembling cross-examination of a reluctant witness. The congressman also hitting Kerry on the fact that this nuclear deal won't stop Iran's other activity in the region particularly terrorism. The secretary said that's not what this deal is intended to do, Jake, this was all about stopping a nuclear weapon and that what they think they did with this deal.

TAPPER: Iran, of course, not necessarily helping the situation for John Kerry either.

[16:50:01] LABOTT: Well, providing actually ammunition to these Republicans that are opposing a deal. Check out this tweet from the supreme leader. It's a Twitter account linked to him and it appears to have President Obama with a gun to his head, warning Iran doesn't want a war.

But quote, "If any war happens, the one who will emerge the loser will be the aggressive and criminal U.S. So even as the administration is trying to defend this deal and in some cases defend Iran in this deal, certainly continuing to jab at the U.S.

TAPPER: All right, Elise Labott, thank you so much.

Breaking news, a short time ago, the Justice Department is confirming that a former U.S. intelligence agent and convicted spy for Israel, Jonathan Pollard, will be getting out of prison, his release coming in November, almost 30 years to the day of his arrest.

Jonathan Pollard is the only American citizen sentenced to life in prison for spying for a U.S. ally. His release comes at a rather tensed time between Israeli and Obama White House, relationships strained even further by this nuclear deal with Iran.

Coming up next, it's being called one of the worst cases ever of fraud by the federal government, a brand new CNN investigation uncovers wide scale corruption by an agency that is supposed to help disabled workers get jobs.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[16:55:26]

TAPPER: Welcome back to the lead. I'm Jake Tapper. Our Buried Lead today, that's what we call stories that we don't think are getting enough attention. Today, a CNN investigation uncovering allegations of rampant fraud, mismanagement, and corruption in the federal agency that's supposed to find work for the disabled.

Sources telling CNN the Justice Department is investigating the program which dolls out $2.3 billion in tax dollars every year. Today, at a rally on Capitol Hill, some disability advocates voiced their anger and frustration, the agency in question is called ability one.

It outsources its management to a nonprofit called source America and that's where the problem begins. I want to get right to CNN senior investigative correspondent, Drew Griffin, who broke this exclusive story. Drew, what are your sources telling you?

DREW GRIFFIN, CNN SENIOR INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT: Well, they are telling us, Jake, that this presidential commission called "Ability One" and a non-profit agency "Source America" are being investigated and accused of such wide scale corruption. It is among the worst case of financial fraud they've ever seen in a federal program.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ROBERT FULLERTON, DISABLED WORKER: It's very upsetting and it's -- kind of makes me sick that money is going toward something that's a sham.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): Robert Fullerton should be one of the people helped by the "Ability One Source America" program, instead, he's out of a job. The company he worked for lost its government contract to a company accused in a lawsuit of not hiring enough severely disabled workers.

Under the law, 75 percent of the company's work must be performed by severely disabled employees. But our sources say as many as half of all federal contracts handed out under the program are failing to meet that standard and violating the law.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The majority of the individuals that were being hired were not severely disabled.

GRIFFIN: This manager who wants to be protected worked for years with Ability One contracts and saw how easy it is to obey the law. Companies just have to say they are compliant.

(on camera): All they do is fill out paperwork, we guarantee they're 75 percent severely disabled and send it off to Washington, and after that, nobody checks?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No. There are no documents to prove the individual has or does not have a severe disability.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): The presidential appointed commission in charge of the program outsources the management of the program to a nonprofit agency called "Source America."

"Source America" recommends and according to our sources virtually decides who gets the contracts, worth about $2.3 billion a year. Rich Beutel, a former congressional investigator, who now lobbies for companies in the industry calls it a recipe for corruption.

RICHARD BEUTEL, FORMER CONGRESSIONAL INVESTIGATOR AND LOBBYIST: You have actual advisers and board members in these organizations who are themselves business owners and so they can award themselves potentially contracts worth hundreds of millions of dollars.

GRIFFIN: No one from Source America would go on camera, but in a statement, the group flatly denies the allegations. No one involved in making award recommendations, the statement reads, is employed by an organization seeking those contracts. Deny Source America's board members are even involved in the evaluation of contract bids.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

GRIFFIN: Jake, that evaluation is left up to the Ability One Presidential Commission who's executive director declined an on camera interview with CNN and even refused to respond to any specific question citing these pending lawsuits. We now know that four Inspector's Generals offices are investigating these two agencies along with the Justice Department -- Jake.

TAPPER: Much appreciate it.

Our Money Lead now, I suspect that's how most of us would react if we just found buried treasure. A family of professional treasure hunters struck gold. They're coming public with their find, $1 million worth of coins and jewelry.

It all comes from a fleet of Spanish ships that wrecked off the Florida coast back in 1715, 300 years ago, $50 million worth of sunken treasure has been salvaged since the wreck was discovered. That's a mere bag of shells compared to the 400 million that's still out there somewhere.

Be sure to follow me on Facebook and Twitter @jaketapper or tweet the show @theleadcnn. That's it for THE LEAD. I am Jake Tapper, turning you over now to Wolf Blitzer right next door in "THE SITUATION ROOM." Thanks for watching.