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THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER
Senator Schumer To Vote No On Agreement; Obama Defends Iran Deal In Zakaria Interview; What Do Zimbabweans Think Of Cecil Uproar?; North Korea Creates Its Own Time Zone; Jon Stewart Signs Off. Aired 4:30-5p ET
Aired August 7, 2015 - 16:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
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PAMELA BROWN, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): -- some crawling on hands and knees to the Malaysian embassy. This woman who lost her daughter pleading, please, I beg you, bring my child back to me. And this woman saying nothing makes sense, even pointing out the passengers' cell phones worked and rang there is after the plane went down, adding she believes the passengers are still alive. But in the end, no one from the embassy showed up to meet with them. And another day ends with no new answers.
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BROWN: You can imagine how frustrating it. One of the officials said the debris recovered in recent days is, quote, "not as obvious as the flaperon" and would require, quote, "much more complex analysis." So it seems like we're going to have to wait a lot of days to figure this out.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: It's so heartbreaking for those families. Pamela Brown, thank you so much.
In other world news, forget convincing Republicans, President Obama is now dealing with high-level defectors in his own party over the proposed nuclear deal with Iran. Our own Fareed Zakaria sat down with President Obama to talk about that deal. Some of his exclusive interview is coming up next.
TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper. Democratic defections making headlines in our World Lead today, Chuck Schumer, who is likely to be the next Senate Democratic leader, announcing that he will reject President Obama's nuclear deal with Iran.
In a statement released late last night, the New York senator said, quote, "I believe Iran will not change and under this agreement it will be able to achieve its dual goals of eliminating sanctions while ultimately retaining its nuclear and non-nuclear power.
Mr. Obama's former head speech writer, John Favro blasted Schumer on Twitter saying, "Chuck Schumer who said it was a mistake to Obamacare now comes out against the Iran deal. This is our next Senate leader?"
Obama's former senior adviser, Dan Pfeiffer tweeted the base won't support a leader who wants war with Iran adding, "Hard to lead the Dems when you side with the Rs."
Immediately after Schumer's announcement, Congressman Eliot Engel, the ranking Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee also came out against the nuclear agreement.
President Obama, however, insists the choice is clear. A no vote in his view is a vote for inevitable war with Iran. Let's get right to CNN's Jim Acosta. He is live at the White House.
Jim, today the Obama administration trying to downplay the Schumer news, but no matter how you slice it, this is a big deal.
JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: It is a very big deal. The White House is doing its best to minimize the impact of losing Senator Chuck Schumer's vote on the Iran deal. Before he announced he would oppose the agreement, an aide says Schumer did call the White House to inform the president.
And White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said they are disappointed in Schumer's decision, but he added it was not surprising. He said that the Democratic senator and the president have been on opposing sides of war and peace since the Iraq war.
It's a bit of a dig there. Now Schumer could pay a price for his defection, a slew of top former Obama aides lashed out on Twitter. They are rallying against Schumer's expected rise to become the next Senate Democratic leader.
A former Obama adviser, who goes by the name of Dan Pfeiffer, he told me, quote, "If this deal goes down, Schumer will be held directly responsible and as one key Democratic aide told me earlier today, Jake, it all depends on whether or not Schumer pushes against this deal or whips against this deal.
He says he has the votes to become leader according to this aide, but something like this, this defection on the Iran deal could change that. Now Earnest did tell reporters earlier today he would not be surprised if some senators considered Schumer's voting record in selecting their next leader and replacing the outgoing Harry Reid.
That was a not so veiled jab at Schumer who has been quietly calling his colleagues to explain this decision, but Jake, Schumer's vote is not likely to kill this deal while Republicans are expected to pass a bill denouncing the agreement. It's unlikely enough Democrats will join them to beat back a presidential veto.
TAPPER: So that's where it stands right now. They are still confident, even with Schumer saying he's against the deal, they're confident there will not be enough votes to kill the deal?
ACOSTA: That's right. They're confident that they have the votes. They do think that the Republicans because they have the majorities in both houses, will pass this resolution, saying that they don't agree with this Iran deal, but the question becomes -- the president will veto that.
The question then becomes can the Republicans muster the two thirds majority they need in both the House and the Senate? Nobody really in Washington right now believes that those votes are there.
So the White House is confident they could lose a vote like Schumer's even though they don't like it very much -- Jake.
TAPPER: Jim Acosta live for us at the White House. Thank you so much.
CNN's Fareed Zakaria sat down with President Obama for an exclusive interview to air Sunday. He joins us now. Fareed, there are so many skeptics about this deal both here in the United States and also in the leadership in Iraq.
FAREEZ ZAKARIA, CNN HOST, "FAREED ZAKARIA GPS": Yes, Jake, people sometimes forget there's politics in Iran as well. In fact a lot of politics like a place like Iran than there is say Egypt or Saudi Arabia, and so if you listen to the Iranian political debate, you get the sense there are real hard-liners deeply opposed to the deal.
What I asked the president about was one of these guys who's always been a hardliner, always been anti-American, the supreme leader himself.
ZAKARIA: You talked about Iran's hardiners, the old guard, but one member of Iran's old guards certainly seems to be Ayatollah Khomeini, the Supreme Leader.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: I think he would qualify.
ZAKARIA: He would qualify, right. He seems relentlessly anti- American. His Twitter feed has posted a likeness of you with a gun pointed to your head.
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Yes.
ZAKARIA: Is this a guy you can really make a deal with?
PRESIDENT OBAMA: As I said, Fareed, you don't negotiate deals with your friends. You negotiate them with your enemies and superpowers don't respond to taunts. Superpowers focus on what is it that we need to do in order to preserve our national security, and the national security of our allies and our friends.
[16:40:00] And I think that he tweeted that in response to me stating a fact, which is that if we were confronted with a situation which we could not resolve this issue diplomatically, that we could militarily take out much of Iran's military infrastructure. I don't think that's disputable. I don't think there's a military expert out there that would contest that. The supreme leader obviously doesn't want to hear that, and I understand. But I'm not interested in a Twitter back-and-forth with the supreme leader. What I'm interested in is the deal itself, and can we enforce it?
TAPPER: Of course that's if the deal becomes a deal. Fareed, we were talking earlier in the block, you heard the news from Jim Acosta about Senator Charles Schumer's opposition. Do you think that Schumer's opposition will mean not only that the deal will go down in the Senate, but there might be enough votes to override President Obama's veto?
ZAKARIA: I think it's possible in the Senate. In the House, it's a different issue. I think he probably has a firewall in the House, which would allow the deal to go through because overriding in the House would be tough.
Look, in the Senate, for somebody like Charles Schumer faces a difficult decision. It's -- obviously there is the substantive issues involved, but look at the politics.
If he supports this deal, he gets a phone call from the president saying thank you, but he will have enraged a very powerful group of constituents, the Stop Iran Coalition.
These are people he often fundraises from, and that asymmetry -- that is that the people opposed to this deal are deeply and intensely opposed wraps the people in favor don't have quite the same intensity. It always works in American politics.
That's why so many intense, you know, lobbying groups or minority groups get their way. That dynamic is clearly afoot here. The president realizes it. It's less true in the House. So I think the firewall is the House of Representatives.
TAPPER: Fareed, I suspect if he voted for the bill, for the agreement would also get a phone call from the Israeli prime minister berating him, Benjamin Netanyahu. Did the President Obama have anything to say about him?
ZAKARIA: You know, I was -- I've been watching Prime Minister Netanyahu really actively engage in this debate. I was wondering to myself has a foreign leader ever interjected himself or herself into a debate in quite the same way.
I imagine if Jacque Chirac had done that on the eve of the Iraq war because as he was as you know very strongly opposed to the Iraq war. And so I decided I just ask the president what he thought. Listen to what he had to say.
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ZAKARIA: Prime Minister Netanyahu has injected himself forcefully into this debate on American foreign policy in Washington. Can you recall a time when a foreign head of government has done that? Is it appropriate for a foreign head of government to inject himself into an American debate?
PRESIDENT OBAMA: I'll let you ask Prime Minister Netanyahu that question if he gives you an interview. I don't recall a similar example. Obviously the relationship between the United States and Israel is deep, it's profound.
It's reflected in my policies, but as I said yesterday in my speech, in the substance, the prime minister is wrong on this. And I think that I can show that the basic assumptions that he's made are incorrect.
If in fact my argument is right that this is the best way for Iran not to get a nuclear weapon, then that's not just good for the United States, that's very good for Israel.
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ZAKARIA: You hear, Jake, the frustration the president feels. If people would focus on the substance of the deal, people would understand this really is a good deal for the Israel. It's a good deal for the United States. It's a good deal for the world, and he's sticking with the substance, in a sense letting the politics play out.
TAPPER: Right, of course, a lot of the people opposed to it are sticking to the substance as well. Fareed Zakaria, thank you so much. You can see Fareed's entire exclusive interview with President Obama. This weekend, be sure to watch "FAREED ZAKARIA GPS" Sunday at 10:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. Eastern right here on CNN.
Coming up, the outrage over the killing of a beloved African lion by an American hunter, but those who live near the animal sanctuary where Cecil, the lion, lived, they have something of a different take on it all.
Plus Kim Jong-Un decides he's not cool with sharing a time zone with anyone. He's turning back the clocks in North Korea. That story is next.
TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper. You're looking at live pictures at Andrews Air Base, where we're expecting President Obama, the first lady, Sasha, along with Susan Rice and Valerie Jared to get off Marine One and walk to Air Force One, where they will ultimately end up on Martha's Vineyard and begin their summer vacation.
In other world news today, news of the killing last month of the African lion, Cecil in Zimbabwe by an American hunter provoked an international uproar of the killing of the big cat, who was lured from his protected habitat and shot with a bow and arrow by the now despised American dentist, Walter Palmer.
That threw a spotlight on Zimbabwe and its international hunting practices and it made us here at THE LEAD wonder about what the people in Zimbabwe might be making of all this? Are they outraged? Do they care about Cecil the way that we do?
Our reporter on the ground in Zimbabwe, David McKenzie, he went to find out.
[16:50:08] DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Jake, the killing of Cecil, the lion, sparked worldwide outrage, but here in Zimbabwe many people have a very different take on lions.
MCKENZIE (voice-over): On the early morning walk to school, children can face long distances and hidden threats. Tanaka walks two miles each day. Her mother is relieved when she makes it home.
I hope she can walk to cool and come back safely, she says, because of the wild animals. They live on the edge of the national park where near Cecil the lion was killed.
Zabanda means lion, but they say lions are a pest. If a lion is killed, I really don't care, says Margaret, because it destroys our cattle. Their family grinds out a living after successive droughts decimated their savings, and as foreign tourists pass them by.
(on camera): Tourists and hunters travel down this road bringing big money for Zimbabwe's wildlife, but the local communities here say they don't see a cent.
(voice-over): In fact it's money, not lions, on the minds of most people here. Our Zimbabwe money is worthless, Georgina tells me, we can't use it. Hyperinflation means now Zimbabweans use only American dollars and struggle with the high cost of living.
Charles and Komo saved three years to buy this van, but the police want bribes all the time, he says, and it's getting worse.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There is no -- our life we are living here now is difficult. You can't live.
MCKENZIE: Like many here, he feels more attention should be put on the plight of Zimbabwe's people than on the plight of its lions.
MCKENZIE: Jake, some conservationists say that the correct management of hunting can actually help if money starts to flow to those communities -- Jake.
TAPPER: Our thanks to David McKenzie for that report.
I guess North Korean leaders thought their country was too in sync with the rest of the world, well, that's not a problem anymore. The hermit kingdom will be setting back its clocks and getting its very own time zone.
North Korean state media announced today that its dear leader will dial back the clock 30 minutes on August 15th, that would be the nation's 70th anniversary of its liberation from Japan.
The move will realign the time zone to what it was before the colonization of what state media calls the wicked Japanese imperialists.
In our Pop Culture Lead, goodbye, Jon Stewart.
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SENATOR JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: I'm Jon Stewart. I'm dumb, I'm stupid, so long, Jon Stewart.
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TAPPER: The star-studded send-off for "The Daily Show" host. That story is next.
TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. Topping our Pop Culture Lead, 16- plus -- no, not Republican candidates, years. The other big TV event last night was comedian, Jon Stewart's final show on Comedy Central. With wit and bite, the 52-year-old self-appointed ombudsman ended things, well, classy, but not before taking a few hits himself.
MCCAIN: I'm Jon Stewart. I'm dumb, I'm stupid, nah, nah, nah, so long, jackass.
TAPPER (voice-over): It was a fond farewell last night from Washington.
SENATOR CHARLES SCHUMER (D), NEW YORK: Don't go, come back. Jon, I'm being sarcastic.
TAPPER: For a man whose political snark has earned him the attention of those at the top.
JOHN KERRY, SECRETARY OF STATE: There are a lot of things happening around the world keeping me up at night, which is why I've relied on you to put me to sleep.
TAPPER: After years as the butt of "Daily Show" jokes.
JON STEWART: Hello. I'm Charlie Rangel. Do you wish the front you looked more like the back of you?
TAPPER: Some finally got the last word.
CONGRESSMAN CHARLIE RANGEL: Good riddance, smartass.
TAPPER: Democratic Congressman Charlie Rangel tweeted his handwritten humor, tweeting how would we know and who really cares about Jon Stewart's departure from "The Daily Show?" Adding -- I had fun writing my own lines.
STEWART: I want to be judged by the purity of my lineage and my family's sweet tea recipe.
TAPPER: Even southern gentleman, Lindsey Graham, got in on the fun.
STEWART: Lindsey Graham.
TAPPER: For some even the first Republican debate was no excuse to miss Jon Stewart's big last night.
GOVERNOR CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'll never forget you, Jon, but I will be trying.
TAPPER: President Obama took to Twitter posting, "You've been a great gift to the country, #jonvoyage. Vice President Joe Biden added "The end of an era, congratulations." With no hard feeling even Arby's.
STEWART: Arby's, the meal that's a dare for your colon.
TAPPER: Yes, Arby's CEO got in on the fun.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Jon Stewart, it's like the TV threw up on your face.
TAPPER: And as New Jersey's favorite comic fought off the tears and told viewers to take the helm.
STEWART: The best offense against (inaudible) is vigilance, so if you smell something, say something.
TAPPER: The bard of the garden state -- played him off the stage.
HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: And just when I'm running for president. What a bummer.
TAPPER: Finally from us, it was ten years ago today that legendary newsman, Peter Jennings, died, a friend, mentor and beacon of journalistic integrity for so many of us who knew him. He taught tenacity, curiosity, challenged those in power and us to always strive for excellence.
Jennings fought hard against the forces of entertainment that seek to undermine journalism. We miss you, Peter, and the world misses you more than ever.
Don't miss my interviews with Republican presidential candidates, Carly Fiorina and Governor John Kasich on "STATE OF THE UNION" Sunday at 9:00am and Noon Eastern, right here on CNN. That's it for THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper, turning you over to one Wolf Blitzer, in "THE SITUATION ROOM."