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THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER

Califronia Fugitives Update; Clinton, Sanders Deadlocked in Iowa 3 Days Out; State Dept. Not Releasing 22 "Top Secret" Clinton Emails. Aired 4-4:30p ET

Aired January 29, 2016 - 16:00   ET

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


[16:00:10]

JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: Will Donald Trump's voters turn out Monday night after he didn't turn up at last night's debate?

THE LEAD live from Iowa starts right now.

The politics lead, down to the wire in Iowa. Trump says his big bet going AWOL on last night's debate will pay off with Iowans, but with three days to go, did Ted Cruz already blow his chance to break through?

The national lead, they got one. Now police still need to track down two other dangerous inmates who escaped from that jail in California, as we're learning more details about how they got out and why a prison tutor is now in handcuffs.

Plus, their dad is hunting the biggest prize in the political wilderness, the presidency. But, today Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump were hunting in the Iowa wilderness, and they brought me along.

Welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper, live from Des Moines, Iowa, where in just three days, we're going to get the first results of the presidential campaign. We already have a sense that Donald Trump's last big gamble might have paid off.

He skipped the harsh spotlight of last night's presidential debate, leaving his chief Iowa competitor, Senator Ted Cruz, to take the heat.

CNN politics reporter Sara Murray is here in Des Moines and joins me now.

Sara, I know he's not one to second-guess himself, but it seems like he actually feels pretty good about his decision.

SARA MURRAY, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, in the cold light of the next day, it turns out it was Ted Cruz who bore the brunt of those attacks last night and he didn't get a chance to punch up against his chief rival. One thing we know today, Donald Trump does not sound too sad about missing the debate stage last night.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Ted Cruz is an anchor baby in Canada.

MURRAY (voice-over): After a tough night for Ted Cruz, Donald Trump is piling on.

TRUMP: Cruz is in second place. He got really pummeled last night. Actually, I'm glad I wasn't there, because I guess all of that -- he got pummeled. Wow. And they didn't even mention that he was born in Canada, right?

MURRAY: Sharpening his attacks on Cruz's citizenship and delighting in his decision to skip Thursday night's debate.

TRUMP: I did something that was very risky, and I think it turned out great, because I'm on the front page of every paper. I'm getting more publicity than if I -- you know, I don't know.

MURRAY: Cruz is coping with a rockier reception, after sparring with debate moderators.

SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If you guys ask one more mean question, I may have to leave the stage.

MURRAY: And facing incoming fire from his GOP rivals.

SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R-FL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The truth is, Ted, throughout this campaign, you have been willing to say or do anything in order to get votes.

MURRAY: Cruz woke up to this front page in Iowa. Cruz isn't the only one drawing scrutiny, as Rubio's rivals put him on defense over his shifting stance on immigration.

RUBIO: You changed your position on immigration because you used to support a path to citizenship.

JEB BUSH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: So did you.

MURRAY: Meanwhile Trump's opponents predicted his debate stunt could undercut him in Iowa.

SEN. RAND PAUL (R-KY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think the disdain and arrogance that Trump showed by not coming may well turn off Iowa voters.

MURRAY: But Trump told CNN's Brianna Keilar it was a show of strength.

TRUMP: I think you're going to find that a lot of the voters and a lot of the caucus-goers, I think they're going to say he's the one person that will stand up for himself.

MURRAY: And, tonight, Iowa conservatives seem to believe it won't do much damage.

(on camera): Did it hurt him? Did it not hurt him? UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't think it hurt him at all. His nearest

competitor kind of bloodied, but I think the headline of "The Des Moines Register" which says rough night for Ted Cruz says it all.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MURRAY: Now, today, Ted Cruz is trying to shrug off all this hubbub about the debate. He was campaigning across Iowa today. And he said he's not trying to win over the media, what he cares about is turnout on caucus night and says he's still feeling confident -- Jake.

TAPPER: I have heard it all comes down to turnout.

MURRAY: Yes. People have said that...

(CROSSTALK)

TAPPER: I have heard that. It's a rumor.

Sara Murray, thanks so much.

Joining me now, a prominent Cruz supporter here in Iowa and the executive director The Family Leader, Bob Vander Plaats

Bob, thanks so much for joining me.

First of all, we should just talk about the fact that Cruz, at least in that auditorium, was booed by Republicans and did seem to have a rough night. What do you think?

BOB VANDER PLAATS, CEO, THE FAMILY LEADER: Well, "The Des Moines Register" is never going to be his friend or say that Ted Cruz won the debate, and the establishment Republican -- which was the majority of that audience -- isn't going to say that either.

What I can tell you tangibly is Ted Cruz raised the most money he ever raised off of that debate. His people, his supporters, me included, thought he had a great night. I thought with Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio going back and forth, I thought that hurt both of them, although some people say Jeb had a pretty good night.

I think Trump going AWOL, he may say that's a show of strength, but in Iowa, that's a show of weakness.

TAPPER: Have you actually heard from voters here in Iowa that that bothered them, Trump not being there?

[16:05:00]

VANDER PLAATS: Oh, a lot of voters.

There have been a lot of voters that I heard already today who are moving from Trump to Cruz who had this in the mix. I have had some people say they arguably could see Trump now coming in third in Iowa. If you're going to skip the final interview, he wouldn't hire them for Trump Enterprises. He'd say you're fired, you don't get the job. He's going to walk away from FOX News and Megyn Kelly? How does he

take on Iran, China, Putin, anybody

TAPPER: I wanted to give you a chance to respond. Donald Trump going after Ted Cruz, saying he had a bad night and calling him an anchor baby in Canada. What do you say of that?

VANDER PLAATS: That's just Donald Trump being Donald Trump.

But I think it plays into what people are really concerned about with Trump, judgment and discernment to be the president of the United States. You can't mock people with disabilities. You can't say you can shoot somebody and not be held responsible. You can't make fun of prisoners of war. And now he's embracing the establishment, because it's all about the art of the deal.

TAPPER: But he's done all those things, and he keeps rising in the polls.

VANDER PLAATS: I don't think that works now. People are going to make decisions.

You have been around Iowa a lot. So have I. People broke late for Huckabee. People broke late for Santorum. I think people are going to break late now from Trump and unite around Cruz. I believe that Cruz has a good night Monday night.

TAPPER: Now, take a listen to Marco Rubio last night at the debate talking about Ted Cruz and immigration. I want to give you a chance to respond.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RUBIO: This is the lie that Ted's campaign is built on, and Rand touched upon it -- that he's the most conservative guy, and everyone else is a -- you know, everyone else is a RINO.

The truth is, Ted, throughout this campaign, you've been willing to say or do anything in order to get votes.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: Rubio there was specifically talking how in 2013, during the immigration reform bill, Cruz had supported a path to legal status for illegal immigrants, not to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, but to legal status. Now he says he doesn't support that. How do you explain that...

(CROSSTALK)

VANDER PLAATS: I think it's a hollow argument by Marco Rubio. Here's a guy that campaigned as a Tea Party candidate.

TAPPER: No, I get that.

(CROSSTALK) VANDER PLAATS: No, wait, but he's launching this attack on Ted Cruz.

But when Cruz says Jeff Sessions, Steve King, Rush Limbaugh, Mark Levin, all those know that I stopped Rubio's bill -- Rubio teamed up with Schumer and with Obama and with McCain for this amnesty bill. So, for him to call that out -- and Jeb Bush called out Rubio on that. That's why I think Rubio lost that section of the debate. I think Cruz actually won that.

TAPPER: But -- all right. I will move on.

I want to play another remark from Cruz that's raising some eyebrows.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CRUZ: You want to know what carpet bombing is? It's what we did in the first Persian Gulf War; 1,100 air attacks a day, saturation bombing that utterly destroyed the enemy.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: Now, during the Gulf War, the U.S. used precision-targeted laser-guided bombing. That is not carpet-bombing.

Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates told me that he doesn't like hearing carpet-bombing from the campaign trail, that that's "not the way Americans fight wars" and that leaders who propose it are being dishonest and simplistic.

Why does Senator Cruz keep talking about carpet-bombing? That's not what anybody with any military knowledge supports?

VANDER PLAATS: Yes, and I think we can argue about terminology, and I would agree on that.

And I think what Senator Cruz, though, is saying, though, is that we need to come at this from a position of strength. We can't just be symbolic in our efforts here. And that's what he's trying to say. And I think it is resonating with the American people, who are saying, we need to go after ISIS with everything that we have.

So, that's why I think he's really trying to communicate in those words.

TAPPER: All right, Bob Vander Plaats, have a great night on Monday night. Good luck to you and your candidate.

VANDER PLAATS: Thank you, Jake. Welcome to Iowa.

TAPPER: Really appreciate it.

Breaking news in our politics lead today, the State Department now saying that Hillary Clinton had e-mails on her private server so secret that the State Department will not release them even with redactions -- that story next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[16:12:47]

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

TAPPER: We're back with some breaking political news.

With just three days until the Iowa caucuses, the U.S. State Department announced today that it has deemed 22 e-mails from then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's server top-secret, and the State Department says they will not release those 37 pages.

I want to bring in CNN chief national security correspondent Jim Sciutto.

Jim, these e-mails were apparently not marked classified at the time they were sent, at least as far as we know. Is the State Department giving any reason as to why they are now deemed top-secret and how significant this is?

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: The State Department said that the intelligence community has determined that information contained in these seven e-mail chains adding up to 37 pages is in the top-secret category.

This is the first time that e-mails have been put into that category of classification. There have been earlier e-mails at a lower category of classification, these in the top-secret, the highest. Now, as you say, the State Department says they were not marked as such at the time.

However, the State Department says it still has not determined -- it's going to go on to set up its own investigation to determine whether that information was classified at the time. You know, that's another issue because there's been this charge that a lot of this has been done retroactively, that it was not classified at the time they were sent, it was only a later determination made.

But the State Department saying here that question is actually unanswered. This information may indeed have been classified at the time, whether or not it was marked. Listen to how John Kirby answered the question on who determined whether this information was classified.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

QUESTION: You guys were prepared to release it until the intel community came in and said, hey, wait a second?

JOHN KIRBY, STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESMAN: No, I wouldn't say that. I wouldn't say that, Matt. As I said, we had an ongoing discussion about this traffic with them. At their request, we have decided to make this upgraded. It's a State Department decision. We're doing it, but we're doing it at the request of the intelligence community.

(END VIDEO CLIP) SCIUTTO: So, again, John Kirby saying there was the intelligence community made the request, but saying that the State Department complied with the request.

I would add one more point here, Jake, and this gets into a little bit the way classified information is handled in government agencies, that even if that classified information was not marked as such, the people who handle and read this kind of information do have some responsibility to recognize it.

[16:15:15] Now -- and, therefore, report it. Now, that may be difficult to do. There are many e-mails, the Clinton campaign has talked about how some of this was referring to a "New York Times" article.

But still, to be clear, it does not completely involved those involved of responsibility for mishandling that classified information.

TAPPER: And, Jim, how is the Clinton campaign reacting to this news?

SCIUTTO: Now, the answer, Jake, in the simplest terms, very quickly. They came out with a statement within seconds of the State Department announcement. They use the phrase that this is classification run amuck.

But they went on to say this, "We firmly oppose the complete blocking the release of these e-mails. Since first providing her emails to the State Department more than a year ago, Hillary Clinton has urged that they be made available to the public and feel no differently today."

So, saying they should have been released, it is overclassification and they are also starting some of the Clinton campaign people, to say -- to put out a story as to how this happened that these e-mails originated on the State Department's unclassified server from lower level employees and it bubbled up to the top.

An attempt, you might say, to absolve the secretary of responsibility for this. But it's early, Jake, we're going to keep following this very closely.

TAPPER: Jim Sciutto, thanks so much.

Hillary Clinton was mentioned in last night's Republican debate more than twice as much as the actual front-runner, Donald Trump. Candidates jockeyed to paint themselves as the best suited to prevent Clinton from extending Obama legacy. Of course, they need to get past Donald Trump first. But then again, Clinton has work to do herself to get past Bernie Sanders.

CNN senior Washington correspondent Jeff Zeleny joins me now.

Jeff, what are the Clinton and Sanders campaigns telling you about their expectations for Monday night?

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jake, it's all about turnout, how many people are going to come out. If the modeling looks like 2004, there are about 140,000, that is OK with the Clinton campaign. They're satisfied, they're comfortable with that. But if it goes much higher than that, to 2008 levels, Obama type levels of 240,000, the Sanders campaign is more happy about that perspective.

So, the Sanders campaign launched a new website that's called Prove Them Wrong. It's aimed at young voters and say any Democrats who are saying you won't come out, prove them wrong.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

(MUSIC)

ZELENY (voice-over): A fight to the finish.

HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Please, between now and Monday night, think hard because the stakes are high.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If we win, it will indicate that this country is ready for real significant change.

ZELENY: Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders in a battle for Iowa.

BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT: You need to caucus for her.

ZELENY: It's a family affair.

President Clinton and Chelsea joining for the final countdown.

HILLARY CLINTON: For those of you still shopping, trying to make up your mind, I hope I can persuade you.

ZELENY: Persuading voters by saying her rival's universal health care plan is wishful thinking.

HILLARY CLINTON: People who have health emergencies can't wait for us to have some theoretical debate about some better idea that will never, ever come to pass.

ZELENY: She drove her point home with a personal story.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMLAE: My daughter had brain cancer.

HILLARY CLINTON: People can't wait.

ZELENY: The race is coming down to a test of campaign organization. It's a duel for the direction of the Democratic Party.

SANDERS: It's going to be a very, very close election.

ZELENY: Sanders is casting Clinton as a candidate of the status quo. He's drawing sharp contrast in TV ads.

AD NARRATOR: How does Wall Street get away with it?

AD NARRATOR: Millions in campaign contributions and speaking fees. ZELENY: He says a political movement his campaign is building can

help achieve his lofty agenda.

SANDERS: Everybody here knows that change, real change, never comes easily.

ZELENY: Diane Schaefer is a Clinton supporter who never thought the race would be this close.

(on camera): Why is Bernie Sanders giving her such a run for her money?

DIANE SCHAEFER, HILLARY CLINTON SUPPORTER: I don't know, I'm totally shocked, I really am. I really thought this would be a slam dunk.

ZELENY (voice-over): She's part of a split household. Her son believes it's time to shake up the establishment with Sanders.

SCHAEFER: He is all about Bernie. So I don't know if it's the younger group coming out in force and just being, oh, my gosh, let's go for this radical change that Bernie keeps talking about.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ZELENY: And that is the central point there. This one woman right there, a Hillary Clinton supporter, at a rally for Secretary Clinton earlier today, she's so worried about this. She was talking about her son, all of his friends are supporting Senator Sanders.

So, the question is: are these young people that don't generally caucus going to come out and prove them wrong, like we said earlier.

TAPPER: And will it snow?

ZELENY: It could snow.

TAPPER: Will it snow Monday night?

[16:20:00] ZELENY: And if you have older supporters like the Clinton campaign, will some of the older supporters be able to drive through the snow. So --

TAPPER: They used to walk seven miles -

ZELENY: But it's nice today. So --

TAPPER: Yes. All right. Jeff Zeleny, thanks so much.

ZELENY: Thanks, Jake.

TAPPER: So what does the State Department's decision to classify 22 of Hillary Clinton's e-mails as top secret, what does it mean for the presidential candidate come Monday? Does it mean anything? Does it mean everything?

We'll ask our political panel, next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD.

Is this heaven? No, it's Iowa. Let's stay with politics.

(LAUGHTER)

TAPPER: Which candidates are in the best position to claim victory Monday night here in Iowa?

Let's discuss with Republican consultant Margaret Hoover, former vice chair of South Carolina's Democratic Party, Bakari Sellers, also a Hillary Clinton supporter, we should point out, and Jennifer Jacobs, a chief political reporter for the widely respected "Des Moines Register."

[16:25:00] Thanks one and all for being here.

You're going to tell us about your poll that's coming out tomorrow.

JENNIFER JACOBS, DES MOINES REGISTER: Not yet.

BAKARI SELLERS, FORMER VICE CHAIR, SOUTH CAROLINA DEMOCRATIC PARTY: Do we get the results today? Everybody's on pin and needles.

TAPPER: Bakari, this news about the State Department not releasing some of secretary Clinton's e-mails, it seems damaging. Tell me why it isn't.

SELLERS: Well, we've seen this type of bureaucracy when it comes to the classification process before. Even the State Department came out and said nothing was classified when it was sent. We know that "The New York Times" ran some of these special access programs, some of the materials that's in there before.

TAPPER: From WikiLeaks.

SELLER: So this is much ado about nothing. This is some Republican talking point fodder. I don't think Iowa voters are paying attention to it. I know especially being from South Carolina that the definition of Hillary Clinton right now in South Carolina is a fighter. This is another obstacle. This is some more mud.

She's emerged since Arkansas, so I believe she'll emerge again today.

TAPPER: Margaret, yesterday the Republican debate. Donald Trump doesn't show up. Ted Cruz, who is his chief competitor here, takes a lot of fire from his competitors on the stage and also an audience that was not all that friendly to him. Was Donald Trump's move at the end of the day the right move?

MARGARET HOOVER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Donald Trump won the debate in absentia. And I think for him, it was the right move. And by the way, what did he do? He went and had a telethon for veterans? Who doesn't want to tune in for that? I think people who were watching were flipping back and forth between

the two. I mean that was one win for him and he didn't know if it was going to be a win, but it's basically come down to the fact that he can't do anything wrong.

TAPPER: It's really strange. I've never seen anything like it.

What do you think, could any voters, Bob Vander Plaats, who was here a minute ago who obviously is biased. He supports Ted Cruz. He says he has heard of people telling him that they didn't like Donald Trump not showing up for the debate and they're now going to vote for Ted Cruz. On the other hand, as you saw, Ted Cruz got a lot of boos and a lot of attacks from his competitors on stage last night.

Could last night's activities, both Trump not being there and Cruz being there end up affecting the race Monday night?

JACOBS: I doubt that it will affect Trump too much. We did get a lot of e-mails and tweets and feedback from Iowa Republicans saying it made him seem unpredictable, it made him seem erratic. You know, is he always going to commit -- he was committed to being at this debate? What are we going to expect from him when he's president, will he follow through? We did hear a lot of that.

But people said, "But even though he is unpredictable, we're still standing by him." So I don't see a lot of support feeling off of him just because of that debate absence.

But you're right. Ted Cruz just took it from all sides at that debate. You know, it wasn't necessarily his audience and it was almost like a sitcom that had no laugh track. And so because that audience wasn't all that fond of him, a lot of his jokes seemed to fall flat, perhaps if he had had a different audience.

SELLERS: Or a laugh track.

JACOBS: It might have seemed different. But he just is getting it from so many different directions right now.

TAPPER: One of the places that candidates are taking it is the TV.

Bakari, I want you to take a look at this ad running right now in Iowa from the Sanders campaign.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, SANDERS 2016)

AD NARRATOR: Goldman Sachs, just settled with authorities for their part in the crisis that put seven million out of work and millions out of their homes. How does Wall Street get away with it? Millions in campaign contributions and speaking fees. Our economy works for Wall Street because it's rigged by Wall Street.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: Doesn't mention Secretary of State Clinton.

SELLERS: Oh, well --

TAPPER: But obviously speaking fees from Goldman Sachs.

SELLERS: Exactly.

TAPPER: I think it's kind of an effective ad.

SELLERS: It is. I mean, it's an attack ad, it truly is.

TAPPER: Sure.

SELLERS: But this is a contact sport. This isn't as dirty as we've seen before, for those of us who were around in 2008. We've seen dirty politics before from both sides. But it's an effective ad.

However, I do think that that points out the fact that Bernie Sanders knows he's running from behind here in Iowa. Bernie Sanders also knows the sense of urgency because the fact of the matter is we can play it up in the media all we want. Bernie Sanders has to win Iowa and New Hampshire. There's no win one and maybe win another.

He has to win both, because voters throughout the South on the March 1st primary and throughout, electability is a huge issue. If he shows any weakness, if he shows any letup, and even if he comes out with a five-point loss, that's going to be damaging for his campaign.

TAPPER: Margaret, at this point, three days before the caucuses in 2012, "The Des Moines Register" poll had Rick Santorum in third place but the poll director pointed out he was surging and predicted he would win.

HOOVER: She said it would be very close.

TAPPER: Do you expect any surprises Monday night?

HOOVER: I expect every surprise Monday night because Iowans, first of all, many of them had not voted yet -- I'm sorry, have not decided who they're going to vote for.

TAPPER: Yes.

HOOVER: So, there's that element. And the element that's unknown of what happens when you get into the caucus site. Even though Republicans don't have the craziness that the Democrats have, they have a secret ballot, but there's still this everybody is making their case. You hear who your neighbor is for, you maybe reconsider. People haven't decided until that moment when they're there writing on the secret ballot.

And while inertia is in Trump's direction, second place Rubio, Cruz, also, I'm hearing Rubio is on the rise, you just never know how close second and third will be. Anything can happen.