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THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER

Courting Women Voters In The Age Of Trump; Dems Stashing History Of Trump's Crass Comments; Actress In Yanked Cruz Ad Returns To Endorse Donald Trump; U.S. Strike Kills One Hundred Plus Terrorists In Somalia; Kim Jong Un Threatens Preemptive Strike On U.S.; Judge: Armstrong Under No "Obligation" To Repay USPS; Tennis Star Maria Sharapova Admits To Failed Drug Test. Aired 4:30-5p ET

Aired March 7, 2016 - 16:30   ET

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


(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

[16:30:06]

HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Mr. Trump insults and dismisses women.

SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICS REPORTER: From Trump's critiques of women and discussions about his own womanizing ways...

D. TRUMP: They will walk up and they will flip their top...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Wow.

D. TRUMP: And they will flip their panties.

MURRAY: ... to crudely referencing FOX News anchor Megyn Kelly's menstrual cycle.

D. TRUMP: You could see there was blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out of her wherever.

MURRAY: Democrats are paying attention, stockpiling a history of Trump's behavior.

HILARY ROSEN, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: There's just a huge oppo book being collected both of video, of comments, of the things that Donald Trump has said over the last number of years.

MURRAY: As Clinton has struggled to consolidate support, particularly from younger women, allies like EMILY's List and a pro-Clinton super PAC believe Trump's comments will ultimately help rally women and men to her side.

ROSEN: I think you're going to have moms who don't like the role model for their children. I think you're going to have unmarried women who see this as belittling and patronizing.

MURRAY: As for Trump, he brushed aside those Howard Stern comments. (on camera): Do you worry at all how that might look in a general

election, in a broader electorate?

D. TRUMP: Hey, Howard is a friend of mine. We have a lot of fun. We have had a lot of fun on the show. I was never a politician, and we just have a lot of fun on the show. And it's all clean. It's very clean. It's none of the disgusting stuff.

MURRAY (voice-over): But there are signs he's trying to soften his edges. The campaign put forward his wife, Melania, to chide her husband for his vulgar language, even when he's repeating members of the audience.

MELANIA TRUMP, WIFE OF DONALD D. TRUMP: And I'm thinking, like, don't repeat it in my head, just for him, don't repeat it. Just don't say it, because, the next day, media, all they will talk is about that. But he repeat it.

MURRAY: And Trump has taken an unconventional approach for a Republican and publicly defended Planned Parenthood.

T. TRUMP: I'm going to be good for women's health issues. It's very important to me. Very important to me. And maybe that's not a perfect conservative view.

MURRAY: But there's little sign the shift will stop Democrats from painting Trump as unfriendly to women, in words as well as policy.

CLINTON: He said he would do a much better job for women than I would. Now, that's a general election debate that's going to be a lot of fun.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MURRAY: Now, Jake, remember, we already saw something of a preview of what this general election battle might look like. Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump traded charges of sexism not too long ago and Donald Trump said Hillary Clinton was an enabler for her husband Bill Clinton's infidelities, so clearly a scorched earth battle could be ahead if these two are head to head come November -- Jake.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: It could get ugly. Sara Murray, thank you.

And later this week, we will look at some of the potential challenges that Hillary Clinton might face vs. Donald Trump.

Ted Cruz pulled an ad featuring her after the campaign learned she starred in films such "Timegate: Tales of the Saddle Tramps." So did Cruz burn any chance he had of picking up her endorsement? We will find out when she tells us who she's going to vote for in the California primary coming up.

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[16:37:33]

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UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: It makes me feel dumb for trusting him.

AMY LINDSAY, ACTRESS: Maybe you should vote for more than just a pretty face next time.

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TAPPER: Senator Ted Cruz said that if he had known that that ad that he personally approved featured an actress who did, shall we say, some erotic films, he would not have allowed her to have been cast.

Now, that actress' name is Amy Lindsay. And while she has been in films such as "Insatiable Obsession" and "Bikini Airways" and of course "Timegate: Tales of the Saddle Tramps," she has also been in "Star Trek: Voyager," and she sees herself as a middle-class working woman with conservative values.

Now, we had her on THE LEAD after the Cruz campaign yanked the ad last month.

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TAPPER: Now, you say you're a Republican, you're going to vote Republican. Is there a candidate you're leaning towards?

LINDSAY: There is. But I haven't come out to endorse anyone just quite yet.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: So, we're following that story. And we're happy to welcome back to the show Amy Lindsay, who is ready to endorse a candidate.

So, Amy, who are you going to vote for?

LINDSAY: Donald Trump.

TAPPER: Donald Trump. May I ask why?

LINDSAY: Yes.

I could be here for days. I actually became a fan of Trump in the '80s. A friend of mine at college gave me his book "The Art of the Deal," and I actually read it voraciously over spring break.

So, you know what? And I think if people would check out the book that he just put out in 2015, "Crippled America," it's pretty great, or, heck, just go to his Web site, DonaldJTrump.com. And people say that he's not talking about policies, that there's no issues.

Well, he's got seven of them, pretty specific ones, laid out about immigration and taxes and vets and things like that. And so I like what he stands for. And I think I have also kind of realized along this adventure that I have been having for the last couple of weeks that I think people are really attacking him and lying about him, and I kind of know how that feels. So, everybody thinks he's boisterous and...

TAPPER: So you sympathize with him to a degree?

LINDSAY: I do. I really do.

And he's the front-runner, but he's also kind of, especially in this last week or so, become kind of an underdog. And I have been a fan of his...

TAPPER: Let me ask you. You work in the film industry. It is not exactly known for being a bastion of conservative values. Have you shared this with any of your co-workers, directors, actors, and, if so, what do they think?

[16:40:02]

LINDSAY: You know, I kind of have followed the rules of no politics, religion or sex talk on social media and stuff. And then I didn't really have a choice.

And I felt that, hey, if people are going to be asking me, I'm going to at least speak my opinion. And my whole thing is that I don't think I'm -- I'm not here to change anyone else's mind. I'm not here to get the vote.

But I think everybody should have a right to talk about why they support someone and who they support, someone. And everybody is like, oh, if you like Donald J. Trump's page on Facebook, I'm not going to be your friends.

And I'm like, well, I have liked Hillary Clinton's and Bernie Sanders because I want to hear what they're saying. I want to educate myself. But, yes, if people -- I think a lot of people don't get it. A lot of people don't get -- think a woman voting Republican in general. They say that's nuts. And I'm like, no, voting for Hillary Clinton, as a woman, to me is nuts. But that's...

(CROSSTALK)

TAPPER: So you're going to vote in California's Republican primary in June. That's where you live.

Cruz is from your home state of Texas. Did you ever consider leaning towards the senator? And did his pulling the ad that featured you because of some movies you have been in, did that impact this decision at all?

LINDSAY: Looking back, I think it has a little bit, yes.

Like I said, I was definitely kind of up in the air about which candidate was going to be a Republican candidate. I liked working on the Cruz ad. People don't realize we did six of these ads. And everybody thinks I only had 30 seconds to say. I had 10 pages of commercials that were probably going to air on the Internet and things like that.

So I was educated on what Ted Cruz stood for. And, yes, I haven't really been really happy with the way he's been going this -- recently.

TAPPER: Well, we hope you're doing OK. And we really appreciate the fact that you kept your word. Unlike so many people who tell us that they will give us a big exclusive, you kept your word.

Amy Lindsay, thank you so much for coming back. We appreciate it.

LINDSAY: Thanks, Jake.

TAPPER: And don't forget, the Republican candidates face off next in CNN's Republican debate in Miami. I will be moderating this Thursday starting at 8:30 p.m. Eastern. Tune in.

North Korea with its biggest threat yet to go nuclear and go nuclear first, but would Kim Jong-un actually do it?

Plus, she's one of the biggest tennis stars in the world, but today Maria Sharapova dropped a bombshell.

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[16:45:05] TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. Topping our World Lead today, a major U.S. airstrike taking out al Qaeda-linked terrorists who may have been on the verge of attacking American troops.

The Pentagon says American warplanes killed at least 150 al-Shabaab militants at a training camp in Somalia about 120 miles north of the capital of Mogadishu. It's a camp that the U.S. says it had its eyes on for several weeks.

Let's get right to CNN's Barbara Starr. She is live at the Pentagon. Barbara, what can you tell us about this mission?

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Good afternoon, Jake. This is a very odd airstrike. We really haven't heard about anything like this ever before. A mix of unmanned drones and manned fighter jets attacking this training camp 120 miles north of Mogadishu killing, according to the Pentagon, about 150 militants on the ground.

But this is an unusual place for al-Shabaab to operate and unusual for them to put that many people in one place. The Pentagon says they have been watching the camp for several weeks and the intelligence showed them, at least, that these people were in the midst of planning an attack.

And they believe they ended an imminent threat against the small number of U.S. troops in Somalia and the African peacekeepers also there.

A bit of a surprise because al-Shabaab has been back on its heels in recent months and years, however more recently, of course, al-Shabaab, the group said to be involved in the recent attack that brought down a commercial airliner.

Also other attacks in and around Somalia. This is a group that is quite capable of causing instability across East Africa and total misery, of course, to the people of Somalia.

The details, however, it has to be said still remain very murky. The U.S. says it killed 150 militants on the ground. There are already some reports coming out of the area that claim civilians who were killed. The Pentagon says it doesn't think they did kill any civilians in this strike -- Jake.

TAPPER: All right, Barbara Starr live at the Pentagon. Barbara, thanks so much.

From Somalia we turn now to North Korea where Kim Jong-Un's regime is threatening to launch his nukes at the U.S. and at South Korea. That warning coming ahead of the largest ever joint military exercises between the two allies.

Pyongyang called the annual war games a, quote, "rehearsal for an invasion." Let's get right to CNN's global affairs correspondent, Elise Labott. Elise, how is the U.S. responding to this threat from North Korea.

ELISE LABOTT, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, you've got to remember this is like textbook North Korea. These exercises have been going on for 40 years and every year North Korea threatens to launch the enemies into a sea of fire and this year isn't any different.

But it's in a different context this year, it comes on the heels of that nuclear test by North Korea, that long-range missile launch. Now the U.N. has slapped some pretty tough sanctions so the tensions are really high.

The U.S. taking the threats seriously, but it's saying to North Korea, listen, if you wouldn't be doing such destabilizing behavior in the region, maybe we wouldn't have a need for these exercises.

As you said, these exercises are the largest ever, so it shows that the U.S. is very concerned about what's going on in the region right now.

TAPPER: Is North Korea capable of hitting the U.S.?

LABOTT: Well, in short, we don't think so, but we don't know. They have demonstrated that they have nuclear weapons. They have shown that they have these long-range missile capabilities to launch into space which feasibly means they could hit the United States.

What we don't know that they have been able to marry a nuclear war head, fit it on a missile and launch it to the United States. This is what they haven't tested yet.

But top military commanders, intel officials, say that they believe that they're working very closely on this, they're moving closer, and every time they test, they get even closer. So they may not be there right now, but they're moving towards it and it's very concerning, as evident by all you see the U.S. military operating in the region.

[16:50:07]TAPPER: All right, Elise Labott, thank you so much.

She has five grand slams, but now a shocking admission from tennis star, Maria Sharapova. She said she made a, quote, "huge mistake."

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper. Just in to CNN in our Money Lead, a federal judge has dismissed part of the federal government's $100 million civil fraud lawsuit against Lance Armstrong.

The judge ruling Armstrong does not have an obligation to pay back scholarship money provided by the U.S. Postal Service over the revelation that he used performance-enhancing drugs.

Armstrong, of course, finally confessed to doping in an interview with Oprah Winfrey three years ago. He was stripped of all seven of his Tour De France titles in 2012.

[16:55:05]Now to a separate bombshell today from the world's richest female athlete. Agents for Maria Sharapova were right when they said the tennis star would make a major announcement at her news conference.

She's recently had a string of injuries and lost a big match to Serena Williams back in January. Today reporters thought she might call it quits and join Peyton Manning in the land of retirement, but instead Maria Sharapova shocked everyone in the room with her news.

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MARIA SHARAPOVA, FIVE-TIME GRAND SLAM TENNIS CHAMPION: I wanted to let you know that a few days ago, I received a letter from the ITF that I had failed a drug test at the Australian Open. I did fail the test and take full responsibility for it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: Joining me now to talk about it, CNN sports analyst Christine Brennan. Christine, shocking news. Today she said, Sharapova, that she's been taking a drug called "mildronate" for the last ten years, but then she found out it has another name called meldonium, which is a banned substance. How common is this drug?

CHRISTINE BRENNAN, CNN SPORTS ANALYST: She's been taking this for ten years but most of us have not heard about it because the World Anti- doping Agency, Jake, only made this illegal the last few months. So that's the big deal there.

And of course, why would the World Anti-doping Agency do that? Because they see it as a banned substance, they see it as cheating because it can also, according to my sources, increase metabolism and help with endurance.

So there's much more to it than that, but this drug kind of snuck up on us because it wasn't on that banned list, but Maria, has been using it for a long time.

TAPPER: What so stunning is you and I were just talking about this, you almost never see an athlete make the announcement him or herself and take responsibility. Usually they deny it.

BRENNAN: And that's what's so interesting about this. She decided to get out in front of this. She decided to say, hey, I did this. Think about all these stories, Lance Armstrong, Floyd Landis, Marian Jones, one after the other denied for years until they were forced to come clean.

The difference is Maria Sharapova has taken this bull by the horns and decided she's going to tell us that she did it. Smart move. Also I think an admirable move. But will it help lessen a suspension and get back into the good graces of the World Tennis Federation sooner by doing this. I think the answer to that is yes.

TAPPER: You think it will be a relatively short suspension?

BRENNAN: Well, she could face anything between two and four years. She's 28 years old and that would be career ending basically. I mean, at that point you can't figure she's going to have much more of a time if she's gone, say, for two years.

But I could see getting time off for good behavior because she did this, because she's one of those rare athletes to admit it right away and face the music. I think they might give her a little bit less.

But I do think they absolutely should give her some kind of ban, otherwise what good of your rules if you're not banning people for six months or so.

TAPPER: Her statement was very interesting. I'd like to play a little more from her statement if we could.

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SHARAPOVA: -- made a huge mistake and I -- I've let my fans down, I've let the sport down that I've been playing since the age of 4 that I love so deeply.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: Obviously she has a huge fan base like a lot of pro athletes and for her a lot of them are children, young girls. What message do you think her mistake and the admission of her mistake sends to children?

BRENNAN: Certainly the first thing is disappointment. I mean, this woman has always been about. She came to the pressroom at Wimbledon ten years ago and went person to person to say hello to the media, shake hands. I've never had a tennis player do that except Maria Sharapova so there's something great about that. You could say it's all about PR or because she wants to get to know people and do the right thing.

She's always done the right thing and that's why this is so disappointing. I think it could be short-term problems for her and long-term gain.

Also what we've seen with Marian Jones and others, is when they are caught and admit I took a banned substance, can they start to use that as a positive. Can they talk to kids about drug abuse and illegal substances? I'm going to guess, Jake, that Maria Sharapova will do that exact thing.

TAPPER: It sounds like you don't think this is a career ending admission or violation.

BRENNAN: It could be. Again, if they decided to throw the book at her and she gets two years or so, she's done. That's just so hard to come back at that age. At it is she's been injured. She has five grand slam titles, but she's so far behind serene and serene has owned her in all these major competitions that they have played.

So it could be over. I hope for her, though, it's not over. The fact is she is labeled now a cheater. She can say I didn't know, which is what she's saying. Nonetheless, she has to know, Jake.

When you get that e-mail saying this is now on the banned list and you've been taking this for ten years, you have to know that. You cannot say, that escaped me. This is her career. Everything about her career and her image is based on these pieces of information on the drug testing.

TAPPER: Christine Brennan, always great to have you. Thanks for joining us.

Follow me on Facebook and Twitter @jaketapper. That's it for THE LEAD. I turn you over now to Wolf Blitzer, right next door in "THE SITUATION ROOM." Thanks for watching.