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THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER
Interview With Kentucky Senator Rand Paul; Money Changes; Charges Filed in Flint Water Crisis; Trump, Clinton Advance Toward Nominations; N.Y. Win Pushes Clinton Closer Towards Nomination; Interview with Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy. Aired 4-4:30p ET
Aired April 20, 2016 - 16:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: Harriet Tubman will replace President Andrew Jackson on the $20 bill. Old Hickory smoked.
THE LEAD starts right now.
The Empire State pushing Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton much closer to their magic victory numbers, but not pushing out their opponents.
For 18 months, people in Flint, Michigan, unknowingly rank poison from their faucets. Today, criminal charges and a possible bombshell from one of the city officials.
Plus, one day, you will look at that $20 bill in your wallet and say, remember these? Much overdue major changes coming to American money.
Hello, everyone. Welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.
So many questions than answers in our politics lead today. Are we seeing a new restrained and dare I say super disciplined Donald Trump? Last night, Mr. Trump referred to his only real Republican challenger as Senator Cruz, instead of deploying the lyin' Ted nickname Trump previously favored. But that was last night. This was 20 minutes ago.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: In the case of lyin' Ted Cruz, lyin' Ted, lies, oh, he lies. You know, Ted. He brings the Bible, holds it high, puts it down, lies.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
And Cruz, who in some parts of New York reportedly performed so poorly that he actually lost to Dr. Ben Carson, who dropped out of the race seven weeks ago, today, Cruz acknowledged he cannot beat Donald Trump in the delegate race before the convention.
Now, in six days, five more Northeastern states will vote, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Rhode Island, Connecticut and Delaware, not exactly considered friendly territory for Ted Cruz.
CNN correspondent Sunlen Serfaty spoke with Cruz in Pennsylvania this morning.
Sunlen, Cruz is right now in Florida speaking to Republican leaders. What is his pitch? What's he saying?
SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, the pitch, Jake, coming from the Cruz campaign down in Florida is that Senator Cruz would be able to pump up the base and drive conservatives to the polls in a way that former nominees like Mitt Romney and John McCain just couldn't.
But Senator Cruz and his campaign are now facing this very grim reality of what last night's results mean for his campaign today. Today, Senator Cruz acknowledging for the first time that his only path forward is through a contested convention.
TRUMP: I can think of nowhere that I would rather have this victory.
SERFATY (voice-over): Donald Trump boosting his bid for the Republican nomination with a blowout victory in his home state.
TRUMP: We don't have much of a race anymore.
SERFATY: The GOP front-runner swept nearly all of New York's 95 delegates, shutting out Ted Cruz from getting even a single delegate.
Trump taking a victory lap to Indiana and Maryland today. He's now making the case that he's the only candidate rest in the GOP race with a mathematical shot at winning the nomination.
TRUMP: Senator Cruz is just about mathematically eliminated. And we have won another state. As you know, we have won millions of more votes than Senator Cruz.
SERFATY: Trump accusing Cruz of staying in the race just to stand in his way, tweeting -- quote -- "Ted Cruz is mathematically out of winning the race. Now all he can do is be a spoiler, never a nice thing to do."
On the ground in Pennsylvania, Ted Cruz saying, not so fast.
SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Upon winning his home state, Donald, with a characteristic display of humility, declared this race is over. Manhattan has spoken.
SERFATY: Downplaying the significance of Trump's win.
CRUZ: Everyone knew Donald was going to win his home state. And if you look at the frenzied panic that he wants the race to suddenly be over now that he's won in his home state, it shows why Donald is scared.
SERFATY: But Cruz now concedes that his only path is through a contested convention.
CRUZ: It's headed to a contested convention. And at a contested convention, I will come in with a ton of delegates, Donald will come in with a ton of delegates, and it will be a battle to see who can earn a majority of the delegates elected by the people. Donald Trump is not getting to 1,237. Nobody is getting to 1,237.
SERFATY: John Kasich is also hanging his hopes on a contested convention.
GOV. JOHN KASICH (R-OH), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Nobody is going to get enough delegates.
SERFATY: While Trump looks to win the 1,237 delegates needed to clinch the nomination before the convention, focusing on a string of five potentially favorable East Coast and Mid-Atlantic states voting next Tuesday and on Indiana the first week of May.
Trump is insisting that the only way he will be denied the nomination is if the game is stacked against him.
TRUMP: It's a crooked system. It's a system that is rigged and we're going to go back to the old way. It's called, you vote and you win.
SERFATY: And Donald Trump already on the ground in Indianapolis, Indiana, at this hour holding a rally there.
While Trump does have a path towards getting to that magic number of 1,237 before the convention, it should be noted that it's such a steep climb for him. Based on our accounting, he needs to win 58 percent of the remaining delegates -- Jake.
TAPPER: All right, Sunlen Serfaty, thank you.
Joining me now, former Republican presidential candidate and Kentucky Senator Rand Paul. He's out with a new plan to attempt to combat poverty.
Senator Paul, thank so much for joining me.
SEN. RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY: Thank you. Thanks for having me.
TAPPER: So, I want to talk about your legislation, but first a couple of political questions. I want to talk about the presidential race.
The big question, of course, is whether the person who gets the most delegates should be the nominee, even if he does not get that 1,237 majority needed, according to the rules. CNN's Manu Raju asked House Speaker Paul Ryan about this. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: I think the rules are the rules. And people know the rules going into it. We are going to follow the book by the rules.
And that is exactly how this convention is going to be run. It's very important that it's done exactly that way. And all the candidates coming into this convention and coming into this campaign knew the rules ahead of time.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: Where do you come down on this issue. Rudy Giuliani told me yesterday that he thinks if Trump gets close enough, as long as he has the most, he should get the nomination. What do you think?
PAUL: It kind of reminds me of when I play golf.
I usually like to say, we will decide what the bet is after we see what the scores are, because really when you say we're going to adhere to the rules, you realize the rules haven't been written yet. So what is extraordinary, and it is extraordinary, that people by the millions will have voted in a primary and then 110 people will decide how we're going to make the rules.
So, the rules -- you can't say we're going to obey the rules. The rules have yet to be written. The convention will abide by rules that are written in the first day or two by 110 people. So, you could write that a plurality wins. You could write that a majority wins.
Or you could do what they did to my dad. To my dad, they said, you had to be -- you had to win eight states to be nominated, or your votes don't count. But the interesting thing now is the establishment saying, oh, no, no, no, we really counted Ron Paul's votes, even though you can watch the proceedings when the podium said -- Iowa would say 28 votes for Ron Paul, and the podium would say 28 votes for Mitt Romney.
So, it's extraordinary that the rules are written after you have already had the election. And it will all come down to what the rules are. So, yes, it is pretty extraordinary. I don't know exactly what the outcome will be, but I guarantee it will be very exciting to see what happens on that rules committee.
TAPPER: You and the other candidates who have dropped out have almost 200 delegates. One of those delegates is yours. It's a Rand Paul delegate. Who should that delegate support in Cleveland? What will you tell him or her to do?
PAUL: You know, I'm going to leave that open to the delegates.
And I do think it will be quite a different result if you go to the second and third ballot. I think Cruz looks very strong in that delegate count. So I think it will be interesting to see what happens, but I'm not really trying to sway it one way or the other, because, like the thing that I have been promoting this week, the economic freedom zones, I want to still have my voice to talk about what I want to talk about, and I am not really that excited about being somebody else's surrogate.
TAPPER: Let's talk about that. Let's talk about your anti-poverty legislation.
It would significantly reduce taxes in certain impoverished areas. The Club for Growth says that the plan would incentivize bad management and put responsible communities at a disadvantage. What do you think of that?
PAUL: You know, I disagree, because I think some people live in poverty not because their local city government is bad.
I think it's complicated, the root causes of poverty. But for generations, we have had poverty in Eastern Kentucky. And I don't think it's bad local government that causes the poverty. But what I do say is that the way you remove poverty is by leaving more money in the community.
So, my bill would actually leave $500 million in Eastern Kentucky. I wouldn't take it from somewhere else. I wouldn't bring it to them in the form of a check. I just would not tax them. But I also would leave over $100 million in Flint, Michigan.
They have got this terrible water problem, and there isn't any money in Washington to send them, and it's not going to happen. That's why I keep saying to Democrats, think about something that is outside the box that we haven't tried before. And that's a significant reduction in taxes.
My program would leave $3 billion in the South Side of Chicago. I have been there. They need it. My program would leave money in Ferguson, Baltimore, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh. I think that we need to think about a different way to approach poverty, because what we have tried hasn't worked.
TAPPER: So what do you hope -- let's say, of all of the places you have just mentioned, let's say Eastern Kentucky. What do you hope the people of Kentucky, of Eastern Kentucky, do with that $500 million?
PAUL: Well, I hope they spend it on things that they choose to spend it on.
So, they're consumers. They will go to their favorite restaurant, their favorite grocery store. But if I own the grocery store, my hope is to that more people shopping there, that I will be able to hire more employees.
So I don't -- it's not so important that I decide what they do with it. Really, what's most important is that I don't want to decide what to do with it. I want to give it back directly to the people.
So, the mistake of most government grants is, we write a million- dollar check and they show up in Pikeville and they give it to a government employee. That doesn't work, because nobody knows who will be good in business. If you give it back in the form of a tax reduction, the consumers have already voted for the business that's going to be best at distributing products.
And so you're leaving money in the hands of those who have already been voted upon by their community as being successful.
TAPPER: All right, Senator Rand Paul, thank you so much. Appreciate it. Good luck with your legislation, sir.
PAUL: Thank you.
TAPPER: Sticking with our politics lead, Bernie got burned by the Big Apple. So, what is his path forward with another round of Northeastern states ahead? That story next.
TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD.
[16:15:00] I'm Jake Tapper.
Let's continue in the politics lead and the momentum now with Hillary Clinton as the race heads into another Super Tuesday next week. Her New York win pushes her delegate total only 442 delegates away from the number needed to clinch the Democratic presidential nomination. That does include super delegates, those elected officials who have pledged to back Clinton at the convention.
Now, when you look at just pledged delegates, the ones earned during primaries and caucuses, Clinton is 931 delegates from a majority, 1,400 delegates are still at stake in all of the remaining contests for Democrats.
Last night's New York win also makes the math much more challenging for Senator Bernie Sanders.
CNN's Jeff Zeleny has been traveling with both campaigns. He joins me here in D.C.
What's next for Sanders? I guess probably there's even a division within the campaign one might think.
JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: There is a division and that's the central question among all Democrats everywhere. What is next for him?
But the answer is largely up to Bernie Sanders. He's campaigning tomorrow in Pennsylvania. There's every reason to believe he will stay in this race through the end of the primary in June. Why wouldn't he? He has money and he has the support, but he needs to start winning big.
Democratic leaders are increasingly concerned about his tone. They're also worried about the damage he'll inflict for Hillary Clinton for the fall campaign.
HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The race for the Democratic nomination is in the home stretch and victory is at sight.
ZELENY (voice-over): Hillary Clinton looking ahead. A triumph at home in New York cementing her position once again as the likely Democratic nominee, an intense battle with Bernie Sanders suddenly giving way to an olive branch.
CLINTON: And to all of the people who supported Senator Sanders, I believe there is much more that unites us than divides us.
ZELENY: Sanders insists he's not going anywhere, telling supporters in a fundraising appeal today, "We still have a path to the nomination. And our plan is to win the pledged delegates in this primary."
But just saying it doesn't make it so. The math, always a challenge, is now a firm road block for Sanders. Those big crowds who rallied across New York raised expectations for a punishing 16-point defeat.
Tonight, Clinton leads by 253 pledged delegates with superdelegates, she moves even closer to the magic number of 2,383 needed to clinch the Democratic nomination. Sanders advisers concede the campaign fell short.
TAD DEVINE, BERNIE SANDERS CAMPAIGN ADVISER: We are a little farther behind in delegates than we hoped to be.
ZELENY: After a raucous election night and rally at Penn State University, filled with blistering attacks on Hillary Clinton --
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Secretary Clinton has given speeches behind closed doors to Wall Street firms for $225,000 a speech. It must be a pretty good speech.
ZELENY: A subdued Sanders arrived home to Vermont where he said he intended to recharge and rest but not rethink his campaign.
SANDERS: No. We think we have the message that is resonating throughout this country. We have come a long, long way. We have taken on the entire Democratic political establishment.
ZELENY: The Democratic establishment is growing restless, worrying Sanders could be a spoiler by attacking Clinton's honesty and integrity.
Jennifer Palmieri, communications director for Clinton, told reporters, "Sanders has been destructive and is not productive to Democrats," particularly suggesting that Clinton is corrupt -- a line of attack Republicans are already seizing on.
For now, Clinton is taking a more subtle approach. HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Under the bright lights
of New York, we have seen that it's not enough to diagnose problems. You have to explain how you'd actually solve the problems.
ZELENY: But making clear her eye is, once again, on November.
CLINTON: Donald Trump and Ted Cruz are pushing a vision for America that's divisive and, frankly, dangerous.
ZELENY: The Clinton campaign is pivoting ever so gently and privately to the fall campaign. After next week's contests, advisers believe they will have an insurmountable lead in pledged delegates.
But there is a sense of urgency here. She needs to start repairing her image, her negative attributes that way or positive ones by 24 points in a recent poll. If she does become the Democratic nominee, Jake, she's far more bruised than she ever imagined she would be.
TAPPER: The only person more bruised than her, Donald Trump.
ZELENY: Donald Trump.
TAPPER: Jeff Zeleny, thank you so much.
Hillary Clinton looking ahead to the next round of primaries. Why she's turning to Connecticut specifically to ensure she beats Bernie Sanders.
Then, criminal charges filed for the poisoned water in Flint, Michigan. But the attorney general says this is only the beginning. That story ahead.
[16:24:15] TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.
Let's stay with our politics lead: the same problems Senator Bernie Sanders experienced yesterday in New York may just haunt him again next Tuesday. Check out the map of the upcoming primary calendar. Five states all in the Northeast. Of those, only Rhode Island allows independents to vote which Sanders believes would help him.
Connecticut, the Nutmeg State, is one of the states voting next week and the governor of that state joins me now, Governor Dannel Malloy, who endorsed Hillary Clinton.
Thank you so much for being here.
GOVERNOR DANNEL MALLOY (D), CONNECTICUT: Great to be with you.
TAPPER: We appreciate it.
So, the Clinton campaign is running a new ad in Connecticut, focuses on the Sandy Hook tragedy in your state and it pits Clinton against Sanders on guns. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ERICA SMEGIELSKI: My mom was the principal of Sandy Hook School.
[16:25:01] She was murdered trying to protect the children in her care from a gunman. No one is fighting harder to reform our gun laws than Hillary Clinton. She is the only candidate that has what it takes to take on the gun lobby.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: Now, that same woman has criticized Bernie Sanders saying that he owes her and the other Sandy Hook families an apology because he voted for the legislation that shielded the gun industry from lawsuits.
Do you agree? Do you think Senator Sanders owes the families of Sandy Hook, your constituents, an apology?
MALLOY: Listen, I -- I think he's wrong, or as I'm -- I have said many times, he's dead wrong on this particular issue.
You know, the gun industry is treated differently than every industry in America. So, we are a pharmaceutical state, as well as being the place where the Sandy Hook shooting took place. Pharmaceutical industry spent billions of dollars to develop new products to save people's lives and they're not protected from lawsuits when they make a mistake.
But somehow somebody got it in their head, the NRA and the gun industry, that they should be protected. It makes no sense. It's a gigantic mistake.
I think the senators had a hard time explaining his position consistently whether he decides to apologize for a family like that is up to him.
TAPPER: This is obviously a big issue with you, a big issue with Democrats in Connecticut. Do you think that it is potentially disqualifying for Senator Sanders in your state for the primary next week?
MALLOY: I don't think it's disqualifying. I think it will be a reason that people won't vote for him because it is a very -- listen, I was at that firehouse. I'm a person who actually told all of those families that if they hadn't been united thus far that day, that they weren't going to be united that day. And, you know, for these folks, that's a life-changing moment, life-changing day. And what they have really risen up to do is to say, how do we make people safer?
Well, we make people safer by changing our attitude about guns, which has been represented by the senator and others and the NRA most specifically.
TAPPER: Well, he says he has a D-minus or something from the NRA aggregate.
MALLOY: They supported him in his 1990 election.
TAPPER: So, let's talk about gun laws. You signed sweeping gun legislation in 2013. Can you point to something that passed there that might have prevented Sandy Hook?
MALLOY: Yes, I think there's lots of things. There's things with respect to the proper storage of weapons that was --
TAPPER: That would have required the mom to have locked them up?
MALLOY: Yes. I mean, you know, quite clearly, it would have required. Now, whether or not she complied, I can't tell. But the law was not clear about the proper storage.
And here, we're talking about a situation where there's a disturbed individual in the house and no one is saying that you have a legal obligation to keep that gun out of the hands of a disturbed person. So, that's in the statute.
We no longer allow a sale of those -- the magazines that carry 30 shots. I mean, you know, what we have pushed together is that he was firing so many bullets so quickly and, in fact, had the magazines taped to one another so he could just switch them, that the gun eventually misfired because it overheated. That's how deadly those weapons are and we don't allow it for the sale of those weapons and we don't allow for the sale of those magazines. Yes, we've made people safer.
TAPPER: When you look at the trajectory, the path of this murderer, this emotionally disturbed individual, it seems like there were a number of places where laws could have changed something. You just mentioned requiring the mother to lock up the guns. Another might have been once experts said he needs to be diagnosed and he needs to be treated and the mother said no, allowing the community to overrule her. Is that something you ever thought about?
MALLOY: Yes, it's a difficult situation and eventually he turned old enough to deny treatment in his own -- in his own right. I think, you know, I don't know what to say about that. I think when he was a child, authorities could have done more to make sure that he got the help that he needed. Later in life, other problems developed.
But this is what I would say to you: what does it say about our society that we would say to a disturbed young man, we're going to make you feel better about yourself by giving you a gun and taking you to a gun range so that you learn how to use it. I mean, we are a very gun-centric society, even to the extent that we will put guns in the hands of disturbed people to make them feel better about themselves. There's something wrong there.
TAPPER: All right. Governor Dannel Malloy, thank you so much. Appreciate your time.
MALLOY: Thank you. TAPPER: A small step towards justice for the families in Flint,
Michigan, who were not told the water they were drinking was laced with lead. This as the city official who was charged drops a potential bombshell. That story is next.