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THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER
Flooding in Texas; Tropical Storm Bonnie Targets East Coast; President Obama Pays Tribute at Arlington National Cemetery; Outrage After Gorilla Killed To Save Child At Zoo; Colorado Governor On Clinton's VP Shortlist?. Aired 4:30-5pET
Aired May 30, 2016 - 16:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: We're back with our national lead and two severe weather threats.
First, desperate water searches in Texas, after flash flooding killed six people, one of the missing, a 10-year-old boy who slipped in a swollen river while fishing on Saturday. Another victim, a 21-year- old National Guardsman, Darren Mitchell, he posted an eerie photograph, this photo before his death, showing water creeping up his truck's window.
His caption was -- quote -- "All I wanted to do was go home."
Water swept him away shortly after. Today on the East Coast, lifeguards are warning beachgoers to stay close to the shore. What is left of Tropical Storm Bonnie is kicking up dangerous rip currents.
SCIUTTO: They were best friends and brothers in arms. Now they are buried together, brothers forever. It's a connection so strong that it brought their families together as well to change the lives of others.
SCIUTTO: Welcome back.
On this Memorial Day, we honor men and women who bravely sacrificed their lives while serving our country. President Obama paid tribute to the fallen at Arlington National Cemetery today.
As he marked his own final Memorial Day as president, he remembered the young Americans who -- quote -- "never lived to be honored as veterans for their services," among them, 31-year-old Navy SEAL Charles Keating IV, who was killed in a firefight with ISIS fighters earlier this month, 27-year-old Staff Sergeant Louis Cardin, who died in an ISIS attack in Iraq, also Army Sergeant Joshua Wheeler. He was a member of the Delta Force and an 11-time recipient of the Bronze Star. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Josh was the doting dad who wrote notes to his kids in the stacks of books he read. Flying home last summer to be with his wife, Ashley, who was about to give birth, he scribbled one note in the novel he was reading, just to tell his unborn son he was on his way.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCIUTTO: Army Master Sergeant Wheeler was killed in Iraq last October, leaving behind a wife and four sons, including that son you see there who is now just 10 months old.
Two other women at today's ceremony in Arlington are forever bonded by bravery, sacrifice, and by tragedy. They're the loved ones of Marine 1st Lieutenant Travis Manion and Navy SEAL Lieutenant Brendan Looney, best friends in school, later killed in war.
Now they're buried right now to (END AUDIO CLIP) together at Arlington National Cemetery. And today their families are on a new mission inspiring others to live at their best.
Jake Tapper has their story.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): In his last official Memorial Day address in office, President Obama today acknowledged the sacrifice this day is meant to honor.
OBAMA: It is our responsibility, our obligation, to fill that silence with our love and our support and our gratitude -- and not just with our words, but with our actions.
TAPPER: It's a lesson the nation has learned thanks in part to two of his guests, Amy Looney and Ryan Manion.
AMY LOONEY, WIDOW OF KILLED U.S. VETERAN: I use him as my form of inspiration.
TAPPER: Amy's husband, Brendan, and Ryan's brother, Travis, are both buried here at Arlington National Cemetery. The men were roommates at the Naval Academy and best friends who shared a passion for service that stood out even among other service members.
LOONEY: Just their connection and the way that they both were brought up very similarly, just backgrounds, strong character, values, morals.
TAPPER: First Lieutenant Travis Manion was a Marine like his father, never one to shy away from duty.
(on camera): Travis had a motto. What was it?
RYAN MANION, SISTER OF KILLED U.S. VETERAN: It was, if not me, then who?
TAPPER: And how did it come up?
MANION: Right before second deployment to Iraq, and my husband, jokingly, turned to Travis as they were leaving and said, "Why don't you let me push you down the stairs? Maybe you will break your ankle and you won't have to go back."
And Travis turned to my husband, Dave, he said, "If I don't go back, somebody much less prepared is going to go in my place. If not me, then who?"
TAPPER (voice-over): When his unit came under attack in Al-Anbar Province in Iraq in 2007, Travis didn't hide. He went in to rescue others, giving his life in the process.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He was a great friend.
TAPPER: Lieutenant Brendan Looney was training to become a Navy SEAL when he got the news. Brendan completed his training at the top of his class and deployed. But just three years after saying goodbye to his friend Travis, a helicopter crash in Afghanistan claimed his life, too.
(on camera): They're buried next to each other.
MANION: They are, yes.
TAPPER: How did that happen?
MANION: So, Travis was actually buried in Philadelphia after he was killed. My mom wanted him close by. So, he was buried there. And after he was killed, he had actually mentioned something to me and several of his friends that, if anything had ever happened, he wanted to be at Arlington.
And we contemplated moving him several times. And the day Brendan died, Amy said, well, I want Brendan buried next to Travis. So, we moved him on Friday and then we buried Brendan next to him that Monday.
TAPPER (voice-over): President Obama pay them tribute the following Memorial Day in 2011.
OBAMA: The friendship between 1st Lieutenant Travis Manion and Lieutenant Brendan Looney reflects the meaning of Memorial Day, brotherhood, sacrifice, love of country.
TAPPER: Today, Ryan and Amy are making sure their loved ones' legacy are saved through the Travis Manion Foundation. There's a charity dedicated to civic duty and improving the lives of military families, leading the next generation by example.
MANION: And our whole idea is about empowerment. How can they be civic assets and come back to the communities and be servant leaders in their own backyard? LOONEY: You know, Brendan wasn't want me to sit here and cry and be so sad. He would want me to live my life and live it in a way that, you know, I can be of service to others.
SCIUTTO: Real people, real sacrifices.
You can learn more about the Travis Manion Foundation on our Facebook page. That's at Facebook.com/THELEADCNN.
And in other national news, a rare endangered gorilla killed after he drags a child who fell into a zoo exhibit, the 3-year-old miraculously OK, but zoo officials today taking heat over the decision.
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN GUEST ANCHOR: In our National Lead, outrage, sadness, and now blame over the killing of an endangered gorilla at Cincinnati Zoo this weekend after he grabbed and dragged a boy, who fell into his enclosure.
The cell phone video captured the terrifying 10 minute encounter between the 450 pound gorilla and that little 3-year-old boy. Zoo officials eventually shot and killed the rare animal. Some are blaming the little boy's parents.
I want to bring in CNN correspondent, Jessica Schneider, outside the Cincinnati Zoo. So the zoo director spoke about an hour ago. Did he say whether the zoo had any choice, but to kill the gorilla?
JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Jim, the zoo director put it very bluntly. He said we stand by our decision and we would make that same choice today. The zoo director saying all those Monday morning quarterbacks out there, they just don't understand how dangerous a silver-backed gorilla actually is.
And besides that, all the anger out here today, there's been a lot of it, and now hundreds of thousands of people online are calling for the parents in this case to be prosecuted.
SCHNEIDER (voice-over): A tense and terrifying 10 minutes inside the gorilla world exhibit. A 3-year-old boy dragged and toss by a 450- pound, 17 year old Western low land gorilla named Harambe.
UNIDENTIFIED CALLER: Engine 32. The gorilla has the child.
SCHNEIDER: The young boy ducking under a railing, climbing through protective wiring, and dropping more than 10 feet into this moat, according to zoo officials.
THANE MAYNARD, DIRECTOR, CINCINNATI ZOO: This is a dangerous animal. Now I know you see photos and videos say it doesn't seem dangerous. We're talking about an animal one hand, I've seen, take a coconut and crunch it.
SCHNEIDER: The zoo's Dangerous Animal Response team tried to lure Harambe from the exhibit, but he didn't respond. The team forced to shoot and kill the gorilla to save the boy.
MAYNARD: Naturally we did not take the shooting of Harambe lightly, but that child's life was in danger. People who question that, who are our Monday morning quarterbacks, who are second guessers don't understand that you can't take a risk with a silverback.
[16:50:11]SCHNEIDER: A group of protesters expressed outrage outside the zoo calling for justice for Harambe and a petition has garnered more than 100,000 signatures demanding prosecutors and police criminally charge the little boy's parents.
DAVID SCHWARTZ, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: If minutes went by then certainly there is criminal negligence on the part of the mom to not supervise a 3-year-old at the zoo. So one can make an argument. I highly doubt there will be criminal charges brought against the mother.
SCHNEIDER: The boy's mother cried out to her son.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mommy loves you. I'm right here.
SCHNEIDER: The family today only releasing this statement. "We are so thankful to the lord that our child is safe. He is home and doing just fine. We extend our heartfelt thanks for the quick action by the Cincinnati Zoo staff." The zoo director said the gorilla exhibit has existed since 1978 and there has never been an incident like this.
MAYNARD: Politicians and pundits point fingers. We live in the real world and we make real decisions. People can climb over the barriers. That's what happened.
SCHNEIDER: And so far no criminal charges have been filed in this case against the parents and the zoo director stresses he refuses to lay any blame -- Jim.
SCIUTTO: Just so lucky he's alive and well. Jessica Schneider, thank you.
He could be one of the top contenders for Hillary Clinton's running mate and he is not shy with his not so squeaky clean past from smoking pots to nude photos. That's next.
TAPPER: Welcome back. For such a complicated process vice presidential vetting often produces relatively uncomplicated choices. Take current House Speaker Paul Ryan, Governor Romney's 2012 running mate. He was squeaky clean. But things get tricky as they did with Sarah Palin in 2008. There are nonstop stories about candidates past, family and every skeleton real or imagined hidden away.
So why is Governor John Hickenlooper, a guy who admits to getting high, taking naked pictures, and being arrested for drunk driving potentially on Hillary Clinton's VP list? He sat down with Jake to talk about it.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Governor, thanks so much for being here.
GOVERNOR JOHN HICKENLOOPER (D), COLORADO: Yes, glad to be on.
TAPPER: Now we should explain your life in beer. This is not because you have a problem. This is because you started your career in brewing and as a restaurateur.
HICKENLOOPER: I started out as geologist and had five great years in the gas business and then the price of oil collapsed, the company got sold. And for a couple of years, I was out of work and ended up starting a brew pub in this old abandoned warehouse in lower downtown Denver back when the rent was at $1 per square foot per year.
TAPPER: That was a long time ago.
TAPPER: So and then from there to mayor of Denver to governor of Colorado. I have to say, for a politician, if you'll pardon me, for a politician's memoir, it's a rather jarring beginning.
You start off basically talking about the end of your first marriage and you come to Washington, D.C., and you and your wife go to the hotel and there's a bed and you haven't $ slept in the same bed for a long time. It's a very unusual way to start a book.
HICKENLOOPER: Yes. It was actually my ex-wife's idea to make that the first chapter. She helped write part of the book. She came to my wedding a few months ago. We're very -- we're still family but a different kind of family.
You know, it was -- I got into public life because I wanted people to believe in government. I thought people in small business should bring some common sense to government. We hate government. We hate ourselves.
America, they are us. So I thought if I was going to write a book like this, I had a story that might matter to other people, I should be authentic. I should be flat out tell the truth.
To reveal not just the good stuff I'm proud of, but some of the stuff I'm sorry that I did.
TAPPER: So the first sentence of the book, publicist's pitch to us. I realize you didn't write it. The first sentence of the pitch is you are a solid contender to be the next vice president.
Obviously Hillary Clinton should she get the nomination is going to be looking for a vice president. Is a job you would be interested in? Would you submit? Is this book the submission? Here's all warts and all? Here's everything --
HICKENLOOPER: If I was auditioning for a VP slot, I probably a lot of things I probably should have left out of the book. But I love being governor. Colorado right now is at the nexus of a lot of great things that are going on.
Our unemployment is down to 3 percent. We have job growth. We're transforming our education system, our health care. I think we're finally getting our arms around bending down the cost of health care.
It would be tough to walk away from a place like Colorado. It's pretty beautiful to live there, too. I don't mind point out.
TAPPER: There is a lot of, I should say, when you say warts and all. You're not kidding. There's a thing about a drunk driving arrest, smoking marijuana, and a nude self-portrait.
HICKENLOOPER: Long ago. We are talking college, just to be clear.
TAPPER: I want to ask you about Colorado. It is a battle ground state. Will Donald Trump, should he be the nominee, will he be able to win that state do you think?
HICKENLOOPER: I think it's going to be a pitch battle, but I don't think he'll win. I think that Colorado is very independently minded, independence in almost every sense. I think they care a lot about character.
I think they are faced with the prospect of their children looking up. Kids look up to the president of the United States. That's who they model themselves. He's been such a bully. I think he's a blow hard. I think the people of Colorado are going to -- that's going to repeal them I think.
TAPPER: Governor Hickenlooper, it's great to have you here. Thanks so much. The book again, "The Opposite of Woe: My Life in Beer and Politics." Thanks so much for joining us.
HICKENLOOPER: You bet. I appreciate it.
SCIUTTO: That's it for THE LEAD. I'm Jim Sciutto. I turn you over to Pamela Brown. She is in "THE SITUATION ROOM."
PAMELA BROWN, CNN GUEST ANCHOR: Happening now, third party threat, a leading --