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THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER
Obama Blasts Trump as Unfit for Presidency; Interview with Rep. Charlie Dent; Both Candidates to Receive Classified Briefings Soon; Trump On Ryan Endorsement: "Not Quite There"; Thousands Mourn Priest Killed In Attack; Activists: Chlorine Gas Used In Syrian City; Drug- Resistant "Super Bacteria" Found In Rio's Waters. Aired 4:30-5p ET
Aired August 2, 2016 - 16:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.
President Obama today hammering Donald Trump, insisting the Republican nominee continually shows he's unfit to be commander in chief, and calling on Republican leadership to drop their support.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There has to come a point at which you say, somebody who makes those kinds of statements doesn't have the judgment, the temperament, the understanding to occupy the most powerful position in the world.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: Joining me now, Republican Congressman Charlie Dent of Pennsylvania. He is not supporting Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton.
Congressman, thanks so much for joining us. I appreciate it.
Basic question, do you disagree with President Obama's assessment of Donald Trump that Mr. Trump is unfit for the office?
REP. CHARLIE DENT (R), PENNSYLVANIA: Well, I guess what I would say is that I have made numerous statements over the last several months, nearly the last year, about some of the incendiary comments of Donald Trump, whether they be regarding Mexicans, the disabled, John McCain and the prisoner of war situation, Muslims, the David Duke debacle, now the Indiana judge, and of course the Khan family situation.
All those incendiary comments have given me a lot of pause, obviously, as well as the lack of policy specifics and policy knowledge. That also has caused me a great deal of concern.
And, truthfully, the few policies we have heard have often been conflicted or contradictory. So, yes, I'm concerned and that is why I have refused to endorse at this moment. And I have no plans to either.
TAPPER: The president challenging Republicans today to reject Mr. Trump as your standard-bearer.
Your colleague Republican Congressman Richard Hanna of New York, who is retiring, he is the first sitting Republican member of Congress to say not only is he not going to vote for Mr. Trump, he is going to vote for Hillary Clinton.
He said in an interview today -- quote -- " I find Trump deeply flawed in endless ways. A man of character would not defend his actions but rather display shame and or at least regret. He is unrepentant in all things."
What do you think about what Mr. -- Congressman Hanna has to say?
DENT: Well, Richard Hanna, he did call me on Sunday evening, and he made me aware of his decision.
Richard Hanna is a rock-solid guy. He's a good friend and a good man. Where I perhaps would disagree is I have not endorsed Hillary Clinton because I feel that Hillary Clinton has disqualified herself from serving as commander in chief, in part because of the way she mishandled carelessly and negligently classified material.
I can assure you that if any member of Congress or any member of the government had mishandled classified material in that way, the least of their concerns would maintaining a security clearance. They would have a lot bigger problems.
And, plus, of course, if you want four more years of the same policies, well, then Hillary Clinton would be your choice. But I don't want four more years of this administration.
That's where I would differ with Richard Hanna. But I agree with Richard that the statements of our nominee have really been harmful to the party. And I think as a party we need to get back to being a center-right party and reclaim what it means to be a more traditional conservative.
Things like measured statements, evolutionary change, order, discipline, stability, temperance, measured statements and tone, I think these are things that a center-right party should be about. These are at least virtues that we should be about and values that we should embrace, as opposed to some of this kind of reckless rhetoric that we have been hearing that really do not lend itself well to a center-right or a conservative party.
TAPPER: All right, Congressman, but in fewer than 100 days, you're going to step into a voting booth in Pennsylvania and you're going to have to pull a lever. And who are you going to pick?
DENT: Like I said, I'm not planning to vote for either of the two major party nominees.
And I'm not ready to say I'm going to vote for the Libertarians, either. So, look, we will cross that bridge when we get to it.
But I'm like a lot of -- I'm like millions of Americans right now who are not very happy about the choices, given what we have seen this year. I suspect if you talk to a lot of Americans, they're not happy about the choices. We have two major presidential candidates who have sky-high unfavorability ratings for obvious reasons.
One, Hillary Clinton, people simply have trust issues with her, and Donald Trump because I guess some of the recklessness of his statements. I think that is what we're really dealing with.
TAPPER: Pennsylvania is obviously part of Mr. Trump's plan to win the presidency. He needs to win the Keystone State. You're from not only Pennsylvania, but a swing district in Pennsylvania.
What do you hear from voters when you go home? Do you think Donald Trump can win Pennsylvania?
DENT: I believe Pennsylvania will be very competitive state at the end of the day.
I'm not ready to make any grand or bold predictions, but if I had to handicap it politically, I would say that Hillary Clinton certainly has a strong advantage in the city of Philadelphia and the collar counties around it, where you're from, those counties of Montgomery, Delaware, Bucks and Chester, in addition to the city.
Donald Trump, on the other hand, has demonstrated some strength particularly in Southwestern Pennsylvania and I would say the upper northeast, as well as the T. of Pennsylvania. That is the central part and across the northern T. -- northern tier.
So, I would say to you that Trump is performing or perhaps overperforming upstate, and Hillary Clinton is performing very well in the Philadelphia region, which is where 40 percent of the population is. So, that is really the question. Can Donald Trump cut into Hillary Clinton's advantage, home court advantage in the Philadelphia region?
TAPPER: A lot of political junkies like that answer.
Thank you so much, Congressman Charlie Dent. We really appreciate it.
DENT: You're welcome.
TAPPER: Presidential candidates and their running mates are entitled to intelligence briefings, but will Clinton and Trump have access to the same classified information as top military brass, Congress, even President Obama? That story next.
TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.
Sticking with our politics lead, both presidential candidates and their running mates are waiting to begin receiving classified intelligence briefings. But what kind of information will they have access to?
CNN's Barbara Starr joins me now live from the Pentagon.
Barbara, what are you learning about the timing and the contents of these briefings?
BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jake, the U.S. intelligence community say forget all of the political drama, they will move ahead and provide these briefings. And they could start at any point now that there are formal candidates.
Expect them to start soon. Expect the intelligence community to only make an announcement when the briefings are concluded. It will include classified information about things like the threats and challenges facing the U.S., things like the current state of play with ISIS, with Russia, with cyber-war, that type of thing.
But don't look for these candidates to get the crown Jewels. They will not be briefed about the most secret of operations, about covert operations, about where operatives may be, about missions being run, about the high-tech tools and methods by which the U.S. intelligence community collects and shares information.
Those crown jewels, that only is briefed to a president-elect beginning the morning after the election. All of that very much still to come. Very much the intelligence community says it has no hesitation providing briefings to either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton.
The information will be classified and they will be told that it is classified and they need to keep that classification intact -- Jake.
TAPPER: All right, Barbara Starr at the Pentagon, thank you so much.
Since their appearance at the Democratic National Convention last week, Khizr and Ghazala Khan have been at the center of a political firestorm.
We were reminded today, however, by our friend Matt O'Neill of an HBO documentary in which they participated in 2008. It was called "Section 60: Arlington National Cemetery."
Take a look at this private moment between the grieving parents as they visit the grave of their son, Army Captain Humayun Khan.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KHIZR KHAN, FATHER OF KILLED U.S. SOLDIER: I'm father of Captain Humayun Khan. Humayun passed away in Baquba, Iraq, on June 8, 2004. We moved to United States 25 years ago and made it our home because of the opportunity and freedom of religion and freedom of expression.
GHAZALA KHAN, MOTHER OF KILLED U.S. SOLDIER: God bless. God bless everybody, everyone here. K. KHAN: Prayer reminds us that we all are here with a purpose.
G. KHAN: I just miss him a lot, especially every day in the morning, every evening.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: The pain of Gold Star parents.
Our thanks to HBO Documentaries and directors Matt O'Neill and Jon Alpert for letting us use that.
In our world lead today, reports of chemical weapons being used in the same region a Russian helicopter was shut down just a day before -- that story next.
Plus, Olympic athletes swimming in contaminated water, this on top of Zika and security and terror fears -- the problems plaguing Brazil three just days before the Games begin.
[16:48:22] TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. This just in to CNN, hot off the presses, Donald Trump in an interview with "The Washington Post" was asked if he would support prominent Republicans in their primary battles including House Speaker Paul Ryan.
And Trump, well, he said, he's quote, "not quite there yet. Trump said Ryan has sought his endorsement, but the Republican presidential nominee told the "Washington Post" this, quote, "I like Paul, but these are horrible times for our country, we need very strong leadership. We need very, very strong leadership, and I'm just not quite there yet. I'm not quite there yet," unquote.
You might remember those are almost the exact same words Speaker Ryan used when he told me weeks ago that he was, quote, "just not ready to support Trump."
Ryan is facing a primary challenge from outsider, Paul Nehlen. Asked about Nehlen by the "Washington Post," Trump said the insurgent candidates is running, quote, "a very good campaign."
Trump also notably did not endorse Senator John McCain today saying that McCain who released a statement slamming Trump's feud with the gold star family has, quote, "not done a good job for veterans."
Our World Lead now, thousands gathered at the ruin cathedral as an 85- year-old priest was laid to rest in France today. Father Jacques Hamel was murdered when two ISIS terrorists stormed a church near Normandy while he presided over a mass in an attacked claimed to be carried out in the name of ISIS.
The terrorists stabbed the priest in the chest and slit his throat, and took three nuns and two churchgoers hostage. One attacker was known to anti-terror authorities. He had been under police surveillance and forced to wear an electronic monitor according to a French police source. Both terrorists were shot and killed by French police.
[16:50:05]Now to the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Syria where two chemical gas attacks have been reported. Activists say cylinders of chlorine gas were dropped in residential areas in Northern Syria.
And in the second incident, the Syrian government is claiming terrorist groups carried out an attack in Aleppo. Let's get right to CNN's Arwa Damon, who is across the border in Turkey. Arwa, what more can you tell us about these chlorine gas attacks?
ARWA DAMON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, according to the Idlib Civil Defense also known as the White Helmets, they are basically a group of volunteer medical individuals who tried to rush to these areas and help those who need aid.
They said that these gas cylinders were dropped in the late morning today and that the smell was chlorine. And when we spoke to one of the photographers there and asked him why he was confident it was chlorine, he simply said, look, we have been through this before.
We've been attacked by chlorine gas before, this time, the odor was not as pungent but the symptoms were very similar. Around 30 people had severe trouble breathing, runny eyes, and some were asphyxiating.
They're calling on the U.N. to intervene, but as we know, up until now, Jake, neither the U.N. nor other key players will be able to do anything to stop the violence.
TAPPER: And Arwa, at least 30 people are reported to have been killed in a recent shelling in Aleppo. It is a dire situation for hundreds of thousands still trapped in the city, how are they surviving?
DAMON: With great, great difficulty, Jake. I mean, just when they think that the situation of bombardment can't get any worst, they actually do. That particular shelling incident that actually happened in an area and it was due to rubble fire.
That's according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which also says, though, that over the last 80 days, some 6,000 civilians have been killed or wounded.
And we have heard numerous reports from activists and seen photographs of children burning tires because apparently they're trying to obscure the Russian and regime jets flying overhead.
Many describing the current bombardment of Aleppo is being the most intense they have ever seen and that, of course, is creating a humanitarian catastrophe given that the area is largely under siege.
TAPPER: Arwa Damon, thank you so much. Appreciate it as always. Stay safe. The problems keep stacking up for Brazil, and Zika is not even the half of it. Is Rio ready?
TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper. Turning now to our Health Lead, with just three days to go before the Rio Olympic Games, Brazil is dealing with a mess of serious problems including trash and sewage sitting in Rio's waters making the water potentially toxic to anyone who drinks, swims or showers in it.
Last we mentioned the other big problem in Rio right now, of course, that Brazil is ground zero for the Zika virus. Joining me now is CNN chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta. Sanjay, good to see you.
It's not just Zika that poses health concerns where you are, athletes will be in the dirty water that is tested positive for a dangerous drug resistant super bacteria.
SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that -- they have known about this for some time, Jake. I think even when the Rio got the bid for the Olympics, there was concerns about the water and there were promises that the water is going to be cleaned up.
But yes, about 80 percent of some of that waste and some of these concerns about super bugs remain. I'll tell you, the one that they're talking about is something known as CRE. It's one of the various super bugs.
And I don't know how much you can see over my left shoulder here, Jake, but that is Copacabana Bay. There are people who are still swimming in that and paddle boarding in it, and that is the water that they're talking about that's also infected.
There has not been a huge uptick in Brazilians getting sick from that water. I point that out only to say that as much of a concern as this is, for years people have been swimming in this water, and have not had the resistant infections in their own bodies.
I think that once these bacteria get into huge bodies of water, from run off from hospitals or whatnot, it probably becomes so diluted that it's not causing the illness that people are most worried about.
Still pretty disgusting, still concerning, but the prank health risks may be lower than people thought.
TAPPER: We're also learning that Brazil is beefing up security with nearly 14,000 patrol officers. Have you noticed an increase in security? Do you feel safe in Rio?
GUPTA: You know you're told there are certain places you should not go. You're told certain times of day that you should not be out, things like that. There has been some more minor crime and theft.
When we came in from the airport, I came in from Salvador, Brazil, there was a pretty huge military presence along the highways coming into Rio. You do see a lot of security at some of the more public venues.
So there is a lot of people still out and about. I haven't felt any kind of particular risk myself. There is a little bit of an undercurrent of that, but it has not been something that has been very obvious to me.
I will tell you that even the hospitals are starting to get prepared. It is challenging here the health care system here is very overrun. People wait days and days for emergency care. They are trying to make more beds and resources available should they be necessary for something that might happen.
TAPPER: All right, Dr. Sanjay Gupta in Rio, thank you so much. Appreciate it.
GUPTA: You got it, thank you.
TAPPER: This programming note, tomorrow, hear from Libertarian presidential and vice presidential candidates, Gary Johnson and William Weld in a CNN Town Hall. That's tomorrow night at 9:00 here on CNN.
That is it for THE LEAD today. I am Jake Tapper. I now turn you over to one Mr. Wolf Blitzer with breaking news in THE SITUATION ROOM. Thanks for watching.