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THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER

Hate Crime Investigation; Grading Trump's Performance; FBI Investigating Bar Shooting As Hate Crime; Kansas Shooting Victim Speaks To CNN; Kansas Suspect Accused Of Killing Indian Man; "Conan" Relocates To Mexico For A Special Episode. Aired 4:30-5p ET

Aired March 1, 2017 - 16:30   ET

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


[16:30:0]

NORM EISEN, FORMER SPECIAL COUNSEL TO PRESIDENT OBAMA: Surely, there is just as much, you might say even more risk in a property like this one, where the purchase price is much more than just that of a hotel room.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CRISTINA ALESCI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Jake, the area where the Trump building is located in Vancouver is known as a place where foreigners actually park their cash, buying these condos as a way to diversify their investments.

Now, I reached out to the White House. The White House referred me to the Trump Organization. Trump Organization did not get back to me. And I had an interview scheduled with the Malaysian developer, and he canceled literally as I was about to get on a flight to Vancouver, so, no response.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: It's curious timing.

Cristina Alesci, thank you so much.

No Twitter feuds, no name-calling. Is this a real pivot or just a temporary performance by President Trump? That story next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[16:35:11]

TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.

Let's stick with politics and dive right in with the panel.

We have with us David Catanese, who is a senior politics writer for "U.S. News & World Report," Mary Kissel, editorial board member of "The Wall Street Journal," and Amy Davidson, staffer for "The New Yorker."

So, first of all, this is a complicated thing that just happened, which is President Trump told a bunch of reporters yesterday that he would be open and eager to some sort of compromise immigration package in which both sides compromised, both sides gave something up and negotiated.

Now we are told by a senior White House official talking to our own Sara Murray at the White House it was all misdirection so that the White House would get out some good headlines among us liberal media types, and then the president would offer his more hard-liner position to the conservative base.

I don't know what to believe. What do you think?

AMY DAVIDSON, "THE NEW YORKER": Well, when you look at his speech, one reason it made different impressions on different people is some of the terminology was a little vague. He said all of my enforcement efforts are directed at the bad ones.

If you have just come from this sort of meeting you came from, maybe you think the bad one has some real technical meaning that's very narrow. But if you look at the actual actions the administration has taken, the guidance it's given to the Department of Homeland Security, the bad ones means perhaps every undocumented immigrant in America.

TAPPER: Anyone who broke the law, which would include the act of being in this country illegally.

DAVIDSON: But it's not only short-term headlines. It's a willful misunderstanding or it's an effort to get people to not think critically about what the administration means when it says these people are bad, these people are good. Don't worry, you're probably one of the good people. You don't have to worry about the bad people.

TAPPER: What do you think, Mary?

MARY KISSEL, "THE WALL STREET JOURNAL": I think it's absolutely irrational to think that this administration wants to deport 11 million people. It's simply not feasible.

I think what you saw last night was Donald Trump placating the base by reiterating that he's going to build the wall, get the bad hombres out of the country. And then that opens a political space for a larger compromise, which is something he asked for Democratic cooperation on.

And, by the way, that's not the first time that this president has said that he wants to come to a compromise over immigration to do a deal. Remember what he said about the dreamers, Jake, where he said...

TAPPER: Yes.

KISSEL: ... I have children, I have grandchildren, I care about children, we're going to come to a solution in a compromise that everybody will be happy with?

I think the question is, are Democrats going to come to the table and deal with him because they say that they're for immigration reform? Well, here is a great opportunity to benefit both parties, but to benefit above all the American economy, which as we know is a nation of immigrants. DAVID CATANESE, "U.S. NEWS & WORLD REPORT": How about the

shamelessness of an administration official to come out hours after Trump says this to reporters and say, no, we were just kind of screwing with you guys?

TAPPER: Misdirection was the word they used.

CATANESE: Yes, we wanted to get some good coverage, so that was just kind of a fake, a head fake.

I mean, that is ridiculous and pretty troubling, because members of Congress for at least a couple hours took this a little bit seriously.

TAPPER: Oh, boy.

CATANESE: And they want to know, what does bipartisan immigration reform mean?

And I think that's the next question whoever sits down with Trump has to ask, what do you mean by bipartisan? Is the wall going to be bipartisan? Is it mass deportations? That's not bipartisan.

(CROSSTALK)

KISSEL: He talked about merit-based immigration.

CATANESE: OK.

(CROSSTALK)

KISSEL: He's talked about dreamers.

(CROSSTALK)

CATANESE: He's flipped on dreamers. He said he would repeal Obama's executive orders, and he has now not done that.

KISSEL: Instead of the media navel-gazing at itself, why don't we talk about the policies?

CATANESE: That is a policy.

KISSEL: Trump has placated his base. He has come to the center. He has explicitly asked for Democratic support, not just for immigration, by the way, on health care, on tax reform.

He struck notes of unity throughout this speech, which, by the way, he's been striking for months now, but nobody noticed because of the tone of his speeches.

TAPPER: Let me ask you a question, Amy.

Should Democrats, in hoping to get some sort of immigration reform bill through -- and the senior administration official who briefed us on the details said there would be a path to legal status as long as the person as long -- as the individual had a job and paid taxes, even held out the possibility of a path to citizenship for dreamers.

Is that not a deal...

DAVIDSON: That wasn't in the...

TAPPER: It was not in the speech last night.

DAVIDSON: There was talk really of closed doors in the speech, of ending family relationships being a basis for immigration, of looking for the people who weren't too poor, who loved America, who had the right values, all of which in the past have been terms he's used to talk about Muslim Americans and why he has problems with Muslim immigration.

[16:40:03]

So, if you are one of his supporters who is looking for that, you heard it last night.

And to the point about whether he's serious about deporting 11 million people, whether anyone is, I think one of the points is that, with the guidance he gave last week that really broadened the categories or priorities, it becomes arbitrary.

You never know if you're in that category. You never know if you're good, if you're bad, if you're -- what your future is going to be like. And that kind of arbitrariness is something that has been an instrument of the Trump administration.

TAPPER: Final word, David.

CATANESE: We don't know what his policy is on immigration because he is freelancing as president, and freelancing with different aides that are leaking different things to different reporters for advantage, for advantage, whether it be a cable media Chyron that they enjoyed for three hours before his speech, or internal advantage of trying to earn the president's ear.

(CROSSTALK)

CATANESE: And I just want to know, what does he mean by bipartisan immigration? Because if it does mean legal status and path to citizenship, that is also a betrayal of what the man campaigned on for 16 months.

(CROSSTALK)

TAPPER: I have got to hold it off.

But let's keep going in the commercial break, but I have to take a break. Thank you so much, David, Amy, Mary. Appreciate it.

Be sure to tune in to CNN tonight for a special town hall with Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham. CNN's chief political correspondent, Dana Bash, will moderate. It all starts at 9:00 p.m. Eastern. Coming up, he survived a shooting that the FBI is now investigating as

a hate crime and that the president condemned last night. Now the survivor is sharing what he remembers from those terrifying moments that left an Indian man, an innocent man, dead.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[16:45:00] JAKE TAPPER, CNN THE LEAD ANCHOR: We're back with the "NATIONAL LEAD". A hate crime investigation continues in Kansas, after witnesses say a man yelled, "Get out of my country," and then shot two innocent men from India, killing one. Now the survivor is talking to CNN.

Srinivas Kuchibhotla died from his gunshot wounds last week. He was shot on Wednesday. He was an engineer for GPS maker Garmin. His body was returned to his homeland for a traditional Hindu funeral.

Earlier this week, the victim's friend is also originally from India and is currently recovering from gunshot wounds.

Let's bring in CNN National Correspondent Ryan Young. He's in Olathe, Kansas. And Ryan, obviously, it's traumatic not only to get shot, but also to lose a friend. What did the injured man have to say to you?

RYAN YOUNG, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Jake, Alok Madasani is still very upset about this. You can see the growing memorial outside the sports bar where they were hanging out. In fact, they were just on that porch. Just like the two men are right there talking and watching a game, when all of a sudden, he said someone came up and started screaming towards them. They did their best to avoid it, and then all of a sudden, about a half hour later they heard some shots. Listen to his sound as he's still recovering from a gunshot wound.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ALOK MADASANI, FRIEND KILLED IN BAR SHOOTING: Somebody says, he is back with the gun. It's him. There's nobody else. Why would somebody else come back with a gun? And, you know, the concentration of the sound or, you know, the way the bullets were, you know, popping, it was towards us. You know, we could feel that, you know. You could feel the sound so close to you. And, you know, there were folks -- it just feels so blood right now. But, you know, you're trying to, you know, come to, you know, you just don't know what's going on. It's bullets, you know, it's not reality. (INAUDIBLE) those things, you only watch on the TVs. But I can say with confidence that, you know, what happened to Srinivas is not something that this country believes in.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

YOUNG: Jake, Alok Madasani told me he wanted to survive because of his unborn child. His wife is pregnant. He said he was struggling to make it out the door, but the pain and the blood that was being lost from his body was just too much. He collapsed when other people ran over to him and started putting pressure on his leg. He says, obviously, a moment that he'll never forget, especially losing his best friend.

TAPPER: And Ryan, President Trump condemned the Kansas shooting in his Congressional address last night. Has the surviving victim responded to the president's remarks?

YOUNG: Well, he heard those remarks and he said he was still just very cautious about how to move forward. And he has to have a conversation with his family about whether or not they move from here, but he says the entire family and community have been so good to him. He does feel like this was an isolated incident. He works at Garmin. He said that organization has been great to him in the few days, but it's obviously is going to be tough without his friend here. Obviously, he was tragically taken. Jake?

TAPPER: All right. Ryan, thank you so much. Appreciate it. Coming up next, in our "POP CULTURE LEAD", President Trump might not like this. Late night host Conan O'Brien is sending jobs to Mexico. Mr. O'Brien joins me next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[16:50:00] TAPPER: We're back with our "POP CULTURE LEAD". Still no word yet on how President Trump's proposed U.S.-Mexico border wall will be built and how it will be financed, but at least one person is rolling up his sleeves to help, kind of. Conan O'Brien took his late night T.V. show to Mexico City for a special episode airing tonight on our sister channel TBS. He tried to raise money to pay for the border wall while trying many other things along the way.

Joining me now is none other than one Mr. Conan O'Brien. He is, of course, the host of the show called "Conan" on TBS, quite coincidentally, which is like CNN, part of the Turner Broadcasting empire. Welcome back to the show, my friend. Good to see you.

CONAN O'BRIEN, TBS CONAN HOST: Great to see you, Jake. Thanks for having me.

TAPPER: So, you've taken your shows to numerous countries over the years. Finland, Germany, Cuba, now Mexico. Why Mexico -- why did you pick Mexico?

O'BRIEN: Well, you could probably guess. It seemed like a good time to go down there and try to do something positive. There's a lot of rhetoric during the campaign about Mexico. I wanted to go down there, and the goal was to really do a show that made the Mexican people the star. So, we went to Mexico City. We rented a studio at Televisa. We made a show with an all-Mexican crew and staff, and shot a lot of remotes in and around Mexico City and had a fantastic time. I made a lot of friends.

TAPPER: So, you filmed your episode with an all-Mexican staff and all-Mexican crew, an all-Mexican studio audience. You told me before that you actually did your monologue in Spanish. I -- of course, I'm concerned, are you worried that President Trump is going to get on the phone and call you and threaten to punish you for shipping American jobs to Mexico?

O'BRIEN: As long as he gives me a tax credit, I will come back to Akron, I promise.

TAPPER: Well, how is your Spanish? You can actually do a monologue in Spanish?

[16:54:48] O'BRIEN: Well, there you have it, it's up. There, we were showing a clip. Yes, you know, what's interesting is that I did study Spanish for a few years in school a long time ago. I think during the Ford administration. But the audience was laughing. They were really laughing in the right spots, and apparently, I'm funnier speaking Spanish than I am in English. So, I may have to leave this country, which is good news for some of your viewers who may be happy to see me go.

TAPPER: Of course, one of the most contentious issues between the United States under President Trump and Mexico right now is the president's proposed border wall. President has been adamant that Mexico is going to pay for it. So, my understanding is you went to Mexico and you asked the Mexican people to chip in. Here's what they had to say.

O'BRIEN: Yes.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: Would you like to donate to the wall? If you donate 500 pesos, you get your name on a brick on the wall. Yes, OK. And you have to act now. It's going to be 800 million a piece.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, really?

O'BRIEN: Yes. For a thousand pesos, look at this, you get an "I paid for the wall."

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, my God.

O'BRIEN: You like that? I'm throwing in, look at this right here. Yes, yes, that's how he spells it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: So, but are the ones we can air at 4:00. There were -- there were some less pleasant responses, I understand.

O'BRIEN: Well, actually, the people of Mexico have a terrific sense of humor, so they all got it right away and played along. Yes, there were some responses that President Trump may enjoy less, but what was nice about the trip is how the people had big hearts down there, and they were just incredibly friendly, they were very nice, and they really got along with a lot of the humor. And when I travel my shows, I usually like myself to be the butt of the joke. So, there's a lot of sequences we shot, where the Mexican people were laughing at my attempts to play soccer, my attempts to be a professional Mexican wrestler. Just seeing my legs alone is instant comedy. (LAUGHTER)

TAPPER: So, you -- and you also spoke with the former President of Mexico, Vicente Fox who has been a real vocal critic of President Trump. And he reiterated his position in a very concise and colorful way. Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: You brought me a gift. Thank you so much.

You made it quite certain I will not be going back to the United States. Thank you.

VICENTE FOX, FORMER MEXICAN PRESIDENT: We Mexicans are chiquitos pero picosos. We might be short, but we're tough like a jalapeno. Don't mess around with us, Senior Trump.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: Tell us about the rest of your conversation with President Fox.

O'BRIEN: You know, it's interesting. The point that he was making is that walls don't work, that they haven't worked historically, and his belief that -- and I think this is true of a lot of the people in Mexico -- is all they saw is the optics of some heated rhetoric on the campaign trail, and some slogans and some chants of, you know, "build the wall." And a lot of people got their feelings hurt. And, yes, I understand that things are more complicated sometimes than, you know -- and can't be summed up as easily as we might like to. But the essence is we've been friends with Mexico for a long time. They're a huge part of our culture. They have contributed so much, and they're a lovely, vibrant, intelligent, very artistic people. And they've given us a lot.

And so, what saddened me going down there is getting the sense that their feels have been hurt, that all they see is these little snippets on the news, and me trying to explain to them that many, many, many Americans feel positively towards the Mexican people, and that they shouldn't misunderstand based on some clips.

TAPPER: One last thing before you go, you hosted the White House Correspondents Association dinner twice. First back in '95 under President Bill Clinton, then again in 2013 under President Obama. As you know, President Trump has announced he will not be attending the annual event this year. He'll be the first president to sit out since former President Reagan back in 1981. Of course, that was because he had just been shot. We don't know who's going to be the comedian at this year's event, but whoever it is, do you have any advice for him or her? How should they approach the speech?

O'BRIEN: Well, if it were me, what I would do, if for some reason it was my turn this year, I would play both parts. I would play the President Trump and then I would switch and be the comedian. That way I get twice the air time. You just need -- all you need, Alec Baldwin has shown us is a wig. I don't even need the wig. I'm ready to go now. I just comb this forward, make a face like I've eaten a lemon and I'm there. So, I would happily play both parts and I would just ask for twice the pay. That's all.

TAPPER: Conan O'Brien, always great to see you. Thanks so much.

O'BRIEN: Thank you very much, Jake.

TAPPER: And you can see Conan's special this evening on TBS. That's it for THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper. I now turn you over to one Mr. Wolf Blitzer in "THE SITUATION ROOM". Thanks for watching.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN THE SITUATION ROOM HOST: Happening now, revising the ban. Savoring the success of the president's address --