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THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER
Will Trump Blow Up Climate Change Agreement?; Hillary Clinton Speaks Out. Aired 4:30-5p ET
Aired May 31, 2017 - 16:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LAURA JARRETT, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Because moles allegedly told somebody about his plans to travel here with weapons, and that person tipped off the Pennsylvania State Police, who subsequently told Secret Service and the D.C. police.
Now, the police say that this all ended peacefully and quickly, and we're learning from law enforcement sources tonight, Jake, that moles apparently told police that he suffers from PTS, post-traumatic stress.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: What do police know about his intentions?
JARRETT: Well, they cautioned that they are in the very beginning stages of this investigation, but according to a law enforcement source, moles told the tipster that he -- quote -- "wanted to get close to Trump and wanted to be like Timothy McVeigh," obviously, a chilling reminder of the Oklahoma City bombing back in 1995.
But I should mention that Secret Service says that he posed no immediate threat, but the investigation is still ongoing, and we expect to see him in court later this week -- Jake.
TAPPER: All right, Laura Jarrett, thank you so much.
New reports that President Trump has given his personal cell phone number to world leaders, is this really a secure way to conduct international diplomacy?
And then he's the Russian banker who met with the president's son-in- law after the election. So, just who is Sergey Gorkov and how close is he to Vladimir Putin? Stay with us.
TAPPER: We're back with our politics lead.
Let's dive right in with my panel.
Margaret, let me start with you.
CNN has learned that President Trump is leaning towards pulling out of the Paris climate agreement. I want you to take a listen to Republican Senator Lindsey Graham talking to my colleague Dana Bash on "STATE OF THE UNION" on Sunday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: If he does withdraw, that would be a definitive statement by the president that he believes climate change is a hoax.
Stay in the deal, make it a better deal, would be my advice.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: It doesn't seem like he is going to take Lindsey Graham's advice. So, it seems like all indications are he's going to pull out.
MARGARET TALEV, BLOOMBERG NEWS: And, yes, the question shouted a question today by reporters during his other events seemed to be saying, well, we will have a decision very soon, but I'm still listening to all sides and getting a lot of advice.
So we know this. As a matter of course across all the different columns of input from the White House, apparently, there's unanimity on the notion that the U.S. committed too much to the climate deal and wants the ability to dial back its commitments.
The question has been, do they have to just completely get out of the deal to do that, or is there enough interest from the rest of the world that's party to this deal to allow some sort of circumstance where the U.S. can dial back its commitments under the Trump administration?
We're hearing a lot of input now, Elon Musk now saying on Twitter, if Trump pulls out of the climate deal, he is probably going to have no choice but to drop off of various councils and stuff, jobs councils, that he serves on.
So this sort of -- what's happened is the rumors that a decision was made and the subsequent follow-up saying, well, not quite, but this is how we're leaning, is creating a real opportunity now for everyone who thinks it's important, whether it's for geopolitical reasons, business reasons, environmental reasons, to jump in and say, hey, not so fast. Think about it before you do this.
TAPPER: Mary Katherine, you're a skeptic of this deal. Why should the U.S. pull out?
MARY KATHARINE HAM, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I'm as un-alarmist about pulling out as climate activists are alarmist about it perhaps.
Look, I think I'm highly skeptical of the U.N. and the international community to actually make these things work. This is a nonbinding agreement. There are not enforcement mechanisms in it, you know, and then there's the other part where it's politically binding, right?
But the problem is that President Obama did this via executive agreement. He did not did it via a treaty process, which would have brought it to the Senate. The reason he didn't do that is because it wouldn't have gotten through the Senate.
And part of the reason it wouldn't have gotten the right Senate is not just GOP senators, but Democratic senators from these Trump-won states, by the way, who are up in 2018, who, if they had it before them today, would be begging President Trump not to take a vote on such a treaty.
This is something you didn't build political consensus for. Many of the American people feel like not as alarmist as climate activists do about this, and so I think they are on fair ground after having made this promise to say, hey, no.
I also think it can be incredibly litigious to be involved in one of these and lose some of our sovereignty and put us in a bad position when it comes to our actual economy and job creation.
PERRY BACON, FIVETHIRTYEIGHT: The issue probably, clearly, with Trump is that you have got a place where the senators on the Republican side, 22 senators say they wanted to pull out of this deal.
But you have a lot of corporate CEOs, people Trump normally listens to, who are saying we should stay in this. It's a place where I think he is divided between not just his advisers, but also the people he trusts are divided on this issue between corporate America feels one way and the Republican Party feels another way.
TAPPER: Why does corporate America support this deal, or many members of corporate America? Why do they support it?
BACON: They feel like climate change is happening and they feel like this is -- clean energy is happening. And they want to be in front of it. And they feel like this is something that is good for their bottom lines.
It's also the growth of natural gas has to some extent changed the issue matrix as well in some ways as well. But you see even the head of Exxon, when Tillerson was there, was very -- was supportive of climate change, the efforts to fight climate change, for example.
TAPPER: And a lot of people in the national security apparatus, a lot of generals are in favor of staying in the agreement because they see climate change as an issue of national security, not only using less oil that comes from the Middle East, thus necessitating, as Senator Markey was describing, sending troops there to supply -- to uphold and protect the U.S. energy supply, but also the idea that climate change causes disasters in places like Africa and Asia, where all of a sudden there becomes swarms of refugees.
TALEV: Well, as a matter of science, they are concerned about it as a national security issue, not in a way that would most likely affect the world during President Trump's term in office or terms in office, if that were to occur, but in the long term, this is sort of the continuity of government conversation.
There's also the political national security conversation, which is, if the U.S. is a leader and withdraws from this, does it create a vacuum where other people, other nations, now that this pact is reality, whether or not it was advisable at the time, does it create a space for China to move forward as the leader?
Does it create a space for the E.U. to kind of gang up and build more force up against the United States? So there's sort of strategic considerations that were not necessarily in play before the agreement.
TAPPER: Even if you're non-alarmist, what about those strategic and national security questions?
HAM: Well, sure, some of that is at play here.
But I think often these agreements are built up to be some sort of panacea or fix that they often are not, as with Kyoto protocol, where people will say, well, yes, they sort of kind of met their thing, but then they traded a lot of credits and they're not really sure. But the most important thing about the Kyoto protocol is it led to the Paris agreement.
So if each agreement just leads to another agreement that is also non- enforcible, look, these nations are looking out for their economies. And as Canada found during the Kyoto protocols, which they signed onto and we did not, they ended up dropping out, because they didn't want to pay the billions of dollars in penalties after it turned out, oh, look at that, energy production and carbon production and your economy are linked inextricably, and you have to contend with that.
TAPPER: I want to play some sound for you today from Hillary Clinton, who spoke about her election loss at a conference.
Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D), FORMER U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: He dumps that on me on October 28, and I immediately start falling.
But what was really interesting, since the mainstream media covered that, as I say, like Pearl Harbor, front pages everywhere, huge type, et cetera, I inherit nothing from the Democratic Party.
It was bankrupt. It was on the verge of insolvency. Its data was mediocre to poor, nonexistent, wrong. I had to inject money into it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: So she's talking obviously about some of the fallout from the controversy about her private e-mail server, but also saying something that a lot of actually Democrats had criticized President Obama for, which was not doing enough to build up the data and the technology in the DNC and faulting Debbie Wasserman Schultz as well.
She said something interesting at this conference, Perry. She says that she takes responsibility for all the decisions that were made during the campaign, but -- I'm paraphrasing her -- but that's not why she lost. In other words, she didn't lose because of any of the decisions she made. She lost because of Comey and Putin and more.
BACON: You know, we want her to be candid and authentic at times -- we talked about that -- but her views that are candid and authentic are that she did not lose because of her actions.
She said today she made some mistakes, but she was very focused on Comey, very focused on Russia. She's been fairly consistent about that throughout. The new thing I heard was the DNC part, which I think is true. The DNC was viewed as pretty weak. And she basically said, they had no data, they had no technology. We had to build it up from scratch.
I think you will -- my guess is you will hear Democrats in the next couple of days come out and say it would be nice if she takes more of the blame for the loss, because she clearly lost to a candidate who was probably weak, who had terrible approval ratings, so she probably needs to think about where does the blame lie, and she's often talking about people outside of herself.
TAPPER: I want to play one more clip from her. She's talking about in this clip the question of could the disinformation and the leaking e-mails, et cetera, if that campaign, the way -- allegedly by the Russians, could that have been done without guidance from somebody in this country? Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CLINTON: The Russians, in my opinion, and based on the intel and counterintel people I have talked to, could not have known how best to weaponize that information unless they had been guided. And here's...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Guided by Americans?
CLINTON: Guided by Americans.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: Whoa. That's a fairly strong charge, and she didn't say she had any evidence for it. She said this is her understanding.
TALEV: Well, and she does have experience during her time as secretary of state, and she does stay in touch with a lot of the advisers who advised her about Russia and other matters.
But I think what you're seeing here, whether it's her talking about Jim Comey or whether it's talking about the Democratic Party, is Hillary Clinton thinking about Hillary Clinton's legacy, and not necessarily anything else.
And you have got this discussion coming, you know, days before Jim Comey is supposed to testify on Capitol Hill, which will be highly watched and his credibility obviously is important, and at a time when the Democratic Party is trying to reconstitute itself so it's in good shape for the midterms and to have a fighting chance in the next presidential election.
Hillary Clinton not really working on laying the groundwork for either of those two right now.
HAM: My only question is, when she runs again and Comey is not operative, would she run the exact same campaign? Does she think that would win? Because I don't think that would win.
TAPPER: You don't think...
TALEV: But you do think she's running again?
HAM: I'm just trolling.
HAM: But would she run that campaign again?
No. You would go to the Midwest. You would visit Wisconsin. There are things that she's at fault for here and reflecting on that would help the party and would help her.
TAPPER: One other thing before we go. President Trump last night, I don't know if he fell asleep mid-tweet or what happened. We all make typos on Twitter. Usually, we correct them, but this one sat up for a little while.
"Despite the constant negative press covfefe."
Co -- I'm not sure exactly how you pronounce it.
HAM: It's pronounced covfefe.
TAPPER: Sean Spicer was asked about this tweet today, and here's his response.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: - and a small group of people know exactly what he meant.
TAPPER: The President and a small group of people know exactly what he meant.
PERRY BACON, FIVETHIRTYEIGHT SENIOR POLITICAL WRITER: This is worrisome.
HAM: He's just messing with us, right.
BACON: Well, I would say it's worrisome that Sean Spicer could have just said the President made a typo. My sense is Sean Spicer doesn't want to say that and if (INAUDIBLE) he can't admit that the President made a typo is what kind of useful is he going to be for reporters in the press conference. At that point, if he can't say basic information like that, it suggests that his - the President's confidence in him is very low. He doesn't want to be on stage saying anything bad about the President and this is where we are, it's a little worrisome.
MARGARET TALEV, BLOOMBERG WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: I think he probably was just trying to make a joke but I also think - and I - this was made very clear during this nine-day foreign trip. They are very sensitive to the idea that the President gets tired, I've heard that he's exhausted, that he's tired, that he's tireable. The idea that in a completely natural way someone could have fallen asleep at midnight after being on this, you know, nine days abroad mid-tweet is so anathema to the idea that they wouldn't to portray which is that he's indefatigable and can get by on three or four hours of sleep. But I think that may have had something to do with the way they've approached these questions.
HAM: I think they are actually messing around. The second tweet, when he was like everyone enjoy, figure out what it means.
HAM: This is Spicer backing him up and I think it's partially a response to the fact that it became such a huge story overnight. People obsessing over covfefe, and they are like, yes, enjoy.
TAPPER: Well, I wish you all a good covfefe.
TALEV: Yes, thank you.
TAPPER: To all three of you, thank you so much.
TALEV: I'm going to do that right now.
TAPPER: Covfefe to all of you and to you as well out there.
Coming up, he was hand-picked by Vladimir Putin to run Russia's State Bank. He also met with President Trump's son-in-law after the election. Now a CNN investigation has found that this is not Sergey Gorkov's only link to the Trump name. Stay with us.
[16:50:00] TAPPER: Welcome back to the "WORLD LEAD" now where the death toll is now up to 90 in this morning's massive suicide bombing in Afghanistan's capital city. At least 11 American contractors are among the 400 seriously injured. The blast happened in one of the most heavily guarded areas of the city of Kabul surrounded by embassies, including the U.S. Embassy just a few blocks away from the bombing site. New video shows the moment of the explosion. A suicide bomber detonating explosives hidden in a water delivery truck, detonated during the busy morning rush hour. The attack comes during the Muslim Holy Month of Ramadan. CNN's Barbara Starr joins me now live at the Pentagon. And Barbara, this attack comes at a critical time. President Trump is contemplating a decision about whether to remove troops or all the way to send more troops to Afghanistan.
BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: There is a strategy review going on inside the Pentagon and at the White House about what the next steps are. This attack not making it any easier to make that decision in addition to the 11 U.S. contractors working for the State Department, 9 Afghan security personnel, also working for the United States were killed in this attack. So this is quite a significant impact. Some 20 people affiliated with the U.S. Embassy hurt or killed and you know, the Afghan people taking the front of it, 90 killed, some 400 wounded. What to do now is the big question. They are looking at everything, as you say, from perhaps doing nothing to increasing the number of troops. Adding another 5,000 or so to the 8,400 U.S. troops already there. The idea would be that they could help the Afghan forces with more training, with more advisory work, work with them out in the field. This has been a very long haul, to say the least. More than $600 billion spent on the campaign in Afghanistan, and still the security forces, they are very fragile in some places. This morning's attack showing that some of these terror groups still have the ability to hit without warning. Jake?
TAPPER: And Barbara, the Taliban is denying responsibility. Do we have any idea who is behind this?
STARR: Well, Afghan officials are saying, and U.S. officials are not disagreeing with them at this point, a group known as the Haqqani Network is most likely responsible. These are long-standing terrorist clans in Afghanistan. They do work with the Taliban occasionally, but this is a hallmark signature of their violent, vicious attacks, the large-scale suicide bomb attacks in place like Kabul where they can strike at the heart of the government and make people there very nervous about the stability of their country. Jake?
TAPPER: All right. Barbara Starr, thank you. We should note that some of our colleagues at the BBC were injured and one was killed during that attack, and our thoughts and prayers are with you today.
Sticking with our "WORLD LEAD" and revisiting the ongoing Russia investigation, one of the mysteries of the Russia probe is why Jared Kushner met with this man, Sergey Gorkov, handpicked by Putin to run Russia's State Bank. The two met in December during the trump transition. This was around the time that report suggests that the President's son-in-law and Senior Adviser was trying to set up a secret back channel to communicate with the Kremlin, though it's unclear if the meeting with Gorkov is in any way related to that goal. A source telling CNN that Kushner will describe his interaction with Russian officials as quote "looking for the right person to engage with on Russia" unquote and nothing more when he faces the Senate Intelligence Committee. CNN caught up with Sergey Gorkov today and we asked what he and Kushner discussed. CNN's Drew Griffin joins me now. Dew, Gorkov, is not just an ordinary banker.
DREW GRIFFIN, CNN SENIOR INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT: Jake, you might as well just call him Putin's banker, well-connected to the Kremlin to the oligarchs and Russia and at times to both Jared Kushner and Donald Trump.
GRIFFIN: He is Sergey Gorkov, handpicked by Russian President Vladimir Putin to run Russia's State Bank the Vnesheconombank, nicknamed the VEB. This Russian banker was trained by Russia's spy agency, the FSB. Gorkov's bank, VEB, was embroiled in an FBI spying investigation. One of its own employees here in the U.S. accused of illegally gathering intelligence for the Russian government and the bank paid for that person's defense. It is the same bank that has bailed out Russian oligarchs and has been under U.S. sanctions for nearly three years, punishment for Russia's invasion of Ukraine. This is the bank and the banker Jared Kushner met with in December and then errantly forgot to mention when disclosing his personal contacts with foreign officials. Kushner's secret Russian meeting may be more fuel for the Russian-Trump conspiracy theorists or just a mistake of a person with little international diplomatic experience.
[16:55:55] THOMAS E. MANN, THE BROOKINGS INSTITUTION SENIOR FELLOW IN GOVERNANCE: He's been given assignments and a position, and he's required to be absolutely forthcoming about this. This opens up another whole set of problems and vulnerabilities for the President.
GRIFFIN: Jared Kushner has, according to his attorney, agreed to answer any and all questions any federal investigators may have about his alleged ties with Russia, Russian banks, and back channel communications, but he is not answering to anyone else right now, and neither is the White House. Just what Kushner and Gorkov discussed when they met soon after the election isn't clear. The Russian bank says it was real estate business with Kushner representing his private real estate company. The White House said no, it was actually government business with Kushner representing the new American administration and Gorkov representing Russia's State Bank. Confronted in Saint Petersburg today by CNN's Matthew Chance, Sergey Gorkov would say nothing.
MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: What did you really say to Jared Kushner back when you - when you met with him in December?
GRIFFIN: And when all of these is getting sorted out, there is another connection to Sergey Gorkov, another Russian-sponsored bank and another actor in this ever increasingly complicated play. In 2013 Donald Trump co-hosted the Miss Universe Pageant in Moscow. It was a huge success, partly due to the pageant's biggest sponsors, one of which was the Russian-controlled bank Sberbank and guess who was the deputy chairman of Sberbank, Sergey Gorkov. The very Russian banker meeting with Jared Kushner three years later in a meeting with conflicting stories about what the meeting was all about. And in the midst of a Russian-Trump U.S. election story that may, in fact, have no there, there yet but is becoming increasingly harder to ignore.
GRIFFIN: Of course, Jake, we also know that during the same time Jared Kushner was meeting with banker Sergey Gorkov, Kushner was meeting with the Russian Ambassador to the U.S. a source familiar with what took place in both of those meetings said, those sanctions the Russian bank is trying to get rid of were not discussed and instead focused on Kushner establishing this back channel communication to Russian President Vladimir Putin. Jake?
TAPPER: All right. Drew Griffin, thank you so much.
In our "OUT-OF-THIS-WORLD LEAD" today, pack your SPF1 trillion. NASA today announced its first mission to fly directly into the atmosphere of the sun. Launching next year the space agency will set a probe encased in a five-inch thick code carbon composite solar shields to within about 4 million miles of the surface of the sun. It will face heat about 2,500 Fahrenheit, radiation that no spacecraft has been able to withstand before, and it will get ten times closer to the sun than planet Mercury.
In our "POP CULTURE LEAD" now, CNN has terminated comedian Kathy Griffin as co-host of its annual New Year's Eve Program following the emergence of a photo and video shoot deemed quote "disgusting offensive" by CNN's spokesperson in which Griffin is seen holding a facsimile of a bloody severed Donald Trump head. It first emerged yesterday and was roundly condemned, including on this show. CNN has decided to no longer show the gruesome images. Griffin initially defended the stunt in a since-deleted tweet saying she was quote "merely mocking the mocker in chief" she eventually backtracked and removed the image and issued an apology video message last night. President Trump said the disturbing imagery was affecting his youngest son, tweeting earlier quote, "my children, especially my 11-year-old son Barron are having a hard time with this, sick." That's a sentiment with which it is difficult to argue. Be sure to follow me on Facebook and Twitter @jaketapper or tweet the show @theleadcnn. That is it for THE LEAD today. I'm Jake Tapper. I now turn you over to Wolf Blitzer he's right next door in "THE SITUATION ROOM." Thanks for watching.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN THE SITUATION ROOM: Happening now, breaking news, Comey to testify. Fired FBI Director James Comey is ready to testify publicly to a Senate Committee and sources say that testimony could come this week.