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STATE OF THE UNION

Trump-Russia Investigation Intensifies; President Trump in Asia; Interview With California Senator Dianne Feinstein; Interview With House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired November 5, 2017 - 09:00   ET

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


[09:00:17]

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): High-stakes trip. President Trump arrives in Asia amid rising fears of potential war with North Korea.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We have a problem called North Korea. And, if we don't solve it, it's not going to be very pleasant for them.

TAPPER: Will Kim Jong-un test Trump by testing another missile?

Plus: Investigation intensifies. A former Trump campaign adviser now admits he met with a top Russian official, as the president says he doesn't remember being pitched on a sit-down with Putin.

TRUMP: I don't remember much about that meeting. It was a very unimportant meeting.

TAPPER: We will talk about the latest in the Russia investigations exclusively with Senator Dianne Feinstein.

And tax overhaul. House Republicans unveil their tax plan, and President Trump gives his stamp of approval.

TRUMP: It will be the biggest cut in the history of our country.

TAPPER: But Democrats are crying foul.

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), HOUSE MINORITY LEADER: It's really making suckers of the American people.

TAPPER: Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi joins me for an exclusive interview live next.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

TAPPER: Hello. I'm Jake Tapper in Washington, where the state of our union is looking east.

This morning, President Trump is in Tokyo, wrapping up his first full day abroad on a nearly two-week trip to the Asia Pacific. Clearly on the president's mind, North Korea.

Speaking at a joint U.S.-Japanese U.S. military base, the president sent a clear message to the rogue nation.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: ... warriors are prepared to defend our nation, using the full range of our unmatched capabilities. No one, no dictator, no regime and no nation, should underestimate, ever, American resolve.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: President Trump also spent time exploring some familiar territory, the golf course. He played a round with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, and he enjoyed traditional Japanese cuisine, hamburgers.

The two leaders had dinner at a Tokyo restaurant with their wives.

After a week of headlines about the first indictments in special prosecutor Robert Mueller's Russia investigation, President Trump told reporters that he does expect to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin later in his trip, and said he will seek to enlist Putin's help on North Korea.

Here to talk about this and much, much more is House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi.

Leader Pelosi, thanks so much for joining us. We appreciate it.

PELOSI: It's my pleasure to be here.

TAPPER: So, the president is in the middle of this 13-day tour of Asia. And there is very real concern in Japan, South Korea, and China that the conflict with North Korea will escalate into war.

I want you to take a listen to what the national security adviser had to say this week.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

H.R. MCMASTER, U.S. NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: North Korea is a threat to the entire world. So, all nations of the world must do more to counter that threat.

That is happening. But the president recognizes that we're running out of time and will ask all nations to do more.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: Now, a letter from the Pentagon to members of Congress says that the only way to take out North Korea's nuclear program with -- quote -- "complete certainty" would be a ground invasion.

Is that something that you could support?

PELOSI: Well, I think we have to exhaust every other remedy. North Korea's behavior is -- has to be contained, stopped, reversed.

They cannot have a nuclear weapon that they -- my view, my concern about North Korea is not only what they're doing, but what they're advertising, that they may want to sell some of this technology.

I was in Pyongyang a number of years ago on an intelligence trip, the capital of North Korea. And we were talking to them about stopping production of all of these missiles, the missile technology. They said, we only -- we only make them to sell them. Do you want to buy them?

So, I'm afraid, whether it's the technology, whether it's the scientific know-how, or whether it's the launch capacity, that what they're doing is advertising. So, it's not only that they would have it, but that it could sell it.

And that proliferation would be a danger, is a danger to the whole world. And they must be stopped. I would like to think that we would exhaust every diplomatic remedy, because we're dealing -- we're sticking a -- poking a stick in the eye of a mad dog with some of what we're saying.

TAPPER: So, presumably, every -- every possible diplomatic opportunity would include President Trump sitting down with Vladimir Putin at the APEC Summit in Vietnam to talk about this, as the president says he wants to do.

PELOSI: Well, I hope that that would be a priority, because the Russians have not made it a priority to stop some of the activities of North Korea.

Many of the countries in the region helped them get some of the tech -- the North Koreans get some of the technology they have. The Russians do not necessarily want to see a unified Korea -- well -- and they certainly shouldn't want one that is nuclear. So, in other words, they have a mixed agenda.

[09:05:00]

I hope that this -- the president goes into the meeting really informed. He says he's the only one that counts, he doesn't need people at the State Department.

No, his judgment has to be informed by the facts, by the history, by the prospects. And so I hope, with all the exuberance that he brings, that he brings some humility in dealing with the issue in terms of knowing what he's talking about.

TAPPER: Let's turn to taxes.

I know you're eager to talk about that.

PELOSI: Yes.

TAPPER: In recent weeks, two senators, Sherrod Brown, Democrat from Ohio, and Angus King, an independent who caucuses with the Democrats from Maine, they have said that Democrats should work with President Trump on taxes.

You have made deals with President Trump, or tried to at least.

PELOSI: Yes.

TAPPER: Is that possible?

PELOSI: Well, what we have said is, if you're going to do a whole revision of the tax code, it should be done in a bipartisan way. That's the only way it will be fair, simplified and sustainable.

TAPPER: Did they not do it that way?

PELOSI: And, no, you see what -- they try to use -- I say to Bill Bradley and to Dick Gephardt, they're taking your name in vain.

They had 30 hearings, over -- interviewed over -- had testimony from over 400 people from all sides of the issue to develop something that would be sustainable. It took a couple of years. They worked with President Reagan on this.

Instead, this is, as my colleague Congressman Raskin has said, with the speed of light, in the dark of night. They're trying to move this in a matter of days from when we have seen it to when they will vote on it.

TAPPER: There seem to be provisions that you could support.

There is a tax cut for middle-class Americans, as well as for wealthier Americans. The plan doubles the standard deduction to $12,000 for individuals, $24,000 for couples.

Is it not true that some lower- and middle-class families will do better under the plan?

(CROSSTALK)

PELOSI: No. No, they won't.

TAPPER: They won't?

PELOSI: And here's the thing, is they give with one hand and take away with the other.

First of all, this -- let me just give it a macro and then the micro, because the micro is very important, what it means in people's lives.

But the macro is that this thing will explode the deficit, the national debt.

TAPPER: One-point-five trillion dollars.

PELOSI: And one of the reasons is that they're giving a $1.5 trillion cut to corporate America.

And, in their budget, they call for a $1.5 trillion cut to Medicare -- half-a-trillion -- Medicaid, $1 trillion. I mean, that's not really a statement of our values.

At the same time, they're saying to corporate America, if you want to create jobs overseas, you have a tax advantage over creating jobs in the U.S.

I don't think the president ever said in his campaign that he was going to make it easier, from a tax standpoint, for corporations to get jobs or make jobs grow overseas.

And then the third part of it is, you know, they have this deduction for state local taxes, SALT.

TAPPER: Mm-hmm.

PELOSI: Well, they rub salt in the wound on it by saying to an individual, you can't deduct it, but corporations can.

So, this is a -- really a gift to corporate America. And then saying, these people will pass it on to their workers -- they never have.

TAPPER: You don't buy that argument.

PELOSI: No. I don't buy that...

(CROSSTALK)

TAPPER: What about the deductions that...

PELOSI: Right. So, then the deductions -- and thank you for bringing that up.

What they do is, it's a slight of hand. It's a shell game. It's a Ponzi scheme. They make it look as if they're giving something. They're like at a banquet. They spread out this banquet for the wealthiest Americans, for corporate America, and they throw a few crumbs to the middle class, and then they -- then they take them away by this.

Do you think it would be a statement of values for a tax plan in a budget to say to families that are trying to pay off student loans, $2,500 deduction, we remove that? To teachers who take supplies to school, you know, because their schools don't have the arts and crafts and some of the things they need, teachers had been able to deduct what they paid for that. They take that away.

Medical deduction for extraordinary medical costs, it's been there since 1944. They take that away.

The list is a long one of all of the things they pull away from the middle class.

So, really, the net gain is not there. But the huge gain is there for the super rich and corporate America. This is a moment of truth for America.

Are we going to go deeply into debt, deeply into debt to give tax cuts to the high end, at the expense of working families in America, as we give advantages to corporations to send jobs overseas, while pulling away school supplies from children?

It's -- there's so much in it that -- but you have to look macro.

And one more point.

TAPPER: Mm-hmm.

PELOSI: While they take us deeply into debt, to the tune of almost $3 trillion added to the deficit -- very hard to come back from that -- the next 10 years -- and we have to always account for 20 years -- the next 10 years is a hemorrhaging of the national debt.

And these so-called budget hawks have turned into an extinct, endangered species.

TAPPER: Leader Pelosi, stay right there. We have much more to talk to you about, including the recent talk about impeachment. Is that a reality for Democrats?

[09:10:03]

That's next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

TAPPER: Welcome back to STATE OF THE UNION. I'm Jake Tapper.

We're here with House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi.

Leader Pelosi, let's turn to the big developments this week in special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation.

The president says that there's absolutely nothing in the indictments or anywhere that directly connect him to any collusion with Russia.

Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: All I can tell you is this. There was no collusion. There was no nothing. It's a disgrace, frankly, that they continue.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: What's your response?

PELOSI: It's really stunning to hear what the president has to say.

The fact is that we have to follow the facts. I think that Mueller is doing a very good job at what he does. And that's inside the Justice Department. I think that our Intelligence Committees are doing a good job, the Judiciary Committee as well, in what they do inside the Congress. I still think we should have an outside commission that is not to

conflict with what either of them are doing, but to give us a real picture of what happened, so that it doesn't happen again. This is about our electoral system, an assault that was made on it, and we have to know the facts as we go forward.

[09:15:05]

You would think that the president of the United States, who takes the oath to defend the Constitution, would be the first one to say, whatever it was, we have to protect our electoral system. But he hasn't done that.

TAPPER: One of the things President Trump has been hitting Hillary Clinton for is an excerpt in Donna Brazile, the former DNC interim chair, her new book.

And Brazile says she believes that the Clinton campaign exerted undue influence over the Democratic National Committee throughout the 2016 campaign before she had the nomination.

I want you to take a listen to something Senator Elizabeth Warren told me on Thursday when I asked her about Brazile's allegations.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D), MASSACHUSETTS: But this is a real problem. But what we have got to do as Democrats now is, we have got to hold this party accountable.

TAPPER: Very quickly, Senator, do you agree with the notion that it was rigged?

WARREN: Yes.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: Do you agree with the notion that the Democratic National Committee, not the primary process, but the DNC, was rigged in favor of Hillary Clinton over Bernie Sanders?

PELOSI: Well, everyone goes back to relitigate elections when you lose.

It is -- everybody has a version, and maybe all of it have an element of truth.

What I think we have to do is go forward. I, for 30 years, have been against superdelegates. It doesn't make me popular in my caucus or among the DNC members. But I don't think -- I think that that really says to people, whatever you do out there in the election, we will have the final say.

So, I think that one of the things, as we go forward, is to really more -- give more power to the grassroots in all this. I have always believed it, for 30 years, since they started these superdelegates. Issues like that, I think, will restore confidence. And that's where we have to go, rather than looking back.

TAPPER: Are you at all troubled by what Brazile is alleging?

PELOSI: Well, I haven't read her book. I have great respect for her and for Hillary Clinton and everyone concerned.

But I -- again, not knowing the facts of what it is, I would hope that there's another side to the story. But that -- again, that's neither here nor there. It's almost a waste of time, except for people to put their view of it on the record.

TAPPER: OK.

PELOSI: But from our standpoint, as the Democrats, we have to go forward.

I don't get involved in presidentials. My role is to elect Democrats to the House. The presidential is a different thing. The DNC has always been dedicated to that. Hopefully, now it will be dedicated to electing Democrats up and down the ballot. And I think that's what Tom Perez intends to do.

TAPPER: Well, let's talk about that, because Democratic mega-donor Tom Steyer recently launched a $10 million ad campaign calling for the impeachment of President Trump.

Republican Senator Lindsey Graham says that if you and the Democrats take the House back in 2018, the first thing you will do is impeach President Trump.

Is that true?

PELOSI: No.

I believe that, whatever we do, we have a responsibility, first and foremost, to unify the nation. Second of all, you can't go down any path without the facts and the law. If that's there, perhaps it will come out in these investigations.

I -- and the left of our party is still annoyed with me for not impeaching President Bush for going into Iraq. What could be worse than that?

But the fact is that we have got to really be saying what this election means to people in their lives. Somebody has some facts that come forth about President Trump, let the chips fall where they may. But it's not someplace that I think we should go.

TAPPER: Not a priority for you.

PELOSI: No.

TAPPER: OK.

PELOSI: And, again, I don't want to dampen anybody's enthusiasm for what they believe, because a lot of people in our country think that the president should be impeached.

But that -- that's not a decision. That isn't what our election is about. Our election is about meeting the needs of the American people, stopping this tax bill right now, which is an insult to the intelligence of the American people, an assault on their financial security. That's what we should be talking about.

TAPPER: Briefly, the Associated Press spoke with three current and former female members of Congress, Democrats and Republicans, who detailed years of sexual harassment allegations by fellow lawmakers, including at least two members who are still serving in Congress, though they were not named.

You're the highest-ranking woman in the U.S. government. What do you intend to do about this?

PELOSI: Well, we -- by the way, my colleague Jackie Speier has a bill mandating harassment training. And that -- I have asked the speaker if we just couldn't take that up. He's referring it to committee. Hopefully, we can move quickly on that.

But the -- some of the things that go beyond what Jackie is -- Congresswoman Speier is doing in her bill have to be done by the full Congress. And that is where we need to go, getting rid of these nondisclosure clauses and the rest.

Most of -- I didn't know about some of these things, because there is a nondisclosure provision. That has to go.

But, anyway, we're at a tipping -- we're a different place. I'm kind of -- I don't want to say excited about it, because it's all very, very sad, but it's hopeful that we can do something very, very strong right now.

[09:20:07]

TAPPER: Has anyone ever told you, any female member of Congress, that they were sexually harassed?

PELOSI: No.

TAPPER: That's never happened? OK.

PELOSI: Well, they probably went through the other process. And that's a nondisclosure process.

TAPPER: All right.

Leader Pelosi, it's always great to have you here.

PELOSI: Thank you.

TAPPER: Thank you so much. Appreciate it.

PELOSI: My pleasure.

TAPPER: Coming up: a new revelation in the Russia investigation.

A foreign policy adviser to the Trump campaign now admitting behind closed doors to the Intelligence Committees that he met at least one senior Russian official last summer,

A key Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, Dianne Feinstein, will be here to talk about that next.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

TAPPER: Welcome back to STATE OF THE UNION. I'm Jake Tapper.

After a week of major developments in the Russia investigation, CNN is now learning of a new meeting between a Trump campaign adviser and a top Russian official.

Carter Page confirmed Friday behind closed doors that he met with the Russian deputy prime minister while in Moscow in July of last year. And he told CNN that that was the case.

[09:25:07]

After his trip to Russia, Page sent an e-mail to at least one Trump campaign aide describing insights he had learned from his conversations, according to "The New York Times."

In an interview on Friday, I asked Page about that trip.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: What did you tell people on the Trump team about your trip?

CARTER PAGE, FORMER TRUMP FOREIGN POLICY ADVISER: I just mentioned that there was in general from people on the street and the things you would hear in the media enthusiasm for the possibility of a little bit of a warming in U.S.-Russia relations.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: Here to discuss is the top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, Dianne Feinstein. She's also a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee.

Senator, thanks so much for joining us. Appreciate it, as always.

SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN (D), CALIFORNIA: Thank you.

TAPPER: So, we learned this week that former Trump foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos traveled to London in March 2016.

And then, in April, he met with a professor who promised dirt on Hillary Clinton from the Russians.

Have you seen any evidence that this dirt, these e-mails were ever given to the Trump campaign?

FEINSTEIN: Not so far.

TAPPER: Not so far.

Have you ever seen -- have you seen any communications that suggested that the Trump campaign wanted them to release them through a different means? Because, obviously, they were ultimately released by WikiLeaks.

FEINSTEIN: No, I have not.

TAPPER: OK.

Former Trump campaign adviser J.D. Gordon told CNN that, at a March 2016 meeting with then candidate Trump, the candidate listened to Papadopoulos when he presented the idea of arranging a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

But take a listen to what President Trump had to say about this on Friday.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: I don't remember much about that meeting. It was a very unimportant meeting. It took place a long time -- don't remember much about it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: He says he doesn't remember much about it. Do you believe him?

FEINSTEIN: Well, we saw the photograph of the table with President Trump at one head, Sessions at another, and Papadopoulos in the middle on the left. And that was reportedly to discuss Russia.

I think we have got committees looking, both Intelligence and Judiciary. And these things are hard to ferret out exactly what went on, and people often don't give you the straight scoop in terms of their testimony. So, we will see how that turns out.

TAPPER: Speaking of people not giving you the straight scoop, former Trump foreign policy adviser Carter Page told me on Friday that he told then Senator, now Attorney General Sessions that he was traveling to Russia in the summer of 2016.

But take a listen to what Sessions had to tell your committee, the Judiciary Committee, about this on last -- last month.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. AL FRANKEN (D), MINNESOTA: You don't believe that surrogates from the Trump campaign had communications with the Russians? Is that what you're saying?

JEFF SESSIONS, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: I did not and I'm not aware of anyone else that did. And I don't believe it happened.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: Do you think that Attorney General Sessions lied to the committee under oath?

FEINSTEIN: Well, I'm not going to say whether it was a lie or not.

But it seems to me that Senator Franken has been very good in outlying -- outlining the various instances where there was more than one contact on behalf of Sessions. Now, whether he remembers it or not does not mean that it didn't happen. And I think some of that needs to be developed further.

TAPPER: Do you think that -- you're the ranking Democrat on Judiciary. Are you and Chairman Grassley going to ask the attorney general to come back to clarify this?

FEINSTEIN: Well, I think that the request has been made by Sessions, and -- excuse me -- by Franken. And I think he should come back and clarify it.

I have not discussed this with the chairman. I will discuss it.

TAPPER: There are a lot of people out there who might be watching this unfold and think, boy, the attorney general sure gets to -- gets a lot of leeway when it comes to telling your committee things that turn out not to be true.

FEINSTEIN: Well, I don't know what you mean by that. But...

TAPPER: Well...

FEINSTEIN: We certainly don't want him to tell things that aren't true.

TAPPER: Right.

FEINSTEIN: And maybe he has a faulty memory. So, there are a lot of excuses one can make.

But, at this stage, he's got to narrow his recollections. When he comes before the committee again, he has to be precise, and it has to be accurate.

TAPPER: One of the things that's been going on the last couple days has been, President Trump seems to be telling the Justice Department and the FBI that he wants them to investigate and prosecute Hillary Clinton.

There's this one tweet he wrote -- quote -- "Everybody is asking why the Justice Department and FBI isn't looking into all the dishonesty going on with crooked Hillary and the Democrats."

What's your response? FEINSTEIN: Hillary has had a big FBI investigation. That's what the

October surprise was. And so I think she's been investigated in and out by the best investigators in our country.

And if you look at Mueller's operation, you see how good his operation is, when conducted by the FBI, as opposed to congressional investigations, where the authorities to investigate are much more constricted and much less.

[09:30:09]

TAPPER: Your colleague Senator Bob Corker issued a statement Friday saying he was troubled by how much the president seems to be directing the Justice Department and the FBI to investigate his political opponents.

Does it trouble you?

FEINSTEIN: Yes, it troubles me very much.

This has been this president's response to virtually everything. He hits back at Hillary Clinton.

Well, Hillary Clinton was defeated in the election. I think the time has come to forget about it and go on to other things. This president has a very -- excuse me -- big hill to climb on this trip, on legislation, on getting DACA done, if there is going to be a tax bill, play a role in that tax bill, certainly in health care reforms that are needed under the Obamacare bill, which is where I think we are, that there need to be amendments to that bill.

And we can make them, and perhaps even do them on a bipartisan basis.

TAPPER: Let's talk about that trip, President Trump currently on a 13-day trip in Asia, where the main focus seems to be how to handle escalating tensions with North Korea.

The Pentagon sent a letter to lawmakers in which they say the only way to locate and secure all of North Korea's nuclear weapons is -- quote -- "with complete certainty" is an invasion with U.S. ground forces. The letter also says any invasion force would be subject to possible biological and chemical weapons attack.

This is a pretty bleak assessment. Are you worried that we're headed for war with North Korea?

FEINSTEIN: It is the most bleak assessment.

I have spent a lot of time reading the intelligence. I have had an opportunity to discuss the situation with Secretary Mattis. I believe that an outbreak of war would kill hundreds of thousands of people.

And I'm very pleased that Secretary Tillerson is with the president. I think, if he will stay the course and use diplomacy the way diplomacy can be used, that it might be possible to work something out. The worst alternative is a war, which could become nuclear. TAPPER: You're up for reelection next year.

And this week, Alison Hartson, who is a 37-year-old Bernie Sanders supporter, announced that she is going to enter the race. You are already facing a challenge from state Senate President Kevin de Leon.

Their argument is that you haven't held President Trump accountable and that you're part of the problem in Washington.

How do you respond?

FEINSTEIN: Well, I respond that there's a certain agree of unfairness in that.

I'm well aware of the president's deficits. I'm also well aware of the fact of what I said. And what I said was, in a Commonwealth speech -- and parts of it were excised from the speech -- but what I said, I hope, in these months, he can learn, and be -- end up being a good president.

I don't think -- and that was catastrophic for some people in my state.

Everybody sees what the flaws in this president are. There's no question about it. And that's why this trip right now going on, I think, is worthy so much attention. Can he actually stay on script?

I watched his remarks in Japan with respect to the military that were receiving him. And I thought he did a good job. He stayed on script. It's when he goes off script. It's when he tweets. It's where he has to attack everybody if he feels even slightly aggrieved, and his comment that: The only one that matters is me.

He isn't the only one that matters. He's the one that's there to solve problems on behalf of the United States. And that's what this trip is about. And I hope and trust he sticks to that mission.

TAPPER: Senator Dianne Feinstein, always good to have you here. Thank you so much.

FEINSTEIN: Thank you very much.

TAPPER: Appreciate it.

A top Republican taking aim at the president for his criticism of the Justice Department, saying President Trump's comments are -- quote -- "totally inappropriate."

That's next.

Plus: What's a picky president to eat when out of his comfort zone? That's the subject of this week's "State of the Cartoonion" -- coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[09:38:22]

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: I don't remember much about that meeting. It was a very unimportant meeting. It took place a long time -- don't remember much about it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: That's President Trump talking about the meeting in March 2016 between himself and his foreign policy advisers.

Apparently, at that meeting, according to other attendees, George Papadopoulos pitched the idea of him meeting with Vladimir Putin. According to J.D. Gordon, he heard him out.

Let's talk about it all with the panel.

Congresswoman Barbara Lee, sticking with the theme of Northern California Democratic women on the show today.

(LAUGHTER)

TAPPER: What do you -- where do you think this -- investigations go? We have had two indictments and a guilty plea.

REP. BARBARA LEE (D), CALIFORNIA: Well, first, I think it's getting very close to the White House, if you ask me, and the family of Donald Trump.

And what is disturbing, though, is every time there's an indictment or someone comes and talks about something that someone had already -- had perjured himself on, we began to wonder what in the world is going on in terms of obstruction of justice, in terms of many of these alleged financial crimes, in terms of the Emoluments Clause.

The president, of course, is getting money from foreign governments. I mean, there are a lot of issues.

TAPPER: Through his hotels, you're saying, through his hotels, his corporation.

LEE: Through his hotels, yes.

And so there are a lot of issues that the president seems to want to make -- he's putting forth a distraction on all fronts, trying to make us look at other issues, rather than really where Mueller is going.

And so we have to support this investigation. And, hopefully, Mueller will go where the facts lead.

TAPPER: And, Michael, I know you called George Papadopoulos a coffee boy. You worked on the campaign.

He was senior enough to be named by President Trump as one of his senior foreign policy advisers, and he did get his e-mails returned. I mean, he wasn't that low.

[09:40:04]

MICHAEL CAPUTO, FORMER TRUMP CAMPAIGN ADVISER: Well, he was about as low as you can get on that campaign.

And if he was such an important person, why didn't he work on the transition? Why isn't he at the State Department right now?

What -- what Papadopoulos was, he -- he was apparently the zealot of the Trump campaign, because he -- his face keeps popping up here and there. Nobody knew who he was.

And the allegations that he somehow is going to be a connection to Donald Trump or even to anyone in his family, that's -- that's fantasy. And -- and, unfortunately, he's -- he did some really stupid things. He's being punished for it. And he should be. And he shouldn't have been anywhere near that campaign.

TAPPER: Congressman, what do you think of -- of the developments this week? And how should Republicans in Congress be responding?

REP. CHARLIE DENT (R), PENNSYLVANIA: Well, with the indictments and the plea agreement by Papadopoulos, it seems to me that there are more questions than answers right now.

I think that this is a very serious. There has been some connection, obviously, between members of the campaign, Donald Jr., Papadopoulos, and Russian officials. I'm not saying the president has had any improper contacts. We don't know that yet, but, frankly, more questions than answers at this point.

And I think we should just let this investigation play itself out and see where it goes.

But the campaign certainly exercised poor judgment in bringing these two guys in the campaign, Carter Page and Papadopoulos. I mean, it's just -- it's almost an embarrassment that they would be officials.

TAPPER: You worked on the Obama campaign in 2018 and 2012. You also worked at the State Department in the Obama administration.

Just as a factual matter, how unusual is it to have conversations or contacts with people that are with foreign governments?

JEN PSAKI, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: There are some that take place. President Obama went on a foreign trip when he ran for office in 2008.

What is unique here is that Russia has been seen for some time as an adversary and a country that has an adversarial relationship in many ways with the United States.

They were looking for vulnerabilities within the United States, within the Trump campaign. They found them.

So, Papadopoulos, he is significant this week because he admitted to lying to the FBI. That's significant.

But, in a mob movie about this, he may be mobster number four, and he may be just somebody who is going to be sharing information with Mueller and others about the mob boss and people around him.

So, this is a unique situation, and certainly not one that I can compare it to it from the Obama campaign.

TAPPER: So, there's a big debate right now at the White House about how the president should be responding to the Mueller investigation.

Obviously, Stephen Bannon, from outside the White House, is suggesting that he take on Mueller, hit back, try to get members of Congress to threaten to take away funding, so as to narrow the scope of the Mueller investigation.

How do you think the president should handle it?

CAPUTO: Well, I think if this investigation goes outside the scope of Russian collusion, it -- it should probably be shut down.

TAPPER: The whole thing?

CAPUTO: Well, I don't -- I'm not -- I can't tell you. I mean, we have a congressional investigation in the House and in the Senate on this.

I have had to testify in front of the House myself on it. There are questions that need to be answered, I think. It's very clear -- and I have said this since July of 2016 -- that the Russians were trying to get into both campaigns.

And, certainly, we know for a fact that they were going after Papadopoulos and Donald Jr. And we need to have answers to those questions. But if we start looking into, you know, financial improprieties in 2004 by the Trump Organization, it's time to shut it down.

TAPPER: Congresswoman?

LEE: Yes, the president says that this is a witch-hunt.

And he also doesn't seem to understand the separation of powers. The Justice Department, the special prosecutor has a job to do. And he keeps trying to interfere with this. And that is very scary, because, you know, the president has his own powers as the president of the United States, the commander in chief.

The Justice Department, the attorney general, the special prosecutor should be allowed to conduct their job. And the president seems to -- he appears to be obstructing, or trying to obstruct, every effort that the special prosecutor is taking.

And so he's got to stop that and let democracy and let these investigations play out the way they should.

TAPPER: Everyone, stay where you are. We're going to take a very quick break.

We have much more to talk about, including the shocking claims that the former head of the DNC considered replacing Hillary Clinton with Joe Biden on the Democratic ticket. Can she even do that?

We will be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[09:48:27]

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WARREN: But this is a real problem. But what we have got to do as Democrats now is, we have got to hold this party accountable.

TAPPER: Very quickly, Senator, do you agree with the notion that it was rigged?

WARREN: Yes.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: That was Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts telling me, in response to allegations made by former interim chairman of the DNC Donna Brazile, that the Democratic National Committee was wired and rigged for Hillary Clinton, that she shares her assessment.

Let's talk about it with our panel.

Congresswoman Lee, you were a Hillary Clinton supporter. You're also from an area of the country that has strong support for grassroots Democrats and Bernie Sanders. Are you concerned? Do you think the DNC was rigged?

LEE: First, let me clarify this. I did not support either Bernie Sanders, nor Hillary Clinton in the primary.

TAPPER: Oh, OK.

LEE: I wanted to be on the drafting committee for the platform, so that we could work on a platform that would bring unity to the party. And that is what I think we did in terms of the platform being one of the best and most progressive platforms that we have ever had.

Donna has a right to tell her story. And whenever -- let me tell you, whenever it appears that any -- that there's unfairness in a primary that is tilted in one direction or the other, you know, the party needs to look at what is being said and what people think, regardless of what you believe or what side you're on.

What's important also is that we institute -- and I think that the new leadership of the party is instituting some reforms to address grassroots participation, transparency in terms of money raising, fund-raising, getting away from special interests, moving to smaller donations. [09:50:05]

And we have elections on Tuesday. And we have to make sure that we elect Democrats, because I think the public really understands that this Trump agenda is fundamentally wrong.

Look at their tax package. I mean, look at what they're doing to low- income, middle-income individuals. And so we have to move forward.

But, clearly, we are in the process of bringing people together, unifying. We have a unity commission that is coming up with recommendations. And we have to really look at the systemic and institutional reforms that are necessary in the party.

TAPPER: Congressman, can Republicans take advantage of these divisions in the Democratic Party to win on Tuesday and beyond?

DENT: Well, maybe -- well, as a Republican, I must say I'm thoroughly enjoying this whole kerfuffle.

But as a -- having observed politics for a long time, county committees, state committees, and even national committees from time to time put their thumb or, in this case, their fist on the scale in support of one candidate or another.

This is not a crime. They committed an act of politics. That's all this is. The role of the parties is simply to put forward the best, most electable candidate. That's their job. And it's OK for them to weigh in and endorse or not endorse.

The job of the political party is not to be Switzerland. That's always been my view.

Now, that said, again, as a Republican, this is kind of fun to watch. There's internecine warfare. I don't think it amounts to a whole lot. The Democrats are going to have to sort this out on their own. We will see what they do. But I do think political parties should weigh in from time to time.

TAPPER: Now, Jen, what Congressman Dent -- might be the prevailing view of the scandal from wise men and women in Washington, D.C., who look at the situation at the DNC.

PSAKI: A diminishing breed.

(LAUGHTER)

TAPPER: But -- but I have to say, it's probably not a very compelling argument to progressive grassroots Democrats, who -- especially Bernie supporters, who feel like, wow, our guy got screwed.

PSAKI: Sure.

Look, I think there's well-documented on a staff level. Debbie Wasserman Schultz was fired as a result. We've know that for over a year. The reality here, though, is that when you have Senator Elizabeth Warren go out and say this is rigged, we should all remember she's going to remember for president in 2020. She wants Bernie Sanders supporters. There's political motivation there too.

My priority as a Democrat is that we need to talk about what we're going to do moving forward. Right now, no one's focusing on the division in the party because they're focused on the circus on the other side, Donald Trump and the divisions in the Republican Party.

On the Democratic side, we're doing some things that are problematic. We raised half as much money as the RNC. The DNC did. Tom Perez should get credit for taking steps to put more transparency in place.

TAPPER: Tom Perez.

PSAKI: I'm sorry?

TAPPER: Tom Perez.

PSAKI: Tom Perez, exactly...

TAPPER: Yes.

PSAKI: ... should get credit for that.

However, we also can't kill ourselves through litmus tests by saying you can't be a part of the party unless you do X, Y and Z. That is not a winning strategy.

So, I will say, yes, there's bias. We know about it. But what we need to address is some of these existing issues that are hurting our party right now.

TAPPER: Brazile writes in the book, Michael, that at one point after Hillary Clinton's health scare, when she thought the Democrats, the Clinton campaign were not being honest with her, she thought about convening the DNC to replace Clinton and Kaine with a different ticket of Joe Biden and Cory Booker.

CAPUTO: Right. And she also said that she couldn't bring herself to do it because what she saw, the historic nature of Hillary Clinton as the first perhaps woman president.

I get it.

You know, Donna Brazile, I have always admired her from across the aisle. I have always found her to be a person with candor. I never expected her to be a person that would frag the party and roll a grenade into the tent.

But I think this is just the beginning of the problems for the Democratic Party. I think, when the Russia investigation is proven to be absolute bogus and nothing comes of it and nothing touches Donald Trump, I think you're going to find a lot of people arguing in that party, because some of the Democrats -- we heard some of the sane and relevant comments from Senator Feinstein today.

From my perspective -- I live in flyover country. I live in Buffalo, New York. In Erie County right now, we have really important county elections, countywide and local races.

And I see the Democrats pretty unified there. The Bernie supporters and the Hillary supporters are working hard for the Democratic candidates, so I don't think it's really having an impact right now.

TAPPER: Thanks, one and all. Great panel. Really appreciate it.

Coming up: The president and first lady spent last evening dining with the Japanese prime minister and his wife in Tokyo. Let's just hope the menu wasn't too exotic.

That's the subject of this week's "State of the Cartoonion."

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[09:58:34]

TAPPER: Welcome back.

It's a long foreign trip for any president, made even harder since this one is kind of a finicky eater.

And that's the subject of this week's "State of the Cartoonion."

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TAPPER (voice-over): A big international trip for the president, and, for months, his team has been working out every little detail, which includes making sure he likes what's on his plate.

TRUMP: One bite, and you will know exactly what I'm talking about.

TAPPER: The president's team has made it clear only foods he recognizes, no whole fish with the head still on, nothing spicy.

TRUMP: Where are the steaks? Do we have steaks?

TAPPER: And, surely, his hosts will aim to please, as in Saudi Arabia, where President Trump was reportedly served steak his way, well done, with a side of ketchup.

TRUMP: The best-tasting, most flavorful beef you have ever had. And, believe me, I understand steaks. It's my favorite food.

TAPPER: And for dessert?

TRUMP: I'm never going to eat another Oreo again. I'm serious.

(LAUGHTER)

TRUMP: Never.

TAPPER: It's always safe to go to a presidential favorite.

TRUMP: We had the most beautiful piece of chocolate cake that you have ever seen, and President Xi was enjoying it.

TAPPER: Just one note of caution to anyone dining with President Trump. Mind your manners. He's watching.

TRUMP: He's sitting there eating, piling pancakes into his mouth. I never saw anything like it.

I have never seen a human being eat in such a disgusting fashion.

TAPPER: Of course, if the food is not up to par, the president can always send his staff out for something more American.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How may I help you?

TRUMP: Have Fish Delight sometimes.

(LAUGHTER)

TRUMP: The Big Macs are great, the Quarter Pounder With Cheese.

TAPPER: After all, America first.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Please pull up to the second window.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

TAPPER: Thanks for spending your Sunday morning with us.

"FAREED ZAKARIA GPS" starts right now.