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THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER
Vast Majority of Americans Believe Trump Campaign Coordinated with Russians; Authorities Investigate Texas Mass Shooting. Aired 4:30-5p ET
Aired November 6, 2017 - 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: And Trump loyalist Corey Stewart -- there's the candidates right now.
Trump loyalist Corey Stewart, he lost the Republican nomination to Ed Gillespie. But Steve Bannon, the president's top strategist at the White House, who is now outside of the White House, has this take.
He told "The Washington Post" that: "Corey Stewart is the reason Gillespie is going to win. It was the Trump-Stewart talking points that got Gillespie close and even maybe to victory. It was embracing Trump's agenda as personified by Corey's platform. This was not a competitive race four weeks ago. You could have stuck a fork in Gillespie.
And the idea now he is more -- Gillespie is more Trumpy in terms of the appeals he's making to the voters of the Commonwealth of Virginia. Do you agree?
MIKE ROGERS, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: I don't.
You know, Virginia has been trending a little bit more blue over the last few elections. And I think Northern Virginia is a hard cut to the Southern Virginia. Southern Virginia is more red. Northern Virginia is blue. It's hard to find that right candidate that can talk about both of the issues that bring those folks together.
I think what Ed has done, pretty admirably, is being able to walk that line and talk about what he wants to do for Virginia. So, I don't buy this. Listen, every pundit I have ever met and political consultant I ever met will find a reason their plan is reason either you won or you almost won.
And so I argue -- I wouldn't do that. I think Ed Gillespie is a good candidate. He's worked pretty hard. He ran before. He has lots of name recognition. And he's walking that fine line to try to stitch up between...
TAPPER: I just want to get Symone an opportunity.
(CROSSTALK) SYMONE SANDERS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Because he's running racist ads about MS-13, talking about sanctuary cities, and there are even no sanctuary cities in Virginia.
I think what Ed Gillespie has done is, he took on the Trumpian rhetoric, but his policies are very much so policies that are in direct opposition of what Virginians, whether they are Democrats, Republicans, independents, and what they want. And that is what is facing the voters on Tuesday.
TAPPER: OK, everyone stick around. We're going to take a quick break. More breaking news is coming from our CNN poll. How concerned are Americans or unconcerned are Americans about reports of the Trump campaign's contacts with Russians? Stick around.
We will talk about that next.
TAPPER: And we're back with more breaking news.
Some brand-new CNN polling giving a look into the perceptions of the American people into the investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election, and potential, although as yet unproven, collusion with members of the Trump team.
The polling shows a sharp increase in concern among Americans about contacts between the Trump campaign and Russian operatives in the wake of the first indictments in the special counsel's investigation.
Let's bring back CNN's John King, who is at the magic wall.
John, how do Americans view the Russian investigation?
JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Jake, as you know, the president calls it a hoax. He calls it a ruse.
This past week, he said it was a disgrace, the special counsel should be investigating Hillary Clinton.
The American people by overwhelming numbers disagree with the president; 64 percent, nearly two-thirds of America, say this investigation is a serious matter; 32 percent, just short of a third, say it is an effort to discredit the president, to discredit Donald Trump.
On everything, this is a partisan breakdown, but this one is a little interesting; 91 percent of Democrats say this investigation is a serious matter. Only 6 percent say it's to discredit the president. Seven in 10 Republicans, 68 percent, say it's an effort to discredit the president.
But that's not a great number for the president, Jake; 28 percent of Republicans, 28 percent of Republicans say they think it's a serious matter.
TAPPER: And, John, last week former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and his associate Rick Gates were indicted. Campaign foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos we found out pleaded guilty to false statements to the FBI. How is the public reacting to those charges?
KING: They take this very seriously, and it's affecting the president's standing, if you will, on these questions.
Look at these numbers and process these numbers. Because of those charges, the two former campaign aides, as you mentioned, indicted. Another one in a plea deal. Four in 10 Americans, 39 percent, think that is evidence of widespread coordination, widespread coordination between the Trump campaign and Russian officials; 44 percent, a bigger number, say it's limited coordination, two or three staffers in the campaign, but in coordination with the Russians.
Only 6 percent of Americans think there was no effort to coordinate. Only 6 percent of Americans think no effort. Add these numbers up. Well higher than 80 percent of Americans think there was at least some coordination between the Trump campaign and Russian officials.
Again, let's break this down. Usually, we see a default. Republicans go to their corners to the benefit of the president of issues. Not here. Democrats, 63 percent say widespread coordination. Only 10 percent of Republicans think it was widespread, Jake, but 64 percent of Republicans think a couple, a few Trump campaign staffers had some limited coordination with the Russians.
That's not a good number for the president. Three in four Republicans think there was some coordination.
TAPPER: That's stunning.
And, of course, the big question, what about the role or lack thereof of President Trump in relation to the investigation?
KING: Well, after processing these charges and the news accounts in recent days, six in 10 Americans now think the president knew of these contacts between some people in this campaign and Russian officials; 59 percent say, yes, candidate Trump knew about thee contacts; 35 percent say he did not.
Here, when you break it down by party, people tend to go a little bit back into their corners; 87 percent of Democrats think that candidate Trump knew. Six in 10 independents think the candidate knew. Only 17 percent of Republicans.
The president does get more of a partisan benefit, if you will, benefit of the doubt from Republicans on this question. But on the question of coordination, those numbers showing more than 80 percent of Republicans think there at least limited coordination. Jake, that is pretty damning.
TAPPER: John King, thanks so much. Let's dive back in with my panel.
David Urban, let me start with you.
These numbers suggest that 83 percent of the American people believe there was either limited or widespread coordination. What's most shocking perhaps, though, 74 percent of Republicans, according to this poll, think that there was either limited or widespread coordination.
This would suggest to me -- and maybe I'm wrong, tell me if I'm wrong, that this is something that the president needs to address in some way.
DAVID URBAN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: So I do think you're wrong.
URBAN: You heard my earlier take on polls, right? I don't put a lot of credence in any polls.
I think this is being addressed by numerous committees on the Hill, the House and Senate, by an investigation, a very thorough investigation being done by Director Mueller. He's going through this. If anybody doubts it, I think the chairman will speak to it.
TAPPER: Chairman Manafort? Oh, Chairman Rogers, OK.
URBAN: Chairman Rogers can speak to it.
URBAN: Director Mueller's gone through this with a fine-tooth comb.
The things he's been accused of doing and charged with are not campaign-related whatsoever. You have some folks who were -- Carter Page and Papovich who were folks who...
URBAN: Yes, Papadopoulos. I'm sorry. Excuse me.
I'm not trying to minimize their, you know, or -- in any way, but I would not say they're central characters in this campaign in any way, shape or form.
SANDERS: But you will note they were campaign involved. But we can't say that there are no charges associated with the campaign.
(CROSSTALK) URBAN: Symone, that is correct. I'm not going to disagree with you on that, but they were -- they were loosely -- I would say loosely termed advisers in a campaign that was not a very large campaign.
It was folks kind of came and went. I believe those folks probably came and went pretty quickly early on in the campaign and not for any other reason than, you know, the campaign was a very small campaign. A lot of folks who were kind of advisers that didn't serve any real role that may have showed up at a meeting and then disappeared.
This wasn't like the Clinton campaign, where you had 800 folks intimately involved.
SANDERS: You know what, Jake? I don't believe this, and neither do the American people, given these polls.
In July, 43 percent of independents were concerned about contacts with the Russians. In this poll, 64 percent were concerned, independents. The numbers by Democrats jumped up to 91 percent. The Republicans went from 20 percent to 31 percent. This poll is important and I think it's important because it shows this is becoming an issue of interest for the American people.
URBAN: But, Symone, if I splashed Menendez corruption trial on the front page of every paper and that led this news cycle and every news cycle in America, right, which is an ongoing federal corruption trial, the U.S. senator, Democratic U.S. senator, people would have a completely different view of that case.
I bet if you asked people in America about the Menendez corruption trial, this network has covered it, I have been here, but it's not gotten as much attention as this. Right? It is directly proportional.
SANDERS: All I'm saying is Watergate was not an issue, if you will, for the American people for a really long time, up until Nixon resigned, and then it started showing up in the polls. And so the polls do matter.
URBAN: We have a 24-hour news cycle.
TAPPER: But let's -- I do want to ask Chairman Rogers what he thinks, because you're a Republican and these numbers suggest that 74 percent of Republicans polled think there was either limited or widespread coordination.
Most of them think limited, not widespread, but still, that's three in four Republicans think that there was some coordination.
ROGERS: Well, when you had Papadopoulos agree -- lied to the FBI about a meeting he had with the Russians in relation to the campaign, I mean, certainly that's going to influence those poll numbers. I don't know how people can walk away from that particular meeting.
Here is my biggest pet peeve with all of this. The Democrats want this to be X, the Republicans don't want it to be Y. The problem is, the Russians did attempt to interfere with the U.S. elections.
ROGERS: Now, I don't believe it changed the outcome, but I believe they really tried to do it. The one way they did it that we should all be offended by was try to use race as a differentiator. They try to encourage race to get us against each other in America.
TAPPER: Those ads on Facebook and all of that. Yes.
ROGERS: Absolutely. You know what? They're not going away, by the way. Both sides. They're not going to go away. As a matter of fact, they're going to double down in 2018.
Why? No consequence. They have got us shooting at each other over this issue for the last year. And if we don't pay attention to what the Russians were doing, both Republicans and Democrats and American citizens will rue the day on that.
TAPPER: And I want to talk about that.
We're going to take a very quick break, but I want to talk about that, what the U.S. should be doing.
Stay with us.
President Trump says he is going to meet with Vladimir Putin. What will that meeting look like? Lots to cover. Stay with us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
[16:45:00] DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'm not under investigation. You know, when it comes to Russia collusion, they're looking at the wrong person. Absolutely the wrong person.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: That was President Trump talking to Sharyl Attkisson, claiming he's not a focus of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's ongoing probe. The panel's back with me. I want to start with something you were saying Chairman Rogers about how we're not doing enough or really anything to stop Russian interference in the 2018 or in 2020 elections. When asked if President Trump is doing enough to prevent future foreign influence in the U.S. elections, 37 percent said yes, 59 percent said no. And a lot of intelligence officials agree with the people who say no, not to necessarily blame it on President Trump but just not enough is being done.
MIKE ROGERS, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY COMMENTATOR: I mean, think of the political narrative now. Nobody -- if you say you want to do more in the Russian investigation, oh, you think Trump was, you know, smooching on old Vladimir Putin. If you think that he didn't, then, oh, my God, you know, the end of the world is coming. So what we really need to do is separate what's happening. Let the investigation take its course. We should stop talking about it in terms of Republican and Democrat. What we do know is that the Russians came into a U.S. election and they tried to influence and they tried to separate us by race and demographics. They purposely did this. And by the way, they did this in the'60s and the '70s, they just weren't very good at it. They tried it.
TAPPER: Yes, this time they were pretty good.
ROGERS: This time they have taken all the things that they've learned from the '60s, and '70s and '80s and '90s and now they have social media. They can reach into people's homes. And they can figure out just like an ad to sell you a pair of glasses that you're looking at. They know that you're looking for glasses. They know people have some certain sets of beliefs and they were trying to take advantage of those beliefs to get Americans to go against Americans. This is really dangerous and this is the way we should be talking about what the Russians are doing and we ought to be adamant, stand together, and push back on what they are trying to do. And they will try in the 2018 election. I don't know any analyst, any intelligence person I know who doesn't think that's going to happen.
[16:50:04] TAPPER: I want to ask you, too, about news. The Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya who was -- she was at the center of that Trump Tower meeting with Donald Trump Jr. and Jarred Kushner and Paul Manafort. She told Bloomberg that at that meeting, Donald Trump Jr. said his father would be opening to revisiting the Magnitsky Act, which is the thing that sanctions Russians who committed human rights abuses if the President was elected.
And Trump Jr. also said according to this lawyer, and, again, I'm not saying we should trust the Russian lawyer, but also said that he said he was interested in documents that she had said --that she said she had related to Hillary Clinton. Now, Trump Jr.'s lawyer just said to CNN in response, "what this interview shows, once again, is that everyone in attendance has a very similar account as to what transpired." Basically confirming the story that Don Jr. said something along the lines of if he gets elected, we can talk about that, but I want to see the stuff on Hillary Clinton. What's your response to --
SYMONE SANDERS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, you know, my response would be if that conversation did not take place, the nature of that conversation was not that, I do not think Donald Trump Jr.'s lawyer would have had a problem beating back that narrative. So that's concerning. Which is why we currently have an investigation going on and I think we need to let that investigation happen.
TAPPER: Doesn't it at least suggest David the willingness to collude? DAVID URBAN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Listen, Jake, you remember
when -- this is alleged to have taken place in early I think June.
TAPPER: June or July.
URBAN: Early June is my recollection. Maybe it was -- this campaign was still worried about a floor fight at the convention. There was no Russian narrative at the time. I don't know what happened to this meeting or not happened, I can't speak to that. I know what they were worried about. I know what the campaign was worried about, whether or not there was going to be a floor fight at the convention. That's what the campaign was really worried about. So I'm not discounting it. I'm not saying that -- you know, I agree with Chairman Rogers, I think that let the investigation take its place, let this take its course. I think as Americans we should all be very concerned about any type of Russian interference or outside interference in our election process.
I think the Russians and other countries are sitting back laughing seeing how they can exploit us further in the future. And I think we need to take every measure we can. They've had hearings on the Hill with some of the social media companies to try to peel back the onion there. that's what we can do more. I think we need more cooperation amongst those types of groups. I'm hopeful that our intelligence agencies are doing everything we can to combat these things and put uh up firewalls and fight the fight in cyberspace to preclude those things from occurring in 2018 and into the future.
TAPPER: Symone, are you worried at all that Democrats are counting on a conclusion by Robert Mueller that might not happen? I mean, it might be that all that he does is the two indictments of Manafort and Gates and Papadopoulos' pleading guilty to lying and there's nothing more than that. And if that's all that happens, don't Democrats have some answering to do and some alternative narratives to discuss?
SANDERS: Look, I definitely think the grassroots progressive left and Democrats are looking for these large indictments, these looming indictments that come quickly. And I want to caution folks to say this could drag on for four years. We don't know how long this investigation will happen. So I think it's incumbent upon Democrats on the Hill and the Democratic Party leadership to have -- to come to the table with something. And so what is the answer to countering what the Russians are doing in terms of meddling in our elections, in terms of social media? What are Democrats saying? What are our plans for folks in 2018 in terms of the economy? It's not just enough to say the other guy is really bad. They've got some crazy stuff going on over there. We have to bring something to the table. And I do think we are ceding the conversation on the social media piece a little too much. We have to -- we have to dig down.
URBAN: And I get -- I give a lot -- a lot of credit to Symone for saying that. You can't just say Russians, Russians, Russians, and hope to win, you have to put out a platform of something that voters want Economy, jobs, et cetera so props to Symone for coming out with that. TAPPER: Symone, David, and Congressman Rogers, thanks one and all for
being here. Coming up, a look at the innocent lives senselessly gunned down while attending church of all places. Their lives cut short in the blink of an eye. Stick around.
[16:55:00] TAPPER: Before we leave you today, we wanted to return to our top story and take a moment to remember and to honor the 26 innocent people killed in Sutherland Springs, Texas, whose names were just now beginning to learn. One of the first names released, the pastor's daughter, 14-year-old Annabelle Pomeroy. Her parents were out of town in Florida at the time. This morning, her mother spoke of how she's remembering her sweet Belle.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SHERRI POMEROY, VICTIM'S MOTHER: One thing that gives me a sliver of encouragement is the fact that Belle was surrounded yesterday by her church family that she loved fiercely and vice versa. Our church was not comprised of members or parishioners, we were a very close family.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: 16-year-old Haley Krueger also died. Her mother told CNN that Haley was vibrant and loved life. She wanted to be a nurse helping babies in the intensive care unit. The Holcombe family lost eight members of their family across three generations. Bryan Holcombe was the visiting pastor at the church, Karla was his wife, the couple lived in a farm about 15 miles from the church. Their son Danny also died as well as Danny's daughter Noah, who was only 17 months old. Crystal Holcombe was 2 months pregnant. She's married to Bryan and Karla's son John. He survived the shooting. John was the step farther to three of five of Crystals five children who were also killed yesterday. That's it for THE LEAD, I'm Jake Tapper, I turn you over now to Wolf Blitzer. He's in "THE SITUATION ROOM." Thanks for watching. Stay safe.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Happening now, breaking news, motive for massacre. The gunman who killed 26 people on a small Texas church had a history of domestic violence which led to his ouster from the U.S. Air Force.