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THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER

House Intel Committee Delays Hope Hicks Testimony; Iowa Town Gives Mixed Reviews on Trump's First Year. Aired 4:30-5p ET

Aired January 18, 2018 - 16:30   ET

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


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[16:30:38] JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Breaking news in the Russian investigation. We just learned that the House Intelligence Committee is abruptly delaying its interview with White House communications director Hope Hicks.

Let's get to CNN's Manu Raju on Capitol Hill.

Manu, tell us what's going on, and what's the significance of it?

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Oh, it's a very surprise decision, Jake, coming after Steve Bannon, the chief strategist, the former chief strategist at the White House, would not answer scores of questions before the House Intelligence Committee earlier this week about the transition period and about his time at the White House.

Now, the questions about the committee is whether or not Hope Hicks was going to do the same thing tomorrow. So, as a result, the committee essentially pulled the plug before tomorrow's appearance and said that they want to sort out what she can and can't answer.

Now, this is very significant, Jake, because Hicks was one of the most highly anticipated witnesses of this investigation. She's one who's been very close to the president, her time predates the campaign. She knows about a range of issues, potentially any of this context with Russians that may exist, as well as some of the controversies that occurred during the White House at the firing of James Comey and that response to that Trump Tower meeting with Donald Trump Jr. and the Russians.

Those questions, though, Jake, are going to have to be delayed because of questions about whether or not the White House would try to block any questions that members had opposed to campaign, seeing after the campaign season, Jake.

TAPPER: All right. Manu Raju on Capitol Hill, my panel's back with me.

And, Susan, Hope Hicks might know more than anyone expect for Donald Trump about the first year of the Trump presidency and time of the campaign. How much -- how key you think she is to the House investigation and to the whole investigation, all of the investigation? SUSAN PAGE, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, USA TODAY: Well, she is someone

who is almost always by Donald Trump's side in the campaign, and in the White House. So, she has seen firsthand a lot of the things going on, the negotiations including that statement about the controversy on leading with Russians during the campaign, for instance. So, we think she'd have a lot to say, but, she's also, because of that, you might envision the president saying, I'm going to invoke executive privilege to prevent her from answering the questions that, by the way, Steve Bannon also refused to answer.

TAPPER: And do you think that's what's going on here? I mean, it's ultimately is the White House saying, you can't just keep calling in my people? I mean, Mueller is a different matter, you can't invoke executive privilege on that. But for House and Senate Intelligence Committee people (ph) --

PAUL BEGALA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, they need to sort out. The White House needs to decide what they are claiming privileged toward.

TAPPER: Did you guys claim privilege?

BEGALA: I don't know, honestly. Perhaps.

TAPPER: In the Clinton White House? For those who don't know.

BEGALA: Executive privilege matters. The president should have a privilege to get confidential advice from his or her top aides. It matters. I believe in executive privilege. But the court's been clear, certainly going back to the Nixon case, that you can't use executive privilege as a shield against an investigation of criminal conduct.

TAPPER: Which is the Mueller investigation. Which is not the House and Senate investigation committees.

BEGALA: Correct. I think the White House should let these folks testify. I think people have a right to know. I don't want to get into every decision every president makes, there needs to be a privilege. But it sounds like the White House doesn't know what they are doing. They don't know -- and they may well have waived the privilege without even realizing it. I think it's an incredibly incompetent White House.

TAPPER: David, I want to play for you --

DAVID URBAN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I mean, I take umbrage --

TAPPER: Oh, go ahead, go ahead.

URBAN: -- with Paul's characterization --

TAPPER: OK, go for it.

URBAN: -- of an incredibly incompetent White House. I think Paul acknowledge, executive privilege is extremely important, not for this president, but presidential, moving downstream.

So, White House counsels and others are looking at it. As you pointed out currently, Jake, there is a difference and distinction that's not lost, that is -- one is a criminal investigation, one is the House and Senate, one instance it's appropriate, one instance it isn't.

And so, it's not incompetence. It's going through --

(CROSSTALK)

BEGALA: -- down to -- you can't testify about Russia's stuff --

URBAN: They are talking about -- one is criminal and one is the House. So --

BEGALA: We're not dragging them to say, why did the president choose Justice Gorsuch, instead of some other judge, right? That's the kind of private advice that presidents needs to get, right? Sign or veto this bill. Who told him to?

That should be private, although this White House leaks it all and waives the privilege that way. But they're only claiming privilege for not what seems legitimate governing decisions the president's making, but, in fact, in allegations that they were covering up --

(CROSSTALK)

URBAN: No, so, Paul, I don't know that the questions asked inside that room, because I'm not there, so I don't know how you can state with specificity the questions that are being asked and when privilege is being exerted.

BEGALA: Well, because that's the nature of the investigation.

URBAN: But I don't know the question. So, you're saying they are not talking about deliberative -- deliberations between what's going on, White House staff, and the privilege would be absolutely appropriate in that instance with the president.

[16:35:06] So, you can't stay with specificity.

TAPPER: Susan, I just want to bring in, quickly, take a listen to the president's lawyer Ty Cobb talking about the possibility of President Trump being interviewed by Bob Mueller and his prosecutors.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TY COBB, WHITE HOUSE LAWYER: The president's very eager to sit down and explain whatever is responsive to the questions.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you have any fear of a perjury trial?

COBB: No, but I think it'd be -- I think it would be foolish to not proceed without considering that possibility.

(END VIDEO CLIP) TAPPER: So, that seems to be lawyerese with we're not afraid of a perjury trap, but we are trying to make sure that it doesn't happen.

PAGE: Because that is -- that is -- it would be a big problem for the president. By the way, the idea that the president's very eager to talk to the special counsel, I suspect not true --

TAPPER: That's what lawyers say.

PAGE: But his lawyer seemed to indicate that he was going to be willing to do it. There was some question about that because the president last week sounded like perhaps he wouldn't.

TAPPER: All right. Everyone, stick around. We got a lot more to discuss. We're going to take a quick break. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[16:40:06] TAPPER: We're back with our politics lead.

Before President Trump enters the second year in office, all week, CNN is looking into what Americans think of the job he's doing so far. Today, we zero in on where his promises started, Iowa, the first state in the nation to hold a caucus.

Small town of Monticello in Jones County, Iowa, voted overwhelmingly to send the business mogul to the White House.

CNN's Bill Weir is back in Iowa asking voters how they feel about their decision today.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BILL WEIR, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In Monticello, they still wind the clock tower by hand. They still mix politics into their coffee down at Daryl's.

(on camera): It is so great to sit at the table of knowledge in Monticello, Iowa.

(voice-over): It's a tradition that goes back to Truman, but no president has ever tested the limits of Midwestern politeness like number 45.

(on camera): So, this county went to Obama and then swung over to Trump, why?

MEL MANTERNACH, MONTICELLO, IOWA RESIDENT: Trump pulled the wool over their eyes, and they have -- most -- and his base has not recognized it yet.

WIER: Do you think Virg (ph) has been conned? Do you think Jerry's been bamboozled?

MANTERNACH: They are so engrained with the crotch-grabbing liar. GERALD RETZLAFF, MONTICELLO, IOWA RESIDENT: Trump wasn't my first

choice either. However, he's done a hell of a good job. And he's playing three level chess versus everybody else playing checkers.

GARY FISHER, MONTICELLO, IOWA RESIDENT: The ones that support him are greedy or bigots or they just don't see it yet. If the vote were taken today, I think it would be different.

WIER: You think so?

MANTERNACH: Wouldn't it be for the Electoral College, he wouldn't have won.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, I don't know.

(LAUGHTER)

MANTERNACH: Can you sing, too?

RENEE ADAMS, HOG FARMER: We run 800 acres of corn and beans and then we do bale some hay. Our kids actually buy their own 4H animals. They do the chores for 'em.

WIER: That'll teach you, right?

ADAMS: Teaches you, yes, yes.

WIER (voice-over): Out at the Adams' farm --

(on camera): Did you vote for President Trump?

ADAMS: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.

WEIR (voice-over): The family of Republicans shows little voter's remorse.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think he's doing a decent job. I think we need to give him a chance.

ADAMS: He went to the American Farm Bureau Federation meeting, you know, I have not seen that from other presidents.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Throughout our history, farmers have always, always, always led the way.

WIER (on camera): Those words really played well around here, but his actions could end up hurting these folks. His nominee for chief scientist at Department of Agriculture wasn't a scientist, and then got tangled with the Mueller investigation. He's scrapping an Obama rule that would have protected small family farms against big corporate meatpackers, and he's threatening to tear beef trade agreement that keeps a lot of these farms alive.

ADAMS: With NAFTA, that's another story. You know, that does scare us pretty bad.

WIER: You would go back?

ADAMS: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm sure there's a plan if he pulls out, I don't know what the plan is.

WIER: Somebody was telling me the town needs to be called the Pittsburgh of the prairie because there are so many factories?

CINDY BAGGE, PRESIDENT, OAK STREET MANUFACTURING: Yes.

WIER (voice-over): There's worries that Oak Street manufacturing, a mom and pop factory of restaurant furnishings.

BAGGE: We're hopeful as far as the tax reform, positive about that, we have grave concerns about his actions verbally.

WEIR (on camera): Like what?

BAGGE: Some of the statements he make makes. There's just -- there's a lot of disrespect for a large number of people.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As a Republican, he was worried about his grandchildren paying the national debt. It doesn't seem to make a damn bit of difference anymore.

MANTERNACH: We'll have to have another Obama come and clean it up.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Then we can double our debt again.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But he can compare to the prosperity you have now.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Give him all the credit for the stock market going up. You bet.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You should.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You betcha. Get your head out of your butt, man.

(LAUGHTER)

WIER: Is there a safe word when things get too heated?

JERRY HAHN, MONTICELLO, IOWA RESIDENT: When's a good time to cut your role?

WIER: That's the safe word?

(LAUGHTER)

HAHN: Ran into it one day real hard. I was worried, so that's the safe word.

WIER (voice-over): So, one year into Trump, a state won by almost ten points is producing a bumper crop of worry, even among those who love him most.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WIER: As for the topic of the day, most of the characters I met oppose mass deportations and favor keeping the DACA folks in America. A little sample of Iowa nice, Jake, and if things are too heated on set, remember, the safe word is "Rose Bushes."

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Rose Bushes. Bill Weir, great piece, Monticello, Iowa, thank you so much. And join me tomorrow night for Trump's First Year, a documentary. Trump's First Year, Reign of Chaos. From all the big promises to what got accomplished and all the challenges in between. It's a "SPECIAL REPORT" tomorrow night at 10:00 Eastern only here on CNN. Coming up, apple coming home with billions of cash. Thanks in part to the new tax law. So why no economy bump for President Trump in his popularity rates? We'll talk about that next. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[16:50:07] TAPPER: And we're back with the "MONEY LEAD." Could President Trump be right, that his tax deal is a huge economic driver? Apple is creating 20,000 jobs and investing $30 billion here in the United States. It just announced that its also using the new tax cut bill to bring back foreign earnings and will make a one-time giant payment to Uncle Sam of $38 billion. President Trump tweeting in response, "I promise that my policies would allow companies like Apple to bring massive amounts of money back to the United States. Great to see Apple follow through as a result of tax cuts. All caps. Huge win for American workers and the USA." Let's bring back my panel. David, this is not the first announcement like this, and we've seen a number of major corporations announced big bonuses going out to their workers, money being repatriated brought to the United States, you don't think President Trump is getting the credit he deserves, at least among the media and among the American people?

DAVID URBAN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, you just gave him credit. I think it's great. It's Paul Begala's worst nightmare, right? Could Donald Trump be right? He is on this one, right? We're cutting regulations, we cut taxes, freed up capital, letting companies in America do what they want. They were come back, putting jobs here. Chrysler -- you heard the President this morning talking about Chrysler, bringing jobs from Mexico back to the United States, Apple is going to put money into new plants, more foreign investments coming into the United States. It's going to work. Paul is going to have a tough time in the fall when it's all come home to roost.

SUSAN PAGE, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, USA TODAY: OK, if that's great news, then why is his approval rating 37 percent?

TAPPER: That's the question.

And I think you famously ran a campaign where it's economy is stupid was the slogan, and it turns out that economy is in fact not be all and do all of all campaigns or the only thing people look for in a president because I think the President's behavior, his divisive rhetoric has really undercut him, made it harder for him to get to take advantage of this good economy.

TAPPER: What would you -- what would you tell the president to do to get credit for this? Because the economy, -- consumer confidence is up, the percentage of people who feel the economy is excellent or good is way up highest it's been in decades, I think, and in the polls, what do you tell him to do?

PAUL BEGALA, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: And yet, by a nine-point margin, people credit President Obama, not President Trump. That would kill Donald Trump that Barack Obama is getting credit for the current economy. My honest advice would be cut back on hyperbole a little bit. You overpromised so much. There's a story in Politico about Carrier. Remember in the transition, even I praised Donald Trump then my President-Elect when he went to Indiana and he fought and saved those jobs. It turn out he didn't save any of them. In fact, Carriers laid people off, they're taking $7 million that they got from the government and using it to automate so they can lay even more people off. And according to the Politico reporters who went out to Indiana, those people feel betrayed by Donald Trump. He overpromises all the time.

TAPPER: OK, but you're talking about Carrier, and David wants to talk about Apple.

URBAN: So again, real quickly. Let me address Susan's point and follow up on policy. You know, people are still -- they haven't felt this money in their pocket. The jingle hasn't appeared. I think in their paycheck this month, they're going to notice more money in their pocket, more money in their checking account, more money in their bank, more money to put back in the economy, put to their kids in college, do additions to their homes. They're going to start seeing that, there going to feel it, they're going to notice it.

TAPPER: The President was out in Pennsylvania today, Susan, touting what a great job he's done on the economy. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Anybody unhappy with the 401(k)? I don't think so, right? Wow. We can keep it like this, we're going to win a lot of elections, that I can tell you. It's something, no, no, it's something. It's the economy, stupid. Did you hear that one? It's the economy.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: All right. Quoting the Clinton '92 campaign.

PAGE: That was a really good speech that he gave. It was a really effective speech. It connected with the audience. He got a great reception. And to just listen to what the people in Iowa who told the reporter, if he gave speeches like that, and cuts back on the tweeting, he would be in much better shape than he is.

TAPPER: It was the divisive rhetoric. And you agree with that. URBAN: I agree. I think the President -- I -- you know, I think the

President should be doing this touting as accomplishments out, connecting with folks like he does. He connects very well out in the campaign, he does it well in Pennsylvania this morning in this kind of venues. He should be doing it once a week.

TAPPER: All right.

BEGALA: (INAUDIBLE) he's plutocrat, that's the problem. This is a CEO, big corporation tax cut, not a working person.

TAPPER: So one thing I want to mention of course is in our earth matters series as President Trump wraps up the first year in office, his own government scientists announced that 2017 was one of the hottest years on record. The White House, of course, is not doing much about it, even though scientists say humans are primarily the reason why. Scientists at NASA ranking 2017 the second warmest year since they started measuring this, only behind 2016, using a different methodology. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration or NOAA rank 2017 third behind 2016 and 2015.

All the scientist agree the rise was mostly caused by carbon dioxide emissions, human dependency on cars, planes, and factories. Still, the Trump administration has scrubbed the mentions of climate change from Web sites across the government, according to a study by nonprofit groups. President Trump also withdrew from the Paris Climate Accord, of course, specifically designed to reduce global emissions. scientist say we need to significantly reduce carbon emissions immediately to slow down this obvious warning trend -- warming trend. Everyone stick around. We have lots more to talk about. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[16:55:00] TAPPER: Welcome back. Well, we're out of time, but Susan, David, and Paul thank you so much. Join me tomorrow night for Trump's first Year, Reign of Chaos, it's a "SPECIAL REPORT" tomorrow night at 10:00 p.m. right here on CNN. David Urban will be in it. Be sure to follow me on Facebook and Twitter @JAKETAPPER or tweet the show @THELEADCNN. That is it for THE LEAD. I turn you over now to Wolf Blitzer, he's right next door in "THE SITUATION ROOM." Thanks for watching.