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THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER
Officials Update on Deadly Bridge Collapse; Trump Admits He Made Up Info on Trudeau Meeting. Aired 4:30-5p ET
Aired March 15, 2018 - 16:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[16:30:00] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And we also have a representative from FIU who will be providing a statement. OK?
So, with that being said, Mayor Kemp, please hold your questions to the end.
DEPUTY MAYOR MAURICE KEMP, MIAMI-DADE COUNTY: Good afternoon. Obviously, we have a terrible tragedy here today. With this bridge collapse, we have multiple fire rescue unites on scene. We have urban search and rescue technicians on scene. We have a technical rescue technicians on the scene. We also have live search dogs working the pile right now.
We have all of the heavy equipment we might need. We have as many as four cranes and crane operators. So, we're in a full search and rescue mode, and we'll give you more information as it becomes available. We have multiple victims. The number has not been determined yet. The final number not determined yet. We'll give you more information on that, and fire rescue will follow me with the details, thank you.
Also, one last statement, I've been in constant contact with Mayor Jimenez by phone. He's watching the live feed. He's abreast of what's going on, and he's giving directions as he sees fit. Thank you.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Good afternoon. (INAUDIBLE) Miami-Dade Fire Rescue.
At approximately 1:30 this afternoon, we received a call for a collapsed bridge. Our units responded to find eight trapped vehicles under the bridge. At this time, we transported eight victims to hospitals. We have many, over 100 firefighters technically trained TRT, technical rescue, search and rescue team working on the area, on the bridge, to try to find viable victims. Thank you.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Good afternoon.
Just before 2:00 p.m. this afternoon, notified of a bridge collapse at this location, Southwest 8th Street and 109th Avenue. As units arrived along with Miami police and fire, we observed several vehicles involved as a result of the collapse. At the time, it shifted into a search and rescue effort. What we are asking the public to do is please assist us by avoiding the area of Southwest 8th Street between Southwest 107th Avenue and Southwest 11th Avenue indefinitely as this process goes on. Thank you.
JUAN PEREZ, DIRECTOR, MIAMI-DADE POLICE: Good afternoon. My name is Juan Perez. I'm director of the Miami-Dade Police Department.
First and foremost, all thoughts and prayers go to those victims of this tragedy that has occurred here today. We heard from our partners here, many other partners that are out here in law enforcement and firefighters, coming to the aide, and we thank them for their efforts. You know, FIU is here, their police department's been great.
Our partners from Sweetwater and Doral and so many others that have come, if I missed you, I apologize. But we thank all of the agencies that are out here supporting these efforts. Right now, we are assisting in the efforts right now, the main focus here, the fire department, obviously; is to rescue people, and that is what we are assisting with by controlling traffic, assisting FHP with traffic for now, and we're on standby, because as soon as those efforts are over, our homicide bureau will take the lead and investigating this tragedy that has occurred and we will take the lead from that point on.
The state attorney's also on standby and waiting to come in and work this case with us. So, for right now, that's all we have, as far as this incident. And a very important message that I have also is that we have established with the partnership through FIU, a reunification center right here at FIU. If you want more information on that, you can contact 305-348-3481. That is the number established for family members that are concerned that maybe their family members or friends are victimized by this incident.
If you call that number, we will help you out. If you are one of the family members or if you are concerned, you know, contact that number, there is an area here to respond for the family members only. FIU police are on standby to escort everybody that comes in that wants to get to their family reunification center where the victim advocates are at so that they can assist with whatever needs are required of those individuals.
The last thing I would like to share is that what you heard from FHP about people not coming in the area, please stay out of the area. We will advise you when the roads will be open again, but for an extended period of time. But I also need you, the media, to please cooperate with us. There should be no information that's coming out regarding this incident unless it's from us right here in this location.
[16:35:01] We will periodically update you. We don't need information erroneous getting out to the public because some is already out. And what does is it complicates things.
We want to be able the ones to contact next of kins. We want to be able to notify family members. Let us do that. We don't want family members to find out that a loved one is involved in this tragic incident because somebody puts it out in the media.
So, please, I ask you to respect those family members, those that have been impacted. From the bottom of my heart, please cooperate with us today more than ever, so that others that are impacted are not impacted by watching it on the news. We definitely do not want that. We want it controlled. Let us do that.
We have victim advocates that are waiting to go with us so that we can deliver the news whether, it's horrible news or whether it's news that somebody has survived this incident. We would like to do that. If you can cooperate with that, I would truly, truly appreciate it. Thank you.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: That was the Miami Police Director Juan Perez speaking after the fire rescue chief and mayor of Sweetwater, Orlando Lopez.
We're going to continue to monitor the situation there in Florida and bring you any new information as we get it. In our politics lead, what message does President Trump's false claim about Canada send to North Korea's Kim Jong-un? We'll talk about that next. Stay with us.
[16:40:30] TAPPER: We're back with the politics lead.
Last night, in a private fundraising speech in St. Louis, Missouri, President Trump boasted that he had just made up some stuff about trade in a meeting with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
Trump telling Trudeau that the U.S. runs a trade deficit with Canada, according to transcript published by "The Washington Post", quote, Trudeau came to see me. He's a good guy, Justin. He said, no, no, we have no trade deficit with you. We have none. I said, wrong, Justin, you do. I didn't even know. I had no idea. I just said, you're wrong.
According to the Trump administration, however, it is President Trump who is wrong -- more specifically, the U.S. Commerce Department asserts that the U.S. ran a $2.7 billion surplus with Canada last year for goods and services.
Let's talk about it with the panel. I'm guessing this does not surprise you, but does it alarm you?
SYMONE SANDERS, COMMUNICATIONS CONSULTANT, PRIORITIES USA ACTION: I'm not surprised that Donald Trump is lying. I'm not surprised that he's bragging about lying, but I am absolutely alarmed. Look, I said a long time ago that I think the Trump administration has aided and abetted in America, abdicating our role as, you know, the adult in the room, the leader of the free world -- you know, the folks that people look to, and this does not make our allies comfortable. It does not make folks want to get in the room and talk to us, and it's in a bad position when comes to making deals that President Trump says he's so good at.
TAPPER: This is an important issue obviously. The president is trying to renegotiate NAFTA with Canadians. There's obviously this controversial tariffs on imports of aluminum and steel from Canada, and from everywhere else. Does it bother you that he was winging it?
MARY KATHARINE HAM, SENIOR WRITER AT THE FEDERALIST: Yes, do the homework. Do the homework, know the facts, go into the room with the prime minister, rather than gaslighting Prime Minister Trudeau. That's the meeting behind it. But it's not a responsible way of doing business. I would appreciate it if he gets at least as much prep as we do before coming to the panel from these meetings, and the fact he brags about it I think is problematic.
TAPPER: Now, Sarah Sanders, when asked about this today, said the president was right and then she tweeted after her briefing, that there was a trade deficit when it came to goods. Goods. But the problem is that when -- it's good and services is how you measure this, and when you add in the services, it's actually a surplus.
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Yes, that's actually not how it works, but it does speak to the president going from being a businessman to the president because maybe he did that when he was in his private life, he could fudge the details a little, the numbers when he was in meetings with people and in negotiations. But when you're the president of the United States, you cannot do that with other world leaders. It really gives you a window into seeing what the president is like negotiating with other world leaders, and as you mentioned, those tariffs -- the tariffs applied upset a lot of countries, and he said he could exempt countries from the steel and aluminum tariffs on the imports after he has direct negotiations with them.
OK. He's having a direct good negotiation with them. How are they supposed to feel that they know that he could be making up some kind of statement when he's saying that? It really shows what it is like behind closed doors between the president and another leader.
TAPPER: And another thing he did in this St. Louis fundraiser was talk about South Korea and the deficit, and there is a deficit, trade deficit with South Korea, and how he was kind of annoyed, and we have a lot of U.S. troops there, and maybe that's something they're going to have to look at.
Now, that is a major point of contention with the North Koreans. They want U.S. troops off of the peninsula. When this was raised by the top Democrat on the committee earlier today, this is what he had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. BOB MENENDEZ (D), NEW JERSEY: This is one of the dumbest things I've ever seen in my 26 years of dealing with foreign policy between the house and Senate. To suggest any inkling that you might move away from your security commitments to South Korea is to send all the wrong messages, not only to North Korea, but to our allies globally.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAM: Yes. I mean, with these comments from the president, I'm sometimes hesitant to assume he's not joking in some fashion, but it's not a responsible thing to be joking about because you're the president of the United States and you can set the policy, right? So, it annoyed me when Obama did similar sort of wishful thinking about joking working with Congress, just kind of joking -- if it is joking, annoys me in the same way. And I think it's problematic.
By the way, it's concerning if he does end up sitting across from the dictator of North Korea about what will be on the table because I'm not sure he saw it through that idea.
SANDERS: Like, what is he going to tell Kim Jong-un?
Look, I think Donald Trump has forgotten that words matter. Words especially matter when you are the president of the United States of America, and I think this is just yet another example of how he does not grasp the gravitas of his words and of the current job that he has. Because even if he was joking, he clearly thought it was OK to say that in a room full of folks where it could clearly get out. That's problematic, concerning, and just, like, he's not fit to be president, but that's another story.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Kaitlan, is there anyone around President Trump who can say you can't talk that loosely when you're with Kim Jong-un, you really need to measure your words more carefully? I mean, with Hope Hicks on the way out, with Gary Cohn on his way out, et cetera, is there anyone there that we would listen to and do the homework as Mary Katharine suggests?
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Well, that's the question. Who would he listen to? Because there is this belief that there -- that the President is surrounded by "yes" men which is not true. He does -- he actually does have a lot of people who tell him "no" a lot, and he becomes frustrated with those people like --
TAPPER: That's why he's firing everybody.
COLLINS: Like the Chief of Staff John Kelly, like the Secretary of State Rex Tillerson who I should note was the first one to propose talks to North Korea and the President initially shut him down on Twitter very publicly saying that it actually wasn't the time for those talks, only one thing would work. So that is the question. Who is going to prepare him for these negotiations? We know McMaster is another person who's very honest with the President but is drawn his ire. So it goes to show those relationships. But I can nearly guarantee that the White House will say the President was just joking when he made those remarks when implied that he could pull those troops out because that's what they are. It's a tactic they often employ when they don't want to defend something that he says like that. And when you are the President of the United States near a nuclear problem in the world, you can't joke about pulling troops out of the DMZ.
TAPPER: Everyone stick around. We got a lot more to talk about. We're going to keep you here. Wait until you hear the White House says -- determines if Russia is a friend or foe of the United States. That story is next. Stay with us.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
[16:50:00] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is Putin a friend or foe of the United States?
SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, PRESS SECRETARY, WHITE HOUSE: I think that's something that Russia has going to have to make that determination. They're going to have to decide whether or not they want to be a good actor or bad actor.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders this afternoon. We're back with our "POLITICS LEAD" and my panel. It would seem -- I understand that maybe she's being diplomatic there and she doesn't want to label him a foe, but on I mean, on the day that the U.S. is imposing sanctions on the Kremlin, it's not too much of a stretch for her for -- to go a little further than that.
COLLINS: Or to issue a tough statement. And if you notice, all the statements about these sanctions that they imposed today which certainly the most significant action that the Trump administration has taken against Russia, they are written in, like, third person. It's like, the Trump administration, the Trump administration. None of it says President Trump did this because President Trump hasn't personally remarked on this. Why hasn't he tweeted about this? Why hasn't he said anything that has come from him? Because as you know, he's repeatedly criticized for not going far enough to needle Putin or to needle Russia, he instead has his White House issue a statement on it.
And if we look at this, why was it this assassination attempt that led them to impose these sanctions? Because it wasn't killing civilians in Syria, it wasn't the plane that was shot down in Ukraine. It wasn't meddling in the election per se because they waited so long to do it. This is what broke the camel's back essentially and it raise the question of why did it take this long to get there? But certainly for days now after that happened, that nerve agent attack, the toughest statement we have was from the Secretary of State who has now been fired.
TAPPER: Yes, I want to -- I want to bring back something else the President Trump said at that fundraiser last night in St. Louis. He was talking about the ways that Japan is unfair to the United States when it comes to trade practices, and he referring to something that he called the bowling ball test insisting that this is the test that Japan requires of all imported U.S. cars. He said, "it's called the bowling ball test. Do you know what that is? That's where they take a bowling ball from 20 feet up in the air, and they drop it on the hood of the car, and if the hood dents, then the car doesn't qualify." Sarah Sanders was asked about this bowling ball test today. Here's what she had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
S. H. SANDERS: Obviously, he's joking about this particular test, but it illustrates the creative ways some countries are able to keep American goods out of their markets.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: So, if you read the remarks, he wasn't joking.
MARY KATHARINE HAM, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: No, that doesn't sound like joking. I think he probably heard an anecdote at some time at some point and repeated it which is not a crime, but, again, do the homework and then you will know what is actually going on. But none of things give me confidence that he will at some point understand the concept of trade deficits and why they're not necessarily a bad, and that by the way, countries with large tariffs end up with larger trade deficits. That's a separate issue from the bowling ball issue.
TAPPER: Speaking of the bowling ball issue and doing homework, we actually did our homework. We tried to find if there is any example of the bowling ball test. All we could find was this all David Letterman segment involving people dropping bowling balls on to cars. It's possible -- it's possible this is what he was referring to. I don't know.
S. SANDERS: Well, perhaps he saw this on television. Look, I am increasingly concerned that Donald Trump gets a lot of information from television. I think media consumption should be a course thought at every single college campus and perhaps there's should be a specialized course given in the White House because the President seems to need it.
TAPPER: And here's what the President said today about the Washington Post report about staffing changes that the President is considering.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, the story was very false. I mean, they wrote a story about staff changes today that was very false. They'll always be change, but very little. It was a very false story. It was very -- a very exaggerated -- a very exaggerated and false story. But they'll always be change, and I think you want to see change.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: What does that mean, Kaitlan?
COLLINS: Well, the President, himself actually contributed to a lot of these stories that there could be staffing changes. The other day when he said that his cabinet isn't exactly the way he wants it, but he's getting there. And then, right after he says that the story's false, he says there will always be change which means there will always be staff turnover. And it just simply not a reflection of what's actually happening in his West Wing, in the halls of that West Wing and in those offices because people are actually on edge a little bit because they don't know if they'll be fired or if they'll be the next one ousted. And it certainly is a very uneasy feeling in the West Wing. A lot of that has to do with the President himself. [16:55:22] TAPPER: Thanks, everyone, great panel. I really
appreciate it. We're following the breaking news in Florida where authorities say 100 people are still on scene trying to rescue anyone who might still be trapped under that collapsed pedestrian bridge. That's ahead. Stay with us.
TAPPER: Be sure to follow me on Facebook and Twitter @JAKETAPPER or tweet the show @THELEADCNN. That's it for the show today. I turn you over to Wolf Blitzer right next door in "THE SITUATION ROOM." Thanks for watching.