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THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER

Trump Praises Progress Made in North Korea Talks; Lawmakers Hammer Homeland Security Chief On Funding; Police Use DNA Genealogy Site To Catch "Golden State Killer. Aired 4:30-5p ET

Aired April 27, 2018 - 16:30   ET

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


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[16:30:01] DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I have a responsibility to see if I can do it. And if I can't do it, it will be a very tough time for a lot of countries and a lot of people. It certainly is something that I hope I can do for the world.

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JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Joining me now is CNN global affairs analyst Max Boot.

And, Max, you're skeptical that this deal is going to end the way President Trump -- and frankly the way all of us in our hearts want it to. You wrote recently, quote, Kim is a more adept con man and Trump an easier mark than I had imagined. And in "The Washington Post" piece that just posted, you wrote, don't let the Korea summit hype fool you, we've been here before.

Now, have we been here before exactly at this moment, North and South meeting, talking about denuclearization?

MAX BOOT, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Yes, we've actually been exactly at this point, Jake. If you look back on the coverage of the 2000 summit between the leaders of North Korea and South Korea and the 2007 summit, which by the way, Moon Jae-in, the current president of South Korea, helped to arrange the summit, it was very, very similar. The leaders hugged, they had great atmospherics, they talked about peace and ending the war and reunification and all of this kumbaya stuff which sounded great.

But, you know, my message for President Trump tonight is curb your enthusiasm, because again, we've heard this kind of rhetoric before, that doesn't mean the North Koreans are going to deliver. In fact, they have a pretty consistent track record of not delivering on their promises.

TAPPER: I want to play some sound from President Trump just a few moments ago.

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TRUMP: I want to express my hope that all of the people of Korea, North Korea and South, can some day live in harmony, prosperity and peace, and it looks like it could happen. When I began, people were saying that was an impossibility.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: Now, people in the Trump foreign policy team, including people with whom I think you would like and approve, like Lieutenant General McMaster, they argue that the pressure from President Trump and the past sanctions has really pointed Kim Jong-un to one path, denuclearization and it is working. That the pressure and the emphasis on -- and the bellicose rhetoric even at times is working.

You say no, you don't buy it.

BOOT: I think there is something to the argument that all the saber rattling from Trump has convinced Kim to undertake this peace offensive because he doesn't want to be attacked by the United States, but I have not seen any evidence so far that he's sincerely willing to denuclearize. I mean, what we're seeing is a lot of kabuki theater, like for example, they're apparently shutting down this nuclear test site, but wait a second, the intelligence indicates that site is already so heavily damaged from previous nuclear blasts that the mountain may actually collapse.

So, this is not a huge concession on their part or declaring a moratorium on nuclear and missile test. Again, not a huge concession, something they could reverse tomorrow. I haven't seen any evidence that the North Koreans are actually going to give up their nuclear weapons which for Kim Jong-un would be like committing suicide because he saw what happened to Moammar Gadhafi and Saddam Hussein, they gave up their weapons of mass destruction, and they were overthrown by the United States. That's not an example he's going to follow.

TAPPER: So, what's your advice or warning to President Trump for the summit?

BOOT: Well, again, I think he needs to go in open eyed and not be credulous, I mean, not be calling Kim Jong-un very open and very honorable, or saying they are about to denuclearize. You've got to be very realistic. I mean, I'm in favor of talking to them, I think that is a good thing, but don't set up unrealistic expectations for the summit that cannot possibly be fulfilled, because if you do have these expectations and it fails, that may actually draw us closer to war.

TAPPER: All right. Max Boot, thank you so much. Appreciate it.

This is not what they meant by separation of church and state. Why did Paul Ryan, the speaker of the house, suddenly fired the House chaplain? That story, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[16:38:07] TAPPER: A brand-new controversy on Capitol Hill. It's not just Democrats. Some Republicans are also demanding answers from House Speaker Paul Ryan about his sudden decision to fire the House chaplain Pat Conroy after seven years on the job. I'm back with the panel.

And let's just give the latest update. Today, Ryan defended his decision to let the chaplain go. He told Republicans in the caucus meeting that certain House members felt Father Conroy was not giving proper counsel.

Republican Congressman Peter King called that defense unsatisfactory. Take a listen.

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REP. PETER KING (R), NEW YORK: You give no real reasons other than some people felt that his pastoral service wasn't enough, I never heard that from anyone. And I hope it was not done by political pressure to really trying to push him out and why it has to be done now, again, is (INAUDIBLE) members.

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TAPPER: Again, that's a Republican Congressman Peter King.

This is causing a lot of trouble for Paul Ryan. I mean, not serious trouble, he's retiring any way. But this is not how you want your legacy to be remembered.

KRISTEN SOLTIS ANDERSON, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST AND POLLSTER: Well, I think there are people on both sides of the aisle, including and perhaps especially Catholic members who felt very fondly about the House chaplain and do want these answers. On the other hand, I can somewhat understand the rationale of the speaker's office not wanting to drag someone through the mud if they've decided based on the conversations with members who did feel that they weren't getting the right counsel, that it was time to let him go. They don't want to air out dirty laundry and sully his name on the way out, I understand that.

I do think that this argument that it was political, that and a prayer from October, that didn't pass the smell test with me. It has been a long time since October and if it was going to happen over a prayer that happened well before the tax bill even passed, why now? To me, that sounds like Democrats have found something they can attack Paul Ryan with and they are going to use it as much as possible.

TAPPER: And the accusation is that the father, who is a Jesuit, was preaching about the poor during the debate over the tax bill.

[16:40:06] Let's play the prayer that some Democrats are pointing to as possibly the reason, although we do not know, as to why Speaker Ryan lost patience with the father.

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REV. PAT CONROY, HOUSE CHAPLAIN: May their efforts these days guarantee that there are not winners and losers under new tax laws, but benefits balanced and shared by all Americans. (END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: Now, I have to say, I mean, he's a Jesuit, but according to the story, Paul Ryan said to him afterwards, padre, you just got to stay out of politics after that prayer. But Jesuits talk about the poor all of the time. The new encyclical from the pope, who's a Jesuit, was saying Catholics should care as much about the poor as they do unborn children and people who oppose abortion.

JACKIE KUCINICH, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: And that's not entirely -- I mean, Barry Black is the reverend on the Senate side has politics woven into his prayers all of the time and no one said anything about it. This is just politics -- politics exploding in places you would never think happened. And maybe -- I mean, as you said, I guess Paul Ryan said something to him. Bottom line is this was handled really poorly. This person felt like they were blindsided and they were cast aside and then said that he resigned or something. I mean, this just seemed like a very ham-handed process from the beginning.

TAPPER: A Catholic politician said to me that he thought it was unfair to dismiss the father without giving any sort of explanation in a notable firing and it wasn't like they let his term expire at the end of the year and let him quietly leave because of the controversy with the Catholic Church and that automatically -- and it's unfair, priests get held up to a greater light of scrutiny and people suspect things and that was very unfair to the father?

ROBBY MOOK, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, I obviously don't know what all of the details here are or anything like that. None of us do. I think -- look I have two takeaways from this. First of all, it is remarkable to me that today it is a political statement to say, I hope there are no losers in the tax bill and that the benefits are shared across everybody. That's political.

And secondly, when you hire a Christian to do this job, I think anybody who's read the New Testament will see there is a lot in there about, as you said, advocating for the poor. So, you know, for a lot of the members in the Republican Party, that -- where Christianity has a badge of honor, I think there is a little reckoning here around, you know, which version of the bible you are reading.

ANDERSON: But that is something that Paul Ryan himself has spoken about.

TAPPER: Yes, a great deal.

ANDERSON: I look back at, you know, remarks he's made at the Values Voter Summit, things that we think of is being very focused on social issues, but where Paul Ryan have given remarks talking specifically about our calling as Christians to care for the poor. Now, his approach to doing so is something Democrats don't think will work in that regard.

TAPPER: Right.

ANDERSON: But nonetheless, he has been clear throughout his career that is something he believes is important even if the policies he wants to implement to get there are not being Democrats' way.

TAPPER: I want to shoot down to the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue because President Trump just moments ago signaled that he might be close to naming his next pick to be the secretary for the Department of Veterans Affairs.

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TRUMP: I have many people that want the position, if you can believe it. With all this being said, we have some excellent people and some very political people and some people that -- a thing like that wouldn't happen or if it did happen, I guess they'll handle it somewhat differently.

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TAPPER: What does that mean, Jackie? I don't -- very political people and Dr. Ronny Jackson wasn't a political person.

KUCINICH: It's like a Rubik's cube of a statement. But I mean, this is -- we're at a point so whenever a Trump cabinet member leaves and then we have the speculation part of the process. I think that's where we are right now.

So, you have Robert Wilkie who is acting right now, who people are talking about. You have Jeff Miller, who's the former Veteran Affairs chairman. And so -- and I read something on the way here that John Kelly was someone who is rumored.

So, we're at that point or people are just throwing stuff out. Perhaps if the president wants to bring someone in who dealt with politics, maybe it is someone vetted by the Senate and the White House wouldn't have to worry about that part of the process.

TAPPER: So, Rear Admiral Jackson, there is no indication he will leave his job as the chief medical officer at the White House, but there is a lot of reporting on this. According to several current and former staffers in the medical unit at the White House, a high ranking official with the Obama administration was apparently given Provigil , a drug for alertness, as a parting gift. In another instance, an Obama staffer received antibiotics Z-packs without an examination. They say Ambien was often handed out, and these other reports of the opioid, Percocet being given out or disappearing.

Can the White House continue to have Rear Admiral Jackson serve without answers to these questions about what happen and whether any of these allegations are true?

ANDERSON: I certainly think that needs to be investigated and clearly is not just as a Trump administration issue if this has been going back to the Obama administration and before --

[16:45:00] TAPPER: Sure, absolutely.

ANDERSON: --the Obama Administration and before and it sounds like it's not just a Ronny Jackson issue, that it's -- it is the White House Medical Staff and so I think this is broader and deeper than that. But the method through which a lot of us have learned about allegations against Ronny Jackson, I think it was unseemly. This whole two-page memo that came out alleging things like --

TAPPER: From Democratic staffers on the Committee.

ANDERSON: -- you know, he was behind the wheel of the car that was wrecked when he was drunk or the Secret Service just a few hours ago batted down this allegation that on a trip he had been -- he had too much alcohol and pounded on President Obama's door. The Secret Services said no, that never happened.

TAPPER: Not President Obama's door, they were -- a woman's door and they thought he was going to wake up President Obama.

ANDERSON: That was never something that had occurred. And so I think that was a very irresponsible way to air out some of this. I think the serious allegations about the medical treatment need to be investigated but a lot of this just -- it smells really funny to me.

TAPPER: Yes, usually there's an investigation, you don't hear the allegations first, usually it's the stuff that's already been proven. Senate Democrats taking that in a different direction. Coming up, have you taken one of those DNA tests online. Why you one day may unknowingly help catch a killer. That is next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[16:50:00] TAPPER: Sharp questions for Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen on Capitol Hill this week with lawmakers from both sides of the aisle asking why the Trump Administration wanted to cut funding for first responders while prioritizing funding for border security. The Host of CNN's "UNITED CHAINS OF AMERICA" W. Kamau Bell just visited the border to see how the Trump Administration policies are affecting those who live alongside the wall -- or in the potential wall and joins me now. Kamau, thanks for joining us. I appreciate it. Congratulations on the Emmy that I see you schlepping around in all of your promos. So you visited Nogales, Arizona. What did people there think of the wall and what did they think of President Trump.

W. KAMAU BELL, CNN HOST: I mean, when you bring up President Trump, there's sort of a resigned like, sigh of like yes, this is what we're dealing with now. But I think that they're as focused on him as you might think they are because America's policies with the U.S.-Mexico border have been bad for a long time, the way I would characterize them.

So I don't think they are focused on Trump so much as much as they're focused on their everyday lives. And the thing that I think people in America don't realize is that our border security and our approach to the U.S.-Mexico border hurts America because Nogales, Arizona is economically depressed and in part because people in Mexico can't come across and shop in Nogales, Arizona the way they used to be able to.

TAPPER: That's interesting. And you also went south of the border where you visited a center that helps immigrants who have just been deported from the U.S. Let me play a little of that clip.

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BELL: Tell me where I'm at right now.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So this is a place where we provide two meals a day to mostly to deportees.

BELL: This is their first sort welcome back to Mexico?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It really is, essentially. We provide food, clothing, financial support. This is a critical work on the border.

BELL: Are there people who were coming here who had like been in the United States for years?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes we've seen and increasing number of who have been living in the United States for a long time and being deported in comparison to last year.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: Well, were these people who had established lives in the U.S.?

BELL: Yes, I met a man who had been in the U.S. I think for 15 years and had had a whole life up there. He got in trouble with the law and so he was deported back to Mexico and I met people who were with their families in the States and have been there for a little while and sort of have set up their lives and then suddenly find themselves deported. And there are also people who are in the middle of crossing the border who were scooped up in the desert and brought back across the border.

TAPPER: All right, W. Kamau Bell, thank you so much and congratulations in an all-new season of "UNITED SHADES OF AMERICA," it premiers this Sunday at 10:00 p.m. Eastern only on CNN. Be sure to check out the Emmy-Award Winner. The accused Golden State Killer just made his first court appearance and you might shocked at how police cracked this 30-year-old cold case. Stay with us.

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[16:55:00] TAPPER: Just moments ago, the suspected Golden State Killer appeared in court for the first time. Joseph James Deangelo is accused of 12 murders and dozens of rapes in California in the 1970s and 1980s, but the story of how police cracked this 30-year-old cold case is our "TECH LEAD" today. Police said they found him using information from one of the genealogy Web sites that will tell you about your ancestry or help you find a long-lost relative. When police couldn't find matches to the DNA they found at the scenes of the Golden State Killer's crimes, they compared the genetic profile to those online and identified potential relatives.

That finally led police to the alleged serial killer. And before anyone at the White House is fired again, this is Friday of course, I want to take a quick second for another shameless plug, that my brand- new novel is out called The Hellfire Club. It's a political thriller. It takes place right in the thick of the Cold War Era in 1950s. It's full of familiar real-life characters and of course a new fictional ones, maybe a cautionary tale for today. It's about the swamp, it's about McCarthy and it's about a conspiracy.

Again, the novel is called The Hellfire Club. It's available on Amazon or at your local bookstore and I'd be honored if you would check it out. Be sure to tune in to CNN's "STATE OF THE UNION" this Sunday morning. My guest with be Oklahoma Senator James Langford who is on the Senate Intelligence Committee, also with us Ohio Governor John Kasich, it all (AUDIO GAP), noon Eastern, "STATE OF THE UNION."

You could follow me on Facebook and Twitter @JAKETAPPER or you can tweet the sho @THELEADCNN. That's it for THE LEAD today. I now turn you over to Jim Acosta, he's in for Wolf Blitzer but he is also in "THE SITUATION ROOM" right next door. Thanks for watching. Have a great weekend. I'll see you Sunday morning.

Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen was grilled on Capitol Hill this week as lawmakers from both sides of the aisle ask why the Trump Administration wanted to cut funding for first responders while prioritizing funding for border security. Police used online DNA genealogy site to catch Joseph James Deangelo, the suspected Golden State Killer>