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THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER

Interview With White House Budget Director Mick Mulvaney; California Democrats Concerned About Congressional Primaries. Aired 4:30-5p ET

Aired June 4, 2018 - 16:30   ET

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


[16:30:01]

JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: Are all these Republicans in the House and Senate who disagree with the president on this, are they all wrong?

MICK MULVANEY, WHITE HOUSE BUDGET DIRECTOR: Well, Kevin is a good friend of mine. You're not going to get me to say something bad about him on national television.

I will say that I agree with him on the last point, which is, China really is one of the -- probably the largest misbehaving player in this entire -- in this entire analysis. And we need to get them to change behavior.

But we want everybody to change behavior. One of the reasons that we have to rely on Canada or on Britain, for example , for some of our metal, some metals that we use for the defense of this nation only come from England. While they're great ally and a good partner, wouldn't it be nice if we could actually make some of that stuff here at home?

That's what the president is trying to accomplish. There's nothing wrong with that, completely within the law, a completely reasonable step, and something again shouldn't come as a surprise to anybody.

So we look for to continuing to work with our Republican and Democrat friends on the Hill to figure out ways to come up with policies that help Americans, but the president, again, keeping his promises on trade, as he said he would.

TAPPER: All right.

President Trump, 500 days in office. Today, he tweeted -- quote -- "This is my 500th day in office. He listed what he considers his accomplishments, including massive tax and regulation cuts, military and vets, lower crime and illegal immigration, stronger borders judgeships, best economy and jobs ever," and much more.

He continued more on his subsequent tweeting. Yet there were also a lot of other tweets about a lot of other subjects, including the Russia investigation, his power, his view, his absolute power to be able to pardon himself.

The president's underwater when it comes to his approval ratings. And I know there are a lot of supporters out there on the Hill and out in the rest of the country who wish he would focus more on these accomplishments and stop the tweets and stop the attacks.

MULVANEY: Yes.

TAPPER: Do you ever feel that way?

MULVANEY: As I sit here 500 days into it, and I look at what the administration has been able to accomplish, what the president -- where the president has taken us, where he's led us since the election, you're looking at -- the last time unemployment was lower than this was in the 1960s.

We're looking at growth rates maybe even above 4 percent for the next quarter, according to the Atlanta Fed. I think they put out a projection at 4.8 percent.

Remember, when we came into office, everybody on the other side, many folks in media, I think yourself included, said this stuff was impossible, you couldn't grow the economy, you couldn't cut taxes, you couldn't -- you couldn't get America back on track, you couldn't make America great again.

We were an older country, we were a graying country. Everybody was a naysayer, said we couldn't accomplish this. We step back after 500 days and I think we have accomplished dramatically more than anybody ever expected.

The economy is better than everybody expected. Folks are no longer now worrying about jobs. Everybody's got a job. Everybody who wants a job has got a job. Folks are actually focusing on building a career, which is a tremendous improvement over where we were before the election.

So there's so much good that's going on. You have to ask yourself, Jake, if the media coverage of the president had been a little bit more balanced, where his approval ratings would have been.

And so, as negative as the coverage has been, it is kind of stunning that his approval ratings aren't lower than they are. But things are going so well. People know they're better off with the president in office. And that's a pretty good -- pretty good milestone for us after 500 days.

TAPPER: All right, I take issue with a little bit of that, but it's the 500th day.

So I'm just going say, Director Mulvaney, thank you so much for being here. We appreciate it.

MULVANEY: Thanks, Jake.

TAPPER: It's one of the most consequential primaries for Democrats in 2018, but do they have too many candidates running?

Stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[16:37:17]

TAPPER: Some breaking news in our money lead right now.

The executive chairman of Starbucks, Howard Schultz, is leaving the company at the end of the month, sparking a lot of speculation that Schultz might be running for political office.

Schultz told "The New York Times" today that he is increasingly concerned about the growing divisions in the United States and he wants to figure out how he can give back. When directly asked if he was considering a run for president, Schultz replied -- quote -- "I intend to think about a range of options, and that could include public service."

Not a denial.

In California, Democrats are sweating a huge election tomorrow, fearing the epicenter of the Trump resistance could actually hurt their chances of taking back a majority in the House.

There are seven California House seats currently held by Republicans in places where Hillary Clinton beat Donald Trump in 2016. Democrats would be well on their way to picking up the 23 seats they need to retake the House if they can flip those districts.

CNN's Miguel Marquez explains the problem.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you with me?

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): California Democrats buoyant, counting on a November blue wave and flipping several congressional seats here from Republican to Democratic.

(on camera): If a Democrat is on the ballot in November, what happens?

GIL CISNEROS (D), CALIFORNIA CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE: I think, if a better a Democrat is on the ballot in November, a Democrat wins.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): But California has a jungle primary, meaning only the top two vote-getters, regardless of party, advance to the general election in November.

MARIAN BODNAR, INDIVISIBLE CA 39: The fear is just that vote gets so split, that no Democrat beats a Republican.

MARQUEZ: In Orange County and adjacent, an astounding 45 candidates are running for just three seats. So many are well-funded, well- organized Democrats, raising the prospect the Democratic vote could be split so much that only Republicans would then advance to the November ballot.

(on camera): You were running in this district.

PHIL JANOWICZ, FORMER CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE: Correct.

MARQUEZ: Why did you drop out?

JANOWICZ: I dropped out because we had too much candidates running at the time.

LAURA OATMAN, FORMER CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE: I withdrew from the race, and not only withdraw from the race but, decided to get behind the strongest candidate who I believe can win.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): Janowicz and Oatman are two of nine Democrats withdrawing from the three races, hoping to narrow the field and improve the chances of the remaining 15 Democratic candidates.

NARRATOR: Democrats and Harley Rouda moving us forward.

MARQUEZ: And national Democrats, the DCCC, weighing in, spending millions in advertising in English and Spanish, a rarely used tactic as they try to ensure a Democrat is on the ballot in every race come November.

NARRATOR: DCCC is responsible for the content of this advertising.

[16:40:01]

MARQUEZ: So worried, national Democrats are even running attack ads against some Republican candidates in all three districts, trying to dampen Republican turnout by criticizing GOP candidates for voting like Democrats.

HARLEY ROUDA (D), CALIFORNIA CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE: We are going to have a tough primary on June 5.

MARQUEZ: Harley Rouda in California 48 is in a unique category, winning support both the establishment DCCC and activist groups like Indivisible.

ROUDA: All the different aspects of the party are getting behind this campaign, and hopefully that will propel us to the general.

MARQUEZ: Democrats here will need more than hope.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I hope we can count on your vote June 5.

MARQUEZ: Gil Cisneros in the 39th is banking on enormous Democratic turnout to make the difference on primary day.

CISNEROS: If we can get those Democrats out to vote, and I think it is going to carry over, I think we're going to see good results.

MARQUEZ: Maybe.

Absentee ballots in the three Orange County districts so far show more Republicans than Democrats voting.

Miguel Marquez, CNN, Orange County, California.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

TAPPER: More than 20 years later, and Bill Clinton's answer about the Monica Lewinsky affair has some people asking if he still just doesn't get it.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

[16:45:00] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Have you ever apologize to her?

BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: No -- yes and nobody believes that I got out of that for free. I left the White House $16 million in debt but you typically have ignored gaping facts in describing this and I bet you don't even know them. This was litigated 20 years ago, two-thirds of the American people sided with me.

Well, I felt terrible then and I came to grips with it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But you didn't apologize to her.

CLINTON: I have not talked to her --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you feel like you owe her an apology?

CLINTON: No, I did not -- I never talked to her but I did say publicly on more than one occasion that I was sorry. That's very different. The apology was public.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Former President Bill Clinton there, doing a book tour with James Patterson. They have a new book out called The President is missing and Bill Clinton was asked questions about whether his views on the Lewinsky scandal have changed in the wake of the MeToo Movement. I'm not sure they have but let's talk about it with the panel. Kirsten, you worked in the Clinton administration. Let me -- let me just ask you this. What do you think he should have said if not that?

KIRSTEN POWERS, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I think he shouldn't have acted like he was a victim because he's not a victim. And yes, he did suffer the repercussions for it as he should have. So I think that really he should have owned what he did and I actually think you should call her and apologize. And it's kind of --

TAPPER: Apologize for what specifically?

POWERS: For dragging her into this situation and then you know I think really leaving her out there hanging out to dry. I mean, first lying about it right, sort of portraying her as this crazy --

TAPPER: Oh yes, he was denying it. Yes.

POWERS: Yes, yes, that it didn't happen and you know, her life was destroyed and he played a role in that. Now, look she played in a role in it too and we could have another conversation about agency and does she just you have the agency at that age to really be consenting to a relationship with someone with that kind of power differential. I've kind of come around to saying no. I think she's starting to come around to say no as well. She's written about that. And you know, so I think you know, looking at her, I think anybody who was around then and criticized Monica Lewinsky and I was one of those people as well and I have publicly apologized for that on-air, we were wrong.

TAPPER: So let me ask you, after this interview on The Today Show, Monica Lewinsky retweeted that story that Kirsten was referring to. She wrote for Vanity Fair in March saying that she had always considered her relationship with President Clinton to be consensual but she said, "now at 44 I'm beginning, just beginning to consider the implications of the power differentials that were so vast between the President and the White House intern, I'm beginning to entertain the notion that in such a circumstance the idea of consent might well be rendered moot." This is definitely post #MeToo. She is now rethinking these ideas. You at the time, I don't even know how old you are at the time but --

AMANDA CARPENTER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: High school. Yes.

TAPPER: You were in high school or whatever but I mean, what do you think? I mean, does he owe her an apology? Was the power differential so vast?

I think Monica Lewinsky deserves a whole new retelling of her side of the story. When I look at the history of this, I am a guess at how she was manipulated not only by the Democrats, by everyone involved. Linda Tripp might be the biggest villain in this whole story. I mean I cannot get out of my head the scene where she is lured to the Pentagon City Ritz-Carlton and holed up with FBI agents who threatened to put her mother in jail all because of something that happened that everyone else was lying about.

And Bill Clinton should probably apologize to his wife again because I think it was a lies about Monica Lewinsky which led him to not want to admit to any other problems that he had with women that Donald Trump used against Hillary Clinton in the election. And so yes, President Clinton can pretend like he is a victim. He did suffer consequences but those were never resolved with the public until 2016. And I want Monica to tell her side of the story as a young woman in Washington getting pulled into all these terrible directions when she was unable to defend herself at the time.

[16:50:08] TAPPER: So I want you to take a listen. You talked about how Bill Clinton was making himself the victim. Take a listen to Joe Lockhart who used to be Bill Clinton's Press Secretary talking about what he heard in that interview with Bill Clinton. He was talking to Kate Baldwin on CNN earlier today. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOE LOCKHART, FORMER WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I think in that moment you're seeing Donald Trump a little bit and I'm not comparing them on any other level beyond the terrible strategy it is to making himself, you the issue here and to be victimized. He was not the victim then. Donald Trump is not the victim now.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

POWERS: Yes, I mean Jose 100 percent correct and I think that you know it's Joe is saying that too means a lot because of how close he has been and continues to be to the president. I also think Ken Starr needs to apologize. That's another person that Monica Lewinsky wrote bout in the Vanity Fair piece running into him and basically kind of setting it up so he could apologize and he never apologizes.

TAPPER: All right, thanks one and all for being here. Almost 50 years after his death, what might Bobby Kennedy think about the current political landscape? What would he think about President Trump? We'll talk to his daughter. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[16:55:00] TAPPER: Tomorrow marks 50 years since the assassination of Senator Robert Kennedy. Robert Kennedy's children are now putting new attention on his life raising discussions about his impact on America and also one of them is raising questions about his father's death specifically asking whether the wrong man is behind bars for killing the brother of former President John F. Kennedy.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TAPPER: Joining me now is Kerry Kennedy, Robert Kennedy's seventh child. She's out with a brand new book called Robert F Kennedy ripples of hope out tomorrow. Kerry, thanks so much for being here. I appreciate it.

KERRY KENNEDY, DAUGHTER OF ROBERT KENNEDY: Great to be here.

TAPPER: So the book is fascinating. You interview a number of notable people, President Obama, Tony Bennett, George Clooney, John Lewis, talking about what your father meant to them. But I do wonder, when you think about your dad, you were eight years old when he was killed, old enough to have known him, old enough to remember him, do you think of this larger than life what might have been American politician, progressive --

KENNEDY: No, I think what every kid thinks of. You know this loving, incredibly loving father who is so present in our lives. He was -- he was not a Don Draper dad of the 1960s, he was completely present. When we were with him he was talking to us about our day, about what's going on in the country and eliciting our thoughts.

TAPPER: And funny this is one anecdote you write about in the book about a disagreement between you and your brother Michael where he has -- he settles the argument exactly the way that you would think Robert Kennedy would settle a disagreement between two fighting siblings.

KENNEDY: Yes. So he brought us both into his study and he made Michael be quiet while I told my side of the story and then he made me be quiet while Michael told his side of the story and in that the truth you know, came out and then he made us kiss and make up and go to our rooms and read for an hour. But you know, the message he had for us was the message he had for our country which is peace is not some inches to pray for, we're all responsible for it. And you have to think of your enemies as your brothers and sisters and then you have to educate yourself.

TAPPER: You write in the book, the easiest way for a politician to win is to sow division in a country but Daddy sought to bring people together and he brought together black and white, old and young, what today would be red and blue. I hate to bring up President Trump at this moment but -- because this is a celebration but do you feel like President Trump is doing the exact opposite of what your father would do, dividing people.

KENNEDY: Yes. I think that that's the easiest way to get elected and that's exactly what he did, President Trump did. But I also think it's an impossible way to actually govern it and that's why his administration is failing so much.

TAPPER: I do want to ask one unpleasant thing about this 50-year commemoration. Sirhan Sirhan is serving a life sentence for assassinating your father. Your brother Bobby Jr. just told The Washington Post that he visited Sirhan Sirhan in his prison cell back in December and doesn't believe he was your father's killer. He believes there was a second gunman. Do you agree?

KENNEDY: You know, I don't pay any attention to that conspiracy theories sort of Thought process I really -- what I like to do is focus on the reason we care about how daddy died, was because of what he did in his life. So I care about all of those days leading up to June 4th and not so much about what happen that night. I think you know, he was a man who had this extraordinary moral imagination who cared deeply, who sought to bring our country together at a time of division and sought a more just and peaceful world.

TAPPER: One other thing about your dad that have always fascinated me is you could see him grow throughout his time in public life starting when he was a Senate staffer towards the last days of his life when he was out there on the campaign trail getting mad at staffers who thought he was wasting his time when he went to Appalachia. Thank you so much for being here. I really appreciate it on this very, very important anniversary. The book is Robert F. Kennedy ripples of hope.

KENNEDY: Thanks.

TAPPER: Be sure to follow me on Facebook and Twitter @JAKETAPPER or you can tweet the show @THELEADCNN. We actually read them. Stay tuned. Right next is going to be Wolf Blitzer, he's next door in "THE SITUATION ROOM."