tv The Lead With Jake Tapper CNN March 16, 2016 1:00pm-2:01pm PDT
one. >> when allison followed up and asked if his brothers would endorse ted cruz, he said he does not speak for either of them. i'm brooke baldwin. thank you for being with me. see you at the same place tomorrow. "the lead with jake tapper" starts right now. thanks, brooke. was hoping president obama would go full frank underwood and nominate donald trump to the bench. "the lead" starts now. battle lines being drawn. president obama makes his pick for the supreme court and senate republicans say that is about as far as he's going to get. donald trump now predicting a riot if he does not get the republican nomination, even if he does not secure enough delegates. is it time for the republican party to go from denial to acceptance after another super tuesday trouncing? plus -- [ barking ] >> if anyone had a bigger night than donald trump, it's hillary
clinton. trump today answering her with a new and interesting attack suggesting that she's the candidate who's the punch line. good afternoon, everyone, welcome to "the lead." i'm jake tapper. we'll begin with our politics lead and what could be a monumental shift on the u.s. supreme court. president obama nominating 63-year-old merrick garland to fill the vague aens left by the passing left my antonin scalia. he currently serves as chief judge for the u.s. court of appeals here in our nation's capital. almost every republican in the senate is refusing to even consider any obama nominee. let's get right to cnn justice correspondent pamela brown live at the supreme court. pamela, the president was under pressure to pick somebody who could really rally democrats and get them to the polls in november, but he went with a fairly establishment consensus
pick it looks like. >> reporter: yeah, that's right. with this pick president obama is sending a message that it's really about his legacy and not the election and that merrick garland gives him his best chance of putting a third justice on the high court. >> today i am nominating chief judge merrick brian garland to join the supreme court. >> reporter: president obama today made his case for 63-year-old merrick garland, chief judge for the d.c. appeals court. >> i've selected a nominee who is widely recognized not only as one of america's sharpest legal minds, but someone who brings to his work a spirit of decency, modesty, integrity, even-handedness and excellence. >> reporter: an emotional judge garland with his family looking on introduced himself to the nation. >> thank you, mr. president. this is the greatest honor of my life. other than lynn agreeing to marry me 28 years ago.
>> reporter: the white house touts judge garland has having more federal judicial experience than any nominee in history, serving nearly two decades on the bench. before that he prosecuted timothy mcveigh in the oklahoma city bombing case. >> a ryder truck was seen there. >> reporter: the president considers the chicago native and harvard law graduate a consensus nominee. he was appointed to the d.c. appeals court by president bill clinton in 1997 and confirmed by a 76-23 senate vote with bipartisan supporters, including republican orrin hatch. >> based solely on his qualifications, i support the nomination of mr. garland and i encourage my colleagues to do the same. >> reporter: the ball now is in the republicans court, and they vow judge garland will not get a hearing. >> it is the senate's constitutional right to act as a check on a president and withhold its consent. >> reporter: but democrats aren't backing down. >> if merrick garland can't get bipartisan support, nobody can.
>> reporter: for garland, this day is especially poignant, having been passed over twice before for a seat on the high court. >> mr. president, it's a great privilege to be nominated by a fellow chicagoan. i am grateful beyond words for the honor you have bestowed upon me. >> reporter: it's unusual for a president to nominate someone in their 60s to the high court, but for garland this was seen as his last shot and perhaps he has less to lose compared to a younger nominee. also part of the calculation, jake, could be that it's an easier pill for republicans to swallow having someone older rather than someone younger, who of course would serve on the high court for a longer time. jake. >> pamela brown, thank you so much. joining me now from the white house is valerie jarrett, senior advisor to president obama. valerie, thanks so much for being here. good to see you again. >> my pleasure, jake. good afternoon to you. >> so republicans say they're not going to hold a hearing on this nomination. as far as you are convinced that
you're on the correct side of this and judge garland is fully qualified, how is this not an exercise in futility? >> oh, it's not at all that. we're very confident that two-thirds of the american people support the president's nominee having an opportunity for a hearing. it's what's fair. chief judge garland has outstanding credentials, he's a consensus builder, he's a true public servant who has given to his country. by every metric he is absolutely qualified. and by the republicans own words, they have supported him in the past. so our job is to prepare the president. he's made his decision, he's selected an extraordinary nominee and so now we expect that the senate will do theirs. so the american people's voices will be heard and we've seen a lot of energy and excitement around the country for the president's nominee. we expect that will continue. >> well, i hear what you're saying, that the polls are with you and judge garland is qualified, but i still don't
understand how this isn't an exercise in futility. how are you going to change the minds of mitch mcconnell and senate republicans? they're saying no way and most of them are saying they won't even meet with him. >> well, we're hoping that will change. we're hoping today now that the nominee's name is out there, it's not just theoretical but it's somebody who many of them have supported in the past. someone whose record is unasalable that that will change their minds. they're going home for recess. i think they'll hear from a lot of their constituents when they go back home about how important it is to be fair and give the nominee a chance and we expect that their minds will change. >> republicans say president obama previously played politics with supreme court nominees put forth by president george w. bush by filibustering. now justice samuel alito voting to do so anyway and justice john roberts. both of them quite qualified. some say why should senate republicans act any less
politically than then senator obama did? >> the fact of the matter is that justice roberts is on the court today. the last time we were in an election year under president reagan, the chief justice was already there. we know that during reagan's election year 93-0 the nominee was approved. this is a time when vice president biden was chairman of the judiciary committee. and we were able to move forward. so we've done this in an election year before. there's no reason why we can't do it now. >> on the senate floor, majority leader mitch mcconnell invoked what he called the biden rule as previous precedent. you talked about when senator biden was chairman of the judiciary committee. take a listen to what then senator biden, chairman of the judiciary committee in 1982, argued about how president george h.w. bush should not name a nominee. listen. >> it would be our pragmatic conclusion that once the political season is under way,
and it is, action on a supreme court nomination must be put off until after the election campaign is over. that is what is fair to the nominee and essential to the process. >> isn't that just the republican position today? >> the fact of the matter is justice kennedy was approved under chairman biden 93-0 when the democrats controlled the senate and when a republican president in an election year nominated him. so the track record, regardless of phrases being taken out of context, is clear. there is no precedent for not moving forward in an election year and they need to do it. again, jake, i'd remind you that the american people support this effort. two-thirds of them are behind it. they think it's only fair for the republicans who say, well, the american people should speak. well, they did when they elected president obama three years ago. he still has another several months left on his term. this is well within his
constitutional authority. it is his constitutional responsibility just as it is theirs to advise and consent and hold a hearing. so those are the points that we're going to be making. as i said again, this is where the american people are and what we're hoping is that the republicans will follow suit. >> mbefore you go, did you vote absentee ballot in illinois? >> it's interesting you would mention that. i'm no longer an illinois resident, i'm a d.c. resident. i wish i could have voted absentee in illinois. >> i was going to ask you who you voted for but i guess you haven't voted yet. >> that's private. >> valerie jarrett, thank you so much. the future of president obama's nominee to the supreme court lies with the senate judiciary committee. republicans say they will not hold a hearing but could public pressure change their minds? we'll ask a republican and democratic member of the senate judiciary committee coming up next. ♪
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majority leader said he didn't want to waste garland's time with unnecessary political routines orchestrated by the white house, unquote. since there will not be a vote, mcconnell wished garland well. democrats, however, your lining up behind president obama's supreme court pick. senator charles schumer of the senate judiciary committee joins me now. senator, thanks so much for being on. appreciate it. >> glad to be with you, jake. >> some democrats wanted president obama to pick a nominee who might do a better job of firing up the liberal base for the election, hoping to turn out voters. merrick garland seems, while very qualified, a more cautious consensus kind of choice. you know how to get voters fired up. do you wish president obama had picked somebody who might excite democratic voters more? >> no,
i'm very happy with this choice. i think democratic voters are excited. they think he's a mainstream justice, there's no question about it, a judge above all. but i think what people are seeing is that someone who is so qualified and such a judge above
all, not very political, is the kind who will get republicans to crack. today we saw five or six republicans who in the past had said they wouldn't even sit down and see judge garland will now sit down and see him. that's just the beginning. with such a qualified man with the american people overwhelmingly of the view that there ought to be a hearing and a vote, if people vote no after that so be it, i think that it's been a very, very strong
day for this choice. i would say there are going to be many more republicans who will not do what senator mcdonnell did, who think it's the wrong thing to do and who will sit down with judge garland. >> so, senator schumer, in 2007 this is what you had to say about a possible vacancy for president bush's supreme court. take a listen. >> given the track record of this president and the experience of aub fusscation at hearings, with respect to the supreme court at least, i will recommend to my colleagues that
we should not confirm any bush nominee to the supreme court except in extraordinary circumstances. >> the key word there, jake, is confirm. no one is saying the republicans shouldn't vote no if they don't like him, but they should hear him. i don't know of a democrat who recommended not sitting down and talking to the judge, not having a hearing. we've all voted no in the past. i have, mcconnell has, many have. that is not the issue. the issue is that the constitution says the congress shall advise and consent and these hearings are sort of magical things. when the american people see who the judge is and in this case i'm pretty confident they'll be overwhelming saying confirm him. let's not forget the last four justices, two nominated by a republican president, two by a kem contract president, have gotten on the bench. >> hillary clinton won at least
four states last night, possibly five. she leads senator sanders in the delegate count. the math will be very difficult for senator sanders. do you think it's time for him to suspend his campaign? >> look, i think bernie is doing what he believes in. he's trying to arouse the electorate and at the end of the day i think it's a good thing for democrats. i think hillary will be the nominee, i think she'll win. but i think bernie will work hard to bring the people devoted to him on board. i'll say one other thing. the fact that trump won by so much last night also hurts the republican cause on the supreme court. now the american people are faced with two choices, someone nominated by president trump or judge garland. the choice of a trump nominee in the republican strategy isn't a very good one, so i think it's going to push people to tell their senators, let's see who this guy is. >> i suppose hillary clinton or bernie sanders could nominate someone as well. >> well, they could if they win, but the republican strategy has
been don't do garland, let's let the election decide. now that the american people see that trump might be the decider if republicans win, that strategy loses a lot of wind. a lot of strength. >> i see what you're saying. senator chuck schumer, thank
you so much. don't be a stranger, sir. >> thanks, jake. coming up we'll talk to republican senator orrin hatch who is also on the senate judiciary committee. but first, he says he's going to unify the republican party, but then donald trump warned this could happen if he doesn't end up getting the nomination and he has the most delegates. >> i don't think you can say that we don't get it automatically. i think it would be -- i think you'd have riots. plus hillary clinton trying to push ahead to the general election, but is she really ready for attacks from donald trump?
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welcome back to "the lead." let's turn to our politics lead now. donald trump today warning that if the republican race goes all the way to the convention and he does not have the magic number of delegates needed to secure the nomination but he's strongly in the lead and he doesn't get the nomination, well, trump says his supporters might riot. cnn correspondent phil mattingly joins me now live in villa nova in the commonwealth of pennsylvania where governor john kasich spoke earlier today. phil, did kasich's team have any reaction to trump's comments? >> reporter: one kasich advisor i spoke with said he just shook his head in grim disbelief when he heard those remarks from donald trump. look, the reality for kasich's team is this. those inflammatory remarks provide an opportunity for john kasich to continue his pitch that he is the adult in the
room, a pitch that will not get the biggest audience that he could possibly get in primetime just next week because of another decision donald trump made. the next gop debate no more. fox news scrapping next week's debate after donald trump pledged not to come. >> how many times can the same people ask you the same question. so i was very surprised when i heard that fox called for a debate. nobody told me about it and i won't be there, no. >> reporter: john kasich also balking at the trumpless event. that decision coming on the heels of another huge super tuesday showing for trump. >> thank you. >> reporter: calling for the republican party to coalesce behind him. even as his path to the nomination remains complicated. >> the fact is we have to bring our party together. we have to bring it together. we have something happening that actually makes the republican party probably the biggest political story anywhere in the world. >> reporter: the gop front-runner today issuing a
stark warning if he keeps his sizeable delegate lead and republican leaders turn to a different nominee. >> if we're a hundred short and we're at 1100 and somebody else is at 500 or 400, because we're way ahead of everybody, i don't think you can say that we don't get it automatically. i think you'd have riots. >> reporter: just days after his rivals criticized him for encouraging violence at his rallies. his dominant victory in florida, the final crushing blow to marco rubio's once promising campaign. >> the fact that i've even come this far is evidence of how special america truly is. >> reporter: the florida senator leaving the race with a clear message for republican voters. >> america needs a vibrant conservative movement, but one that's built on principles and on ideas. not on fear, not on anger, not on preying on people's frustrations. >> reporter: trump's only setback tuesday night coming in ohio, where home state governor kasich picked up a convincing win, his first of the campaign. >> we are going to go all the way to cleveland and secure the
republican nomination. >> reporter: kasich hitting the trail today in pennsylvania. >> for the first time people are actually beginning to see my name, my face and hear my message. >> reporter: ted cruz pulling in more delegates and holding on to a clear second place position, dismissing kasich's claim that the gop fight is still a three-man race. >> only two campaigns have a plausible path to the nomination, ours and donald trump's. nobody else has any mathematical possibility whatsoever. >> reporter: and pitching a renewed push for party leaders to unite behind his campaign and take out trump. >> we're seeing republicans unite behind our campaign because we're the only campaign that is beating donald trump over and over and over again and we're the only campaign that can and will beat donald trump. >> reporter: now, jake, for all the attention and money behind that stop trump movement, at least mathematically right now the only obvious conclusion gop
aides are coming to how they beat donald trump might be a contested convention. obviously that was what was donald trump was warning about. no matter what direction this heads, we have a long slog ahead of us as long as there are three candidates in this race. >> donald trump says this party will go through a healing process and rally around him but that does not yet seem to be happening. here to talk about it is sara huckabee sanders. sara, thanks for joining me. good to see you. >> great to see you. thanks for having me on, jake. >> mr. trump said, quote, i think you'd have riots if the race goes to the convention. he's in the lead but he doesn't get the nomination. to a lot of observers, that sounds like a threat. >> you know, i don't think donald trump's inciting riots by any means. i think the only thing he's asking for is a free and fair election. i don't think there's any doubt at this point right now if things continue on the trajectory that we're on that
donald trump will have all of the votes necessary and hit the magic number of 1237 before the convention takes place. >> he certainly could hit that magic number, and we've extrapolated it and he might get it in early june. but i guess the question is why invoke riots, especially so soon after so many of your fellow republicans were criticizing mr. trump for, in their view, encouraging violence at his rallies? >> again, i don't think that donald trump is inciting riots or encouraging them. the only thing that he's encouraging is a free election. of course his opponents and people in the republican establishment are coming after him. they have thrown everything they can at him. millions and millions of dollars in negative tv ads and nothing is working. they're looking for any dirty tactic and trick and attack that they can come up with to come after him on. that's the best they have got and frank low it's not working.
the more they come after him, the more and more americans come out and vote for donald trump. i think that's why he's going to be the clear victor and the nominee moving into the convention ahead of its taking place. >> one of the ways that mr. trump's opponents are coming after him are they're pooling money and spoerformed an anti-t super pac. it's running an ad quoting donald trump with some of the things he said about women, with women actors reading the lines. >> a person who is very flat chested is very hard to be a 10. >> i'd look her right in na fat ugly face of hers. >> look at that face, would everyone vote for that? >> sarah, i've known you and your family for almost a decade and i cannot imagine that you would approve of those comments about women. >> you know, i think the bigger thing is that women are voting for donald trump. he's not just winning with women, he's winning with evangelicals and across the board. he's breaking barriers in republican politics.
and again, i think that people are looking for any sort of little thing that they can twist and turn and come at him. i'm a female, i'm a mother, i have a daughter and i'm su pouring donald trump like many other and thousands of other women out there across the country that are supporting him. i think that people are looking for someone that will break up the washington to wall street access of power and isn't a wholly owned subsidiary of the d.c. establishment. he's the only candidate left in the race that does that. >> mr. trump has said he would release his tax returns but he hasn't. when will he? >> you know, i think he's been extremely clear on this issue. he's under an add it and as soon as that's completed, he'll release his tax returns. there have been quite a few people that have come out and said that there's no reason he should do that while he's in the middle of an audit and have plenty of people picking through. as soon as that's completed, he'll follow through on his word and we'll see those tax returns released. >> but he could release previous
years' tax returns. that's what mitt romney did earlier than now at this point in 2012. >> again, i think that he will release those, you know, as things progress and certainly by the time he becomes the nominee. >> sarah huckabee sanders, thank you so much. appreciate your time. >> thanks, jake. hillary clinton cleaning up in a big way last night. now her campaign says bernie sanders is, quote, without a clear path to catching up. so is it time to break out the broomsticks for bernie? we'll do the math, next.
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she'll win missouri too when that final vote tally is official. though bernie sanders picked up lots of delegates, clinton's campaign manager says sanders has no clear path to catching up. ben jones is here, former policy director for hillary clinton's 2008 campaign, and amanda carpenter and republican strategist ana navarro. ben, let me start with you. do you agree with clinton's campaign manager who says sanders is without a clear path to catching up? they're pressuring him in ra wa vaguey to drop out. >> he should not drop out. there are people who feel that passion and love his message. i think it's good for the party to keep this going. he's made hillary clinton better and he's made the party better. if you look at the math, the math unfortunately is not partisan and the math says you've got to win 55-45 or 60-40
every contest going forward. is it possible? it is possible, but that is very, very difficult. >> and hillary clinton taking more of a general election message when she speaks. she did that before michigan and it kind of backfired on her. do you think that she needs to focus still on bernie sanders and less on donald trump and the republicans or is she doing what she needs to be doing? >> i think she should definitely be focusing on both. democrats are really concerned about donald trump and the kind of rhetoric, hate-filled rhetoric he has so she's speaking to democrats when she gives a very strong rebuttal to the kind of campaign and politics he's doing. but at the same time the issues that senator sanders had raised are really important issues not only in the primary but in the general electric and she has to address those issues as well. >> donald trump posted a video on instagram or social media targeting hillary clinton, painting her as a punch line. take a look.
[ barking ] >> we don't need to be a punch line, it says. it's interesting, a little karl rove jiu jitsu going after your opponent for might be your biggest weakness. do you think it will work? >> donald trump, if he wants to start taking on hillary clinton now, i think it starts to scare people in some respect and this is why. if it's a trump versus hillary clinton race, it will only come down to which side hates the other side more. it will be the most bitter, angriest election we've ever seen which might be appropriate for the year of the angry voter. but i think that's hard to envision. i think that's hard to go through november and should be part of the argument of stopping donald trump at the convention. >> ana, what did you think of the video? >> look, i think here we go again. donald trump dominating the media cycle. he is a brilliant, brilliant master of how to do that.
i think he's turning it on hillary clinton. he's trying now to portray himself as the presumptive nominee and going after who he thinks is going to be his opponent in a general election. but i think it's a little bit of -- a little premature. certainly this is red meat for the base. his folks are going to love it. it is amusing, it is somewhat funny. let's see, you know, how he goes from here, though. >> go ahead. >> here's the thing, he wants to pretend he's the presumptive nominee. i'm not doing debates anymore. he cancelled on fox news, that is over and now he wants to pivot to the general election and say picture me versus hillary, forgetting about the whole convention thing. >> i want you to listen to something secretary clinton said sunday night when she was asked how she would devote trump in a general election. let's play that clip. >> i'm not going to spill the beans right now. but suffice it to say, there are many arguments that we can use against him. >> do you have any idea what she's talking about, what the
arguments are? nobody has found a silver bullet against donald trump yet. that's just a metaphor, people, not violent imagery. the only way you can defeat a werewolf. so how can you defeat donald trump? he seems unbeatable, by the republicans at least. >> the republican electorate is very different from the independents and democrats from the country. you see that in the general electorate polling. it's not like he's doing very well against hillary or anyone else. so a lot of people are already turned off by donald trump. lots of women who voted for mitt romney are already turned off by donald trump. so i think one of the reasons why other republicans want to have -- to stop trump because he's such a weak general election candidate. >> i've been turned off by donald trump from day one but this is what i have learned in the last nine months. do not underestimate donald trump, do not overestimate hillary clinton. >> i totally agree never to underestimate him. absolutely, don't underestimate him. but republicans have not been able to take him on.
i think hillary will be different. >> van, in florida, media trackers say campaigns and super pacs spent at least $16.5 million on anti-trump advertising. he won by 19, shellacking the home state senator, marco rubio. you are worried as a democrat about what donald trump might be able to do in november? >> this is trumpzilla. this guy is just crunching through the village, stepping on villagers who used to be called governors and senators, and this is bad, okay. and you have liberals who have been like ha, ha, ha, he can't win a general election. ha, ha, ha. i think the laughing needs to stop and i think people need to figure out what you could do to stop this guy because i think he could beat hillary clinton. >> and the big challenge is that he rewrites the map and rewrites all the rules. ted cruz thought he would get all the evangelical voters. donald trump said no. if donald trump is the nominee, he will get a lot of the lower income white working class voters that used to be reagan
democrats, union workers. so this will challenge all conventional wisdom if it does come down to that. >> ana, i want to ask you before we go. you were friends with marco rubio. believe it or not it was only last night when he dropped out of the race. what's he going to do now? he's not running for re-election for his senate seat. >> he could have chosen to run for re-election. he could have gotten the legislature to change it. i remember marco telling me i'm not going to be a lifer in the senate. i think marco is going to discover that there is life after politics. he's got a very strong, loving family and he's got a lot of faith in god. losing an election is hard. it's hard as hell. it hurts, it's bruising. i think you're going to see an optimistic marco come out of this a stronger marco. i was very glad that he went back to the decent guy that i've known always at the end of this campaign. i was even more glad to see that he withdrew the challenge
against john kasich today in pennsylvania, the ballot challenge. i think it was an important signal of unity. and i think, you know, he had a very classy exit last night. >> thanks to our panel, great job. republican senator orrin hatch did not seem to have a problem with judge merrick garland in 1997. >> to my knowledge no one, absolutely no one disputes the following. merrick garland is high low qualified to sit on the d.c. circuit. his intelligence and his scholarship cannot be questioned. >> what does hatch have to say now that garland is up for the highest court in the land? we will ask him, next. see me. see me. don't stare at me. see me. see me. see me to know that psoriasis is just something that i have. i'm not contagious. see me to know that... ...i won't stop until i find what works. discover cosentyx, a different kind of medicine for moderate to severe plaque psoriasis. proven to help the majority of people
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welcome back to "the lead." let's turn to our world lead now. after starting to withdraw its troops from syria, russia now insists that it will keep hitting terrorist targets from the air. moscow's campaign is part of putin's effort to prop up the regime against the rebel forces. clarissa ward is one of the only western journalists to travel to parts to rebel-held syria in the past year. she recently returned from the
front lines. clarissa, welcome back. you've done some incredible reporting. what was it like traveling in syria? >> well, jake, it was incredibly tough. this is a trip that took six months to plan because it is so dangerous. there is a strong jihadist presence in the areas that we were moving through, so we had to wear always the hijab but also a facial veil. we were there for less than 24 hours before we saw our first air strikes. we were filming the devastation in a small town and suddenly we heard the noise of fighter jets overhead. i have to tell you, jake, when you hear that noise, you just get a pit in your stomach because you know what's coming afterwards but you don't know where it's going to land. in this case the strike hit a fruit market. a fruit market that was full of civilians. our cameras on the scene captured the absolute carnage and chaos in the aftermath of that. we saw a woman killed. we saw a young boy brought into
hospital with serious injuries. he later died. and it's just horrifying. it really gave you a sense of what it has been to live under this relentless regime and russian bombardment which to people on the ground feels very much like a war on everyday life, jake. >> clarissa, you spoke with a doctor and asked him why he doesn't just leave syria. what did he tell you? >> well, hospitals have been real targets in this war. this doctor is now working in the only hospital that is still operating in the city. so we asked him why do you stay? you have a medical degree, you have the means, you could easily leave, you could go to turkey. he was incredibly moving in his response. take a listen. >> translator: if i did that, i would abandon my conscience. this is our country, we can't
desert it. if we left, then we have sold our morals. who would treat the people? i can very easily leave, but we will remain steadfast. i am prepared to die rather than to leave. i will carry on, no matter what. >> you know, we use the word "heroes" sometimes, jake, but these really are the true heroes of the war in syria, the civilians who are braving the bombardment to keep on going, to keep trying to create some semblance of normal life. obviously people like the doctor are optimistic and hopeful that this russian withdrawal will have a positive impact, but they're also very skeptical and they look at what's happening in geneva and the peace talks that are going on there and negotiations and they don't feel that their needs are being represented. they don't feel that their voice is being heard. they believe very strongly that any negotiation that doesn't
have in it that president bashar al assad must leave is destined for failure ultimately, jake. >> so sad, so tragic. great reporting, clarissa, thank you so much. you can see the rest of the clarissa's ongoing undercover series tomorrow and friday right here on cnn. for even more content, visit cnn.com/syria. clarissa ward, thanks again so much for your incredible work. coming up, he supported judge merrick garland 19 years ago but now republican senator orrin hatch says garland should not get a senate hearing for the u.s. supreme court. we're going to ask the senator what's changed, coming up. [eerie music] i am the ghost of cookies' past...residue. oh...so gross. well, you didn't use pam. so it looks like you're stuwith me! bargain brand cooking spray leaves annoying residue.
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hey, jesse. who are you? i'm vern, the orange money retirement rabbit from voya. orange money represents the money you put away for retirement. over time, your money could multiply. hello, all of you. get organized at voya.com. welcome back to "the lead." our national lead now, the department of veterans affairs is trying to fire three top executives at the scandalized phoenix va. this comes after cnn broke the national scandal in 2014 that 40 veterans died while waiting for appointments in phoenix. many had been placed on a secret
waiting list designed to hide the fact that as many as 1600 veterans were forced to wait months before seeing a doctor. they may fight their removals under a federal appeals process which means it could take more than 700 days to fully fire them. turning back to president obama's supreme court nomination, i'm joined by republican senator orrin hatch of the judiciary committee. senator hatch, good to see you. thanks for joining us. >> thank you. nice to be with you. >> senator, i want to read you back something you told news max on friday. quote, obama could easily name merrick garland, who is a fine man. he probably won't do that because this appointment is about the election so i'm pretty sure he'll name someone the liberal democratic base wants. so theoretically you must be thrilled, president obama followed your suggestion. >> it isn't a question of who he's appointed, it's a question of whether you could bring that up during this caustic, toxic presidential election process. it's something that hasn't been
done before except in the case of -- in the last 75 years except in the case of justice kennedy, who after a long ordeal of democrats going right down the line, everybody was happy to get that over with. >> so when was the cutoff? you're saying this is because this is in the middle of a toxic election year. if this vacancy had emerged last november instead of last month, would it then have been okay to try to fill the seat? >> it probably would have. now to make a long story short, joe biden when he was chairman of the committee said in 1992 a year before, he said you should not -- that bush should not be able to bring up a president -- or the president shouldn't be able to bring up a supreme court justice during a presidential year. harry reid has said that. you know, senator leahy, who was chairman of the committee, has said that. the fact of the matter is they're right. this is not the environment to bring up a supreme court justice. we've seen the toxicity that
comes from supreme court justices. now, can you imagine bringing one up in the middle of this? i'd rather have it put over. it's fair to both sides. whoever wins is going to be able to appoint the justice. frankly, yes, the president has the absolute right to recommend and to submit who he wants. but the senate has an absolute right to determine when that should be brought up and i think almost all republicans agree that should be brought up after the election. >> senator -- >> to avoid the politics. >> senator, in 2010 you actually specifically addressed the possibility that president obama would nominate judge garland. you said there was no question that he would win confirmation with bipartisan support. >> and he did. as a matter of fact, i led that fight for him. he's a fine man. i have no problem with liking the judge. i mean he's a good judge. now, i haven't looked at his decisions for 19 years and we're
not talking about a circuit court after peels judgeship. we're talking about the highest court in the land, it's the court of final appeal in this country. so it's a much more serious thing. i can quote you democrat after democrat who when republicans were in control said you can't do this. so now that the ox is gored, they of course would like to be able to run right over you and the republicans aren't going to let them do that. >> of course theoretically if hillary clinton gets the nomination and wins in november, you might end up with a much younger and much more liberal supreme court nominee in front of your committee. >> well, that's a risk that you take. on the other hand, do we want the process to be right? do we want it to be a sophisticated, good process with a minimum of politics involved or do we want to just throw it into this cauldron that's called the presidential election right now. i think we ought to -- we ought to salute the supreme court and show the kind of -- the kind of support for the court that it
deserves and that is keep it out of the political arena as much as you can. right now the political arena is toxic, difficult, and terrible to bring this nominee up at this time and it hasn't been done before and frankly it shouldn't be done now. >> senator orrin hatch, thank you so much. that's it for "the lead." turning you over to wolf blitzer in the situation room. thanks for watching. happening now. dead on arrival, president obama names a respected federal judge to fill the supreme court vacancy. senate republicans have praised him in the past, so why are they vowing to block the nominee? unstoppable. donald trump puts more stakes in the win column and knocks a key rival out of the race, but another rival scores a home field victory. is that more than just a speed bump on the road to the nomination? riot warning. donald trump says there will be riots at the republican convention if he even has close to a majority of