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SMERCONISH

Is Trump Using Buchanan's Playbook?; Barkley on Switching Political Teams; Political Fallout of Market Woes; Email Optics Hurting Hillary's Campaign; Donald Trump's Big Alabama Evening. Aired 6-7p ET

Aired August 22, 2015 - 18:00   ET

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


[18:00:06]

MICHAEL SMERCONISH, CNN HOST: I'm Michael Smerconish. Sweet home Alabama.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Wow, wow, wow! Unbelievable. Unbelievable!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SMERCONISH: Donald Trump unveiled his southern strategy last night by drawing tens of thousands to an Alabama football stadium. Mr. Trump showed the depth of his support. Is he channeling Pat Buchanana?

Plus, Charles Barkley will be here. Sir Charles unplugged. Maybe unplugged from the democratic party.

And mayhem in the financial markets. Wall Street's worst week in years. What is happening?

And could it affect the 2016 presidential race?

The Trump juggernaut headed south to deep red Alabama Friday night. The Donald drew thousands in a stadium that usually features Friday night football. It's just the latest sign that the GOP frontrunner has broad nationwide strength among Republicans. Many of whom respond to his message on immigration.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: The 14th amendment, I was right on it, you can do something with it and you can do something fast. You can do something fast. So we have 300,000 babies a year, 300,000 that you have to take care of, we all have to take care of, and you know in the case of other countries, including Mexico, they don't do that. It doesn't work that way.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SMERCONISH: Donald Trump has run a campaign like nothing we have seen before, or have we? Well, he's often been compared to flash in the pan frontrunners like Herman Cain or Michele Bachmann, maybe the real comparison should be to conservative lightning rod Pat Buchanan in 1992 and 1996. That's what "New York Magazine's" Jonathan Chaffe believes.

He tweeted "Trump isn't Cain or Bachmann redux, he's Pat Buchanan redux and that's bad." Perhaps the most obvious parallel to Trump is style like Buchanan's red meat speech at the 1992 GOP convention. Listen to the way that he described that year's democratic convention.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PAT BUCHANAN, FORMER WHITE HOUSE COMMUNICATIOS DIRECTOR: We're 20,000 liberals and radicals came dressed up as moderates and centrists in the greatest single exhibition of cross-dressing in American political history!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SMERCONISH: That was Pat Buchanan 23 years ago. It's funny, I remember exactly where I was when I watched that speech. And he joins me now. Hey, Patrick, thank you so much for being here. Is Trump taking a page out of your playbook?

BUCHANAN: I think he certainly is an outsider, an insurgent the way I was in 1992 and 1996, Michael. And he's also taken up the issue of illegal immigration and unfair trade deals that robbed this country of factories and jobs and investment. And he is really riding those issues extremely well. The difference is, Donald Trump is far, far ahead of where I was.

SMERCONISH: How so?

BUCHANAN: Well, in the polls he's running two to one ahead of the former frontrunners in the Republican party. The polls never had me that far ahead nationally. In 1992 I did well against President Bush but we never had the kind of massive enormous crowds that Donald Trump is getting or the enormous coverage he's receiving or the poll numbers he's got right now. Look, Donald Trump as of right now I think is pretty much the favorite for the Republican nomination in 2016.

SMERCONISH: I want to show you something that Jeb Bush said this week because the terminology that's being used in the immigration debate become a touch point.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFED MALE: Did you use the term anchor baby yesterday on the yesterday?

JEB BUSH PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: No I ddin't. I don't.

UNIDENTIFED MALE: You don't regret it?

BUSH: Do you have a better term?

UNIDENTIFED MALE: I'm asking you.

BUSH: You give me a better term and I'll use. Don't yell at me behind my ear, though.

UNIDENTIFED MALE: Sorry about that.

UNIDENTIFED MALE: The language, anchor baby is that bombastic?

BUSH: No, it isn't. Give me another word.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SMERCONISH: Patrick, what's the proper word choice?

BUCHANAN: Well, the word choice is anchor baby. What you mean by that is people come into the country in San Diego, California places like that, something like 22 percent of the babies. The illegals come in. They have their baby born in the United States, achieves automatic citizenship and entitlement to all these benefits which eventually is going to bankrupt the country if we don't stop it.

SMERCONISH: But it's regarded as a slur by Hispranic for no other reason. Is it not losing electoral strategy?

BUCHANAN: Michael, political correctness is killing this country. I think there's nothing demeaning about saying anchor baby because it anchors the family in the United States. It's a child of an illegal alien who broke into this country and broke the law. Nothing wrong with the baby at all -

[18:05:03]

SMERCONISH: I don't think they mean that it anchors the family.

BUCHANAN: It certainly does!

SMERCONISH: I think it means they dropped an anchor here just to have a baby. That's the way people interpret it.

BUCHANAN: That's not the way - look, that's not the way I interpret it. Let me say this, Michael, what you're doing, with due respect, is just why the people, excuse me, detest the media. He's got a valid point. It's a tremendous issue. People are upset by it and the media are saying, "why did you use those two words? Why didn't you get another two words?" What is the matter with this country given the crises we are in? People are running around asking if the verbiage is politically right or not.

SMERCONISH: Pat, respectfully, we have known each a long time. This is no liberal hit job I'm doing on you. The "Wall Street Journal" on Friday, a lead editorial, born in the USA said, hey what happened to republicans? Didn't they use to believe in exceptionalism? Yes, the 14th amendment is exceptional. Are they now ditching that?

BUCHANAN: Let me talk to that. First, "The Wall Street Journal" has been a horrible influence on the Republican Party on the issue of immigration. Secondly, you've got to get control of this, the borders in this country, deal with the policy and Donald Trump went out there, I think some parts of it are going to be tough to do but the part about stopping that, it isn't in the 14th amendment.

SMERCONISH: Patrick, let me crunch numbers with you, because Mitt Romney's pollster - Mitt Romney's pollster has pointed out that to win 50.1 percent of the vote in this cycle, the Republican candidate, if the trends stay the same, is going to need 64 percent of the white vote. Well, the problem is that Romney and McCain got 59 percent and 55 percent respectfully.

There aren't enough whites only to win a presidential race for the republican party if they don't expand the tent, they will be a party of controlling the House but not the White House.

BUCHANAN: All right, look, let's take Donald Trump. His appeal to Hispanics in America, even some African-Americans when Barack Obama is no longer on the ballot, is going to be whether he can deal with an economy which just saw a 500-point drop in the Dow on the last day of this week. These are the issues. He's up against Bernie Sanders and there's the possibility given Hillary's trouble, you don't think Donald Trump couldn't beat Bernie Sanders?

Given Hillary's problems, look at him now. I mean when a judge tells the FBI to start looking at her server and see if she's telling the truth, the lady is in real trouble, she's getting lawyered up. If she cracks and something happens to her and dies and losses her security clearance who steps in for the democratic party?

SMERCONISH: Patrick, Joe Biden, probably, right?

BUCHANAN: If he steps in and shoves Hillary aside, how do you think American women will react to Joe Biden?

SMERCONISH: Patrick, I want to play for you something that happened on my radio show on Friday. A truck driver from Texas called and here's a piece of our conversation. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFED MALE: Here's why he'll win, people, the wages are stagnant. One of the reasons why the wages are stagnant is because of illegal immigration. Big companies are going to pay lowwe wages for people that are not even citizens and they get away with it. The immigrants years ago, when they came in to this country they built their roads, their schools, their churches, their houses. They built the subways, they built the railroads and they obeyed the laws, they assimilated they learned the English language and they paid their taxes. Today, the immigrants come over here and as me "what have you got for me?"

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SMERCONISH: I thought that was the epitome of the Trump supporter, maybe the Buchanan supporter of all, the guy who believes that his wages are stagnant because of illegal immigration overlooking the impact of globalization and technological changes.

BUCHANAN: Look, you have 41.3 million people who have come into this country in the last I think 30 to 40 years who are immigrants now legal and illegal. Most of them are unskilled, many of them have no skills or semi-skilled or some of them skilled, don't tell me that doesn't depress wages of American workers.

Secondly, the trade deals that Donald Trump is hitting, what do you think about the first decade of the 21st century, 55,000 factories disappeared in the United States and six million manufacturing jobs. What we predicted has come to pass. One thing - look, I'm not saying Donald Trump is going to be the next president of the United States, but I do think there's a possibility he can. What is driving that is the anger of the American people and what has been done to them, what they have failed to do in the capital city.

SMERCONISH: But Pat, what I'm suggesting to you that that gentleman who was nice enough to call my radio program, his anger is misplaced. It's not the 11 million who are here illegally who are depressing his wages. It's all of these other factors that are at work.

BUCHANAN: You're telling me that 40 million people from countries all over the world, third world countries, haven't had anything to do with that? Are you telling me the export of our factories through these lousy trade deals -

SMERCONISH: I'm saying Tom Freeman has it right when he says the world is flat and the dynamics have changed. Here's a final thought, here's what makes me uncomfortable about this conversation and some of the things that my friend, Pat Buchanan, is saying.

These are the same things that could have been said about my Slovak ancestors in the 1920s by the WASPs.

[18:10:08]

BUCHANAN: Look, your Slovak ancestors, my Irish and German, Scott- Irish ancestors, they came here and after they all got here by 1925, Michael, we had a time-out of 40 years so we could assimilate and Americanize all the kids and grandkids of those people. So that by the Kennedy and Eisenhower years, we were one united America.

What we are becoming is what Theodore Roosevelt warned us about, said it would be the end of the country if we become a (polyglot) boardinghouse for the world. I don't want that, I don't think Donald Trump wants that, and I hope Michael Smerconish doesn't want that.

SMERCONISH: The next time you come here, don't hold back. Let us know what Pat Buchanan really thinks about the issue, OK?

BUCHANAN: I'm getting older. That's why I'm so reticent.

SMERCONISH: Thank you, Pat.

BUCHANAN: Thank you, my friend.

SMERCONISH: Next, Charles Barkley is an NBA legend. And when it comes to politics he is very much a free agent. He'll join me.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[18:15:00]

SMERCONISH: NBA hall of famer Charles Barkley is famous for not pulling his punches when he's talking sports. Now he's taking that candor to the political arena. Barkley, a life-long democrat says he's seriously considering defecting to the GOP. So whose team might he join?

Sir Charles is here right now. Charles, last night the Donald was in your native Alabama and drew a large crowd. What do you make of the Trump phenomenon?

CHARLES BARKLEY, NBA HALL OF FAMER: Well, I think it's - anytime the media is going to follow who is hot. He's got a great personality and he has great charisma, so that's going to be media-driven. There's nothing happening right now that surprises me.

SMERCONISH: He's a straight talker like Charles Barlkley, is there some appeal in what Trump is saying for you?

BARKLEY: Well, people - not for me. I like Donald. I've met him several times. He's always been cordial but I'm not on his ticket right now. I normally vote democratic but they don't really have a candidate to get my juices flowing.

There's only a couple of Democrats I would vote for and neither one of them are running. I like Elizabeth Warren. She says she's not going to run. Julian Castro, the mayor San Antonio. I think he'd make a fantastic president. He's a wonderful person. But right now I'm leaning towards Governor Kasich from Ohio. Just looking and listening to him on television and reading a couple of articles about him, he's the one who has got my attention right now. He's the frontrunner for me, for me.

SMERCONISH: You say that normally you look at the top of the Democratic ticket but nobody is getting your juices flowing. What's the issue with Hillary? Why isn't Hillary Clinton getting Charles Barkley's juices flowing for this campaign?

BARKLEY: Well, you know, she just doesn't have the "it" factor. First of all, I think she's a terrific lady and I wish her nothing but the best, but I don't really worry too much about the party. The only reason I have not been a big believer in the Republican Party in the past, I think they divide and conquer.

For the last x amount of years they have been using the abortion debate, now in the last few elections they have been using the gay marriage things and those things haven't been working. Now they are pulling out the other ace in the hole which is immigration. I think there's a disservice to Hispanics in this country to act like they are all here illegal and they're not law-abiding citizens.

I live in Arizona. Is there a problem with immigration? There probably is a problem with it, but to act like immigration is the biggest problem in this country I think it does a disservice to Hispanics.

SMERCONISH: So I'm hearing you say with regard to Secretary Clinton, you're just not feeling it. She's a good lady with a strong record but she's lacking some kind of pizazz that Charles Barkley is looking for.

BARKLEY: Listen, it's certain things, I don't like using the term Republican or Democrat or conservative or liberal. I want somebody who is going to inspire me to want to go out and campaign for them, talk to my friends about them. But right now I'm not getting that from the Democratic Party.

Right now, like I say, Governor Kasich from Ohio, just listen to him. He talks about being inclusive. Because what politics really are, there's a certain amount of people going to vote democratic, a certain amount of people are going to vote Republican. You got to try to manipulate a five to seven percent that go one way or the other. And the Republicans have always used negativity. Like I say, when there was gay marriage or abortion, now it's immigration. And that's the problem I've always had with the Republican Party.

SMERCONISH: I'm going to talk about Governor Kasich and the Republicans in one second, just one final question on the D's, what about Bernie Sanders? Or what if Joe Biden gets into this?

BARKLEY: Well, you know, Bernie Sanders has not inspired me yet, to be honest with you. No disrespect. And I say, I need somebody - I'm going to campaign with this guy, I'm going to tell my friends I like this guy. And that's no disrespect to Senator Clinton or Mr. Sanders. Joe Biden, he seems like a really nice man. He's a person that is - he's like my grandfather type, but I would be concerned about his age, to be honest with you.

SMERCONISH: So Kasich is a guy you're looking at. I take it you watched the debate and you saw something in the debate where you said "Hey, Kasich is the guy who has some star power."

BARKLEY: No, I saw him do a sit-down interview on CNN with Dana Bash and talked about being inclusive.

SMERCONISH: Right.

BARKELY: Because he talked about young black kids and giving them an opportunity. His idea of being a conservative is being inclusive. Most of the "conservatives" they prefer to attack and blame. It's always somebody else's fought why people aren't doing better. It's kind of like the black lives matter campaign. Black lives do matter but you can't go to a rally and scream. You have to come up with a game plan. Because the black, the Hispanic vote they are very powerful. And we have to band together with these candidates and come up with answers on how we can give more economic opportunities to blacks in the ghetto, to Hispanics in certain neighborhoods. They are using us as a scapegoat instead of us using the power that he had. We got to come together and use that power.

[18:20:16]

SMERCONISH: You've been critical of the GOP. Let me ask you this, does the democratic party take that minority vote for granted?

BARKLEY: They always have taken the minority vote for granted. That's 100 percent, that's a great question, Michael. They have not done enough for the poor people. Because, Michael, everybody sits around and want to make this about being a Democrat, being a Republican, being a liberal or conservative.

What America has become, the poor people get screwed by rich people. Poor people need more economic opportunity, they need better schools, they need better neighborhoods. That's what this thing is really about. It has nothing to do with political parties. It's rich people trying to keep their thing. I don't hate all rich people for being successful, but rich people in this country, myself included, myself included, we've got to do a much better job by helping poor white people, poor black people and Hispanics. They do a really good job of making Hispanics, black people and poor white people fight. If I could get those three groups together. You know, we're all in the same boat. They just make us fight with each other.

SMERCONISH: Final subject, let's talk about you. You got a lot of opinions, a lot of well-informed opinions, when are you getting off the bench and into this arena yourself? It's been talked about a lot in the past.

BARKLEY: You know, Michael, it has become silly. The reason I decided that I'm leaning towards not getting involved, just watching television every day, just getting two Republicans, two Democrats on television and they just disagree on every subject. It's got to the point where it's just silly. Why would I get involved in a field where somebody is going - I know going in, just because they are a Republican or I'm a Democrat, well, I'm a Republican and they are democrat. We are just going to disagree every single day. That's just silly to me.

SMERCONISH: Maybe you would get in because 43 percent of the country according to Gallup are not in the r's or the d's but are among the i's and they're just looking for leadership.

BARKLEY: Well, I think the biggest problem is, I think the political system has become so big, you can be an independent but Republicans and the Democrats they are so powerful, they have all sold their souls to special interest groups. I think you can be an independent but it really becomes irrelevant. You have to pick a team, that's the way it actually works. SMERCONISH: Sir Charles, thanks so much for being here.

BARKLEY: No, thank you for having me, Mike. Keep up the great work.

SMERCONISH: Thanks for that.

SMERCONISH: Just ahead, a smart lawyer, the former chief democratic counselor to the House Judiciary committee joins me to talk about Hillary's e-mails. I've got questions.

And Wall Street woes. The Dow ends the week with a huge drop. I want to talk to Christine Romans about what it all means. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[18:27:16]

SMERCONISH: It's been a very tough week on Wall Street. The worst sell-off since 2011. The Dow fell 531 points Friday, more than a thousand for the week. The S&P500 and NASDAQ dropped as well. Christine Romans is CNN's chief business correspondent. I watch you every morning with John Berman.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: You're up early.

SMERCONISH: Absolutely.

SMERCONISH: I'm a knucklehead when it comes to this stuff. It's August and it's hard for me to get people on the phone because so many are n vacation. Isn't it odd that this will take place in vacation season.

ROMANS: You know, August can be a typically volatile month. In part, because it is vacation season. That can make the big swings worse. This has been a long overdue thing, Michael. I mean, it's been since 2011 that we had a big, big pullback. So I would say don't panic, it's been long overdue and there are a lot of real reasons why the stocks fell.

SMERCONISH: What are they?

ROMANS: Well, you got China slowing. It's growth slowing pretty dramatically and there is even a lot of concerns that we don't know exactly how slow it is growing. There are a couple of numbers out of China that were discouraging and that hurts all the emerging markets who feed the Chinese, you know, economic miracle of the past 20 years and all the big multinational company who sell or derive revenue from China. So that hurts company earnings and the big money that are (INAUDIBLE) 401K. Oil, it crashed below $40 a barrel. That is great for consumers in this country who are going to pay $2 gas by fall.

SMERCONISH: $2.

ROMANS: I think you will pay $2 gas by Halloween, in many parts of the country, maybe not the Midwest like Chicago where there are some refinery issues, you got crashing oil prices and then you have interest rates that are rising soon. We don't know exactly when but interest rates in this country is going to rise. All those things together this week really gelled into a big, big market rally.

SMERCONISH: Christine, I'm a political animal. So when this occurs, what I think of is 2008, Lehman Brothers, it's the midst of the campaign, people forget McCain and Obama were neck and neck. That's when john McCain famously, erroneously said the fundamentals of the economy were strong and all of a sudden they parted company in the polls and McCain could never catch him. What now happens politically?

ROMANS: The fundamentals of the economy are strong, in the U.S. they are. Politically, I think you have the Republicans trying to figure out whether they should say something yet you're going to have low oil prices. We now that voters feel that economic indicator, more than anything else. So they're gas pries aren't hurting them. They are getting extra money.

Remember last time around the Republican candidates were promising $2.50 gas if you voted for the GOP? Well, Barack Obama is the president, two terms of a democrat and you are probably going to see $2 oil.

SMERCONISH: (INAUDIBLE) nothing to do with it, of course.

ROMANS: Of course. That could be correct. But remember those promises on the campaign trail for you know this thing that you feel every day might be a little overrated. But I think that jobs have been growing nicely over the past three years. And Republicans have - especially the elites in the Republican Party, they know that the jobs are coming back. They want to focus on the people who have been sidelined. And so you'll be hearing about the people who are not benefiting from the recovery in the job markets, that's where they'll keep their focus, on those disgruntled people who are working part-time but want to be working full-time.

[18:30:07] But when you look at all of those jobs numbers, while a slow recovery, they are getting better. So that poses difficulties when you're trying to have an economic platform for the Republicans.

SMERCONISH: I'm a big fan of Jack Bogle, Vanguard founder. Bogle famously says, and I've interviewed him so many times, and he said, don't even look at your monthly statement. If you bought into the total market mutual fund, if you own the totality of the stock market, forget about it until it's retirement time. But it's hard for people to panic.

So, tell everybody what they should be doing, if anything, in the face of this?

ROMANS: Don't just do something, stand there. It's a famous phrase on Wall Street, you know? Just -- you need to make sure you're balanced for when you retire, for how old you are with the risk. It's really important. If you are going to retire next year, you should not be 100 percent in stocks, and you probably aren't. But if you are a younger investor, your generation X, you're an early baby boomer, you love a stock market pull-back because you're going to buy stocks more cheaply.

I will just say anecdotally, all I've heard over the past two days, people asking me, should I be buying these stocks that have taken a dive? Some of the stocks like you know very well, like Apple and Disney --

SMERCONISH: Yes, what's the answer to that?

ROMANS: They are in a bear market right now. I haven't heard people say, should I sell my stock now, people are only saying, when do I step in and buy? And that's been kind of the hallmark of the last six years. It will be interesting to see if that happens starting next week. SMERCONISH: What great advice.

ROMANS: Welcome.

SMERCONISH: Continued efforts weekday mornings with Berman.

ROMANS: Thank you.

SMERCONISH: When we come back -- getting beyond the sound bytes on the Hillary Clinton e-mail controversy and talking facts. That's what I want to do.

And, he advised Donald Trump for decades. Roger Stone is called the master of the political dark arts. People say it is just his civic participation. I will ask him about the Donald's big Alabama evening.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[18:35:52] SMERCONISH: I've been paying close attention to the Hillary Clinton e-mail stories. It's complicated. This much I know -- the optics are hurting her campaign. I have specific questions and a well-credentialed attorney to whom I can direct them.

Julian Epstein is the former Democratic chief counsel of the House Judiciary Committee during Bill Clinton's impeachment hearings. He's also a close associate and legal advisor to the Clintons. And he joins me from Washington.

Mr. Epstein, during her tenure, did she produce from her private e- mail server any documents in response to Freedom of Information Act requests?

JULIAN EPSTEIN, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Good morning, Michael.

Well, there's a case in the courts right now where a number of parties are trying to get information relating to the Freedom of Information request laws. She will be providing the e-mails in accordance with the law.

The law with respect to Freedom of Information, there were regulations that were issued in 2009 that permitted Mrs. Clinton to be able to use private e-mails, even for official business. So, she was certainly complying with the law. Even if there are some that believe that officially e-mail would make it easier to comply with the Freedom for Information requests, the law requiring officials used only official e-mail addresses for official business, it wasn't passed until 2014.

So, I think she's perfectly in compliance with the Freedom of Information requests, although --

(CROSSTALK)

SMERCONISH: But I'm asking a slightly different question. I'm sure there are journalists out there who during her tenure made requests for her information. And if she alone, or individuals acting at her behest controlled that server, then she would have determined whether documents were produced. And it's a pretty straightforward question.

Were there productions of documents pertaining to FOIA requests that came from that server, or was it a barrier to media access?

EPSTEIN: I'm not familiar with all of the FOIA requests that were made while she was the secretary of state, but whether they were on her private e-mail or her public e-mail, or official e-mail, Michael, it doesn't really matter, she still has the ability as every other official in the executive branch to make determinations as to what are official e-mails and what are private e-mails. So, the mere virtue of the fact that she's using a private e-mail server doesn't really change what the substance of her response would be to a FOIA request.

SMERCONISH: Let me show you something that Michael Mukasey, a Republican, former member of the federal bench, former attorney general, wrote this week about this matter. He said, "It is a misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment for not more than a year, to keep documents or materials containing classified information at an unauthorized location. Note that it is the information that is protected. The issue does not turn on whether the document or materials bear a classified marking."

Did he get it right?

EPSTEIN: Well, kind of, he's not really giving you a full explanation.

The law requires in order for there to be a violation on the mishandling of classified information that you know something is classified and you then intentionally move it to an area that is unsecured, like an unsecured server. In this case, there's no indication whatsoever that any of the e-mails that Hillary Clinton received or sent while she was secretary of state were classified, even if there are now some kind of disputes between the different agencies as to whether some of them retroactively or in hindsight should be classified.

Certainly, when she received them or she sent any of the e-mails in question, none of them were marked classified. So, it's almost the topology that she could not intentionally move classified information to an unsecured location.

And if you look back at all of the cases kind of involving the prosecution of mishandling of classified information, you always have a very clear intent on one of the parties to move something that is known to be classified into an unclassified area.

[18:40:00] And this is the essential point. I mean, I think even her strongest advocates of which I am would concede the point that it was a mistake to use a private e-mail and private server exclusively for her public business.

But what her political opponents are trying to do is turn a mistake into a crime. And I think it is very, very farfetched to argue that this is a kind of a crime or scandal the way her political opponents want to. (CROSSTALK)

SMERCONISH: Let me speak to that. Let me speak to that.

We all remember very famously, I'll show the short clip, 1998, here's what Hillary Clinton had to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The great story here for anybody willing to find it and write before it, and explain it is this vast right wing conspiracy that's been conspiring against my husband since the day he announced for president.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SMERCONISH: Mr. Epstein, I believe there are individuals who are out there --

EPSTEIN: I lived through that.

SMERCONISH: -- I know you did, and that's why I'm glad you're here. I believed there are individuals out there lying in wait for her every single day. I'm not one of them.

EPSTEIN: Yes, I know you're not.

SMERCONISH: I think there are legitimate questions and concerns that have been raised here, and I frankly believe this issue is getting away from her, what it demands is a sit-down and complete explanation, instead of dealing with it like it's annoyance.

EPSTEIN: Well, as a political matter, I don't disagree, I think this has become a real problem for the campaign.

But I think you have to -- and I think political opponents are entitled to make the argument that it was bad judgment on the part of the secretary of state to exclusively use a private server. But there's a big difference between the argument that it was bad judgment on one hand and kind of having that be political grist, if you will, and on the other hand making the point that she violated the law and this is a bona fide scandal.

Let me just point out, Michael, that three of the last four secretaries of state, including Secretary Clinton, had exactly the policy she did, which was that she did not want to handle classified information over e-mails, she wanted to handle it on hard copy. Secondly, there's lots of reporting out there about public officials in the Obama administration and going back to the Bush administration, remember the Valerie Plame affair, remember the U.S. attorney scandal, where public officials were using private e-mail accounts, public official including those who had access to classified information were using private email accounts for public business.

The chairman of the Government Oversight Committee has his private Gmail account listed on his business card. So, this isn't to point fingers at others. This is to merely suggest that in the email age, there's a great deal of kind of confusion and lack of clarity, certainly until 2014 when the law was passed on this --

SMERCONISH: I think -- I think --

EPSTEIN: -- about the use of public and private e-mails.

SMERCONISH: I think that the sooner there's a full disclosure by her and explanation of why she went this route to begin with, and what exactly if anything, was kept out of public hands and FOIA requests, the better she'll be and the better we'll all be.

I wish I had more time. Mr. Epstein, thank you so much.

EPSTEIN: Michael, thanks for having me.

SMERCONISH: After the break, I will talk to top political strategist Robert Stone about his startling tweet that Jeb Bush is so weak, that even Mitt Romney is thinking about getting back in the race.

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DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I am going to be the greatest jobs president that God ever created. I will tell you that. I will tell you.

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[18:47:45] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now, listen people, this is a street fight for the presidency of the United States. I'm told they have a well-oiled operation just waiting to clobber us. I want our protesters down there in Palm Beach, Tallahassee and Miami. Call Roger Stone.

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SMERCONISH: That's from the 2008 HBO movie "Recount", about the 2000 election and the battle for electoral votes in Florida. The Bush family confidant James Baker's words, "get me Roger Stone", have been heard in political campaigns in decades. Some have called Stone a practitioner of the political dark arts.

His answer? He once told me, one man's dirty trick is another civic participation. Stone famously cut his teeth working for Richard Nixon. In fact, he now sports a tattoo of Nixon on his back.

He spent a lot of the last three decades working for Donald Trump. They announced a split two weeks ago, I'm not so sure.

Roger is back with me now, sporting a two-piece suit, looking mighty dapper. ROGER STONE, FORMER POLITICAL ADVISER TO DONALD TRUMP: Thank you.

The full Atticus Finch.

SMERCONISH: Yes, looks good on you.

So did Mr. Trump violate the first rule of advance last night in Alabama? Did he book a room that was too large?

Here's "The New York Times," that blazing headline says that Trump fails to fill the Alabama stadium.

STONE: That is so typically "The New York Times." It's like their headline, a nuclear bomb hits New York City, minorities particularly hard-hit.

There were 30,000 people in Alabama. The biggest crowd you have yet in the Republican contest, and he was on fire, just on fire. So I prefer to see the glass half full rather than half empty.

SMERCONISH: The entertainment value was priceless last night. Here's a cut that caught my eye and I thought had your thumbprint all over it. Roll that.

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DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I said it the other night. My second favorite book of all time. What's my first favorite book? The Bible, the Bible.

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And as much as I love "The Art of the Deal", it's not even close. We take the Bible all the way, right?

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SMERCONISH: Roger, come on, man. This is -- you're almost smiling at this. This is a guy who a few weeks ago said he eats the little cracker. Now, you've got him down there in Bible-thumping territory telling people he likes the Bible even more than "The Art of the Deal".

[18:50:02] STONE: Well, first of all, I don't have him anyplace. He has chosen to go --

SMERCONISH: Oh that's right. I forgot, you parted company.

STONE: Right.

He's chosen to go to Alabama, Baptist country. He knows his audience.

But think how much better we would be if John Kerry and Barack Obama had read "The Art of the Deal" before they opened negotiations in Iran.

SMERCONISH: This week marked a change in the campaign. Jeb Bush began I think to engage Mr. Trump in a way that he had not previously. Here is a tweet. I want to put it up on the screen. This is from Jeb Bush.

"His massive inconsistencies inside, @RealDonaldTrump's immigration plan is not conservative and does not reflect our nation's values."

Are they now about to go head to head?

STONE: Yes. Although it makes no sense for Jeb because all he's going to do by attacking Trump is help Trump galvanize the conservatives on the party, the non-Bush voters. It's interesting to me that among the other things that Bush has attacked Donald for is to say, well, he was a Democrat. He became a Democrat.

Yes, he did. He left the Republican Party to protest the policies of George W. Bush, massive spending, Medicare Part D, and a pointless war. So, he did leave the party, in protest of Bush policies.

SMERCONISH: I thought that the Jeb tweet and some of the things that he said were at odds with what Mike Murphy said. I think Murphy is a really smart guy. He runs the Jeb super PAC.

And he said to "The Washington Post" this week, "Trump is frankly other people's problem. We'd be happy to have a two way race with Trump in the end."

And I think what he was saying is, he's Cruz's problem, he's Carson's problem, he's Santorum's problem, because he's cutting in to their support, not ours.

STONE: Well, because they can potentially win all the same votes. But there is a pool of Bush voters and then there's pool of conservative voters which is much larger.

So, all they're really doing is elevating Trump by attacking him. Look, Jeb Bush is not the person to be talking about or something about conservative records. He's made money on Obama care, through Tenet Healthcare.

SMERCONISH: Wait, he's what?

STONE: He's made money on Obamacare --

SMERCONISH: OK.

STONE: -- through his association with Tenet Healthcare. He's made money on Obama phones, through his holdings in TracFone.

SMERCONISH: What are Obama phones? You're telling me something new now.

STONE: Obama phones are the phones that the federal government gives out. That contract is held by a company called TracFone which is partially owned by Carlos Slim and partially owned by Jeb Bush. Now, Jeb transferred his stock to his son just before he became a candidate, clever. But he's made money on Obamacare, Obama phones, and now, I think he

hopes to make money on Common Core.

SMERCONISH: OK, I don't know anything about that. I've not heard that in the past. But we'll have to look into that.

A Roger Stone classic Stone tweet from you this week. Let's put this on the screen, "With the weak performance of @JebBush, my sources tell me @mittromney is considering getting in."

Come on. This is Stone stuff. This is it the dark arts you're practicing here.

STONE: Not at all. Look, I have a very good rolodex when it comes to the Republican Party, confirmed by a "New York Times" reporter who, by the way, told me this morning that she hears the same thing.

So, I do think with Jeb's failure across the board, his underperformance and that paleo diet, get this guy a cheeseburger, he's got no energy. He's flat. There's no passion there. There's no can-do spirit. It's just un-ebullient. This is why Trump is zooming past him.

SMERCONISH: So what do you anticipate from Trump going into the September 16 CNN debate at the Reagan Library? Is it going to be continue to follow this playbook, which we talked about here last week?

STONE: There's no way of knowing, because no one puts word's in Trump's mouth. He's completely unscripted. He is unhandled. What you're going to see is the genuine Trump and it's that spontaneity that the voters are reacting to.

I'll suspect that he'll be aggressive, as he always is, but he's going to stick to his themes. Frankly, I'd like to see him take the lead on the Iran deal.

SMERCONISH: How so?

STONE: Well, he's the greatest negotiator and deal maker all time. Look at this deal. We're going to give them $150 billion? The inspectors can only be approved by Iranian intelligence service? This is an absurdity.

SMERCONISH: If we had more time, I'd ask you to take off the vest and show them the tattoo, but we don't.

STONE: Next time.

SMERCONISH: All right. Coming up -- thank you, Roger Stone.

Coming up in just a moment, some of your tweets.

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SMERCONISH: At the end of every program, I like to say you can follow me at Twitter if you can spell Smerconish, and many of you are. Thank you for the tweets.

So, Raina said, "Are you offended by the term "anchor man"?" That's funny.

Erica said, "Amen Pat", as in Pat Buchanan. "Smerconish, please stop telling us why we are angry and what words we can say."

Erica, the point I was trying to make to Pat Buchanan is that Hispanics regard anchor babies as a slur, and if for no other reason than smart electoral strategy, the GOP candidates ought to stop saying it because they can't win with the white vote alone. That was my point.

Sally says, "Charles Barkley is on CNN with Smerconish and I find myself agreeing with him. I don't know what to think about that."

I think you can think you are an independent thinker, Sally.

And then there's Adrienne. Adrienne says, relative to my interview pertaining to the Clinton e-mails, "Hillary has said why she used a private e-mail. It's dummies like you and others that choose not to accept her answer."

It's so funny, when the subject is immigration, like with Pat Buchanan, I'm perceived as a part of the liberal cabal. And when the subject is Hillary's emails, I'm perceived as a member of the conservative cabal. What I'm saying about Hillary is, she needs to tell the full story, she needs to get ahead of the curve if she can on this issue, do a sit-down and lay out everything from soup to nuts everything we want to know about the e-mail.

See you next week.