Return to Transcripts main page


New Details About Trump's Meeting with RNC Chief; New Video Shows Clinton in Tense Exchange with Activist; Sanders Protester: If Clinton Wins, We Lose; Trump Under Fire Over Nuke Plan As World Leaders Meet; Republicans Run Away from Trump. Aired 7-8p ET

Aired March 31, 2016 - 19:00   ET


[19:00:03] ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: Next, Donald Trump huddling with GOP leadership vowing to unite the party. New details tonight on what happened behind closed doors.

Plus, new video of Hillary Clinton losing her cool on the campaign trail today. Was she baited or is Bernie Sanders getting under her skin? We'll play up for you.

And Alabama's governor in a sex scandal caught on tape. Will he resign? Let's go OUTFRONT.

Good evening. I'm Erin Burnett. OUTFRONT tonight, Donald Trump holding high level meetings in Washington today. The frontrunner coming under increasing fire over his recent marks on abortion, his campaign manager's arrest, his attacks on Ted Cruz's wife. Trump under the radar today though. No public statements. Sources telling CNN that Trump and GOP leaders talked about convention rules and delegates. Something that could make or break his march to the nomination.

Here you see Donald Trump. This was today leaving that meeting with RNC leaders. Just a wave to the press. That's it. Thumbs up. But no comments. But a conciliatory tone on Twitter moments later where he tweeted just had a very nice meeting with Reince Priebus and the GOP. Looking forward to bringing party together and it will happen! Trump then met for hours with his national security team.

Jim Acosta is OUTFRONT tonight. And Jim, obviously, you know, everyone the past few days right, they all seem to back off the pledge of supporting the nominee. Donald Trump again saying not being treated fairly as a GOP. You know, a big threat there. What happened in that meeting, though?

JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Erin, you're right. Donald Trump was uncharacteristically quiet after that meeting at the RNC today. I did talk to a slew of GOP sources today who said that Trump's comments on abortion in the las$ 24 hours which created all that controversy were very damaging to his campaign. John Kasich went further today and said that comment along with Trump's remark that he won't rule out using nuclear weapons in Europe. Meant the real estate tycoon is not ready to be president of the United States.

That's very strong language coming from John Kasich. Now, did all of that come up during this RNC meeting? An RNC official told me that Trump and Reince Priebus, the chairman of the RNC had a productive meeting about the state of the race as they're saying. The convention also came up which suggest that there was discussion about what happens if Trump falls short of the magic number of 1237 delegates. As for that loyalty pledge that we've been talking about the last several days, Erin, all three candidates, as you know, have essentially buried it.

And at this point, all the RNC will say about that pledge is that they expect the party to rally around their nominee to take on Hillary Clinton in the fall. But the RNC did come up with something very clever late in the day just in the last several minutes. They blasted out an e-mail to their supporters, Erin. The subject line says "regarding meeting." And then inside that e-mail, if you open it up, it is a fundraising ploy. So, even with all these turmoil inside the GOP right now and inside the Trump campaign, they still have to make money.

BURNETT: And as Donald Trump would say, they're using him to do it. All right. Thank you very much, Jim Acosta.

ACOSTA: You're right.

BURNETT: Well, and he'll be right in that case. All right. A big day for Donald Trump though in Washington. We mentioned that meeting, but there were a long list of distractions for the campaign of course that he's dealing with. Under attack for his comments about abortion and other issues

Kyung Lah is OUTFRONT.


KYUNG LAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A firestorm raining down on Donald Trump after this abortion comment.

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST, "HARDBALL": Do you believe in punishment for abortion, yes or no, as a principle?

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The answer is that there has to be some form of punishment.

MATTHEWS: For the woman?

TRUMP: Yes, there has to be some form.

LAH: Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton immediately rolling out this web ad attacking Trump.

HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It was outrageous and dangerous.

LAH: A sentiment echoed from the other side of the aisle by Republican Ted Cruz now leading in the latest poll in the upcoming Wisconsin primary. SEN. TED CRUZ (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: That comment was wrong,

and it really -- it's the latest demonstration of how little Donald has thought about any of the serious issues facing this country.

LAH: Trump dealing less of issues as of late more with distractions. Police charged Trump Campaign Manager Corey Lewandowski with simple battery after video captured Lewandowski polling journalist Michelle Fields as he try to interview Trump. Trump standing by his man while attacking the journalist.

TRUMP: She didn't almost fall to the ground. And by the way, she was grabbing me.

LAH: Trump had already waded into a toxic war of wives after an anti- Trump Super PAC sent out a partially nude picture of Melania Trump when she was a model, Trump retweeted this unflattering picture of Heidi Cruz, a clear comparison of the appearances of the Republican candidate's wives. Across the political spectrum, attacks and criticism for targeting Heidi Cruz to which Trump responded --

TRUMP: I didn't start it. I didn't start it.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Sir, with all due respect, that's the argument of a five-year-old.

TRUMP: I didn't start it.

LAH: The repeated pile up against Trump may explain why Ted Cruz felt at ease on "Kimmy Kimmel" joking about running over the GOP frontrunner.

SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If I were in my car, getting ready to reverse and saw Donald in the back-up camera, I'm not confident which pedal I'd push.


[19:05:16] LAH: Trump has been criticized before. There's been a lot of questions of whether he has finally crossed the line, so what is different this time? Something that he has been unable to do as of late is to take control of the news cycle as he has always done, Erin. And as he trails now in that latest poll in Wisconsin, there are certainly a lot more questions of whether now there might be the shift in momentum against Trump -- Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Kyung, thank you very much. And let's go now OUTFRONT to Trump supporter Jeff Lord who served as political director for Ronald Reagan and Tara Setmayer who served as communications director for Republican congressman.

All right. Thanks to both. Jeff, let me start with you. You heard Kyung, big controversies of the week. Right? Correcting his comments on abortion, extensively defending his campaign manager. Ted Cruz says this is all proof Donald Trump has not thought about the real issues. You heard Kyung point out, usually he can take a negative and just switch the news cycle. It hasn't happened this time. Does Ted Cruz have a point?

JEFFREY LORD, DONALD TRUMP SUPPORTER: Well, I think first of all it is interesting that Senator Cruz on the issue of abortion -- I was looking today on media, a clip from c-span in which Senator Cruz back in January of 2015 is asked almost exactly the same question that Chris Matthews asked Donald Trump and he dodged. He wouldn't say what his answer was, so I find that very instructive. And, you know, unfortunately, Donald Trump hasn't learned to do that. He gave the wrong answer. He's corrected and moved on, but I will say I think the (audio gap) --

BURNETT: It looks like --

LORD: I think that's part of the problem. That's part of his appeal.

BURNETT: Tara, what do you say to that? You know, Ben Carson made that argument to me last night. He said most politicians would learn how to not answer the question and dodge it. That's what a politician does. Obviously that's why a lot of people hate politicians, but is there something to be said for that? Donald Trump actually answered the question, and so some people may find that genuine?

TARA SETMAYER, FORMER COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR FOR REP. DANA ROHRABACHER (R): Well, I mean, look, if you're pro-life and that was Donald Trump's answer for you, you are horrified. If you're pro- choice and that was Donald Trump's honest answer, you are horrified because it was a horrible answer. It's not about practicing a good answer this and that.

LORD: I agree.

SETMAYER: If you are serious and convicted about an issue and you've actually given it serious thought, then you will answer how you feel honestly. So, if everyone claims, hey, they love Donald Trump because he tells it like it is, why didn't he take responsibility then for telling it like it is if that's how he really felt? So, you can't have it both ways. You know, the bottom-line is here that it was a terrible gaffe. No matter who you are, you should never have the words punishment and woman in the same sentence when you're talking about abortion. And Donald Trump needed to require, what? Two statements of clarification? That's what happens when you don't seriously think through serious issues and it's on full display right here. So, this is just a microcosm. You don't get to do this over and over and over again when you're running for president of the United States or if you are president of the United States. I think it was Kasich who said, you don't get do-overs, so that's true.

BURNETT: Jeff, what about that point? That, you know, why would he even under pressure, have said, because he didn't say, yes, the woman should be punished. He said, yes, punishment. And then the follow up was the woman. And the answer was, yes, the woman.

LORD: Right. Right. I mean, I have to say, this is one of two hot button issues that liberals love to zoom in all the time. One is abortion and the other is race. And the reason abortion is an issue in the first place is because of Roe v. Wade and nine un-elected, seven un-elected lawyers in that case making a decision that the American people in 1973 were on their way to making through the political system as they did with civil rights. That is how you solve these problems. This is a perfect illustration of why we have to have conservative justices on the Supreme Court. There's no debating this issue of abortion, decades after Roe v Wade.


LORD: There is no excuse for this. And so therefore, so the best way to do this is get this back in the political system, which is what Donald Trump said.

BURNETT: All right. So, Tara, let me ask you, all three candidates in the past couple of days essentially took back their pledge to support the nominee. All of them. Trump though went to Washington to meet with the RNC today after doing that. And I want to read his tweet again. He said, "Just had a very nice meeting with Reince Priebus and the GOP. Looking forward to bringing the party together -- and it will happen!"

Tara, could he ever bring someone like you, a conservative woman whose votes Republican and has always voted Republican to support him at this point?

SETMAYER: No, there's nothing he could possibly say for me. I look at this whole holistically from his 30-year record of statements that are quite offensive from race to women to just a character issue, the fact that he brags about playing to people's fantasies and selling them things, and just making comments about how stupid people are and how he's able to manipulate them. His record as a businessman I'm concerned about, how he stiffs small businesses, doesn't take responsibility for those things. And just his basic temperament is a problem for me.

And I think for as a conservative and a lot of conservatives, look at all these things in totality. I don't care that he just decided a year ago, all of a sudden now he's pro-life, all of a sudden now he's against immigration, all of a sudden now he's for, you know, against ObamaCare when he was for single payor at one point. I mean, I'm looking at these things in totality and I see them as a con, as a sales job. And maybe this is, you know, the greatest ego trip ever for him. I'm not quite sure what's motivating him.


[19:10:43] SETMAYER: But he's -- everything that I've seen coming from Donald Trump is from someone that is not a real conservative, not convicted honestly in their issues, and that is something that I just cannot pull the lever for someone like that, I'm sorry.

BURNETT: Jeff, what do you say? That was a categorical answer.

LORD: And what I hear from my friend Tara, whom I love to death, is a Hillary supporter.

SETMAYER: No. LORD: I mean, that's effectively what she's saying.

SETMAYER: No, it's not. I don't support Hillary either, but it shouldn't be either or, Jeff.

LORD: If Donald Trump is by election, by millions of Americans, the Republican nominee for president and he's facing Hillary Clinton and you sit on the sidelines, you're electing Hillary Clinton, period.

SETMAYER: Well, you know, that's something that I'm going to have to deal with and a lot of other people. I'm hoping that Donald Trump is not our nominee, so I'm not put in that position, but for millions of people like me where its principle comes before party, this is a dilemma pros which is why I don't feel that Donald Trump has the ability to unify the party, unify us behind, what? I mean, he hasn't done anything to demonstrate he's able to do that.

BURNETT: All right.

SETMAYER: Because he's not honest with what he does. So, you know, this is a good crisis management move for him today.

LORD: Let the voters decide.

SETMAYER: Yes, well, they will, we're going to see. It's not over. We still have a convention to go through.

BURNETT: All right.

SETMAYER: Let's hope he sticks with the rules and then we'll talk about this after July.

BURNETT: We will. And I'm going to be fascinated to see if anything does change in your answer. Thanks to both of you.

OUTFRONT next, new video of Hillary Clinton tonight. Here it is.


CLINTON: I am so sick of the Sanders' campaign lying about that. I'm sick of it.


BURNETT: Stand around by an anti-Clinton Super PAC, was she baited or is Bernie Sanders getting under her skin?

Plus, Donald Trump says, more countries should get nukes. Could a Trump commander-in-chief really make it happen? And what Donald Trump as the nominee really could mean for the GOP?


CRUZ: We'd lose the Senate. We could lose the House. We would lose election up and down the ballot.


BURNETT: Is Cruz right?


[19:16:29] BURNETT: An empire state showdown under way tonight. An anti-Clinton Super PAC sending out a new video of Hillary Clinton speaking to an activist. Here's what happened.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If you protect with climate change, will you act on your word and reject fossil fuel money in the future in your campaign?

CLINTON: I do not. I have money from people who work for fossil fuel companies. I am so sick. I am so sick of the Sanders campaign lying about that. I'm sick of it.


BURNETT: That coming as Sanders who once called New York home kicks off his campaign here at a rally just across the town. That's where our Jeff Zeleny is OUTFRONT tonight.


JEFF ZELENY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Now playing in New York, Hillary Clinton --

CLINTON: He goes around telling young people he's going to give them free college.

ZELENY: -- versus Bernie Sanders.

SANDERS: Secretary Clinton has virtually every one of these disastrous trade agreements.

ZELENY: Tonight, the Democratic rivals dueling on their home turf for a whopping price of 247 delegates.

SANDERS: I grew up in Brooklyn, New York.

ZELENY: Her fight is also now revolving around that other New Yorker, Donald Trump.

CLINTON: Just yesterday Donald Trump said women should be punished for having an abortion.

ZELENY: Both Democrats seizing on his comments about how women should be punished for seeking an abortion. He recanted his words, but that did little to stop the firestorm. Sanders tweeted, your Republican frontrunner, ladies and gentlemen. Shameful. Now, the Clinton campaign had hope to be focusing on Trump and Republicans along. But at a rally today not far from Chappaqua home, Clinton found herself tangling with Sanders supporters. CLINTON: Oh, I know, the Bernie people came to say that.

ZELENY: As Clinton loyalists rally to --


She had the last word.

CLINTON: What I regret is they don't want to hear the contrast between my experience, my plans, my vision, what I know I can get done and what my opponent is promising.

ZELENY: But as she shook hands an environmental activist clearly got under her skin as captured in this video posted tonight by green peace and circulated by an anti-Clinton Super PAC.

CLINTON: I am so sick of the Sanders campaign lying about that.

ZELENY: It's a stark reminder that Democratic primary is also boiling hot. In Wisconsin, which votes Tuesday, Sanders leads Clinton by four percentage points. Here in New York, Clinton holds a 12-point lead, but she's not resting easy, even dispatching former President Bill Clinton to union halls across New York City. Before nighttime rally in The Bronx, Sanders got in Pittsburgh.

SANDERS: What an extraordinary turnout.

ZELENY: He lashed out at Clinton's support for trade agreements and ties to Wall Street.

SANDERS: I just don't know why Wall Street hasn't invited me to speak before them. And I have my cell phone on. I'm waiting for the call.


ZELENY: Now, Wall Street and income inequality certainly central issues in the Democratic race. And Erin, most important issues here in New York as well. Now, one of the questions that has been raised about Bernie Sanders candidacy is, can he attract a diverse side of voters or he's about to speak at a rally here in The Bronx and I can tell you, for at least tonight, the answer is yes. Erin, this is one of the most diverse political rallies I have seen all year. The Sanders' campaign believes they can attract a diverse population going forward here. That's why the fight is on here in New York -- Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Jeff, thank you very much. Something of course he has to do to turn around his performance particularly with African- American voters.

OUTFRONT now, Jonathan Tasini, Bernie Sanders supporter and our political commentator Charles Blow. All right. I want to play the video again. I want to just make sure everyone understands though. This video is put out by an anti-Clinton Super PAC and it's a clip. We haven't -- we didn't see this incident ourselves and we don't know exactly what happened before or right after. Right? But we do have this initial moment. Let me just play it again, Charles. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If you protect with climate change, will you act on your word and reject fossil fuel money in the future in your campaign?

CLINTON: I do not. I have money from people who work for fossil fuel companies. I am so sick. I am so sick of the Sanders campaign lying about that. I'm sick of it.


BURNETT: Tough moment.

CHARLES BLOW, OP-ED COLUMNIST, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": Well, the raising of the voice and losing your temper, many have done that forever.


BLOW: If you want to find example of that, google men in political office. And in fact, Chris Christie, he was a plus for him. What is more interesting to me is whether or not, whether the facts of that statement which I was not able -- I wasn't able to fact check it.


BLOW: That is the most important thing. I think we get in a little bit of trouble by, oh she lost her temper, you know, there's a bit of a -- there's something in that that makes me very uneasy worrying about a woman losing her temper.

[19:21:15] BURNETT: And what do you think though about the fundamental point that she's making? She's accused him of lying. Right? Point blank there. Bill Clinton has accused some of Sanders' supporters about being too profane, not to mention sexist, lying, sexists, profane. Fair?

JONATHAN TASINI, BERNIE SANDERS SUPPORTER: Well, first of all, I want to say, I agree with Charles that people lose their temper and if wouldn't lose their temper, it is often give them a double standard. On the fact, it's actually true that Hillary Clinton I believe has received the maximum amount donation from about 57 oil and gas lobbyists. So the protester, however he or she I think was a woman who was having that give and take --

BURNETT: Sounded like it was a woman.

TASINI: Was correct on the facts. So, I think that there's tension --

BURNETT: When she says lying, you say, not so.

TASINI: Well, I find it interesting that Hillary Clinton who has lied about Bernie Sanders on health care, on all sorts of things, is actually alleging something that actually factually is correct. BURNETT: I mean, but this is what's interesting Charles as you know,

both sides using the "L" word directly saying, lying, lying. On the Democratic side.

BLOW: Well, I mean, it's the heat of battle. Right?

BURNETT: The heat of battle.

BLOW: It is just the truth of it. I think there comes a point where people feel like they are being attacked unfairly. That happens I don't recall it. Presidential campaign where that did not happen in primaries and also in the general election. People feel that way whether or not, you know, there is a factual reality in there somewhere. You --

BURNETT: The donations. You think she has gotten that money.

BLOW: You know, like I said, I just saw it, so I haven't had a chance to fact check it.


BLOW: If the facts are correct, if that is the only thing that she is saying, that was untrue about what Sanders, then she is wrong. If there is more to what she's saying -- you don't know what a person is saying when they say, I'm tired of somebody lying. I mean, it could be a plethora of things that could be just that narrow point.

BURNETT: Okay. It's a fair point important. When you describe this though as the heat of battle, the heat of the moment. For some voters, it's bigger than that. It isn't just a fight. Right? This is their very passionate, particularly Sanders' voters. In that piece, you heard protesters yelling, if Clinton wins, they lose. You wrote a piece tonight in the New York Times -- the Wall Street Journal poll. A third of Sanders' supporters, 33 percent of them say they will not support Hillary Clinton. That is pretty stunning.

BLOW: I find it really, you know, whether or not that carries over into the general election, if she wins and not him and they continue, you know, it will never be one-third. But even if it is a sizable number, you really talk about in any election 12 at the most, more likely seven or eight swing states. Those races are really tight. You only have to win by one percentage point. You have the Koch Brothers who are still sitting on the sidelines with what they say will be $900 million dollars of money. It will come in. You only have to move that number five, ten points.

BURNETT: But what about the -- Susan Sarandon, supporter of Bernie Sanders and I talked to him about this the other night. She said, she was talking about this very issue. Sanders supporters who won't be able to vote for Hillary Clinton. And she said, when somebody asked her directly, as a Sanders' supporter, would she vote for Hillary Clinton in the general election, she said I don't know. I am going to see what happens. I don't know.

TASINI: Her whole interview was mischaracterized. She was trying to say that Donald Trump could cause a revolution because people would be so furious with him that they would pour out into the streets. I don't think --

BURNETT: It's pretty clear on what she said here though on voting for Hillary Clinton. I don't know.

TASINI: Let me address what Charles said. At the end of the day, and I've traveled all across the country. I've talked to lots of activists. I've been in lots of states. The vast majority of people are going to vote for the Democratic nominee whoever it is and it's simply because they cannot imagine a President Donald Trump, or Ted Cruz, or Kasich. They just can't imagine the assault on rights. And so at the end of the day, I don't know how that poll came about. People are going to vote for the Democratic nominee. I'm absolutely convinced of that. Now, I will say, the one quick caveat, it depends on how this all unfolds. I think Bill Clinton did a very smart thing today. He said something to the effect, Bernie Sanders has the right to continue to run in this primary. And I think it is very important for the Clinton campaign to understand --

BURNETT: He certainly does. He's done very well, he has swept a bunch of states. I would hope that would be.

TASINI: I still believe he's going to win the nomination. I strongly feel that, but we have to understand that the excitement that people feel, the engagement in all those primaries, in those elections is very important for whoever the Democratic nominee to have. Because a strong points out. Very few states are going to be contested. They're going to be swing states. And you have to have that enthusiasm. And that comes from being engaged in the primary. So, it's good for the Democratic Party for all of this to go all the way to the convention, if it is done based on a debate about the issues.

BURNETT: Uh-mm. All right. Well, we will see. It's going to be very, very interesting. And we'll see how those are. I know you did the fact check. We'll see what the CNN fact check shows in terms of the money on the fossil fuels.

All right. Thanks to both. And OUTFRONT next, Donald Trump under fire over this.


TRUMP: We're better off if Japan protects itself against this maniac in North Korea. We're better off frankly if South Korea is going to start to protect itself.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Saudi Arabia had a nuclear weapon?

TRUMP: Saudi Arabia. Absolutely.


BURNETT: Has Trump crossed the line on nuclear weapons? And countdown to the 80s premier on CNN tonight. What do Leo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt have in common? (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[19:30:23] ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: Tonight, more than 50 nations meeting in Washington for a major nuclear summit as Donald Trump comes under fire for his proposals. The GOP frontrunner in the hot seat for saying he thinks Japan and South Korea could obtain nuclear weapons.

The White House says that's disastrous.

Michelle Kosinski is OUTFRONT.


MICHELLE KOSINSKI, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): President Obama hosts more than 50 countries to discuss the world's threats to nuclear security. One of which might be, according to White House officials, Donald Trump.

BEN RHODES, WHITE HOUSE DEPUTY NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: It would be catastrophic were the United States to shift its position and indicate that we support somehow the proliferation of nuclear weapons to additional countries. It also flies in the face of decades of bipartisan national security doctrine.

KOSINSKI: Yes, the first question for deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes today was all about this exchange on CNN's town hall with Anderson Cooper Tuesday, the Trump nuclear doctrine now heard around world.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: So, you have no problem with Japan or South Korea having nuclear weapons?

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: At some point, we have to say, you know what, we're better off if Japan protects itself against this maniac in North Korea. We're better off frankly if South Korea is going to start to protect itself. We have to --

COOPER: Saudi Arabia, nuclear weapons?

TRUMP: Saudi Arabia, absolutely.

KOSINSKI: This as President Obama continues his work, his last nuclear security summit, to try to reduce nuclear stockpiles.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Obviously, an occasion in which we are deeply concerned of nuclear security, making sure that nuclear materials don't fall into the hands of terrorists.

KOSINSKI: ISIS inevitably colors the tone and focus of this gathering, though nonproliferation has been the president's goal from the beginning, a policy that couldn't be more different from what Trump has been saying.

COOPER: But if you said that Japan, yes, it's fine, you get nuclear weapons, South Korea, you as well, and Saudi Arabia says, we want them too. TRUMP: Can I be honest with you? It's going to happen anyway. It's

going to happen anyway. It's only a question of time. They're going to start having them or we have to get rid of them entirely.

COOPER: So, you're saying you don't want more nuclear weapons in the world, but you're okay with Japan and South Korea having nuclear weapons?

TRUMP: I don't want more nuclear weapons. I think -- you know, when I hear Obama saying the biggest threat in the world today is global warming, I say, is this guy kidding? The only global warming -- the only global warming I'm worried about is nuclear global warming, because that's the single biggest threat.

KOSINSKI: The White House now repeatedly blasting the ideas that Donald Trump has dropped this week.

JOSH EARNEST, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: That prospect would be incredibly destabilizing.


KOSINSKI: And we've been hearing from the president a lot lately, responding to specific things that Donald Trump has said. Sometimes he doesn't mention them by name. Other times, he does mention him.

But regardless, you always know exactly what he was referring to. Well, the president didn't do that too. We're also told those Trump comments didn't come up in the trilateral meeting with Japan and South Korea. The one member, the Japanese delegation told us that they and the rest of the world are indeed very closely watching the American campaigns -- Erin.

BURNETT: I'm sure they are. A diplomatic way of putting it at that.

All right. Thanks so much, Michelle.

And OUTFRONT now, the national security correspondent, former Tokyo bureau chief for "The New York Times", David Sanger.

And, David, you are a very unique person in many ways. I know you in many ways, but you've spent an hour and a half talking to Donald Trump and not many people have been able to do that. What was your impression of him when you talk to him about all of these issues?

DAVID SANGER, NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Well, Erin, it was in our interview last Friday that was in "The Times" over the weekend that he first put out this thought that it would be all right if Japan and South Korea had nuclear weapons. It was part of a sort of mercantilist view of what American alliances are all about.

What prompted the discussion in fact was his insistence that Japan had to pay for more of the support of U.S. troops or he would pull the troops back. I pointed out to him that Japan already pays more than almost any nation on earth for the American presence there, but made the point that once you pull them back, the Japanese would feel as if the American nuclear umbrella might not be as certain a thing. That's what started this discussion.


SANGER: I just don't think, Erin, that he's thought much about yet, there's no reason he should have in the businesses that he's been, about what the other purposes of alliances are.

BURNETT: Right, which is an interesting point. I mean, when you talk about security of regions and the role of America in the world, you know, he's gotten a lot of criticism for saying things like this. Here he is.


TRUMP: Now, wouldn't you rather in a certain sense have Japan have nuclear weapons when North Korea has a nuclear weapon?


BURNETT: Right. So, he first floated that idea in your interview, right, Japan, South Korea, Saudi Arabia getting nuclear weapons. Did it appear to you that it was a sudden idea that had come up or did you feel that it was something that he had carefully deliberated and thought through beforehand?

[19:35:04] SANGER: Somewhere in between. I mean, clearly, he has thought of this before thinking if North Korea has them, others in the region might want to. I'm not sure how much additional thought he had given to the "and then what" questions. So, if Japan, for example, got its own nuclear weapon, it could well touch off a much larger arms race with China, which is the country most concerned about Japan having such weaponry, which, of course, is already a nuclear power, but with a fairly small arsenal.

And, of course, since President Kennedy declared back in the early 1960s that he was concerned there could be dozens nuclear powers on earth within that he thought at the time, a decade or so, we've actually kept that down. There are only nine nuclear weapon states right now. And I think Republicans and Democrats have tried to avoid having more.

BURNETT: You know, I've had a dozen or so conversations, or a half a dozen or so conversation with Donald Trump over the past decade about China and Saudi Arabia. In the context of whatever else was being discussed, he would bring those issues have. And I have to say that what he said to me years ago is exactly what he's saying now on the campaign trail.

His mantra is America needs to stop being ripped off. I mean, gosh, it goes back to, well, David, we "Oprah" talking about it in 1988. Here he is there and now.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) TRUMP: I'd make our allies pay for it now. We're a debtor nation. I'm really tired of seeing what's happening with this country, how we're really making other people live like kings and we're not.

When you see all of the money that our country is spending on military, we're not really spending it for ourselves. We're protecting all these nations all over the world. We can't afford to do it anymore.


BURNETT: Big words, big deeds often different, David. Based on your conversation with Trump, do you think he would let countries get nukes, start a trade war with China, bomb oil fields, or is it all talk?

SANGER: You know, I think at some point someone stops him in the Oval Office and says, you know what, Mr. President, before we make this move let's think about the next two or three chess moves down the way.

You hope that happens. I've interviewed other presidential campaigns, including George W. Bush, when he was running, who was new to some of these issues, not necessarily the nuclear ones. But I think in Mr. Trump's case, he has been consistent, as you point, and there is an element of what he is saying that you hear in the words of many other politicians, mainstream politicians, including President Obama who the other day told "The Atlantic" magazine and Jeffrey Goldberg that the Saudis are free riders. The difference is what solution they put to this.

BURNETT: Very interesting, but important I think that you point out President Obama recognized the same problem on the problem side of the ledger.

Thanks so much, David Sanger. Good to talk to you.

SANGER: Good to talk to you, Erin.

BURNETT: And OUTFRONT next, many Republicans running scared, afraid that Trump for president means the GOP will lose the House.

Plus, Alabama's governor at the center of a sex scandal that he says is not true, but he does not deny that this is his voice.


GOV. ROBERT BENTLEY (R), ALABAMA: If we're gonna do what we did the other day, we're gonna have to start locking the door.



[19:42:04] BURNETT: As Donald Trump vows to unite the party, Republicans running for the House and Senate are worried he will cost them the election. Manu Raju is OUTFRONT.


MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER (voice-over): Republican Congressman Carlos Curbelo of Florida is in danger of losing his job, and that could be one reason why he wants nothing to do with Donald Trump.

REP. CARLOS CURBELO (R), FLORIDA: My community knows that I have rejected a lot of what Mr. Trump has said and I think everyone should for that matter.

RAJU: Trump was already making a lot of House Republicans nervous.

But in the aftermath of the blunt billionaire's comments that women should be prosecuted if abortions were outlawed, some strategists in both parties believe a Trump nomination could lead to something once viewed as impossible, Democrats retaking the House in November. Some vulnerable Republicans are abandoning the GOP frontrunner.

REP. BOB DOLD (R), ILLINOIS: I've said before, I'll say again, this is not someone that I support. For me, it's personal.

RAJU: Democrats need to pick up 30 House seats to overcome the largest Republican majority in nearly 70 years. Republican leaders hope they can stem their losses, but House races are often dictated by the national mood. With Trump's unruly candidacy, Democrats believe their chances are improving by the day.

REP. BEN RAY LUJAN (D), MEXICO: Donald Trump is not good for the GOP down ballot. This is now the party of Trump and House Republicans are dealing with that every day.

RAJU: II met today with a Democrat hoping to oust Curbelo in his Miami area district. She's trying to tie Curbelo to Trump's harsh words about Mexican immigrants.

ANNETTE TADDEO, FLORIDA DEMOCRATIC HOUSE CANDIDATE: Many of them that have been eligible to become citizens are becoming citizens so they can vote. So, I'm seeing a lot of enthusiasm for our race.

RAJU: Tom Davis, a former House GOP campaign chairman and John Kasich supporter thinks a party could lose 20 seats if Trump is the nominee.

TOM DAVIS, FORMER HOUSE GOP CAMPAIGN CHAIRMAN: I think that's a stretch, but it's something you have to worry about if the Trump campaign keeps deteriorating in some of these areas.

RAJU: Behind the scenes, House Speaker Paul Ryan is moving aggressively, telling his members to focus on his party's achievements. Publicly, he says he's confident.

REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: I'm not concerned about the House flipping because we are in control of our own actions.


RAJU: Trump supporters on Capitol Hill say Republicans should be embracing the real estate mogul instead of running away from him.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: People need to get behind the winner, which is Mr. Trump.


RAJU: Erin, I can tell you, a lot of House Republicans have deep concerns about the prospects of a Ted Cruz candidacy as well. Many think that his brand of no compromise conservatism won't play well in swing states and in moderate districts. Some believe it's time to get behind Ted Cruz because after all, he is a lifelong Republican, but many Senate Republicans tell me they believe that Ted Cruz needs to apologize to Mitch McConnell and repair his relationships with his colleagues before they consider backing his candidacy -- Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Manu, thank you very much.

And OUTFRONT next, Alabama's governor who is elected as the family values candidate now facing possible impeachment over phone calls like this one.


[19:45:02] BENTLEY: You'd kiss me? I love that. You know I do love that.

You know what? When I stand behind you and I put my arms around you --


BURNETT: And it got a lot more graphic after that.

Countdown to "The Eighties" premiere on CNN tonight. One of America's favorite dads, Alan Thicke, is OUTFRONT.


BURNETT: Governor Robert Bentley of Alabama digging in, refusing to resign in the face of a deepening scandal over an alleged extramarital affair. It's all on tape.

Bentley, who ran as a family values candidate, to now be impeached.

Alina Machado is OUTFRONT.


BENTLEY: Today, I want to apologize to the people of the state of Alabama.

ALINA MACHADO, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Alabama Governor Robert Bentley under fire, but refusing to resign after being accused of an affair with one of his top aides, Rebekah Mason.

The allegations surfaced after sexually explicit recordings of him became public.

BENTLEY: When I stand behind you and I put my arms around you, and I put my hands on your breasts, and I put my hands (INAUDIBLE) and just -- and pull you real close. I -- hey, I love that too --

MACHADO: The 73-year-old Republican is the only voice heard on the tape, but he publicly apologized to mason and her family. The governor who doesn't deny the legitimacy of the recordings says they were made two years ago. At the time the governor and Mason each were married.

BENTLEY: If we're going to do what we did the other day, we're going to have to start locking the door.

It was a period of time in my life that I have made inappropriate comments.

MACHADO: Bentley and his wife have since divorced. He maintains --

BENTLEY: I have never had a physical affair with Mrs. Mason. I can assure the people of Alabama that as their governor, I have never done anything illegal.

[19:50:01] MACHADO: The governor has been under mounting pressure to resign since Spencer Collier, the governor's former law enforcement chief, held a news conference last week to accuse Bentley of having an affair and inappropriately using resources to cover up that relationship. The governor fired Collier the day before for alleged wrongdoing.

At least one Alabama state lawmaker, Ed Henry, says he intends to start the impeachment process next week. Mason meanwhile resigned from her post Wednesday, saying in a statement, "My only plans are to focus my full attention on my precious children and my husband who I love dearly. They are the most important people in my life. Thank you for your prayers for our family."

Alina Machado, CNN, Miami.


BURNETT: Republican State Representative Allen Farley has called on Governor Bentley to resign. He joins me now from Birmingham.

Representative Farley, thank you very much for being with me.

You've known the governor for years. He ran for governor on a platform of being a family man. "The New York Times" describing his reputation as a squeaky clean church-going official. Are you surprised to hear these tapes?

ALLEN FARLEY (R), ALABAMA STATE HOUSE; CALLING FOR GOVERNOR BENTLEY TO RESIGN: I think everybody in the state of Alabama is surprised, Ms. Burnett. We're not just surprised. We're shocked and it's saddening. Saddening for the entire state of Alabama.

BURNETT: Do you think he should resign?

FARLEY: Absolutely.

BURNETT: And Representative Farley, if he doesn't resign, would you move to impeach him or move forward on that track?

FARLEY: Whatever it will take. I'm hoping that the attorney general's office in Alabama, maybe in conjunction with the Justice Department, can put the pressure where it needs to be. So that he will do the right thing and resign. But if not, I think we need to take whatever actions are available to us to remove him.

BURNETT: I know you did have a phone call with him in which you approached him about some of these allegations. You know, you have this conversation with him. What did he say to you at this time? I guess he lied directly to your face or --

FARLEY: Well, he did. And it's very important for you and your viewers to know that he called me. I had put together a letter that I delivered on September 1st, 2015, asking the Alabama attorney general to look into speculation, the ongoing rumors that the governor was, indeed, having an affair with one of his staff members. So, the night before I delivered it, my cell phone rang while I was at home, and he called me. He said he had not had an affair and was not having an affair.

BURNETT: So it was. It was -- you are saying he was the one who initiated it and, obviously, lied to you.

Is there anything that he could say or do or that could come out? You've now heard pieces of these tapes that would make you agree with him that the behavior wasn't that egregious?

FARLEY: No. No, there is absolutely nothing. As you've said, he was elected being a family man, a country doctor, so to speak, a man of faith. He has proven to be everything but that.

BURNETT: All right. Well, Representative Farley, thank you very much for your time tonight, sir. Thank you.

FARLEY: Thank you, ma'am.

And next, countdown to CNN's "THE EIGHTIES" premiere. They were like any family except Leonardo DiCaprio was in the house.


[19:57:17] BURNETT: Tonight, the new CNN series "THE EIGHTIES" premieres. If you were around then, you know this song from the hit show "Growing Pains."


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ben, what are you doing? UNIDENTIFIED BOY: Watching Carol flirt with some guy, and he's not


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, that's none of your -- what guy?

UNIDENTIFIED BOY: I don't know. But I think he's a little weird.


UNIDENTIFIED BOY: He's interested in Carol.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Didn't I tell you to stay away from that window? Besides, your sister is not the type who flirts.


BURNETT: OUTFRONT now, actor Alan Thicke. He played Dr. Seaver, the father on "Growing Pains."

And great to have you with me. I mean, that show ran for seven seasons. Of course, for those of White House grew up in the '80s, these are flashbacks to our childhood. What was it about the '80s that kept that show so popular? I mean, there are more than 160 episodes?

ALAN THICKE, ACTOR, "GROWING PAINS": I think it was me, Erin. It was all me. I carried it. They owe me everything.

Truth is, you know, it takes a perfect storm to make any TV show a hit. I think it begins with writing, followed by casting. And then you have to have the other elements, including what night of the week are you on and who are you on against, who is your lead-in. We had "Who's the Boss." Tony Danza gave us a great lead-in. I sent him a bottle of champagne.

BURNETT: The theme song from "Growing Pains" brings back memories for a lot of people. But people may not know, you were actually the composure of some great TV theme songs from the '80s, "Different Strokes", "Facts of Life". Both you, here they are.


THICKE: Thank you for playing that. I get 13 cents when you play that.


BURNETT: Right, you created these iconic songs.

I mean, you know, you created these iconic songs, right, and everyone knows that song means that show. Doesn't feel that way anymore, does it?

THICKE: Well, you know, there are so many networks now and so many programs that they are very competitive and they are in such a hurry to start the show, that the theme songs that last 30 seconds and explain what the show is all about, nobody has the patience for that anymore. So, it's really kind of a lost art.

I think cable is -- uses some of the great music themes of our generation. I love so many of the ones that I have -- "Boardwalk Empire." "Rome" had a good one. But, yes, the lyrics one that recap the story. You don't hear much of those anymore.

BURNETT: All right. Well, it's a pleasure to talk to you. And for -- to reminisce and for so many, I know watching to reminisce when they see you.

Thanks so much, Alan.

THICKE: Thank you, Erin.

BURNETT: And that show where Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt got their start. Don't miss "THE EIGHTIES" tonight at 9:00. Thanks for joining us.

Anderson is now.