Return to Transcripts main page


Ryan Facing Pressure to Endorse Trump; Ted Cruz Running for Re- election in Senate; Trump: No Tax Returns Expected Before Election; Clinton Moves Farther Left as Sanders Wins More; Some Sanders Voters Like Trump, Trump May Focus on "Crazy Bernie". Aired 11-11:30a ET

Aired May 11, 2016 - 11:00   ET


[11:00:02] KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. I'm Kate Bolduan.


Nothing to see here, and you better get used to it. That's the word from Donald Trump who, despite new pressure, seems to be slamming the door on releasing his tax returns citing an ongoing audit. He told the Associated Press he does not plan to release them before November. And he said a lot more surprising on that front as well.

BOLDUAN: Meanwhile, on Capitol Hill, dueling news conferences between House leaders wrapped up moments ago. House Speaker Paul Ryan addressing tomorrow's critical meeting with Donald Trump aimed at unifying the party so that as he says, some Republicans can stop pretending. Listen.


REP. PAUL RYAN, (R-WI), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: Without unifying, then we go in the fall half strength. This election is too important to go into an election at half strength. That means we need a real unification of our party, which, look, after a tough primary, that's going to take some effort.


BOLDUAN: And House minority leader, Nancy Pelosi, taking the podium to blast Donald Trump as to what she calls his poisonous rhetoric.


REP. NANCY PELOSI, (D-CA), HOUSE MINORITY LEADER: Whether it's insulting President Obama, women, immigrants, Muslims, LGBT Americans, there's not a dime's worth of difference between what Donald Trump says and what the House Republicans have been saying all along.


BOLDUAN: Let's get straight over to CNN's senior political reporter, Manu Raju, on Capitol Hill.

Manu, you listen -- you heard those press conferences. You also have some very interesting reporting of what was going on behind closed doors when Paul Ryan met with House members this morning. We heard from him from the podium. He wants to "merge and unify our common principles." What is he hearing from members?

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: That's a similar message that he had at this 9:00 a.m. meeting with the House Republican Congress. Remember, Kate, this is the first time that Paul Ryan has met with his conference since making those bombshell comments on CNN last week that he would not endorse Donald Trump at this moment. He's really tried to downplay concerns from members about those comments, saying that, look, I expect us to be united headed into the fall campaign. This is the beginning of a process he's told them. He said, we're going to -- tomorrow we will be a meeting with Donald Trump and we'll meet more with them and continue a dialogue and unite behind shared Republican and conservative principles.

The one reason why, Kate, he's saying that is because he's getting criticism from Republican members of Congress, who said that if Paul Ryan does not get behind Donald Trump, it will make it much harder for the party to unite. So Paul Ryan is trying to tamp down those concerns, saying we'll unite, said it to those members yesterday, in his press conference moments ago as we just said.

BERMAN: Manu, you're a man of many different reports this morning. You have news on Ted Cruz, who announced to you he is running but for -- dot, dot, dot. Explain --

RAJU: That's right, John. Actually, re-election to the Senate in 2018. I just caught up with him as he's walking into the Senate votes, and I asked him, are you going to run for re-election in Texas, and he said yes.

Now, why that may be a surprise to some is that Ted Cruz is seen as a very likely 2020 presidential candidate and there was questions whether or not it makes sense for him to run for re-election in 2018 in Texas when the presidential campaign for 2020 will kick off right after the November elections, particularly if Donald Trump loses. Ted Cruz wants to put to rest any speculation that he is not running for re-election. He does plan to run for re-election. That's the message he's sending right now.

BOLDUAN: There's plenty of time for him to change his mind on that. Good to get him -- get that mark.

Manu, great to see you. A lot going on, on the Hill today. Great to see you, Manu.

Let's discuss this and more with Tana Goertz, Iowa State co-chairman for the Trump campaign and a former contestant on "The Apprentice"; and Julie Pace, White House correspondent for the Associated Press, who did that interview with Donald Trump that everyone is citing; and CNN political commentators, Ana Navarro and Bill Press.

Guys, great to see you.

Let's get to Capitol Hill in a second. But, Julie, first to you on this very big interview, a lot coming out of the interview, startling statements and new comments and new positions on his tax returns. When he would likely -- when he would likely release them and the fact that he doesn't think voters even care.

JULIE PACE, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, ASSOCIATED PRESS: It's interesting, he still leaves himself this out by saying if this audit wraps up before the November election, he'll release his tax returns. But experts we have talked to don't see this audit as a reason to hold off. We said, will you push your lawyers on this, will you tell them that voters deserve this information regardless of the audit? He said, no, one, that voters don't actually care about this, and there's no new information that would come out of the returns. Se essentially, that's a reason to allow them to not push his lawyers to allow him to do this.

BERMAN: We do know there is a lot of potential information in everyone's tax returns, number one.


[11:05:07] BERMAN: If you make any money. Number two, if you pay any taxes. Number three, if you donate to any charities. Correct?

PACE: Absolutely. He says he has released other financial statements that provide some of those answers. But the reason tax returns are important, there is information, like the pieces you said there, that you can only get from those tax returns. And you know, charitable giving is a huge issue for him because he has said he doesn't do much of it through his foundation, but does it personally, but we can't prove that without seeing the tax returns.

BOLDUAN: And his effective tax rate. That was a huge thing for Mitt Romney and huge thing for any candidate, especially when you want to talk about tax policy and where the tax rate should be.

Tana, what do you think about all of this?

TANA GOERTZ, IOWA STATE CO-CHAIRMAN, TRUMP PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN & FORMER CONTESTANT, THE APPRENTICE: I completely agree with Mr. Trump. The voters do not care about his tax returns. 100 percent, they do not care --


BOLDUAN: Where is the evidence that they don't care? Where is the evidence you don't think they care?

GOERTZ: I'm at these rallies and they care about jobs and the economy and the borders being secure and safety and our military. They do not care about Donald Trump's tax returns. We all know he's rich. That is not a secret. He has the best attorneys and best lawyers and best accountants and best of everything. And do you think he would hide for one second money? I've been with him firsthand when we've handed over hundreds and thousands of dollars to various charities. That is not a secret. He would not be hiding that. There's nothing to hide. I can't believe we're still talking about tax returns.

BERMAN: Then why won't he release --


GOERTZ: -- Audit --


BERMAN: Hang on a second, Tana.

Let's bring in Ana into this.

Ana, you've lived through a lot of campaigns and saw what happened to Mitt Romney, who frankly ended up paying a lot in taxes, even though the effective rate was low. There are a lot of questions in tax return for every candidate. Hillary Clinton released how many years?


BERMAN: Eight years of returns.

GOERTZ: Has Hillary released the Clinton Foundation tax returns? I haven't seen those.

BERMAN: Personal tax returns, Tana, you're changing the subject here.

Ana Navarro, talk to me about --


GOERTZ: No, I'm just curious. The Clinton Foundation, why aren't we asking --


BOLDUAN: Nobody is asking if the Trump Foundation is releasing --


BERMAN: Exactly, the Trump Foundation. It's a different subject. We're talking about personal tax returns. Does Donald Trump pay taxes? We don't know. We don't know because we don't --


GOERTZ: We will find out.



GOERTZ: He's in the middle of a multi-year audit.

BERMAN: Ana, Ana, Ana, on the audit --


ANA NAVARRO, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Tana, he's saying Ana without a "T." So let's see if I can get a word in edgewise.

BERMAN: Ana Navarro, go ahead.

NAVARRO: I agree with Donald Trump on this. I think voters don't care about this. The evidence in it is that he has one and everybody else running in the GOP primary did release tax returns. He hasn't.

Here's what we know. Donald Trump is held to a different standard. If anybody had said any of the many offensive things he has said throughout this campaign, their campaign would have been disqualified. If I had 100 bucks for every time I thought his campaign is over because of something he has said or done that is outrageous, I would probably have more money than he does in those tax returns that we can't see.

The question is, though, going forward, will Independent voter voters, the ones he has to win over to his side, care or not. The other thing is that, unlike Mitt Romney and unlike Hillary Clinton, who he will likely be running against, Donald Trump is not at all awkward about embracing his wealth. If anything, a lot of people think he exaggerates his wealth. Both Mitt Romney and Hillary Clinton were trying to tamp down how wealthy they are. It came across a little awkward. Hillary Clinton telling you she's flat broke, she's got to pay mortgages on houses, all of these kinds of things that didn't sell with the American people. Donald Trump is in your face about how wealthy he is. I think his voters just hold him to a very different scrutiny level than any hold any other politician.

BOLDUAN: Absolutely. Look, I'm sure there will be polling to see if folks want to see going forward, in a general, if they want to see his tax returns. He would be the first candidate, the first nominee not to disclose since 1976. Nixon, I believe, even disclosed his tax returns when he was under audit. All kind of the reasoning behind the Donald Trump not release, doesn't necessarily hold water with history.

But when it comes, Bill Press, as we turn this direction, when it comes to a general election, is this very likely going to be fodder for whomever?

[11:10:00] BILL PRESS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Absolutely. I think both Ana and Tana are making a big mistake in equating Donald Trump -- people who go to Donald Trump rallies with general election voters. There are a lot more people out there. Yeah, those people at the rallies don't care what Donald Trump says, but this is a big issue. Particularly because he brags about his wealth, it seems to me that people have these questions. Is he as rich as he says he is? What is his rate? What kind of money does he give to charities? They are legitimate questions. And I think it's silly for him to keep this as an issue. Get this behind him, otherwise it's going to drag on and drag on, give fodder for us and his opponent and those Republicans who don't want to support him anyhow.

BOLDUAN: It gets to an issue of simple transparency. BERMAN: Put in behind him. Put it behind him.

PACE: You've had this question of transparency on the Democratic side with Hillary Clinton and --

BOLDUAN: And he hammers her on that.

PACE: -- and he hammers her on that. This would be a way to use that in his advantage to a greater agree in a general election by saying I'm willing to go against judgment of lawyers and release tax returns for the sake of transparency and Hillary Clinton won't release these transcripts of paid speeches.

PRESS: If he had said that, it would be a better approach. I'll release my tax returns when Hillary Clinton releases her transcripts. But instead, I didn't -- this raises all kinds of questions --


BERMAN: Wait, wait.


PRESS: I don't want to give any ideas.


BERMAN: Ana Navarro, Ana with an "A," we heard on Capitol Hill from Paul Ryan and Nancy Pelosi talking about various things, Paul Ryan talking about unity and Nancy Pelosi with a direct attempt to tie Donald Trump to Republicans on Capitol Hill. Essentially saying he's yours and you own him. Is this what Republicans have feared? Is this why Paul Ryan is set up this bar, this meeting tomorrow? Is this the test he has to pass?

NAVARRO: First of all, when I see and hear folks like Elizabeth Warren and Nancy Pelosi going after Donald Trump, I frankly think he might have them on payroll. I can't think of anything that helps Donald Trump unite the Republican party more than being attacked by people like Nancy Pelosi, who pretty much unifies the Republican party in dislike her. I think that's what she's doings what she has to do. She's figured out there's a lot of incumbent Republicans who are in swing districts who are some of them in purple states, who will feel that Donald Trump is an albatross around their neck. I can tell you in south Florida, we have some of that going on where I'm from. She's going to try to tie them to Donald Trump. Their challenge will be to run an Independent campaign and stand on their record and their positions and stand on their persona. In south Florida, the two Cuban-American Congress people, Republicans from Miami, have already publicly announced they will not be voting for Donald Trump. They are going to have to run their very own Independent campaigns and I think they will succeed.

BOLDUAN: Tana, going into the meeting and coming out of the meeting tomorrow, does Donald Trump need Paul Ryan? GOERTZ: I mean, does he need Paul Ryan? I don't know. He would like

Paul Ryan to have his support as we all would as Republicans. We'd like to unite and get behind one another and get behind the presumptive nominee, that's Donald Trump. We're excited and winning. We couldn't be more thrilled with where we're sitting --


BOLDUAN: You're not sure if he needs him to win in November?

GOERTZ: Absolutely not. I don't believe he would need him to win. That's one vote. I mean, yes, Paul Ryan has got a great support system behind him. We would love his support but it's one vote and we do not need one specific vote. I can get a vote when I go out these doors right now that would vote for Donald Trump and make that an equal. But we would like his support, 100 percent, yes. But we would like the whole Republican Party to get behind the man who is going to get into the White House and take Hillary Clinton down.

BOLDUAN: Tana Goertz, Ana Navarro, Julie Pace and Bill Press -- I think I got everybody in, thanks so much.



BOLDUAN: A lot going on.

BERMAN: New this morning, Hillary Clinton with some new policy proposals. Some see it as a move to the left as Bernie Sanders moves through West Virginia with another win.

BOLDUAN: Speaking of Bernie Sanders, his campaign manager is joining us live. What does he think of Trump now forecasting that he will soon be targeting Bernie or, as Trump put it, "Crazy Bernie."


[11:18:19] BOLDUAN: Hillary Clinton, you just lost West Virginia, so what are you going to do about it? The answer apparently, in a couple hours, she's holding an event in New Jersey about raising wages.

BOLDUAN: Is that enough to shake what could be a tough string of states ahead for Hillary Clinton.

Let's bring CNN's senior Washington correspondent, Jeff Zeleny, who is in New Jersey following the Clinton campaign this morning.

Jeff, layout for us, as you've done reporting on this, why New Jersey is becoming such a focus for the Clinton campaign going forward?

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: John and Kate, New Jersey, of course, is one of those states that votes at the end of the Democratic primary calendar, on June 7th. That will be a key day in the long Democratic primary fight. California will be voting on June 7th as well New Jersey. And the Clinton campaign wants to end this long fight with at least a couple of wins. They've had a few defeats, West Virginia last night, Indiana before that. They are going to try and focus more attention and time and money on New Jersey and California. That's why Hillary Clinton is here today. She is going to be talking about wages and other things.

But really, what's so interesting along this course of this primary fight, Bernie Sanders has been pushing her to the left on a variety of issues here. She's been not really engaging Bernie Sanders. Last night, in Louisville, Kentucky, where she was campaigning, she had one person in mind. Take a listen to who that was.


HILLARY CLINTON, (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE & FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: If I'm fortunate enough to be the nominee, I am looking forward to debating Donald Trump come the fall.


CLINTON: You know, finally, finally, we've got to unify America. I mean, a house divided against itself, as Abraham said, cannot stand.


ZELENY: So, wants to talk about Donald Trump but still has to deal with Bernie Sanders, who has been beating her of late, and has a bit of energy and bounce in his step today as well -- Guys?

[11:20:16] BERMAN: Jeff, it's interesting, she's moving around geographically, focus on New Jersey and California will be a big deal. But also in terms of the subject she's talking about, proposing -- helping people pay for child care and capping payments on child care and also making Medicare available perhaps at the younger age as well. These are issues where she appears to be moving or at least emphasizing different parts of an agenda here.

ZELENY: There's no doubt about it. That is because of Bernie Sanders. That's the effect he has had on this race. She has shifted a little bit to the left, but that's where the Democratic Party is. That's where a lot of Independents and moderates are as well. So different from where the party was eight years ago. Both parties have moved, of course, to the outer edges, if you will. But Hillary Clinton is emphasizing more -- she finally now agrees to raise the minimum -- minimum wage to $12. Bernie Sanders wants to do $15. But she is moving to the left. The question is, will that hurt her in general election. She's still leading by a significant amount of delegates. Bernie Sanders could win every contest going away, she could lose every contest going away, she still has more delegates and still would win, hit that 2,383 number.

The question is, will this hurt her in the general election. And the Clinton campaign believes it will not hurt her. They believe it is popular with voters and it certainly not to the degree to which the Republican Party has moved to the right on issues.

But it will be fascinating to watch as she faces off with Donald Trump here. He, of course, is already trying to run around her to the left on trade and other issues. So she's adjusting for Donald Trump as well as adjusting for Bernie Sanders.

BOLDUAN: A lot of adjusting going on it seems.

Jeff Zeleny, great to see you, man.

ZELENY: Thank you.

BOLDUAN: We'll watch that event in New Jersey today. Thank you.

Coming up next, are some Bernie Sanders supporters going for Donald Trump? The fascinating new numbers that had us scratching our heads this morning. Sanders' campaign manager is going to be joining us.

BERMAN: Plus, Donald Trump says he has narrowed down his list of a running mate to five or six people and he reveals the criteria he's looking for but also when he will announce that decision.


[11:26:53] BERMAN: Much to the chagrin of the Democratic campaign, the Democratic race continues. This is much to the delight of the Bernie Sanders campaign.

BOLDUAN: Let's talk to Bernie Sanders campaign manager, Jeff Weaver, who is joining us now.

Jeff, great to see you. Thanks so much for joining us.

Last night marks the 19th victory for you guys. But how does last night change anything about the map ahead?

JEFF WEAVER, BERNIE SANDERS PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN MANAGER: Well, as we have said as we go forward and the Senator continues to rack up victories after victories -- you saw in West Virginia last night -- in 2008, Secretary Clinton West Virginia by 41 points. Last night, she lost West Virginia by 15 points. There's still a tremendous amount of momentum for the Senator out there and his message of dealing with a rigged economy held up by a corrupt campaign finance system. People, that message is still resonating with people across the country. As we go forward into the final contest, I think you're going to continue to see him doing very, very well, and he's going to go into the convention with a tremendous amount of wind at his back.

BERMAN: You know who likes the fact there's wind at your back and that Bernie Sanders is doing well? Donald Trump. He put it on Twitter today. That's how we know. Let me do a dramatic reading, "I don't want to hit "Crazy Bernie Sanders" too hard yet because I love watching what he's doing to Crooked Hillary. His time will come."

There's a lot in that 140 characters or less there, but the part that's interesting is Donald Trump flat-out saying, "I love watching what he's doing to Crooked Hillary." A lot of Hillary Clinton supports say the fact that this race continues, the fact that Hillary Clinton can't focus on the general election, this hurts who may be the ultimate Democratic nominee. Donald Trump saying the same thing that Bernie Sanders insulting Hillary Clinton.

WEAVER: Let me say Senator Sanders doesn't run his campaign based on advice from Donald Trump. Let me say that from the get-go. But let me also say this. This myth that long primaries hurt the nominee, we saw in 2008 how it was not true. Hillary Clinton went to the end and Barack Obama was a tremendously strong candidate in the fall and won a tremendous victory, taking states that Democrats had not taken for years and years and years. I understand why the Clinton campaign might not want the campaign to go on. Clearly, Bernie Sanders has substantial strength with the Democratic base on the issues he's talking about and with Democratic aligned Independents. That's a fact. But he has said he' going to go to the end. Everybody who wants to participate in the Democratic primary process should have the opportunity to voice who they would like to see as the nominee.

BOLDUAN: Let's talk about going to the end though, talking about the general election in November. Fascinating things came out of exit polls last night in West Virginia. Folks were asked if the November match-up is Hillary Clinton versus Trump, Sanders supporters in West Virginia, they go more for Trump. 43 percent would go for Trump over Hillary Clinton. So that seems like a clear problem for the Democratic Party. Do you promise you're going to help turn that number around if things don't go your way in this primary?

WEAVER: Well, you know, that exit poll really is in line with the Quinnipiac polls out the day before in the three battleground states of Ohio and Pennsylvania and Florida, where Bernie Sanders does much better against Trump than does Secretary Clinton.