Return to Transcripts main page

THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER

EgyptAir Investigation; Trump Clinches Republican Nomination; Clinton: Emails "Not An Issue" That Will Affect Campaign. Aired 4- 4:30p ET

Aired May 26, 2016 - 16:00   ET

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


[16:00:05]

JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: Donald Trump, as of today, has clinched the Republican presidential nomination.

THE LEAD starts right now.

To paraphrase Vin Scully, in the year of the improbable, what many thought was impossible has happened. Donald Trump hits the magic number of delegates and he used his victory press conference to bash President Obama, calling him incompetent.

Some breaking news in the search for missing Flight 804, what could be the biggest break yet, signals detected, possibly from the wreckage. Could this lead investigators finally to the black boxes?

Plus, a major U.S. health alert. It's the superbug that's been giving doctors nightmares, and that might mean the end of the road for antibiotics, and it just reached the United States.

Good afternoon, everyone. Welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.

Now, whether you think him a savior from politics as usual and establishment sellouts, or a sign of the pending apocalypse, akin to a three-headed dog, the reality is this. Donald J. Trump, as of today, officially clinched the Republican nomination for president of the United States.

On June 16, 2015, let's walk back to that magic day, Donald Trump announcing his presidential bid. Most Republican elites at the time were doing everything that they could to suppress their smirks. They thought it was another publicity ploy.

Trump's long and ad-libbed speech, which included a reference to Mexicans as rapists and drug dealers, that speech was assailed by rivals, tested politicians such as Jeb Bush or Scott Walker or Rick Perry. That speech was assailed by them as unserious.

But, instead, we are sitting here today on May 26, 2016, and Donald Trump will be the Republican on the ticket in November.

So, how did we get here? Well, the Republican establishment missed opportunity after opportunity to take Trump, the insurgent, seriously. And then, after the establishment realized Trump had tapped into something they had all missed, a Republican base zeitgeist that was anti-Washington, anti-politician, anti-trade deal, anti-illegal immigration, the establishment failed to take their shots when they had chances to take Trump down.

He announced in June. By July, Trump was topping national polls. But two months later, in September, at the second presidential debate for the Republicans, when I asked Governor Jeb Bush as my very first question if he trusted Donald Trump with the nuclear codes, well, Jeb Bush took a pass.

Trump had been the front-runner for months before the first negative TV ad against him even ran. And the man who ended up being Trump's most tenacious rival ultimately, Ted Cruz, he refused to attack Trump for most of his campaign. Cruz wore this refusal as a badge of honor, even after Trump had raised questions about Cruz's religion and where Cruz was born.

By the end of Cruz's run, of course, Trump had mocked Cruz's wife's appearance and questioned whether Cruz's father was involved in the assassination of John F. Kennedy. Spoiler alert, he was not.

The attacks against Trump were late and weak and ineffective. The majority of the millions and millions of dollars in negative ads targeting Trump, they were not spent until after Trump had already won New Hampshire and South Carolina.

Those ads, they were like pea shooters against King Long. Winning begets winning. And now here we are.

Phil Mattingly is in Billings, Montana, today, where Trump will rally supporters in a few hours.

Phil, Trump held a press conference acknowledging the significance of the day and then he got down to needling his likely opponent, Hillary Clinton, and really taking a bunch of whacks at President Obama.

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's exactly right, Jake; 1,237, that number a lot of us didn't think he'd get to until at least the Cleveland convention, but a victory lap, this was not.

Instead, he was ticking point by point through he wanted to attack, a future likely opponent and also the man residing the position that he wants to take.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MATTINGLY (voice-over): Today, Trump firing back at the man he's campaigning to replace.

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Number one, he's incompetent.

MATTINGLY: Trump, speaking just hours after the sitting president overseas in Japan said this about how foreign leaders perceive the New York billionaire. BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think it's fair to

say that they are surprised by the Republican nominee. They are not sure how seriously to take some of his pronouncements, but they are rattled by it.

MATTINGLY: Trump taking the critique in stride and saying it's actually beneficial in the wake of the current administration's actions.

TRUMP: If they are rattled in a friendly way, that's a good thing. He's a president who has done a horrible job. Everybody understands that. He's a president who has allowed many of these countries to totally take advantage of him.

MATTINGLY: Trump back on the trail in North Dakota after bypassing the magic number of 1,237 delegates needed to clinch the nomination.

[16:05:07]

TRUMP: The folks behind me got us right over the top.

MATTINGLY: Pivoting quickly to his likely next opponent, Hillary Clinton.

TRUMP: Here I am watching Hillary fight, and she can't close the deal. And that should be such an easy deal to close.

MATTINGLY: And continuing what has become a round-by-round slugfest between the presumptive nominee and Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren.

TRUMP: She's a woman that has been very ineffective, other than she has got a big mouth.

MATTINGLY: Trump's attacks on Clinton a message the Republican Party hopes will resonate, even as it continues the process of coming together behind its oft-controversial standard-bearer.

REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: What I'm most concerned about is making sure that we actually have real party unity, not pretend party unity, real party unity, because we need to win this election in the fall.

MATTINGLY: Unity inside Trump's campaign, not unlike with the party, a work in progress, Trump's comments coming the day after the removal of his national political director amid continued tensions at the top of his campaign, all as Trump's campaign adviser appeared to reject the possibility of a woman or a minority as Trump's running mate, saying it would be -- quote -- "viewed as pandering."

Trump walking that back today.

TRUMP: He's been misquoted actually a lot, but we're going to have women involved at the absolute highest levels.

MATTINGLY: And, even under constant attack, remaining steadfast on his refusal to release his tax returns until the completion of an IRS audit.

TRUMP: I don't know of very many people that have been audited for 15 years. I'm audited all the time. So, I don't know what that's all about, but the IRS has been very professional.

And, as we move along, as soon as that is finished, whenever that may be -- and hopefully it's going to be before the election. I'm fine with that that. OK?

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MATTINGLY: Jake, the tax issue is just one of a number the Clinton campaign is trying to target Trump with.

But as you just laid out at the top of the show in great detail, attacks so far haven't seemed to resonate with him, whether it's staff problems, whether it's unity issues, whether it's millions of dollars spent against him.

He's still reached that 1,237 mark and surpassed it. As of today, Donald Trump, presumptive GOP nominee, and in Cleveland in just a couple of months, he's won the Republican nomination.

TAPPER: All right, Phil Mattingly, thank you so much.

While Trump has checked off clinching the Republican nomination from his to-do list, the presumptive nominee still needs to unify a skeptical Republican Party. Speaker Paul Ryan again today said he's not ready to endorse Trump, at least not yet.

This Sunday on "STATE OF THE UNION," I will speak exclusively with one of Trump's toughest rivals, Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, who still stands by the concerns he expressed about Trump on policy and politics and temperament, but Rubio is leaning into the effort to defeat Hillary Clinton. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: When we last spoke, you said that you were not yet sure what you were doing, even if you were even attending the Republican Convention in Cleveland. Have you made a decision?

SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R), FLORIDA: Yes. My sense is, I'm going to go to the convention.

TAPPER: You are?

RUBIO: And I don't know if I will have a role in the convention, but I have a lot of people going there that were supporters.

TAPPER: But if Donald Trump asked to you speak on his behalf, you would do so?

RUBIO: I would certainly -- yes. I want to be helpful. I don't want to be harmful, because I don't want Hillary Clinton to be president. Look, my policy differences with Donald Trump, I spent 11 months

talking about them. So, I think they are well-understood. That said, I don't want Hillary Clinton to be president. If there's something I can do to help that from happening and it's helpful to the cause, I would most certainly be honored to be considered for that.

TAPPER: Are you planning on releasing your delegates?

RUBIO: Yes, in fact, basically, technically, have already, because Donald is going to have the majority number. And at that point, it will be irrelevant. So, if we haven't done so already, we will.

TAPPER: So you're willing to go to Cleveland. You're willing to speak, if appropriate. You want to do whatever you can to defeat Hillary Clinton and you like public service. Is the door still closed to being Donald Trump's vice president?

RUBIO: It is, because, in my view, that wouldn't be the right choice for him.

Donald, I think, deserves to have a vice president who has earned the nomination. And he deserves to have a running mate that more fully embraces some of the things he stands for.

TAPPER: We should definitely think that like those of us who cover politics and those of your fans who are watching this right now that this is not the end of it for you. Like, you think you will likely run, if not for president again, something that...

(CROSSTALK)

RUBIO: Yes. I think that's a safe assumption.

But I don't know where I'm going be in two years. I don't know. I can tell you, I enjoy public service. If there's an opportunity to serve again in a way that I feel passionate about, I will most certainly think I will explore it, but I don't know where I'm going to be in two years. I don't know what my life will look like then.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: Make sure to catch my extensive and exclusive interview with Senator Marco Rubio this Sunday on "STATE OF THE UNION." You have two chances to watch, 9:00 a.m. or noon Eastern or both if you're a Nielsen viewer.

Fallout from Hillary Clinton's e-mail use dogging her campaign today, though Clinton insists the revelations from an internal State Department investigation will not affect her campaign or her presidency. Donald Trump, of course, is already using the renewed questions to needle Clinton by saying, maybe he will debate Bernie Sanders if Clinton is not willing to do so.

[16:10:15]

CNN correspondent Sunlen Serfaty is live in Ventura, California, where Senator Sanders is about to speak.

Sunlen, are you expecting Sanders to bring up this State Department watchdog calling into such serious question Clinton's private e-mail server, as well as her accounts of it, which don't seem to square with what investigators found?

SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: No, I actually don't expect Bernie Sanders to bring this up, Jake.

Aides to Senator Sanders have been very clear that, put simply, he's just not going to touch this. They say they want to let the report speak for itself, which is a much different approach taken by Donald Trump.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Hello!

SERFATY (voice-over): Hillary Clinton facing headwinds in her quest to close out the primary.

CLINTON: This election is a make-or-break election.

SERFATY: Tonight, a new jolt. A fresh poll out of California shows Bernie Sanders is closing the gap. It is now nearly a dead heat. This comes as Clinton is facing new scrutiny over her use of a private e-mail server as secretary of state.

CLINTON: Well, it was allowed, and the rules have been clarified since I left about the practice. Having said that, I have said many times it was a mistake. And if I could go back, I would do it differently.

SERFATY: Clinton back on defense after the State Department's inspector general says she violated federal rules.

CLINTON: Just like previous secretaries of state, I used a personal e-mail. Many people did. It was not at all unprecedented.

SERFATY: The report did find that some past secretaries of state used private e-mails as well, but not in the same way Clinton did. The report also notes the rules were updated the year Clinton took office and her staff refused interviews with the investigators, all this giving new ammunition to Donald Trump.

TRUMP: Actually, I sort of like her in the race. I want to run against her.

Look, she has bad judgment. This was all bad judgment, probably illegal. We will have to find out what the FBI says about it.

SERFATY: And Trump on the late-night couch joking, if Hillary Clinton won't debate Bernie Sanders, he will.

JIMMY KIMMEL, HOST, "JIMMY KIMMEL LIVE": He wants to know if you will debate him. TRUMP: Yes, I am. How much is he going to pay me?

SERFATY: The question was actually orchestrated by the Sanders campaign arranged ahead of time with Jimmy Kimmel.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (VT-I), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Donald Trump has agreed to debate me, and I look forward to that.

SERFATY: Trump today saying he will do it for charity.

TRUMP: I would love to debate Bernie, actually. I mean, the problem with debating Bernie, he's going to lose.

SERFATY: Meantime, from abroad, President Obama downplaying any Democratic disarray.

OBAMA: During primaries, people get a little grumpy with each other. You know, it's just the nature of the process.

SERFATY: Saying there's not much ideological difference between Sanders and Clinton, calling for unity.

OBAMA: I think that it's important for us to try to end this in a way that leaves both sides feeling proud of what they have done.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SERFATY: And both Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton are campaigning here in California tonight.

And, tomorrow, the Clinton campaign will go up on the air with their very first TV ad here in the state of California, certainly one sign, especially given the latest polls out today, Jake, that they know that they are going to have to work for it -- Jake.

TAPPER: All right, Sunlen Serfaty in Ventura, California, thanks so much.

We have got lots to discuss. Our panel is here. Donald Trump officially the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, and we're getting new clues as who he might pick as a running mate.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[16:17:35] JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back to THE LEAD.

Let's stay with our politics lead. Donald Trump has officially made it, collecting the 1,237 delegates he needs to clinch the presidential nomination.

Let's talk about it now and the state of the race with "Washington Examiner" senior congressional correspondent, David Drucker, campaign manager to Hillary Clinton in 2008, Patti Solis Doyle, Trump campaign senior press representative Healy Baumgardner, and conservative blogger from "The Federalist", Mary Katharine Ham.

Mary, let me start with you. Donald Trump has officially got all the delegates he needs to win the nomination. But I guess we always kind of knew that this is where this was headed. Does what happened today change anything?

MARY KATHARINE HAM, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: So, you're telling me there's not a convention fight? No.

(LAUGHTER)

TAPPER: I wish I could tell you there was, just because we would have loved the drama it all as reporters.

HAM: No, I mean, he done did it. There's no other story there. It was improbable and he did it in a way that nobody would have predicted. And he broke all of the rules getting there and that's why going into a general election, he continues to be a wildcard because he will continue to break every rule doing that as well.

TAPPER: Yes. Patti, so President Obama abroad criticized Trump said, he's -- a lot of world leaders are rattled by him.

PATTI SOLIS DOYLE, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Right.

TAPPER: Trump responded this afternoon. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESUMPTIVE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: He used a bad word because he knows nothing about business. When you rattle someone, that's good because many of the world, as you know, many of the countries in our world, beautiful world, have been absolutely abusing us and taking advantage of us. If they are rattled in a friendly way, that's a good thing, John. Not a bad thing.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

DOYLE: I don't think they were rattled in a friendly way. I think they have some serious concerns about Donald Trump and his foreign policy. I mean, the president said it was based on ignorance of foreign affairs. So, I thought the president's words were extremely damning against Donald Trump, whether it's his idea to pull out of NATO, whether it's, you know, praising Kim Jong-un or killing his relatives, basically, it's a problem for Donald Trump.

TAPPER: Healy, what do you say?

HEALY BAUMGARDNER, TRUMP CAMPAIGN SENIOR PRESS REPRESENTATIVE: I think that the president should be focused on being the president and commander in chief as he's over there visiting and meeting with other world leaders versus trying to insert him into politics.

TAPPER: David, let me ask you a question. So a big story breaking yesterday but still continuing to break today has to do with the inspector general of the State Department really calling into question her use of the private e-mail server but also her accounts of that server since leaving office.

[16:20:02] Clinton said that she's going to move forward, she doesn't think it's going to affect her campaign or her presidency.

What do you think? Does she need to engage with the press more and explain this more?

DAVID DRUCKER, SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT, WASHINGTON EXAMINER: Well, look, I think as a general rule, she needs to engage with the press more, because Donald Trump is very good at controlling media coverage and the narrative by just flooding the zone with all sorts of opinions and a lot of us think, oh, he can't say that, he shouldn't say that, but guess what we're talking about? Trump.

Last week, Hillary Clinton sat down with CNN for 25 minutes. It was a pretty good interview. She was asked about Donald Trump at least a dozen times, once every two minutes. So, number one, she needs to engage more.

But I would say this. The e-mail scandal is a problem, it should not be underestimated by her supporters or her campaign because it can undercut the biggest selling point for her candidacy, which is that she's got the resume, she's got the experience, she's going to know what she's doing. You may not like what she does as president, but she's going to be capable and have the right judgment.

And this email scandal calls into question her judgment, and that's why it is so potent a tool for the Republicans.

TAPPER: Patti?

DOYLE: Look, she said it was mistake. She said if she had to do it over again, she wouldn't have done it, and I think she is feeling that big time now that this I.G. report is out. But, look, the reason this is getting so much attention because she's running for president. She's in the middle of the campaign. And campaigns, as you know, are about choices. And if the choices between Hillary Clinton with a 35- year career of public service and real ideas about how to make this country better against Donald Trump with no ideas, I think voters are going to choose Hillary Clinton.

TAPPER: One of the things that's interesting right now because of my friend Mr. Jimmy Kimmel, there's a prospect of a possible debate between Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump. Bernie Sanders has been trying to get Hillary Clinton to debate him in California. She said she's not going to do that. Now, maybe there's going to be this Trump-Sanders debate.

Take a listen to what Mr. Trump had to say about this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: If we can raise for maybe women's health issues or something, if we can raise $10 million or $15 million for charity, which would be a very appropriate amount, I understand the television business very well, I think it would get very high ratings. It should be in a big arena somewhere and we can have a lot of fun with it. I'd love to debate Bernie.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: I mean, I hope this happens.

HAM: Send in your nickels and dimes and make sure that they go to the charity afterwards.

But, no, I think it's an interesting prospect in a very Trumpian way. He said, yes, they'd be a great idea and he sort of back off of it, so we don't know what will happen. I think it would be interesting to see them agree on some things when they would talk about trade, for instance.

TAPPER: Yes.

HAM: Trump saying today that he wants to -- the Republican Party will be a workers party in the future, something that Bernie might get on board with.

TAPPER: Interesting.

HAM: The dynamic would be fascinating.

TAPPER: Let me bring you in, Healy.

An advisor to Donald Trump, Paul Manafort told the "Huffington Post", they would like pandering if Trump chose a woman or minority for his V.P. This afternoon, Mr. Trump seemed to try to dial that back.

What's really going on here?

BAUMGARDNER: Well, I mean, first and foremost, let's consider the source, it's the "Huffington Post". I mean, they weren't even covering our campaign at the onset. But --

(CROSSTALK)

TAPPER: It's just a quote Paul Manafort.

BAUMGARDNER: Right, right, I'm getting to that.

TAPPER: OK.

BAUMGARDNER: But I think it was taken out of context, and the fact of the matter is, what Mr. Trump said today is clear. You know, it's not going to be a decision based on gender or race, it's going to be a decision based off of somebody who is the most qualified.

Mr. Trump has exemplified that, you know, hiring women and putting them in positions of power and seniority back in his real estate businesses when it wasn't popular. So, the decision will be made based off of qualifications, nothing further than that.

TAPPER: David? DRUCKER: Look, I expect Donald Trump will nominate someone with a lot of government experience. That's what he said. He's always been good at trying to fill positions with talented people.

I would say this: Paul Manafort, I believe what he says as far as I could throw him but not because of him. It's because Donald Trump runs his campaign and I think Paul Manafort is speaking to all of the Republicans that want to believe Donald Trump is going to be their kind of Republican to the donors and to everybody who's been a part of the party for a long time.

At the end of the day, Donald Trump makes his own decisions. Paul Manafort said in that interview exactly that. He can't be managed. And so, you kind of have to look at the different pieces of communication to come out of the campaign and understood who they're intended for.

HAM: Well, there's a perfect example. Manafort said people can distance themselves from Trump, it will be A-okay. The governor of New Mexico did so and he went out and had something to say about it.

TAPPER: There you go.

All right. Mary Katharine, David, Patti, Healy, thank you so much.

DRUCKER: Thank you.

TAPPER: In our world lead, a huge break in the search for missing EgyptAir Flight 804. The lead investigator now saying they have detected signals from the plane's wreckage. That story next.

Plus, health officials warn it was coming and now, it's here in the U.S. A woman infected with a superbug that is resistant to all antibiotics. How did she get it? What does this mean for us?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[16:29:16] TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.

Our world lead now, a big new clue in the search for EgyptAir Flight 804 wreckage. The lead investigator says Airbus has detected emergency signals from the Mediterranean Sea where the plane crashed last week. That's according to Egyptian state media.

Let's go right to CNN's Nic Robertson. He's is in Cairo, Egypt.

Nic, tell us more about this signal. Is it normal to hear about them so long after a crash?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: This is what's really strange about this information, Jake. These transmitters, their batteries last for about 48 hours. They are designed to be triggered on impact with the sea or with the land and they will keep broadcasting for 48 hours. It's seven days later now.

So, what the head of the investigation here in Egypt told state media TV is that he said Airbus had contacted him. They told him that they picked up via satellite one of those ELT emergency locating transmitter transmissions.