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THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER
Interview With Arizona Senator Jeff Flake; Zika in U.S.; Trump Under Fire; Fact Checker Gives Clinton "Four Pinocchios"; First Look at New Attack Ad from Pro-Clinton Super PAC. Aired 4-4:30p ET
Aired August 1, 2016 - 16:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: Ninety-nine days until Election Day, 99, but who's counting? THE LEAD starts right now.
We have been here before, the Republican nominee condemned even by Republicans after controversial comments. Every time previously, his poll number went up. But what's going to happen now after he took on a Gold Star family?
She said/he said. Hillary Clinton putting words in the FBI director's mouth, claiming he said she was truthful in public statements about her e-mails. Now fact-checkers are dropping more Pinocchios than a clumsy Disney animator.
Zika is here, 10 more confirmed cases identified in Florida. And now the CDC is issuing a travel warning to the popular tourist state.
Good afternoon, everyone. Welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.
Let's plunge right into today's top stories, on one hand, Donald Trump blurting on an attack many folks find beyond the pale, on the other, Hillary Clinton claiming something to defend herself, something that has fact-checkers crying foul or what we like it call Monday.
Mr. Trump's latest salvo, his attacks on Khizr and Ghazala Khan, who appeared at the Democratic Convention to talk about the military service and heroism of their fallen son, Army Captain Humayun Khan, and to challenge Trump's proposed temporary ban on Muslims entering the country.
But on stage just now, Trump addressed a different controversy, his apparent shall we say confusion about whether Russia annexed Crimea.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Putin said some very good things about me. People say, oh, Trump is going to be weak with Putin because is saying nice things about me. OK. All right.
And I said he's a strong guy. They immediately say, oh, Trump likes Putin. Look, I don't like or dislike him. I just say it this way. Wouldn't it be great if the United States and Russia got along?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: Jason Carroll joins me now live from Columbus, where Trump is speaking right now.
Jason, I doubt that the media would be talking much about the Khans today if Mr. Trump and his team didn't keep attacking them, but it sounds like he has so far refrained in these remarks.
JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I think that's a very good point.
At this point at least Trump has been speaking now for about a half- hour, maybe a little bit more. He talks about a number of topics. He's talked about Russia, he's talked Crimea, everything from the fire marshal not letting enough people inside the room to creating jobs, but no mention of the Khans.
Perhaps and just perhaps, I say, he is finally starting to listen to those within his campaign who are saying focus on Clinton and move on.
CARROLL (voice-over): Facing a bipartisan backlash over his attacks of a family after slain U.S. soldier, Donald Trump is not backing down. And neither is the father of the Army Captain Humayun Khan, who was awarded a Bronze Star and Purple Star for helping save fellow soldiers in Iraq by walking toward a car loaded with explosives in 2004.
KHIZR KHAN, FATHER OF KILLED U.S. SOLDIER: This is proof of his ignorance and arrogance. And I again and again ask his advisers to get him in a room, close the door and set him right.
CARROLL: Trump tweeting today: "Mr. Khan, who doesn't know me, viciously attacked me from the stage of the DNC and is now all over TV doing the same. Nice."
The war of words starting after Khizr Khan rebuked Trump during last week's Democratic Convention.
K. KHAN: You have sacrificed nothing and no one.
CARROLL: Trump responding by saying Ghazala Khan's Muslim faith might have been the reason she did not speak at the convention.
TRUMP: I saw him. He was, you know, very emotional and probably looked like a nice guy to me. His wife, if you look at his wife, she was standing there, she had nothing to say. She probably -- maybe she wasn't allowed to have anything to say.
CARROLL: Prompting this response from Ghazala Khan.
GHAZALA KHAN, MOTHER OF KILLED U.S. SOLDIER: I can say that my religion, or my family, on my country never stopped me saying whatever I want to say. And anybody can see that how different that time was when I was standing there in front of America. Without saying a word, I had lots of love.
CARROLL: A number of prominent Republicans stepping forward in support of the Khan family, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker Paul Ryan.
Arizona Senator John McCain, who Trump once said was not a war hero because he was captured, issued a lengthy statement, denouncing the GOP candidate, writing: "I cannot emphasize enough how deeply I disagree with Mr. Trump's statement. I hope Americans understand that the remarks do not represent the views of the Republican Party, its officers or candidates."
President Obama weighing in on the issue this afternoon.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: No one has given more for our freedom and our security than our Gold Star families.
CARROLL: All this as Hillary Clinton accuses Trump of again crossing the line with his remarks.
HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: To have Trump do what he did, I don't know where the bottoms are. I don't know where the bottom is.
CARROLL: And Trump at this point has just started taking questions, Jake, the first question being about health care.
We should also point out that at a certain point, at one point, Trump did refer to Khan's son as a hero. And speaking to a number of people here in this room though in talking about that controversy, I have to tell you, a lot of them just say it simply does not matter. They say that Khan is a Clinton supporter and the conversation pretty much ends right after that -- Jake.
TAPPER: All right, Jason Carroll, thank you so much.
Joining me now is Republican Senator Jeff Flake of Arizona, a member of the Foreign Relations Committee . He has notably not endorsed Donald Trump for president.
Senator Flake, thank you so much for joining me. I appreciate it.
SEN. JEFF FLAKE (R), ARIZONA: Yes, thanks for having me on.
TAPPER: In December, after Mr. Trump proposed the temporary ban on Muslims entering the country, you visited a mosque in Arizona. You issued a call for unity. Now Mr. Trump is talking about some of the same issues, but this time he's taking on the family of Captain Khan.
Senator John McCain, a war hero, accused Trump of dishonoring Captain Khan's service and argued the Republican presidential candidate doesn't represent the GOP -- quote -- "While our party has bestowed upon him the nomination, it is not accompanied by unfettered license to defame those who are the best among us."
What's your take on what Mr. Trump has said about the Khans?
FLAKE: Well, you know, it started when he first launched his campaign and said what he said about John McCain, that he didn't respect him because he was captured.
One would have thought that if anybody is beyond reproach, it's somebody who spent five years as a prisoner of war in Vietnam, but still Donald Trump said what he said.
And now to go after the Khans, and to make a statement like he's made there, I'm just completely flummoxed. I think most Americans are at why someone would do that.
The reason I went to the mosque after he proposed his Muslim ban is because having a religious test for people to enter the country is just so far afield from who we are as Americans, that I thought it was necessary do that and I still feel that that way.
And that was Mr. Khan's main point that we shouldn't have a test, that Muslim Americans are patriotic Americans and we ought to recognize that.
TAPPER: Senator, you're notably not supporting Donald Trump, but you always emphasize that you're not never Trump, that you might get there. You might endorse him.
Given this recent controversy, what would he need to say to you to get you on board or do you think at this point, given what he said about the Khans, what he said about John McCain, that it's just impossible?
FLAKE: Well, we still have 99 days. Hope springs eternal.
But he would have to change, not just the tone and tenor of his campaign, and that would notably have to change, but some of his positions would have to change. The ban on Muslims, he seems to have walked back, but then there are some indications he may not have walked it back. He needs to have a more serious immigration policy than he's had.
Just saying we are going to build a wall and make Mexico pay for it is not a serious proposal. His thoughts about NATO and the security umbrella that we have for European countries, extremely troubling. These things and his position on trade obviously is troubling. So a number of positions need to change. I hope they do.
He's got a good running mate. Mike Pence is a great man. I hope that he has some influence on Donald Trump in these areas.
TAPPER: While you're on the subject of the some of the issues that Mr. Trump has made about foreign policy, let's turn to the comments he made about Russian involvement in Ukraine. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: He's not going into Ukraine, OK, so you understand. He is not going to go into Ukraine. You can mark it down, you can put it down, you can take it any way you want.
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC NEWS: He is already there, isn't he?
TRUMP: Well, he is there in a certain way, but I'm not there. You have Obama there. And, frankly, that whole part of the world is a mess under Obama.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: Mr. Trump tried to clarify that with a tweet this morning -- quote -- "When I said in an interview that Putin is not going into Ukraine, you can mark it down, I'm saying, if I am president. Already in Crimea."
Senator, what do you make of all this? Does Donald Trump, in your view, understand what exactly is going on when it comes to Russia and Ukraine?
FLAKE: Well, I'm not sure that he does.
And given the other things that he said, like I said about NATO as well and the importance of the security arrangement we have with those countries, says to me that he really doesn't understand the situation as he should.
And on the other side, Hillary Clinton is the one that famously had the reset button and that exposed a huge naivete on her part in terms of the ambitions of Vladimir Putin and the Russians. I think that on both sides we have a situation where they need to talk to more advisers and learn a little more about what is going on.
TAPPER: I want to ask you about Hillary Clinton. In an interview with FOX News Channel, she made a comment that FBI director said she had been honest about her private e-mail server and what she had told the American people. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CLINTON: Director Comey said that my answers were truthful and what I have said is consistent with what I have told the American people, that there were decisions discussed and made to classify retroactively certain of the e-mails.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: Now, she's right in the sense that the director of the FBI said that there was no reason to think she had lied to the FBI, but the question that Chris Wallace had asked was about whether or not she had been truthful to the American people. And Mr. Comey did not say that she had been truthful to the American people. What was your reaction?
FLAKE: Well, my reaction is, I don't know who she thinks she's fooling at this point.
She consistently said this and it is in complete contradiction of what Comey said. So, I don't know why in the world she continues to push this narrative. She would do well to get past it. But it really doesn't give the American people much comfort about where she is if she simply can't own up to the fact that she sent classified material. Let's get beyond it.
TAPPER: Senator Flake, I just want to ask you one more question. You keep talking about how Donald Trump could change theoretically in the next 99 day and become the kind of person you want to vote for. But that won't erase the previous year's worth of comments.
And I'm wondering what you think he could possibly do that would make it as if all the other comments that have bothered you so much go away?
FLAKE: Well, I can say the chances are slim.
You got hold to out some hope. It's not a comfortable position to be a Republican and not support the Republican nominee. I'm not part of the never Trump movement. I want to support our nominee. But a number of positions have to change, as well as the tone and the tenor of the debate and the campaign.
Is that likely to happen? Probably not. But some of us need to push back, and that's what I'm trying to do now.
TAPPER: Senator Flake, thank you so much. Always good to see you, sir. Appreciate it.
FLAKE: You too. Thanks.
TAPPER: Hillary Clinton claiming the FBI director said she was truthful with the American public when she discussed her e-mail server. The problem is, he never really said that. Much more on that story next.
[16:17:06] TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD.
Let's stay with politics. Folks at home, you might want to get out your parsing pants. At issue, Hillary Clinton asked on "Fox News Sunday" by Chris Wallace about claims that she made to the American public about her e-mail server. Clinton's response that "FBI Director Comey said my answers were truthful." The Clinton campaign said that Clinton was referring there not the answers she gave the American people, but answers she gave to the FBI. And it is true that Comey said we have no basis to conclude she lied to the FBI.
But what about the assertion she made to the public, which was what Chris Wallace asked her about? "The Washington Post" fact-checker concluded Clinton, quote, "relies
on excessively technical and legalistic answers to explain her actions. While Comey did say there was no evidence she lied to the FBI, that is not the same as saying she told the truth to the American public which was the point of Wallace's question." It's exhausting and my pen is running out of ink.
This as Clinton and her allies are picking up the pace on the campaign trail. She is moments away from rallying with billionaire Warren Buffett in his hometown of Omaha, Nebraska.
Let's bring in Nebraska's own, CNN senior White House correspondent, Washington correspondent rather, Jeff Zeleny.
Jeff, is it possible that four Pinocchios could take down what four days of the DNC built up for Clinton last week?
JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Jake, it is the reason that so many people still have so many questions about her honesty and trust because she is not yet put this e-mail controversy to rest. Every time she's asked about it, she simply fails to do so.
But I can tell you, that's been overtaken by controversy of Donald Trump's own making. She is trying to press forward here, making the case that Donald Trump is an unacceptable choice. She is doing it today here in Nebraska.
HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: Shame on you, Donald Trump. Shame on you.
ZELENY (voice-over): It's becoming Hillary Clinton's anthem of the fall campaign. Tonight, she has a bounce in her step. A new poll shows the Democratic convention gave her a boost over Trump.
But Clinton is still trying to shake a controversy of her own over e- mails, after telling "FOX News Sunday" the FBI called her answers truthful.
CLINTON: Director Comey said that my answers were truthful and what I've said is consistent with what I've told the American people.
ZELENY: That's not exactly true. FBI Director James Comey has said there's no evidence Clinton lied to the FBI but he didn't say she'd been truthful to the American people. He called her handling of classified information extremely careless.
"The Washington Post" fact checker gave her answer a failing grade of four Pinocchios.
And during congressional hearings, Republican Chairman Trey Gowdy got Comey to testify that many claims Clinton made to the public were false.
REP. TREY GOWDY (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: Secretary Clinton said all work- related e-mails were returned to the State Department. Was that true?
JAMES COMEY, FBI DIRECTOR: No. We found work-related e-mails, thousands, that were not returned.
ZELENY: Clinton is trying to move on and broaden her appeal, appearing in Omaha tonight with Warren Buffett.
[16:20:03] WARREN BUFFETT, BILLIONAIRE BUSINESSMAN: I've known her since 1992.
ZELENY: He's the latest in a string of billionaire businessmen to build a case against Trump.
Over the weekend, it was Mark Cuban in his native Pittsburgh.
MARK CUBAN, BILLIONAIRE BUSINESSMAN: Is there any bigger jag-off in the world than Donald Trump?
ZELENY: And Michael Bloomberg at the convention in Philadelphia.
MICHAEL BLOOMBERG (I), FORMER NEW YORK CITY MAYOR: Let's select a sane competent person --
ZELENY: For the next three months, the race is all about the Electoral College, finding a path to 270 electoral votes. That's why Clinton is eyeing Nebraska. Along with Maine, it's one of two states that split their electoral votes by congressional district. President Obama swept one of Nebraska's electoral votes in 2008. Clinton hopes to follow suit.
But by embracing Obama so closely, her challenge is presenting herself as a candidate of change.
CLINTON: I know people are angry and frustrated. I'm not going into this with some kind of rose-colored glasses. I know we've got work to do.
ZELENY: And, Jake, that work to do is in the middle of the electorate, independents and Republicans she's trying to reach. Of course, those are the ones who still have questions about her e-mail and other controversies -- Jake.
TAPPER: Jeff Zeleny, thank you so much.
We talked earlier about Donald Trump's comments about Russia. Let's plunge in right now to Hillary Clinton insisting Russian intelligence was behind the hack and leak of Democratic National Committee e-mails. In an interview yesterday, the former secretary of state spoke about whether she thinks Vladimir Putin is trying to influence the outcome of the presidential race.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CLINTON: Here's what I think we know: we know that Russian intelligence services, which are part of the Russian government, which is under the firm control of Vladimir Putin, hacked into the DNC, and we know that they arranged for a lot of those e-mails to be released. And we know that Donald Trump has shown a very troubling willingness to back up Putin, to support Putin.
CHRIS WALLACE, "FOX NEWS SUNDAY" ANCHOR: So, are you suggesting that Putin would rather see him as president than you?
CLINTON: Well, I'm not going to jump to that conclusion. But I think laying out the facts raises serious issues about Russian interference in our elections, in our democracy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: Joining me now to break this all down is CNN justice reporter Evan Perez.
Evan, WikiLeaks released the DNC e-mails. Hillary Clinton said that this is what we know, Russia hacked the DNC server and then arranged them to be released. Do we know for a fact that the Russians are behind the release of the e-mails giving them to WikiLeaks?
EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE REPORTER: No, Jake, we don't know that. Obviously, that is Mrs. Clinton's position based on some of the outside consultants that the Democratic Party and her campaign hired to look into this hack. But we don't know whether the Russians have turned over the emails that have been released by the WikiLeaks. There is strong evidence from officials that I've talked to that Russian intelligence was behind this hack. But that the subsequent question, second question, which is why and whether or not they give to WikiLeaks I think is still very much under investigation.
The Clinton campaign wants to make people believe that Putin did this to help Donald Trump. And I've got to tell you, in talking with officials, it's not clear that we'll ever know anything like that simply because, obviously, when this hack was done about year ago or over a year ago, Donald Trump was one of 18 candidates on the Republican side, so it is not clear that they would have known anything about what position he would be in come this year, obviously.
We know that there are over a dozen entities hacked. Most of them have affiliations of Democratic Party or left-leaning. We have looked and talked to people on the Republican side. No indication that the RNC or Republican organizations have been hacked, Jake.
TAPPER: All right. Evan Perez, thanks so much. Appreciate it.
As Trump defends his feud with the Gold Star family, the Khans, a group is spending more than $4 million on a new ad in battleground states to bring up something else Trump said about members of the military. We will debut that ad here on THE LEAD and get an immediate response from the Trump campaign, coming up next.
[16:28:38] TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. Let's stay with our political lead and get right to our political
panel, to discuss all of today's developments. Donald Trump national spokesperson Katrina Pierson joins us. Also, co-chair of Priorities USA, which is super PAC supporting Hillary Clinton, is with us, Guy Cecil. And also with us, Republican strategist Ana Navarro.
To begin with, I want to unveil a brand new ad from Priorities USA, which is the super PAC supporting Clinton. And before we do, I want to reiterate to any Democrats or Republicans campaigns super PACs that if you have a real ad backed by real money, you are more than invited to come on the show and we will broadcast your new ad here and discuss it as we are going to do with this one. This Priorities ad is $4.5 million buy airing in nine battleground states starting tomorrow and I guess coincidentally it features a prisoner of war from Vietnam.
Let's watch the ad.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, PRIORITIES USA/CAMPAIGN AD)
JOE KERNAN, RETIRED NAVAL OFFICER: I got shot down over Vietnam and spent 11 months in POW camp. What Donald Trump said about our members of the military being captured is a disgrace.
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: He is a war hero because he was captured. I like people that weren't captured.
KESNAN: When you fly over enemy territory, the odds might be against you being able to come home. Donald Trump doesn't understand the weigh of sending Americans into harm's way. He is unfit to be president.
AD NARRATOR: Priorities USA Action is responsible for the content of this advertising.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: Tough stuff. Katrina, let me get your response as a spokesperson for the Trump campaign. What do you think of that ad?
KATRINA PIERSON, DONALD TRUMP NATIONAL SPOKESPERSON: Well, it is another attack ad against Mr. Trump. This is something we expected to come. Mr. Trump has the utmost respect for POWs, as well as those who serve and veterans, considering how he is the only one with the plan to reform Veterans Administration at this point.