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AT THIS HOUR WITH BERMAN AND MICHAELA
Trump Backtracks on Seeing Plane; Trump Down in Polls; Ryan Worried about Republicans Losing House; Former CIA Acting Director Mike Morell: Clinton Faces Criticism over Comments on FBI E-mail Probe; Trump Dangerous to National Security; Clinton Leading Trump in Red State Georgia. Aired 11-11:30a ET
Aired August 5, 2016 - 11:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[11:00:00] CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: Yeah, "Got Shorty: Inside The Case for El Chapo," airs Sunday night on CNN. If you need a break from politics, we got you covered this weekend.
Thank you for joining me. I'm Carol Costello.
AT THIS HOUR with Berman and Bolduan starts now.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE & CEO, TRUMP ORGANIZATION: They have a perfect tape of the people taking the money off the plane.
That was given to us, has to be, by the Iranians.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Now he says, "The plane I saw on television was the hostage plane in Geneva, Switzerland."
KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Not looking good for Donald Trump right now.
BERMAN: Hillary Clinton now up nine points nationally versus Donald Trump.
TRUMP: We're running against a rigged system.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Of course, the elections will not be rigged. What does that mean?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ryan also opening the door of potentially not backing Trump in the future.
REP. PAUL RYAN, (R-WI), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE (voice-over): I have a duty to defend Republican principles.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BOLDUAN: Hello, everyone. I'm Kate Bolduan.
BERMAN: I'm John Berman.
When a presidential candidate kind of admits he didn't see a nonexistent video he described in great detail, twice, that's an interesting development. When it comes as the surprise that a candidate kind of admits he didn't see a non-existent video, twice, well, that's 2016.
After repeatedly claiming he saw video of a plane delivering $400 million in cash to Iran, Donald Trump now says, no. He tweeted this morning, "The plane I saw on television was the hostage plane in Geneva, Switzerland, not the plane carrying $400 million in cash going to Iran."
BOLDUAN: This, despite his vivid descriptions of that video on the campaign trail over last couple of days. You need a reminder? Here you go.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: They have a perfect tape done by obviously a government camera and the tape is of the people taking the money off the plane, right? That means in order to embarrass us further, Iran sent us the tape, right? It's a military type. It was a tape that was a perfect angle, nice and steady. The tape was made, right? You saw that with the airplane coming in? Nice plane. And with the airplane coming in and the money coming off, I guess, right? That was given to us, has to be, by the Iranians.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BOLDUAN: Donald Trump we now see is backing away from that.
CNN's chief national security correspondent, Jim Sciutto, is here with more.
So, Jim, is it all now cleared up?
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: No.
I mean, listen, it's been clear from the beginning what this was. The question is the characterization of it. And in his tweet, he says something that contradicts what he said yesterday, in fact two key facts. One, he says in his Tweet this morning that he was not talking about a plane with money, he was talking about the hostage plane in Switzerland. And, two, he says there that -- well, actually, his campaign has said it's something he saw on broadcast television, specifically FOX News. His statement just yesterday and repeatedly before that had said he was talking about a plane full of money separate from one carrying the hostages. And that this was secret video that the Iranians somehow gave to us, gave to the U.S. or to the public to embarrass -- to embarrass the U.S. So on those two key facts, a difference in his own statement within 24 hours.
So the question is, is he walking back the claim or is he trying to create a new narrative here, right, denying, and it sounds like in that tweet he's denying he ever made those claims before. BOLDUAN: And, still, the conversation over the real crux of the
issue, the $400 million, and the question of ransom or not ransom, that seems to be overshadowed by, now, this back and forth over video or no video.
SCIUTTO: That's right.
BOLDUAN: Jim Sciutto, great to see you.
BOLDUAN: Go ahead, I'm sorry.
SCIUTTO: That's a fair question, right? It's not new because we knew about these payments going back months ago. But it's a fair question to ask would those hostages, those American hostages, have left the country if the payment was not made. That's a fair question. And our Elise Labott asked the State Department official yesterday and the answer to that question is, it's unknowable.
BOLDUAN: Great to see you, Jim. Thank you.
Donald Trump has faced a tough couple of days in the polls, down big, double-digits in some pretty important battleground states. But today, Trump may have a problem with a not so battleground state.
BERMAN: Let's bring in Phil Mattingly.
Georgia's kind of a red, red, red state.
PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, you could call it a red, red and red state.
MATTINGLY: Last time Democrats won Georgia was 1992 with Bill Clinton, a southern governor, so a bit of a leg up there. Donald Trump shouldn't lose Georgia. Georgia's not one of those states the Clinton campaign has been targeting. They're not spending anything at all in that state. Donald Trump is now trailing Hillary Clinton by four points in the latest poll from the "Atlanta Journal- Constitution."
And here's kind of why that matters. Democrats have been eyeing Georgia for a couple of cycles. Back in 2012, other than North Carolina, this was the closest state President Obama had to Mitt Romney. He lost. He lost by eight points. But demographically over the course of the last 10 to 15 years the state has changed, particularly when it comes to African-Americans, a portion of the vote that Hillary Clinton throughout all polling national and battleground over the course of the last month has had a huge advantage in. She's 83 percent of the African-American vote. And the poll that came out today was going towards Hillary Clinton, so there are some opportunities there they believe. However, the bigger issue is if this is happening in non-swing states,
and we see it happening in places like Utah, how big a problem is that for Donald Trump? He has to spend to defend in Georgia. We talked about his big fundraising day yesterday. If he has to spend to defend states like Georgia, states like Utah, his path essentially disintegrates or goes up into thin air. He should be spending in places like Pennsylvania and Ohio, trying to take states from away from Democrats, not defending red states.
[11:06:09] BERMAN: Spend to defend. Phil, it could be the end.
BOLDUAN: Oh, stop it right now. The line of the day.
BERMAN: That's what they say.
BERMAN: Phil Mattingly, thank you.
MATTINGLY: Thanks, guys.
BERMAN: How worried is the Republican leadership about this? House Speaker Paul Ryan reportedly sent an urgent fundraising appeal warning that, quote, "If we fail to protect our majority in Congress, we could be handing President Hillary Clinton a blank check.
BOLDUAN: Let's bring in CNN's senior political reporter, Manu Raju, right now with more on this.
Manu, what is the message Speaker Ryan is trying to send here?
MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: That there could actually be a check on Hillary Clinton. Remember, this is -- Republicans are noticing that, the top of that, big donors are not keen on putting a lot of money behind Donald Trump. They're nervous about him. They're seeing these poll numbers that suggest Hillary has a leg up, is a heavy favorite perhaps heading into November, and they are trying to convince these voters a safer bet is down-ticket. No matter what happens at the top of the ticket, give your money to Congress. That is going to be increasingly the message you'll hear from Republican leaders to these donors who are very worried about what's going to happen to Donald Trump. And they're worried happening to -- after his last couple of pretty rough weeks, last couple of rough weeks here on the campaign trail.
It's interesting to note that, similarly, on the Senate side, one thing they're saying pretty dramatically to their donors, give us money down-ticket because we can help ensure Hillary Clinton does not have a Supreme Court nominee, someone she can put, move this bench dramatically to left. So they're making the message on the Senate side as well. The message to these donors is to scare them that Hillary Clinton could win, let's try to protect Congress instead.
BERMAN: It's August. It's early for this kind of message.
Manu Raju, thank you. I want to bring in our panel, Alice Stewart, CNN political
commentator, Republican strategist and former communications director for Senator Ted Cruz; New York city councilman, Joseph Boreli, co- chair of Donald Trump's New York campaign; Juliette Kayyem, CNN national security analyst and author of "Security Mom.". Also with us is Jackie Kucinich, CNN political analyst and Washington bureau chief for "The Daily Beast"; and Brad Woodhouse, former communications director for the DNC and a Hillary Clinton supporter, and president of Correct the Record and Americans United for Change.
Doesn't anyone just have one title anymore?
BERMAN: Alice, I want to start with you.
This fundraising pitch from Paul Ryan uses the language, you know, don't give a blank check to a Hillary Clinton. "The Washington Post" notes historically those are loaded words. In 1996, Republicans used that towards the end of the election because they were nervous Bob Dole would lose. They did that to try to preserve their majority in the House. Is this a message from Paul Ryan to Republicans around the country, we think we're going to lose the White House now, it's time to take evasive action?
ALICE STEWART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: It's not unusual for fundraising e-mails to have such do-or-die language like this, it's a call to action, it's an urgent plea for funds quickly, and large sums. They had a great fundraising month last month. But this kind of language is not unusual.
However, after the last seven days or so, there I some concern, based on being off message in the poll numbers, and so clearly the plea in this e-mail is to appeal to donors, we need money now, we need large sums. And also talking about a blank check, making sure we support members of Congress who are in some contested races. Up and down the ticket, we need to make sure Republicans are nominated.
Based on the poll number, it's not looking great for Donald Trump but he has time to turn things around. This is an urgent -- it's a normal call to action for donating.
[11:10:06] BOLDUAN: A normal call to action, Joseph. But as a Donald Trump supporter, do you think this helps Donald Trump get closer to endorsing Paul Ryan in this whole back and forth?
JOSEPH BORELI, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Maybe it doesn't, right, but let's ask the same question of the Democrats. This year alone, May 3rd, when Donald Trump secured the nomination when Cruz opted out, and July 19th when he secured the nomination formally, the DCCC sent out e-mails saying, oh, my goodness, what if Donald Trump becomes our president, we need your help as well. I think largely what our last speaker said isn't largely true, these are things that are normal. They're trying --
(CROSSTALK) BOLDUAN: Scare them until they spend.
BORELI: It's a fair thing. It worked, right?
BORELI: The other guy might win, support us.
BERMAN: Fundraising pictures are not a place you see much restraint, usually. We'll stipulate that.
Joe, I want to ask you about Wisconsin. Donald Trump is going to Wisconsin today, a state with a lot of prominent Republicans, none of whom are going to be on stage with him today. Ron Johnson, the Senator up for re-election, not there. Reince Priebus, the chair of the RNC, not there. Paul Ryan, speaker of the House, not there.
BERMAN: Scott Walker, governor of Wisconsin, not going to be there. A lot of "not going to be there" for the Republican nominee.
BORELI: Look, some of them have been very supportive of Donald Trump in the past, some of them haven't. It's just one of those things where you have to take who's with you, take who's against you and move forward. He has to compete in states like Wisconsin. He has no choice but to be there and he has no choice but to fill auditoriums and big arenas like he's done every single state past and fill it with grassroots support.
BOLDUAN: You think he needs these leaders?
BORELI: I don't think he needs any one particular one. Having more support always helps you, period. It's not a question of any one though.
BERMAN: Jackie, let's talk about video, shall we? Let's talk about videotapes. Let's talk about videotapes that doesn't --
BOLDUAN: Very scary.
BERMAN: Not as sketchy as I needed it to sound.
Donald Trump, in this tweet, he's either revising or clarifying, you know, the nonexistent video that he didn't see. You know, Donald Trump doesn't apologize a lot. He didn't really apologize here either. But he doesn't even clarify very much either. So why on this subject? Why not with the Khans, you know, why not with other things that we've seen before in the past but on this one he did?
JACKIE KUCINICH, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I mean, let's give him some credit for doing that. You're right, he doesn't do that. I feel like his advisers finally got to him for this one because there wasn't anything to prove that he was right. And you had, you know, officials all across the government, Republicans and Democrats, saying this doesn't exist. It was starting to undermine him. It was yet another narrative. When we should be talking about something that the Democrats are doing, where he should be attacking Hillary Clinton and maybe using this as a way to undermine her national security creds, which is what you hear other Republicans doing, instead, he was talking about this video that doesn't exist. So I think finally maybe he's listening. I wouldn't hold our breath because we've said a million times is he turning the corner. It seems like this time that's what happened.
BOLDUAN: Much ado about nothing on this one?
BORELI: This is one of those times where it genuinely was an innocent mistake. He said, I guess it might be this, I guess it might be that. He had just seen the video an hour, 45 minutes before going on stage. All -- of everyone in the media really has said Donald Trump needs to do a better job of admitting an error and moving on. He admitted an error. Let's move on. If we want to talk about Iran, we can do that all day long. Two-thirds of people do not support the Iran nuclear deal. Let's talk about that.
BOLDUAN: Let's talk about national security.
How about that, Joseph Boreli?
JULIETTE KAYYEM, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Just leads back to Donald Trump, right?
BOLDUAN: Mike Morell, the former acting director of the CIA worked under both President George W. Bush and President Obama. In an op-ed today in "The New York Times," which I'm sure many have seen, he wrote, "Trump is not only unqualified for the job but he may well pose a threat to our national security."
As a former top official at the Department of Homeland Security, what do you think of that? What do you make of it?
KAYYEM: I've known Mike Morell for a while. I didn't know he was not a Democrat or a Republican. I actually assumed he was a Republican. Most people in the intelligence committee don't identify with a party. They identify with foreign policy and national security. What I think you're starting to hear is if Donald Trump sort of owned safety and security for that Monday and Tuesday of the convention, in the last two weeks, it's really been about, let's just be honest, like sanity and stability. The focus has been is this someone who would be secure in the position of controlling American's national security. You're seeing that from a bipartisan perspective now. Real questions about whether his sanity and stability are worthy of the presidency. Morell sort of steps into that quite aggressively, even suggesting --
KAYYEM: -- an unwitting pawn of the Russians --
BOLDUAN: Do you believe that?
KAYYEM: I think -- look, I think it's odd to be talking about Donald Trump in the context of every national security is what is facing this country. I've never seen anything like this. We don't talk about -- we didn't talk about Mitt Romney's personality or anything, you know, you talked about the substance of what it would mean to be commander- in-chief. I think part of what you're seeing both Democrats and Republicans do is take a step back and go there are bigger issues here than whether someone's insulted by a tweet or whether, you know, including the Iran deal, including ISIS attacks including Zika. Odd is a nice way of putting it, but I think a lot of people are over it in some ways --
[11:15:29] BOLDUAN: Joseph Boreli, you want to respond?
BORELI: I think it's a coordinated effort, sort of out of the realm of normalness for CIA past employees to start getting involved in politics. I think it's a deliberate attempt to weed out Donald Trump's support amongst his strongest sort of issue, which is national security.
BERMAN: The Clinton campaign is up with an ad today and seems to be coordinated dramatically with that.
BOLDUAN: Coincidence, the timing, which don't happen in politics.
BERMAN: Brad, I think you thought we forgot about you --
BERMAN: -- but rest assured we did not. It's a subject you're eager to talk about, Hillary Clinton and the e-mails and her explanation, her consistent explanation about what the FBI director said about her truthfulness. Now, let me read you what he said in an interview. Sunday, she talked to Chris Wallace and gave an explanation that received four Pinocchios. She said, "AS the FBI said, everything I've said publicly has been consistent and truthful with what I've told them."
Brad, what the FBI said in the hearings, what James Comey said is, "We have no doubt everything she told us was truthful with what I've told them." What she told the FBI was truthful. FBI Director James Comey never said what Hillary Clinton told the public was truthful. That's what earned four Pinocchios by "The Washington Post. But that's what she keeps claiming. Why?
BRAD WOODHOUSE, FORMER COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR FOR THE DNC & PRESIDENT, CORRECT THE RECORD & PRESIDENT, AMERICANS UNITED FOR CHANGE: Can we first of all get perspective here? The FBI director has come out and said there was no wrongdoing, at least not to the point that a reasonable prosecutor would bring a case. We're still talking about, you know, her choice of e-mails, how she wanted to communicate within, you know, the department when we have somebody on the other side who wants to nuclear, you know, use nuclear weapons potentially --
BERMAN: Brad, you're talking -- case, we're talking --
WOODHOUSE: John, there's no proportion here --
BERMAN: No, no, no. In this case, we're talking about the honesty of the statement she's made twice now in the last week, that's what we're talking about here.
WOODHOUSE: Well, look, I believe, I believe she has, she has an interpretation of what Director Comey said and the campaign has had the same interpretation. She testified truthfully in her interview. She was truthful with the FBI.
Let's boil down what we're talking about here, three e-mails, portions of which had markings that were classified. The FBI director said those markings were incorrect to begin with. And then 110 e-mails that he said were classified at the time that had no markings that they were classified --
BOLDUAN: He also said someone in her position, someone should know that there's -- that that information is classified and sensitive. This gets back to the fact, you know, what we wouldn't be talking about, this, if Hillary Clinton wouldn't answer repeated questions about this. Why is she still tiptoeing and dancing around language? Why doesn't she have a better answer for this?
WOODHOUSE: Well, no. Here's my question, why are you still asking her about it? I mean, this is --
BOLDUAN: What? WOODHOUSE: This issue was resolved when the FBI decided that there
was- that there was no case. We have someone on the other side, like I said who wants to turn Ukraine over to the Russians. We have real serious issues related to Donald Trump. The proportionality here is out of hand --
BERMAN: Alice, Alice --
WOODHOUSE: Listen, there was a year-long FBI investigation. The Benghazi Committee went on for years trying to assail her on these issues. When is enough enough?
BERMAN: Alice, I want you to jump in here. Go ahead.
STEWART: Putting some perspective on it, Brad, if you want to call it that, look, two cases here this week alone where we're talking about activities by the Obama/Clinton presidency where we have suspicious behavior, possible criminal behavior. But it's the cover-up that's the problem with people. Hillary, we know, as Comey said, there was careless behavior, potentially criminal behavior, but her continuing to say that she did not send classified information, we know that is false. We know that she did do that. It's the continual cover-up of this activity that's the problems. Just like with the money to release American hostages. We know it happened. To say it didn't happen is insulting to the American people.
This is what Donald Trump needs to focus on, is Hillary Clinton and this type of activity, her connection with the Obama administration. Stay laser-focused on that type of behavior and not be a squirrel and chase a nut about some video --
[11:20:17] BOLDUAN: I love this squirrel imagery. We'll leave it on squirrel imagery.
BERMAN: Leave it on squirrels. Always leave it on squirrels.
BOLDUAN: I love leaving it on squirrels.
Guys, thank you very much. Happy Friday.
Coming up for us, does Donald Trump have Ray Charles ringing in his ears right now? Is Georgia on his mind? It should be with this new poll out today, putting Hillary Clinton with the slight lead in that red state. So what does the Donald Trump campaign have to say about it? We're going to ask.
BERMAN: Plus, new jobs report out. Big numbers that could be a big boost to one presidential campaign.
And after months of Zika fears, security concerns, synchronized diving is almost upon us, with an hour delay. The Olympics opening ceremony is tonight. Will it go off without a hitch?
BERMAN: Georgia's on someone's mind, and it better be Paul Manafort and the rest of the Trump campaign. A new poll showing him trailing Hillary Clinton in that red, red, red state.
BOLDUAN: Let's bring in former Republican Congressman from Georgia and senior adviser to the Donald Trump campaign, Jack Kingston.
Congressman, thanks for coming in.
[11:25:10] JACK KINGSTON, SENIOR ADVISOR, DONALD TRUMP PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN & FORMER GEORGIA CONGRESSMAN: Great to be with you, Kate and John.
BOLDUAN: Thank you very much.
Georgia, you know something about Georgia. Georgia, not so much a bluish state. What do you say about these new polls coming out from the Atlanta journal constitution putting Hillary Clinton slightly ahead?
KINGSTON: I'd say these are the same pollsters who two years ago told us that Michelle Nunn and Jason Carter were very close to becoming the next Senator and governor of Georgia and neither one of them came close. We hear this, Georgia's turning, it's going to be purple, then blue, but it never happens. I think if you poll, there were 862 people polled in this particular poll. If you pull downtown Atlanta, you skew your poll to Atlanta, then you get numbers like this. I don't think the poll was scientific.
I'll say this, as somebody who has won statewide in the state of Georgia and helped dozens of candidates who have, I hope that Hillary Clinton spends a lot of time in Georgia and spends a lot of money, because that will free up our resources to go to Pennsylvania, Florida and other states. So, you know, I'm laughing at this in the back room. I know it makes a good story for the Clinton campaign. It's kind of icing on the cake of maybe a good week for them. But the reality is it is an absolute fantasy.
BERMAN: Laughing on the inside. I don't see you laughing on the outside.
Congressman, one more question --
BERMAN: There's the laughing.
KINGSTON: That would be too unprofessional, but I tell you, there is no way.
BOLDUAN: Have you seen us? We're not the picture of professionals so --
BERMAN: Just to move on, would you advise the Trump campaign to spend any money in Georgia?
KINGSTON: No, I absolutely would not. The Democratic Party does not have the machine in Georgia. We need to be spending our resources in states where there is a true Democrat machine, such as Ohio or Pennsylvania or Florida. And those battleground states, as you know, over and over again, it comes down to one county, one precinct, and you got to win, you got to fight there. So let's don't -- I would say do not waste money in Georgia.
BOLDUAN: Congressman, we were talking about this at the top of the show. Want to get your take as well. Donald Trump's correction or clarification on this video that he described two times at two rallies, revising your depiction of the video you saw but didn't exist and you didn't actually see, do you see that as a turning point in the campaign?
KINGSTON: Well, you know, I'd say he's good at -- I have seen this B roll so I can see where there would be confusion on it. But maybe Hillary Clinton will take the cue and say, you know what, I also have been lying to the public or I have had some problems with what the FBI said and what I said to Chris Wallace and let me come clean myself. But the reality is, as long as we're talking about $400 million in cash going to Iran, we're winning. This is not a subject that Hillary Clinton or Obama want to have discussed, whether there's a video or not.
BERMAN: You heard us talk about the e-mails before. Given that it is such a serious subject, $400 million going to Iran, an important subject to discuss whether or not, you know, money should be involved or connected in any way to the relief of hostages. You don't think it's strange to describe a video that didn't exist in detail? And he said it was top secret and handed over by the Iranians. It wasn't. It didn't.
KINGSTON: I think as long as we have the administration playing footsies and more with Iran, there's going to be a lot of confusion on it. I think the president is so proud he's made this deal that he's given $400 million in cash to the Iranians, the number-one terror state in the world, if he feels that good about it, he ought to say, you know what, we ought to deliver -- we did not deliver that money at midnight under the clock of darkness, we actually have a B roll ourselves, and we want to show you how proud we are that we are sending $400 million in cash to Iran. They're not going to do that. You know, either it's ransom money or it's part of a very, very poor $1.7 billion payment because of a deal that Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton championed. And I think the focus on that really does define the difference in the two candidates. And to me, it's a positive thing to be talking about. So the voters can decide, is this exactly how we want our foreign policy to look or do we need the change that Donald Trump is talking about? BOLDUAN: Congressman, I covered you a long time when you were in
Congress. You don't pull any punches. You're pretty candid. That's why I want to get your take on something that you said to the "Weekly Standard" back in February about Donald Trump.
KINGSTON: I think you're setting me up, Kate.
BOLDUAN: I'm not setting you up? I'm just saying I know you're going to tell me the truth in your heart right now.
You said in February to the "Weekly Standard" about Donald Trump, his record on national defense is murky at best, and also about the troops, you said, I don't ever remember Mr. Trump being there or saying strong pro-military statements.
That was in February when you were supporting Ted Cruz. How do you square that then with your support for Donald Trump now?
KINGSTON: Well, I think in --