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Clinton Addresses Journalists; Clinton Takes Questions From Reporters. Aired 1-1:30p ET

Aired August 5, 2016 - 13:00   ET

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


HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: -- that the director Comey had said that my answers in my FBI interview were truthful. That's really the bottom line here. And I have said, during the interview and on many other occasions over the past months, that what I told the FBI, which he said was truthful, is consistent with what I have said publicly.

So, I may have short circuited and for that, I will, you know, try to clarify, because I think Chris Wallace and I were probably talking past each other. Because, of course, he could only talk to what I had told the FBI and I appreciated that.

Now, I have acknowledged repeatedly that using two e-mail accounts was a mistake and I take responsibility for that. But I do think, you know, having him say that my answers to the FBI were truthful. And then, I should quickly add, what I said was consistent with what I had said publicly. And that's really, sort of, in my view, trying to tie both ends together.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is the one inconsistency though, that you said you'd never sent or received classified material and he did say there were three e-mails that were marked classified. Is that an inconsistency?

CLINTON: Well, he -- here's what -- here are the facts behind that as well. You know that I preside -- I sent over 30,000 e-mails to the State Department that were work-related e-mails. Director Comey said that only three out of 30,000 had anything resembling classifying markers. What does that mean? Well, usually, if any of you have ever served in the government, a classified document has a big heading on the top, which makes very clear what the classification is.

And, in questioning, director Comey made the point that the three e- mails out of the 30,000 did not have the appropriate markings. And it was, therefore, reasonable to conclude that anyone, including myself, would have not suspected that they were classified.

And, in fact, I think that has been discussed by others who have said two out of those three were later explained by the State Department not to have been in any way confidential at the time that they were delivered.

So, that leaves the 100 out of 30,000 e-mails that director Comey testified contained classified information, but again being acknowledged there were no markings on those 100 e-mails. And so, what we have here is pretty much what I have been saying throughout this whole year and that is that I never sent or received anything that was marked classified.

Now, if, in retrospect, which is what is behind the 100 number -- if, in retrospect, some different agency said, but it should have been -- although it wasn't but it should have been. That's what the debate is about.

But director Comey said there was absolutely no intention on my part to either ignore or in any way dismiss the importance of those documents because they weren't marked classified so that would have been hard to do.

And I will go back to where I started. I regret using one account. I've taken responsibility for that. But I am pleased to be able to clarify and explain what I think the bottom line is on this.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And just very quickly before we get to our panel, Donald Trump says this whole thing means that you can't be trusted with national security. Today, you are endorsed by former CIA director, Michael Morell, who says it's Trump who can't be trusted. And he went so far as to indicate that he's been turned by Putin. Do you agree with that assessment?

CLINTON: Well, I had the great honor of working with Mike Morrell, spending a lot of hours with him in the situation room in the White House. He is a consummate professional who has devoted his entire professional career to protecting our country. I was honored to receive his endorsement. I will let his comments speak for themselves. But I really appreciated his explaining, as he did in his op ed, some of what's at stake in this election.

[13:05:09] UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Madame Secretary, I believe we have a question from one of our panelists in the previous. Could you stand up there to that, please?

MICHELLE: Hi, I'm (INAUDIBLE) and I'm a national political reporter with the "New York Times." My question is, you have accused Donald Trump of using racist and sexist language. What does it say about the electorate that so many Americans are supporting him?

CLINTON: Well, I really -- I really believe that the core of his support -- I'm not going to speak for everyone who supports him because I think there have been some quite distressing statements coming out of his rallies and his supporters and who has aligned themselves with him. But I think the core of his support really centers on the disappointment in the economy that so many Americans feel.

And what I have been saying is, you know, I'm going to bring this country together. I think we have three overarching goals. We need more economic opportunity. We need to protect our national security. And we have got to work towards American unity. So, I have been trying to understand what it is that has driven people to support Trump and I have met with some people. I have listened to them. And so many of them are looking for an explanation as to why they lost the job they had for 18 years when the factory closed and nobody cared about them. What they're going to do when their whole life was spent mining coal and they made $80 thousand a year.

Now, they can barely find a job making minimum wage. Why the centers have so many old, industrial towns in America are hallowed out and people are turning to opiates and heroin. And the list goes on and that's what I've heard.

So, I think we have to recognize that, of course, some of the appeal is xenophobic and racists and misogynistic and offensive. We have to acknowledge that. But let's not lose sight of the real pain that many Americans are feeling because the economy has left them behind.

So, I have said, I said it again in my acceptance speech last Thursday, I want to be the president for all Americans. I want to lift up and give everybody a chance to pursue their dreams. And that means people who are supporting him.

When I went to West Virginia, I knew that I was not going to win West Virginia. I can tell you that. And I was in a meeting with a group of folks, including a coal miner who was incredibly emotional in talking to me. And outside, there was a big Trump protest going on and one of the people at the protest, for goodness sakes, was Blankenship who had just been convicted of reckless indifference towards the well-being of his coal miners, causing deaths.

So, clearly, the lines are pretty stark. But I have said, you know, I've got a plan for coal country. I've got a plan for Indian country. I got a plan for inner cities. I've got a plan for rural communities. It's one of the reasons that I said in my remarks that I support Jim Clyburn's 10-20-30 proposal which would help all kind of communities in America. Jim and I have talked about this.

So, we have to reject and stand up against the appeals to the kind of bigotry and the use of bluster and bullying that we see coming from Trump's campaign. But let's not forget the real economic challenges that too many Americans of all backgrounds are facing today.

So, that's how I think about it and that's how I'm going to try, in this campaign, to respond to and rebuke all of the horrible things he says on a pretty regular basis. But not about me. I can care less about that. But when he goes after individuals, when he accuses a distinguished federal judge of Mexican heritage, of not being fair, when he insults a gold star family of a Muslim American who served in the military. You know the list. I will stand up and call him out on that.

[13:10:04] But I will also keep reaching out to Americans of all races and ethnicities and wherever they live to tell them that I am not going to forget about them after this election. I'm going to work my heart out to help every single person to have a better job with a rising income and make sure their kids get a good education and everything else that I think they're owed here in America.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Great, wonderful. And I think --

CLINETON: We have another question from our panel.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Madam Secretary, Eddo Key from "The Washington Post." Thank you for being here. And I think, on behalf of all of us, we encourage you to do this more often with reporters across the country, especially those news organizations that travel the country everywhere you go.

A majority of voters consistently say, frankly, they don't like you and they don't trust you. And they say pretty much the same thing about Donald Trump. Either you or Mr. Trump will be elected president. How would you leave a nation where a majority of Americans mistrust you, and what extra responsibility might you have to show that you're up to the task.

CLINTON: Well, let me start by saying, every time I have done a job, people have counted on me and trusted me. And at the convention last week, we highlighted the fights of my life, starting as a lawyer for the Children's Defense Fund, taking on the problem of juveniles in adult jails in South Carolina, segregated academies, so-called, in Alabama fighting for kids with disabilities to get an education. And all the way through the work I did as senator after 911 and representing all of you as secretary of state.

So, there is -- and I take this seriously. Don't -- you know, don't doubt that. I take it seriously. And I know it doesn't make me feel good when people say those things. And I recognize that I have work to do. But when I started running for the Senate in New York, a lot of the same things were said. I won. I worked hard for the people of New York and I was re-elected with 67 percent of the vote, after I demonstrated that I would be on their side. I would fight for the people I represented.

I ran a really hard campaign against Barack Obama, as I think everybody remembers. It got a little contentious from time to time. And to my surprise, he turns around and asks me to be secretary of state because he trusted me. And then, I served at secretary of state.

And when I left, I had a 66 percent approval rating. So, ask yourselves, were 67 percent of the people in New York wrong? Were 66 percent of the American public wrong? Or maybe, just maybe when I'm actually running for a job there is a real benefit to those on the other side in trying to stir up as much concern as possible.

So, I take it seriously and I'm going to work my heart out, in this campaign and as president, to produce results for people, to get the economy to work for everybody, not just those at the top, to do as much as I can to help people, who, as I said earlier, who may not even vote for me. Because I think our country is at a crossroads' election.

President Obama said it extremely well, both in what his speech discussed, in the convention, what his press conferences since have pointed out. This is a crossroads' election. There is so much at stake. You can look at my record of public service. You can meet people and families who were benefitted by the children's health insurance program. You can meet people who were benefitted by reforming the foster care and adoption system. You can you meet first responders and survivors from 911 who were benefited because I went to bat for them. You can you meet National Guards' members and their families who didn't have health care unless they were deployed before I worked with Republicans to fix that.

You can go down a long list, and we'd be happy to provide it to you, of what I have done because I believe in public service. And I am proud that I've had the great, great opportunity to work on behalf of giving more people a better life ever since I was right out of law school. So, I'm just going to get up every day and make my case. And I think there'll be an opportunity for a lot of people to actually hear it.

KEVIN MERIDA, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, "THE UNDEFEATED", ESPN: Madam Secretary, --

CLINTON: Yes.

MERIDA: -- Kevin Merida, Editor-in-Chief of "The Undefeated" at ESPN. What is the most meaningful conversation you've had with an African- American friend?

[13:15:03] CLINTON: Oh my gosh. Well, can I -- can I tell you that I am blessed to have a crew of great friends, as I've had two chiefs of staff who were my African-American women friends, Maggie Williams and Cheryl Mills. I have been blessed to have people by my side in politics, like Minyon Moore (ph), who is one of the leaders of my campaign. I've had a great group of young people who I have been really motivated by and frankly learned from. So I - I really have had a lifetime of friendship going back to my college years with one of my best friend was an African-American student.

So I can't compress into one conversation. They've - they've supported me. They've chastised me. They've raised issues with me. They've tried to expand my musical tastes. So we've had - we've had a lot of - we've had a lot of great - great times because of our friendships. So I can't really pick one conversations out of, you know, 50 years of conversations. And I don't want to embarrass my friends.

Peggy Lewis (ph) is here. She just became the dean of communications at Trinity Washington, and I want to congratulate her. Donna Brazile is here. She's our acting care of the DNC. So I - I guess I'll leave it at that. I think I'm going to - I'm going to respect the cone of friendship silence. But please know I've got a lot of great friends who have given me so much more.

QUESTION: Madame Secretary, there's such little time and there's lots of questions and they're signaling us to - but I would be remiss. There's - we're in a room full of Latino journalists and I - I have to ask you, and give you an opportunity to respond and set the record clear. Does the Democratic Party, does your campaign take Latino voters seriously or are you taking them for granted that they will automatically vote Democrat?

CLINTON: Well, I take them seriously because I've had the great privilege of working for many years with Latino leaders, activists, business men and women. You know, just as I responded to the question, my first experience working on behalf of Latinos was, well, actually, even before I was a legal services lawyer, through my church, I babysat Latino kids on Saturdays while their parents and older siblings went to the fields outside of my home in Chicago, which used to be hard to believe now, miles of farmland. It was my first real lesson in how much more we all have in common. There I was, 11 or 12 years old, babysitting these little kids. And at the end of the day, the old ram-shackled bus stopped at the end of the road and the parent and the older brother and sisters got out and these little kids just broke loose and started running down that road with their arms outstretched calling for their mothers and their fathers and getting swept up in very tired arms.

And then when I was a little bit older, my church arranged exchanges with Latino churches. We would go into the city of Chicago, sit in church basements, talk about our lives. And, again, it re-enforced what to me was so much of a common sense of, you know, what we wanted in our lives, even though their lives, and mine, were very different. And as a legal services lawyer, as the chair of the Legal Services Corporation, we expanded legal services into places against a lot of political opposition. So I feel very fortunate that I've had the chance to work with and learn from so many Latinos and Latinos across America.

[13:19:52] When I ran for the Senate, I worked closely with our elected representatives, both at the city, state and national level. I was honored that they rallied around to support me and were a part of the great victory that we had in the primary in New York. So, no, I don't take any voter for granted. And I particularly don't take any voter who is placing their trust and confidence in me for granted. Because I am going to get up, as I said, every single day and work my heart out to get the results that I have told you we're going to achieve together.

And I know it's hard. I've been around, as you all know very well. I'm not new to this. It doesn't happen by hoping it happens or wishing it happens. It happens by doing everything you possibly can. And I am blessed to have such close working relationships and friendships with Latino leaders. Tonight at my house, we will be having a big event with Latino business leaders coming from around America. And so I'm going to do what I've always done. You see, I think at the core of political leadership is relationship. You've got to build relationships with individuals and communities. I know that doesn't happen by just asking for it. It happens because you work hard to achieve it.

So I'm going to do everything I can to make sure that any Latino voter who votes for me knows that I'm going to be doing my best to deliver on everything that I've said. And I will tell you as we go along what the challenges are, because I may need to ask your help. I may need you to put pressure on elected officials. I may need you to flood the Internet or flood the old fashioned, you know, mailbox of elected representatives, so they know people are watching. But that's how we're going to get it done. And I'm actually pretty confident and optimistic about that. So I hope that people will take this election seriously because I sure take you seriously. And together I think we can create the kind of future that every one of our kids and grandkids deserve.

Thank you all very much.

QUESTION: Secretary Clinton, we are out of time. We want to thank you very much. Everyone, please, give a big round of applause to Secretary Clinton for coming and answering our questions.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: The Democratic Presidential Nominee Hillary Clinton speaking at the National Association of Black Journalists, the National Association of Hispanic Journalists at a joint conference here in Washington. Donald Trump, by the way, declined an invitation to also appear. She answered lots of questions.

Our national correspondent, Suzanne Malveaux, is with us. Our CNN political director David Chalian is here with us. And "Washington Post" reporter David Nakamura is with us as well.

David, the secretary went through a lot of important issues, defending herself on what she actually said about her e-mails and what James Comey, the FBI director, said. She insisted that there really is no significant difference into what she said as opposed to what he later testified about.

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Right, that will be the headline out of all of these questions and answers, no doubt, because she is twice now this week, first in the Fox News interview and then a second time this week seemed to suggest that Comey had been sort of testifying to her truthfulness when there's videotape of him saying where, indeed, some of her public statements were not what the investigation found. So how she tried to clean that up today was, she was - she said she short circuited the conversation with Chris Wallace and that she was trying to say what Comey testified was that all of her answers to the FBI in her interview were truthful, period. And then she wanted to go on to say, and everything I told the FBI mirrors what I said in public. So that, too, was truthful.

And then she got in the weeds on this again. She went down into the classification and talked about those three e-mails that bore markings of classification, according to Director Comey, but that somebody could reasonably have not taken them to be classified. And she sort of hung her hat on that.

She - I just think, whenever she is back in the weeds and discussing individual e-mails and numbers of e-mails and what the classification was, she is in a place she doesn't want to be that day.

BLITZER: And she got into a lot of specific details on that. She was also asked, David, about Donald Trump's assertion, and other people's assertion, she should never again get security clearances, receive classified information because of her record in dealing with that private e-mail server. DAVID NAKAMURA, "WASHINGTON POST" REPORTER: And that's why this issue

for her is a real problem. It continues to be. And she can't get over it. It's going to really sort of distract from her overall message. She was talking to African-American and Hispanic journalists, trying to sort of broaden her base of support to those groups.

But what really is at play here is that President Obama and Secretary Clinton are trying to make this election about Trump's fitness for office. And President Obama made very clear in the last few days, at the Pentagon yesterday, that Trump is not fit for office, that he shouldn't be trusted with the nuclear codes and with his own security briefings. And now you have a sense of Clinton continuing to face questions about whether she's been hiding stuff from the American public, whether she's duplicitous. I mean the fact that she even answered questions on a public forum from a - sort of a press conference setting, for the first time in months also goes to the question, is she being up front and honest with the public.

[13:25:16] BLITZER: And she did go in detail in defending her record, referring to an article by Michael Morrell, the former acting CIA director, in today's "New York Times," in which he endorses her, supports her and says, at one point, "Donald J. Trump is not only unqualified for the job, but he may well pose a threat to our national security." And she referred to that as a badge of honor from her perspective.

CHALIAN: And this adds to a whole sort of strategy that the Clinton campaign has put in place now, Wolf, of going to people in the national security apparatus, going to some people who traditional vote Republican. Well, of course, neither registered Republican nor Democrat, but folks like Michael Hayden (ph) or others, and using them to be validators to, exactly what David was saying, to help bolster the argument that she doesn't think Donald Trump is fit to be commander-in-chief.

BLITZER: Suzanne Malveaux is there. She's on the scene for us at this joint conference.

Suzanne, she's also defended her record, and to a certain degree the president's record. The president, by some Hispanic journalists there, has been accused of being a deporter-in-chief because so many of the undocumented immigrants here in the United States have been deported during his seven years, seven and a half years in office. And she made the case, she has a little different attitude on this issue than the president does.

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: You know, that's absolutely right because I think that there is an assumption here that the Latino vote, Latino community is automatically going to be lining up behind her. And within this audience, within the community we hear a lot of skepticism, really, about President Obama and how he has dealt with comprehensive immigration reform, that he really did not take advantage of the opportunity initially when all of the Democrats had the power. He could have pushed it through. That was a very key point that she made was about the timing of it all, having lost the House. That's one of the first things that she's going to address in her first 100 days. And she made a point to say that the - she is - I mean she's continually in the Obama legacy, in the Obama policy initiatives, but she also differs in this way and that that is going to be a priority. And it's no - it's no mistake that she's actually doing that. So she makes sure that she's locking up that very important constituency.

BLITZER: Yes, she's making it clear that among the undocumented immigrants here in the United States, if they're law abiding, they're not going to be deported. She's not going to break up families if she's elected president of the United States.

David Chalian, I want to play a clip near the top. This is what she said. We'll discuss.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: We need to stand up as a country and say that Donald Trump doesn't represent who we are and what we believe. That is what my campaign, what Tim Kaine and I and everyone supporting us is doing every day. And we're going to keep at it, because I believe with all my heart that America is better than this. America is better than Donald Trump.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: She spent a lot of time in her prepared remarks and then in answering questions going after Donald Trump.

CHALIAN: As David was saying before, the effort is to make this a referendum on Donald Trump. You didn't hear Hillary Clinton go out there and say, Tim Kaine and I are out there every day saying why we are the inspiring choice that should rally. It is all about making Donald Trump a totally unacceptable alternative. The Clintons folks really want to make sure that what normally happens when you have somebody like Hillary Clinton or a sitting vice president, they have the air or aura of an incumbency. And usually, in that kind of a scenario, like we're seeing now, it would be a referendum on Hillary Clinton. And she's trying very hard to make sure that the electorate sees this election as a referendum on Donald Trump.

BLITZER: But, very quickly, that strategy seems to be working because you look at the national poll numbers for her following both conventions, you look at the poll numbers in key battleground states, you look at the poll numbers even in Georgia, because the poll numbers came - she's doing really well.

NAKAMURA: It may not even be that her strategy or even her help from the president, although that's certainly helpful and she is welcoming what the president is saying on almost a daily basis. But Trump himself is making this case, (INAUDIBLE) agrees with what he's saying in public. And there's even been some sense that she's sort of, you know, been sliding under the surface of all the Trump headlines. She's probably happy to let that happen. She'll get some headlines today in what she said in front of these journalists. But I'm sure, you know, she expects Trump to sort of put his foot in it again fairly soon and she and the president will continue sort of this double whammy, you know, going after him on his fitness for office.

BLITZER: David Nakamura, David Chalian, Suzanne Malveaux, guys, thanks very much.

Coming up, we'll get a different perspective. The Trump campaign adviser, Dr. Ben Carson, he'll join us live. Got lots of questions for him. There you see him. We'll take a quick break. We'll be right back.

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