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Trump Campaign Shake-up; Salvation Army Buildings Flooded But Still Serving; Clinton Focuses On Tax Fairness; Trump National Security Briefings Begin Today; Bannon Will Serve As Trump's New Chief Executive. Aired 1-1:30p ET
Aired August 17, 2016 - 13:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BRETT MEREDITH, CAPTAIN, SALVATION ARMY OF BATON ROUGE: -- out there and meet the needs of the people and to take care of them --
ASHLEIGH BANFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Yes.
MEREDITH: -- through this difficult situation.
BANFIELD: Captain Meredith, good luck to you. Thanks for being with us. CNN.com/impact also a great place to go to help as well.
MEREDITH: Thank you.
BANFIELD: Best to you and good luck.
Thank you, everyone, for watching. Brianna Keilar is stepping in for Wolf. She's starts right now.
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, I'm Brianna Keilar in for Wolf Blitzer. It is 1:00 p.m. here in Washington and wherever you are watching from around the world, thank you so much for joining us.
Up first, a major overhaul for the Donald Trump campaign. Less than 83 days and counting until the presidential election.
Also, Donald Trump gets his first national security briefing today. We will have the latest from the Trump campaign in just a moment.
For Hillary Clinton, the focus today is on the economy. You're looking at live picture coming to us from Cleveland where Clinton is holding a tax fairness event this hour. And she says that Trump's economic plan will benefit the wealthy instead of helping working class Americans.
She's also expected to hammer away at Trump's refusal to release his tax returns. We'll take you there live when she hits the stage. Should be soon.
Now, the staff overhaul in the Trump campaign. This is a second shakeup in just two months. The campaign has named Steve Bannon as chief executive. Bannon is chairman of the conservative Web site, Breitbart News. Senior adviser, Kellyanne Conway, has now been promoted to campaign manager, and Paul Manafort stays on as campaign chairman. Correspondent Jessica Schneider has more on this shakeup, and we'll talk as well with Pentagon Correspondent Barbara Starr about Trump's first classified national security briefing today.
Jessica, you first. What do we know about Steve Bannon? May not be a household name, certainly well known in Washington circles. And what do these changes say about the direction that Donald Trump is trying to take?
JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. You know, Brianna, Steve Bannon known for his street fighter mentality, his brass knuckle demeanor as executive chair of Breitbart News. A position he'll be stepping away from temporarily as he takes up this CEO position with the Trump campaign.
But Breitbart News, itself, known for taking a very tough and sharp tone, something that could translate to the Trump campaign. As for Bannon, he's known for his no-holds barred demeanor, something that definitely matches Donald Trump's style.
In fact, Donald Trump being forthright, especially over the past 24 hours, about staying true to who he is. He's indicating that he no long -- no longer wants to placate people who wanted to stay on message, perhaps stick to the teleprompter, indicating he could go back to the ways that propelled him through the primary which were, in effect, those huge rallies that we saw.
Now, this shakeup has been described by the campaign, itself, as nearly an expansion and it's something that Kellyanne Conway commented on just a little while ago. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KELLYANNE CONWAY, MANAGER, TRUMP CAMPAIGN: Some are calling it shakeup. It really is not. It doesn't feel that way.
UNIDENFIED MALE: Define for us, then, why this change was necessary.
CONWAY: Because it's a busy homestretch to Election Day, and we just need to, sort of, beef up the senior level roles in a way that we are, you know, dividing and conquering. There's just a great deal to do.
And I think Paul Manafort, as the chairman, and Rick Gates, his deputy, has done a phenomenal job in building out this campaign over the last maybe five or six months to put it in a place that's competitive going into the fall. So, I look forward to continuing to work with both of them.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Trump is a racist, we all know.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHNEIDER: And sources also tell CNN that Donald Trump actually called Kellyanne Conway from his golf course in New Jersey, that happening this weekend. And he expressed frustrations about the leaks and the disloyalty from his campaign. That was the at the same time when Steve Bannon was actually inside Trump Tower here on Monday and Tuesday, getting a lay of the land.
So, those new additions coming as the Trump campaign trying to spin this not as a shakeup but as an expansion -- Brianna.
KEILAR: Yes, we'll see if that, sort of, passes the sniff test as we talk to some of our guests here today. Jessica Schneider in front of Trump Tower there in New York.
And, Barbara, you have this other element of the day for Donald Trump. He's going to get his first classified intelligence briefing today. Walk us through how this works.
BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, both candidates are going to get these classified intelligence briefings. These kind of briefings have been going on for many decades now. The idea is that you want a candidate to have some idea of the intelligence so they are beginning to be prepared to potentially govern.
The Trump meeting is expected to take place in New York later this afternoon. He is expected to bring retired Lieutenant General Michael Flynn with him, former director of the Defense Intelligence Agency. He is allowed, under the rules, to bring colleagues with him who can get temporary security clearances. Trump will be told that this is classified information, that this is not to be shared. Hillary Clinton will be told the same thing.
[13:05:02] It's all about giving them some exposure, really, to the world hot spots. Not the most classified, the crown jewels, if you will. But giving them some exposure to issues like Russia, ISIS, cyberwar, that sort of thing. But Donald Trump already in a recent interview is expressing his skepticism about the intelligence. Have a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you trust intelligence?
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Not so much from the people that have been doing it for our country. I mean, look what's happened over the last 10 years. Look what's happened over the years. I mean, it's been catastrophic.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STARR: So, he will be getting this classified intelligence briefing. How he views the information he gets, how he absorbs it, how he thinks about it, clearly remains to be seen. And we do not expect -- if the rules are obeyed by all sides, we don't expect to learn very much about it because, again, it's all classified. They're not supposed to talk about it -- Brianna.
KEILAR: That's right. And a very good point, Barbara. And then, tell us about this element of it because it seems that whatever Donald Trump asks or those aides who are with him, what they ask during this briefing, the answers, and presumably the questions, are -- will be revealed to Hillary Clinton's campaign. STARR: That's right. Under the director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, who is running this entire process, the real goal is absolute parity between both the Republican and the Democratic sides of the ticket. All of the information is to be shared. All the information is to be identical.
So, let's say the Trump side, today, asks the question, they want more information on the topic. That question will be taken. They will decide if they can answer it. They will come back with an answer. But they will also share that with the Clinton campaign so everybody gets the same information.
I think it is very interesting to consider the vice presidential candidates as well who will also get briefings. Mike Pence, a former governor and a former member of Congress, certainly familiar with some of this type of information.
But it maybe Senator Tim Kaine, the Clinton running mate, who is currently the most knowledgeable. He already sits, of course, on the Armed Services and the Foreign Relations Committees in the Senate. He already has a lot of access to this type of information.
KEILAR: All good points. Barbara Starr, thank you so much. Jessica Schneider, thank you for your report.
This is a quote. "The most dangerous political operative in America." That is the title given to Donald Trump's new chief executive, Steve Bannon, by "Bloomberg Businessweek." His Web site, Brannon's Web site, Breitbart, is known for celebrating Trump's rhetoric while also using sensational political headlines aimed at the Clintons.
He previously worked as a political filmmaker, a naval officer and an investment banker for Goldman Sachs. You may remember that Bannon was in the news earlier this year after top staffers left their posts angered that Breitbart and its leader didn't stand up for reporter Michelle Fields after she was allegedly grabbed by Trump's then campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski. Lewandowski was later cleared of all charges. He is now a contributor for CNN and receives severance still from the Trump campaign.
Here's how Breitbart's former editor at large, Ben Shapiro, explained his departure at the time. He said, quote, "Steve Bannon is a bully. He has shaped the company into Trump's personal Pravda, to the extent that he abandoned and undercut his own reporter in order to protect Trump's bully campaign manager."
Ben Shapiro is joining me now. So, Ben, and I know you wrote about this. You said, this is -- you used to work for Steve Bannon. Here is what people need to know. You put this on "The Daily Wire." What is your reaction to him being Donald Trump's camp -- really, heading up Donald Trump's campaign now?
BEN SHAPIRO, EDITOR IN CHIEF, "THE DAILY WIRE": I think it's the final consummation of a romance that Steve initiated years ago with Donald Trump. I mean, Steve has always wanted, in my opinion, to be very close to power. He's latched onto politicians, ranging from Michele Bachmann to Sarah Palin to media figures like Andrew Breitbart and now to Donald Trump. And so, he's gotten what he wants.
By the way, I'm not sure it's a terrible move for the Trump campaign, given that Steve is, basically, going to tell Trump to be more militant, to double down, to be more focused, none of which I think is bad advice. But it does demonstrate the Republican or Trump media complex that Bannon has helped to create in direct contravention of what Andrew Breitbart once called the Democrat media complex.
He did -- you know, Andrew spent a lot of time talking about how the Democrat media complex was a terrible, terrible thing. The unspoken assumption that all of the members of the media were on the left but they just wouldn't say it. They pretend to be objective and now, I guess, we have the same thing on the right with Breitbart and Trump.
KEILAR: Why would you argue that Bannon giving him advice, that would presume, which is to be more Trump-like and to be militant is something that would serve Donald Trump? And I ask you this because, as you know, there's so many in the Republican establishment who say that is not what he should be doing. He should be, you know, calming down a little bit, trying to reduce some of the drama so that he can attract people in the middle of the political spectrum.
[13:10:04] SHAPIRO: I mean, as you probably know, I think Donald Trump is a turd tornado. But I also understand that he has no capacity, whatsoever, to control himself and be this, sort of, stayed politician that so many people want him to be. I mean, Reince Priebus isn't going to convince him to become Mitt Romney and Trump doesn't want to become Mitt Romney. I'm not sure he should want to become Mitt Romney.
So, telling him to double down is not necessarily a terrible strategy. If he's going to go down, he's going to go down being Trump. And I think that's probably what Steve Bannon is telling him to do.
KEILAR: A what tornado?
SHAPIRO: A turd tornado.
KEILAR: What is that?
SHAPIRO: Well, it's like a sharknado except with poop.
KEILAR: OK, all right. That's not quite what I expected but OK. You're now with "The Daily Wire" which is what I mentioned. And you have this piece out today about the hiring. And you really paint this sinister picture of him.
Let's see. You say, he will attempt to ruin anyone who impedes his unending ambition and he will use anyone bigger than he is, for example, Donald Trump, to get to where he wants to go. Bannon knows that in the game of thrones, you win or die and he certainly doesn't intend to die. He'll kill everyone else before he goes.
OK. So -- I mean, that's pretty -- I think you explain a lot about how you feel there. But just tell us about what it was like working with him on a day-to-day basis. What, sort of, backs up this description that you have here.
SHAPIRO: I mean, there's only so much I can say on a legal level because Breitbart is saying this for his restrictive contracts. But I can --
KEILAR: So, you basically are under a nondisclosure agreement?
SHAPIRO: Arguable. Arguable. I mean, but I wouldn't -- but let's put it this way, the Trump team has proved itself not averse to filing frivolous lawsuits. So, that would not be something that I'd be interested in engaging in. But I can say there are a lot of people inside and outside Breitbart who have been the victims of Steve -- of Steve Bannon's tender mercies when it comes to interpersonal relationships.
By the way, I'm sure Steve is watching this grinning. I mean, Steve loves this kind of stuff. Steve likes to think of himself as the big bear tearing everybody else down because he's a big power player. And, look, it's got him where he is now.
I think that -- again, Steve Bannon -- I tweeted this morning, imagine that one of the worst people you know is heading up a presidential campaign. That's pretty much, you know, where I'm at this morning. And, again, that's doesn't -- that's not a commentary on what it means for the Trump campaign.
But it is a commentary on the -- on the perverse relationship between Breitbart News and Trump and the perverse relationship between Steve Bannon and the readers at Breitbart who were informed for months that Breitbart was not on the Trump train only to reveal later that not only were they on a -- were they on the Trump train, but, basically, they were in direct codes.
KEILAR: They're going to -- you know, I'm sure he's looking at this or Trump folks are going to look at this and they're going to say, look, you're sour grapes. It didn't work out for you at Breitbart.
SHAPIRO: Yes. Well, I mean, the only difference -- look, is it sour grapes? Sure, I don't like Steve. I think he's a jerk. But, you know, as far as it being sour grapes at Breitbart, I left Breitbart at the time because I said exactly what they are. And now, they are what they are.
I mean, I said they are Trump Pravda. I said that they threw their own reporter under the bus. I left a very lucrative job. I mean, I was being paid a fair bit of money to write one piece a day for them, essentially.
And I left that job because I wasn't going to stand with a side that decided it was more important to kiss the ass of a presidential candidate than to defend its own reporters.
And, listen, I'm not going to pretend that there isn't this, sort of, nastiness that goes on on the left side of the aisle. But being on the right, I always thought that the right was better than this. I mean, there are lots of outlets on the left that proclaim that they're objective.
I mean, George Stephanopoulos at ABC pretends to be objective. CNN reporters vote largely Democrat. They pretend to be objective. But I thought that on the right, at least if you're going to pro a candidate, just say you're pro the candidate. Don't pussy foot around. And that's what Breitbart did.
And, you know, took the readership that was not pro-Trump and converted them to pro-Trump. So, congratulations to Steve Bannon on doing a wonderful job of hollowing out the Breitbart's brand, destroying Breitbart's name and making Breitbart a lot of traffic and getting himself a position of power.
KEILAR: I do just have to say something in defense of my colleagues. We do not know how they vote, right? I mean, there's no way to know how they vote.
SHAPIRO: I have some guesses. I have some guesses.
KEILAR: You state that that is your guess which, you know -- and you are entitled to say certainly what you want. I do want to ask you, Ben, though, because you've say in your piece something that's pretty interesting about how you think that Bannon's motivation for joining the Trump campaign is about creating a media -- a new media empire. Why -- what makes you think that? I mean, I'm not questioning that because I've heard other people say that (INAUDIBLE.)
SHAPIRO: I would speculate.
KEILAR: But what is it -- what is it that makes you think that? Just because of his current position?
SHAPIRO: No, it's pure speculation. It's pure speculation. The reason I say that is because Steve doesn't like enter scenarios that aren't win-win. So, it's a win-win for him personally. If Trump wins, then Steve gets to be chief of staff in the White House.
You know, if Trump loses, then he still gets to be allied with this very, very powerful political figure who's increased the traffic of Breitbart from, like, 30 million page-views a month to 200 page-views -- 200 million page-views a month and has the possibility of expanding into T.V. You know, having this media empire on the back of Trump.
So, again, I think Steve is a very smart player. I think he's a very vicious player. And that may pay off for the Trump campaign. But it is worthwhile noting that Trump says he surrounds himself with the very best people. They, so far, have not proved it.
[13:15:00] Maybe Steve will prove to be different. I wouldn't consider him the very best people when it comes to who he is as a human being.
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: All right, Ben, thanks so much for being with us. We really appreciate you taking the time. Ben Shapiro, the former editor at large of Breitbart, now the editor-in-chief at "The Daily Wire." And joining me now, we have Trump supporter and former Michigan
congressman and former chair of the House Intelligence Committee Pete Hoekstra. He will be attending Donald Trump's first national security briefing today. We're going to talk about that in just a moment.
But first, congressman, you heard what Ben Shapiro, who used to work with Steve Bannon, said. And you don't typically see this type of campaign shakeup just over 80 days before a general election and perhaps not with a figure who is so controversial. So, first, I guess, the timing of this. What does this tell us? Because some people are saying this is an admission that this campaign had not been going well.
PETE HOEKSTRA, TRUMP SUPPORTER: Well, I don't think that's the case at all. I think this is an admission that the Trump campaign has to build out their campaign. It's the middle of August. Typically the presidential campaigns don't go into high speed until right after Labor Day. And what we're doing at the Trump campaign is we're building out this campaign, we're adding some very talented people to the mix so that when this campaign hits the home stretch, this campaign is going to be in a position to effectively get its message out, to effectively present our candidate and his vision and mission for America, get that message out to the America people and be successful on Election Day.
This is - this goes on in campaigns all the time. But, remember, this is a campaign that a year ago didn't exist. And, you know, it was laughed off when it started. They've been successfully building and growing in this campaign for the last year. They have wiped out, you know, all of the establishment Republican candidates when they said it couldn't be done. This is a natural evolution of this campaign.
KEILAR: Some Republicans are looking at this hire of Steve Bannon and they say, this is someone who is going to reinforce some of Donald Trump's instincts that they think have not allowed him to have appeal to people in the middle of the political spectrum, which is essential. And we now see him struggling with people that even Mitt Romney won, even though he lost the election. Are you worried about the impact of this hire and what it means for the party or what it means for down ballot races?
HOEKSTRA: No, I'm not worried at all about that. I think what the American people are looking for and what a lot of Republicans are looking for, and this is why they've been critical of what's been going on in the House and the Senate, they are looking for a campaign that will fight, that will fight for our vision, that will fight for our candidate, that will fight the left, that will fight the Clinton machine. And bringing Steve Bannon on is exactly the type of fight and effective fight that's not going to turn people off, but you have to be able, number one, to present your message, but you're also going to have to be able to deflect and defeat the attacks that have been coming from the Clinton machine, that have been coming from, you know, from the left and you're going to need, and we need someone like Steve Bannon to do that. We didn't see that in the Romney campaign. We didn't see that coming out of Mitt Romney. And as much as I love Mitt Romney, people are looking for, number one, Republicans are looking for a fighter for our party and our brand and our values and America is looking for someone that they feel confident can go on the international stage and will fight for American values and will fight for what we want to accomplish international and be more effective on a global basis.
KEILAR: You're going to be in this intelligence briefing today that Donald Trump is receiving.
HOEKSTRA: Actually, I'm not - I'm not -
KEILAR: You're not?
HOEKSTRA: I'm not going to be in - I'm not going to be in that briefing, no.
KEILAR: All right. Well, that makes my question completely pointless. And I apologize for being ill-informed on that.
KEILAR: But you, obviously, have had access to a lot of this kind of information that he is going to be getting, of course. You're the former head of the House Intel Committee, after all. What kind - I know you can't speak to exactly -
KEILAR: What the information is. What kind of information is he going to be receiving?
HOEKSTRA: I think what he's going to be receiving is a lot of the classified analysis to give him a better perspective and an understanding of, you know, currently what is the threat from ISIS, what is the threat from China, what are the other threats that are out there in regards to cyber? You know, what are the capabilities of our enemies, to give him a bigger picture?
What he won't get is he will not get the kind of operational insights that, you know, that the president would have.
HOEKSTRA: I mean I was the gang of eight. I got briefed four months beforehand that, hey, we've got a lead on Osama bin Laden. He will not get that kind of information that says, we know where these specific people are and we're just waiting for an opportunity to perhaps take a shot at them or to - or to capture them.
[13:20:11] KEILAR: All right, that is it. Thank you so much for those details. Very helpful as we try to understand what is happening today. Congressman Pete Hoekstra, thank you.
HOEKSTRA: Thank you.
KEILAR: And coming up, any minute Hillary Clinton will take the stage in Cleveland, Ohio. She is expected to go after Donald Trump's tax returns and his tax policies. He has not released his recent tax returns or past tax returns. Will she offer any alternatives to him on the economy? We'll see.
Plus, does Donald Trump's latest campaign shakeup damage his relationship with the Republican National Committee? Their chief strategist Sean Spicer will be joining me live, next.
[13:25:08] KEILAR: Well, with only 83 days until the election, making changes to your campaign team seems like a risky move. But then again, Donald Trump seems to thrive on risk.
So let's talk about it. We have chief strategist and communications director for the Republican National Committee, Sean Spicer, joining me now.
Sean, thank you so much for being with us. And I know that, obviously, you were well apprised of this news that Donald Trump has appointed Steve Bannon as his campaign's chief executive. What do you think of this move?
SEAN SPICER, CHIEF STRATEGIST, REPUBLICAN NATIONAL COMMITTEE: Well, I think it's a healthy addition, as well as Kellyanne Conway. At this point, adding more senior folks as we head into this final stretch, the last 83 days are going to be crucial. Having people that can be traveling with Mr. Trump, as Kellyanne will be doing, and making sure that those strategic decisions, adding to the team that's already in place with Paul Manafort at the top, is a healthy sign of a campaign that understands what needs to occur as we head down these - these final days.
KEILAR: You have been a big defender of Donald Trump in your role at the RNC, but you're also seen as someone with a long history in the Republican establishment. And Bannon is someone who is the executive chairman of Breitbart News. This - he's been no friend to the Republican establishment. You actually - this site attacked House Speaker Paul Ryan, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. How concerned are you about this fueling more interparty chaos?
SPICER: Well, I think Steve fully understand the pulse of the grassroots. That's what's largely driving this Trump campaign. And, frankly, that's what's at the frustration that's going through this country right now. The reason that Donald Trump, frankly, has done so well is because he has tapped into a frustration, frankly an ager that the American people have with a government that's not responsive to them. And Steve, though his work at Breitbart, and other places, understands that.
But he also knows how to run an organization and run a business, a successful operation. And I think that's what he's bringing to this, an understanding of the grassroots and an understanding of how to put a successful operation together and get that message across. I mean you've got to give it to Breitbart, they get across millions and millions of viewers on Breitbart TV, on the website, and that's largely - that's been at the direction of Steve. So he understands the new world that we live in, how to communicate a
message effectively and how to tap into a lot of people who frankly feel that this government doesn't understand the frustration that they have, why they haven't seen a living wage, why we're signing deals and have regulations in place that frankly don't seem to put America first. And I think that that's what Donald Trump has really tapped in to. If you look back, Brianna, over a year ago in Cleveland with that first debate, seventeen people on stage -
KEILAR: But I want to ask you - I want to ask you one more question, Sean, and only because I'm seeing - and we do have a bit of a delay here, but I'm seeing Hillary Clinton take the stage in Cleveland and I want to get one more question in with you before we go.
KEILAR: You said he's someone who obviously brings something new to the campaign, but he's also someone who, it seems, is going to reinforce a strategy that we have seen Donald Trump prefer. Certainly his bombastic has attracted a lot of people. But Donald Trump has also failed to crack an important ceiling when it comes to polls. He's really not getting into that - the 40s, into the mid-40s or even higher. So Donald Trump clearly has been, I mean, I think you could argue, the most effective at touching base with an really riling up these people that you're saying Steve Bannon is going to help with. At a certain point, is there just a law of diminishing returns when it comes to Donald Trump taking that sort of way forward?
SPICER: Well, I think everybody's underestimated Donald Trump from the beginning of this whole race. No one thought he would get in. no one thought that he would, you know, go to the debate. And he ended up doing all of that and more and winning, getting more votes than anyone in history.
But I think there's also a double standard here, Brianna. Yesterday, the vice president of the United States went on - was going for that Hillary Clinton event in Pennsylvania and said that Donald Trump would have loved Stalin. Think about that for a minute. He comparing him to a guy that killed at least 35 million people and no one covered it. No one. People are - are - have made it now a living out of trying to figure out how to pick apart -
KEILAR: We covered it, Sean.
SPICER: No, but I'm saying that not in the way that every comment that Donald Trump gets picked apart upon. And I think that there is truly a double standard on how Donald Trump's being covered and how the other side's being covered. Too often it's a pass on the left, a pass for the Democrats, I think that that has to stop. So I'm not saying that you didn't cover it, and I wasn't saying it wasn't (ph), but it didn't make the news that it would have if Donald Trump had said that. If he had made that accusation against Hillary, it would have been national news. And I think in the final 83 days, you're going to see a very focused, a very disciplined campaign that makes sure that not only do we take the case to Hillary Clinton, but that we put out a message that welcomes more people into this party, understands the challenges and the frustration that people face and gives them a new vision, a new hope as to where this country can go.
KEILAR: All right, I'm going to leave it there with you, Sean.
I will say sometimes though, people say things and instead of Donald Trump just allowing it to sort of percolate through the ether and take up all that oxygen, he says something else that tends to draw the attention away. We've seen that many times. And, Sean, your point is taken though.
[13:30:06] Sean Spicer, chief strategist and communications director for the RNC. Thank you so much for being with us.
And like I said, Hillary Clinton is in Cleveland.
SPICER: Thank you, Brianna.
KEILAR: She is there