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THE SITUATION ROOM

Interview With Former Michigan Congressman Pete Hoekstra; President Obama Visits Louisiana; Russia Hacking Journalists?; Donald Trump's Health?; Trump on Deportations: I'd "Do the Same Thing" As Obama; Trump Seizes on New Report to Slam Clinton Foundation; Obama: Visit to Flood-Damaged Louisiana "Not a Photo Op". Aired 6-7p ET

Aired August 23, 2016 - 18:00   ET

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


[18:00:04]

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now, breaking news: Russian infiltration. U.S. officials believe Moscow is behind new cyber- attacks on American journalists, including reporters at "The New York Times." Is Vladimir Putin trolling for political secrets?

Not a photo-op. President Obama says flood victims care about getting help, they don't care about politics, as he visits the disaster area in Louisiana days after Donald Trump was there.

Just like Obama? Trump said he would follow the president's deportation policy, but with more energy. The GOP nominee sending mixed messages about his immigration plan and whether it is changing.

And wacky rumors. Hillary Clinton laughs off debunked GOP claims that she is ill, as the tables turn and new questions are raised about Donald Trump's health.

We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. Wolf Blitzer is off today. I'm Brianna Keilar. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

KEILAR: We have breaking news this hour.

U.S. officials believe Vladimir Putin's intelligence operation is behind a series of new cyber-attacks on American journalists. We are told "The New York Times" and other news organizations were infiltrated in this effort to steal sensitive political information.

The FBI is investigating amid rising concerns about Russian hacking here in the United States and questions about whether Moscow is trying to influence the election.

Also tonight, President Obama tours flood damage in Louisiana, brushing aside criticism from Donald Trump and others that he should have been there sooner. Mr. Obama says in times of disaster, victims don't give a hoot if you're a Republican or a Democrat.

In the presidential race tonight, as Trump and his allies spread debunked rumors about Hillary Clinton's health, there's new scrutiny of Trump's medical history and unusual language in a letter written by his doctor. Dr. Sanjay Gupta is digging on that for us.

A Trump adviser, the former House Intelligence Chairman Peter Hoekstra standing by for us. And our correspondents, analysts and guests have full coverage of the day's top stories.

First to CNN justice correspondent Evan Perez with more on these Russian cyber-attacks -- Evan.

EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Brianna, some U.S. officials say what's going here is a type of undeclared cyber-war.

U.S. officials say that suspected Russian spies have been targeting reporters at "The New York Times" and at other news organizations. U.S. investigators believe that this is part of a broader Russian intelligence operation. The FBI and private security investigators are working with "The Times" to try to assess the damage and to figure out how the hackers got in.

A spokeswoman went for "The New York Times" declined to comment on any possible breach, but she said the company works with outside investigators and law enforcement to guard against hacks. U.S. intelligence officials believe these intrusions are similar to other recent ones and that includes the hacks of the Democratic National Committee and other Democratic Party organizations, as well as think tanks here in Washington -- Brianna.

KEILAR: And do you think authorities believe that they have a specific motive behind this attack? Do they think they're connected to past suspected Russian incidents?

PEREZ: That's right.

We're used to seeing foreign spies targeting government systems. That's what spies do. But this is a little different. U.S. intelligence officials say the picture that's emerging from all this reason activity is that Russian intelligence is targeting organizations, looking to see who reporters are talking to in the government, as well as communications and even stories that are in the works.

All of this is valuable to intelligence agencies. They seem to be particularly interested in organizations with a window in the U.S. political system. Now, you will remember after the DNC hack, WikiLeaks release a trove of e-mails from the DNC. That was just days before the Democratic Convention.

The Russian government has denied any involvement in all of this, but the Clinton campaign says that the breach is proof that Vladimir Putin wants to help Donald Trump get elected.

KEILAR: So what is the federal government going to do? Because it seems that they're been reticent to do much up until now.

PEREZ: Yes, that's right. I think there is a big debate inside the administration as to exactly how to respond. We know that they have named and shamed China, Iran and even North Korea for previous cyber-attacks, but never Russia. Some officials are pushing for the administration to do just that, Brianna.

On the other hand, some officials say that they're risking, there is a risk to escalating these types of attacks simply because the U.S. is doing a lot of the same things against Russia.

KEILAR: All right. Evan Perez, thank you so much for that report.

Now to the presidential race. We are standing by to hear from Donald Trump. He has a rally in Texas tonight. The Republican nominee is attacking Hillary Clinton's ethics and her health. But his message on immigration seems to be getting more confusing.

CNN national correspondent Jason Carroll joins us live from Austin, Texas -- Jason.

[18:05:03]

JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: And hello to you, Brianna.

Some critics say it is confusing. Others say it is vague. We can tell you that the campaign says that specifics are coming. In the meantime, expect Donald Trump to keep hitting Hillary Clinton hard on the issue of her e-mails and the Clinton Foundation.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CARROLL (voice-over): After weeks of playing defense over a series of campaign missteps, tonight, Donald Trump is on offense, accusing the Clinton Foundation of pay for play, alleging Hillary Clinton granted access to the State Department in exchange for donations to the foundation, Trump telling his supporters, it is time for a special prosecutor to step in to investigate.

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The amounts involved, the favors done, and the significant number of times it was done require an expedited investigation by a special prosecutor.

CARROLL: Trump also taking aim at Clinton on the e-mail controversy, this after the FBI found nearly 15,000 e-mails and documents from her personal server that Clinton had not turned over to the State Department.

TRUMP: Hillary Clinton said she turned over all of her work-related e-mails.

AUDIENCE: Lock her up! Lock her up!

TRUMP: Now we learned about another 15,000 e-mails she failed to turn over.

CARROLL: Last night, Clinton tried to downplay the significance of the latest development.

HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: My e-mails are so boring.

JIMMY KIMMEL, HOST, "JIMMY KIMMEL LIVE": Yes. My aren't. Yes.

CLINTON: I'm embarrassed about that. They're so boring. So, we have already released, I don't know, 30,000-plus, so what's a few more?

CARROLL: A federal judge ordered the State Department to release the e-mails after a conservative watchdog requested the documents be made public.

Meanwhile, Trump facing criticism of his own after he made this appeal to African-American and Latino voters:

TRUMP: We will get rid of the crime. You will be able to walk down the street without getting shot. Right now, you walk down the street, you get shot.

CARROLL: Trump's critics also questioning his position on illegal immigration. Trump initially said he would deport some 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the United States, then saying he would first just deport the "bad ones."

TRUMP: The first thing we're do if and when I win is, we're going to get rid of all the bad ones.

CARROLL: Trump also said he would enforce the laws already in place under President Obama, but with more energy.

TRUMP: Obama got tremendous numbers of people out of the country. Bush, the same thing. Lots of people were brought out of the country with the existing laws. Well, I'm going to do the same thing.

CARROLL: Trump canceled a planned policy speech on the topic this week, but his camp says specifics on his immigration policy are coming soon.

KELLYANNE CONWAY, TRUMP CAMPAIGN MANAGER: Immigration is a very complex issue. And to get the solutions right, to come out of with your specific plans should not be rushed.

CARROLL: One point is clear. Whether it is building a wall on the border or deporting illegal immigrants, Trump promising to do it quickly.

TRUMP: That wall will go up so fast, your head will spin.

They go around killing people and hurting people. And they are going to be out of this country so fast, your head will spin.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CARROLL: Now, campaign says that there will eventually be an immigration policy speech, again, that it is coming. What he is doing right now, Brianna, is speaking to a number of people about the best way to move forward with his proposals and his ideas.

Some might think that that might be some sort of a suggestion that perhaps he is going to change his position. Brianna, the campaign says, at least for now, his position remains the same -- Brianna.

KEILAR: All right. Jason Carroll, thank you so much for that report.

Let's turn back now to the breaking news, as we bring in former U.S. Congressman Peter Hoekstra. He served as chairman of the House Intelligence Committee. And he is now a Trump national security adviser.

So, Congressman, you heard that earlier report by our Evan Perez where he is explaining how investigators believe that Russian intelligence is behind this recent series of cyber-attacks, most recently against "The New York Times," other news agencies.

Since you are a former chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, what do you think? You're very informed here. What do you think the motivation is behind these attacks?

PETE HOEKSTRA (R), FORMER U.S. CONGRESSMAN: Well, it is what any country, nation state would do, is they're trying to get as much information as they can against what they believe might be one of their enemies.

The Russians have been involved at this for years. So have the Chinese, so have the Iranians, so have the North Koreans. They're trying to get, number one, military information. They're trying to get information that they can use for economic benefit. They're trying to get political insights.

You can also bet that we will soon be hearing reports. These things happen all the time. They have targeted our infrastructure so that they might be able to take down the grid and these types of things.

[18:10:00]

This is not new news. The only thing new here is that it is getting this much coverage in the media. These are things that have been going on for an extended period of time.

KEILAR: And I hear you on that. Obviously, this desire to get more information, and a lot of countries do this.

The cyber-element to it, though, is it a changing threat, though, that you're seeing, so you feel like it is the same effort? But is it sort of changing in the methods?

HOEKSTRA: Yes, well, I think what you're seeing is there is probably a more intense effort going on by different countries, because they're realizing the potential database, the trove of valuable information that they can get by going into cyber and recognizing that it is much lower risk than human intelligence and other means that they have to get information. So this is where spying is moving. They are moving into cyber because

it is easier. People haven't put up the defenses. Countries haven't put up the defenses against cyber, so they're going where the opportunity is and where there is a tremendous amount of information that they can use.

KEILAR: And do it remotely, less risk, certainly.

I do want to change the subject a little bit and ask you about Donald Trump, who you support and you advise. He appears to be retooling his immigration policy. He was supposed to give this speech on Thursday. It sounds like he is now trying to, or it sounds like the team is sort of trying to reassess exactly what is going to be in this. We haven't heard many specifics from the campaign, though.

And we're 77 days out from the election. Shouldn't this be hammered out by now?

HOEKSTRA: No, not necessarily.

I think what clearly -- I met with Mr. Trump last week to talk about his vision for confronting and defeating ISIS. And so he is at 30,000 feet. He is moving down to a tactical -- or strategic and tactical level. He is talking to experts about how to execute that to make sure that what he wants to achieve at a vision level, what are the specific tactics that he needs to embrace to make that happen?

I think he is doing the same thing on immigration. He said what he wants. He wants to secure our borders. He wants to keep Americans safe. He wants to protect American jobs. And he wants to enforce current law.

And so he is now going through the steps of saying, OK, specifically, what does that mean? What do I do at the borders to protect against illegal entry? What do I do with those 40 percent of those people who are here illegally who come in on visas and overstay their visas? How do I make sure that the people coming in from places and Syria and other terrorist havens, how do I make sure that those people coming in do not pose a threat to the United States?

And then how do we deal with the 11 million people who are here illegally and how do we work through that process? And I think visionary, he is very clear about what he wants to accomplish. Strategically and tactically, he's working through the finer points.

KEILAR: When you describe it that way ,it's sounds extremely mainstream.

But the way he's described it, if you were to ask anyone who supports him or doesn't support him, what can you say about Donald Trump's immigration plan, they would say build a wall and deportation force, which is not what I heard you say, which makes me think that you're advising him that he needs on perhaps soften that a little bit, do you think?

(CROSSTALK) HOEKSTRA: Remember, secure the borders and deportation, that's the law today.

If you come into the country illegally, the expectation is that the law will be -- that the law will be enforced and applied to those who have broken the law. This is why the American people are so frustrated and that they're seeing that for too many people in our society today, especially with the illegal immigration, that there is a law, there are laws on the books to do all the things...

(CROSSTALK)

KEILAR: But he is commended, for instance, President Obama for how he has deported people, although he has most recently said here in the last day that he would do the same thing, but with more energy.

He is making the point that actually, in terms of deportations, things are kind of on a good trend with President Obama, but he has talked about a deportation force.

HOEKSTRA: Well, whether it is for -- this is where I think he needs to really work through and get the tactics right to identify exactly how that is going to happen.

And that's why I'm glad he had the kind of meeting that he had on Saturday with different groups and the kinds of meetings that he will have with other experts which goes back to exactly what I said earlier, to make sure that he gets the strategies and the tactics right to implement the vision that he has expressed to the American people.

KEILAR: All right, Congressman Hoekstra, we have so much more to talk about. I need to get a break in. I'm going to do that right now.

We will be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[18:19:04]

KEILAR: We're back with a Donald Trump adviser, former Congressman Peter Hoekstra. He is going to stand by for us, because we're going to quickly take a closer look at Donald Trump's health.

The Republican presidential nominee's medical history is under new scrutiny after he and his allies have been aggressively spreading unproven rumors that Hillary Clinton is ill.

Our chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, is here to help us figure out what's going on here.

What do we know about Donald Trump's health, Sanjay?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Brianna, there's not a lot that we know. We're picking up little tidbits from the campaign trail from the

candidate himself, and then just a little bit more, it's fair to say, from his doctor.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

GUPTA (voice-over): This presidential election, many spin doctors are posing as real doctors.

TRUMP: She also lacks the mental and physical stamina.

GUPTA: But when it comes the strength and stamina or anything else, what do we really know about Donald Trump's health? For someone so public, we have only been able to gather hints from the campaign trail.

[18:20:03]

Like most candidates, he likes to brag about sleep, or lack of it.

TRUMP: I'm not a big sleeper. I like three hours, four hours, I toss, I turn, I think. I want to find out what's going on.

GUPTA: His brother Fred died of alcoholism and that left a real impression on him.

TRUMP: Never had a glass of alcohol. And yet I own the largest winery on the East Coast. It's a crazy thing. But that's all right.

GUPTA: Golf is his exercise, and he doesn't shy away from fast food.

TRUMP: I think all of those places, Burger King, McDonald's, I can live with them. The other night, I had Kentucky Fried Chicken, not the worst thing in the world.

GUPTA: The only real document we have is this letter from his personal physician, Dr. Harold Bornstein.

DOUGLAS BRINKLEY, CNN PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: The trick about releasing medical information is that the candidates, or, in this case, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, get to have their own physician.

If it is your own personal physician and friend, they're obviously going to try to write a little more spirited note on your behalf.

GUPTA: What struck me as a doctor is the language used. "A recent medical exam showed only positive results."

In medicine, positive results can mean a negative outcome.

Details, such as normal blood pressure and that he takes a daily aspirin and statin are important, but don't tell you anything about his overall health now. Dr. Bornstein signs the letter as a fellow of the American College of Gastroenterologists. But when we spoke to the association, they said he hadn't been a

member there in more than 20 years. And despite signing on behalf Lenox Hill Hospital's Division of Gastroenterology, he is not listed on staff and just has admitting privileges at the hospital.

And finally the letter ends with -- quote -- "If elected, Mr. Trump, I can state unequivocally, will be the healthiest individual ever elected to the presidency."

That of course is simply unknowable. Part of the problem, letters like the add more questions than answers and provide even more fuel for those spin doctors.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

GUPTA: I will tell you as well, Brianna, that some of the formal medical organizations, like the American Psychiatric Association, have come out and talked about this as they have in the past. They have really cautioned doctors, saying basically unless you have had direct contact with the person, the patient, the candidate in this case, you really shouldn't be saying anything at all, whether it is their physical health, psychological health or anything, Brianna.

KEILAR: It is good advice. All right, Dr. Sanjay Gupta for us, thank you so much.

Let's back now to a Donald Trump national security adviser and former Congressman Pete Hoekstra with us now.

You have been hearing this debate happen, Congressman. Do you think that Donald Trump should release more medical records?

HOEKSTRA: Well, I think what happens here, as your previous guest just said, the problem the you have is that you have the doctors, their personal doctors releasing the information.

Unless you go in another direction, I'm not sure we are going to get much more insights into Donald Trump's or Hillary Clinton's health with more disclosure at this point. My preference is, focus on other issues. You establish the baseline health of the two candidates and you move on.

KEILAR: And speak to a little bit of sort of what they have both been through over the last year. In a way, this is sort of a health test in itself.

HOEKSTRA: Absolutely.

I mean, I have run statewide here in Michigan. It is an endurance test. And anyone who has gone through the last 12 months of a campaign, a presidential campaign, a national campaign has clearly demonstrated the capability and a certain basic level of health that they have energy, that they have the capacity and the mental stamina to be president of the United States.

KEILAR: Yes, I will tell you, covering it, I certainly felt it even physically. You just start to break down in terms of your health, in terms of getting colds and that kind of thing. Your immune system just isn't what it is.

I do want to ask you about where we're seeing Donald Trump pop up. He has a rally shortly in Austin, Texas. He is going to Mississippi tomorrow. We're 77 days out from the election. Why is he campaigning in reliably red states and not focusing more of his time, a bigger proportion of his time in states that are going to be decisive for him?

HOEKSTRA: Well, I think, it is 77 days out. He's been in Michigan a couple of times in the last two weeks. He spoke in Detroit. He was back again last week. Mike Pence has been in Michigan. I'm glad they're spending that much time in Michigan.

And I think they're just trying to make sure that they balance out the campaign. You never take anything for granted. Yes, we're not going to lose Mississippi, we're not going to lose Texas. But at the same time, you're going into those states because you want to energize your base. If you energize your base, you also have the capacity -- excuse me -- you also have the capacity on raise additional funds for the campaign.

So you meld all of those things together and you develop a national schedule as to where you're going to be, who you're going to be talking to.

[18:25:02]

And you will probably be covering the speech of Mr. Trump in Texas and Mississippi. He will get some national coverage and some national exposure with that. But, yes, once we get to Labor Day, I expect that we will see him in the states that you're talking about, Iowa, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Florida. Can't spend all of his time in those states, but he will spend a vast majority of his time in those kinds of states.

KEILAR: More important, though, right, that he pops up on the front page of those papers in those states, those local papers, than say, "The New York Times."

HOEKSTRA: Absolutely.

There is an invaluable -- it's invaluable to be seen in the Detroit newspapers, the Detroit media. That goes all across Michigan. And, so, yes, he does have to, and he will be. And like I said, he has been here in Michigan. And he is putting in a good effort along with Mike Pence.

So, again, I think that is where you will see them.

KEILAR: Yes. He has got a fight in Michigan. I'm sure it sounds like you're lobbying to get him back there. So, maybe he's taking notice.

Congressman Pete Hoekstra, thank you so much for being with us. HOEKSTRA: Great. Thank you.

KEILAR: And just ahead, more on the fight over which presidential nominee is healthier, Hillary Clinton joking about the unproven rumors being spread that about her by Republicans.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CLINTON: Here. You take my pulse while I'm talking to you. So, make sure I'm alive.

JIMMY KIMMEL, HOST, "JIMMY KIMMEL LIVE": Oh, my God. There's nothing there.

CLINTON: There's nothing there.

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[18:31:08] KEILAR: Tonight, there is increasing confusion about how much or how little Donald Trump is tweaking his immigration policy.

Let's bring in our political team to talk about it. We have CNN political analyst, Rebecca Berg, she's a national political reporter for "Real Clear Politics". We have CNN politics executive editor Mark Preston, "Washington Post" assistant editor David Swerdlick, and CNN senior political analyst Ron Brownstein. He's senior editor for "The Atlantic".

OK, Mark, I want to start with what we heard Donald Trump say. He said he would continue to use President Obama's current laws to deport undocumented immigrants but, quote, "with a lot more energy".

What does that mean because it seemed like we thought he was trying soften his stance, Mark? And now it seems, this does not seem like it's softening.

MARK PRESTON, CNN POLITICS EXECUTIVE EDITOR: Well, in some ways from where he was, it is softening. A couple things that he also said last night. In a very friendly environment on "The O'Reilly Factor" on FOX, he came out and said that he was going to get rid of all the bad ones, that if you're a convict and you're a felon, once he is elected president, that he's going to deport you. Doesn't say how he's going to do that.

KEILAR: Is that what he means by more energy, though?

PRESTON: No.

KEILAR: OK.

PRESTON: What he means all the other ones who are here illegally, he would then use the same laws on the books. But he would deport them with a lot more energy.

KEILAR: With a -- once more with feeling, right?

PRESTON: A lot more feeling.

KEILAR: What does that mean? That he would do this with a lot more energy, Rebecca?

REBECCA BERG, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: The problem is it doesn't really mean anything. He speaks in platitudes. So, he can get away with a lot of being vague on policy. But, eventually, he's going to have to answer the question that you just asked. What does this actually mean?

And really, how is it different from what President Obama has done? As you know, deportations have gone up under President Obama and that has been a real sticky point for a lot of progressives.

DAVID SWERDLICK, THE WASHINGTON POST: Exactly. I mean, it's worth I guess waiting to see what the Trump campaign comes up with later this week or next week. But what it seems like is that they've kind of run up against the idea that everybody else already knew. Immigration is a complicated, difficult issue. That's why there was so much tension on the debate stage between Rubio and Cruz. That's why it was so hard to get through Congress.

You know, this is a fraught issue. Now that he's promised his supporters for a year that he is going to build a wall, build it quickly and get it done and get immigrants out of the country, now he has a problem trying to block it back and be humane.

RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Brianna?

KEILAR: Go ahead.

BROWNSTEIN: There is no version of this that is not an historic retreat. I mean, one of the biggest policy shifts or flip-flops or whatever you want to call it between the primary and the general election we've ever seen. There is no version that would fail to qualify. As you just noted,

I mean, Donald Trump said for a year that he would deport mass deportation, all undocumented immigrants. They have to go. He likened to it Operation Wetback under the Eisenhower administration and he repeatedly, you know, was playing to the voices that felt that President Obama was not going far enough or fast enough with deportation.

While as Rebecca noted, he was getting hit from the left that argued he was deporting too many. You certainly have had a drum beat from the right saying they have abdicated enforcement of the law, particularly when he proposed his DACA plan that -- and DAPA -- which was ultimately blocked by the courts.

So, any version short of mass deportation is an enormous change for Donald Trump and I think it is a reflection of the limits they are facing of trying to mobilize this coalition that brought him to the primary -- brought him through the primaries, to the nomination, recognizing that coalition is not enough to get him much past the low 40s in the national polling in the general.

KEILAR: But, Rebecca, he is clearly worried that losing the people who are so for him in the primary election. And I imagine part of that is because some of these people are not always reliable voters, but they feel very strongly about Donald Trump and part of it is because they feel like he's been very straightforward about his views and they agree with him on them.

[18:35:06] BERG: Exactly. Donald Trump has told his supporters throughout this election that he tells them the truth. That he is representing his values to them and representing their values on the campaign trail. And so, he does have to worry about enthusiasm.

I mean, we're not really worried here that his supporters are going to go to Hillary Clinton, necessarily, because of his stance on immigration. That's not really the question. But are they going to be motivated? Especially in he is down in the polls like he is on election day, are they going to be motivated to show up for him at the polls?

That's what he really needs. He needs to keep their energy up through November. If there are doubts among them that he is going to push hard on immigration, it could hurt him in the polls.

PRESTON: I think it is worth noting two things. One is that Donald Trump flip-flopping on any issue has not hurt him in this campaign whatsoever. In fact, flip-flopping on this issue, and Ron is absolutely right because it is an absolute flip-flop, right?

But that's the only way that he can win the general election. The hard line stance that he was taking on immigration is politically a nonstarter. It's logistically and financially you a nonstarter. So, there's no way it could ever happen.

The second thing is, too, is that they're trying to walk this fine line. They're trying to say, oh, we're going to back off. We're going to use the same laws that Barack Obama and George W. Bush used. Oh, but at the same time, we're going to deport all the felons and the bad ones out -- still sending a quiet dog whistle to those who supported him and got him through this Republican --

SWERDLICK: But now he sounds like a politician.

PRESTON: He's absolutely a politician. There's no doubt about it.

BERG: It's actually a little bit more complicated even because before he ran for president, he said that Romney's self-deportation line was mean-spirited. He brought up amnesty if Congress was able to strengthen border security. So, he's been wildly in confusion over the years.

KEILAR: And I'm going to -- we have much more to talk about, Ron. So, I'm going to let you have the next word as soon as we get started. We have much more to talk about. Why is Donald Trump in Texas? Why is he heading for Mississippi? We'll discuss that with our panel.

Getting in a quick break now.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[18:41:48] KEILAR: We're back now with our political team and some breaking news on Republican attacks on Hillary Clinton and the Clinton Foundation.

Let's bring in our senior Washington correspondent Jeff Zeleny -- Jeff.

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Brianna.

Tonight, the Trump campaign is opening up a new line of attack on Clinton and her family's foundation. Trump is responding to an "Associated Press" report that says more than half the people who met with Hillary Clinton as secretary of state contributed either personally or through groups to the Clinton Foundation. But moments ago, the Clinton campaign pushed back saying this relies on utterly flawed data. It cherry-picked meetings.

Now, all of this comes as they are pushing back on the humanitarian work the foundation has done. It's happening as Clinton is on the campaign trail raising money for the bloody fight ahead.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JIMMY KIMMEL, TV HOST: Please welcome, Hillary Clinton.

ZELENY (voice-over): The campaign trail goes Hollywood. From the late night talk show circuit, to star-studded fundraisers.

Beyond the laughter, Hillary Clinton is not missing a chance to go after Donald Trump.

HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: I would prefer to be running against somebody who I thought was qualified to be president and temperamentally fit to be commander in chief.

ZELENY: But Trump is calling for a special prosecutor to investigate the private email server she used as secretary of state, a controversy she tried brushing aside with Jimmy Kimmel.

CLINTON: Jimmy, my e-mails are so boring. I mean, I'm embarrassed about that. They're so boring. So we already released I don't know, 30,000 plus. So, what's a few more?

ZELENY: While she says the content may be boring, the FBI director says her handling of them was careless and Trump hopes to use against her.

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: An expedited investigation by a special prosecutor immediately, immediately, immediately.

ZELENY: But Trump has veered from controversy to conspiracy, the latest is on an unfounded attack on her health.

CLINTON: Take my pulse while I'm talking to you.

KIMMEL: OK.

CLINTON: So, make sure I'm alive.

KIMMEL: Can you open this jar of pickles? This is not for amateurs.

(LAUGHTER)

(CHEERS)

ZELENY: The life blood of the campaign is cash and she raised $6.3 million on Monday alone, at two stops in Beverly Hills.

First at the home of basketball great Magic Johnson, and later with entertainment mogul, Haim Saban, which drew protesters. And today, she is making the rounds to four more fundraisers, including one hosted by star Justin Timberlake and his wife actress Jessica Biel, who playfully posed for these pictures with Clinton.

Meanwhile, friends of the Clintons are defending the family's charitable foundation from fierce attacks from Trump.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is who we are.

ZELENY: They say its work around the world like fighting malaria has been overshadowed by allegations of the foundation's political influence.

JAMES CARVILLE, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: A million people had to die but we have to prove a point. OK, go ahead, you have your point, wow. What a great idea.

ZELENY: Tonight, the fight to define Trump is intensifying with this new ad from a pro-Clinton super PAC.

TRUMP: They're bringing drugs. They're bringing crime. They're rapist.

ZELENY: It's laying the groundwork for their biggest battle yet -- their first debate, only a month away.

CLINTON: You've got to be prepared for like whacky stuff that comes at you.

[18:45:03] And I am drawing on my experience in elementary school. The guy who pulled your pony tail.

KIMMEL: Yes.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ZELENY: Now, that debate scheduled for September 26 could offer Trump his best chance to turn his campaign around. He's running behind in most battleground states and nationally. The Clinton campaign is doing everything it can to define Trump before that debate. She is scheduled to deliver a speech Thursday in Nevada, saying Trump and his new advisors are simply embracing divisive and dangerous views.

Brianna, aides told me she will focus on his temperament which she says makes him unfit for the presidency.

KEILAR: All right. Jeff Zeleny, thank you so much.

Let's talk about this, especially this speech that Hillary Clinton is going to give, Rebecca. You have her talking about what we're expecting for her to discuss is she'll characterize Donald Trump as embracing the alt-right philosophy. So, explain to us what that is and what she's trying to do.

BERG: Well, what she is saying by just using that term, it's basically a code word for white nationalism, white supremism, if you take it to its extreme. And it's really astounding that Hillary Clinton is saying that Donald Trump is trying to sow racial division for his own political gain, and that we're having this discussion among two major party nominees, it's really astounding. It's very, very strong language that she is using, I will be interested to see what the reception is.

But it goes to her larger point that fundamentally Donald Trump is unfit for the presidency.

KEILAR: She is trying to link him to his most extreme supporters, Mark, and really characterize him in the same, painting him with the same brush as them, right?

PRESTON: Yes, personally. I mean, not just personally but personally, that he would hold these views. That he would try sow racial discord in order to try to get votes, try to get support. I mean, in some ways, like the southern strategy that we saw so many years ago. But at this point, you know, in our lives in 2016, she's trying to make the case that Donald Trump is really making a play for racists.

KEILAR: Can you believe, Ron, that this is the topic of a speech in a presidential election?

BROWNSTEIN: Yes. I mean, this is not exactly a cobble together accusation, right? I mean, we're talking about a candidate in Donald Trump who has used the most racially barbed language of any major party candidate since George Wallace, you know, running in the Democratic Party in the 1970s, those independent candidate in 1968, who started out his campaign by talking about Mexicans as criminals and rapists who has, you know, offered to pay -- at times offered to pay the legal fees for supporters who punched a black supporter at one of his events.

So, I mean, this is -- in essence, the two North Stars of this race so far, despite all of the doubts about Hillary Clinton and all of the self-inflicted wounds that she continues to multiply, the two North Stars is that roughly 60 percent of Americans in polling say that Donald Trump is not qualified to be president and roughly, 60 percent say he is racially against women and minorities. And those sentiments are especially strong among the key components of the Democratic coalition, minorities, millennials and college-educated whites.

It's why you see states like Colorado and Virginia that been swing states, moving kind of off the board at this point, why you see a poll today in a state like Missouri being virtually even because of Donald Trump's weakness among particular, those white collar whites who have usually tilted Republican, many of them are hesitating around these twin concerns that he would divide the nation racially and by experience in temperament, he's not fit to be president.

Until he can overcome those twin doubts, no matter how many doubts about Hillary Clinton, he'll still be looking uphill.

SWERDLICK: Yes. No, I mean, I follow and I agree with everything Ron is saying, I do think there's a little bit of danger here for Clinton in this sense. Look, Trump has run a divisive us versus them campaign up to this point. Now, that he's trying to do this sort of pivot, I think the Clinton campaign wants to remind people he's the divider in chief, vote for Hillary Clinton.

The only thing I see as problematic for Clinton is that just like it's baked into the cake that she has trustworthiness problem, it's already baked into the cake that Donald Trump is us versus them. So, she may do better if she sort of focused on the road ahead as opposed to pin Donald Trump to the mat here.

PRESTON: And, really, Brian, what they're trying to do is they're trying to create a smoke screen because this has not been a very good week for the Clinton campaign, right? So, create this smoke screen --

KEILAR: E-mails, e-mails, Clinton Foundation. Right.

PRESTON: E-mails, foundation, but hey, let's talk about the alt- right, I mean, and that's what she's trying to do. She's trying to put the message back on to Donald Trump and the glare of the media spotlight.

KEILAR: And the reason -- here is an example of why this hasn't been a very good week. Donald Trump has, one, we've been talking to a lot of his folks and I'm surprised there is not the first thing out of their mouths but it's not. But he's responded to this, an A.P. report that says more than half of the people who met with Hillary Clinton as secretary of state contributed either personally or through groups to the Clinton Foundation.

He's saying, look, you need to shut this thing down. People look at that number, half, and they say that's really unseemly.

BERG: Exactly, and this is the disgust with Washington that has been propelling Donald Trump's campaign from the very beginning.

And so, every occasion that he has to remind voters and especially undecided voters because certainly, they do not have a favorable view of Washington right now either. Barely anyone does if you look at the polling. Any occasion he has to remind people of how Washington works that Hillary Clinton was very much a part of Washington for most of her career and that dynamic -- well, that's a good day for him.

But as you said, Brianna, he's not making those points as sharply as he needs to be.

KEILAR: What is the -- sorry, Ron. Go ahead.

BROWNSTEIN: I was going to say, you know with these revelations every day, we are rowing a little deeper into the uncharted waters of a presidential election in which the majority of voters will have an unfavorable opinion about both of major candidates. I mean, talk about bake into the cake, that now seems virtually guaranteed that we will get to an election day where the majority of voters say they're unfavorable toward Trump, unfavorable toward Clinton. A majority saying Clinton is not honest and trustworthy. The majority saying they don't believe Trump is qualified.

Now, what exactly that plays out as is to be determined. One thing it might mean is despite all of this attention, all of these ratings, all of this viewership that voter turnout may not be as high as we expect, but both of these candidates are exhibiting so many flaws as the campaign goes along. Having said that, I still believe the North Star, these two views about Trump that he's not qualified and racially divisive, that above all is what's driving this race.

KEILAR: David, if it's baked in that Donald Trump has -- that the Hillary Clinton campaign is trying to pair him up with the alt-right that are attracted to him, and the racists that are attracted to him and some of that is baked in with Donald Trump, but is the difference -- I wonder if there is a difference. You tell me what you think, in that where his poll numbers are right now compared to hers, you know, he's struggling to kind of break a very important ceiling of getting consistently towards that mid-40 range, at least nationally. He's not doing it. We see him down in poll after poll in these battleground states.

So, he -- it may be baked in, but he has to expand in a way that -- he has to expand right now more than she does, right?

SWERDLICK: He has to expand more than she does. If you look at these polling averages for the key swing states, she's been up in recent weeks and each though Trump is trying again this sort of pivot. He hasn't quite turned the poll numbers around yet.

But I do think, the way I'm looking at it is that they both are leaning on each other on each other's flaws, right? Yes. Right now, if you look at the numbers, Clinton has that advantage, but both of their campaigns are so based on emphasizing each other's flaws, and I do think that with 75 days to go, there is some peril for both of them there.

KEILAR: Yes, it is.

BERG: Let's not forget that as Hillary Clinton is making this point about Donald Trump promoting these alt-right ideas, what Donald Trump is trying to do is soften his tone on African-Americans and reach out to African-American voters or at least project what he is doing that, same with Hispanics. And part of the reason he's doing that is not only to potentially help his numbers with those groups but also to assuage some concerns that white-collar, college-educated Republicans have about him and about the rhetoric that he has used when it comes to those groups.

KEILAR: All right, guys. I'm going to have to leave it there. Thank you so much, Rebecca, Mark, David and Ron. I really appreciate it.

Just ahead, President Obama gets an up-close look at the flood damage in Louisiana and he fires back at Trump and those who say he should have been there sooner.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[18:58:02] KEILAR: Tonight, President Obama says his highly anticipated visit to flood damaged Louisiana wasn't about politics or photo-ops. He says it was all about helping victims.

CNN White House correspondent Michelle Kosinski has more on this trip and the president's response to his critics.

Hi, Michelle.

MICHELLE KOSINSKI, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Brianna.

Well, of course, the White House wants to keep politics well away from this. Impossible though, right? What's unfortunate for the president is that this happened while this was on vacation. So, then you had the local paper there asking why he was on the golf course while Louisiana was suffering. You had Donald Trump beat him down there and criticized him.

So, here's how the president responded to some of that today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: First of all, one of the benefits of being five months short of leaving here is I don't worry too much about politics. The second thing I have seen historically is that you know when disasters strike, that's probably one of the few times where Washington tends not to get political.

You know, I guarantee you nobody on this block, none of those first responders, nobody gives a hoot whether you're a Democrat or Republican. What they care about is making sure they're getting the drywall out and the carpet out and there's not any mold building and they get some contractors in here and they start rebuilding as quick as possible. That's what they care about and that's what I care about.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KOSINSKI: What has worked for the administration is that the federal response was quick. It's been large scale. It's even been praised by Louisiana's top-ranked Republican, the lieutenant governor.

I'll also tell you, the president kind of tried to fit everything in. He met with the family of Alton Sterling, who was shot at very close range by police. Police said he was armed. That's under federal investigation. He met with families of police officers who were wounded and killed in another shooting also last month.

So, very starkly, this all shows you how much this one city Baton Rouge has been dealing with -- Brianna.

KEILAR: Certainly does. Michelle Kosinski at the White House -- thank you so much for that report.

I'm Brianna Keilar. Thank you very much for watching.

"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" with Pamela Brown starts right now.