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Trump's Military Plan; Trump Will Ask Generals For ISIS Plan in 30 Days; Bill Clinton Touts GOP Support For His Wife; Clinton Hits Trump on Tax Returns. Aired 1-1:30p ET

Aired September 7, 2016 - 13:00   ET


ANDREW LUGER, U.S. ATTORNEY, MINNESOTA: This is a -- this is a tough, gut-wrenching case but we sat down with the Wetterling family before we made any deals. That was the only way we were going to go forward.


LUGER: And we had a long conversation about it. They wanted their little boy home, and we got him home.

BANFIELD: I understand that. Thank you for what you did. Thank you -- thank you for getting him off the street. Thanks for being with us today, Andrew Lugar.

And thanks for watching, everyone. "WOLF" starts right now.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, I'm Wolf Blitzer. It's 1:00 p.m. here in Washington, 6:00 p.m. in London, 8:00 p.m. in Aleppo, Syria. Wherever you're watching from around the world, thanks very much for joining us.

We start with breaking news. National security front and center in the presidential race here in the United States. Speaking just a little while ago, Donald Trump pledged to restore and America -- and strengthen America's military and he repeated his plan for taking on ISIS.


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I will ask my generals to present to me a plan within 30 days to defeat and destroy ISIS. This will require a military warfare but also cyber warfare, financial warfare and ideological warfare, as I laid out in my speech, on defeating radical Islamic terrorism several weeks ago.

Instead of an apology tour, which you saw President Obama give over and over again, I will proudly promote our system of government and our way of life as the best in the world, just like we did in our campaign against communism during the cold war.


BLITZER: On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton got some help out there on the campaign trail from former President Bill Clinton. At a campaign stop in Florida, he said even Republicans trust Hillary Clinton to keep the country safe.


BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I can never remember a Democratic candidate for president that had as many prominent Republicans endorsing her as Hillary has had. And in view of all the attacks on her, I think it is very interesting that the overwhelming majority of them said they are doing it because they trust her with the national security of this country to keep us safe enough and strong enough (INAUDIBLE.)


BLITZER: And these are live pictures you're seeing right now from Carlyle, Pennsylvania, where Chelsea Clinton is campaigning for her mother this hour. We're going to dip into that event later. Stand by for that.

But first, let's bring in our Senior White House Correspondent Jim Acosta. He's in Philadelphia. That's where Trump just gave his national security speech, along with our Pentagon Correspondent Barbara Starr.

Jim, this is the second day in a row Trump has focused in on national security. What was the gist of his message today?

JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, obviously, the speech was aimed at laying out his policy proposals for national defense, for national security.

In that speech, he talked about his plan for defeating ISIS. That plan basically consists of telling his generals, on day one of his administration, that they have 30 days to come up with a plan for defeating ISIS. He talked about how he wants to end those forced budget cuts, known as sequestration, over at the Pentagon so he can boost defense spending.

But, Wolf, make no mistake, this speech was also designed to go after Hillary Clinton. Time and again throughout this speech, he went after her readiness, as he put it, to wage war in the Middle East, basically saying there was no military intervention that she did not like.

Also, questioned her steadiness, her capability to be commander in chief. And some of that is really aimed at deflecting some of the attention away from his own poll numbers in that regard. Keep in mind, our latest CNN-ORC poll finds that Americans, by and large, believe that Hillary Clinton is more temperamentally fit to be president of the United States.

But listen how Donald Trump put it during these remarks that we heard just about a half an hour ago, when he, sort of, wrapped all of these issues together to attack Hillary Clinton as being unfit for being president of the United States. Here's what he had to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) TRUMP: Sometimes, it seemed like there wasn't a country in the Middle East that Hillary Clinton didn't want to invade, intervene in or topple. She's trigger happy and very unstable. Whether we like it or not, that's what's going on.

She's also reckless, so reckless, in fact, that she put her e-mails on an illegal server that our enemies could easily hack and probably have.


ACOSTA: Now, this whole issue of Hillary Clinton's e-mail server and the safety of those e-mails came up frequently throughout this speech, Wolf. There was another part, during this speech, where he said that Hillary Clinton has shown to all of us how vulnerable we are to cyber hacking.

[13:05:00] We should point out, though, remember it was back in July, when Donald Trump got into a lot of trouble, when he seemed to invite the Russians to hack into or find wherever those missing or deleted e- mails from Hillary Clinton's private e-mail server. He later went on to say he was being sarcastic about that.

And there are some other things we should point out just by fact- checking standpoint. When he accuses Hillary Clinton of rushing into war in Iraq. Donald Trump likes to say out on the campaign trail he was against that war, but, in fact, he was caught on tape saying that the U.S. should go ahead and invade Iraq, back in 2003.

So, this was one of those speeches. It was well designed. It was well delivered. But make no mistake, in addition to laying out his foreign policy and national security proposals, he wanted to take another opportunity to take some whacks at Hillary Clinton -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, Jim, stand by for a moment. Barbara Starr, you're at the Pentagon. You cover the military for us. What did you make of Trump's speech?

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think there's a lot to break down here, perhaps starting with his statement that Hillary Clinton likes to intervene in so many places. Let's remember, Donald Trump has called for U.S. troops to basically seize the oil fields in Iraq, perhaps the ultimately unprecedented military intervention.

His speech had a lot in it. It started by talking about military readiness. But military readiness deals with where your troops and your equipment is today, as we stand today. Are they ready to go to war? He starts with that but the bulk of his speech is, of course, about the future of the U.S. military.

Let's put up, we have a few numbers to show people. These are massive increases in the standing force of the U.S. military that Donald Trump called for in this speech. He is, basically, calling for more of everything. Tens of thousands of additional Army forces, Marine battalions, hundreds of Navy ships and additional hundreds of fighter jets.

What's the cost of all of this? Who's going to pay for it? You're going to have to get a Republican or Democratic or coalition-type effort in Congress to pay for all of this. There has been very little inclination to do that.

Do you really need all of it? That is the fundamental military question. Commanders always say they need more. They have said repeatedly, they don't have enough right now. But do you need all of this?

Military policy dictates that you don't start with the numbers. You start with the threat. What is the threat? What is the capacity and capability you need to deal with that threat? Because if you can't match that up, you wind up with a huge standing force that maybe you cannot continue to pay for over the decades. This would cost billions of dollars. It would -- it would be a real question of whether you need this kind of capacity for decades to come. That's not what we heard today -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, Barbara, thanks very much. Barbara Starr, Jim Acosta, guys, I appreciate it.

Let's get some perspective now on Trump's plan, his national security speech from Republican Congressman Peter King of New York. He's a key member of both the Homeland Security and Intelligence Committees. He's joining us live from Capitol Hill.

Congressman, thanks very much for joining us. What's your initial reaction to Donald Trump's plan to strengthen the military to improve national security?

REP. PETER KING (R), NEW YORK, HOMELAND SECURITY COMMITTEE: Yes, basically, Wolf, I would agree with it, certainly going forward. I believe there have been too many cuts to the military. The sequester policy, to me, is absolutely wrong. And to me, there is no equivalency between domestic spending and military spending.

On the military, we have to spend what we have to spend because if we're not safe or we're not alive, it doesn't matter what domestic programs we have. And at a time when china is certainly expanding in the Pacific, I believe we have to do more with our Navy.

I know Barbara was talking about whether or not we would have too many ground forces. One of the problems we have now, though, is that we have the same troops being deployed and redeployed over and over again which is contributing to some of the PTSD issues we have. It's contributing to morale issues.

So, I do believe we do need more ground forces. Whether it's as much as Donald Trump is asking for, that'll be the subject of hearings in Congress. But he's definitely going in the right direction. So, yes, I support the thrust of what he's saying, as far as more military readiness.

BLITZER: And I just want our viewers to be -- to be aware. I assume you are a Donald Trump supporter, right?

KING: Yes, I have endorsed Donald Trump, and I've actually had several meetings with him on security issues. I was not supporting him during the primaries, but I am supporting him now, yes.

BLITZER: He said, once again today, that he'll ask the generals for a plan within 30ays how to defeat to destroy ISIS. During the campaign, though, as you well know, he indicated he already had a plan. He just didn't want to tip-off the terrorist of what that plan was. Listen to what he said back in April.


TRUMP: And then, there's ISIS. I have simple message for them. Their days are numbered. I won't tell them where, and I won't tell them how. We must -- we must, as a nation, be more unpredictable.


[13:10:00] BLITZER: So, does he already have a plan or is he depending on the generals to come up with a plan, during his first 30 days, if he's elected president?

KING: Well, he has received significant advice already from people like General Mike Flynn, who's the former head of the Defense Intelligence Agency, who's a top military adviser. So, he has definite general ideas and some specific ideas. But he also is realistic enough to know, as president, he wants to get the very latest intelligence. He wants to have the very latest from the military to fine tune and refine that and perhaps add to it.

But he certainly -- I think the big difference you will see is you will not have Donald Trump telling what he's not going to do. That's one of the big criticisms that I've had and Donald Trump has had. That with President Obama, for instance, back in September of 2013 I guess it was, when he said he was going to take -- 2014 actually, against ISIS. But he immediately said he was going to have air attacks but no ground troops. You should never tell what you're not going to do. Let the enemy think we're going to do anything. Be unpredictable. Don't let them know what we're not going to do.

BLITZER: Let me play a little clip for you, Congressman. This is from a new ad from the Hillary Clinton campaign going to try to win support among veterans. Listen to this.


TRUMP: I know more about ISIS than the generals do. John McCain, a war hero. He's not a war hero. He is a war hero because he was captured. I like people that weren't captured. OK?


BLITZER: All right, two points. First, he said he knows more than the generals. Secondly, he says John McCain is not a war hero. But first of all, the first thing he said, he knows more than the generals. What's your reaction to that?

KING: I think that's the type of statement you make during a campaign. Obviously, I know, for instance, how much he relies on General Flynn. I know that the fact that he said today he's going to go to the generals. I think what he's saying is he's not going to be bound just by what the generals say. And he's -- I think that was his way of disagreeing with president's current policy.

But, no, he has tremendous respect for the military, tremendous respect for the generals.

BLITZER: What about what he said about John McCain as a POW, that he wasn't really a hero? POWs are not heroes? Does he owe John McCain and other POWs an apology?

KING: He certainly, I believe, should tell John McCain what he meant. It was wrong. I am -- I am the greatest admire, of anybody, of John McCain. I endorsed him for president in 2000. He's a close, personal friend. He is a hero. He's an American hero. He should be an inspiration to all of us. And what Donald Trump said at the time was simply wrong. However he works it out with John McCain is between the two of them.

But anyone who's a POW -- I can't imagine being a POW BLITZER: Speaking of apologies, yesterday, Dr. Ben Carson for one night, never mind five, six, seven years, the way people like John McCain and Sam Johnson had to go through.

told our Jake Tapper that Trump should also apologize for his comments supporting the so-called birther movement involving the president of the United States. Does he owe the president an apology?

KING: I don't believe he owes an apology. He was raising issues I wouldn't have raised. To me, that's over and done with. And I guess he was raising the issue to put the president on the spot. You know, why he hadn't shown the birth certificate. But I don't think it's an apology question.

I mean -- and so much has been said about Donald Trump but we keep -- to me, I don't want to become the nation of, you know, making apologies all the time. If you can't take it, you should get out of the arena. A lot of people have said things about me, including reporters. I never ask for an apology. You can say whatever you want. But, again, I think that -- you know, let's be more tempered as we go forward.

BLITZER: But as you know, this is the first African-American president of the United States. Once he released his birth certificate from Hawaii, showing he was born in Honolulu, should he have formally apologized? And is it -- is it too late? Is it still appropriate for him to tell the president of the United States, you know what Mr. President, I apologize.

KING: I don't think it had to do with an African-American. If he had been in Scotland or Ireland or Germany or Spain and he hadn't produced a birth certificate, Donald Trump, I'm sure, would have raised the issue. I think Donald Trump is an equal opportunity when it comes to attacking people. That's part of his persona.

I grew up in Queens. He grew up in Queens. His neighborhood was a little richer than mine. But we do, maybe more often than we should, you know, result to the ad -- resort to the (INAUDIBLE) of attack. That's sort of our style.

No, I -- to me, I don't see it as being a racial issue at all. And as far as apologies, I think we should get over the apologies.

BLITZER: But you just said, Congressman, he should apologize to John McCain and other POWs.

KING: No, I was just going on to that. I was saying, he should certainly work it out with John McCain. That, to me, is a -- that is so in a class by itself, having been a prisoner of war for seven years. That's different from being part of the political, you know, give and take. So, I would put that in a different category.

BLITZER: Peter King, the Congressman from New York. Thanks very much for joining us.

KING: Thank you, Wolf.

BLITZER: Coming up, our political panel is standing by to weigh in on Donald Trump's national security speech today. Plus, Hillary Clinton says Donald Trump is dead wrong, that voters don't care about his tax returns. So, is she right? We're going to get our political panel to weigh in on that as well, and the conditions Trump has set for releasing those tax returns.

And look at this, live pictures coming in from Carlisle, Pennsylvania. Any moment now, Chelsea Clinton will rally voters there for her mother. Stay with us. Lots going on.



[13:18:38] BLITZER: Donald Trump not missing an opportunity to attack Hillary Clinton during his major speech on national security today. Listen to what he just said about Hillary Clinton's use of a private e-mail server and the need to enforce classification laws.


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: One of the first things we must do is to enforce all classification rules and to enforce all laws relating to the handling of classified information. Hillary Clinton put her e-mails on a secret server. Nobody knew about except for the man that was giving the Fifth, remember? Whatever happened to him? Where is he? What happened to him? Where did he go?


BLITZER: All right let's discuss Trump's latest attacks and his list of policy proposals. Joining us, political reporter for "The Washington Post," Ed O'Keefe, and CNN political analyst, the host of "The David Gregory Show" podcast, David Gregory.

So, how successful, David, was Donald Trump today in attacking Hillary Clinton on this issue of national security?

DAVID GREGORY, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I think in terms of pure political theater, first of all, it's a more disciplined Trump than we've seen in even the recent past. Two, I think he's tapping into those voters who look at America's place in the world and to the extent they think about it, they're troubled by it. They're troubled by the threats of ISIS and terrorism. They're troubled by our allies thinking that we haven't stepped up and asserted our leadership in the world. But, of course, he falls short of real policy prescriptions and a sense of realism about just what American can accomplish militarily. After all, we've been at war for 16 years now after 9/11 just about. And so there's a lot of lessons that have been learned that he doesn't really show that he's learned in a lot of these attacks on Clinton.

[13:20:21] BLITZER: Ed, he'd been giving several speeches now on national security. He likes doing it. But today's was a little different. What did you see differently today?

ED O'KEEFE, POLITICAL REPORTER, "THE WASHINGTON POST": Well, the discussion of ending the sequester. Remember, we spent most of 2013 talking about the --

BLITZER: Now, explain to our viewers what the sequester is.

O'KEEFE: Having written about it many times --


O'KEEFE: I could do it in my sleep. The automatic budget cuts that would come into effect if federal spending hit a certain level. A certain amount to the Pentagon. A certain amount to everyone else.

BLITZER: Across the board budget cuts.

O'KEEFE: Across the board.

BLITZER: Every part of the U.S. government.

O'KEEFE: Right. So his discussion today of ending it for military spending is music to the ears of a lot of Republicans, especially those that just came back to Washington to do a little bit of work on Capitol Hill. You heard Peter King a few minutes ago say, I think it's a great idea. Defense spending shouldn't be equated with domestic spending. That's something that I think will ring pretty well with a lot of skeptical Republicans, maybe some independents, and certainly military service members, their families, veterans who may not like him or may have concerns about him as commander in chief, but will appreciate the talk of bolstering the military.

GREGORY: And a little bit of subtext. A state like Florida, which could be the most important state among the battleground states in terms of what could tip the scales of the election, a big military vote there. This is not heavy policy. This is more, hey, let's do more for veterans, let's do more to strengthen the military. Pure politics in a general election campaign.

BLITZER: Because, you know, there are a lot of Democrats, and maybe even a few Republicans, who think the U.S. is already spending too much on defense, on military matters. If you take a look, I think the numbers, the bottom line numbers, the U.S. spends more on defense than the next, what, half a dozen, maybe even dozen countries combined.


BLITZER: And even if you include Russia and China and Iran and North Korea in that category. So there's a whole group of members of Congress who say, you know what, we should be cutting back more.

O'KEEFE: We should -- there are those that say that. But I think David's right, there's some -- there's some real politicking here in the idea that not only does it appeal to voters in Florida, remember, North Carolina and Virginia too have massive military populations.


O'KEEFE: He's struggling in both of those states. And this would be designed to reach out to them and, again, to bolster support among Republicans who may be skeptical about him as commander in chief.

GREGORY: But I think there's a bigger -- a bigger debate to have in this country about the role of the United States in the world and the projection of the U.S. force. After 9/11, decisions were made to invade Afghanistan and Iraq to project American power. This administration has been defined by restraint and criticized for that. So there's going to be a new chapter of this debate. And Trump, as kind of the ultimate outsider, is trying to initiate that debate. Hillary Clinton is very much a part of the old order here, having voted for Iraq, supported Afghanistan. And -- and he's right, I mean his language calling her trigger happy. There is no question she is more hawkish than President Obama. And she's made that very clear. And so that's a fair debate to have. We'll hear more of it in the presidential debates.

BLITZER: And he makes some fair points. If you take a look at the Middle East right now, Libya, for example, as bad as it was under Gadhafi, take a look at what's going on in Libya today with ISIS in control of big chunks of Libya, including a lot of that oil.

O'KEEFE: Absolutely. And I think, you know, you've heard Trump, you've heard Mike Pence, you've heard other Republicans sort of ask the questions, what really did she accomplish as secretary of state if you look at the state of the world right now? The president's overseas in Asia getting disrespected every single day by different leaders of that region. You have what's going on in the Middle East. And they just hold that up and say, she was responsible for this for four years. If this is still happening now, why on earth would we want to return to her? It's an argument that given the way the numbers are right now could resonate with a lot of voters who are still undecided.

GREGORY: But she's been in the arena militarily. You hear it from a lot of top military leaders. They may not love her, they may not even respect her, but there is a grudging acknowledgment and even respect for the fact she's made tough decisions, she knows these issues. And I think the trust factor -- I don't think a lot of voters are going to see her as reckless compared to Donald Trump in terms of what we've seen so far.

BLITZER: She, in turn, is responding by going after him on a whole host of issues --


BLITZER: Including as recently as yesterday. Why doesn't he release his tax returns? He says he can't do it under audit. But there are a lot of years, you know, going back where he's no longer under audit. He's still refusing to do so.

O'KEEFE: Yes, this is -- this is one that won't go away for him because, you know, it speaks to a question of transparency. What is he trying to hide, which is the argument she's making? But also amid all these questions there are now about donations he was giving to, for example, the attorney general of Florida, Pam Bondi. Well, charitable donations would be revealed conceivably in a tax return. If he were to just put it all out, maybe it would settle some of those questions.

My colleagues at "The Post," other news organizations have been asking, you know, was he really giving money or was he using his own charitable foundation to give money to various organizations? The campaign hasn't been very clear about it. A tax return certainly would help clear that up.

BLITZER: His vice presidential running mate, Mike Pence, supposedly as early as tomorrow is going to release his.


BLITZER: And that will give new focus, new attention on why isn't Donald Trump at least releasing those tax returns that are no longer under audit.

GREGORY: There's no reason that he should not be releasing these. And in his arguments have run thin throughout this campaign. And as you've pointed out, you know, this is also somebody who didn't believe the president of the United States was an American citizen. So these are things he has to keep answering.

[13:25:09] BLITZER: All right, guys, I want to go to Carlisle, Pennsylvania, right now. Chelsea Clinton is now back on the campaign trail. She's speaking at a rally there. Let's listen in.

CHELSEA CLINTON, HILLARY CLINTON'S DAUGHTER: Most important presidential election of my lifetime because everything that I care most about, I worry is at risk. All the progress that President Obama has made, the progress I don't think he gets enough credit for having made to move our country forward and all the opportunities for further progress that his leadership has really enabled. So I know it's really hot in here and I know there are a lot more people here than even I can see. I'm told there are lots of people behind this wall and I know there are people out on the sidewalk. So I just want to share a few thoughts about why I'm such a passionate supporter of my moms and then take a couple questions and then just try to meet as many of you as possible.

I should acknowledge, no probably great surprise, I am deeply and unapologetically biased towards my mom. I -- oh, this is great. We should hang out more often. I really -- I couldn't imagine a better grandmother for my children. So that's one of the reasons I'm so biased towards her. I couldn't imagine a better role model for me as a working mom. You know, when Anastasia was talking about all the work that my mom did before I was born, I was thinking about all the work that she did after I was born.

All the work that she did in the 1980s to help expand early childhood education in Arkansas and improve the standards in our public schools, helping Arkansas Public Schools go from among the worst in the country to the most improved in the country in the 1980s, the work that she did in the 1990s on health care reform. I remember so vividly around the time that I met Anastasia when my mom was fighting for universal health care coverage, and I remember pretty vividly when that didn't work out, but she -- she didn't give up because quitting is not in her vocabulary. She just got back up and kept working. And I'm really proud that there are more than 8 million low income kids across our country, including more than 100,000 here in Pennsylvania, who have health care coverage in large part because of my mom's efforts.

I'm really proud that when she was our first lady, but also when she was my senator in New York, she fought for work that she hasn't yet been able to deliver on, paid family leave, equal pay for equal work, ensuring that women's rights are always moving forward and not being pushed backward. It matters --

BLITZER: Chelsea Clinton, not surprisingly, strongly supporting her mother to become the next president of the United States. She's a pretty good campaigner for her mom right now and her mom's got a whole bunch of other excellent surrogates as well.

O'KEEFE: Well, that's -- I was just sitting here thinking that. You know, she's in -- in suburban -- well, she's in Pennsylvania today.

BLITZER: She's in Carlisle, yes.

O'KEEFE: Right. Bill Clinton is down in Florida. They're sending the first lady, Michelle Obama, out to northern Virginia later this week.

BLITZER: Who's a pretty good surrogate herself.

O'KEEFE: Yes. And then you've got Tim Kaine and his wife out campaigning as well at separate events. So they can cover a lot of ground on any given day. You think about Trump. You've got Trump. You've got Mike Pence. And then you've got maybe the Trump children and you've got Rudy Giuliani and Jeff Sessions, who always seem to be flying with Trump. They can't cover as much ground this way.

GREGORY: Yes. O'KEEFE: And, you know, that speaks to sort of the old way of doing politics, the tried and true way, and the way that Trump has been trying to do it, and you wonder, you know, to what extent this stuff helps. It does because it ends up in the newspapers and it ends up on the local news tonight and it helps them sort of keep the message going in big battleground states.

BLITZER: And pretty soon she's going to have the president of the United States out there on the campaign trail for her and if that Barack Obama coalition is going to be recreated, you know who can do that for her potentially.

GREGORY: And he's got pretty high approval ratings, which helps her. Maybe they're not high enough to help her as much as she'd like, but they're still pretty good, which means that the country is identifying with Democrats. She can expand the map quite considerably and she can target various groups. I mean this is her daughter, but she's speaking about issues that will resonate with working women in particular. That gap that's already been created between Clinton and Trump among women, even white women, which typically vote Republican, big leads for Hillary Clinton there. If she can keep growing that, it gets harder and harder to imagine a path to victory for him.

BLITZER: All right, David and Ed, stay with me. There's more news coming up.

Republican lawmakers are ready to dig even deeper into Hillary Clinton's use of a private e-mail server. So how big of a problem are these new congressional hearings for her?

[13:29:47] Plus, we'll talk about that and a lot more. A key Clinton supporter, Congressman Steve Israel of New York. There he is. He's up on Capitol Hill. We'll speak with him right after this.