Return to Transcripts main page


Up to 40 ISIS Paris Suspects At Large as ISIS Ratchets Up Terror Plots; Clinton Meets with National Security Experts; Republicans Uneasy with Trump Praise of Putin; Independent Presidential Candidate Hopes to Gain Support from Johnson Gaffe. Aired 11:30-12p ET

Aired September 9, 2016 - 11:30   ET


[11:30:00] CLARISSA WARD, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: So they might know something, that they have just been instructed to try to find some AK-47s or just been instructed to find a safe house for a brother who is visiting from Syria. They don't necessarily have the full picture. They don't necessarily know the full scope and that makes it very difficult for security services when they're trying to drill down on these networks when they're trying to prosecute people for their involvement with these networks to gather the evidence to prove you actually were categorically involved with this attack and you knew what this attack was going to look like.

The other thing we're seeing, the more we look into this is that European security services are just stretched so thin. An estimated 10,000 Europeans in Iraq to fight, many of then with ISIS, a lot of them are now coming back to Europe. And on top of that, you have this new threat to contend with, which are ISIS-inspired attacks. All of it putting a very bleak picture together for European security service.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Bleak to say the very least. But important to get the reporting out.

Clarissa, great to hear from you. Thank you.

Coming up, Donald Trump praising Russian President Vladimir Putin again and again. Coming up, CNN's Manu Raju asked Republicans on Capitol Hill if they agree with the man at the top of the ticket.


SEN. BOB CORKER, (R), TENNESSEE: One has to be careful to let flattery influence how you feel about someone.



[11:35:26] BOLDUAN: Here's your election 2016 pop quiz of the day. How many electoral votes does Russia have, John?


BOLDUAN: Correct. Always an "A" student.

Despite that, Donald Trump and his campaign are spending an awful lot of time praising Vladimir Putin, the president of Russia.

Trump's running mate, Mike Pence, calling it inarguably that the Russian president is a stronger leader than President Obama.

BOLDUAN: But a lot of fellow Republicans uncomfortable with their party candidate's embrace of the Russian leader.

Our Manu Raju set out to get reaction on Capitol Hill.

Manu, what do you hear?

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: I tried to get a good cross-section of Republican lawmakers, people who are up for re- election, like John McCain, of Arizona, people who don't like Donald Trump, like Lindsey Graham, of South Carolina, and people who are supportive of Donald Trump, like Senator Bob Corker, of Tennessee.

Here's a bit of what they have to say.


CORKER: I think, you know, one has to be careful to let flattery influence how you feel about someone. We obviously have tremendous differences in our two country's national interests. There are things we should be aligned with them on like the fight against terrorism. But, you know, he's been fairly ruthless.

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM, (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: Trump is making the mistake for the ages of thinking that Putin is a good leader and a constructive force.

RAJU: What do you think about Trump praising Putin?

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, (R), ARIZONA: I don't have any comments to make on tht. I've been busy with the defense authorization bill and that's been the focus of all my attention. And I did not observe what happened --

RAJU: But you've obviously been very critical of Putin.

MCCAIN: What's that?

RAJU: You've always been very critical of Putin.

MCCAIN: Of course, I have. He's a murderer and a thug.


RAJU: Now, a lot of those members, like John McCain, would not criticize Donald Trump but they do want to criticize Vladimir Putin. It just shows the difficult position a lot of these members are in as they struggle with some of the comments from their party's nominee -- John and Kate? BERMAN: Manu, you're a nice guy. John McCain did not seem eager

to talk to you.


RAJU: Believe it or not.

BOLDUAN: So strange. John McCain, once again, saved by the elevator.


BERMAN: All right, excellent reporting, Manu. Very interesting to hear those voices.

BOLDUAN: Thanks, Manu.

BERMAN: Right now, Hillary Clinton, she's expecting to meet with national security experts later today. She made that announcement about this bipartisan meeting after she and Donald Trump sat down in that national security forum.


HILLARY CLINTON, (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm convening a meeting of bipartisan national security leaders and experts, including former secretaries of Homeland Security, Michael Chertoff and Janet Napolitano; General John Allen; former acting director of the CIA, Michael Morel; and former NATO supreme allied commander, James Cafredy (ph), and others.


BOLDUAN: And others. Donald Trump touting his list of endorsements among the military, national security community as well.

Let's talk about it with CNN political commentator, Bill Press, a Clinton supporter, host of the "Bill Press Show"; CNN senior political reporter, Nia-Malika Henderson; and New York City councilman, Joseph Boreli, a Trump supporter.

Guys, great to have you here.

Nia --


BOLDUAN: -- Hillary Clinton today announcing it's up to 110 for her, in terms of military endorsements. Donald Trump, his number I believe is at 88, around 88. But despite all of this, the one thing I feel like we've heard the entire campaign is that endorsements have met bunk. Is it different in this area?

NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: You know, I think it's different because for Hillary Clinton, you have folks who are Republicans coming out and supporting Hillary Clinton. These are people who sometimes served in the Bush administration, in the Reagan administration, in either Bush administration. That we've seen here. Will it make any difference in terms of what actual voters do when they decide to go into that polling booth? We'll have to see. We do know that Donald Trump has had some problems consolidating Republicans around him. I mean, we just saw Manu talk to Republicans who should be all in for a nominee and obviously they have some reservations about how some of his remarks around Putin. I think today we'll see Hillary Clinton sit down with the group of foreign policy experts, national security experts. The key there is, "it's bipartisan," right? She has an ad also that is hitting the air waves in Florida and Ohio. That is also striking this tone about bipartisanship. So again, this is really in some ways directed at Republicans who have reservations about Donald Trump particularly on the issue of national security and foreign policy.

[11:40:19] BERMAN: Bill Press, you're a recovering Bernie Sanders supporter now.


BERMAN: And, yes, Hillary Clinton is meeting with this bipartisan group of people. Yes, she touts support from past administration officials. But these are not people I imagine a lot of Bernie Sanders supporters agree with. I an, a lot of neoconservatives for instance, which is a four-letter word to some in the Sanders camp there. Does Hillary Clinton risk turning off some of the left here?

BILL PRESS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: No, I don't think so, and here's why. I agree with Nia-Malika that the people who have come out and said -- the national security types have come out and supported Hillary Clinton are very impressive, bipartisan, senior people, several of them former members of the Joint Chiefs. Here's why say what I said about Bernie Sanders supporters. We have shifted from the primary to the general. In the primary, Trump and Sanders made a lot of the economic populism issues and the trade issues. Now we're getting into I'd say really serious stuff. We're talking about nothing more important than national security. When you take a look at these two people, I think it's pretty clear, particularly with his continued praise of Vladimir Putin, and his obvious -- doesn't have a clue what to do about ISIS, doesn't have a plan, that people are seeing when it comes to the most important job as president, one of these people is qualified and one is not. That's where we are right now. I think we have found Donald Trump's Achilles heel.

BOLDUAN: Councilman, what do you say when you see the attempted interviews Manu did on Capitol Hill, literally running away from Manu because they don't want to answer this question, what Donald Trump says on important national security issues like I like Vladimir Putin more than I like preside Obama.

JOSEPH BORELI, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Maybe he's more personable, I have no idea. Compare that to Hillary Clinton with her own Russian reset. When she was actually in the --


BOLDUAN: But Republicans are -- just how Republicans --


BORELI: -- she tried the same thing, only she didn't say nice things bout Vladimir Putin, but she tried to reset our relationship with Russia and she did fail.

I want to talk about, you talk about bipartisan support --


BOLDUAN: No, to the point of Republicans, John McCain, Bob Corker. Bob Corker was --


BERMAN: On the V.P. list.

BOLDUAN: On the V.P. list. And they cannot -- they will not answer the question because, let's be honest, why wouldn't they answer the question, they don't agree with what he is saying. I mean, that's not great when you're looking at September.

BORELI: Not everyone's going to agree on every issue. I'm very confident Corker and McCain are very supportive of Donald Trump.

That said, I want to speak to the group of people he mentioned. There's a bipartisan support of generals and everything. NBC polled people who watched the commander-in-chief forum after the forum, and 60 percent went with Donald Trump. In the past, polls of military personnel,, and some other outlets, they say Donald Trump is a better commander-in-chief than would be Hillary Clinton. So I think we should be fair, when we talk about the higher ranks, be fair about talking about veterans, when you see her laugh off questions about the V.A. situation.

BERMAN: Bill Press, I want to --


BOLDUAN: On the poll, he split. He leads on who would do better on terrorism. She still leads on --


BORELI: The polls of just military --


BERMAN: He was talking about veterans there.

PRESS: Hey, John?

BERMAN: Go ahead, Bill.

PRESS: Yeah, let me also say, there's a big difference, and Bob Corker pointed that out, between dealing with Russia on important issues, whether it's Syria, whether it's climate change or whether it's Ukraine, and dealing with them, then praising him as a stronger leader, and saying I actually prefer Putin's leadership, I mean --


BORELI: Right, and Hillary Clinton failed at that.

PRESS: If Donald Trump were doing business in Russia Today, he'd be dead, Vladimir Putin doesn't allow businessmen to get rich on their own.

BORELI: First of all --

BERMAN: We actually don't know, Councilman, how -- Nia, we don't know how much business Donald Trump is doing with Russia right now because he hasn't seen his tax returns. We haven't seen his tax returns. It's possible those tax returns could show some kind of revenue stream or some kind of dealings with Russia, yes?

PRESS: Yeah.

HENDERSON: I think that's right. In the Republicans I talked to today and texted with, I put the question, the put in question to then, they all think it's nonsensical, it's bizarre, makes no sense, and it is. It's hard to see what sort of political game he has in this sort of cozying up to Putin and praising him in a way we've never seen before from any presidential candidate. I mean, if you flash back to 2012, Mitt Romney said he was the biggest geopolitical threat. It's a really different thing I think we've seen from Donald Trump here. I think it could cost him in some of these battleground states. Because there are voters there who have tied to eastern European countries and central European countries as well who don't take too kindly to Putin and some of the things he's done in that region. It could have some consequences for voters like Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan.

[11:45:23] BERMAN: I will walk down memory lane. Democrats ridiculed Mitt Romney for that statement --


BOLDUAN: Relentless.

BERMAN: Those Democrats have not apologized the last two days. I haven't noted that.

Bill, Nia, Joe, thank you for being with us.


BERMAN: All right, he is polling the highest among the other party candidates right now, but Gary Johnson this morning trying to recover from really what was one of the election's biggest gaffes. We're going to speak live with a different person running in a different party to see whether he thinks he can capitalize on this Gary Johnson moment.


[11:49:51] BOLDUAN: 60 days until the election. Here's the state of the race in key states. Florida, Quinnipiac University polls shows two candidates tied in a two-person race at 47 percent. In a two- person race in Ohio, Trump is at 46, Hillary Clinton, now, 45, tight, tight, tight.

BERMAN: Let's look at Pennsylvania, 48-43. North Carolina, 47- 43. This is a two-person race.

But here is the key. It is not a two-person race. There aren't just three candidates, not four.

Joining us right now, a fifth candidate for president, Evan McMullin, an Independent candidate for president, once a Republican, but not running as a Republican.

Evan, thanks so much for joining us.

You have been outspoken. That is an understanding over the last 24 hours. Since Donald Trump on that commander-in-chief forum heaped more praise on Vladimir Putin. You do not see it like he does, that Vladimir Putin is a strong leader.

EVAN MCMULLIN, INDEPENDENT PARTY PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Oh, absolutely not, John. It is just so unfortunate that we find ourselves as a country debating whether Vladimir Putin is somebody who should be respected and admired by a leading party candidate for president. Vladimir Putin is one of the primary sources of instability in this world. The thought we would have a Republican nominee who would be so in bed with Putin is discouraging. Any American president needs to understand what Putin is really about. He is opposed to democracy, opposed to freedom and opposed to our interests.

BOLDUAN: You have also said you think Trump is being manipulated by President Putin. Where do you see that?

MCMULLIN: Well, Kate, the evidence is clear in the way Donald Trump speaks about Putin. Donald Trump has never said a Donald Trump is dependant on Russian investments from Russian oligarchs. He has appointed key members of s staff who have other financial ties to Russia. This is absolutely out of control.

I hear from some of my old intelligence friends that Donald Trump has been engaged in some activities in Russia that Vladimir Putin may be using to blackmail Trump. So there is a lot going on there that I don't think has come to light fully. The proof is in the pudding, as they say. You can see it in Donald Trump's actions.

BERMAN: The subject of proof, Evan, de don't have any proof that Donald Trump is being blackmailed, with all due respect to your friends and the community that are telling you that. That is not something we have seen directly here. Let's be clear about that. If I can, let me ask you about another Independent candidate,

Libertarian candidate for president, Gary Johnson, who yesterday was on TV, he was asked about Aleppo, in Syria, involved so much in the refugee problem. His answer was, "What is Aleppo?" Is that moment disqualifying?

MCMULLIN: I don't see Gary Johnson as a serious candidate. I think Americans are realizing it. He has no knowledge of foreign policy. He spends his time advocating for legalized prostitution and for a drug culture here in America, rather than dealing with problems that are really big, like our economy and national security and government reform. Gary Johnston just is not a serious candidate.

But what we really need to be talking about is Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. These are two terribly corrupt politicians, one that has very poor judgment and the other that doesn't know anything.

Again, going back to Donald Trump, the proof is in who he has appointed on his staff. He has got General Flynn, who is on the payroll of "R.T., America," a Russian cable network owned by the Russian government, and who has close ties to Vladimir Putin. He has other staffers, his former campaign manager and others --


BOLDUAN: No longer.

MCMULLIN: That's right. But, still, a strong advocate for Donald Trump.

BOLDUAN: Evan, let me --

MCMULLIN: The proof is there. This is absolutely objectionable. An American president should never have these kinds of warped views of a Russian authoritarian like Vladimir Putin.

BOLDUAN: How many states are you on the ballot now, Evan?

MCMULLIN: We are either on the ballot or registered as a write- in in 20 states and we are adding more every week.

BOLDUAN: Evan McMullin, great to see you.

MCMULLIN: Thank you.

BOLDUAN: We'll continue to track the progress and where things go.

Thanks so much.

MCMULLIN: Thank you. Bye-bye.

[11:55:38] BOLDUAN: Coming up very soon, big moments on the campaign trail. Donald Trump speaking live from the Value Voter Summit and Hillary Clinton meeting with top level security experts.


BERMAN: More than 70,000 young adults in the United States are diagnosed with cancer. This week's "CNN Hero" has helped thousands of young cancer patients face down their fear with a life-changing outdoor adventure.


UNIDENTIFIED CNN HERO: We see a lot of young adults feeling like they are the only ones dealing with anything they are dealing with. We want to get them together to help realize other people are going through the same stuff.

From day one, on the river, these guys can't paddle on the straight line to the last day and they are paddling class 3 white water. We start to see beautiful transformation.


BOLDUAN: Learn much more about how their journey unfolds and watch the full story,

We're all watching breaking news from Capitol Hill having to do with 9/11 victims. And it is likely to face some backlash, some serious backlash from the White House.

Let's go to Manu Raju, CNN senior political reporter, who has much more on that.

Manu, what are you learning?

RAJU: Well, this bill actually would allow those 9/11 plaintiffs the right to sue Saudi Arabia --