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THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER

Interview With Hillary Clinton Campaign Manager Robby Mook; Interview With George Clooney; Trump Misusing Own Foundation?; Clinton and Trump to Release Medical Records; Head: Clinton Camp on Transparency: "We Could Have Done Better". Aired 4-4:30p ET

Aired September 12, 2016 - 16:00   ET

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


[16:00:10]

JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: Is there a doctor in the house?

THE LEAD starts right now.

Two weeks before the presidential debate, new questions about Hillary Clinton's health after the candidate apparently collapses and is forced to cancel a trip. Could more transparency be what the doctor ordered?

He allegedly used 20 grand from his own charity to buy a 6-foot-tall painting of himself -- new allegations in a stunning new investigative report about how Donald Trump used his own foundation.

Plus, one of the biggest stars in the world using his sway to expose corruption so extreme it's killing thousands. My sit-down with George Clooney about war crimes for profit, coming up.

Good afternoon, everyone. Welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.

Not a particularly good weekend for the Democratic presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton's campaign today trying to staunch the proverbial bleeding by announcing it will release more medical records this week as Clinton faces questions about her health, after she was seen appearing to collapse yesterday.

Hours later, her campaign announced that on Friday Clinton had been diagnosed with pneumonia. Now, the concern stems from the fact that almost four years ago, Clinton collapsed and suffered a concussion, after which a blood clot between her skull and her brain was discovered.

Since then, Clinton has provided a two-page letter from her doctor describing some of her medical details. It's less than some previous nominees such as John McCain or Bob Dole have provided.

Still, Donald Trump, who would be the oldest president ever elected, has provided even less than Clinton has, opting instead for a four- paragraph letter that was, to say the least, unusual.

CNN senior Washington correspondent Joe Johns is live in Chappaqua, New York. Joe, Clinton opted to cancel swing to California so she can recuperate. Lots of Democrats on edge after what happened Sunday.

JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR CORRESPONDENT: I think that's right, Jake, and what we know is she was supposed to do a fund-raiser tonight in San Francisco with the musician K.D. Lang.

Instead, we're told she's staying here. She's recuperating. She will call into that event and perhaps will be doing just a little bit of debate prep.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JOHNS (voice-over): Tonight, Hillary Clinton's campaign is dealing with the aftermath of her weekend health scare. Clinton is off the trail today after leaving a 9/11 memorial service in New York City early.

She was caught on camera stumbling while being helped into a van. After her abrupt departure, Clinton visited her daughter Chelsea's apartment and then went to her home in Chappaqua.

QUESTION: How are you feeling, Secretary Clinton?

HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm feeling great. It's a beautiful day in New York.

JOHNS: Late Sunday, the campaign released a statement from her doctor that said she had been diagnosed with pneumonia two days earlier and was put on antibiotics and advised to rest and modify her schedule. She is spending the day preparing for her first debate with Donald Trump, the face-off coming in just two weeks.

Clinton had planned to go to California today for big ticket fund- raisers and a rally, but that trip has been canceled. Instead, the campaign said, she would call into the San Francisco fund-raiser.

BRIAN FALLON, CLINTON CAMPAIGN SPOKESMAN: I think, if she had her druthers, she would already be on a plane out to California today.

JOHNS: The Sunday moment has now put her campaign on defense over her health and transparency.

FALLON: In retrospect, I think we should have provided more information more quickly.

JOHNS: Clinton's campaign now says it will release more information about her health this week. Neither Hillary Clinton nor Donald Trump have released comprehensive medical records.

FALLON: We are going to take the added step of getting additional material together and releasing further information in light of yesterday's incident.

JOHNS: In the midst of a rough week...

CLINTON: Every time I think about Trump, I get allergic.

JOHNS: ... several of Clinton's top aides have been sick with respiratory issues, too, one even hospitalized and treated for dehydration.

Her campaign is also calling for the same level of health scrutiny to be directed at Donald Trump. Trump has been critical of Clinton's health on the trail.

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: She doesn't have the strength or the stamina to make America great again, believe me.

JOHNS: But in an interview today, he wished her well.

TRUMP: Something is going on, but I just hope she gets well and gets back on the trail, and we will be seeing her at the debate.

JOHNS: And vowed to release his medical records later in the week.

TRUMP: This last week, I took a physical, and I will be releasing, when the numbers come in. Hopefully, they're going to be good. I think they're going to be good. I feel great. But when the numbers come in, I will be releasing very, very specific numbers.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

JOHNS: And a couple key Democrats weighing in on all of this. Tim Kaine, her running mate, saying she has a strong work ethic. That's what's going on here. Vice President Biden appearing in Charlotte saying Hillary Clinton's health is good and advising if the doctor tells her to take three days off, she ought to take six days off -- Jake, back to you.

[16:05:05]

TAPPER: All right, Joe Johns, thank you so much.

Joining me now, Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign manager, Robby Mook.

Robby, thank you so much for coming on today. We appreciate it.

ROBBY MOOK, HILLARY CLINTON CAMPAIGN MANAGER: My pleasure.

TAPPER: So, first of all, how is Hillary Clinton doing today? How is she feeling? How is her health?

MOOK: She's doing well. I talked with her this morning. She's been working all day.

We have been going back and forth about a lot of things, but she's definitely getting some of the rest that she needs, and looking forward to being back out on the trail very soon.

TAPPER: So we're told that the campaign is working with her doctor on releasing some more medical records, more medical information later this week. What will that information be?

MOOK: Well, as you know, Jake, last year, Secretary Clinton released a letter from her doctor that not only talked about her current medical condition, but also outlined her medical history.

This next set of information will be an update on that, so that voters can see everything. I will note -- and you noted this in the earlier segment -- Donald Trump still has yet to release any credible, serious information about his health whatsoever.

So, we are certainly calling on him to release not just some information, but the same amount and information that's really serious. That last letter he released was -- is really regarded as a joke, and voters deserve to get this same information from him.

TAPPER: Right, he said he was going to release more information. I guess we will see when he does that.

Secretary Clinton, of course, was diagnosed with pneumonia on Friday. We did not find out about that until Sunday night after she was seen appearing to collapse. Why not tell the American people on Friday that she had pneumonia?

MOOK: Well, Jake, she met with her doctor. She made a decision to just power through this.

As your opening segment mentioned, a lot of people on the campaign have been sick the last few weeks, and we have decided to power through, sometimes to our own detriment. Obviously, when she became overheated at the event, it was clear that she needed some down time, and she's taking that right now.

But a lot of people work through pneumonia. We all know Secretary Clinton's work ethic, the millions of miles she traveled around the world as secretary of state. If it was up to her, she would be out there right now continuing to campaign, but we definitely think it's the right thing for her to have some downtime, get over this and get back out there.

TAPPER: I want you to listen to something that Ohio Senate candidate and former Governor Ted Strickland, a Democrat, said while introducing Tim Kaine at an event earlier today. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TED STRICKLAND (D), FORMER OHIO GOVERNOR: Just let me say that I have known Senator Kaine for quite some time. He is a wonderfully prepared person to be the vice president and to be president, if that ever became necessary.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: Kind of an odd thing to say, especially amid legitimate concerns and questions about Hillary Clinton's health, don't you think?

MOOK: I think it's a little bit too far to read anything into that.

But, look, again, Jake, I think what really matters is that Secretary Clinton a year ago fully disclosed medical information, not just her current condition, but her past medical history.

She's going to do more this week. We have still seen absolutely nothing serious from Donald Trump. And I think as much time as we're spending focusing on this, we have got to focus on the complete and utter lack of disclosure from Donald Trump. It's not just his medical records. It's his taxes. It's his foundation.

We know more about Hillary Clinton than any presidential campaign in history or presidential candidate in history. I don't think anybody would dispute that. We know almost nothing about Donald Trump, and he's got to come forward.

TAPPER: Well, your points about Mr. Trump's lack of disclosure are well-taken, but I think one of the issues going on here is that the campaign, your campaign, did not disclose what happened on Friday, thus, on Sunday, when Hillary Clinton and your staff left that event, didn't tell the campaign reporters traveling with Secretary Clinton that she had left, she was seen seeming to collapse in front of cameras.

I think people wonder, how much are you willing to disclose unless you're forced to? And, in fact, former Obama senior adviser David Axelrod tweeted this about your campaign's response to the episode -- quote -- "Antibiotics can take care of pneumonia. What's the cure for an unhealthy penchant for privacy that repeatedly creates unnecessary problems?"

That's from David Axelrod. What's your response?

MOOK: Well, first of all, I said, on Friday, she made a decision with her doctors to just power through this.

(CROSSTALK)

TAPPER: But why wouldn't you tell the voters? Do you think the voters don't have a right to know?

[16:10:00]

MOOK: Well, I think, look, obviously, pneumonia is more serious than a cold or a flu, but people often go into work and continue to power through when they have pneumonia, when they have a flu, when they have a cold.

That was the decision she made. She didn't want this to impact anything. But, on Sunday, it was clear that she had become overheated. The doctor said she was dehydrated and she needed some downtime.

And as soon as that became clear, we announced that. I would have liked if we could have announced this more quickly. You mentioned it took us 90 minutes to release that information. I wish we had done that in a shorter amount of time. That's on us. That's on the staff. We were trying to make sure she could see her doctor, getting her to Chelsea's apartment.

We were making sure she was OK.

TAPPER: Was the doctor at Chelsea's apartment?

MOOK: No, she saw the doctor in Chappaqua.

But, again, I want to -- I just want to make sure we have got a fair playing field here. It took us 90 minutes to get this information out on Sunday. I totally get that. That's on us. I wish we could have done that for quickly.

Donald Trump has released nothing for 500 or more days. Let's be fair here. There's a lot of information out about Hillary. Yes, she developed pneumonia. Yes, she, tried to power through it. But it's not -- let's hold Donald Trump's feet to the fire to disclose anything whatsoever that's serious about his own health.

TAPPER: It took 90 minutes before you disclosed that she had gone to Chelsea Clinton's apartment and was overheated. It took hours before you disclosed the pneumonia diagnosis from Friday.

But let me ask you, Robby, can you explain what exactly it is that we see in that video from behind. Did she lose consciousness?

MOOK: Well, she was overheated. She wasn't feeling well. I wasn't physically there, so...

TAPPER: But you know. Did she faint? Was she alert? Did she just lose her footing or was she out?

MOOK: My understanding is, she did not lose consciousness. She was phoning members of the team here from the road, so we were talking to her while she was in the car on the way to Chelsea's apartment.

She was playing with her grandkids at the apartment, and obviously members of the media were informed of where she was, so they were able to see her when she left the apartment.

So that's what we know. And we got her to her doctor as quickly as we could to get to the bottom of what was happening, and she said she got overheated and was dehydrated, which is something that can happen as a result of these antibiotics.

TAPPER: Let's remove Hillary Clinton from the equation. There is something going on here that I'm not sure the campaign is fully cognizant of, or at least you're not behaving as if you are.

There is a long, rich history of presidential nominees or candidates or presidents lying about their health problems, Woodrow Wilson, FDR, Ike, JFK, and on and on. Voters have a right to know if there is anything about a candidate's health that could affect his or her ability to be president.

Is there anything that we need to know about Secretary Clinton's health that we do not already know?

MOOK: Well, Jake, first of all, she's going to be releasing a full update of her medical status from her doctor later this week.

So, we're going to get that out. She's getting a full physical, so that all that information can be out there. I guess I just reject the premise of your question. She was diagnosed with pneumonia on Friday. She decided to power through it. She was on antibiotics. She overheated and was hydrated yesterday.

She left the event early. She got to her doctor. Her doctor checked her out, said that she was -- she had been dehydrated and overheated. She's resting today.

We know absolutely nothing about Donald Trump's health. That letter he released is not serious. And so you're making some presumption that there's information that is not being shared. You know everything we know, and we're releasing more later this week. I guess I just don't...

(CROSSTALK)

TAPPER: It's not just the pneumonia. She had this blood clot. She had an incident four years ago. I think that's why the concern, is that she did have a serious health episode four years ago. It's in that context.

MOOK: And, Jake, all of that information was in that letter that was released last year, and that letter is going to be updated this year.

TAPPER: So, just...

MOOK: Donald Trump released a letter that was completely unserious.

And I hope that you would be applying the same level of scrutiny to Donald Trump and asking inferential questions about his health as well.

TAPPER: Well, I'm just asking, is there anything we need to know that we don't already know? It's just...

MOOK: Absolutely not.

TAPPER: OK.

MOOK: And she is going to be releasing a full report later this week, and more information later this week.

So, we will get that out as soon as we have it.

TAPPER: All right.

MOOK: But, again, I just -- let's be fair here.

Donald Trump has released essentially nothing, and I hope that you would apply the same level of scrutiny to him as well. TAPPER: His letter is not sufficient. And he has released no tax

returns, where you have released 32 years or something like that.

[16:15:05] Absolutely you have a point there.

Robby Mook, thank you so much. We appreciate it.

ROBBY MOOK, CLINTON CAMPAIGN MANAGER: Thanks so much.

TAPPER: Former Obama advisor David Axelrod taking issue with what he called Hillary Clinton's, quote, "unhealthy penchant for privacy". He'll join me next with Dr. Sanjay Gupta. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD.

Even Hillary Clinton's campaign has admitted they could have done better when it comes to being transparent about her health condition this weekend, not telling the American people she'd been diagnosed with pneumonia until two days after the fact, and only after she was filmed appearing to collapse.

So, how badly does this hurt Clinton's presidential bid if at all? And how is her health?

Former top Obama advisor David Axelrod and CNN chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, join us now.

David, let me start with you. You just heard Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook saying that we know more about Hillary Clinton than any presidential candidate in history and pushing back very aggressively, not that I fault him. But pushing back aggressively on the questioning, suggesting --

DAVID AXELROD, FORMER TOP OBAMA ADVISOR: It's his job.

TAPPER: Yes, it's his job, as it was mine. But what do you think? What did you hear? You've been critical of how they handled this?

AXELROD: Look, I think he kind of acknowledged that they didn't handle it well, and they didn't handle it well.

[16:20:00] I think once a candidate has to change their schedule or you have an occasion like you did yesterday, then you just need to fess up right away as to what's going on. And I think I understand what happened. What happened was there was this consideration that there's been some trolling of Secretary Clinton by Rudy Giuliani and others about her health and by Trump himself, and they didn't want to add fuel to the fire.

But once this happened, they simply should have acknowledged that she was, in fact, being treated for pneumonia and that she wanted to come despite the fact that her doctor told her not to, to the ceremony, and it just got too hot, you know, for her. And they didn't want to do that. And that delay was more of a political problem, I think, than the health issue itself.

I know Hillary Clinton, Jake. I ran a campaign against her, I worked with her, and she is an indefatigable person. The one question I've never had about her is about her stamina and her ability to do her job, and they're right to release more records now to substantiate that there's not a big problem.

It's not a health, it's stealth that is the problem that she has to deal with, and by allowing that six-hour gap, they created this sense that they were trying to put one over on people, and that is not helpful to her candidacy.

TAPPER: Sanjay, as opposed to everybody I was reading on social media, you are an actual doctor. When you look at the video, is it plausible to you that the apparent collapse we were watching is the result of dehydration and being overheated when she had pneumonia? Is that plausible to you?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: The short answer is yes. But looking at the video, and I looked at it several times now starting yesterday morning, its' not startling to look at. I mean, she's clearly, clearly affected by this. She has lost her balance. You can't see her face, obviously, so you don't know how sort of -- you know, what she's sort of experiencing in terms of her facial reactions, but it's a pretty significant event.

But, again, the short answer to your question is yes. If you have pneumonia, you have fever, that can make you dehydrated. Just the lung infection itself can make it more challenging to breathe, worsened by conditions. I understand it was hot outside.

She's also on this medications, thyroid medication which can increase your heat intolerance, these antihistamines, decongestants can be sedating and also can make you even drier. So, you get dehydrated and it can catch up with you very quickly. In athletic, they called it sort of bonking, and that's what it sort of looks like. But it is startling to look at, certainly. I had to look at it a few times to try to piece it all together.

TAPPER: David, I'm in favor of transparency. I think that the nominee should release all their tax returns.

AXELROD: I thought so.

TAPPER: I think they should release as many medical records as exists. But the truth is, presidential nominees are not that transparent about their medical records. They are about tax returns until this year with Mr. Trump not releasing any.

But then-Senator Barack Obama, he just released a letter from his doctor. He didn't release documents at all. What was the thinking there?

AXELROD: Well, first of all, he -- you know, he was young and he was obviously healthy. John McCain released a thousand pages but he did it for a reason. He was older and he had had melanoma and there was some question about his ability to handle the physical demands of the job, although he was a guy who endured torture. So, you know, we were under less pressure to produce that kind of voluminous medical information than McCain was.

Let me just say this, Jake. You're right about -- generally about presidential candidates. I do understand Robby Mook's frustration, because Donald Trump is the most outspoken and least transparent presidential candidate in my lifetime.

And, you know, whereas medical records may be something she needs to respond to because of this incident in 2012, these tax returns are very important in terms of understanding Donald Trump because he's a guy who has a huge amount of debt. We know that from the reporting that's been done. Some of it we're told may be through Russian businessmen, some maybe through the Bank of China. We don't know the answers to any of these questions which seem pretty immaterial to whether or not he would be compromised as president.

So, that's his vulnerability that he needs to respond to. She's right to come forward with more records later this week, particularly after this incident.

He needs to be pressed as well, and he blusters through that, and you've tried to pin him down many times. But so far, he -- I'm sure the Clinton people feel he's gotten away from it, and you can hear that frustration in Robby Mook's voice.

TAPPER: David and Sanjay, thank you so much. Really appreciate.

Donald Trump just hours ago ripping Hillary Clinton art after she called half of his supporters, quote, "deplorables".

[16:25:03] His campaign taking one step further with a brand new TV ad.

Plus, digging into Trump's charitable foundation. How much of his own money is he donating to worthy causes? That's ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. Let's stay with politics right now.

A source is telling CNN today that Donald Trump's advisers have been opposed to a blackout on any loose talk about Hillary Clinton's health, other than to say they wish her well and hope she gets better soon. But someone apparently forgot to brief the candidate. Trump wished her well but not before saying, quote, "something is going on with Clinton's health," just this morning, raising the specter, of course, that the Clinton campaign is hiding something in the Democratic nominee's medical records.