Return to Transcripts main page


After North Korea's Recent Nuclear Test, U.S. B1 Bombers Fly Over in Show of Force; Cease-Fire in Syria Continues; the NCAA Pulls Championship Out of North Carolina Due to HB2 bill. Aired 4:30-5p

Aired September 13, 2016 - 16:30   ET



REBECCA BERG, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: We don't want the support of people who think the way that David Duke thinks.

But then going one step further to say deplorable, that is a line that he won't cross. Part of this calculation, I think, is that they recognize their core supporters are comprised, in part, by these alt- right people, by people who have these white nationalist views.

And they don't want to turn off any core supporters in the last 55 days of this election. But I think it's also just an admission by the Trump campaign that this is not turf that's favorable to them. They want to move the conversation in a different direction.

And that's why I am really interested by this tactic, focusing on the basket of deplorables comment, because Trump seems to think that this is a good -- it's a good piece of turf for him, that he can energize his supporters, say Hillary Clinton was insulting you, get them riled up a little bit.

But, at the same time, then the conversation is, how many of Trump's supporters are in the basket of deplorables?


JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: So, it's not half. Is it a third? Is it a quarter?

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: But, as you said, they have disavowed David Duke. Donald Trump has done it now on multiple occasions.

Your interview with him back in...

TAPPER: February.

CHALIAN: ... February, it was, I guess, was the kickoff of that, no doubt.

But they have disavowed him, as you have said. They say, we are not interested in the supporters at all. I just think it's a pure political -- they want Hillary -- the word deplorable to be completely owned by Hillary Clinton now because of her faux pas last Friday. And they don't want to touch that word, because they just want that word to be part of the negative frame they're building around her.

TAPPER: All right, David Chalian, Rebecca Berg, thank you so much. That was great.

And be sure tune in to CNN tomorrow night, 9:00 p.m. Eastern, for "Almost President: The agony of Defeat." CNN's Gloria Borger will talk to the men who have survived the most public failure in America.

They were in charge of Hillary Clinton's private e-mail servers and now they are not saying a word to Congress. One didn't even bother showing up on Capitol Hill today -- that story next.



TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD.

Two witnesses today, members of the I.T. crew that helped run former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's private e-mail server, lined up in front of a congressional hearing and invoked their right to remain silent.

The technician who actually set up the server, well, he altogether ignored a subpoena and skipped out on today's hearing.

Joining me now to talk about this and other issues, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman. He has endorsed Hillary Clinton. He has raised money for her campaign. But he has yet to go out on the trail for her.

Mr. Attorney General, I know you want to talk about Trump University. And I will get to that in one second.

But I do want to ask you. Several people involved in setting up and maintaining Clinton's server exercised the Fifth Amendment. The Oversight Committee of the House of Representatives cited e-mails sent to these firms, Platte River Networks and Datto, e-mails from Clinton associates asking to reduce the number of her e-mails that would back up.

That act led a Platte River employee to speculate in an e-mail, according to the committee, "This whole thing is covering up some shady 'blank.'"

As an investigator, would you not be alarmed, intrigued, want to investigate further e-mails such as those?

ERIC SCHNEIDERMAN, NEW YORK ATTORNEY GENERAL: I suppose so. It's hard to say taken out of context. I am not really familiar with the full exchange.

I think that this has gotten a tremendous amount of scrutiny and will continue to get scrutiny. I'm not sure it's -- it amounts to much. I'm not sure what actual criminal statutes might be at issue. But people have the right to take counsel of their attorneys, and some attorneys take very cautious approaches to these things.

TAPPER: You are somehow who values transparency. David Axelrod yesterday criticized Hillary Clinton for her penchant for privacy. He called it stealth.

Do you think it would be better for this candidate -- you support Hillary Clinton -- to embrace the kind of transparency that you are always talking about?

SCHNEIDERMAN: I think that the degree to which you can be transparent, it's always better to be transparent.

That's why there is the concern that Mr. Trump won't release his tax returns. So, I think if you look at the relative transparency, I think Mrs. Clinton has disclosed a lot more than Mr. Trump. But certainly more transparency is always a good thing.

TAPPER: Let's talk about the topic that you came here to talk about.

This afternoon, Democrats on the Judiciary Committee called on the U.S. attorney general, Loretta Lynch, to investigate Donald Trump's $25,000 contribution to a political group backing the Florida attorney general, Pam Bondi. Democrats say that the money may have influenced her decision not to join your lawsuit, New York state's lawsuit, against Trump University.

Do you think that those allegations should be pursued, or is money in politics kind of just a regular occurrence?

SCHNEIDERMAN: Well, no, listen, I'm not going to speculate on the motives of another attorney general for investigating or not investigating.

I made a determination and sued Trump University and Mr. Trump in August 2013 because, as set forth in great detail in the papers we filed with the court, he -- Trump University was a scheme to fleece thousands of people all over America out of millions of dollars, including a lot of people in Florida.

I am the only state actor so far to have sued Trump University. So Attorney General Bondi is not alone. But we -- my interest in the -- this issue really is in my capacity as regulator of nonprofits in New York state. And we have been concerned that the Trump Foundation may have engaged in some impropriety from that point of view.

And we have inquired into it. And we have had correspondence with them. I didn't make a big deal out of it or hold a press conference, but we have been looking into the Trump Foundation to make sure it's complying with the laws that govern charities in New York.

TAPPER: Were you surprised when Florida didn't join the lawsuit?

SCHNEIDERMAN: I can't really say I was surprised, because neither has anybody else.

[16:40:02] So, you know, this is one where Mr. Trump has a class action -- two class actions pending against him, private parties represented by class-action attorneys in California. But the only law enforcement officer to pursue him has been me.

Now, there is a particular reason why I took a greater interest, because it was a New York -- purported to be a New York university. And we do have pretty strict rules about what you have to do to be a university in New York state. And the New York State Department of Education was after Trump University, telling them they had to stop calling themselves a university.

And so there were additional problems that they had with New York they didn't have in other states.

TAPPER: When you started this lawsuit, obviously, it never crossed your mind that Donald Trump would be possibly the next president of the United States or at least the Republican nominee.

Knowing what you know about your lawsuit against Trump University, what do you make of that?

SCHNEIDERMAN: I would have -- I found it -- would have found it incredible in August of 2013. If I had come on your show and told you he was going to be the Republican nominee, you probably would have never invited me back. It seemed pretty far-fetched then.

But I did get a preview of some of the scorched-earth tactics we have seen from Mr. Trump in the campaign. He set up a Web site to attack me. Put out preemptive hits in different newspapers to discredit my lawsuit before I even filed it. Filed his own suit against me for $100 million. Filed phony ethics complaints against me.

I had to hire a lawyer to defend me in front of the ethics panel. All this stuff has been dismissed and discredited, and my lawsuit is proceeding. But before there was "little Marco" and "lyin' Ted," he had -- the full front page of his son-in-law's newspaper had me as the Malcolm McDowell character in "a Clockwork Orange."

So there was "Clockwork Eric" before there were any other of these crazy nicknames.


TAPPER: All right. Mr. Attorney General, thanks so much for your time. We appreciate it.


TAPPER: North Korea conducting its fifth and possibly most powerful nuclear test. Now the United States is responding with its own show of battle-tested military might.

Then, state Republicans firing back at the NCAA over a decision to withdraw from North Carolina over that state's controversial bathroom law -- why they say the athletic organization's move is actually an assault on female athletes.

Stay with us.


CNN HOST, JAKE TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. Let's turn to THE WORD LEAD now. All right, North Korea, you have the Pentagon's attention. The battle-tested air force B1 bomber is flying over South Korea in a show of force just days after North Korea's fifth and possibly most powerful nuclear weapons test; a development that could hugely increase the danger for U.S. allies and U.S. territories. CNN Global Affairs Correspondent Elise Labott brings us the latest developments.


GLOBAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT, ELISE LABOTT (voice over): U.S. supersonic B1 bombers fly over South Korea, escorted by South Korean fighter jets, they skirted close to the demilitarized zone with the north, a dramatic show of force and solidarity after Kim Jong-un's latest nuclear test, as a top U.S. envoy arrived in Seoul to offer assurance to a nervous ally.

UNKNOWN MALE: Let me be clear. Our commitment to our allies is absolute.

LABOTT (voice over): The North Korean peninsula is at a fever pitch after North Korea's fifth and most powerful nuclear test. Kim Jong-un declared a "quasi state of war." His propaganda machine warned public anger was exploding like a volcano over the latest display of U.S. air power, threatening a "flood of reckless nuclear attacks." Next door in South Korea, the president ordered her military to annihilate Kim's regime if he fired a nuclear tip missile as lawmakers called for South Korea to have nuclear weapons of its own. From the U.S., a familiar call for action at the U.N. security council.

UNKNOWN MALE: Our intention, and this is shared by the Republic of Korea, is to secure the strongest possible resolution, that includes new sanctions, as quickly as possible.

LABOTT (voice over): But North Korean watchers say for Kim Jong-un that's a flimsy threat from a weak playbook.

GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY DIRECTOR OF ASIAN STUDIES, VICTOR CHA: From a North Korean perspective, they've seen this all before and it doesn't appear to have any impact on either the growth of their nuclear program or any concerns on their part about moving forward despite all the diplomatic isolation.

LABOTT (voice over): The North Korean nuclear test has become an election weapon in the U.S. While Donald Trump is blaming the former Secretary of State (--)

REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE, DONALD TRUMP: North Korea, like so many other things, is one more Hillary Clinton failure.

LABOTT (voice over): Hillary Clinton is drawing a line in the sand.

DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE, HILLARY CLINTON: Our message to the North Koreans and everyone else listening: They will not be permitted to acquire a nuclear weapon that has a deliverable capacity on a ballistic missile.

LABOTT (voice over): This week, a North Korean official told the Japanese lawmaker, his country's nuclear program is not aimed at Japan, but the U.S., as the U.S. and its allies wait for what they fear is another nuclear test.

CHA: They want to demonstrate to the world that they are an established nuclear weapons state and try to deal with the next U.S. president from a position of strength.

LABOTT (voice over): Elise Labott, CNN, Washington.


TAPPER: Also in our WORLD LEAD today, Syrians nervously hoping the cease fire holds and desperately needed humanitarian aid is able to get in. The United Nations says there has been a significant drop in violence in just the past 24 hours, but the Syrian Foreign Ministry says it is holding up supplies from getting to hard hit cities such as Aleppo, as it stops trucks at the border. Let's go to CNN's Arwa Damon. She's live for us on the Turkish Syrian border. Arwa, when will these truckloads be able to move into these critical areas where the aid is so desperately needed?

CNN CORRESPONDENT, ARWA DAMON: We don't know, Jake. And it really is a very frustrating holding pattern at this stage. What the Syrian government is saying is that all aid delivery has to be coordinated through Damascus, especially they are emphasizing aid that wants to come in from Turkey. We do know that organizations like the World Food Program and others do have trucks at the ready, at the Turkish border waiting in no man's land to try to get that authorization to then make their way onto rebel-held Aleppo, the area that has been under siege on and off for quite some time now. Why do they need this approval from Damascus? Well, because it's under siege, that means that the aid has to cross through not just rebel checkpoints but regime checkpoints as well, and aid organizations not only want the guarantee that the Assad regime will let the trucks through, they also want security guarantees to be in place before they get that much- needed aid to the people who need it most, Jake.

TAPPER: So Arwa, there have been reports of violence since the cease fire took effect, what do we know about the violence.

DAMON: Look, Jake, when it comes to Syria, everything is really relative. The incidents that are being reported are things like artillery strikes, tank strikes, small arms fire, and other sorts of clashes that are taking place, but when it comes to what is arguably perhaps the deadliest of the violence in Syria, the air strike, the barrel bombs, that we're not really hearing reports of. Residents we've been speaking to in rebel-held Aleppo say that they're not hearing the incessant buzzing of fighters jets overhead; that terrifying sound. They're not having to try to somehow survive and live through the constant aerial bombardment and this has resulted in children going out into the streets, able to laugh. One resident of Aleppo that we spoke to said for the first time in months he was actually able to properly sleep for a few hours. And the situation, Jake, is so dire in Syria that people will take what they can, whether it's a few hours, a few days, or even all will hope a few weeks.

TAPPER: All right, Arwa Damon for us. Thank you so much, appreciate it. Stay safe, please. The NCAA is the latest organization to pull out of North Carolina over the state's controversial transgender bathroom law. Now state republicans are citing a rape case and they are firing back.


TAPPER: We're back. THE SPORTS LEAD now and divided reaction after the NCAA's stinging decision to yank seven tournaments out of North Carolina over the state's so-called bathroom law. The NCAA calling the law discriminatory; it restricts, of course, transgender individuals from using restrooms labeled differently than the gender on their birth certificate. Today, two of the state's biggest athletic power houses, Duke University and the far superior University of North Carolina, both praise the NCAA's decision, but others describe it as a double standard. CNN's Martin Savage joins me now with both sides of the debate. Martin, the NCAA's move is a huge financial hit for the Tar Heel State.

CNN CORRESPONDENT, MARTIN SAVIDGE: Oh yes, absolutely. And then you add to that the NBA pulling out the All Star game and the other financial impact, some suggest it's tens of millions. Others say the total impact of HB2 negatively dollar-wise is up to $100 million for the State of North Carolina. But the NCAA says, "Look, it's not about money, it's not about collegiate sports, it's not even about championships, this is about fairness." Let me read you their statement: "We believe in providing a safe and respectful environment at our events and our committed to providing the best experience possible for college athletes, fans, and everyone taking part in our championships." Well, it didn't take long for the GOP of North Carolina, their state spokesperson, to fire back, and it was a blistering attack. Here is what Kami Mueller says, "I wish the NCAA was this concerned about the women who were raped at Baylor. Perhaps the NCAA should stop with their political peacocking and instead focus their energies on making sure that our nation's collegiate athletes are safe." This is an issue that is very close to the hearts of many in North Carolina, and I'm talking about collegiate basketball here. It used to be said that there are only two things in North Carolina that aren't political; basketball and barbecue. Now it seems they're down to just barbecue.

TAPPER: Right, and we'll see what happens after today, but Martin, this is playing out in this battleground state in the upcoming elections, what will the political fallout be?

SAVIDGE: Yes, well that is a serious question on a number of fronts. You know, let's talk about the gubernatorial race. Pat McCrory there is in a very tight race as he runs for re-election and he's taking HB2, house bill two, which is what it's called in North Carolina, as sort of the centerpiece, the focal point of his campaign. He put out a statement later today in which he said.

Let me read - he was talking about the fact that this is going to be decided in federal court, and he's urging both sides to wait before they take any rash decisions, but of course the NCAA already acted and he says, "Sadly, the NCAA, a multi-billion-dollar tax exempt monopoly failed to show this respect at the expense of our student athletes and hardworking men and women." So it could be a gubernatorial race decided by this, but the maybe even a presidential race. North Carolina is a key swing state here and already we've heard from Hillary Clinton on this matter. She weighed in in a tweet saying "The NCAA is right to pull tournament games from North Carolina because of the anti-LGBT HB2 law. Discrimination has no place in America." We have not heard from Donald Trump on this, but, you know, these are the kind of passionate issues that will bring people out to the voting booth, so the impact politically could be very big.

TAPPER: All right, Martin Savidge, thank you so much. Be sure to tune in to CNN tomorrow night at 9 p.m. Eastern for Almost President: The Agony of Defeat. CNN's Gloria Borger talked to the men who have survived the most public failure in America. Be sure to follow me on Facebook and Twitter at Jake Tapper and tweet to the show at THE LEAD CNN. We actually read them. That's it for THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper turning over to Wolf Blitzer in "THE SITUATION ROOM."