Return to Transcripts main page
THE SITUATION ROOM
Clinton Back on Campaign Trail; Trump Vows He'll Get Economy to Grown 4 Percent Per Year; Doctor: Trump Has the Stamina to Endure Presidency; Latest from the Campaign Trail; Trump Tax Returns Continue to Be an Issue. Aired 5-6p ET
Aired September 15, 2016 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN: -- so much. That's it for "THE LEAD." I'm Jake Tapper. You can follow me on Twitter, @JakeTapper. Turning you over to Wolf Blitzer. He's right next door in THE SITUATION ROOM. Thanks for watching.
[17:0015] WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now, breaking news. Back on the trail. Hillary Clinton resumes campaigning after her health scare. But the polls show her lead shrinking as Donald Trump builds momentum in key battleground states. With the first debate just 11 days away, is she ready for the battle ahead?
Taxing excuses. Donald Trump Jr. says his father won't release his tax returns, because people would scrutinize and question them and that would, quote, "detract from his main message." But House Speaker Paul Ryan says, "I released mine" and says Trump should release his.
And Cold War fears. U.S. intelligence agencies are stepping up efforts to deal with the new Russian threat to undermine the presidential election. Will they be able to stop a future cyber- attack?
I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
BLITZER: Breaking news. Hillary Clinton returns to the campaign trail, saying she feels great after a case of pneumonia. But as Clinton hits the road in the battleground state of North Carolina, she'll have to make up for lost ground. A new national poll shows her with a very slight lead over Donald Trump. Given the sampling error, in fact, they're neck and neck. But Clinton says she predicted from the start that this would be a tight race.
After outlining his health status on "The Dr. Oz Show," Donald Trump outlined his economic plan today, claiming he'd add 25 million new jobs by cutting taxes and regulations. And he's vowing to grow the economy at up to 4 percent for a year, a rate not seen since the Bill Clinton years.
Trump's personal finances remain a history. House Speaker Paul Ryan today said Trump should release the tax returns, but Trump's son, Donald Jr., says that would create financial auditors out of every person in the country, asking questions that would detract from his father's message. I'll talk with Trump senior advisor, Jack Kingston.
And our CNN analysts and guests, they will have full coverage of the day's stories. Let's begin with our breaking news. CNN senior political correspondent Brianna Keilar is joining us.
Brianna, after her illness break, Clinton has to make up for some lost time.
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right. Especially now, Wolf, that her lead in the polls has evaporated.
Today she got back on the trail, using her time on the mend, she said, as a chance to reflect on her campaign. She did retool her message a little bit, trying to give voters a reason to vote for her rather than just trying to disqualify Donald Trump.
KEILAR (voice-over): Hillary Clinton is back on the trail after three days of recovering at home from a bout of pneumonia.
HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: Welcome back to stronger together.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How are you doing? How are you feeling?
CLINTON: I'm doing great. Thank you so much.
KEILAR: Campaigning in North Carolina.
And trying to put questions of her health to rest.
CLINTON: I'm not great at taking it easy, even under ordinary circumstances, but with just two months to go until election day, sitting at home was pretty much the last place I wanted to be.
KEILAR: After nearly collapsing as she left the 9/11 commemoration at Ground Zero early on Sunday. Following the Clinton campaign, releasing more medical information about her yesterday in a letter from her doctor, Clinton criticized Donald Trump for revealing the results of a recent physical on a television show.
CLINTON: I'll never be the showman my opponent is, and that's OK with me. Just look at -- look at the show he put on with Dr. Oz today.
KEILAR: Trump has made a habit of questioning Clinton's stamina, and she seemed to answer.
CLINTON: People accuse me of all kinds of things. You probably have seen that. But nobody ever accuses me of quitting, and I will never give up. I'll never walk away.
KEILAR: She's also on cleanup patrol after saying this late last week.
CLINTON: You could put half of Trump's supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables.
KEILAR: Clinton took back THE "half" part but not the word "deplorable," saying this on the Tom Joiner show.
CLINTON (via phone): I have said Donald Trump has run a deplorable campaign. He has accepted support and been cheered on by the likes of David Duke, the former grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, and other white supremacists. In fact, it was amazing the other day, his running mate, Mike Pence, wouldn't even call former KKK leader David Duke deplorable.
KEILAR: Deadlocked or uncomfortably close with Donald Trump in national and battleground state polls, Clinton is trying to rally the coalition of supporters that propelled President Obama to two terms in the White House. Young people, Hispanics, who she will address tonight in Washington, and African-Americans.
[17:05:03] CLINTON: I am well aware that I still have work to do, and I'm very committed to continuing to travel across the country to talk about and hear from young African-Americans about the struggles they face daily.
KEILAR: Clinton is dealing with a drag on multiple issues: transparency, most recently pertaining to her health, her e-mail controversy and the Clinton Foundation. The foundation's president, Donna Shalala, trying to shut down accusations of influence peddling by foundation donors at the State Department during Clinton's time as secretary of state.
DONNA SHALALA, PRESIDENT, CLINTON FOUNDATION: There's no evidence that policy was impacted by anyone's requesting an appointment. Let me dispute any indication that Mrs. Clinton's behavior on policy was changed in any way.
KEILAR: Now, Clinton just held a press conference, Wolf, and she weighed in on Donald Trump's comments about Reverend Faith Green Timmons, who was a pastor at a black church in Flint, Michigan. He called her a nervous mess this morning in response to her stepping in yesterday during his remarks to ask him to keep his speech apolitical.
Well, Clinton said that Trump was insulting, that he was dead wrong. She said that Timmons is not a nervous wreck. She is a rock for her community in trying times. So you see Clinton weighing in there on this issue as Donald Trump tries to make inroads with black voters.
BLITZER: Brianna Keilar, thank you very much.
Donald Trump today released a doctor's letter stating that he's in good health, and Trump vowed to boost the health of the U.S. economy if he's elected president.
Meantime, the state of his personal finances remains unclear. CNN's Phil Mattingly is out there on the campaign trail for us in New Hampshire. Phil, did Trump get into specifics on his economic plan? PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: He tried to, Wolf. And there's a
good reason why. Donald Trump, over the course of the last month, has opened up a 15-point lead, according to the latest CNN/ORC poll, when it comes to who people trust most on the economy. That's no small thing. Economics remains the top issue in voters' minds.
Trump trying to solidify those gains today with big pledges and some questionable ideas.
MATTINGLY (voice-over): Today Donald Trump pledging a major boost in economic growth as he seeks to tie together his disparate economic proposals.
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: My economic plan rejects the cynicism that says our labor force will keep declining, that our jobs will keep leaving, and that our economy can never grow as it did once before.
MATTINGLY: Trump's speech in New York was light on new details but heavy on laying out Trump's vision and guarantees.
TRUMP: Under our plan, the economy will average 3.5 percent growth and create a total of 25 million new jobs.
MATTINGLY: But a major hole in Trump's promise, that the plan won't add to the deficit.
TRUMP: You can visit our website. Just look at the math. It works.
MATTINGLY: But it remains unclear that it actually does. Trump pledging not to raise taxes, and not even addressing the growth of entitlement programs in his remarks, two of the most common targets for raising revenue.
Trump, instead, relying on regulatory, tax and energy reforms and his promised growth, all as he belittled Hillary Clinton's economic proposals.
TRUMP: Her tax increases are unbelievable. The only thing she can offer is a welfare check.
MATTINGLY: Those attacks coming just one day after Trump's renewed swipe at Clinton's health.
TRUMP: I don't know, folks. You think Hillary would be able to stand up here for an hour and do this? I don't know. I don't know.
MATTINGLY: Trump today trying to put to rest questions about his own health. First in this interview with syndicated TV host Dr. Mehmet Oz.
DR. MEHMET OZ, HOST, "THE DR. OZ SHOW": How do you say healthy on the campaign trail? TRUMP: Well, it's a lot of work. You know, and I'm speaking in front
of 15 and 20,000 people. I'm up there using a lot of motion. I guess in its own way, it's a pretty healthy act. I really enjoy doing it. A lot of times these rooms are very hot, like saunas. And I guess that's a form of exercise. And you know?
MATTINGLY: And then by releasing a one-page letter from his doctor summarizing the results of Trump's recent physical exam and states Trump is, quote, "in excellent physical health."
But the new insight into Trump will not extend to his taxes, at least according to his son, Donald Jr., who told a Pittsburgh newspaper it wasn't the ongoing audit that was keeping Trump from releasing his returns.
DONALD TRUMP JR., SON OF DONALD TRUMP: That would create probably 300 million independent financial auditors out of every person in the country asking questions that are going to distract from his main message.
MATTINGLY: And that wasn't the most controversial comment of Trump Jr.'s day, criticizing the media's treatment of Clinton.
TRUMP JR. (via phone): The media has built her up and they've let her slide on every indiscrepancy, on every lie, on every DNC game, trying to get Bernie Sanders out of the thing. I mean, if Republicans were doing that, they'd be warming up the gas chamber right now.
MATTINGLY: And, Wolf, the Clinton campaign, John Podesta, calling it extremely insensitive, but the Trump campaign wasting no time attacking on that quote specifically. Campaign chairwoman John Podesta calling it extremely insensitive.
The campaign firing back, saying it was taken out of context and Donald Trump Jr., who clearly meant that he was talking about corporal punishment.
Now, tonight in New Hampshire, Donald Trump should be here in a couple of hours. We expect to hear more on that economic plan. Again, an issue the Trump campaign wants to keep hitting on over and over and over again -- Wolf. The death penalty -- the gas chamber reference was the death penalty, had nothing to do with the Holocaust.
MATTINGLY: Yes, that's exactly right, Wolf, saying it was purely about corporal punishment. Having no ties whatsoever. Capital punishment, sorry. There is some reference to this going back, Donald Trump has talked about that Republicans would have been put in the electric chair, had they done what some Democrats had done as well back in July. So there is a point of reference for this, but that is how the Trump campaign is trying to say what Donald Trump meant earlier today, John -- Wolf.
BLITZER: All right, Phil. Thanks very much. Phil Mattingly reporting. Joining us now, a senior Trump advisor, the former U.S. Congressman Jack Kingston. Congressman, thanks very much for coming in. Let's talk a little bit about what Donald Jr. had to say.
He said releasing the tax returns at this point would, in his words, detract from his father's message. So it's no longer the audit that's stopping them from releasing the tax returns?
JACK KINGSTON, SENIOR TRUMP ADVISOR: Well, I think they are going by advice of counsel. As you know, an attorney from the Steptoe-Johnson Law Firm was interviewed by CNN and said he would advise his clients not to release the tax returns.
But there is that second part of it. If you put it on the table, then you're going to have 300 million Americans second-guessing what is this, what is that? And that actually, I think, would influence the IRS, because they would say, "Oh, wait, somebody out in Idaho said this. Somebody in Chicago said that. Somebody in New York said this." And then they're off chasing things.
So I think what the attorney has advised the Trump family is you've got to make it a legal matter and stay focused on the audit and let the attorneys handle it.
BLITZER: Because Donald Trump Jr. said, "We don't need a story with everyone questioning everything." So this is why they don't want to release the tax returns.
But you're saying it's combined with the audit. The audit is still underway. You're positive about that.
KINGSTON: Yes. But I also think the other thing is, you know, with a little more than 50 days left, what we want to do is talk about jobs. We want to talk about the economy. We want to talk about foreign policy. And I think that's what he has been doing, which our polls are showing, because he has been talking substance while Mrs. Clinton has been substantially fundraising during the month of August. And, you know, that's one of those campaign choices. It will have some benefits in itself.
But we've been talking about issues, and I believe that's why we're getting a lot more traction.
BLITZER: But very quickly, if there's nothing to hide as far as the tax returns are concerned, why not release them?
KINGSTON: Well, I think if the audit was finished, he would do that. But right now, he's still very -- you know, he's got to make that decision. And it's not...
BLITZER: Because Donald Jr. basically said it's not necessarily the audit, it's because there would be such a discussion, such a commentary about various assets. It's very long, the tax returns, thousands of pages, and he says he doesn't want to distract. That seems like the more logical reason than the audit for them.
KINGSTON: Well, I think it's a combination of them, because as I understand it, the audit is still going on.
But the reality is, if you put that on the table, it will be a smorgasbord of second-guessing going on, and I think we want to stay focused on the jobs and the economy.
BLITZER: So what about the 2002 to 2008 tax returns which are no longer under audit?
KINGSTON: I'm going to let them make that decision. And we'll see.
I mean, I think that he is going to probably stick with the audit advice from the attorney.
BLITZER: 2008. He's still under audit from 2008 until now. But before that, the audits are done. Listen to Paul Ryan, the speaker of the House, speaking about this today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: I'll -- I'll defer to Donald Trump as to when he thinks the appropriate time to release his returns. I know he's under an audit, and he's got an opinion about when to release those. I'll defer to him on that.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you think it's a good idea?
RYAN: I released mine. I think we should ours.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. Speaker, now that...
RYAN: I'll leave it to him when to do it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: He says, "I think we should release ours." So he clearly would like to see Donald Trump release the tax returns.
KINGSTON: Yes. But I want to say this. Remember, he has disclosed his financial disclosure, which is 104 pages long, very comprehensive document. And he put that on the table in May. And of course, that is required. But that's a lot more comprehensive than the tax returns.
Paul Ryan's tax returns, I'm not sure what his net worth is, but they're going to be a lot less complicated than Donald Trump, particularly coming out of an audit.
[17:15:03] BLITZER: Every presidential candidate since the '70s has released his tax returns. Hillary Clinton's released 40 years of tax returns. So the pressure is really on him to go ahead and do the same, even if it's very complicated, even if it's lengthy documents.
There will be experts that will take a look and see what his percent of charitable contributions, which charities he donated money to, what percent taxes he paid. That's the kind of information, don't you think, the American public deserves to know in electing a president of the United States?
KINGSTON: Well, I will say this. That it is one of those push questions in a poll. But if it's not pushed, it doesn't come up, because the American families are looking at this economy. They've seen their household income shrink from $57,000 to $53,000. They -- 94 million people are under-employed or unemployed. Forty-three million are on Food Stamps.
And I believe America is hurting right now, and -- and the release of the tax returns isn't the No. 1 thing on their minds.
BLITZER: But 62 percent of Americans, according to our recent poll, say they would like to see those tax returns.
KINGSTON: Well, but that would not be the same number if you said, "What is your No. 1 issue?" The No. 1 issue might be...
BLITZER: By no means the No. 1 issue. The economy, national security, obviously those are critically important issues. But this is an important issue, as well, if you want to be president of the United States.
KINGSTON: And I think what Donald Jr. said, that there's certainly a good point to it, that if you put it down, 300 million people in America are going to be looking through it and saying, "What about on page 27? What about on page 78?" And it gets the focus away from how do you create jobs, what about the new child care plan, what do you do about ISIS and all the other great proposals that he has.
Remember, you know, what have we done lately? We've been to Detroit. We've been to Milwaukee. We have been to Mexico. We've been to Baton Rouge. And Hillary Clinton has been on Martha's Vineyard raising money. We're talking about issues.
Going to Flint, Michigan, with the Democrat mayor, I think was a very gutsy move. And this is an unconventional candidate who's doing things that I think the American people are welcoming.
BLITZER: I think it's fair to say she's been traveling around the country, as well. She hasn't just been out on Martha's Vineyard.
But stand by. We're going to continue this conversation. We've got a lot more to discuss. Much more with Congressman Jack Kingston right after this.
[17:21:48] BLITZER: We're back with senior Trump advisor, the former U.S. congressman from Georgia, Jack Kingston.
Congressman, the economy still the most important issue facing voters out there. Today, Donald Trump delivered an important economic speech. He said that, under his plan, he guaranteed 4 percent -- at least 3.5 percent or 4 percent economic growth. Hasn't been that high since the Bill Clinton administration. But he didn't provide a lot of specifics on how that's going to happen. And people want to know more. You think he's ready to give the
specifics where he's going to cut spending, where he's going to pay for all the extra defense spending, for example, he wants to incorporate?
KINGSTON: I think he's ready for the debate and looking forward to it. He's talking about going from seven tax brackets to three. He's talking about lowering corporate tax rates from 35 percent to 15 percent, bringing their assets from overseas back, getting a 10 percent recoup on that.
He's talking about regulatory reform. Last year, or in 2015, in this administration something like , new regulations. The year before something like 2,500. So regulatory reform, which will unleash the private sector, the mom-and-pop businesses. And then tax reform in general, tied in with trade reform, reducing the trade deficit. Things like that, I believe, haven't really been addressed by this administration.
BLITZER: The deficit is going to go up dramatically with those -- those huge tax cuts he's proposing.
KINGSTON: Well, but remember, under Kennedy and under Reagan, when you had tax cuts, you also had revenue increases, because it's spurred the economy along so well.
Right now we've had under a 2 percent growth rate, and I think a 1 percent difference in the growth rate means something like 1.2 million jobs added to the economy.
BLITZER: He says he can create 25 million new jobs. But he doesn't really spell out the details how that's going to happen.
KINGSTON: You know, he really wants to jump into this regulatory reform. And look at the health care, at Obamacare. Popularly known as Obamacare.
Premiums have gone up. Three major companies have pulled out of the exchanges. Twenty-five million Americans still remain uninsured. It has to be dealt with regardless of who's elected president, regardless of who keeps the majority in Congress. And that is an area where I think it is hurting jobs.
BLITZER: Twenty million people do have insurance now that they didn't have before Obamacare.
KINGSTON: But it's still unfinished business. It's been out there for six years.
BLITZER: There is much more to be done, but you applaud the fact that 20 million people now have health insurance.
KINGSTON: I think that's good. I think we could have done that without a major government takeover of health care. But that's something that he wants to talk about. And I think that's very healthy. BLITZER: Because he says he'd get rid of Obamacare right away, but he
hasn't spelled out what he would replace it with, but maybe he will.
KINGSTON: That's what debates are for.
BLITZER: All right. We'll see. I'm sure it will come up in the debate. Congressman Kingston, thanks very much for coming in.
KINGSTON: Thank you, Wolf.
BLITZER: The next hour, I'll be speaking with the interim chair of the Democratic National Committee, Donna Brazile. She'll be here in THE SITUATION ROOM with me.
Coming up, more on Hillary Clinton's return to the campaign trail today. Her first news conference since revealing she had pneumonia and her new line of attack against Donald Trump. We'll be right back.
[17:29:30] BLITZER: We're following the breaking news. Hillary Clinton resuming her campaign, holding her first news conference since nearly collapsing Sunday morning.
Let's bring in our political experts. Brianna Keilar, she's out on the campaign trail now, following the diagnosis of pneumonia. What are you hearing from inside the campaign? What's the latest?
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: You would think, perhaps, that they're -- and I think they are -- eager to kind of get back going with things. She's been off the trail for three days. But they've also had big-name surrogates, including Bill Clinton and Chelsea Clinton, out there campaigning on her behalf.
What I think is interesting is they've clearly tried to capitalize as best they can on the fact that she's been gone three days. Unclear if they're able to do that. But just listening to Hillary Clinton today Wolf, was interesting in that she talked about how she used her time on the mend to reflect on the campaign which is something that campaigning doesn't really allow her. And she made more of a case for why voters should vote for her instead of just trying to disqualify Donald Trump.
The polls have tightened up. So this may be a correction. A course correction. And we'll see if they think, and if voters think that this is something that better serves her.
BLITZER: It's almost, Mark Preston, neck and neck nationally in these latest polls. But in key battleground states look at this, the CNN ORC Poll in Florida, Clinton 44, Trump 47. In Ohio, key battleground state. Clinton 41, Trump 46. These numbers show Trump has the momentum right now, not Hillary Clinton.
(END VIDEO CLIP) MARK PRESTON, CNN EXECUTIVE EDITOR: Yes. No doubt, Wolf. And, we've seen softening amongst the very core constituency that she really needs and that's younger voters. We've seen it in those two polls and specifically let's just focus on Ohio for a moment.
Ohio right now amongst voters under the age of 45 years old Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are tied. That is bad news for the Clinton campaign. Those are voters that tend to be reliably democrat. That's why today we saw Chelsea Clinton up there in Ohio for two stops. She's going to go back Monday -- or rather she's going to go back next week, next Thursday, do another stop.
This weekend Bernie Sanders, as we all remember during the primary, was able to really ignite younger voters behind his candidacy. He's going to be in Ohio for several stops. As is Elizabeth Warren. And they're going to be talking about college education.
Hillary Clinton on Monday in the neighboring state of Pennsylvania will be talking about education on Monday afternoon in a big speech.
So they're really making a play for these millennial voters, Wolf, which are key to her victory should she win in November.
BLITZER: And, David Swerdlick, if Trump can win Ohio and Florida, presumably he could win some of those other key battleground states and position himself to win the election.
DAVID SWERDLICK, ASSISTANT EDITOR, THE WASHINGTON POST: Yes, Ohio -- excuse me, Florida should be worrisome for the Clinton campaign I think right now. You know, Ohio has been close. Pennsylvania she's had a fairly comfortable lead for several weeks. The tightening up in Florida though if that stays the way that is right now until debate time I think the Clinton campaign really has to start looking at their other paths.
BLITZER: What does that mean the other paths.
SWERDLICK: Other states. You know, other states where they can pick up a significant number of electoral votes. There's not a state as big as Florida with 29 electoral votes that they can pick up. But then they've got to start thinking North Carolina, other medium to large- sized states where there's enough electoral votes to offset a potential Florida loss.
BLITZER: Shaping up Jackie, as a very close race at least right now going into this first debate, only a few days away.
She released her health records, she had a little news conference today. She's showing up. She clearly wants to show she's being transparent right now given the criticism she has received.
JACKIE KUCINICH, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, THE DAILY BEAST: Well, right. It helps bolster her image. But it's kind of a two for her because it's also putting -- they're trying to put pressure on Donald Trump to release more of his health records, to release his tax returns. That drum beat is not going away. And, you can expect to hear it in the debate and going forward from Hillary Clinton and from all of her surrogates. Until, you know, maybe it actually happens. We'll see. I mean the voters are the ones who can really put the pressure on him.
BLITZER: She said the other day she was talking about a basket of deplorables. Now she's talking about his deplorable campaign. It's her way of calling out Trump right now. She's going to continue to do this, although she's also stressing her advantages, her strengths in going into this election.
SWERDLICK: Right. So first of all I would just say, politicians, memo, stop using S-A-T words to describe issues that kind of come from the gut. Right? Deplorable it reminds me of Senator Rand Paul in 2010, saying he abhorred racism. People want to know what you think, not have big words coming out of your mouth politicians. Right, it's severely conservative.
That being said, I think she has a better case to say he's run a deplorable campaign rather than sort of painting his supporters with a broad brush just based on comments he's made about Judge Curiel, about the Khan family et cetera.
BLITZER: It's interesting, yesterday he spoke at an African American Church in Flint, Michigan, where there's been a horrible water problem as we know for the past year.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: The pastor interrupted him while he was speaking. He was delivering some political thoughts, going after Hillary Clinton. And, she politely went up and said you know, this is not supposed to be a political event at that church. And he politely left. It was all very civil.
But this morning he was on Fox and he called her a nervous mess. And, now Hillary Clinton is really going after him for calling this pastor who has been involved in the Flint crisis a nervous mess. This is going to be a story now.
KEILAR: It is. I mean, remember -- this is the man who said after four years as President he would then get 95% of the African-American vote. Well, there seems to be something missing in between his goal and his way of getting there. Because this is not going to get him there.
KEILAR: Now, if the reverend had stepped in and had said something political or very strident to him, maybe you would see how he would fire back, even then a politician shouldn't. But she didn't. She just stepped in once he started -- this was sort of a forum for him to talk about the Flint issue and really just to talk to people there as he tries to court black voters. And, she just stepped in and basically said, you know what, let's try to keep this apolitical. I'm paraphrasing. And, he said okay, okay. And as you said, it was civil.
And then to go out today and criticize a pastor saying that she's a nervous mess when you can talk to reporters who were in the room and they say, no, she wasn't. So really it's just an insult.
BLITZER: That sounds like an unforced error on his part, Jackie.
KUCINICH: He can't let it go. It's just like the Khan family. The gold star family that he went after Khan and his wife for days and it spun into this huge mess. He's not able to take criticism and just let it be. This didn't have to be a two-day story.
SWERDLICK: No, I was going to say, too, Trump is right when he argues on the stump that black voters care about crime and jobs and the economy and schools just like all other voters. But, some of these issues about fundamental respect for the black community are threshold issues for black voters. Not speaking ill of a black pastor for no particular reason. Not claiming that the President of the United -- the first black President of the United States is not a citizen of the United States. These are things that voters take into consideration as well.
BLITZER: Yes. Let's see if he calls up this pastor and apologizes for calling her a nervous mess.
Let's take a quick break. Much more right after this.
BLITZER: We're back with our political experts following today's developments in the presidential campaign
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Including a surprisingly candid comment by one of Donald Trump's sons about his father's refusal to release his tax returns.
Jackie, Donald Trump Jr. says he can't release the tax returns. First of all, thousands of pages, it would create a story. Everybody would become auditors, if you will. There are much more other important issues to discuss.
Did Donald Trump Jr., though, contradict his dad who says he can't release them because he's under audit and his lawyers and accountants tell him don't do it right now while you're under audit?
KUCINICH: Yes. Because he's talking about a political reason for not releasing them. Not a practical reason, which would be -- which Donald Trump says is an audit.
But, one of the differences here is at least it's not Donald Trump himself this time contradicting himself. I mean initially he said his tax returns were going to be big and beautiful, and he was going to release them.
And then he said that he was under audit. He also has said, if Hillary releases -- I can't remember -- maybe her medical records or -- then he would release his tax returns. Or her -- the speeches from Wall Street, it was one of the two. Then he would release his turns. So he's moved on this before.
BLITZER: It was the 30,000 e-mails.
KUCINICH: The e-mails. That's what it was.
BLITZER: There were the 30,000 e-mails. If she releases all of those then he'll release his tax returns.
Mark, the speaker of the house, Paul Ryan, says he thinks he should release the tax returns. Does that really make much of a difference, what the speaker says?
PRESTON: Well, it's not going to make a difference in the sense that Donald Trump is going to listen to Paul Ryan. But, it does show how important this issue is and why Donald Trump should actually release these documents.
We're in the final throes of this campaign right now. We don't know everything about these candidates. Hillary Clinton has not been as forthcoming as we've hoped with some of her information, specifically the e-mails of course and her health records, which we've since seen them now.
But, Donald Trump has stone-walled the media and quite frankly has stone-walled the voters by refusing to release these tax returns. It's not that we're voyeuristic and want to know everything that he's doing. But, there has to be some kind of accountability about what you're talking about and how you're building your campaign upon.
And, when you talk about donating tens of millions of dollars to charity, there's got to be some kind of accounting for that. And we just can't take him at his word. So, it is really is unfortunate that he's choosing not to do so. But I suspect you're going to see Paul Ryan appear in a Democratic ad saying Donald Trump should release his taxes.
BLITZER: You think this is going to be an issue going forward to the big debate, that debate we're only 11 days away from now? Is this going to come up do you think: Is it going to be a source of argument, debate between the two candidates?
SWERDLICK: Definitely Wolf. I think it's going to come up. I think it should come up. Right. I think the Trump family is struggling with this idea that people want insight into their private financial dealings, into Donald Trump's health as an individual, physical and mental health. And it's this idea, look, he's never run for president -- or never run for office before, and this is private information until you run for President of the United States. And then the people have a right to know.
BLITZER: Ivanka Trump, she had an interview going with "Cosmopolitan" magazine. And all of a sudden she abruptly ended the interview. Tell our viewers what happened.
KEILAR: Yes, this was not the smooth Ivanka Trump that we are used to seeing. And, I suppose when you're doing an interview with "Cosmopolitan" magazine you're probably trying to do sort of -- it's not the same -- you're not expecting the same interview that you would say with the "Wall Street Journal" or something.
So, I will say this, Prachi Gupta, the reporter here, did an excellent interview. And, it was very detailed and it was specific. Clearly Ivanka Trump wanted to focus on her father's child care plan which she has had a hand in crafting. How it's unprecedented, that there would be federally mandated six weeks of maternity leave. But Prachi gets into asking her about -- well actually Ivanka Trump brought up this would be good for same-sex couples. Prachi follows up and she's talking about same-sex female couples? Same-sex male -- it's very clear it would only be same-sex lesbian couples. Ivanka doesn't want to talk about the same-sex male couples.
KEILAR: She asked about her father's 2004 comments that pregnancy can be inconvenient. Ivanka responds that the questions seem to be very negative. Prachi explains that she's just following up. And when she gets to the point of really the third topic, of asking Ivanka, how this is going to be paid for, Ivanka really doesn't answer it. And she gets off the phone with Prachi Gupta.
So, you know, maybe not the interview that she was expecting. And she rushed off.
BLITZER: Yes. What did you think -- you read that whole exchange, what was your reaction?
KUCINICH: The same reaction as Brianna. I thought it was a great interview and you know people who -- I think the inclination is to do pop pieces because she's the daughter, and she's not the candidate, she's not the candidate's wife. But, I thought this reporter really took everything very seriously and asked her some tough questions. And, she has become an essential part of this campaign on the policy and on the family side at this point.
KEILAR: But they were -- they were tough, but I will say they were very fair.
KUCINICH: They were fair, they were very fair questions.
BLITZER: Good questions.
KEILAR: Great questions.
BLITZER: You don't necessarily think of "Cosmopolitan" magazine as having a serious, substantive important interview like this.
KUCINICH: Yes. She did them proud. She really did. This was a -- she did a really good job.
BLITZER: All right, guys. We're going to continue this conversation but stand by. Much more coming up.
We've got a lot of news coming up here in "The Situation Room." We'll take a quick break and we'll be right back.
BLITZER: With Moscow blamed for a repeated cyber-attacks on American institutions, the United States is stepping up its intelligence efforts against Russia.
Our Chief National Security Correspondent, Jim Sciutto is joining us now. Jim, this cold war type of chill, it comes as Donald Trump has been praising Putin.
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Listen, in the clearest terms as it relates to politics, there is an enormous contradiction between Donald Trump's view of Putin and Russia, and U.S. Intelligences view of him and Russia as the primary threat to U.S. National Security.
They are expanding resources to meet the threat across the board. This is human intelligence, that means spies. Surveillance, that means satellites and other electronic interception. And cyber capabilities.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SCIUTTO: Tonight, U.S. intelligence focused on Vladimir Putin and Russia viewed as increasingly assertive and ambitious in countering U.S. leadership and national security interests around the globe.
Russia's activity now includes what appears to be an unprecedented effort to undermine confidence in the upcoming U.S. presidential election. As Chairman of the House, Homeland Security Committee, Mike McCaul detailed on CNN.
REP MICHAEL MCCAUL (R) HOMELAND SECURITY CHAIRMAN: And the idea of a foreign power, particularly one like Russia, a foreign adversary attempting to mess with our elections and Dr. Comey basically told us that the motivation was to undermine the integrity of the American political electoral process.
These facts -- allegations are very disturbing. Sources tell CNN that the intelligence community is expanding resources aimed at Moscow to match Moscow's evolving threat to the U.S. Those resources include human intelligence, electronic surveillance and cyber capability.
Ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee, Adam Shift, tells CNN "Putin has taken Russia in a much more hostile, aggressive and adversarial direction. And the U.S. is directing more resources and focus towards Russia - and that's a necessity."
Russia's cyber threat is a particular concern. The Deputy Director of the NSA has told us that Russia today has alarming capability, not just to hack places like the Democratic National Committee, but to harm the U.S. homeland via cyber-attack.
But, you're saying that today foreign actors already have the capability of shutting down key U.S. infrastructure?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Absolutely.
SCIUTTO: Via cyber-attack?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
SCIUTTO: Some intelligence analysts say the renewed focus is late and has allowed Moscow to gain an advantage.
COL. CEDRIC LEIGHTON (RET), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: It's a failure to properly resource our intelligence agencies, vis-a-vie the Russian problem is really coming home to roost right now. And, because of that failure on our part we are playing catch up in a very large way.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCIUTTO: U.S. Intelligence officials say they never took their eyes off of Russia. But, they do -- can see that predicting Russia's actions whilst always difficult is particularly tough with Russia today because President Putin has an insular close knit decision making process. And, in addition to that Wolf, he's proven himself capable of making what they call impulsive decisions abroad.
BLITZER: You've heard the charge that the Russians are hacking Democratic Party institutions like the DNC, trying to embarrass the democrats, trying to go embarrass if you will, Hillary Clinton, because they favor Donald Trump as the next president. You've heard those accusations?
SCIUTTO: No question. And when you speak to intel officials, and I've asked them directly are they trying to swing the election for say Trump over Clinton. They say, the truth is they don't know.
But, the truth is that they don't have to be supporting one candidate over the other to have an effect. It's equally plausible, probably likely and Director Clapper has said this, that they just want to undermine the credibility of the process. And by creating doubt that helps serve their purpose of you know undermining this idea that American democracy is so great.
BLITZER: Yes. And the great fear is that potentially they could have the ability to change the result of the election by hacking into election systems, if you will.
SCIUTTO: No question. That's the ultimate fear.
BLITZER: Yes. That's what they fear. Our Jim Sciutto, thanks very much.
Coming up, Hillary Clinton back on the trail saying she feels great after a case of pneumonia. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: But she'll have to make up for lost ground. A new national poll shows her neck and neck right now with Donald Trump.
And Donald Trump Jr. says his father won't release his tax returns because people would look at them, and question them, and that would "detract" from his message.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Happening now, Clinton's return.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: She's back on the campaign trail downplaying her bout of pneumonia trying to recover from new setbacks in the polls.
This hour, I'll ask the Interim Democratic National Committee Chair, Donna Brazile, if Hillary Clinton can turn things around.
Trump's promises. He's sharing new details about his economic plan making big claims about how he'd cut taxes, spur growth, and create jobs.
Tonight, serious questions about whether Trump's goals are realistic and whether his numbers add up.