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Trump Admits Obama Born in U.S. Clinton Camp Responds to Trump Birther Claims; Congressional Black Caucus Members Respond to Trump Birther Claims. Aired 1:30-2p ET
Aired September 16, 2016 - 13:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[13:32:39] WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Donald Trump says he now believes President Barack Obama was born in the United States. You see his motorcade there. He went from his new hotel here in Washington, in Virginia for a fundraiser, now heading over to the Republican National Committee's headquarters presumably for meetings with Reince Priebus and others.
Trump insists the Birther movement was first started by Hillary Clinton at her 2008 campaign. Trump's claim has been proven to be false.
The Clinton camp is responding. Clinton's press secretary, Brian Fallon, tweeting, "Trump doubled down on lie-filled statements from his campaign last night and took no responsibility for his bigoted attacks on our president."
Let's get reaction from Patti Solis Doyle, Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign manager back in 2007 and 2008.
Patti, thanks for joining us.
PATTI SOLIS DOYLE, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR (voice-over): Thanks so much for having me, Wolf.
BLITZER: All right. You just tweeted a couple tweets. Let me put them up on the screen. "Hillary Clinton or her '08 campaign did not start Birther movement, period. I was there." Then another tweet, "I fired the rogue and I called David Plouffe to apologize for said rogue."
What does that mean? You fired someone in the campaign, someone supporting Hillary Clinton was trying to promote this so-called Birther issue? What happened?
SOLIS DOYLE: So absolutely, the campaign nor Hillary did not start the Birther movement, period, end of the story there. There was a volunteer coordinator, I believe in late 2007, I think in December, one of our volunteer coordinators in one of the counties in Iowa. I don't recall whether they were an actual paid staffer, but they did forward an e-mail that promoted the conspiracy. Hillary --
BLITZER: The Birther conspiracy? SOLIS DOYLE: Yeah. Hillary made the decision immediately to let that
person go. We let that person go. And it was so, you know, beyond the pale, Wolf. And so not worthy of the kind of campaign that certainly Hillary wanted to run or that we, as a staff, wanted to run that called David Plouffe, obviously managing Barack Obama's campaign, in '07, to apologize, and basically say that this is -- was not coming from us. It was a rogue volunteer coordinator and this was not the kind of campaign we wanted to run. And David graciously accepted my apology.
[13:35:18] BLITZER: What about Mark Penn, the Democratic pollster that a lot of us know here in Washington? What was he promoting in the memorandum he put forward?
SOLIS DOYLE: I don't -- can you be specific about the memorandum you're talking about? He wrote many memorandum.
BLITZER: A memorandum that was supposedly raising not necessarily the birthplace of then-Senator Barack Obama, but raising other questions about his religion, stuff like that. It was sort of a dark-filled memorandum circulating at the time. You know Mark Penn?
SOLIS DOYLE: I do know Mark Penn very well. Obviously, a chief strategist for the '08 campaign. We worked together on the '08 campaign. I don't know what he wrote but certainly the '08 campaign never promoted the Birther conspiracy. Whether we took whatever advice was in the memorandum is clear by the campaign we ran. We did not use it at that time.
BLITZER: Yeah. Everything I have looked -- I've looked into this pretty thoroughly. There's never a reference to the Birther issue as all in that memorandum. There are other dark things. By all accounts that memorandum never went anywhere and was rejected and no one in any serious capacity in the Hillary Clinton campaign started or circulated or tried to promote the Birther issue. That's a very sensitive issue, because you hear the Donald Trump campaign now saying this whole thing started with your campaign, and you're flatly denying that?
SOLIS DOYLE: Absolutely. And the one person who did promote it, again, it was a volunteer coordinator, and I can't even speak to the fact whether that person was on actual payroll. Hillary made the decision to let that person go immediately.
BLITZER: Patty, thank you so much for joining us.
SOLIS DOYLE: Thank you so much.
BLITZER: The sounds of battle may have died down, but the outcry in Syria is simply overwhelming. CNN is inside Aleppo. A look at the plight of residents and why aid isn't getting to those in such desperate need.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [13:41:55] BLITZER: The members of the Congressional Black Caucus are speaking out right now -- there's Gregory Meeks, the Congressman -- speaking out on Donald Trump's admission, finally, that the president of the United States was born in the United States.
REP. GREGORY MEEKS, (D), NEW YORK & CHAIRMAN, CONGRESSIONAL BLACK CAUCUS PAC: -- thank them for their being heroes in fighting and defending this country, and they have the right, because this is the greatest country this planet has ever seen, they have a right to choose whatever candidate they want, but he used them, basically, to be part of his con to the American people. So what he did then at the very end is just say that another lie, an out and out lie, which he's got to be called on, because this is not the first time he has lied. He continues to lie. So to lie and say that the Birther movement was started by Hillary Clinton and he was finishing it, and that he was born in America and then walk off has got to stop. He's lied and he's divided this country enough. He lied about Muslims, saying that he saw thousands of them when the world trade center went down he's lied. He's lied about Mexicans. He's lied about women. And members of the Congressional Black Caucus' PAC are not going to take it anymore. This is ridiculous, and if he thinks that African-Americans or any American, because I believe this should be an insult to all Americans, to every one of us. This should not continue to happen.
So we felt it was important that the members of the Congressional Black Caucus come out and let everyone know where we stand and were we feel about it.
So with that I'd like to bring chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus. As I said, I want to be clear on this. I'm chairman of the PAC. This
has not to do with anything else but the PAC, but we have a person who's a member of the board of the PAC who is the chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, nothing to do with the foundation.
But chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, the gentleman from North Carolina, G.K. Butterfield.
REP. G.K. BUTTERFIELD, (D), NORTH CAROLINA & CHAIRMAN, CONGRESSIONAL BLACK CAUCUS: Thank you, Congressman Meeks.
And let me thank all of you from the press for responding so quickly.
This was breaking news about 90 minutes ago and we sent out the invitation and you have responded. So thank you very much.
I am, indeed, the chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus but I come to you today in my capacity as a member of the board of the Congressional Black Caucus Public Action Committee. This is a disgusting day. Donald Trump is a disgusting fraud. By any definition, Donald Trump is a disgusting fraud! He started this silliness years ago by saying that President Obama is not an American citizen. He had no proof of it, and so he started this disgusting behavior seven or eight years ago, questioning the president's citizenship. He would not have done that to a Mitt Romney. He would not have done that to a John McCain or any other white who was running for president of the United States, but he has leveled this criticism against President Obama, and so he has now been told by his advisers that he's not going to win the presidency, unless he can reach out to African-American voters. His numbers are in the single digits, and they will remain in the single digits, but his advisers are telling him that, unless he reaches out to African-American voters, he will lose this election. So instead of being the statesman that he should be, instead of going before the cameras today and apologizing to President Obama and apologizing to the American people for his fraudulent behavior he simply comes to the microphone and I will quote what he said. He said, "President Obama was born in the United States, period." And then he takes his seat and then gives a guided tour of the Trump hotel to the news media that was assembled. That is disgusting. The Congressional Black Caucus Political Action Committee finds it disgusting. Every American needs to understand that this man is a fraud. He is an assault to the intellect of the American people. We must deceit him in November.
[13:46:39] MEEKS: To also speak on this deplorable act of Donald Trump, because that's what because that's what it was, deplorable, is the assistant leader of the Democratic Caucus, the gentlemen from South Carolina, Jim Clyburn.
[13:45:57] REP. JIM CLYBURN, (D), SOUTH CAROLINA & ASSISTANT LEADER, DEMOCRATIC CAUCUS: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Let me thank all of you for being here.
You know, I have been doing a lot of thinking recently about where we are as a country where we have been as a country, and what we can expect in the future as a country. And one of the things that we all are used to in this business is dog whistles, but the thing that we're not used to, and I'm finding it very difficult to get used to, are the howls of wolves. These are howls. These are not whistles. These are in your face kinds of efforts in the part of one man who is utilizing, I should say misusing the media, indignities upon the president of the United States. This is not just about a contest, a contest for the presidency. This man is on a mission to heap as much insult on this president, to do as much as he possibly can to de-legitimize his presidency, and to play into a narrative that has been floated in this country for over 200 years, a narrative that he is very much trying to fulfill by de-legitimizing this president. And I think that the American people, and hopefully the media, and I used to be a part of the media, and I know how media can be misused, and I will quote that our media will begin to focus on informing the American people rather than to regurgitate what this man has to say about anything. And so this is very, very serious. Because as I said to a lot of people, you will look back on November 9th and we may find ourselves because of what we could have done and did not do, regretting that we failed to do so. So let's not give ourselves any chance of being regrettable or regretful. Let's do what is necessary now to expose this man for the fraud that he really is.
MEEKS: Next is the congresswoman from the great state of California, Barbara Lee.
[13:49:52] REP. BARBARA LEE, (D), CALIFORNIA: Thank you very much. Let me just say that a Donald Trump's presidential campaign has been based on the Birther movement. Founded it. Secondly, as we knew, as we heard today, Donald Trump lies. Can we afford a president who lies to develop our agenda as it relates to national security? As it relates to our domestic our own country? I don't think so. The world has got to be able to trust somebody in that White House, not someone who continues to lie over and over and over again. Thirdly, this campaign, unfortunately, we have seen what the Birther movement really means and that is to delegitimize our first African-American president. And it's not working. It's not working.
But I think that this is a moment, that is defining moment for all of those who want to denounce bigotry and racism to step forward now and to demand first that Donald Trump stop it but, secondly, to demand an apology from this man because this is what his presidential campaign has been about. So our work now should be about unifying the country and moving forward with a referendum on bigotry and I think the rest of the country will understand that begin to really see him for the fraud that he is.
Thank you, again.
MEEKS: From New York, Hakeem Jeffries.
REP. HAKEEM JEFFRIES, (D), NEW YORK: I represent the eighth Congressional district in New York. I'm proud to serve on the caucus. I'm here today in my capacity as a board member of the Congressional Black Caucus PAC.
Donald Trump is nothing more than a two-built racial arsonist who for decades has done nothing but fan the flames of bigotry and hatred. He is someone who from the outset of his career has practiced discrimination. From his time running the Trump corporation in the 1970s discriminating against African-Americans and Latinos in housing, labeling their application with a "C" so they would be set aside and excluded. From his effort in the 1980s where he led the lynch mob against the Central Park five, four African-American men and one Latino who were wrongfully convicted b Donald Trump wanted to send them to the death penalty. And then, of course, his effort to lead the Birther movement which is nothing more than a fraud designed to appeal to the racist and the bigots and the xenophobes who want to delegitimize the first black president of the United States of America. If you question Donald Trump's true motive, Exhibit A is his leadership in the Birther movement. He's not qualified to be commander-in-chief. He is a hater in chief. And I would urge African-Americans and Latinos and Asian-Americans and progressive whites and moderates and Independents and all decent Americans, don't walk to the polls, don't jog to the poll, run to the polls to make sure this hater is not elected as the next president of the United States of America. He owes an apology to President Barack Obama. He owes an apology to the African-American community. He owes an apology to the United States of America and he's not man enough to stand in front of a microphone and render it and that's why he's unqualified, as we've seen time in time again to be our commander-in-chief.
MEEKS: From Houston, Texas, Sheila Jackson Lee.
REP. SHEILA JACKSON LEE, (D), TEXAS: Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
Many of us serve on committees, senior member of the Judiciary Committee and the ranking member on the Criminal Justice Committee. I'm here in my capacity as a supporter and member of the Congressional Black Caucus PAC. Thank you for your leadership.
It is important to note that African-Americans have had a unique and special journey in the United States of America. We have been enslaved, we have suffered Jim Crowism, we have seen the segregated south, living as second-class citizens. But yet, the men and women who are African-Americans have risen to serve in the United States military. We have sacrificed as first responders across America. We died on 9/11. And we have accepted our full privileges, although we have shed blood for it, for citizenship. I say we have had enough and we are not going to take it anymore. We will not elect a chief bigot to the United States of America.
[13:55:31] To Mr. Trump, who has debased the presidential contest like no other contest in the history of United States of America, there has never been the lowest level of electioneering that Mr. Trump has engaged in.
Why do I say this? Because he could have ended this in a calm and respectful manner after he started these lies yesterday at the "Washington Post." There were no lights or cameras. It was a simple interview. He was asked a question, whether or not the president was an American citizen born in the United States. He could have taken the quiet time to apologize and to indicate as a candidate for the presidency of the United States, I will respect all former presidents and existing presidents as my duty and I will indicate what the truth is. But Mr. Trump could not bring himself to do so because he has lived a life of bigotry. And so this is our calling to African- Americans and the diversity of America -- women included, Hispanics, Asians, and others, religious diversity as well that if you view America as the land of value and equality and justice -- this man cannot be elected. We as African-Americans have had enough. He has debated this election but, more importantly, he has disgraced himself in his lack of respect for the president for the United States of America.
So I would simply end my words by saying, debasing, Mr. Representing and lying were a crime, I would offer to say to you that Mr. Trump could not continue to run for the presidency of the United States because he has committed a crime against the United States and the American people, and he has brought down this dignified place of respect, and that is when two candidates offer themselves in service, whether you agree with them or not, whether you vote for them or not, you know that they have the ultimate goodness of America in their hearts and minds. Today, I pronounce that that place of honor remains only in one candidate, for Mr. Trump has given up the right to have any respect for running as president of the United States of America. He is now unfit.
MEEKS: From New York, the Dean and Founder of the Congressional Black Caucus, Charles Rangel.
REP. CHARLIE RANGEL, (D), NEW YORK & DEAN, FOUNDER, CONGRESSIONAL BLACK CAUCUS: This issue is bigger than the politicians, the election, and the president. We're really talking about the survival of the United States of America. No one can challenge that when Donald Trump put out the word that he has reason to believe that this black president was not a citizen, that he knew at the time that he was, but when America found out that Barack Obama was elected, some Republican leaders said, "Our first job is to make certain he's not re-elected." That's political. But there's some people that crawled from under a rock and said, "What can we do to make certain that we can destroy this man not four years from now but now." And what they did was to say we're going to send the signal out that he's not a citizen to remind Americans that his father and his ancestors were from Africa, reminding them in their minds you have to be a European- American in order to become president.
What I say is bigger than today and the election. There are other people affected by this, other than African-Americans. There are a lot of people in this country that are not European background, and somebody somewhere will be plotting to say, no matter where they're from, they're not aspiring to be president by going through what we're going through now.
And so I conclude by saying, if you're teaching history in the lower grades or a scholar in the university, if you're --