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THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER
Polls Mixed On Who's Better Handle Terror; Trump, Clinton Diverge On Response To NY, NJ Terror; Gates: Trump Is "Too Great A Risk For America"; 800 Immigrants Wrongly Made Citizens; Obama Talks About Alleged Terror Suspect; Obama Thanks Law Enforcement In New York, New Jersey; Trump: Clinton A "Weak and Ineffective" Person; Clinton, Trump Caps On Whether Language Was "Treason". Aired 4:30-5p ET
Aired September 19, 2016 - 16:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JULIETTE KAYYEM, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: A high success rate, which may have something to do with how sophisticated he was as a terrorist.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: Both the terrorist in St. Cloud, Minnesota, Adan, and this terrorist, alleged terrorist, Rahami, in New York came to the country when they were very, very young.
Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump both have said we need to improve vetting in this country. Is there any vetting that could have spotted these two? My understanding is that both were boys when they came to the United States.
MIKE ROGERS, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Right.
So, in any case like this, radicalization happens. It's an affirmative event in someone's life. It's a disruptive event in someone's life. So, somebody in both of those families noticed something different at some point.
So, at least one we know for sure went to Afghanistan. And that likely changed his behavior and when he came back. So, that normally is the initiation phase of radicalization, something that -- someone he met, someone they introduced him to in Afghanistan in his circles of friends or family there.
And then when he came back, he continued it. Now, he either did it two ways, with a individual that he had comfort with that walked him along that radicalization path and/or a combination of social media as well. That's likely to have happened. You will see this unfold in the days and weeks ahead.
Somebody -- because if you look at their profile of their life up to that point, pretty average American life. They were doing the kind of things Americans do. Somewhere along the way, there was a disruptive event.
That's what I think law enforcement will focus on now, including intelligence overseas. They will look at that Afghan connection to try to find out if other Americans who are traveling to Afghanistan are traveling in those same circles.
TAPPER: All right, former Congressman Mike Rogers and Juliette Kayyem, thanks to both of you. Really appreciate it.
Racial profiling or sharing intelligence with our allies, two different responses to terror on U.S. soil. How will these attacks play out one week from today, when Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump come face to face in their first presidential debate? That story next.
TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD.
The first presidential debate, believe it or not, it is just one week from tonight. And in already unpredictable race, the bombings in New York and New Jersey and the stabbings in Minnesota are bringing the focus back to terrorism.
Donald Trump is calling for a tough response, including tightening immigration policies and profiling, while Hillary Clinton is emphasizing her foreign policy credentials and accusing Trump of speaking recklessly, emboldening our enemies, she says.
Clinton today also called for tougher vetting of people coming into this country, which some political analysts intercepted as taking a page from Donald Trump's book.
Trump is speaking right now in Estero, Florida, a crucial where "New York Times" Upshot/Siena College poll gives Clinton a very slight edge within the margin of error.
CNN political reporter Sara Murray is live right now from the Trump event.
Sara, Trump has had a lot to say today and yesterday about the bombings in New York and New Jersey. In terms of the need of the U.S. to get tough, has he provided any new specifics beyond getting tougher on immigration?
SARA MURRAY, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, he's had a lot to say and he's still going, Jake.
One of the themes he's hitting hard today is his call for an ideology test for any immigrants who are coming to the U.S., and, of course, he's using this as an opportunity to bash Hillary Clinton.
He's already called her weak and ineffective today, as the two of them seek to one-up each other on the question of who is best prepared to be commander in chief.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) MURRAY (voice-over): Today, the 2016 presidential candidates are facing a terror response test.
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: These attacks and many others were made possible because of our extremely open immigration system, which fails to properly vet and screen the individuals or families coming into our country.
HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We must remain vigilant. This is a fast-moving situation and a sobering reminder that we need steady leadership in a dangerous world.
MURRAY: Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton taking starkly different approaches and navigating a string of attacks in the U.S. Trump once again calling for a more muscular stance.
TRUMP: We're going to have to do something extremely tough over there, OK, over there?
QUESTION: Like what?
TRUMP: Like knock the hell out of him.
MURRAY: But offering few specifics, beyond his apparent suggestion that the U.S. should begin racial profiling.
TRUMP: Israel has done an unbelievable job. And they will profile. They profile. They see somebody that's suspicious, they will profile. They will take that person in. They will check out. Do we have a choice? Look what is going on. Do we really have a choice?
MURRAY: Meanwhile, Clinton is leaning on her record as secretary of state.
CLINTON: I'm the only candidate in this race who has been part of the hard decisions to take terrorists off the battlefield.
MURRAY: Calling for changes to the visa program, improved intelligence gathering and collaboration with the Muslim community.
CLINTON: It is crucial that we continue to build up trust between law enforcement and Muslim-American communities.
MURRAY: All while slamming her GOP rival for his controversial comments about Muslims and immigrants.
CLINTON: We know that Donald Trump's comments have been used online for recruitment of terrorists.
MURRAY: With a week until the first presidential debate and just 50 days until the election, both candidates' commander in chief credentials are under the microscope; 51 percent of voters say Trump is better prepared to fight terrorism, compared to 45 percent for Clinton.
But they believe Clinton's temperament is better suited for the presidency. And 50 percent say she's more prepared to be commander in chief, compared to 45 percent for Trump.
Meanwhile, former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates offered a dim assessment of both potential hopefuls over the weekend, saying neither candidate has done much to give anyone confidence, but reserving his harshest criticism for Trump, saying: "At least on national security, I believe Mr. Trump is beyond repair. He is unqualified and unfit to be commander in chief."
MURRAY: Now, as part of their efforts to prepare for the Oval Office, both candidates are scheduling meetings this week around the UNGA in Europe. Tonight, Donald Trump will be headed back to New York, where we are expecting him to meet with the Egyptian president -- Jake.
TAPPER: All right, Sara Murray, thank you so much.
Donald Trump getting fired up, dusting off some of those personal insults. Wait until you hear who he is calling dopey these days.
Also, cease-fire up in smoke, an aid truck hit by an airstrike, as the death and suffering in Syria looks as though it will sadly begin resuming.
Stay with us.
TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD.
Sticking with our politics lead now, let's bring in our panel, editor of "The Weekly Standard" Bill Kristol and Washington bureau chief for "USA Today" Susan Page.
Thanks, both of you, for being here.
Obviously, both candidates trying to play to their strengths when it comes to responding to these horrific terrorist attacks.
Here's Donald Trump just a few moments ago talking about vetting immigrants to the U.S., calling Clinton weak and ineffective. Take a listen.
[16:45:20] (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You can't have vetting if you don't look at ideology. And Hillary Clinton refuses to consider an applicant's world view, and thus, their likelihood of being recruited into the terror cause at some later date.
TAPPER: Can you vet for ideology?
[16:45:33] WILLIAM KRISTOL, EDITOR AT THE WEEKLY STANDARD: I don't know. You know, I was thinking watching this, I'm old enough to remember when presidential candidates that there have been three terror attacks on the soil of the U.S. and a policeman shot and a lot of other things happening might suspend the attacks on each for 24 hours and trying to say, pay respect to our law enforcement and other officials.
TAPPER: That's sweet.
KRISTOL: Yeah, I know. I know. I live in another universe.
TAPPER: That's a different world.
KRISTOL: I'm living in another universe.
TAPPER: A different world. But talk more broadly, if you would, Bill, about how do you think the candidates are doing in terms of their attacks on each other and on talking about terrorism?
KRISTOL: I just think if - I mean, when you have -- Trump has made such a huge issue of terrorism, and allegedly, he's going to have the extreme vetting to prevent people coming into the U.S. who might risk of a terror attacks. And then, we have terror attacks here in the U.S. by people who have come in in the last 20 years with their families or whatever. But the details don't matter so much. It helps him. I just don't see how it doesn't help him.
TAPPER: And Susan (INAUDIBLE)
[16:46:24] SUSAN PAGE, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF OF USA TODAY: I only disagree if it - traditionally, we'd help him, right? We help the candidate who's not part of the status quo, who's calling for great change. The only reason I think it might not help him is because of questions about his demeanor, his knowledge, his ability to serve as commander-in-chief. You know, that's certainly been a theme that the Clinton people have pressed. Does that upend what would be the traditionally political reaction to that? I think we don't quite know yet.
TAPPER: Interesting. And the campaigns that were involved earlier today in a back and forth, Hillary Clinton said that Donald Trump gave aid and comfort to our adversaries. Here's a Trump spokesman responding, saying, "Hillary Clinton's comments today, accusing Mr. Trump of treason are not only beyond the pale, it's also an attempt to distract from her horrible record on ISIS." The Clinton campaign responded, "The Trump campaign can call it whatever they want. Hillary Clinton will continue to call it out as Donald Trump continues his reckless campaign." She didn't actually use the word, treason, though, but of course, the definition of giving a comfort to the enemy is treason.
KRISTOL: I think it's Article 3, section 3 of the Constitution.
KRISTOL: Hillary Clinton is a Yale Law School graduate, certainly, that was -
TAPPER: I'm sure she knew what she was saying.
KRISTOL: Yeah. No, I think it's a mistake. I mean, her - as Susan said, her pitch is, "I am more solid, more calm, I'm not hysterical." But I think Trump has really gotten in her head. And now, she's launching Trumpian attacks on Trump. And we saw this in the Republican primaries. Trump is the best of Trump. I don't like Trump and I don't like Trumpian attacks, but Trump is the best at launching Trumpian attacks. And I think the right answer is not to sort of get down there in the gutter with Trump. Just say his policies are not serious. Here's where I - what I would have done and have done, and here's what he would do. But aid and comfort? Really, that's - that is - that's - if Trump had said aid and comfort, we would be having a 72-hour meltdown among - I mean, don't you think? And when he established -
TAPPER: I don't know. He's like -
PAGE: Well, I don't know.
KRISTOL: He's accusing her of treason, oh, my God, right?
TAPPER: Well, I mean, he's talked about her going to the bathroom, but who knows.
PAGE: Well, Trump is - well, Trump had said outrageous things.
KRISTOL: Yeah, so we have properly melted down over that.
PAGE: And that's right. And they've - and they've been issues. But the trouble is I think she pays a bigger price when she says, "basket of deplorables" or -
PAGE: -- aiding comfort to adversaries, because there's an expectation that she is not going to engage in that kind of rhetoric. And that makes you - that makes you wonder, how do she - I think she - I think they feel like she needs to be a little more combative. She needs to push back a little harder. But it's - but it's tough, although, we shouldn't forget, he said worse.
KRISTOL: No, I tend to be - look, honestly, she's - you know what, I'm scrapping my schedule, too. I'm going to give a serious speech on our foreign policy, our policy against terrorism, and explain what we've done, what we've done right, what we've done wrong, what maybe we should have done differently or what I will do. I'm not going to mention the words, "Donald Trump." I'm going to give a 25 minutes (INAUDIBLE) -like speech. It might be a little boring. Maybe it won't be covered live or would be covered live. In fact -
KRISTOL: -- on the cable networks. And that's going to be her best - her ace, that's her strong card. And she gives it away when she gets in a back and forth like this with Trump, I think. TAPPER: Robert Gates, the former Secretary of Defense, and he served in a number of other positions, criticized both Trump and Clinton over the weekend in The Wall Street Journal, but he did reserve his heaviest fire for Trump saying - describing him as "a thin-skinned temperamental, shoot from the hip and lip, uninformed commander-in- chief is too great a risk for America. And yet, Susan, he says he's still not sure who he's going to vote for.
PAGE: You know, it remind me of Colin Powell's e-mails, because it was critical of Hillary Clinton in ways. (INAUDIBLE) fan in some ways of Hillary Clinton, but much worse about Donald Trump. You could now see either one of them - neither one of them is going to endorse Donald Trump.
KRISTOL: And that is (INAUDIBLE)
PAGE: Because we know his - it's possible that one or both of them might endorse Hillary Clinton, but they're calling on her to show a little more leadership, a little more of a comprehensive approach to align more what she would do on foreign policy if she's going to get their backing.
KRISTOL: Gates is one of the 25 people who turned down my imploring of him to run for President this year, so I have a high regard for Bobby Gates, but he is shocking, he served with Hillary Clinton for - what, the first two and a half years of the Obama administration.
TAPPER: And he had nice things to say about her in his book, you know?
KRISTOL: And as I think - you know, the fact that he catch us, that is not an easy call for him. I think if you're watching from the outside, you've been cheat. People who served pretty closely with her, and don't seem to have any personal animosity against her, are really - or so unsure about her qualifications and ability and credibility to be president. They're not quite willing to pull the trigger and say they're for her over Trump.
PAGE: Yeah. Right.
KRISTOL: I think he probably will, eventually, but I don't think - I was so struck reading the - I expected her to be very hard on Trump. I was surprised how unenthusiastic at least he was about Hillary Clinton.
TAPPER: Did you see this Department of Homeland Security had an inspector general report, saying that more than 800 people, immigrants to this country from countries of concern were accidentally given citizenship. It didn't name anybody but it certainly feeds into the narrative, and we even heard Hillary Clinton say today that vetting needs to be improved. It seems to be becoming something of consensus among the two candidates.
PAGE: Kind of shocking, this report, because, you know, you gain citizenship. It enables you to go apply for security clearances and you can get jobs that you can't get if you haven't achieved citizenship. I think it's - I think it's a great alarm as because apparently, they had paper records and they didn't compare fingerprints, but that doesn't seem like much of an excuse.
TAPPER: And what do you - I mean, vetting -- the fact that vetting needs to be improved, Hillary Clinton saying that is inherently a criticism of the Obama administrations vetting of immigrants.
KRISTOL: It is. And I think it highlights her difficulty running for a third term so to speak than the same property in the White House, and served in the Obama administration. She doesn't want to be (INAUDIBLE) the Obama administration. But she's sort of tied at the mass, now it's their policies and read something like this, and it - and it does feed into the narrative - I can use the term that the White House press secretary used today. That, you know what, wash is so messed up. Let's just blow it up. Trump's irresponsible, Trump's a loudmouth, Trump says stupid things, but you know what, someone has got to go in there and totally, you know, change things. And I do think that is where the swing voters are right now, it's somewhere between that point of view and Trump is too risky. And I've got to think the last 48 hours moved a few voters, better or worse, over to the, you know, things need to be fundamentally change, rather than Trump is too big a risk.
TAPPER: Interesting. Susan, Bill, thank you so much. Appreciate it. Already some tragic proof that a one week ceasefire in Syria is now over. That story, next.
HILLARY CLINTON, DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: He is unqualified to be president.
TRUMP: Hillary Clinton lacks the judgment.
CLINTON: The scams, the fraud.
TRUMP: Hillary Clinton has evaded justice!
CLINTON: He clearly has something to hide!
TRUMP: Her conduct is disqualifying!
[16:57:06] TAPPER: Welcome back. Our "WORLD LEAD" now, President Obama is in New York to the annual meeting of the United Nations' General Assembly. Let's go to Michelle Kosinski. She is in New York for us. President Obama just made some remarks about the apprehension of the terrorist suspect who allegedly set off those four bombs or placed those four bombs, two of which went off in New York City and New Jersey. And Michelle, what did the President say?
[16:57:30] MICHELLE KOSINSKI, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Right. Well, he call that arrest, "outstanding," and use this as another opportunity to thank law enforcement, to talk about the coordination that goes between the FBI, federal officials and local officials. So, he really wanted to log the fact that that happened quickly. And it's interesting, the setting in which he is speaking is -- at the U.N., just coming out of a meeting with the Iraqi Prime Minister where they're talking about fighting terrorism there, but what he's dealing with here at home in the very city where he is for the U.N. is this attack. And as we heard him say earlier, I mean, he's not calling this terrorism right now. He's referring anything about the details to the FBI, but he's having to address it. And he's talking about not wanting people to give in to fear, acknowledging that lone-wolf attacks, and attacks like this one, are difficult to stop, difficult to prevent, but he's saying that people -- you know, giving in to fear is basically giving in to terrorism, and that's what keeps that going. In fact, this morning, he said that the number one ingredient in defeating terrorism is not giving in to that fear, but phrases like that, you know, Republicans are going to jump on that saying that much more is needed because these attacks are happening in the United States, Jake.
TAPPER: And it's interesting, Michelle, because on the anniversary of 9/11, the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, Jeh Johnson, was on my Sunday show "STATE OF THE UNION," and he said that what keeps him up at night is the threat -
TAPPER: -- of the lone wolf. And he also noted, we also discussed, how President Obama has stopped saying that we are safer now than we were eight years ago. He has a new construct which is, we are safer now than we would have been if we did not do the things that we're doing, kind of an acknowledgment of this lone wolf reality that we're in.
KOSINSKI: And also, the reassurance. President Obama really tried to get into that when we heard him earlier this morning. Remember, when we heard him earlier today, that was a special last-minute address that he wanted to give specifically related to these bombings that we just saw. Today, he - now, that we've seen him this afternoon, he's adding a little bit more to that. But he really wants to reassure. And one thing that he keeps going back to is that there have been plots that have been thwarted, and there is progress in that area, not wanting people to be afraid of that. Jake?
TAPPER: Of course, Hillary Clinton even saying that vetting needs to improve. Michelle Konsinki in New York for us. Thank you so much. That's it for THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper. You can follow me on Twitter @jaketappertheshowattheleadcnn. I now turn you over to Wolf Blitzer. He is right next door in the situation room. Thanks for watching. that's it for me.