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AT THIS HOUR WITH BERMAN AND MICHAELA
Trump's Controversial Comments on Former Miss Universe; Report: Trump Aides Frustrated by Debate Performance; Senate Votes on 1st Override of Obama Veto; Ex-Christie Ally: Governor knew of Bridge Plot; CNN Hosts Town Hall with Obama Tonight. Aired 11:30-12p ET
Aired September 28, 2016 - 11:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[11:30:00] CAMILLA HANSSON, MISS SWEDEN & MISS UNIVERSE CONTESTANT: And I also understand she's a successful activist, et cetera. And of course, a platform like Miss Universe, which I guess ultimately Donald gave her, is a massive thing and you can do a huge amount of good with it. I guess, in a way, she is who she is because of that platform, and so am I, so.
KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Interesting perspective.
Camilla Hansson, thank you so much for joining us. We really appreciate it.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Practice and more practice. That's what Donald Trump's advisers want him to do this time before the next debate. The question is, will he actually listen? Ahead, we will talk to a senior adviser to the Trump campaign.
BOLDUAN: And in just minutes, the president may face a major setback -- looking at live pictures from the always wildly raucous Senate floor -- the first veto override of his presidency. What they are fighting about, next.
BERMAN: Tone it down in there, guys.
BOLDUAN: Stop it, you stop it right now.
[11:35:27] BOLDUAN: Donald Trump not apologizing for an old feud that is now new with a former Miss Universe, Alicia Machado. He is also not denying, even though he's had opportunities to, what she says he called her, Miss Piggy, criticizing her size and eating habits. Is that a good idea? Does that help? How does that help Donald Trump?
BERMAN: Joining us, senior Trump adviser and former Congressman from Georgia, Jack Kingston.
Congressman, thanks so much for being with us. Good to see you.
JACK KINGSTON, SENIOR ADVISOR, TRUMP PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN & FORMER CONGRESSMAN: Thanks, John, Kate. Great to be with you all. BERMAN: So it struck us that not only did this come up at the debate
-- well, Trump didn't really address what Hillary Clinton said there. But what was so interesting about this is that the next morning unprovoked on "FOX and Friends" Donald Trump wasn't asked about this former Miss Universe. He brought it up himself. He voluntarily, willingly, unprovoked brought up this former Miss Universe and started talking about her weight gain. What would your advice be to him on this issue? Is it smart to do that?
KINGSTON: Well, I think one of the things that happens when you transition from being a private sector citizen into a major public figure and a candidate, there are some things that do you have to let go. I think, though, if you are coming from the private sector, particularly in New York, particularly in show business, when people push you, when they hit you, you tend to hit back. I think that he would much rather be talking about the economy, the murder rates in Chicago, the foreign policy, ISIS and so forth, but it does seem to be that the media and often the public gets obsessed with these side shows.
BOLDUAN: Congressman, he was the one who brought it up in the "FOX and Friends" interview.
KINGSTON: Well --
BOLDUAN: The only question they had for him is, Hillary Clinton got under your skin, and he went directly to talking about Alicia Machado. You say if he would much prefer to be talking about it, then why isn't he talking about it?
KINGSTON: Well, I think one of the things that you got to get used to in politics if somebody asks you about the weather you talk about baseball. Normal people don't do that but politicians have to do that. You have to just talk about, you know, whatever your message is.
Probably right now, I should be talking about the economy or the murder rate in Chicago myself, and the fact that Hillary Clinton is not doing anything about it.
In this case, these are -- this is a charge -- this is something that allegedly happened 20 years ago when --
BOLDUAN: Which is why everyone was so surprised that he decided to keep talking about it.
BERMAN: But, Congress, that was 20 years ago, but yesterday morning was yesterday morning on "FOX and Friend, and they were not probing questions.
KINGSTON: Well, but, but --
BERMAN: He brought it up voluntarily. So he's talking about it by choice now. KINGSTON: Well, I think though when he moves on to talk, like for
example, his rally in Florida this week, 15,000 people showed up to it. Hillary Clinton had a rally in North Carolina, 1400 people showed up. We raised $18 million within 24 hours after the debate. I don't know what her fundraising numbers were but that's a pretty good measurement of approval. Not only that but the polls have all showed we are absolutely in the hunt, winning in some key swing states, and nationally up one or two points. So we are very excited about where we are.
BERMAN: This is talking about baseball.
BERMAN: This is the conversation he told us --
BOLDUAN: I ask about weather and you talk about baseball, Congressman.
KINGSTON: Let me just say this. We are certainly willing to drop that subject and talk about other subjects, so I think that's the key thing here.
And in this case --
BOLDUAN: Then let's talk about this subject. How about this? Speaking of -- you are an adviser. We would like your advice for Mr. Trump on this one. "The New York Times" is quoting sources within the campaign saying that they, the campaign, needs to, is trying to find a delicate way to convince Donald Trump to prepare more for the next debate. Do you agree?
KINGSTON: OK, Well, let me say this. You don't have to be delicate around Donald Trump. You can come straight out for him. In fact, he likes somebody who says directly, hey, boss, I want you to do so and so differently. He might push back but he wants direct. So there's no delicate approach.
And "The New York Times," keep in mind, might as well be a brochure for the Democratic National Committee and the Clinton campaign, particularly the next 40 days.
But the reality is --
BOLDUAN: Not --
BOLDUAN: The people behind that piece are great, strong reporters.
KINGSTON: I think any time you do something, when you are going to do it a second time, you want to do a better job on it. In this case, for example, if the moderator is going to interrupt you, and the moderator is not going to bring up Benghazi or the Clinton Foundation Pay-to-Pay scandals, you have to assert that yourself. I think that's something that we will see in the second debate. You know what, if the moderator is going to interrupt you and if the moderator is going to direct questions at you where your perceived weaknesses are on particular issues, you have to drive it in a different direction.
So I think you will see, if the moderator doesn't bring up Pay-to-Play or more about the e-mails, then Donald Trump will be doing that. And I think that's something that she's been trained to do. This is a woman who, as you know, has run for president since 2007, before that the U.S. Senate, and before that, coaching her husband on presidential and gubernatorial politics, so she knows how to pivot. A private citizen, an element of change, like Donald Trump, doesn't necessarily know that.
But I think the key word --
[11:40:34] BERMAN: Well, Congressman, I just want to bring up one point. He has been running for president for 14 months right now. He's the Republican nominee for president of the United States. I think that definitionally makes him a politician at this point. If he's not -- and I think you have to explain something to the people at that convention who just picked him to be the candidate. On the subject of interruptions, are you anti-interruption or just anti- interruption for the moderator?
KINGSTON: I think when the moderator is doing the interrupting and saying false things -- for example, he said Stop-and-Frisk was unconstitutional. That was not the case.
BOLDUAN: It was found unconstitutional, as applied.
KINGSTON: No, it wasn't --
BOLDUAN: I don't know why you guys -- I don't know why this is the bone to pick about how the debate went.
KINGSTON: Well, if they --
BOLDUAN: That is not why Donald Trump was seen across the board as not winning that debate. Lester Holt was not the reason.
KINGSTON: But, Kate, let me say this. Number one, I want to get back to that. It was actually called unconstitutional in the application, but not in the law itself. The judge who made that decision was later dismissed, so.
But moving on, in terms of a contestant in a debate, often you have to drive your own message if the moderator isn't going to do it, and so I think that's what you are going to see. That's just part of experience, because while I agree with you, John, Donald Trump is, at this point, a politician, he's still not a 30-year politician. On that subject, he made the key statement, which was, you know, Hillary, you have had 30 years to do all these great things and you haven't done it. We need change. We need to move the direction of the country. We need somebody who is going to be strong on the economy, creating jobs, lessening the regulatory burden, lowering the tax rates. We need somebody who is strong on national defense. You have been there for 30 years, you are part of the establishment, you are part of the status quo. If you want a third term of Barack Obama, vote for Hillary Clinton. If you want change, Donald Trump.
BOLDUAN: We will see if Donald Trump can stick to your message going forward.
Congressman, great to see you. Thank you.
KINGSTON: Thanks, Kate and John. It's great to be with you all.
BERMAN: Love talking baseball and weather --
BOLDUAN: Which one were we talking there? I got confused.
BERMAN: -- with the former congressman. We got both. We got both.
BOLDUAN: That's how good we are.
Moments from now -- I think we are looking at live pictures -- Michelle Obama getting ready to take to the stage to stump for Hillary Clinton on the trail. What's she going to take on? Where will she begin? How will she make the case for Hillary Clinton? We will dip in, live.
BERMAN: Right now, Governor Chris Christie, his name keeps on coming up at the Bridgegate trial. A former ally is testifying, as we speak, saying the governor knew about the lane closures as they were happening. We have new details from inside the courtroom.
[11:47:] BERMAN: In just a few moments, President Obama faces the first override of a veto of his presidency. You are looking at live pictures from the Senate floor. This involves a bill allowing families of 9/11 victims to sue Saudi Arabia.
BOLDUAN: This is a fight that has been brewing on for some time and it's happening today.
Manu Raju is live from Washington and has been following all of this from Washington. Manu, what are you hearing?
MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: Actually, President Obama has been calling congressional leaders, including Harry Reid and Mitch McConnell, hoping to sustain the veto, but it's likely to be a fruitless attempt by the president.
The families of the loved ones who perished on 9/11 have been pushing for this bill that would change a 1976 law preventing lawsuits against countries that have played a role in terrorist attacks on American soil. And now, front and center, is Saudi Arabia, which is already warning that it would pull billions of dollars of assets here in the United States if this measure passes. The administration contends they are much more concerned about Americans overseas being subject to lawsuits by countries who take similar actions against diplomats in retaliation for American military action abroad.
So some Republicans actually have been receptive to the administration argument, including Bob Corker, who you are showing on the floor right now, and Utah Senator Orrin Hatch. They don't have the votes to stop an override but they may want to revisit this issue in a lame-duck session of Congress.
Kate and John, one other bit of news on Capitol Hill. Lawmakers are racing to leave town this week to go campaign all next month. They appear close to passing a bill as soon as today to keep the government open until December 9th. That would also provide millions of dollars to Louisiana flood victims and deal with long-awaited issues such as the Zika outbreak and possibly pass Flint lead water crisis, dealing with that issue in Flint, Michigan, later this year as well -- Kate, John?
BOLDUAN: All right, Manu.
Nothing more motivating than getting out of town to get it done, as we always say.
Great to see you. Thank you so much.
Also happening right now, the former Chris Christie ally and port authority executive, who pleaded guilty to his role in the Bridgegate scandal, back on the stand today after testifying that Chris Christie not only knew about the plot to tie up traffic on the George Washington Bridge, but that the two had joked about it. Once again, Governor Christie has denied all involvement. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRIS CHRISTIE, (R), NEW JERSEY GOVERNOR: I had nothing to do with the planning of it. I had no -- nothing to do with authorizing it. And we sit here now nearly three years later and there has not been one scintilla of evidence to contradict what I just said.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: Joining us now, CNN correspondent, Jessica Schneider; and CNN legal analyst, Paul Callan.
First, Jessica, lay out what we're hearing in the courtroom right now.
[11:49:55] JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The key prosecution witness is David Wildstein. David Wildstein was a top port authority executive who pleaded guilty in all this, saying that Governor Christie knew about all of this. Just a few minutes ago, concluded his direct testimony, saying he actually helped another top executive lie in a legislative committee hearing about all this three years ago.
Now, Wildstein's most damning testimony centered around some photos that actually show Governor Christie, along with Bill Baroni, another top port authority executive. Here's the photos. Baroni is at the center of the scandal and now on trial. You see Christie in a jovial mood at the September 11 ceremony in 2013. That was day two of that massive traffic mess.
Wildstein says, in this exchange, it was key in establishing that Governor Christie knew what was going on. Wildstein say that Baroni allegedly told Governor Christie, "Governor, I have to tell you there's a tremendous amount of traffic in Fort Lee this morning, major traffic jams." Baroni continued saying, "You'll be pleased to know that Mayor Sokolich is having trouble getting his telephone calls returned." Then, Christie allegedly responded, saying, "I imagine he wouldn't be getting his phone calls."
It's the closest we've come from getting proof that Governor Christie knew about this traffic jam plan, although it's not a smoking gun. And Christie, of course, continues to deny he knew about this.
Mayor Mark Sokolich is the Democratic Fort Lee mayor who refused to endorse Christie's Republican re-election bid. And Bill Baroni, along with Christie's then-deputy chief of staff, Bridget Kelly, they are now on trial for conspiring to create this lane shutdown and traffic mess.
So, again, no smoking gun, but Wildstein is adamant in saying Governor Christie knew about this as it was happening.
BOLDUAN: Paul, bring you in on this.
What's your take here? Legally speaking, what does this mean for Chris Christie? As far as we know he's not under investigation.
PAUL CALLAN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: No, and it's been such a strange case for a couple of reasons. First, Paul Fishman, the U.S. attorney, who is prosecuting the case, his office is prosecuting this in New Jersey, surprised everybody when he announced essentially that Christie knew about it, in the opening statements in the case. That really had never been said before. And if Christie was directly involved, why wasn't he indicted or named as a co-conspirator? Everybody wondered about this, and will Christie be indicted in the future. As the evidence is now playing out, it looks like you might be able to make an argument that Christie knew about it at some point in time, but did he orchestrate it, is the real question. BERMAN: Listening to that interview, as I was listening, I noticed
how careful his wording was. He said he didn't order or approve a plan --
CALLAN: Or plan, that's right.
BERMAN: -- which isn't, I didn't know.
CALLAN: Listen, he's the former chief prosecutor in New Jersey himself, Chris Christie. And he knows that just knowing about it is probably not criminal, unless he lied about that, not to the public, but to the FBI or law enforcement agency. That's how a lot of people trip themselves. Telling a lie is a crime.
But as of right now, just one person is saying, well, it sounds like Christie knew about it. That's not a crime to know about it. You have to have participated in orchestrating it. And then, you've got some very serious crimes, felonies you go to prison for, and Christie would have to worry about that if there were evidence was linking him, which this is not.
BOLDUAN: This is a very big story in the New York/New Jersey area. It's a scandal that's been following the governor for a long time. But it's interesting against the backdrop of the election. Talking Chris Christie, one of Donald Trump's closest allies, on the very short list to be his V.P. and he is a big part of the transition. Any confirmation about what Chris Christie's future is?
SCHNEIDER: This Bridgegate scandal effectively derailed Chris Christie's presidential bid. It's unlikely or uncertain what might happen if he continues forward in the Trump campaign.
But what's interesting, as this Bridgegate trial was starting, a poll was taken of New Jersey residents, Christie only had a 26 percent approval rating. So it's bad for him in New Jersey. Probably going to be bad as he continues on with what he hopes will be a political career in the future.
BERMAN: Jessica Schneider, Paul Callan, thank you both. Appreciate it.
BOLDUAN: Thanks, guys.
BERMAN: "Does not have the preparation, temperament or values for the job" -- that's what President Obama has said about Donald Trump. There is no telling what he might say about this year's election at CNN's town hall that comes tonight. A preview, ahead.
[11:58:38] BERMAN: President Obama sure has a lot of opinions about Donald Trump. What will he say tonight when he joins Jake Tapper for a town hall focused on veterans, national security and foreign policy?
BOLDUAN: CNN White House correspondent, Michelle Kosinski, is in Fort Lee, Virginia, at the site of tonight's presidential town hall. Michelle, what are you hearing?
MICHELLE KOSINSKI, CNN WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: You know, he's got to say something, say something looking forward to the next administration and the administration he wants to have in office. You know it's going to factor in. He's going to take questions from these military members and other people connected to the military. So it is bound to come up.
The thing is here, though, it is going to be a much tougher and different crowd than he's used to speaking in front of. There was a poll done at the beginning of this year by "Military Times" of active duty servicemembers, and they supported Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton 2-1.
But even beyond that, one-fifth of those who responded said that if it ended up a matchup between Trump and Clinton, they didn't want to vote at all.
So I think that's where President Obama -- that's a message we've heard from him a lot lately, at least get out and vote. He's going to say how he wants you to vote. I think that's going to be one of his main points out here -- John and Kate?
BOLDUAN: A lot to discuss in the town hall tonight.
Michelle, thank you so much.
Be sure to watch CNN's presidential town hall event, "America's Military and the Commander-in-Chief," tonight, 9:00 p.m. eastern right here on CNN.
Thank you all so much for joining us at this hour.
BERMAN: "Inside Politics" with John King starts now.