Return to Transcripts main page


Crisis in Syria; Trump Tweetstorm; Trump Attacks Clinton, Miss Universe Winner in Tweets. Aired 4-4:30p ET

Aired September 30, 2016 - 16:00   ET



JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: Nearly a week later, and he's still thoroughly hooked on debates.

THE LEAD starts right now.

He just can't help himself, Donald Trump throwing everything but the solid gold kitchen sink at Hillary Clinton, a former Miss Universe, and the media in a red-eye Twitter rant.

Plus, Hillary Clinton responds to Trump's tweetstorm with one of her own, but is this going to be enough for the candidate of the status quo in a change election?

Also, raw emotion. He sees death and destruction up close on a daily basis, so what brought this heroic rescue worker in Syria to tears?

Good afternoon, everyone. Welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.

Like a moth flying straight into a bright yellow light bulb, the presidential Republican nominee appears unable to keep away from the hazy glow of Twitter for Android. Today marks 39 days until the presidential election, and beginning at 3:20 this morning, Donald Trump began attacking on Twitter the 1996 Miss Universe winner, Alicia Machado, the woman Trump allegedly fat-shamed in 1996, whom Secretary of State Hillary Clinton brought up in Monday night's debate.

Now, let's be clear. Raising Alicia Machado's accusations that Trump called her Miss Piggy and Miss Housekeeping 20 years ago, that was the first step in a Clinton campaign planned line of attack designed to bait Trump into overreacting for days, thus potentially alienating women voters and Latino voters and potentially demonstrating to the world that Trump doesn't have the temperament to be president.

The morning after the debate, the Clinton campaign had a Web ad ready to go and a conference call with reporters set with Machado. All they needed was Donald Trump to bite. All they needed was Donald Trump to go after that woman.

And he bit. He went after her minutes after the debate, continuing until today. And the fact that Donald Trump was up in the middle of the night fuming over this woman, telling voters to check out her sex tape, a reference to a clip from her appearance on a reality TV show, calling this now high-profile Latina disgusting, well, this was more than Hillary Clinton could have ever dreamed.

Her campaign responded on Twitter today by asking the question: "What kind of a man stays up all night to smear a woman with lies and conspiracy theories?"

Hillary Clinton just walked to the podium in Coral Springs, Florida.

Let's go there live. We're told she's going to directly address Mr. Trump Twitter tirade. Let's take a little in.




CLINTON: And I have got to recognize Joshua Simmons, who just introduced me.

He is a civics teacher at Pompano Beach Middle School. And, boy, are his students lucky to have him and his enthusiasm. And I want to also commend him for talking about his mother and how hard she worked and his sister, who he helped to raise. We really are stronger together. And that starts in families and neighborhoods and communities.


CLINTON: What you heard from a lot of my friends who represent you, starting with my great friend and former colleague your senator Bill Nelson.

And I am looking forward to working with Bill as we make sure to continue the progress that will move us all forward together. And I sure hope Florida sends some reinforcements to the Senate and elect Congressman Patrick Murphy.


CLINTON: I think Florida deserves a full-time senator, don't you?


CLINTON: And I want to thank my friend, someone who has just worked her heart out, not just for constituents, but for Democrats across America, Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz.


CLINTON: And another great friend of mine going back more years than we care to remember, I'm so pleased he is here with us, Congressman Alcee Hastings.

And I know that Congressman Ted Deutch, who represents this district...



CLINTON: ... is over in Israel for the funeral of a great, great man. Shimon Peres. And I want to thank Ted for all of his support and his hard work.

You know, before I get started and really talk about everything that is at stake and what we have to do the next 39 days to make sure we win this election, I wanted to say a few words about the tragic passing of Jose Fernandez.

You know, when he left Cuba, he did not speak a word of English. He didn't let that stop him. He pursued his dreams. He wanted to and he became one of the best baseball players that Miami has ever seen.


CLINTON: And he never forgot where he came from. He worked hard to give back to the community that had given so much to him.

Jose's life really embodied the American dream and, at 24 years of age, he was just getting started.

I'm sure you join me in saying that our thoughts and our prayers are with his family, with his fans, and everyone whose life he touched during his extraordinary career.


CLINTON: I also want to mention another resident of Coral Springs, and that's a man named Bob Levinson.

My heart goes out to Bob's family. He disappeared in Iran more than nine years ago. And it's long past time for the Iranian regime to provide us information about his whereabouts and let him return home to his family.


CLINTON: Now, did any of you see the debate the other night?


CLINTON: Well, I think it was pretty clear there are two very different choices for our country based on two very different visions of the kind of America that we want to have.

You know, my view is, we are already great, and if we work together, we will become even greater in the years ahead.

I believe America is an exceptional nation. My opponent believes America is in decline. I have never heard such a dark and divisive, terrible image of our country coming from someone running to be president of the United States.

When he talks, I lots of times don't even recognize the country he is talking about.

And why are we already great? Well, it is not just because of the size of our economy or the size of our military. It is because of our generosity. It is because of our ingenuity. It is because of the diversity of our country. I think our diversity is one of our strongest assets.


CLINTON: This morning -- this morning, I laid out my plan for more national service, so that more people of all ages can serve America, serve their communities, because America is great when you really strip it all down because America is good.

And we can't ever forget that.

I have laid out specific plans about how we are going to make our country even greater. I have actually got a book here with Tim Kaine, my running mate.

You know, I have this old-fashioned idea, if I'm asking you for your vote for president, I should tell you what I'm going to do.


CLINTON: I shouldn't just talk in generalities and use rhetoric and never answer questions about what we can do, but to lay out how we are going to make the economy work for everyone, not just those at the top.


CLINTON: That means new jobs, new jobs with rising incomes, jobs in infrastructure, jobs in advanced manufacturing, in innovation and technology, and yes, clean renewable energy jobs.



CLINTON: My opponent's only infrastructure plan is to build a wall.


CLINTON: I love that he went down to Mexico and he choked. He didn't even raise it. He has been going around telling people for months we are going to build a wall and we're going to make Mexico pay for it.

So, he's sitting with the president of Mexico and he doesn't even bring it up.


CLINTON: He finds it a lot easier to insult women than to talk to the president of Mexico about building a wall.


CLINTON: I mean, really, who gets up at 3:00 in the morning to engage in a Twitter attack against a former Miss Universe?

I mean, he hurled as many insults as he could. Really, why does he do things like that? I mean, his latest Twitter meltdown is unhinged, even for him.

It proves yet again that he is temperamentally unfit to be president and commander in chief.


CLINTON: I have said it before and say it again. A man who can be provoked by a tweet should not be anywhere near the nuclear codes.


CLINTON: So, I'm going to keep talking about what we can do together after this election, getting those new jobs.

And I will tell you another area I want to emphasize is small business.


CLINTON: As I said the other night, my dad was a small businessman. He made a lot of sacrifice and he worked really hard to give us a good, solid middle-class life. I'm really proud of that. And I'm sure glad he never got a contract from Donald Trump, who stiffs small businesses, doesn't pay his bills to people like my dad.

But we need to do more to get small business started and growing here in Broward County, throughout South Florida, across the state and beyond.

So, as we grow the economy, we also have to make it fairer. I want prosperity to reach everyone, not just the privileged few.


TAPPER: All right, that's Hillary Clinton in Coral Gables, Florida, making her case against Donald Trump, using exhibit A, his tweets from this morning.

I'm joined now by our political panel, "USA Today" columnist Kirsten Powers and senior editor and at "The Federalist" Mollie Hemingway.

First, however, let's go to CNN's Jason Carroll in New York.

Jason, we just heard Clinton react to that Trump tweetstorm. What exactly -- for our viewers who are not informed, what exactly is she's talking about?

JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Right. And she repeated, Jake, as you heard there, a criticism that she's

used before, basically saying a man who can provoked by a tweet should not be near the nuclear codes.

What she's talking about is this whole sort of Twitter storm that has going back and forth involving a former Miss Universe, Alicia Machado. As you know, Clinton brought up this name during the last debate, basically accusing Trump of being sexist and racist, referring when he referred to this former Miss Universe as a Miss Piggy, also a Miss Housekeeper, in reference to her ethnicity, and to her weight.

Well, Donald Trump, a man who, as we all know, likes to tweet, got up very early this morning tweeting the following about Alicia Machado and Hillary Clinton, saying first: "Wow, crooked Hillary was duped and used by my worst Miss U. Hillary floated her as an angel, without checking her past, which is terrible."

Again, very early this morning, he was up doing this. Followed that up with another tweet, tweeting: "Did Crooked Hillary help disgusting (check out sex tape and past) Alicia M. become a U.S. citizen, so she could use her in the debate?" -- despite the fact that no such sex tape exists.

Trump, for his part, firing back at all those people who have been criticizing him for getting up early and tweeting. Just this afternoon saying, Jake, he tweeted again, saying: "For those few people knocking me for tweeting at 3:00 in the morning, at least you know I will be there awake to answer the call."

[16:15:02] Obviously, there are a number of those in the GOP who would prefer Trump stop tweeting and start focusing more on the issues and attacking Hillary Clinton on what they call are her weak spots -- the economy, jobs, the e-mails, and her trustworthiness. But Donald Trump is his own man. It seems he just has a hard time putting down that phone -- Jake.

TAPPER: All right. Jason Carroll, we have a panel here chomping at a bit to talk about it all.

We're going to take a quick break and we'll be right back. Stay with us.


HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: For real apprenticeship programs.

TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD.

That's Hillary Clinton, the Democratic presidential nominee in Coral Springs, Florida. She just was mocking Donald Trump's 3:00 a.m. Twitter tirade just minutes ago.

Let's bring back our panel, Molly Hemingway and Kirsten Powers.

And, Molly, you disagree with those who say there was no sex tape. This is obviously a reference to Alicia Machado. She was on a reality TV show and there was a scene of her and somebody clearly having sex under a blanket. You think that counts.

MOLLY HEMINGWAY, THE FEDERALIST: No, I think that people are just being hyper literal when they're analyzing how Donald Trump talks. He is referencing something that's on tape that shows two people canoodling, getting it on, and I don't think it's specific enough to know exactly the level to which they're getting it on.

[16:20:06] But she was engaged to someone else. He broke off his engagement at the time reportedly because of the presence of what he saw on film with Alicia Machado and her partner in that act. And I don't know why we have to pretend like it's otherwise.

This is a great example how the media tend to help out Hillary Clinton with her campaign talking points and not give Donald Trump anything of a fair shake when he's talking about something.

KIRSTEN POWERS, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: No, I mean, thing is -- first of all, whether it's a sex tape or not a sex tape, it doesn't excuse the way he's attacking this woman. So, even if she had been engaged in a sex tape, the way he's talking about her, it has nothing to do with it.

Let's also look at the fact that when Paris Hilton was in a sex tape, he told "Vanity Fair" that he thought it, quote, "made her hotter". So, if a sex tape makes her hotter, why does it make this woman disgusting? I think we know why, it's because he doesn't like her.

HEMINGWAY: We're talking about whether this person should be a character witness. This is who Hillary Clinton has chosen to make as her prime character witness to testify to Donald Trump's credibility and I think her credibility is something we can look into.

POWERS: So she was in a sex tape. You say she has no credibility.


POWERS: It's not the actual sex tape the way I think other people think of a sex tape. So she and her boyfriend have sex and gets out, that means she deserves to be denigrated?

HEMINGWAY: Right, it actually wasn't her boyfriend. It was another person. It was not her boyfriend.


POWERS: It's another person. And if it's not her boyfriend, then she deserves to be humiliated.

HEMINGWAY: I'm just saying, if you look at this person's character, I think that's part of the story, there's no need for us to pretend it doesn't exist, and I think when we're asked to believe what she says, without evidence, then we have to understand how much of the person's character.


TAPPER: Has he disputed -- I mean, he's been calling her over weight all week. I mean, has he disputed that?

HEMINGWAY: No, nobody disputes that because this network and every other network were commenting on how she gained nearly 60 pounds during her reign and that was considered newsworthy at the time it happened. And yet, somehow we're now holding Donald Trump to this completely different standard when everybody in the media was making fat jokes about her at the time.

And he gives a press conference where he talks about how he's encouraging her to work on her weight and work on her exercise and that somehow is unforgivable? I think again, this is a Hillary Clinton operation. She wants the media to take their talking points from her.

I don't think that we should be so gullible. I think that we should think about this story whether it supports Hillary Clinton's talking points or whether it also might support Donald Trump's talking points.

He's making a big point about how we need to do a better job vetting immigrants. This is a woman who's a new American. She's about to vote in a presidential election. She is embroiled with a drug lord in Mexico. She was accused on live television by a Venezuela judge of threatening to kill him.

I think maybe this is a good talking point that helps Donald Trump about whether we're doing a good job vetting immigrants, or whether we should be changing our process or thinking about who's coming into the country.

TAPPER: So, you think the tweet storm this morning was a good idea?

HEMINGWAY: I would not say that necessarily, but I think whether or not we think it's a good idea, I think we owe it to people to just talk about the issues and give him a fair shake on his points.

POWERS: I don't think it's gullible for people to say you shouldn't be fat-shaming women and you don't have a right to denigrate woman even if they were involved in a sex tape, which by my standard she was not.

Now, if she was hooking up with someone who wasn't her boyfriend and her boyfriend got upset, I'm sorry about that. But someone who's running for the president of the United States, that doesn't excuse his behavior.

TAPPER: I guess one of questions, Molly, is like he's a very, very powerful man. He is the Republican nominee, he could very well be the next president of the United States which is not an inconsiderable job. Is this really what he should be doing?

POWERS: OK, let's think about this. This -- he's running against someone who just said that he made up conspiracy theories about women who had threatened him. Hillary Clinton said this. This is a woman who coined the term "vast ring wing conspiracy" when her husband was involved in sexual affairs with any number of people who ran campaigns of destroying people who had slept with her husband or who had affairs or other engagements with her husband, and she hired a private investigator to dig into their past, to threaten them. She had her law partners bring them into their offices to threaten them and make sure that they knew that they should keep quiet.

This is the woman we're supposed to choose instead of the guy who's tweeting at 3:00 a.m. I mean, I don't see much of a difference.

TAPPER: But that's why she's trying to make a referendum on Donald Trump.

POWERS: Yes. I also, I don't think it's an either or. We're just talking about with whether this is right or wrong. There's another conversation to be had if you want to have that conversation about how Bill Clinton has interacted with woman. That's a different conversation. Now, whether Hillary is responsible for that is also a different conversation.

But the point is, in this in situation, you don't want someone who is going to be the president of the United States out behaving the way that this man is behaving.

HEMINGWAY: And many people don't want someone as president who would also run campaigns of destruction against women who slept with her husband. You know, nobody questions about --

TAPPER: When you said it, you are referring to when she hired aid private investigator back in the '90s in Arkansas, or back in the '80s in Arkansas.

HEMINGWAY: Actually, in 1992 campaign, she hired her former private colleague, Jack Paladini (ph), who was a private investigator. He ran a memo to the campaign, which was accepted about how to handle the Gennifer Flower situation. That was Bill Clinton's long time mistress, who told her story, said we're going to absolutely destroy her reputation.

[16:25:03] They accepted that. They went with that approach and they did that -- they ran that play book with other women of the many women who ever threatens --

TAPPER: It just might make more sense for him to be talking -- for Donald Trump to talk about that than instead of attacking Alicia Machado. It seems to me. But what the hell do I know?

Molly and Kirsten, thank you so much.

How long will Donald Trump keep the Clinton push Miss Universe story alive? And should someone in his campaign confiscate his Android? That's next.


TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. Staying with politics now. What exactly is the Trump campaign to stop their candidate from binge

tweeting at 3:00 a.m.?

Joining me now, senior advisor to the Trump campaign, Sarah Huckabee Sanders.

Sarah, good to see you as always.


TAPPER: So, your candidate, I'm sure you know, was up all night tweeting about former Miss Universe, insulting her, saying people should check out her sex tape, which as far as I can tell does not actually exists.