Return to Transcripts main page
FBI Investigates Newly Discovered Clinton E-mails; How Will Barack Obama Address Clinton E-mail Problems; Carl Bernstein Predicted Clinton E-mail Problems Months Ago; Reaction from State Department on FBI Reopening Clinton E-mail Investigation. Aired 2:30-3p ET
Aired October 28, 2016 - 14:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[14:33:20] ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: We're back live in Tampa, Florida. I'm Brooke Baldwin. You're watching CNN.
Back to our breaking story on the FBI reopening its investigation into Hillary Clinton's private e-mail server.
Let's go straight to one of the people who is running against Hillary Clinton. He is Libertarian presidential candidate, Gary Johnson.
Gary, thank you so much for joining us again, Governor.
GARY JOHNSON, LIBERTARIAN PARTY PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE & FORMER NEW MEXICO GOVERNOR: Brooke, I appreciate you having me on.
BALDWIN: So, sir, I am sure you have been paying attention to this breaking story and the news from James Comey. Your reaction?
JOHNSON: Well, obviously, the FBI didn't do this lightly. There has to be something there because you just don't do this 11 days before the election knowing that you're not going to be able to conclude the investigation in 11 days. And then, September, when they dropped the criminal investigation, I think they were making a statement then that, look, they did not want a potential president-elect to be under criminal investigation. But that's what's going to now be the case if she is elected. And she will control those jobs that controls how this issue moves forward, which points to a special prosecutor. Really, obviously, this is a mess. It's mess. Four more years of this --
BALDWIN: So you say, Governor --
JOHNSON: And I --
BALDWIN: Go ahead.
JOHNSON: I do think Trump is toast, so Hillary, moving forward as president-elect, four years of this -- ugh. I'm hoping I'm giving a --
BALDWIN: Governor, why do you think -- sorry. Let me jump in. Why do you think -- Donald Trump has jumped on this, this is like an early Election Day gift for the Republicans. Why do you think Donald Trump is toast?
[14:35:17] JOHNSON: All the revelations about Donald Trump I just -- you know, I think people are not going to vote for Donald Trump. I've been saying, look, don't vote for Hillary Clinton. I think there are a lot of issues regarding the things she's openly talking about, growing government, raising taxes. I do think there are real issues with Pay-to-Play, these WikiLeaks, saying one thing to one group and another thing -- saying one thing to Wall Street and another thing to Main Street. To me, both sides -- it doesn't cut it, either side.
I think there's an honorable alternative. It happens to be me and Bill Weld, two former Republican governors that served in heavily Democratic states. Hey, maybe we will still occupy the White House. Maybe it's a possibility here. What do you think?
BALDWIN: That's for you, Governor, to get to figure it out. This is perhaps an opening for you to seize upon.
If this were happening with you, with 11 days to go, the FBI reopening an investigation into your private e-mail server, how would you handle this? We know Hillary Clinton has to. How would you?
JOHNSON: You know, Brooke, it wouldn't have gotten this far if what I had done -- if I had made a mistake, I'd have been completely transparent regarding the mistake. And if it ended up to be -- well, in this case the conjecture is that it is criminal, I'd like to think I would have never engaged in anything criminal, never having engaged in anything criminal in my life. But that it gets to this point right now, there's really nothing she can do. There's just going to be conjecture over what it is the FBI has. They're not going to release what it is they have. And yet, they have done this because there's something significant there, and if they don't do it, then they don't live up to their responsibilities and the jobs that they have, talking about Comey and Loretta Lynch.
BALDWIN: I do think we have to be careful in conjecture. We don't know if this is criminal. The previous investigation, the conclusion was not criminal. Again, we don't know yet. There's unfortunately so much. Especially, thinking of voters, that we don't know, with 11 days to go.
JOHNSON: Yeah. Yeah.
BALDWIN: You mentioned WikiLeaks, Governor. Let me ask you about -- and the Democrats will say it's Russia who's been hacking the e-mails. But some of this, really, the Clintons' folks have not been disputing. This blurred lines between the Clinton family, especially recently learning about of tens of millions Bill Clinton was receiving all the while they were raising money for the Clinton Foundation. If she were to win the White House, do you think the Clinton Foundation should be shut down?
JOHNSON: Absolutely. I mean, it is a conflict of interest. It's Pay-to-Play. These speaking fees were being paid to Bill, and favors were being granted. Crony capitalism government picks winners and losers. I think what WikiLeaks shows is that the Clintons make winners and losers. You can pay to win. And government doesn't need to be that way. That's the other thing I would like to stress. it doesn't have to be this way. Good government is easy, it's not hard, and just it starts with honesty and transparency.
BALDWIN: You mentioned a second ago this could be opening for you and for your ticket. You have had your own fair share of gaffes, Governor. You have been sinking in the polls. What could this mean for you?
JOHNSON: Well, we'll see. You know, gaffes are one thing, integrity is another thing. Like I -- the pitch we continue to make, you don't have to guess with regard to two former governors, myself and Bill Weld. We did serve two terms each in heavily Democrat states. We weren't wall flowers. We were fiscally conservative, socially inclusive. Let me just add to that, running for president. Look, we're really skeptics when it comes to military interventions, regime change, and we'd be the only free-market candidates for president. We're on the ballot in all 50 states.
BALDWIN: Including right here in Florida, paving the way for someone to win the White House.
Gary Johnson, Governor, thank you so much for jumping in, reacting to the breaking news. We appreciate it.
JOHNSON: Appreciate you having me on, Brooke. thank you.
[14:40:01] BALDWIN: You've got it. Thank you, thank you.
Coming up next, we're staying on the breaking story, the news from the FBI. We'll talk live with Carl Bernstein. This man literally wrote the biography on Hillary Clinton. We've been talking to him for months. He's been predicting this trouble all along.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
[14:44:42] BALDWIN: Welcome back to our breaking news. We are live at the Tampa Museum of Art in Florida. We'll talk the significance of Florida for both Donald Trump's and Hillary Clinton's path to the White House through this state.
But first, the breaking story from the FBI today. FBI Director James Comey is reopening the investigation into Hillary Clinton's private e- mail server. He's allowing his investigators to review e-mails -- we don't know whose e-mails they are, by the way -- to determine whether they contain classified information and assess their importance in the investigation. It's unlikely we will get any his investigation before Election Day. Reminder, it's 11 days away. Michelle Kosinski is our White House correspondent. She is standing
Also a reminder to everyone, the president of the United States will be back in this crucial battleground state of Florida in just a couple of hours from now. Obviously, stumping for Hillary Clinton, and I'm sure he'll mention the Senate race as well.
But, Michelle Kosinski, on this breaking news, the president himself has said Clinton has flaws. How will he address this?
MICHELLE KOSINSKI, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, that's the big question here. You know the White House is working on how to respond to this. They haven't said anything yet. they're not responding to requests at this point. President Obama just left the White House en route to Florida. Reporters were yelling a barrage of questions at him on the subject and he didn't answer them at this point.
But you know, this reminds me of the first time he appeared on by side with Hillary Clinton. It was in North Carolina. And that, remember, was on the very same day that James Comey announced his findings of that initial investigation. Neither the president, nor Hillary Clinton mentioned any of that in their address to the crowd that day. And it could be a similar situation today.
It's interesting to look out, though, how the president has spoken about this as recently as yesterday. Not specific to her emails, but he said, yes, Hillary Clinton -- the way he framed this, this was on a radio show, he said she gets a bad rap but that she has flaws. Quote, "She's made mistakes in the past just like everybody has, but these are nothing," he said, "compared to the daily ongoing transgressions Mr. Trump engages in." And he said, "Whether it's cheating people who work for him by not paying them, his attitudes towards women, his attitudes towards minorities, his attitudes towards civil rights, and his attitudes toward Muslim Americans."
So it tells you a lot about how he could frame his response to the news that everybody knows is out there as he's campaigning for her in Florida today. So he needs to make a strong case for her and for the good qualities she has. And you know he's going to want to hit upon hardworking and honest and having the best of intentions. And he wants to make, as bad a case as possible, against Donald Trump.
In fact, he was in Florida just about a week ago and that's where we heard one of his most energetic takedowns of Donald Trump, using words like "crazy and "toxic, erratic and dangerous." And the president has sort of become looser on the campaign trail speaking what seems to be more from his heart, wanting to say what's on his mind.
So it will be interesting to see how he, without addressing specifics related to Hillary Clinton's e-mails, that's likely going to be the case, but how he addresses the entire situation through the words he chooses to say -- Brooke?
BALDWIN: Michelle, thank you. Michelle Kosinski. On Hillary Clinton, you're looking at live pictures. She is speaking
at her rally in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. We have a lot of ears listening in. As soon as she mentions or addresses this breaking news that we've been discussing from the FBI, we will take it live.
Carl Bernstein -- Carl Bernstein is on the phone with me.
Carl, we have been talking for months and months and months about the election. You wrote the definitive book on the Clintons, on Hillary Clinton. You've been saying that this is drip, drip, drip that could ultimately haunt her.
CARL BERNSTEIN, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR (voice-over): Well, there's no question that the e-mails have always been the greatest threat to her candidacy for president, that her conduct in regard to the e-mails is really indefensible. And if there was going to be more information that came out, it was the one thing, as I said on the air last night, actually, that could really perhaps affect this election.
We don't know what this means yet except that it's a real bombshell. And it is unthinkable that the director of the FBI would take would action lightly, that he would put this letter forth to the Congress of the United States saying there is more information out there about classified e-mails and call it to the attention of Congress unless it was something requiring serious investigation. So that's where we are.
Is it a certainty that we won't learn before the election? I'm not sure it's a certainty we won't learn before the election. One is it's possible that Hillary Clinton might want to on her own initiative talk to the FBI and find out what she can, and if she chooses to, let the American people know what she thinks or knows is going on. Because, obviously --
BALDWIN: But, Carl --
BERNSTEIN: -- people need to hear from her.
[14:50:26] BALDWIN: Carl, I'm sitting here in Florida and reminding myself that early voting has begun here. And this will be, for folks paying attention to this campaign, or folks who are either undecided or not, this will be a big early voting weekend here in Florida. What can, what should Hillary Clinton say to address this for voters in these key swing states?
BERNSTEIN: I think if she has information available to her from the FBI or any other source as to her knowledge of what these e-mails might be, hopefully. she will let us know what they are and what is under discussion here. Right now, we're all talking in a vacuum.
But I want to add here that in the last, oh, 36, 48 hours, there has been an undercurrent of kind of speculative discussion among some national security people that something might surface in the next few days about e-mails. And I think the expectation in this chatter -- and I took it as just chatter, but informed chatter, to some extent -- was that it would relate to another round of WikiLeaks e-mails, which our Justice Department people seem to be saying is not the case. But there has been some noise in the national security community the last day or two of this kind of possibility of some kind of revelation.
BERNSTEIN: But this is her Achilles heel and we have to remember that it also comes on the -- back to the word heel -- of the revelations about the Clinton Foundation. So the confluence of all of this is bad for her as it stands now. But with some knowledge, she might be able to stop, turn things around, and give us some idea of what's going on in a way we might not otherwise know.
And also, it's very possible that some members of Congress very quickly are going to get an idea of what these e-mails are and what this is all about and, for whatever purpose, put some information out there.
BALDWIN: All right. We will see because, thus far, we don't know a heck of a lot. Just to be clear, we don't know if these are even Hillary Clinton's own e-mails in question. We just know Director Comey said these are pertinent to the investigation.
Carl Bernstein, thank you so much for calling in. Always love having your voice in these sorts of conversations.
Next, we are getting breaking information on how the State Department is reacting to this news from the FBI.
[14:57:28] ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
BALDWIN: Back to our breaking story here from the FBI Director James Comey that they are now -- he is telling his investigators to go ahead and continue to look more into Hillary Clinton's private e-mail server, some of the e-mails that had been under investigation previously. Now he is reopening that investigation for reasons not yet made public.
Elise Labott is our CNN global affairs correspondent who has reaction from the State Department regarding the news from FBI.
And, Elise, I understand state was also caught off guard?
ELISE LABOTT, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Totally floored, Brooke. In fact, Deputy State Department Spokesman Mark Toner told us a short time ago that the first time the State Department heard about the FBI reopening the investigation is when these news reports broke. So what that means we don't know. Does that mean these are not from the e-mail trove the State Department handed over? Does this have to do with other e-mails not related to the State Department? We really don't know. All we know right now is that the State Department has not been officially notified that the FBI is reopening its investigation.
And the State Department has really been in the hot seat for the slow pace which investigators and Congress feel they've been handing over these e-mails from Secretary Clinton. It's been a long and arduous process in terms of getting them out in the public. But the State Department does say, as it has in the past, it will continue to cooperate with the FBI as needed.
But we don't know what the State Department role in these e-mails that Director Comey mentions.
BALDWIN: Elise Labott, thank you, my friend.
How will this reverberate with voters? Early voting under way in so many states already.
Susan McManus is here with me in Tampa. She's a professor and political scientist at the University of South Florida. Also with me here, Adam Smith, political editor for the "Tampa Bay Times."
We are here in beautiful Tampa, the Tampa Museum of Art. And, all of a sudden, we're talking about this story that has caught so many people off guard, this FBI story on Hillary Clinton's e-mails.
And to you, Susan, you are saying so many people here in Florida, which is so important in this race, are still undecided, and now this happens.
SUSAN MCMANUS, POLITICAL SCIENCE PROFESSOR, UNIVERSITY OF SOUTH FLORIDA: Everywhere you go people feel like they just can't make a decision. They don't particularly like either one of them but they realize the importance of the vote and the importance of the vote in Florida with 29 Electoral College votes. And the last three races in our state being decided by just 1 percent. It is just a struggle for so many people to make that choice, and yet they know the importance of Florida. And --