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THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER
Trump Transition Chaos?; Trump Falsely Claims Millions Voted Illegally; Ohio State Attack. Aired 4:30-5p ET
Aired November 28, 2016 - 16:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
DR. MICHAEL DRAKE, PRESIDENT, OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY: We don't know anything that would link this to any community. We certainly don't any evidence that would say that is the case.
And what we want to do is really unify together, support each other, do our best to support those who were injured in their recovery, and then allow the investigation to take place, and not jump to conclusions for things that could, in fact, create a bad situation where one doesn't exist.
Let me say how much I appreciate all of you being here today. And thank you very much.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: Authorities at the Ohio State University talking about the latest from the attack earlier today.
We learned the name of the heroic police officer, OSU campus police officer Alan Horujko. We also learned the name of the assailant who Horujko killed, probably saving some lives by doing so. His name is -- he was a freshman OSU student, Abdul Razak Ali Artan.
We know that he is of Somali descent, 18 years old, and a legal permanent resident in this country. And we do not know more than that as of right now.
Joining me now to discuss it all, CNN law enforcement analyst Tom Fuentes, who was assistant director for the FBI, CNN justice producer Shimon Prokupecz, and CNN law enforcement analyst Art Roderick, who served as assistant director for the U.S. Marshals.
Shimon, let me start with you.
Obviously, the fact that this individual is of Somali descent and he did what we have seen other terrorists do in the past, try to kill as many people as possible driving a car, wielding a knife raises strong suspicions that this was a terrorist attack. We didn't hear any confirmation of that yet.
SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN PRODUCER: Yes.
That is one factor, but I think the other factor is the way the attack unfolded, that he used his vehicle, that he came out of the vehicle with a knife and was just randomly attacked people and used this butcher knife and was just attacking people.
Those two factors are sort of in the minds of law enforcement as they're trying to figure out motive. Initially, there was a lot of speculation that this was probably going to wind up terrorism. Where this goes now, we just don't know.
I think they're working through all the electronics. There's some items they found in his car, the car that he used to conduct this attack. There's stuff in there. They're going through that because they think that is going to shed some light and help them understand what the motive here was.
They're waiting for subpoenas. They're waiting for search warrants, because they just can't go into any of this stuff without sort of a court order. So, that's what they're waiting for at this point.
Hopefully, once they go through that stuff, they will see if anyone he was communicating with and what was on his mind throughout this day. And the other thing that they're going to be looking at is to see if he was consuming any video.
We often talk about this ISIS propaganda and the videos that they put out. There's going to be some of that and they're going to look to see if he was looking at that perhaps maybe even today or some time before the attack.
TAPPER: I think probably, Tom Fuentes, a lot of people out there are wondering, what other motive could there possibly be?
Beyond terrorism, obviously, mental illness or who knows what could also be a possibility, however much it seems to be one particular thing.
TOM FUENTES, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: And it could be a copycat.
We had somebody wielding a knife of Somali descent in a mall not too long ago. An off-duty police officer shot him dead. Interesting, in that case, the Somali community immediately came out praising the police and denouncing the person that committed the terrorist attack.
It could be a copycat just seeing this on television or reading about it or the numerous posts that are out there. We just don't know yet.
TAPPER: In addition to going through all his electronics, what right now are law enforcement officials doing right now?
ART RODERICK, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Oh, they're looking at families, friends, associates, what classes was he taking, who were his classmates.
It sounded like from the president of the United States that he's in his first year. He was a freshman. He's 18 years old. The time frame makes sense. But what does social media look like? Who was he talking to on social media? What clubs did he belong to, in any, on campus? So, there's a lot of information to go through here. But the one thing that struck me is that it was pretty unsophisticated in and of itself. If he wanted to harm a lot of people, is usually what these attacks are out to do, he could have picked Saturday, when the football game was there. He could have used a firearm.
TAPPER: Much bigger crowd Saturday.
RODERICK: Much bigger crowds.
He did pick the first day back to campus after the Thanksgiving vacation. So, there was obviously a lot of people out and about. But thank goodness that police officer was there just clearing from another call. Saw this and took it on immediately.
TAPPER: All right, Shimon Prokupecz, Art Roderick, Tom Fuentes, thank you, all.
Turning to our other top story, is there turmoil in Trump Tower? A public airing of grievances over one of president-elect's most important Cabinet openings?
Stay with us.
TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.
Our politics lead now, sources telling CNN that president-elect Donald Trump is talking to three candidates for secretary of state over the next two days, retired General David Petraeus, who met with Trump just hours ago, Senator Bob Corker and former Governor Mitt Romney tomorrow.
But it's the possibility of Romney as the nation's top diplomat that has Trump supporters feeling -- quote -- "betrayed," at least according to his own campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway.
The swirling controversy on Trump's plate today, however, is one entirely of his own making. Trump tweeted, without evidence or explanation, this demonstrably false claim -- quote -- "In addition to winning the Electoral College in a landslide, I won the popular vote if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally."
There were not millions of people who voted illegally. I should note that that's just a falsehood. There's no evidence for it. Zero. Zip. Zilch. Not true.
Republican and Democratic officials have decried this nonsense.
CNN's Phil Mattingly is outside of Trump Tower right now for us.
And, Phil, did Trump transition officials give any explanation why the president-elect would tweet out this baseless claim? PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, in a word, no.
Trump transition officials were specifically asked this quickly on their morning call today, if they had any evidence at all that they could kind of put up to show that the tweets were accurate, and they cited a 2014 study that had been debunked and a study from Pew talking about people that were on voter registration rolls.
That also had nothing to do with illegal voting or fraud. So, not so much, Jake, and kind of underscoring a problem that really transition officials want to be focused on what's coming next, the Cabinet. And there is no shortage of drama there, either.
MATTINGLY (voice-over): In the battle to be the nation's top diplomat, a decidedly undiplomatic fight being waged among president- elect Trump's top aides in a stunningly public way.
Mitt Romney, the 2012 nominee and ardent Trump critic, still in the running to be secretary of state, despite a public campaign against him, led by Trump's advisers and surrogates.
KELLYANNE CONWAY, TRUMP SENIOR ADVISER: I'm all for party unity, but I'm not sure that we have to pay for that with the secretary of state position. I'm just saying that we don't even know if Mitt Romney voted for Donald Trump.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I know that he is a self-serving egomaniac who puts himself first, who has a chip on his shoulder, that thinks he should be president of the United States.
MATTINGLY: Aides say the public back and forth has -- quote -- "irritated" the president-elect, who remains in the midst of intense deliberations over the makeup of his first Cabinet.
JASON MILLER, TRUMP ADVISER: The president-elect is the one person who will be making the decisions here. This is his administration and his government that he's putting together, and he's going through a very detailed and thorough interview process for all the key positions.
And when he is ready and 100 percent decided, then he will go and make that public.
MATTINGLY: Romney is scheduled to meet Trump Tuesday, along with another candidate, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Bob Corker.
But another entrant into the sweepstakes sat down privately with Trump today, retired general and former CIA Director David Petraeus, once a highly sought after official whose government career imploded amidst revelations he had an extramarital affair with his biographer and shared classified documents with her. Petraeus was sentenced to two years' probation, avoiding jail time as part of the plea deal, in which he admitted having shared classified information and having made false statements to the FBI. For now, aides say, the president-elect continuing to weigh all options.
MILLER: The president-elect is really taking these meetings very seriously. He wants to make sure that he's making the absolute best decision for all of the different positions.
MATTINGLY: Including close adviser and one-time clear front-runner Rudy Giuliani, but the secretary of state position far from the only decision outstanding. The president-elect on Monday continuing to roll through meetings with potential Cabinet candidates, including Fran Townsend, a potential homeland security secretary, and former BB&T bank CEO John Allison, a treasury secretary candidate.
MATTINGLY: Jake, the reality is, this back and forth kind of underscoring that other Cabinet officials will likely be named before secretary of state.
Trump tweeting out today though that he was -- quote -- "very impressed with his meeting with David Petraeus." And tomorrow that meeting with Mitt Romney, it turns out, according to a transition source, it will be a dinner one on one between the two principals -- Jake.
TAPPER: All right, Phil Mattingly outside Trump Tower, thank you so much.
As Phil just said, the president-elect just tweeted minutes ago that he was "very impressed" after his meeting with retired General David Petraeus. The two met a few hours ago at Trump Tower.
But picking Petraeus to be the nation's next top diplomat might have some unique hurdles. Mainly, can a man who pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of unauthorized removal of classified materials and who admitting making false claims to the FBI about those materials, can he get permission to handle classified material?
And, for that matter, can a president-elect whose campaign against his former Democratic opponent was focused on not dissimilar charges against her now turn around and say, eh, classified, schmassified?
Barbara Starr is at the Pentagon and has been trying to get us an answer to these questions.
Barbara, how would this work? Is there a way for president-elect Trump to intervene to get General Petraeus security clearance?
BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, apparently, there is, Jake.
We have talked to a number of people throughout the day. And they that basically a president of the United States can order up a security clearance for anybody that the president wishes to have one who is in government.
So, here's how it might work. If Petraeus is nominated, let's say, to become secretary of state and is confirmed by the Senate, that is a job that requires handling classified information. He's confirmed. Therefore, he will indeed handle classified information.
It appears that that is the case, that there have been some legal rulings that point to that outcome. Petraeus will have some interesting challenges, nonetheless. Right now, it appears to be a mutual admiration society. When he came out of that meeting with Donald Trump, he said that Mr. Trump had a great grasp of the challenges facing the United States, he apparently very impressed by Donald Trump.
The question underlying all of this may be a much more subtle one. How many generals does it take to make a presidential Cabinet? He's already looking at Jim Mattis for Defense, Mike Flynn for national security adviser. Are you going to have a very militarized Cabinet? That's the big question right now -- Jake.
[16:45:00] BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Does it take to make a presidential Cabinet. He's already looking at Jim Mattis for Defense, Mike Flynn for National Security Adviser. Are you going to have a very militarized Cabinet? That's the big question right now -- Jake.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: Interesting. Barbara Starr, thank you so much.
My political panel joins me now, CNN political commentator, Mary Katherine Ham, "New York Times" national political correspondent Jonathan Martin and CNN senior political commentator David Axelrod.
Mary Katherine, let me start with this recount going on. Hillary Clinton's campaign joining the Jill Stein-Green Party campaign for that recount in Wisconsin, and it prompted Donald Trump to unleash a flood of tweets Saturday night, Sunday morning, Sunday afternoon, and most shockingly suggesting that he would have won the popular vote if millions of people hadn't voted illegally. There is no evidence for this at all.
MARY KATHERINE HAM, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Right. It is as if President-elect Trump often says, I have the moral high ground on this argument. How can I really push it as quickly as possible. Because the Hillary folks, in what looks to me like a last gasp of our sort of jayvee Camelot don't seem to know what to do and they're lashing out at this Jill Stein recount thing, which, again, there is no evidence according to Democratic heads of elections in those in any of those states that anything weird is going on there either, not a great look for either one of them which is sort of like the rest of the year in the campaign.
TAPPER: Yes, interesting stuff.
David, I want to go to you. You found yourself in a Twitter back and forth with Trump's former campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway. You said about Conway's public campaign to discourage the president-elect from naming Mitt Romney secretary of State, quote, "I have never ever seen any aide to a president or president-elect publicly try and box the boss in like this. Extraordinary." She replied to you, "Rare misread from a guy with sharp instincts? While we're here, David Axelrod, does POTUS approve recount after asking Hillary Clinton to concede?"
What do you make of this? Is this possibly how Trump likes it? Lots of chaos, lots of people playing off against each other?
DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, one thing I would say is that I don't understand how the two things relate, the recount and the point I was making, but lay that aside for a second. I don't -- you know, I've talked to people who have interpreted it one way and people have interpreted it the other. Some people say this is her acting on her own and there are others who say that she was sent out there to do that. The thing that is bewildering to me is, as I understand it, Trump, the president-elect, and Mike Pence, the vice president-elect, reached out to Mitt Romney and ask him to visit with them, to surface this idea with him, and so to have done that and then send someone out to trash -- to trash Romney would be really kind of inexplicable.
So I'm assuming she's doing this on her own. And as I said in that tweet, as someone who serve the president and the president-elect, it is inconceivable to me how -- how an aide can go out there and run a public campaign against the person whose help the president-elect was soliciting.
JONATHAN MARTIN, NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, THE NEW YORK TIMES: This is the Trump universe that were now fully emerged. And the fact is that his loyalists do talk to him. They do send messages to him via tweets, television interviews, newspapers. They know that the most effective way to talk to him is not always face to face or on the phone, although that happens, too, it is sort of a public campaign.
We're just not used to this because we are sort of, whether it D or R, we're kind of used to a more conventional politics where staffers, you know, offer their advice behind closed doors. Occasionally it leaks but usually it's behind closed doors.
This is a different scenario here, Jake, and you said he does like folks who are playing out in public. He does enjoy sending people off each other and he can be influenced via these public campaigns. Welcome to, you know, the Trump (INAUDIBLE).
TAPPER: It's so unusual. But then if that's true, if he did send Kellyanne Conway to go out there to kind of disparage Mitt Romney, and certainly I can see vengeance as a motivating force in this new transition team.
TAPPER: I'm sad to say, well, a lot of politicians are motivated by that, maybe they want to humiliate Mitt Romney, I don't know. But then to have aides to Donald Trump turn around and tell CNN that the president-elect was irritated by Kellyanne Conway, to tell them that he was furious. How does that fit in with this -- with this scenario?
HAM: It does not. Nothing matters, Jake. No. We are looking through the looking glass here and trying to interpret all this because I -- you know, there's two scenarios, one that he is actually very seriously considering him, and that Kellyanne is off script. Two, that he is perhaps trying to humiliate him and take him through this whole process. Maybe Kellyanne Conway is "Harry and the Hendersonsing" (PH) Mitt Romney and telling him to get away from this whole thing. I don't --
TAPPER: I'm going to have to Google that, but I appreciate it.
HAM: The millennials will get it.
TAPPER: "Harry and the Hendersons."
AXELROD: How about -- Jake, how about inviting him for dinner tomorrow night. If he's trying to humiliate him, I mean, this is taking it to an extraordinary degree, saying, why don't you come over so I can humiliate you further?
[16:50:02] That's really -- that is extraordinary. I accept what my colleague say that we're in a new world. But that is truly, truly something beyond imagination.
TAPPER: Yes, we'll see. Mary Katherine, Jonathan, David, thank you one and all.
He does not occupy the Oval Office yet, but there may already be signs of foreign governments trying to curry favor with Mr. Trump through his business enterprises. Trump the businessman versus Trump the president, coming up next.
TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. Let's stay with our "Politics Lead" and we're launching a new segment today called "Conflict of Interest Watch," where we report on questions surrounding President- elect Trump and his many international business entanglements unlike previous presidents who put their businesses and assets in a blind trust, the wall of any potential conflicts of interest.
[16:55:10] President-elect Trump says he will do no such thing. The Trump Organization's business deals have spanned the globe and we're already seeing signs of foreign governments may be taking steps to try to help Trump's businesses interests.
Mister Trump recently told the "New York Times" and I quote, "The law is totally on my side. The president can't have a conflict of interest."
There is, of course, a difference between what's legal and what's ethical and some constitutional scholars point to the Emoluments Clause which says no president can receive gifts or compensation from a foreign entity.
"New York Times" investigative reporter Eric Lipton joins me now.
Eric, thanks for joining us. Let's go through a couple of examples you highlighted in your piece recently. After he was elected, President-elect Trump met with business partners from India. What's the concern there?
ERIC LIPTON, INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER, THE NEW YORK TIMES: In that situation, in India he's got five different projects, $1.5 billion on the table. Not his own money, but his partner's money. He's got a branding arrangement with those developments in Mumbai and other cities in India. So he's due to collect either a fee or a commission, a combination of probably a fee and a commission. And all those projects have permits that have to be issued by local government authorities. And, you know, say the government of India wants to send a signal to Donald Trump that we want you to improve, you know, relations with India, we're going to help accelerate this project or we're going to do some other kind of -- we're going to give land to this project.
There's all kinds of ways that they could give him a gift even if he didn't ask for it. And in this case in India, several of his business partners are actually members or ties to members of the most prominent political party in India. So already you have, you know, the president of the United States through interacting with political party officials in India in a way that, you know, this, again, raises questions.
Does he have a particular allegiance to that party? Will he look out for that party's interests? These are questions we can't really answer right now but we can ask them.
TAPPER: Mr. Trump also has a real estate venture in Istanbul and there are already questions about the possible effect of some of the President-elect Trump's public statements about the Turkish government.
LIPTON: I mean, you just have look back in that situation where when Donald Trump first said that he thought there should be a ban on Muslims entering the United States, that angered a lot of people in Turkey, including the president of Turkey and others who suggested that Donald Trump's name should be removed from a mall that he just had opened in Istanbul. But not long after that, after there is a coup attempt in Turkey, president -- candidate Trump spoke out in support of the president of Turkey suggesting that he had -- that we shouldn't be critical of him, that he's cracking down on dissidents there in a very aggressive way and that we should give him the space to sort of regain control of his country.
And -- you know, and then the calls for the removal of Donald Trump's name from the buildings ended. So you sort of makes you again wonder, we don't have visibility into it, but how much was his position on Turkey influenced by his concern about the effect that this could have on his projects there. TAPPER: And also of course, the Philippines where a business partner
of President-elect Trump is also now a special envoy to the United States.
LIPTON: Yes, this is one of the more complicated ones. The guy that's in charge of essentially the Trump brand in the Philippines that's just finishing up a new skyscraper outside of Manila was appointed by the president of the Philippines to serve as the envoy to the United States. I mean, the Philippines and the U.S. are going through a tough time right now. President Obama and the State Department have been critical of the president of the Philippines for these extrajudicial killings of drug dealers in the Philippines for -- you know, people suspected of wrongdoing but they're simply killing them instead of putting them on trial.
Will the Trump administration be as critical of the Philippines if they have -- if their business partner is the envoy to the United States? Open question we can't answer.
TAPPER: And of course there is the troubling issue that even if Trump and his family distance themselves from the companies, which Trump's children do not plan to do and we really don't have any indication that President-elect Trump is going to do it either, foreign governments could still see reasons to try to seek favor with the president-elect.
LIPTON: Right. I mean, to me that's the most worrisome part of this whole thing is like, say, he has a golf course in the Middle East, which he's about to open on in Dubai, and, you know, the government there want to impress Donald Trump, say they buy up 20 memberships. I mean, this is not unheard of. I mean, you have all these members of Congress who have charities and corporations are frequently making large donations to their charities as a way to impress them.
Whether or not it actually affects the way that the member of Congress acts towards that corporation is unknown, but it's a way of attempting to influence them. I mean, all over the world, you could have -- you know, you're going to have permits being issued, you know, you can have things being done to help him.
TAPPER: Eric Lipton, thank you so much. Really appreciate it. This is the first installment of our "Conflict of Interest Watch." Unless and until President-elect Trump puts up some sort of real wall between himself and his business interests, we're going to continue to report on the questions that arise.
Be sure to follow me on Facebook and Twitter @jaketapper. And tweet the show, @theleadCNN. That's it for THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper. I now turn you over for one Mr. Wolf Blitzer. He's in "THE SITUATION ROOM."
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now, breaking news. Terror attack chaos on the campus of Ohio State University as a man plows into pedestrians with a car --