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The Lead with Jake Tapper

Clinton Strategist Says No Pay-for-Play; Interview with Rep. Jason Chaffetz; McCain Primary Opponent Sounds Same Notes as Trump; CNN/ORC Poll: McCain Has 26-Point Lead; Maker Of Anti-Allergy Device Raises Cost 400 Percent. Aired 4:30-5p ET

Aired August 24, 2016 - 16:30   ET



JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Chief strategist Joel Benenson telling CNN's Chris Cuomo that Trump's suggestions of pay-for-play are false, noting that Trump also gave money to the foundation, known for its humanitarian work around the globe.

JOEL BENENSON, HILLARY CLINTON CAMPAIGN ADVISER: Donald Trump gave $100,000 to the foundation. It's a big donation. Was he paying for play?

ZELENY: It's hardly the quiet August Clinton was hoping for.

She is leading in national and swing state polls, but fighting a new round of critical headlines over the foundation and her private e-mail server at the State Department.

Friends of Clinton tell CNN the campaign was taken off guard, believing the foundation controversy was behind them. The campaign has reacted slowly, these Democrats say, because Bill and Hillary Clinton have long believed the good works of the foundation outweigh any appearances of conflict.

Clinton is hoping to turn the page in a speech Thursday, blasting Trump far beyond questioning his temperament. Aides say she will highlight a disturbing connection between Trump and the alt-right conservative movement, often associated with white nationalism.

NARRATOR: Trump's products have been made in 12 other countries.

ZELENY: She is also highlighting his outsourcing in a new campaign ad.

NARRATOR: Donald Trump says he will make America great again, while he's taking the shirts right off our backs.


ZELENY: CNN has learned Clinton will also receive her first classified intelligence briefing as a presidential nominee on Saturday in New York, where Donald Trump received his first briefing last week.

Of course, much of this information contained in this report is likely to be familiar to her, given her time as secretary of state, which is now back in the news in ways she might prefer to avoid -- Jim.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: No question. Jeff Zeleny, thanks very much.

Joining me now is the Republican Congressman Jason Chaffetz of Utah. He's chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

Congressman Chaffetz, thanks for joining us today.


SCIUTTO: Congressman Chaffetz, you heard the Clinton campaign's response to this AP report. They call it utterly flawed. And they point to this, that the vast majority of Clinton's meetings were with U.S. and foreign government officials, those meetings not included in this AP tally.

They also make the point -- and, again, this coming from the Clinton campaign -- that Clinton, as secretary of state, would have met with these people regardless of whether they were Clinton Foundation donors. They give the example of the Nobel Prize winner, the international microfinance expert Muhammad Yunus, as well as other heads of large worldwide charities.

Just, in your view, is that a fair response?

CHAFFETZ: Well, after 263 days without a press conference, maybe Hillary Clinton herself could actually do the press conference, rather than have these spokespeople.

The problem is the comments that she has made under oath, and the public comments that she has made, have turned out to be lies. She is just not telling the truth. And the FBI director is the one that has pointed that out.

It started because the inspector general made a criminal referral to the FBI. By the way, all the other former secretaries of state gladly met with the inspector general. Hillary Clinton would not meet with the inspector general.

These pundits can get out and try to spin it all they want. But Hillary Clinton herself, I think, has to answer those questions and demonstrate why there is a long laundry list of what she said is different than what the FBI found. It's just she hasn't been telling the truth.

SCIUTTO: But on the question of the foundation -- and that is a fair point. And we have challenged the Clinton campaign every day as to why not more press conferences, and not more sit-down interviews with members of the press.

But specifically on the issue of the foundation, are you saying that she is lying when she says that the majority of her meetings were with U.S. and foreign government officials and that, therefore, this AP presentation of this, as if half of the people she met with were somehow donating to the foundation, when that does not include all their meetings, are you saying that that is inaccurate, that most of her meetings were not with foreign and U.S. government officials?

CHAFFETZ: No, I'm saying the AP story stands for itself.

The AP had to go not through the Freedom of Information Act, which you're supposed to do in order to get this information. They had to go to court and get a judge to compel her to give this information. They did this independent analysis. I didn't know it was coming out.

And I think it speaks for itself. And she personally, not through a spokesperson, should have to answer that. The reality is, it does appear through the direct e-mails, as if our boss, as one of the e- mails said, there's a connection between what the foundation is doing and what the secretary of state's office is doing.

And, remember, she had a key employee who was employed by both. And this -- it smells like pay to play, and I think she should answer those questions.

SCIUTTO: Let me ask you about Donald Trump. And I know you have said you will support the Republican nominee.

Does Donald Trump's refusal to release his own tax returns, which would show his business interests and might raise questions about potential influence on his own campaign of money interests, or if he were to be elected president, does that not raise the same question?


Shouldn't he be equally transparent on his business relationships, his investments, et cetera?

CHAFFETZ: If you're going to run and try to become the president of the United States, you're going to have to open up your kimono and show everything, your tax returns, your medical records. You are going to just going to have to do that.

It's too important. So, both candidates, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, should show both their medical records and their tax returns, absolutely.

SCIUTTO: Fair point.

Let me ask you. In your position as chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, if either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump is elected president, can we expect a series of public investigations and inquiries on these kinds of topics, if either of them is elected?

CHAFFETZ: Hey, the Oversight and Government Reform Committee is going to be the place to win no matter who wins this election.

I think Republicans, quite frankly, made a mistake when George W. Bush was president and they helped control the House. It seems, through the metrics, that they actually let off of the gas pedal. No matter who wins, we have a duty, a responsibility under the Constitution to actually be that check and balance. So, I hope to continue to be the chairman of that committee, and I can

promise you I don't care who is in the White House. My job is not to be a cheerleader for the president. My job is to hold them accountable and to provide that oversight. That's what we do.

SCIUTTO: Congressman Chaffetz, thanks very much.

CHAFFETZ: Thank you.

SCIUTTO: It's the difference between life and death for millions of people, many of them very young, so why has the price of a lifesaving medical device shot up 400 percent?

That is right after this.



SCIUTTO: Sticking now with politics and more breaking news.

A brand-new CNN/ORC poll on the Republican primary race for the U.S. Senate in Arizona, incumbent Senator John McCain is now 26 percentage points ahead of his opponent, Republican Kelli Ward. Ward pushing to make McCain's fifth term in the U.S. Senate his last by sounding the same notes, many of the same notes as Donald Trump.

Also, she is being backed by Trump supporters.

Adding insult to injury, McCain is also feeling the heat from his Democratic challenger, but for different reasons.

Let me bring in CNN national correspondent Kyung Lah.

Kyung, in his 30 years in the Senate, this could be McCain's toughest reelection yet. Why is that?

KYUNG LAH, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: McCain likes to say that. He likes to certainly say that to the cameras.

But as our CNN/ORC poll is showing, that he is in a double-digit lead ahead of his Republican challenger, as well as the Democratic challenger. Here's potentially though Jim why it could be tough. In 2016, these two challengers, while behind, are running on this idea, that an upset here, even against Senator McCain, is not completely out of the question.


LAH (voice-over): Arizona Senator Republican challenge Kelli Ward pitching energy, youth, as she tries to unseat a political Goliath.

KELLI WARD (R), ARIZONA SENATORIAL CANDIDATE: I think it is time for you and me to retire McCain.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) LAH (on camera): Hashtag #retireMcCain?

WARD: Yes, #retireMcCain hits home.

LAH (voice-over): She is hoping to ride the outsider wave, which gave Trump a crushing win in Arizona's primary, into Senator McCain's job.

The state senator knows it is an uphill climb, racing from event to event, while McCain methodically maneuvers, his age, 79. He prefers the word experienced and enjoys practically 100 percent name recognition.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: I'm confident that the people of Arizona, who have known me very well for many years, will judge me on my qualifications and my ability to serve them in the future.

NARRATOR: John McCain fought against the Iran deal.

LAH: McCain's super PAC ads and campaign ads go to the heart of what Arizona voters are focused on, immigration and national security. That Ward is even registering against one of the most powerful senators in the country means something.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She's a very serious candidate. John McCain hasn't faced that in a primary ever. The mood of the conservative movement has changed. The mood of the Republican Party has changed.

LAH: And this incumbent feels it.

(on camera): Two weeks until the primary, how are you feeling?

MCCAIN: Good, good. Feeling good.

LAH (voice-over): But taking nothing for granted, especially as he faces troubles from the top.

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I like people that were not captured, OK, I hate to tell you.

LAH: Trump's public slam against McCain's time as a POW.

KHIZR KHAN, FATHER OF KILLED U.S. SOLDIER: I will gladly lend you my copy.

LAH: To Trump's verbal battle with a Gold Star family.

(on camera): Captain Khan's father has asked that you remove your endorse of Donald Trump. What do you say to this father?

MCCAIN: I say I understand his anger and his frustration, as only a grieving family can. I will make my decisions based on what I think is best for America.

LAH (voice-over): The Trump effect a potential opening for Democratic challenger Ann Kirkpatrick.

REP. ANN KIRKPATRICK (D), ARIZONA: The fact that he supports Trump shows that he is not the maverick he used to be.

LAH: Kirkpatrick believes this year is the Democrats' best chance to flip this Senate seat blue, the Democrat counting on continued Trump troubles to play out in her favor in November.

KIRKPATRICK: It's time. John McCain has been in Washington for 33 years. And a lot of people just feel he is out of touch with what is going on in Arizona.


LAH: And here is a look at how this is shaping up.

The CNN/ORC poll between Kirkpatrick and John McCain, you can see he still maintains quite a lead here, 52 percent, over 39 percent that Kirkpatrick has. This is registered voters in Arizona. But despite that gap, Jim, here is why Kirkpatrick believes that she has even change because of the demographic change in Arizona 30 some percent of voters are Latino -- Jim.

SCIUTTO: Kyung Lah, Donald Trump leading there as well, thank you.

Without it, millions of adults and children could die. Why are people now paying 400 percent more for EpiPens than they did a few years ago? That's right after this.


SCIUTTO: Welcome back. Our Health Lead now, for kids and adults suffering severe allergies, a single peanut or a single garden bee sting can be fatal. That's why millions of Americans including my sister, they rely on EpiPens. They shoot lifesaving drug epinephrine into the body that can make a difference between life and death if there is a severe allergic outbreak.

These pens which are almost all manufactured by the same company, Mylan Pharmaceuticals have skyrocketed in price. A pair used to cost about $100. That's just seven years ago in 2009. Now they are setting families back as much as $600.

[16:50:08]This massive price hike has prompted several lawmakers to call for an investigation including Democrat Senator Amy Klobuchar. Her daughter carries an EpiPen where ever she goes. I spoke with her a short-time ago and asked her what families can do about it.


SENATOR AMY KLOBUCHAR (D), JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: I would say call your member of Congress. Because I have for years have been trying to get some bills passed that would bring more competition into not only of the EpiPen market, but in all these pharmaceutical markets.

We've seen these prices creep up and up every single year for so many drugs and this is just the latest glaring example and I think this really hits home because so many parents buy these EpiPens for their children. My own daughter is 21 and she carries one everywhere. You have to get several of them. You may lose one, you replace them, and they actually reach their expiration date in one year so then you have to buy more.

What this company has done is taken a product that in 2009 was about $100 and moved it up to this year between $500 and $600, which is not at all the price in places like Canada, where it's hundreds of dollars less nor does it reflect any significant changes in this product.

SCIUTTO: For folks at home who don't know how critical EpiPens are. I know my sister depends on it, but you certainly know as well, your daughter, Abigail, depends on it. Tell us how much.

KLOBUCHAR: Well, I will never forget when she had her first allergic reaction. She is 4, 5 years old. We were in a middle of cabin in Northern Minnesota and all of a sudden we gave her a cashew and she had this horrible reaction.

She couldn't breathe and I remember every mile of that 40 minute drive to a small hospital and that began our journey on the journey of allergies and finding out that she was also allergic to pistachios and then carrying this EpiPen with the doctor telling us you must have this with you all the time.

And she must have it. The school nurse must know about it so they are ready to use it because for so many kids with severe allergies, which is about 10 percent of kids now, that have some kind of allergy.

Without it that there, they could literally die. Their throat closes up. She gets hives and that just changes everything. It gives them this adrenaline push in their system that basically counter acts the allergy.

And to think that parents are told by doctors they have to have them for their kids or patients are told themselves and they had to find out this company has basically gone from a 9 percent profit margin back in 2008, to a 55 percent profit margin in 2014 that is just unconscionable to me.

SCIUTTO: These are clear -- they are not comfort medications. These are life savers. I do want to read you the company's response to CNN. This is their statement, "With changes in the health care insurance landscape, an increasing number of people and families are enrolled in high-deductible health plans, and deductible amounts continue to rise."

And so the company there basically putting this off as a health care issue, give me your response.

KLOBUCHAR: OK, number one, the high deductibles are only showing consumers what this company has been doing. Before someone was paying for it, taxpayers were paying, the government was paying, companies are paying so when they jack up their prices that price is being paid by someone," is just more obvious to consumers because of these changes to the plan. The second thing is that pharma has pushed back time and time again any effort to bring competition. Senator John McCain and I have a bill to allow for cheaper drugs that are safe to come in from Canada. That would create competition.

We've been pushing to get a vote on it. Senator Grassly and I have a number of bills including one to stop the completely outrageous practice where generics and big pharma make deals so that you can't bring competitive products out to the market.

And finally, I have a bill for negotiation under Medicare Part D. Think about the market power of all of America's seniors if they could use that to negotiate cheaper prices. I think this is the time now, maybe this is the draw that breaks pharma's back.

Where finally the public will say we finally figured this out and we want better prices. So we want our members of Congress to pass these bill.

SCIUTTO: There is an interesting dynamic here because the CEO of Mylan Pharmaceuticals that makes the EpiPen, Heather Bresch, she is the daughter of your Democratic colleague from West Virginia, Senator Joe Manchin.

Her compensation has increased more than 600 percent over the last several years. While the company's profits of course has soared and the prices of EpiPens have soared. If the company is doing so well, why in your view the increase in price?

[16:55:08]KLOBUCHAR: Again, I think their number one goal should be with the product like this where they have a virtual market of 85 percent, to make that product accessible to Americans and to not make profits off of their backs.

I will say Senator Manchin has never gone out there and has a clear line in the sandy (inaudible) so he's not there because of his daughter's role in talking to me about this or anyone about this.

That aside, this company and others like it have literally taken advantage of the fact that they're able to push back in Congress against laws that allow for more competition and negotiations then they used that market power, jack up the price and then expect Americans to pay it while they're making money.

I think it is wrong and that is why the laws have to change as well as an investigation both on the judiciary committee level and the FDC into this particular practice.

SCIUTTO: Senator Amy Klobuchar, a personal issue for you, a legislative issue as well, thanks very much.

KLOBUCHAR: Thank you.

SCIUTTO: A major university under siege, dozens of students still trapped inside. That is right after this.