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State of the Union

Interview With Trump Convention Manager Paul Manafort; Interview With Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown; Questions About Clinton Foundation; Trump's Past Revisited; Jon Stewart On Hillary Clinton; Bill Clinton Denies Wrongdoing By Clinton Foundation; UPenn's Graduation Ceremony In This Week's "State of the Cartoonion". Aired 9- 10a ET

Aired May 15, 2016 - 09:00   ET




JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Trump 2.0? The outsider candidate makes nice with the establishment on Capitol Hill.

REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: I was very encouraged with what I heard from Donald Trump.

TAPPER: And seems to back off his controversial Muslim ban.

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm always flexible on issues.

TAPPER: Is the Trump strategy shifting? We will ask his top aide in minutes.

Plus, ghosts of Trump past.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's a good guy and he's not going to hurt anybody.

TAPPER: Did the presumptive Republican nominee really pose as his own P.R. agent?

TRUMP: Doesn't sound like me.

TAPPER: Will the tabloid king's old antics come back to haunt him?

And Hillary Clinton. As Trump continues his attacks on her husband, a new report renews questions about Clinton Foundation fund-raising. Will it hurt Hillary?

Plus, the best political minds will be here with insights from the campaign trail.


TAPPER: Hello. I'm Jake Tapper in Washington, where the state of our union is still in denial? A new report in "The Washington Post" says a cabal of dissident Republicans, including former nominee Mitt Romney, are actively attempting to recruit a third-party conservative candidate to challenge Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. They're lining up funding and commissioning polls, according to the report.

What they're missing? An actual candidate. Ohio Governor John Kasich and never Trump cheerleader Senator Ben Sasse of Nebraska have both said, no, they're not interested. Even Trump's fellow reality star Mark Cuban also said thanks, but no thanks.

Even without a new rival, Trump had a bumpy week, with renewed calls for him to release his tax returns, a hate-filled diatribe from his former butler on Facebook calling for President Obama to be killed, and, of course, those bizarre tapes mocked on "Saturday Night Live."


UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Who am I? I'm his publicist, Joey Pepperoni.


UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: No, I'm not Donald Trump in disguise. This is just what classy people sound like, OK?


TAPPER: Lots to talk about with Trump's campaign manager, Paul Manafort.

Paul, thanks for being here. Really appreciate it.


TAPPER: I want to start with this meeting that Donald Trump had with House Speaker Paul Ryan on Thursday.


TAPPER: People in the Ryan world describe it as a meeting where Donald Trump said what they wanted to hear, what Speaker Ryan wanted to hear, about how he would comport himself going forward and Ryan's concerns about things that Trump has said that potentially alienated women, Latinos, et cetera.

But in "The New York Times" this morning, Mr. Trump told Maureen Dowd -- quote -- "'We talked about the success I have had,' Trump replied. 'So Ryan didn't ask Trump to stop making remarks that alienate women?' 'No,' Trump said, 'he wants me to me.'"

"So much," Maureen Dowd writes, "for the showdown."

So, which is it? Did he affirm to Paul Ryan, Speaker Ryan, that he was going to behave in -- quote, unquote -- "more presidential manner" or was the conclusion he's got to be him?

MANAFORT: Look, both statements have elements of -- or both true, actually.

Donald Trump was not asked by the leadership to changed. And there's no reason for him to change. He's just won the primary process with a record number of votes, beating a field of 16 qualified candidates. So, there's no reason for Donald Trump to change.

TAPPER: Well, that's not necessarily true, though. I mean, appealing to one party's electorate, whether it Democrat or Republican, is not appealing to a general election electorate.

MANAFORT: That's correct, but Trump in the primaries was appealing to the broader electorate, which is why you had crossover Democrats, independents participating in Republican primaries where they could, even though there were spirited contests going on, on the Democratic side.

Now, that's not to say that Paul Ryan didn't talk about policy. They actually got along very well. The conversations that they had focused on the Trump agenda for America, to make America great again, and Paul Ryan's agenda to return prosperity. There were a lot of overlap on the objectives of both of those programs. And...

TAPPER: But, surely, you look at the negative ratings that Mr. Trump has with women at large and the general electorate and Latinos, and you think, going forward, it's going to be tough to win the White House if those negatives stay where they are.

MANAFORT: Well, you know, this is one of these conventional wisdom facts that are not -- not correct.

Yes, there's some high negatives on the part of Trump right now, who has just come out of a very spirited contest. Hillary Clinton has got high negatives, too. And when you look at the recent Quinnipiac polls that came out last week which show Trump winning in Florida and even or slightly ahead in Ohio and Pennsylvania, you look at the gender gaps, and the real gender gap is a male gender gap on the part of Clinton, where she's got a bigger disparity between her -- her support for -- with men than Trump has with women.


So, it's an issue. It will be dealt with. We're coming through a healing process. This is when we're unifying our party. The national polls have all shown closure, where Trump now is either one or two points behind or one or two points ahead.

So, this is way early. And still, already, we're seeing convergence on the part of the electorate with Donald Trump. And the meetings with the Hill, with the leadership were very positive.


Let's talk about the policy of nominees -- or tradition, rather, of nominees releasing their tax returns. It's been a tradition since 1976. It's done to show the American people if there are any conflicts of interests, to show how much charity has been given by the nominee, and to see how much the nominee is actually paying in taxes.

Now, Mr. Trump had said in the past that he would release his returns if he became the nominee. Now he says voters do not necessarily have a right to see them.

Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Bob Dole, George W. Bush, John McCain, Mitt Romney, all of those nominees thought that voters had a right to see them.

Why does Mr. Trump feel differently?

MANAFORT: He doesn't feel differently. He has said he will release his tax returns, never has changed his position.

What he has said is, he's under audit now. And once the audit is completed, he will release the taxes.

TAPPER: Well, why not release the ones from before the audit? Why not release -- if 2015 -- first of all, the IRS says you can release them to the public even if they're under audit.


TAPPER: But why not release 2014, 2013, 2012, and just put this issue to rest?

MANAFORT: Well, as I understand it, the audit is going on for the last eight years, going back eight years' worth of tax returns. And anything beyond eight years is not going to be reflective of anything other than interest on the part of the media.

TAPPER: But you know Nixon released his returns while under audit. And Donald Trump released his returns to a gaming commission, I believe, while under audit when he was trying to get a casino in New Jersey.

MANAFORT: This is an issue that the media is interested in. It's not an issue that Middle America is interested in, frankly.

Donald Trump has been very clear. He will release it. He will comply when the audit is done. You talk to tax attorneys who are not politically motivated, and they will tell you they would never advise their client to release any tax information in the course of an audit.

TAPPER: So, you're saying that the audit is for eight years' worth of returns?

MANAFORT: That's what I'm led to believe, yes.

TAPPER: I still don't understand why, just to get this out of the way, Mr. Trump wouldn't just release the returns. I mean, it's...

MANAFORT: Because they're not complete yet.

TAPPER: Is there something in there that Mr. Trump doesn't want the American people to see, and, for that reason, you have made the calculation better to take the hit, because the American people really aren't that engaged in it, as opposed to the media, and -- than to take the hit on what is in the returns?

MANAFORT: He said there's nothing in there. I have no basis to believe otherwise.

TAPPER: Let me ask you about this other question.

"The Washington Post" on Friday reported that Donald Trump used to pass himself off as his own public relations agent, either named John Barron or John Miller.

I want you to listen to this 1991 recording of a "People" magazine reporter speaking with someone who claims to be -- quote, unquote -- "John Miller."


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He really decided that he wasn't -- you know, he didn't want to make any commitment. He didn't want to make a commitment.

He really thought it was too soon. He was coming out of a -- you know, a marriage -- and he's starting to do tremendously well financially.

And he's got a whole open field, really. And, you know, a lot of the people that you write about -- and you people do a great job, by the way -- actresses, people that you write about, just call to see if they can go out with him and things.


TAPPER: Now, are you seriously, is the campaign seriously claiming that that isn't Mr. Trump?

MANAFORT: I could barely understand it. I couldn't tell who it is. Donald Trump says it's not him, I believe it's not him.

TAPPER: In 1990, under oath, he testified that he did use the name John Barron. And in 1991, he told "People" magazine that he did use the name John Miller.

So, this has already been admitted previously. I don't understand why now.

MANAFORT: I don't -- I don't know those facts to be true or not. I just know that he said it's not him. I believe him. I don't even know the relevance of this, frankly, other than it's 25 years old.

It's dealing with interest that -- "People" magazine-oriented, and they're not focusing on the issues that Trump is trying to talk about today, which are jobs, terrorism, immigration problems. I mean, these are the issues we should be talking about.

Why the -- why the media is spending so much time going back 25 years old to talk about a "People" magazine interview -- article -- tape that may or may not be Trump, totally irrelevant.

TAPPER: Well, first of all, Mr. Trump has brought up things that were 25 years old on behalf of Mr. Clinton, former President Clinton.

But, second of all, I think the issue...


MANAFORT: But that was -- this is -- that was not "People" magazine. Those were issues that related to a core component of Hillary Clinton's strategy, which is that she's talking about breaking the ceiling for women, and yet she was an enabler and made the victims of those dalliances into a real -- into a real bad situation.

TAPPER: My point is just that whether or not it took place in the '90s doesn't seem to be an issue.

But the larger issue -- and I understand your point about jobs and trade and terrorism, issues that we talk about on CNN all the time, that I have talked to Mr. Trump about quite often -- the issue is, I think, here you have a man in his 40s allegedly acting as his own public relations -- public relations agent, bragging about his exploits with women while married to Ivana Trump, the mother of his three children, and speaks to a certain kind of character issue, don't you think?


MANAFORT: Well, but the tape has not proven that it's him.

The justification for the tape is, well, he -- words that are on that tape are words that Donald Trump uses. I have been working for Donald Trump for six weeks. I'm using words he uses.

Now, I'm not the person on that tape. It's -- there's no basis in fact, other than some allegation. And now they're even saying that he leaked the tape, that he had this tape for 25 years, and he leaked the tape. It makes no sense.

TAPPER: Well, when you start saying -- the construct I think you're looking for is tremendously successful. That's the one that he uses a lot in real life and that John Miller used in there.

But let me move on, because there's an issue having to do with you that I want to give you the opportunity to address, which is, there's this 1992 report from the Center for Public Integrity, which listed your firm as one of the lobbying firms that profited most by doing business with foreign countries in which there were human rights issues with how those governments treated their people.

You were reportedly the closest political adviser, American political adviser, to Viktor Yanukovych of Ukraine, who is a close adviser to Vladimir Putin.

And now there are people in the national security apparatus who are saying that they have questions about Donald Trump now getting classified briefings because of you, because of your close ties to Viktor Yanukovych and others.

How do you respond to that?

MANAFORT: Well, there are so many different parts of that we said are wrong.

First of all, I don't see the classified briefings. Donald Trump sees the classified briefings.

TAPPER: You're not in the room when he receives them?

MANAFORT: Not in the room when he receives them. He doesn't talk to me about them. So, there's a total barrier there.

Secondly, I have no foreign -- foreign clients now. I have no clients. I have one client, Donald Trump.

TAPPER: Right, but you have in the last decade.


MANAFORT: Some of those clients that you're talking about, if you go back and look, they were in concert with U.S. foreign policy.

As far as the Yanukovych administration is concerned, you will see, if you do any fact-checking, that I was the person that negotiated the framework which is based upon which Ukraine is now a part of Europe. That was my role. That's what I did. And when it was completed, I left.

TAPPER: I did do a lot of fact-checking. And Reuters wrote a very extensive story that talked about you being a strong political adviser to Viktor Yanukovych, not just you, other American consultants, including Tad Devine at the Sanders campaign, but you being a very powerful and influential person with Viktor Yanukovych.

MANAFORT: And I was involved in activities that related to directly impacting positive U.S. and European foreign policy. And that's what the facts will show.

TAPPER: Last question I want to ask you.

Mr. Trump has talked a lot about remaking the map in his fight against Hillary Clinton. What are some states that are not traditional Democratic states in general elections that you think you can win, that Mr. Trump can make competitive in November?

MANAFORT: You mean not traditional Democratic -- or Republican states.

TAPPER: Yes, please.

MANAFORT: Well, there are a number of them.

There's Michigan. There's Pennsylvania. There are several New England states. We think that... TAPPER: Which, New Hampshire, Maine?

MANAFORT: New Hampshire for sure, Maine a real possibility.

Connecticut is a possibility.

TAPPER: Connecticut?

MANAFORT: Yes, it's Connecticut.

We are going to have -- you know, we are in the process now of organizing the framework for the strategy of our general election campaign, but, without a doubt, when you look at the appeal of Donald Trump in the primaries that we -- that have been held so far, you see incredible cross -- crossover support.

You see Democrat support for Bernie Sanders that is potential Trump support, when it's indicated that they will never vote for Hillary Clinton, and when you analyze who those people are that are saying it, they're the very demographic that Trump is appealing to in independents and crossover Democrats.

So, we think, in a number of places, for a lot of issues, jobs, integrity, coal, for example, in Pennsylvania and Ohio and elsewhere, we think there are a number of issues that allow us to expand the map. We think the Democrats are the ones who are going to have to have a very narrow way to victory. And we think we're going to be successful.

TAPPER: Paul Manafort, congratulations on Mr. Trump becoming the presumptive nominee.

Thanks so much for joining us. We will see you out there on the campaign trail.

MANAFORT: You will.

TAPPER: Thanks for taking our questions today.


TAPPER: I appreciate it.

A new poll showing Donald Trump leading in Ohio. Could Hillary Clinton try to look for an assist by picking a Buckeye State senator as her V.P.? Ohio's own Sherrod Brown will be here next live.



TAPPER: Welcome back to STATE OF THE UNION. I am Jake Tapper in Washington.

While Hillary Clinton insists she's still focused on locking up the Democratic nomination, lots of people around her are looking ahead to whom she might choose as her vice president, including Donald Trump, who seems to have zeroed in on Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren.


TRUMP: I have just learned that crooked Hillary...


TRUMP: ... along with her friend -- you know, she's got this goofy friend named Elizabeth Warren. She's on her Twitter rant.


TRUMP: She's a goofus. She is a goofus.



TAPPER: Another progressive senator's name in the mix? Ohio's Sherrod Brown, who, unlike Elizabeth Warren, endorsed Clinton and did so last year, campaigning alongside her in Ohio, a swing state, where some polls show Trump leading.

Senator Brown joins me now live from Cleveland, Ohio.

Senator, thanks for joining us.

SEN. SHERROD BROWN (D), OHIO: Jake, good to be back. Thanks.

TAPPER: So, Hillary Clinton is making a big issue out of Donald Trump's failure to release his tax returns. Take a listen.


HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Now, what about his tax plan? I hope you will keep asking that.

And what about his taxes? Because, when you run for president, especially when you become the nominee, that is kind of expected.

So, you got to ask yourself, why doesn't he want to release them?


TAPPER: Now, it is true that Bill and Hillary Clinton have made their tax returns public dating back to 1977.

But -- but, Senator Brown, given that Hillary Clinton has refused to release the transcripts of those paid speeches to Goldman Sachs and that she had to essentially be dragged into giving her e-mails to the State Department, isn't Hillary Clinton a flawed messenger when it comes to transparency?

BROWN: No, I think they're very different issues.

I -- you see what Donald Trump refuses to do. And I listened to your prior interview, and there's a lot of dancing there. And I don't know why Trump doesn't want to release his returns. He clearly doesn't want to.


Every presidential candidate in both parties, I think you said since Nixon, an interesting comparison. But is it Trump doesn't want to acknowledge -- is it that he doesn't do much charitable giving? Is it he doesn't want people to know his real net worth? Is it some of his investments?

I mean, you had -- you had Trump on the show I believe a couple of months ago, Jake, where you wore one of his ties made in China. I would add that I'm sitting in a -- I'm in Cleveland today, and it's unfortunately a snowy Cleveland.

I'm wearing a suit made by union workers about five miles from here, and that plant hires several hundred Americans. And when I hear Donald Trump talk about making America great again, and then makes a lot of money apparently by outsourcing jobs to China, and then he talks a good game on trade policy, it just makes me question a whole lot of things.

And I think his tax returns would indicate a lot, if he ever releases them. Of course, he doesn't have to, with all the media pressure, but I think it shows some issues that people will think about.

TAPPER: Just for the record, I wore that Trump tie to make that point, that the Trump...


BROWN: No, I know you did.

TAPPER: No, just for the viewer.

But let's talk about trade, Senator...

BROWN: Sure.

TAPPER: ... because it's an issue where Donald Trump seems to be actually trying to run to the left of Hillary Clinton.

Take a look at one of your reelection campaign ads from 2012.

BROWN: Sure.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sherrod Brown is calling for action against cheating China.

BROWN: They don't play fair, and we have got to fight back.


TAPPER: Cheating China, fighting back. Later on in the ad, it talks about tariffs, imposing tariffs on China.

To be frank, that sounds a lot more like Donald Trump than it does Hillary Clinton. How are you going to be able to convince your voters, your working-class voters in Ohio, to vote for her, when they seem to agree more with you and him on the issue of trade?

BROWN: Well, I wouldn't characterize my position as close to Donald Trump's.

I -- he is highly critical of China. He talks about big tariffs, doesn't go any deeper than that. His -- his analysis or his solutions -- and, again, look what he does with his own businesses and with his own outsourcing of jobs.

But the real issue is, I trust Hillary Clinton on trade and manufacturing because I see her plan. She wants a trade prosecutor to enforce rules and trade laws. She wants to triple the enforcement budgets at the Department of Commerce and the International Trade Commission.

She has specific reasons about her opposition to Trans-Pacific Partnership, currency, lack of currency provisions, rules of origin, which is really important in this region of the country with autos.

She has been up, and she -- clearly, on manufacturing, she has a real -- an in-depth plan about how to bring manufacturing to this country. Trump has words, but there's not really any depth there. And that's why I trust Hillary to do this right.

TAPPER: Well, Senator, in-depth plans are all fine and good, but, as I don't need to tell you, when you go out there and talk to working- class men and women in Ohio, people who think that the deck has been stacked against them by the Washington elite, Democrats or Republicans, selling their jobs down the river, whether they're going to Mexico or China, a lot of them seem to be very skeptical of Hillary Clinton, and willing to listen to Donald Trump.

Are you not concerned about that?

BROWN: Oh, of course I'm always concerned in an election.

It's -- I'm just -- I'm just greatly concerned that Donald Trump will be the nominee of a major political party in this country. And anything can happen in an election.

But I also know that -- that Secretary Clinton will work on these trade enforcement issues in a way that -- and will oppose these trade agreements in understanding how to do that, which Donald Trump has never really offered.

I also know that, when you talk to working-class audiences in Ohio, when they start thinking about this in the next four months, Donald Trump has been against the minimum wage. Now he's kind of all over the place, but he's fundamentally against. He said wages are too high, so he clearly has been against the minimum wage. He might act like he changed his position. He's against prevailing wage, which will be -- attack right at the

heart of the building trades, the people that build our roads and construct our buildings. He's for right-to-work, which is a dagger in the heart of working-class Ohioans.

So, I think, when they see the big picture on jobs and the big picture on manufacturing and the big picture on trade, they're going to see a few sort of shallow words from Trump, but they're going to see a lifelong commitment to workers from Hillary Clinton. And that's why I trust her to do this right.

That's why I endorsed her early. That's why I campaign hard with her, particularly in the industrial manufacturing, unionized parts of Ohio in the Northeast. And that's where she's going to run her margins up and win this state.

TAPPER: "The Wall Street Journal" reported this week that Bill Clinton, the former president, used his nonprofit Clinton Global Initiative to steer $2 million commitment of private funds to a for- profit green energy company partially owned by friends of the Clintons.


According to "The Journal," details about the investment were initially removed from the CGI Web site a few months later partly -- quote -- "to avoid calling attention to Mr. Clinton's friendship with one of his friends, Julie Tauber McMahon, who owns a 29 percent stake in the company."

What do you say to those who see this report and say, boy, this looks an awful lot like crony capitalism?

BROWN: Well, I don't know the details of the report. I have not read it.

I take "The Wall Street Journal" -- I'm married to a journalist, as you know, Jake, and I understand the difference between reporters at "The Wall Street Journal," who are some of the best in the land, and their editors.

And I think that you're going to see coming out of "The Wall Street Journal" a crescendo of attacks on Clinton in ways that are generally unfair.

I don't know enough about this report. I do know, though, that "The Wall Street Journal" probably won't be writing much about the good things the Clinton Global Initiative has done to combat international poverty.

And I have worked on a lot of those issues. I have not really worked with the Global Initiative, but I have worked with people like Jim Yong Kim at the World Bank and others in combating international tuberculosis and other issues. I welcome the work that the Clinton Global Initiative has done with groups and individuals like Bono and all that's happened around the world. And so I think that, if that's going to be the Republican attack on

Hillary, it's not going to work.

TAPPER: Well, there are going to be a lot of them, I bet.

But let's move on. The latest Q poll has Trump beating Hillary Clinton by four points in your home state of Ohio, 43 percent to 39 percent. One thing that's been talked about as a result of this in part is putting you on the ticket. Also, you have progressive credentials that might help her shore up some of those Sanders supporters.

Now, you have said you're not interested in the V.P. job. But, obviously, Senator, if Clinton came to you and said, "I really need you to be my vice president," you wouldn't say no, would you?


BROWN: Well, I'm married to a journalist, and as I said, Jake, and as you know, and she -- we know you have to ask that question. I'm not going to answer it any differently. I respect the work you do. I'm not going to answer any differently.


BROWN: I love the job I'm doing. My priorities are to continue to fight for manufacturing in my state and for jobs and health care and deal with lead issues in my beloved city of Cleveland, where I live, and every other city in the industrial Midwest.

I will put real effort into helping elect Hillary Clinton. I -- as I said, I love this job, and that's -- I'm just not going to give you a different answer.


BROWN: So, keep -- keep trying.

TAPPER: I would just say -- I would just say it's not Shermanesque.

But I appreciate...


BROWN: That's not -- I understand. I understand that.

TAPPER: OK, not a Shermanesque denial.


TAPPER: Senator Sherrod Brown, thank you so much.

Say hi to your wife for us. We appreciate it.

BROWN: Good to be back. Thanks. TAPPER: Coming up: Those Trump tapes that have everyone talking, the

reporter on the other end of the line says she thinks Trump leaked them himself, but why?

That when we come back.




TRUMP: Well, I'm not the president right now, so anything I suggest is really a suggestion. And if I were president, I'd put in legislation and do what I have to do.

MATT LAUER, NBC HOST: Would you put in legislation --

TRUMP: No, I'm looking at it very strongly.


TAPPER: Donald Trump this week saying that his campaign pledges are merely suggestions. Is he backing off one of his signature proposals? Here to talk with me about it, Donna Brazile, vice chair of the Democratic National Committee, Oregon senator, Jeff Merkley, who is supporting Bernie Sanders, Andre Bauer, former lieutenant governor of South Carolina who's supporting Donald Trump and CNN political commentator Ana Navarro.

Thanks one and all for being here.


TAPPER: Not supporting anybody.

I should point out that both Merkley and Bauer's names have been (INAUDIBLE) for vice president by me during the commercial break just a few minutes ago.

So let me just start with you, everything is a suggestion, Mr. Trump says, including he was specifically being asked about his proposed ban on all non-citizen Muslims entering the U.S. -- quote -- unquote -- "until we figure out what the hell is going on." Now he's saying it's just a suggestion.

Do you think that it might disappoint some of his supporters the idea that he seems to be kind of backing off?

ANDRE BAUER, FORMER SOUTH CAROLINA LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR: You know, his supporters are very loyal. They're so frustrated, he's talked about a multitude of different things. They're glad anybody is even engaging in the discussion at this point in time, because political hot button issue no one wants to engage in the discussion you can never fix them. So at least there's a candidate now who's willing to engage in some of these discussions that for far too long have been something that no one wanted touch so I think it doesn't do anything to hurt his group of supporters.

TAPPER: Donna.

DONNA BRAZILE, VICE CHAIRWOMAN, DEMOCRATIC NATIONAL COMMITTEE: But presidents don't suggest things. I mean, if Abraham Lincoln has suggested the emancipation and not actually gone forth, we would still have slavery. So I don't think presidents suggesting.

I think Donald Trump is in an awkward position because in a general election, which is different from the primary, we're going to bring up all of these so-called flip-flops on reproductive rights, on even one suggestion that he would support Hillary Clinton as president. Now of course he says something else. So (INAUDIBLE).

TAPPER: You're saying because he contributed to her in 2008?

BRAZILE: Absolutely so he'll (ph) be choosing for president

TAPPER: Senator?

SEN. JEFF MERKLEY (D), OREGON: This goes to the fact there is no ideological core no, policy core. We see that on issue after issue. We have a self-promoting huckster as a Republican nominee. We see this, for example, when he talks about creating jobs in America but in fact he imports workers from overseas to be employees in his enterprise.

There is no hard core and really, I mean, for folks to think that he's going to be a champion for workers, that's equivalent to asking the Koch brothers to be champions for solar power.


TAPPER: But, Ana, is this not -- I'll let you have the final word on this, but is this not reassuring to some in the Republican elite who want Mr. Trump to back away from some of these things said during the primaries? Is this not in a way potentially smart politics?

NAVARRO: If anything, we've learned from Donald Trump is that he can have one position one day and another position the next day. He can have one position one hour, another position another hour.

I actually found this answer about things being a suggestion during the presidential campaign a refreshingly blunt and frank answer. We could fill up buildings and buildings in Washington with campaign promises that candidates have made during campaigns that when they become president, if and when they become president really only turn out to be a suggestion.

Here's the bottom line. Both of the major candidates, the possible nominees have a slew of flip-flops. On Hillary Clinton's side, you could do trade, you could do TPP, you could do gay marriage.

On Donald Trump's side it is way too many for me to even get into, OK? There's just -- there's way too many from last week to get into, between Muslims and taxes and everything else. So you can take your choice, folks, which of these two inconsistent candidates do you want to vote with? Which of these two candidates who don't believe in transparency do you want to vote for?

TAPPER: Who are you going to vote for, Ana? Hold on --


NAVARRO: Let me just tell you -- I'm going to devote for Dwyane Wade. I think that's what I'm going to write. Go Heat.


TAPPER: But you -- the point you're making right now. You think that this is false equivalence (ph)?

BRAZILE: Look, I think for Republicans who are dealing with a very unpopular nominee their strategy is very clear to me. And I've watched -- Jake, I stood back for a whole week and just watched it and what I see is basically a party that wants to throw everything, every bit of mud that you raised today with Sherrod Brown about the Clinton global initiatives.

No money, zero money, zero change of hands, yet it was put in "The Wall Street Journal" with no sources, no fact, but it's salacious. And so you have to go ahead and muddy up the other candidate simply because you can't defend the presumptive nominee of the Republican Party.

NAVARRO: Donna, the bottom line is both parties are dealing with the most unpopular nominee they've had in history.

BRAZILE: I'm not going to contradict --


NAVARRO: You know I'm not going to...


BRAZILE: Don't litigate. Don't put that...


BRAZILE: ... in the middle of a campaign.

NAVARRO: ... reason why we are in mid-May. And there's still a Democratic primary going on, because both candidates are incredibly flawed and unpopular.

BRAZILE: Because we don't have winner-take-all. We don't have winner-take-all. We don't --


NAVARRO: No you've got two delegates... (CROSSTALK)

NAVARRO: ... you know, the epitome of Grand Poobah --


BRAZILE: You tell me.

NAVARRO: And so are you baby that's why I don't (INAUDIBLE) too much.


BRAZILE: I'm pointing at the person (INAUDIBLE).

TAPPER: OK. Andre, let me -- I know you want to say something but first I also want to play this tape as you know "The Washington Post" published some audio of Donald Trump on Friday.

"The Washington Post" saying it's him posing as his own spokesman -- quote -- unquote-- "John Miller." Now, yesterday Sue Carswell, who is a former "People" magazine reporter on the tape, she told CNN that she did not provide those tapes to the "The Washington Post" and she believes that Donald Trump did. Take a listen.


SUE CARSWELL, FORMER REPORTER, PEOPLE MAGAZINE: I didn't release the tape. I believe he did.

MICHAEL SMERCONISH, CNN ANCHOR: Just to distract our attention from all the other things that have now been published about him?



TAPPER: Is that possible, Donald Trump released his own tape to change subject from the tax returns or from whatever?


BAUER: Think of how silly that is. Who wouldn't rather talk about their tax returns?

Look, Anderson Cooper does a great impersonation of Donald Trump. The number of people that do Donald Trump impersonations is going to be "yuge." You're going to continue to see it more and more clearly that would be --

TAPPER: So you think it's an impersonator. You think it's somebody --

BAUER: I don't know who it is. And my job is not to decipher that.

And I think there's so much bigger issues to be engaged in that this is not going to be -- we may get involved in whether it's important. The average person out there that doesn't think their income's right, doesn't think their country is moving in the right direction, they're way more concerned about that than who this is.

TAPPER: Ana, who do you think is on the tape?

NAVARRO: Look, since I don't partake of Trump Kool-Aid I clearly think that is Donald Trump on the tape. And frankly I think it's just one more dose of the, you know, daily telenovela drama that we are getting out of this campaign on a daily basis. We get it doled out by little doses by little doses daily. Maybe he released it so that it doesn't come out in October. It's a lot better to deal with this in May...

TAPPER: If so that's smart.

NAVARRO: ... than it is in October.

What has surprised me is that he hasn't done what he's done with so many other things that have come out so far which is basically shrug his shoulders and laugh it off and say that was then, I'm a presidential candidate now.

TAPPER: All right. Stay with us. As Donna mentioned there's this new report in "The Wall Street Journal" raising more questions about former president Bill Clinton and the Clinton Foundation. Donna I'm sure will have a lot to say about that.

Will it become a problem for Hillary Clinton? Stay with us.




DAVID AXELROD, "THE AXE FILES" HOST: What would you be saying about her if you were doing your show right now?

JON STEWART, FORMER HOST "THE DAILY SHOW": What I think about Hillary Clinton is, you know, I imagine to be a very bright woman without the courage of her convictions because I'm not even sure what they are.


TAPPER: Ouch. That was former "Daily Show" anchor Jon Stewart's take on the possible Democratic nominee and leading Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton.

She is slouching (ph) towards victory. Just a handful of pledged delegates away from locking up the nomination but still fending off rival Bernie Sanders who keeps racking up wins.

Let's go back to our panel now.

And, Donna, Jon Stewart I don't think there's any mystery as to who he's going to vote for in November if it comes down to Hillary Clinton versus Donald Trump. But isn't his voice very progressive kind of one of the problems for Hillary Clinton? There are a lot of progressives out there, you are sitting next to one of them, who have their doubts about her?

BRAZILE: You're looking at a progressive. You're going to have somebody who I believe has fought for every battle on the progressive cause but you're also looking at someone who has as well. Hillary Clinton has been out there in the fight for as long as I can remember.


Jake, I remember when I worked for the Children's Defense Fund, working on a project with Marian Wright Edelman, this is a woman who went back to my beloved south, your beloved south, to fight for poor kids to make sure they have health insurance, woman who believes that human rights -- equal rights they are important symbols of our national government. So I disagree with Jon Stewart, who I love and admire, but she's a woman of strong convictions.

TAPPER: Senator Merkley, your home state of Oregon I would say they vote Tuesday but probably been voting for the last three months.

MERKLEY: That's right.

TAPPER: But the final result comes in on Tuesday.

Bernie Sanders is expected to do quite well there, but the math, the delegate math is almost insurmountable, take a look. You have Clinton with 1,720 pledged delegates plus 521 super delegates, 2,241, Bernie Sanders 1,426 pledged delegates, 41 super delegates, 1,467. Even if you take out the super delegates she still has this 300 delegate lead which is much wider than the lead Obama had or Hillary Clinton.

MERKLEY: Absolutely. It's an uphill climb. He'd need to win about two-thirds of the remaining regular delegates.

If he was to win the regular delegates it would be a conversation. Super delegates don't really belong in the Democratic Party. But it's an uphill climb. But such an important conversation for New Jersey to have this conversation, Kentucky, Oregon, California, the Dakotas, for every voter in the Democratic Party in America to be able to weigh in about these big issues facing -- we're talking about all the scandals, scandal, scandal but there's these big issues.

In fact the middle class is getting squeezed. The middle class is being left out in the cold and Bernie is creating a clear message resonating with Americans about the fact that we don't just need small changes. We need big changes. We need to put this nation back on track and that's why it's important to carry this conversation through all of the primaries.

TAPPER: Let's talk about the questions raised in "The Wall Street Journal" report about the Clinton Global Initiative, what the report basically suggests is that Bill Clinton steered money and he has these conferences, and he gets private equity -- private capital to go to causes that he finds important and one of them was this green energy firm that was partly owned by a friend of his and he steered $2 million toward it. Now the Clinton Foundation says there's nothing untoward at all. This is what he does but it is a for profit organization.

Is this kind of thing -- do you think it's going to hurt her?

BAUER: Of course it is. She's going to continue to struggle with all voters because of the perception of an inability to be honest.

TAPPER: And Donna, you say there's nothing untoward here at all?

BRAZILE: Well, first of all it's very difficult to disprove a lie in this culture because what we have today --

TAPPER: What's a lie of what I just said?

BRAZILE: Because there was zero money exchanged. What Bill Clinton --

TAPPER: It was a pledge. It was a pledge.

BRAZILE: It was a pledge. What Bill Clinton did and a lot of foundations and everyone knew this, Jake, including the Republicans like Carly Fiorina, like you know, the Bush family, that have gone to these Clinton Global Initiatives, where they basically identify people with money to help these causes, in this case a green energy company that insulates low income houses.

This is a good cause but instead of talking about the cause, we got to talk about the controversy because of course the only thing that keeps the Republican Party going at night, because it can't have any issues is this whole issue of trying to find a scandal. There's no scandal. This is a discredited book.

I read it. It's salacious journalism and it should not be in "The Wall Street Journal."

TAPPER: As quickly as possible.

NAVARRO: It's "The Wall Street Journal," it's not the "Enquirer."

Look, everybody knows what we're getting with the Clintons. We're getting a family that blurs lines between philanthropy, politics and business. That's just what it is.

There are no saints running for president this year. Take your choice, folks. I think we know all the warts that come with both of them, and you know, frankly, she should release the transcripts and he should release the tax returns. The American people should make this decision as bad as our choices are as informed as we can be.

TAPPER: Got to go. Sorry.

The hottest political event in town is a graduation ceremony this weekend. That's right. Both Donald Trump and Vice President Biden will be in the audience at today's University of Pennsylvania commencement. What could happen? It's the subject of this week's "State of the Cartoonion" that's next.



TAPPER: Welcome back.

This year college graduation season happens to intersect with election season. At one particular graduation ceremony today in the great city of Philadelphia, attendees will be treated to more than your average pomp and circumstance and that is the subject of this week's "State of the Cartoonion."


TAPPER (voice-over): Congratulations, graduates of the University of Pennsylvania, class of 2016.

We apologize for all the secret service agents here today. Even though you've spent your lives being coddled and told you're very important people, we have here today two actual very important people in attendance.

TRUMP: Everybody knows what a great school it is. Everybody knows that to get into Wharton is probably the hardest school to get into.

TAPPER: That's right. Please welcome Donald Trump, an alumnus of our business school.

TRUMP: I'm really smart. Went to the Wharton school of finance, did well at the school, came out, made a fortune.

TAPPER: Trump is here to celebrate the graduation today of his youngest daughter, Tiffany, who he says got all As and is a winner

TIFFANY TRUMP, DAUGHTER OF DONALD TRUMP: His hard work ethic is truly inspiring. Whenever I'm, you know, at school studying these long hours, I see him on TV without any sleep and it just makes me want to continue to work harder.

TAPPER: Also here today, Vice President Joe Biden, here to celebrate the graduation of his granddaughter, Naomi. We'll be trying to keep the vice president and Mr. Trump separated, since how this election has played out was not really the stuff of Mr. Biden's dreams.


JOE BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think I would have been the best president, but it was the right thing not just for my family, but for me.

TAPPER: We considered asking the vice president to give the commencement address today, but we did not want to keep you here until the next semester. We did ask Mr. Trump his advice to the students assembled here. He said, there's nothing wrong with the size of his hands. OK. Anyway, congratulations, graduates. (END VIDEOTAPE)

TAPPER: Thanks for spending your Sunday with us.

You can catch me here every Sunday and weekdays on "THE LEAD" at 4:00 p.m. Eastern. Go to, that's STATE OF THE UNION for extras from the show.

I'm Jake Tapper in Washington.