Return to Transcripts main page


Interview with Michael Flynn; Interview with Rep. Adam Schiff; Clinton Gives Press Conference on Campaign Plane; Clinton to Speak in Florida, Trump to Speak in Virginia. Aired 1:30-2p ET

Aired September 06, 2016 - 13:30   ET


[13:30:00] LT. GEN. FLYNN, SENIOR MILITARY ADVISOR, DONALD TRUMP PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN & FORMER DIRECTOR, THE DEFENSE INTELLIGENCE AGENCY: They have been in the last 24 hours or so. There are some timing issues there.

We have been the best enemies and the worst friends around the world and we have got to stop being both of those, Wolf. We have to stop telegraphing everything that we are going to do when it comes to fighting our enemies and we have to stand up with some of the friends that we have around the world. Otherwise, nation states, countries like China, Russia, they will not hold the level of respect for you personally, Mr. President, or for this country. That's something we can not afford to happen.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: General Flynn, thank you so much for joining us?

FLYNN: Thanks, Wolf, appreciate it.

BLITZER: Democratic presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton, gave her first press gaggle, as they call it, a little news conference while en route from White Plains, New York, to Tampa, Florida, where she'll hold a campaign event in a few minutes. She took aim at Donald Trump focusing in on his failure to release his tax returns.




CLINTON: I had so much fun yesterday. I did want to do this again. Adventures on the plane.

I just want to start by referencing something that Donald Trump told ABC News. He said that the American people don't care about his tax returns. In fact, he has also said it is none of our business. I just think he is dead --



BLITZER: Clearly, we have got to cue that tape up. It just happened moments ago. That's precisely what we are going to do. We are going to play for you the entire exchange that Hillary Clinton had with the reporters aboard her plane.

Let's take a quick break. Much more right after this.


[13:36:35] BLITZER: Welcome back we're standing by. We have the tape of Hillary Clinton. She just answered a whole bunch of questions aboard her plane on her flight from New York down to Florida. We're going to play that tape. She really goes after Donald Trump on a whole host of issues, including his refusal to release his tax returns, among other issues. We're going to get to that tape in a moment.

Adam Schiff is with us, the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, Democrat from California.

I want to get your reaction to what we just heard from retired Lieutenant General Michael Flynn, former head of the Defense Agency. What stood out to you?

REP. ADAM SCHIFF, (D), CALIFORNIA: What stood out to me, you asked him about not meeting with the Philippines president and Trump's claim he would have taken Air Force One away, is Flynn made it clear he believed we should stand up to bullies. When you asked him about Putin, he wasn't willing to say the man's name or showed no willingness to talk about Russia's involvement in hacking. For someone who has leaned so far forward in accusations, it was very notable he was unwilling to take on Russia and their cyber activity. It speaks a lot to Flynn's own relationship with Russian TV, the Kremlin mouthpiece, as well as the whole Trump's campaign's affection for the Russian dictator.

BLITZER: When you say Flynn's relationship on Russian TV, what do you mean by that?

SCHIFF: This is someone that appears on Russian television, who was invited to a dinner to sit next to Putin at that Russian TV's annual dinner. This is the propaganda arm of Putin, the Kremlin. To go to Moscow to say at times things disparaging of the United States, I think shows a closeness to the Russians that characterizes the entire Trump campaign. This is a candidate that has talked disparaging about NATO and speaks flatteringly of Putin, the fact that the Trump campaign is so infused with people that have a favorable opinion of this bully. Flynn, when you invited him to confront that bully, wasn't willing to. He was willing to talk about the Philippine president but not talk about someone who may be actively trying to involve ourselves in this.


BLITZER: What is the point you are trying to make about General Flynn, retired U.S. lieutenant general, former head of the Defense Intelligence Agency? What's the point you are suggesting about his relationship with the Russian government? SCHIFF: I think General Flynn, like so many surrounding Trump, and

Trump himself, has a rosy view of Vladimir Putin. When he is asked to talk about Russia's interference, its hacking, he doesn't take the opportunity to talk about it. He said, I don't know anything about that. You'll have to ask the government. What kind of an answer is that?

BLITZER: What is the answer to that? Are the Russians directly interfering in the U.S. election process?

SCHIFF: On the basis of the public information, that he ought to be aware of, that I'm certainly aware of, there is very strong evidence of the Russians hacking into the DNC and into DCCC. There is very clear motivation for them to be behind the dumping of information as well. This is a pattern and practice we have seen the Russians undertake in Europe. It's consistent with their modus operandi. The fact that Flynn is unwilling to talk about it tells me that the Trump campaign is just too much in the corner of Vladimir Putin. That is very much against our national security interests. I would love to ask those people who signed that letter on behalf of the Trump campaign, those retired flag officers, what they think of Trump's disparagement of NATO and his glorification of Putin.

[13:40:28] BLITZER: Do you believe the Russians are interfering, hacking, if you will, DNC computers, DCCC computers, Hillary Clinton's campaign, because they want Donald Trump to be the next president of the United States? Is that your suspicion?

SCHIFF: My suspicion, based on the public information, which is very powerful, is that the Russians want to interfere in our elections. They want to sow discord. They would prefer to see Donald Trump, for all the reasons I mentioned. They don't want to see Hillary Clinton as president because they know she will maintain sanctions against them and can build support for international sanctions, as she has as secretary of state. But it is as much about disrupting and discrediting American democracy. We are in a fight over ideas. They are holding up their authoritarian model. We are holding up the democratic model.

BLITZER: Congressman Schiff, thanks so much for coming in.

SCHIFF: Thanks, Wolf.

BLITZER: Adam Schiff is the ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee.

Up next, we are standing by for Hillary Clinton. She is getting ready to take the stage in Tampa for a campaign rally. We'll go there live when she is on the stage.

Stay with us. Much more right after this.


[13:46:02] BLITZER: Right now, keeping an eye on Tampa, Florida, where Hillary Clinton is expected to take the stage for a live event. We'll have live coverage. We are watching the stage in Virginia Beach, Virginia, where Donald Trump is getting ready to take part in a national security town hall.

Here with us, our chief political correspondent, Dana Bash; Susan Page, the Washington bureau chief for "USA Today"; and Ryan Lizza, our CNN political commentator, the Washington correspondent for "The New Yorker."

Guys, everyone, stand by.

We have the tape moments ago on the flight to Florida. Hillary Clinton answered reporters' questions and she was very tough on Donald Trump.


CLINTON: I just want to start by referencing something that Donald Trump told ABC News. He said that the American people don't care about his tax returns. In fact, he has also said it is none of our business. I just think he is dead wrong. The reason presidential candidates, going back decades, have released their tax returns is because the American people want to know. If they are going to entrust a president with the management of our country's finances, they want to know, how did this person handle his or her own finances, which is one of the reasons why we've released 40 years of tax returns.

It's especially important given what we are discovering, not from Trump himself, but from the kind of work that many of you are doing and your outlets are doing. What have we learned? We have learned that Donald Trump has been bankrupt in his company six times. He has been sued about 4,000 times. He has been accused repeatedly of fraudulent behavior. His so-called Trump University is under investigation right now because of the way it has scammed so many students who thought they would get a better opportunity in life.

We've recently learned his Trump Foundation has been fined for illegal activity when it made a political contribution to the attorney general of Florida at the time she was being asked by her constituents to investigate Trump University, because of the effects that these people that she is responsible for had experienced. As we know, there was a phone conversation between them. They contradict each other. The American people deserve to know what was said. Clearly, the attorney general did not proceed with the investigation.

The list is growing. "The Washington Post" has a long list of many of the behaviors, the experiences, the activities that Trump is engaged in that raise serious questions. "The New York Times" discovered about $650 million owed to foreign banks and foreign entities. We know about his relationships with the Kremlin, his own and those of people with whom he has worked.

Truly, the list goes on and on, the scams, the frauds, the questionable relationships, the business activities that have stiffed workers, refused to pay small businesses. So clearly his tax returns tell a story that an American people deserve and need to know. And his continuing claim that he can't release his tax returns because he is under audit has been disproved repeatedly.

[13:50:10] And so the question really is, will he abide by the precedent that everyone else -- Republican and Democrat alike -- have fulfilled in providing that critical information to the American people. I think the burden is on him, and, indeed, for the rest of us in the campaign, on our side, the press, the public, to demand what a big majority of the American public says they want, which is for him to release his tax returns.

So I'm going to continue to raise this because I think it is a fundamental issue about him in this campaign that we're going to talk about in one way or another for the next 62 days because he clearly has something to hide. We don't know exactly what it is, but we're getting better guesses about what it probably is. And if he's going to pursue this campaign, he owes it to the American people to come clean and release those tax returns.

So we'll take some questions.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: With that, let's start with Jennifer here.


UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Do you think that you are held to a different -- (INAUDIBLE). More broadly, Jason Chaffetz today asked a judge to look into the deletion of your e-mails, he said he is doing another hearing concerning FOIA on Thursday. Are you concerned they're just going to continue to dig in to you and are you worried that if you win, they are going to keep doing that?

CLINTON: Jen, that's a very good question. Jen basically said I think there is a different standard for Trump, and do I think that a lot of these issues that are raised about Trump are dismissed because somehow the American public has factored in to their assessment of him that that's the kind of guy he is. A lot of this behavior coming from him seems to be expected somehow. And that's fine if you're a reality TV star or you're a real estate developer. I don't think it is fine if you want to be president of the United States. And I could only say, look, this is not new to me. You could go back and look at a lot of what has been said about me by so many people, going back 25 years. And so it's something that I just accepted.

When I'm in office, I work well with Republicans and I believe as president I will work well with Republicans again. We have a long archive of quite complimentary comments that Republicans, who have worked with me, have said over the years.

And I think we should do more to get those out, Nick.

Because they come from the center to the far right in terms of people who I worked with as first lady, I worked with as Senator, I worked with as secretary of state. I know how to work with Republicans. I believe we can get results when I am president. But I have no doubt that they would prefer not to have another Democratic president in the White House. And so I'm running for this job. I believe I'm the best person for this job. And they're going to keep coming after me. And your example about the congressman calling for more hearings is

just a perfect segue, because the FBI resolved all of this. Their report answered all the questions. The findings included debunking his latest conspiracy theories. I believe I have created so many jobs in the sort of conspiracy theory machine factory because, honestly, they never quit. They keep coming back. And here's another one. It's been debunked. If that's how they want to spend their time instead of looking to address the problems of the American people, that' their choice. But when I'm president, we're going to get down to business and we're going to get results.


CLINTON: Oh, you know what? I can't speak for what they want do. You think they'd have learned a lesson from this campaign. Why did someone come from the outside and seize their nomination who had never been in public service before, with the kind of record he has, of bankruptcies and fraud allegations and all kinds of questions about his deals and who finances him, because clearly Republicans were not producing results for people who support them. And I think that's what one of the results of this election will be.

[13:55:18] You don't keep doing the same thing in politics over and over again when it's not working. And it is clearly not working for a lot of the Republicans. Those who are in safe districts are looking over their shoulder right now.

So I think that they're going to have to come to the conclusion that maybe they should actually produce results for the American people and not engage in all of this partisan conspiracy theorizing that doesn't put one more good job for anybody on the table, doesn't educate a kid, doesn't improve health care, doesn't do anything, other than try to keep people agitated so that they can take advantage of them politically.


BLITZER: Hillary Clinton speaking to reporters aboard her plane. Second day in a row she's gone to the back of the plane to meet with the press.

Dana Bash, Ryan Lizza, Susan Page still with us.

She was very tough, reinforcing the whole notion of why hasn't Donald Trump released his tax returns.

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: This is a benefit of talking to the press. You can take questions, and you're going to get tough questions, but you also can try to set the agenda. And it is very clear that one of the main reasons she came back today is to set the agenda and she said it point-blank, to say she is going to keep talking about the fact that Donald Trump hasn't released his taxes. By the candidate herself doing that, in this kind of forum, it is going to keep the pressure on Donald Trump.

But more importantly, I think, going back to our poll today that shows that Donald Trump, not Hillary Clinton, is seen as by far the most trustworthy and honest, she's trying to turn that on its head saying, hey, wait a minute, he's not getting the same kind of scrutiny that I am. We don't know anything about his personal finances. We should be asking that question and she will continue to try to do so to flip those numbers around.

BLITZER: Ryan, what was your reaction?

RYAN LIZZA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I agree with Dana it is a bit strategy from a month where basically the Clinton M.O. was to let Donald Trump step in a lot of misstatements and bad news cycles. All of a sudden, it is after Labor Day and there are two polls in a row that show a tightening race. There is no doubt her convention bump is gone. The race has gone from high single digits to sort of mid-low single digits. And that may -- I think she's now going to engage a little bit more forcefully and has decided that she needs to come out and hit him a little harder and not just let Trump mess up on his own, which was part of the strategy in August. Because the polls show a tightening race that must be extremely concerning to Democrats waking up to that CNN poll this morning.


BLITZER: Susan, I know it shook up a lot of Democrats, including some people in the Hillary Clinton orbit, if you will. Susan, that poll that came out, CNN/ORC poll shows a slight advantage right now among likely voters for Donald Trump.

SUSAN PAGE, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, USA TODAY: Yes, Hillary Clinton has definitely lost that bounce she got from the Democratic convention. We're in this new phase after Labor Day. We are also three weeks out from the first debate. One thing you heard from Hillary Clinton in these comments to reporters was trying to outline, sparring, if you will, preparation for the debates and see what kind of attack might get under his skin and get him to react in that first debate at Hofstra (ph) on the 26th. This is the next big event we know is coming. There may be no bigger event in this election than that debate.

BLITZER: How ugly, Susan, is it going to be?

PAGE: I think -- well, this has been a campaign of attack and counterattack. It is hard to remember a campaign that has been as relentlessly negative as this one. I think there is no reason to expect that that first debate won't just increase, just intensify the attacks we've heard from each of these on the other. Each wants this election to be a referendum on the other guy.

BLITZER: You agree, Dana?

BASH: Oh, absolutely. But I think the stakes are much higher in this debate, in all of these debates for Hillary Clinton because the expectations are higher for her because she is a seasoned politician, she is a seasoned debater. Yes, we saw Donald Trump in the primaries debate for the first time, but he is a first-time politician. For lots of reasons, maybe it is not fair but it is the way it is, the onus is on her.

BLITZER: We're standing by to hear from Hillary Clinton. She's got a rally that she's going to be addressing momentarily down in Florida. Donald Trump has a town hall on national security in Virginia. Lots more live coverage coming up right here on CNN.

That's it for me. Thanks very much for watching. The news continues right now on CNN.