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@THISHOUR WITH BERMAN AND MICHAELA
Hillary's "Hard Choices" Hits Bookstores; A Look at Hillary's Political Future; Pushback from Democrats and Republicans on Bergdahl Prisoner Swap
Aired June 10, 2014 - 11:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN CO-ANCHOR: You can now read it for yourself. Hillary Clinton's "Hard Choices" is at a bookstore or maybe on a Kindle near you.
What might book sales tell us about presidential prospects?
JOHN BERMAN, CNN CO-ANCHOR: Consumed by hatred and by each other, the Las Vegas killers, how could so much bile, so much possible violence go so unnoticed for so long?
PEREIRA: Frightening video. seemingly right out of a bad dream, an elevator going up, fast and out of control, with a man trapped inside.
BERMAN: Hello, everyone. Great to see you today. I'm John Berman.
PEREIRA: Opposed to every other day or --
BERMAN: Just today it's great to see you all.
PEREIRA: I'm Michaela Pereira. It's 11:00 a.m. in the East and 8:00 out West, those stories and much more, right now, @ THIS HOUR.
Big day for "Hard Choices," no, we're not talking about the hard choices you face at home. We're talking about Hillary Clinton's long awaited memoir. It is out today, online and in bookstores.
BERMAN: The former secretary of state has been doing the hard sell. See what we did there?
In her book and here many appearances, she's defended her job as secretary of state, which of course means defending her role in the situation surrounding Benghazi, the attack that left four Americans dead.
Here's what she told ABC's Robin Roberts this morning.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HILLARY CLINTON, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: But I've obviously thought about this long and hard, and the security issues around this attack or the attacks we had when my husband was president or when President Reagan was in office, you learn from them.
You can't always predict. You can't always sit in an office in Washington and say, well, we think this, this, and this will happen.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: Interesting comparison there to the other Clinton era and the Reagan era, as well.
PEREIRA: @ THIS HOUR, she's set to start signing copies of that book for supporters that are lining up, or depending on how you view things, for people that are potential voters.
Our Jason Carroll is outside of the book signing at a Barnes & Noble in New York City.
Curious about the turnout there, is it feeling like a political rally? Are folks lining up to get a potential bestseller?
JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Political rally, that's a very interesting choice of words.
There turnout here, as you can imagine, is incredible. You're not going to find very many Benghazi critics in this line.
Take a look. It goes down the block, as you can see here, straight to Park Avenue and then whips around the block and goes up Park Avenue.
On the other side, here you can see a crush of media waiting for Clinton's arrival. She's expected, actually, to arrive within the next few minutes or so. Everyone waiting in line to get a copy of this "Hard Choices," we already have our copy.
As I said, you're not likely to find in this big, long line, as least not in the people we've polled, a lot of Clinton critics. But you will find a lot of curious people and a lot of Clinton's fans.
One of them here is Heather. She is from Pittsburgh. I know you came out and you've been waiting quite a while.
Tell me, what are you looking to find in this book that you haven't seen or you haven't read already?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think that Hillary had a really fascinating career as secretary of state.
From what I've heard, there's a lot in the book around policy and experiences that she had when she visited over 100 countries. And I'm looking forward to reading about that.
CARROLL: I'm curious what you make of those that criticize Clinton for her role in Benghazi. Is that a concern for you going forward? Have you been satisfied in terms of what you've heard so far?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, yeah. That's not at all a consideration for me. Of course every American is sad for the lives that were lost at Benghazi, but certainly the secretary of state answered all of the questions that she possibly could when she gave testimony.
And also you have to think about 9/11 and so many other moments when the U.S. security wasn't perfect. It happened.
But we didn't bring George Bush and Dick Cheney and keep making them testify about that. And I think it's important for people to move on.
CARROLL: I know that you're going to be encouraging Clinton to run when you get a chance to get up there and speak to her.
I know this young lady here is on the fence. This is Claire from Tennessee. Claire, you don't know very much about Clinton. You're here out of curiosity?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yeah. I wanted to know more about someone who is going to be major -- or is a major political player and who may be running for president in 2016.
CARROLL: If you have an opportunity to speak to her, what would you say?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think I would just ask her why is it important that she be the president? I think with all of the talk about a woman being president, that it's more than just gender.
I want someone capable and a good leader. And if that happens to be a woman, that's awesome. I think that's great for women.
But I want to know who the most capable person is for the job.
CARROLL: Well spoken. I hope you get an opportunity to ask her a question once you get up there.
Again, when I was also in line here, one of the ladies who was here told me you felt as thought this was the unofficial beginning of Hillary Clinton's campaign.
I want to show you something right over here right across the street. This, I should say, in full disclosure is not officially -- let's wait until the truck goes by. It's New York. These things happen. There you go.
But just want you to know that this is not affiliated with the Hillary Clinton people who are here, but these people joined the movement ReadyForHillary.com. There's folks are trying to support her to make that run.
Back to you guys.
BERMAN: All right, Jason Carroll from outside of the book signing. It leaves you wondering. Are they there for possible selection of a book club book or a selection of something else, right?
BERMAN: So let's talk more now about Hillary Clinton. Let's bring in our senior media correspondent Brian Stelter and senior political correspondent Brianna Keilar. Brianna, I want to start with you here, because you were reporting all yesterday on what some people were calling perhaps the first gaffe of the Clinton campaign or the Clinton effort when she talked about being "dead broke: when she left the White House with her husband Bill Clinton.
This morning, it may be the first campaign cleanup. Let's listen to what she said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CLINTON: As I recall we were something like $12 million in debt. And that was something that we really had to work hard, and I was in the Senate and could not do anything to help us meet those obligations.
And I'm very grateful that my husband who's always been a hard worker since he was born poor and given opportunities with a good education and strong values to work hard and take responsibility, he did that.
You know, we understand what that struggle is because we had student debts, both of us, we had to pay off. We've had to work. I had a couple jobs in law school. He had lots of jobs.
So we have a life experience that is clearly different in very dramatic ways from many Americans but we also have gone through some of the same challenges as many people have.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: So, Brianna, whether or not you believe this was a gaffe or not, I do think it's safe to say this is not the sound bite the Clintons want to be discussing, surrounding the release of the book.
How much consternation did this cause overnight in Clinton world?
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Certainly they're not going to come out and say that it's causing them consternation, but I definitely think it did. And I think from their perspective this was a mess up. And you saw that in her cleanup today.
I have no doubt that Hillary Clinton and the Clintons, when they came out of the White House looking at millions of dollars in debt, really felt like they were in the hole. They had not been rich before going into the White House.
But it's not something that regular Americans connect with. And I would say the $8 million book advance that she had, as well, when she came out of the White House.
They did, I will tell you -- it was reported at the time -- when they needed to secure a loan on their house in Chappaqua and also it was very expensive, almost a $2 million home, they had to get backing of their chief fundraiser, Terry McAuliffe. He put forth most of the money to back that loan.
But again, it's not something that normal people connect with. So I think she's looking at this, and even though we see Hillary Clinton as this big political figure and she must obviously know what she's doing, I think this was a mess up.
And I think you're looking at someone who hasn't really been flexing a lot of these muscles for a while, and so she's kind of in the deep end. And we're seeing, you know, that she kind of needs to do a little -- I guess you could say -- working out of that muscle.
PEREIRA: Yeah, that's a good point. Not a lot of folks can't relate to $ 2.4 million house or having a friend you could ask for that kind of cash.
BERMAN: Terry McAuliffe (inaudible).
PEREIRA: Yeah, exactly.
So, Brian, real quick, I want to ask you about this. We were looking at the book and the reaction. There's a line up outside of people outside trying to get this book.
Not a lot of reviews are saying that there's anything breaking. I think Ana Navarro called it "Fifty Shades of Boring."
Yet the appearances, getting out there in front of the media, that is going to be dissected more so than the book, do you think, or do you think it's going to be about equal?
BRIAN STELTER, CNN SENIOR MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: I think, absolutely, the interviews are more significant than the book itself.
A million copies of this book have been printed by Simon & Schuster. I would be surprised if they're able to sell all of those copies. But that's something that they clearly believe they can do.
What's more important than the million copies are the tens of millions of people that she'll reach through all of these television interviews. She's going on every major network, including CNN, including Fox News next week.
So she's answering so many questions.
PEREIRA: And in different ways too, right?
STELTER: Let's say she runs a year from now. Let's say this time next year she's announcing a presidential campaign. She'll be able to refer back to all of her answers from now and say we already addressed Benghazi, we already addressed why I was in debt and how we paid our bills after my husband's presidency.
You know what it reminds me of? We talked a few weeks ago about Beyonce and Jay-Z and that elevator dispute.
That statement, they issued that long statement where they said they resolved it. That way, they'll never have to answer questions about it again. You can always refer back to the statement, that was in my statement. Hillary Clinton can say that was in my book.
PEREIRA: But it's also a good way for her to fine tune that message each time she goes on one of these --
STELTER: In reality, of course she will be asked about Benghazi a year or two from now, and she's setting her perimeters of how she's going to answer those questions.
Diane Sawyer said, Do you want to say something like I should have blank? I should have done something. She did not fill in that blank. If she didn't with Diane Sawyer, I don't think she's going to with anybody else either.
BERMAN: We'll see, tomorrow or the next day or the next day after that.
But of course on CNN, we'll see it with live audience during a town meeting here, which is very exciting.
Brian Stelter --
STELTER: (Inaudible) hear the voters in line, by the way. Excuse me, voters? Book buyers. Book buyers, because those are the ones that ultimately matter the most.
BERMAN: They do. Brian Stelter, Brianna Keilar, great to have you here with us. Really appreciate it.
PEREIRA: We still have more to talk about regarding Hillary Clinton, coming up, what she has to say about Monica Lewinsky and why she says Benghazi attack could motivate her to run for president.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CLINTON: That very first day, the Obama campaign said we want you to go out and criticize her.
I said for what? For being a woman? No, let's wait until we know where she stands. I don't know anything about her. Do you know anything about her? And nobody of course did.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PEREIRA: Hillary Clinton there, talking about Sarah Palin, sexism, talking about the 2008 election, and now of course everyone is looking forward to 2016, toward the presidential election.
BERMAN: Yeah, you'll be shocked to know that Hillary Clinton has not said whether she is running for president or not. However, she's talking now about what could motivate her hypothetically to run if she decides that's what she wants to do.
We're joined now by our political commentators Maria Cardona and Ana Navarro. Guys, thank you so much for being with us. Obviously Benghazi is an issue that is surrounding the secretary of state. It did at the end of her time as secretary of state and now it's clearly a part of this book as well. She was asked about that in her interview. Let's listen to what she said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HILARY CLINTON, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: What I do not appreciate is politicizing this at the expense of four dead Americans. That's not what we used to do in this country. When 258 Americans were killed in Beirut in two separate attacks, people mourned. People were shocked. Decisions were made. Bring them out. Strengthen the embassy.
DIANE SAWYER, ABC NEWS: Is that another reason not to run?
CLINTON: No, actually. It's more of a reason to run because I do not believe our great country should be playing minor league ball. We ought to be in the majors. I view this as really apart from even a diversion from the hard work that Congress should be doing about the problems facing our country and the world.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: More of a reason to run. She wants to play in majors and not minors. Maria Cardona, that's the sound bite clearly the secretary of state was after there. What's the message she's trying to send to supporters?
MARIA CARDONA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think what she's trying to say is that clearly she understand that if she runs that Benghazi is going to be probably the No. 1 Republican talking point and that if she runs, she's not backing down. She's going to go on offense. She's very clear about her message on Benghazi which was, look, she took absolute complete responsibility for this. Put out a really critical report of her own tenure at the state department during that, embraced and implemented 29 recommendations of the review board and is telling the American people that this is actually how you deal with the kind of tragedy that honors the lives of the four Americans that died there. You look at what needs to be done and you hopefully work in a bipartisan way to move forward and ensure that it doesn't happen again. I think that's music to the ears of her supporters who are hoping that she runs.
PEREIRA: I want to play another bit of sound for you. I know we have been talking a fair amount here about the fact that the name Monica Lewinsky can't seem to get away from Hillary Clinton. Let's play the sound. We'll get your reaction on the back end and see what you think.
(BEGIN VIDE CLIP)
SAWYER: Monica Lewinsky is back in the news.
CLINTON: Well, she's perfectly free to do that. She is in my view an American who gets to express herself however she chooses. But that's not something that I spend a lot of time thinking about. SAWYER: Is there anything you would say to her about her life?
CLINTON: I would wish her well. I hope that she's able to think about her future and construct a life that she finds meaning and satisfaction in.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PEREIRA: Ana, both John and I felt a little uncomfortable. You can't help but maybe you're imaging that she's bristling at the idea of it being brought up. I'm curious what your reaction is.
ANA NAVARRO, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I kept thinking to myself if I was asked that question is there anything you would like to tell Monica Lewinsky what I would have answered. I think Hillary Clinton handled that question beautifully. It was her best answer in the entire interview. She handling it with class and restraint and frankly I think it's time to drop that issue. It was not her failing. It was not Hillary's failing. It was Bill Clinton's failing. She should not be asked questions about it. She should not be held responsible for it. She should not be made to answer about it. To me, it is time that we all move on from that issue.
Now, going back to Benghazi though, I will tell you it's not a Republican talking point Maria. It's an American question. All of the polls show that over 50 percent of Americans have questions still. Then you have got to tell the American people that. At least 50 percent of them still think they haven't been answered. And the question is was it politicized by the White House in the midst of an election when they went out and said it was a video. Those are questions the American people still have. I think Hillary Clinton if she runs is going to have to address them and recognizes that. That's why it's part of the book.
CARDONA: She hasn't said she wouldn't answer them.
BERMAN: Can I ask you simple yes or no question here. Really I mean yes or no. Do either of you think this election will be won or lost on the issue of Benghazi? Maria, yes or no answer?
CARDONA: Absolutely not.
NOVARRA: No. No.
BERMAN: All right. Agreement. A rare, rare moment of agreement there. Ana Navarro, Maria Cardona, thank you so much for being with us. Really appreciate it. Of course we are watching every word that Hillary Clinton says. Right here on CNN we have what may be the most interesting interview moment, public speaking.
PEREIRA: Are you doing it?
BERMAN: No, no. Better. Christiane Amanpour, Hillary Clinton, a CNN live town hall on Tuesday, June 17th at 5:00 and 9:00 p.m. eastern time. Pretty interesting stuff. You will want to watch this. What the voters, what public and readers have to ask her, obviously so important.
PEREIRA: Still ahead, new outrage over the Bowe Bergdahl swap. Lawmakers say if the president briefed them on Osama bin Laden, why didn't he trust them with the deal with the Taliban. And whose decision was it any way? We'll explore ahead.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. ADAM SCHIFF, (D) CALIFORNIA: But I think it would have been far wiser for the administration to have notify the, certainly the leadership of Congress in the interest of having good relations with a co-equal branch of government. So they should have done it. It was a mistake that they didn't. The fact that there were so many people within the know in the administration doesn't help their case. One other fact I'll raise is that most of the leaks that have taken place have come from the administration and not from Congress. So they really should have brought, at least the leadership within confidence and I think that was a mistake.
(END VIDE CLIP)
BERMAN: That's a Democrat. That's a Democrat, folks. A Democratic Congressman Adam Schiff from California strongly criticizing the president there and the White House handling of the Bowe Bergdahl swap. Five Taliban prisoners, of course, freed in exchange for Bergdahl.
PEREIRA: Lawmakers are outraged on several fronts including what Congressman Schiff just referenced. New information that as many as 90 people in the Obama administration were aware of this proposed deal. Yet Congress was not notified. Our Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr and chief congressional correspondent Dana Bash join us with all of the angles. Dana, let's start with you. We understand speaker John Boehner having some really strong words just now. Tell us what he's been saying.
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It's the first time he's spoken out, aside from his written statement, since this swap happened. What he did is he tried to give an example of why he believes Congress can be trusted. He personally can be trusted. That example is, from his perspective, the fact that the administration told him about the Osama bin Laden raid. Listen to what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JOHN BOEHNER, (R-OH) SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: Six months before Osama bin Laden was taken down, I was briefed on this. I was briefed multiple times over the course of the six months. I was given a heads-up several days before this happened. So this idea that they couldn't trust us to not leak things is just not true. It wasn't just me. There were other members of the leadership who were well aware of the planning and the activities that were going in to this effort. (END VIDEO CLIP)
BASH: Now, Michaela and John, our Deirdre Walsh was the one pressing John Boehner on that and she said what about the fact that members of Congress have admitted they knew about the idea of this swap back as far back as 2011-2012. He responded that it's not true. I was never briefed about the five to one swap, but later an aide said he didn't know the names of the five beforehand. So clarified that. But very interesting that he in particular is making that comparison. One thing I will say is that, as you all know, the raid to getting Osama bin Laden was not controversial. Nobody would have been against trying to kill the most wanted man on the planet. This everyone knew was going to be controversial. Perhaps that was part of the decision making in the administration about what to tell Congress.
BERMAN: Interesting. I can keep a secret is what he is saying there, but what secret may be at play. Barbara, I want to bring you in here. Out of the briefing overnight, one of the interesting things we heard from Republicans was they all of a sudden started saying they were told it wasn't president Obama who made the final decision here. They said Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel. What's the truth here?
BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: That caught everyone's ear. Of course a secretary of defense really does not make that final decision to engage in this kind of controversial high level activity. We have asked around the Pentagon. But let's first play you a sound bite from the chairman of the house armed services committee who laid out his position on this part of the controversy.
(BEGIN VIDE CLIP)
REP. BUCK MCKEON, (R-CA) ARMED SERVICES CHAIRMAN: The answer was Secretary Hagel, which kind of surprised me because I did see the president out there with Bergdahl's, sounded like he was taking full credit for the operation and now they're saying that Secretary Hagel made the decision. Probably parsing of words or probably, maybe now that there's a little pushback, or I don't know. I don't know who is in charge or who is making the decision.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STARR: So there's a bit of shifting around in the last couple of hours. Yesterday, last night, the Pentagon making it clear that in its view, Secretary Hagel made the decision. But this morning a senior defense official says, no, it was President Obama who made the final decision on all of this. I think that what is underling all of this is a lot of nervousness at the Pentagon about what will happen tomorrow when Hagel goes to Capitol Hill to testify openly and publicly about all of this. They are nervous about the level of the questioning and what new political controversy may erupt.
BERMAN: That will be a moment for sure on Capitol Hill when Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel does testify. His moments on the hill haven't always gone smoothly. That will be interesting to say the least. Barbara Starr and Dana Bash, thanks so much. PEREIRA: We'll watch it certainly. To another story we've been
watching. Writings, chilling YouTube videos, friends wishing they had called the police and alerted them to danger these two were presenting. Coming up, a look at the red flags that may have been missed in those Las Vegas killings.