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THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER

Jared Fogle Admits to Victimizing Children; Trump Rising; Troubles for Hillary?; GOP Frontrunner to Host First Ever Town Hall; Ex-Subway Guy to Plead Guilty of Child Porn & Sex. Aired 4-4:30p ET

Aired August 19, 2015 - 16:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[16:00:00]

JOHN BERMAN, CNN HOST: Donald trump shy, humble, apologetic in a brand-new CNN interview. I'm kidding. He was none of that.

I'm John Berman, and this is THE LEAD.

The politics lead, Donald Trump one on one in his most extensive interview of the 2016 race so far, as new CNN polling says that Trump's signature scowl is getting clearer in Hillary Clinton's rear- view mirror.

The national lead, the man who made millions selling Subway sandwiches now admitting to disgusting acts, secretly taping children and traveling to have sex with them -- the shocking details from Jared Fogle's day in court.

Also in national news, dangerous do-over. Scary moments on a U.S. flight as a passenger plane slams the runway and scrapes lights during an aborted landing, only to try it all over again.

Good afternoon. Welcome to THE LEAD. I'm John Berman, in for Jake today.

We begin with the politics lead.

Donald Trump in a brand-new, no-pads, full-contact interview with CNN on the same day that a new CNN poll shows what could be the most positive development yet for his campaign. The big headlines is that Donald Trump now has as good a chance as any Republican to beat Hillary Clinton in the general election.

Trump now trails Clinton by just six points in the new CNN/ORC poll. That is dramatic tightening in this race. We will bring you a special sneak peek of the Trump interview in just one segment, Chris Cuomo champing at the bit right next to me. That will be first on THE LEAD in just a few moments, but first this.

Trump is escalating his war of words with Hillary Clinton, who is still overwhelmingly on top of the Democratic side, but is now overwhelming with a lowercase O and at least a few "Oh my"s.

For the first time, our CNN/ORC polls Clinton with a support of less than 50 percent Democrats voters. Rising is Bernie Sanders, and a vice president who has to declare his candidacy. This all comes as the Democratic front-runner continues to fend off or quite literally shrug off questions from reporters with the temerity to ask actual questions.

CNN senior Washington correspondent Jeff Zeleny here with a look at some of the growing doubt about the Clinton machine -- Jeff.

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Hey, John.

Even Hillary Clinton knew she was not expecting a coronation here. I mean, she knew when she started this Democratic presidential campaign she would have a tough race on her hands. But she didn't know it would be this tough. Now she's facing Bernie Sanders rising, her poll numbers are falling. In the middle of it all sits Donald Trump, who has closed a wide gap in a theoretical general election match with her.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It's all entertainment. I think he's having the time of his life, you know, being on that stage.

ZELENY (voice-over): Hillary Clinton and other Democrats have been all smiles at Donald Trump and his influence on the Republican presidential race, but look who is smiling now. Donald Trump is not only leading the Republican field. He's within striking distance of Clinton in our new CNN/ORC poll.

CLINTON: We have turned over the server.

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Somebody has got a big problem. And it looks like it's Hillary.

ZELENY: In a head-to-head matchup, she now leads Trump by only six points, tightening dramatically since summer began.

In June, she held a 24-point advantage, in July, 16 points. But Clinton can't get ahead of herself. She has a Democratic primary fight on her hands. She wins support from 47 percent of Democrats, falling below 50 percent for the first time in our poll. She now leads Bernie Sanders by 18 points. But since July, a change of fortunes, Clinton has fallen nine. Sanders has climbed 10.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (VT-I), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I don't mean to be self-serving here, but I think it's fair to say that there's a lot of excitement in the Bernie Sanders campaign right now.

ZELENY: One other warning sign for Clinton, her unfavorable ratings are at a 14-year high, with only 44 percent holding a positive view of her. She's been unable to shake the controversy dogging her campaign over the decision to use a private e-mail server as secretary of state.

CLINTON: My personal e-mails are my personal business, right?

QUESTION: You were the official in charge. Did you wipe the server?

CLINTON: What, like with a cloth or something?

(CROSSTALK)

CLINTON: I don't know how it works digitally at all.

ZELENY: Her frustration showing through Tuesday in Nevada.

CLINTON: Nobody talks to me about it other than you guys.

ZELENY: Yet, for all the questions, Clinton is still in a president of strength. When tested again any of her potential GOP rivals, she wins, beating Jeb Bush by nine points and Carly Fiorina by 10.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ZELENY: And that is a good piece of context here. Secretary Clinton still is in a stronger position than any of her rivals. Any candidate in the field would surely change positions with her, and on those e- mails questions, her campaign is showing signs of concern today.

Aides have launched a full-court press to paint the controversy as much ado about nothing. One more potential obstacle here, though, John, our poll also found a majority of Democrats, 53 percent, say they want Joe Biden to get in the race. We won't find out until next month though if that happens -- John.

BERMAN: More than half of Democrats want Biden in right now.

Jeff Zeleny, thank you so much.

What did Donald Trump have to say about Hillary Clinton, her e-mails, her server and her poll numbers, not to mention himself? A lot.

CNN "NEW DAY" anchor Chris Cuomo sat down with Trump a short time ago, and we're going to get straight to Chris' piece and then ask Chris a few questions.

Let's listen to what happened between the two of those men.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: The latest CNN/ORC poll, you don't get more accurate than that, it has you for the first time considered competitive in the general election, six points separating you and Hillary Clinton. You must be shocked.

[16:05:02]

TRUMP: Well, it's not my focus right now. Right now, I have 16 other people that I'm looking at, and that's not my focus, but indirectly it probably is.

And I think that Hillary is going to have a hard time being in the election, based on what's happening with the e-mails, the servers, maybe even the speeches. I think it's going to be a very hard thing for her to overcome.

When I look, Chris, at what happened with Petraeus on a much smaller level, great general, wonderful guy, everybody loves them, and they have destroyed his life over much less, in terms of confidentiality, in terms of importance, much less and far fewer. And it would seem hard to think that somebody could have a much worse situation than him and escape.

CUOMO: Well, the factual distinction would be that that was classified information with Petraeus, and he knew it and he used it. Here, we do not know yet that Hillary Clinton was doing the wrong thing or mishandling classified information. Does that matter?

TRUMP: But it looks like it was, and it certainly looks like it was very high-level information.

And what's the purpose of it? It's always skirting the edge. What's the purpose of it? In the end, she had something in mind. She didn't want people to know or something, but what is she doing? Why is she doing it?

CUOMO: You think this is going to really hurt her long-term?

TRUMP: Oh, I think it's devastating. I think it's devastating for the election, but I think her bigger problem is not the election. I think her bigger problem is going to be the criminal problem.

CUOMO: Really? You really think that this could turn out to be a criminal situation for Hillary Clinton? Because there's no reference of that from the investigators right now.

TRUMP: I don't think I'm the only one. The FBI is involved. They only do criminal. I don't think I'm the only one.

Now, maybe it's somebody on her staff, but, look, it's either criminal or it's incompetent. It's one or the other. There's either gross incompetent or criminal, and neither is acceptable to be president.

CUOMO: I feel like you're skipping the headline. You're six points from Hillary Clinton. Nobody would have expected that. You're kind of glossing over it. Why? Shouldn't you be saying, six points, I can't believe I'm not ahead?

TRUMP: That's one thing I could say, I guess.

I think we will do very well against Hillary. Hillary's record as secretary of state was a disaster. She was in favor, totally in favor of the Iraq War, which is obviously not a good sound bite. I think we're going to do very well.

And, as you know, I have been against it for years, the Iraq War. I said you're going to decimate Iraq, Iran will take over the Middle East and take over Iraq, which is exactly what's happening, and somebody's going to come over and take over the leftover oil. And who did that turn out to be? ISIS. So if you look at 2004, exactly what I said happened. So call it

vision. I have to call it vision, because I'm trying to get elected. First time in my life, I'm trying to get elected, right? I'm a politician all of a sudden, but there was a certain vision. I have gotten a lot of credit for it.

They made a terrible mistake, and then they made a terrible mistake the way they got out. And, in my opinion, they made an even worse mistake not keeping the oil.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: What a telling line there, Chris, with you.

Chris Cuomo joins me now. "I'm a politician all of a sudden," because in a way, in that interview, I think, for one of the first times over the last several weeks, you heard it.

CUOMO: You are very astute, J.B. Everybody knows that.

I think that we got see something new, something familiar, and a problem in just this one excerpt that we get.

Something new, there is a thoughtfulness to Donald Trump which bespeaks some type of evolution as a candidate. He could have been very grandiose about this poll. He didn't. He said, well, I'm not really thinking about the general yet. I'm dealing with this group of other...

(CROSSTALK)

BERMAN: Seventeen other guys, yes.

CUOMO: Which usually he dismisses as losers. Not this time.

But then he goes into what he does best, which is, forgot about me. Let's talk about her. And he is very condemnatory. He's pushing the facts to the extreme to make a point about how troubled she is. And then we get to what the concern is. His discussion of the policy points about his position on the war and how he was right and why winds up being in conflict, at least logically, if not politically, with what he wants to do now, which is to take the oil from ISIS, he says.

And he will talk about how he cares about the troops, but he wants to put troops back in there. And that's going to be his place where he is going to have to evolve the most, making sense in things that don't just sound good to people.

BERMAN: Do you sense a desire to get more adept with the policy or to get more in the weeds?

CUOMO: I think that the reason that we see what I'm calling an evolution, which some might call a softening of him, is because I think that he's coming to grips with the reality that is real. It's the one thing for him to say I'm the best, J.B. You love me and you know it. It's another thing to then be told, you know what? J.B. does love you. Now what are you going to do with that?

I think that this is a moment for him to figure out, all right, this is real. How do I make the most of this? The stakes are much higher now for him than they were a month ago.

BERMAN: I guess the question is, make the most of it in terms of actually winning the Republican nomination? Or make the most of this as in, what can I do to build up Donald Trump even more?

CUOMO: Think about it. If you were part of his circle, how do you not look at it as there's real potential here now? We thought it was done the first day critics were there, the first week, the first month.

[16:10:01]

Now every poll that comes, he only grows. You have to take it seriously. He takes himself very seriously. And in this interview, what I think he also does that he hadn't done before -- let's be honest -- I think it's a legitimate criticism of Mr. Trump to say that he stayed closed to his friends in the media. He's gone to safe harbors for a lot of these interviews. He shows up again and again in places where he feels comfortable.

He stopped doing that. By coming to talk to us, he stopped doing that. He's taking the questions. He's getting checked. Now, whether his answers are satisfying to people, that's for the audience to decide, but he certainly let himself be stopped tonight in a way that I haven't seen before.

BERMAN: And this was just a small taste. There's a lot in this interview tonight, some surprises, I know, Chris. Do not miss it.

Thanks so much being with us to give us a small sample.

The Donald Trump interview with Chris Cuomo happens at 9:00 p.m. Eastern only here on CNN.

So far, up until this point, up until perhaps just right now, Donald Trump has not spoken like a typical candidate. He hasn't acted like a typical candidate. But he's starting to do it not just with Chris, but in places that really, really matter. We're live in one of those states that matters a lot. That's coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[16:15:28] BERMAN: Welcome back to THE LEAD. I'm John Berman, in for Jake.

Continuing with our politics lead, a first for the Republican candidate in first place right now -- Donald Trump will hold his first-ever town hall as a presidential candidate later today in New Hampshire. So, what could possibly go wrong? Let's getting right to CNN Sara Murray live in Derry, New Hampshire,

where Trump is expected to take the stage in just a couple of hours.

And, Sara, you know, town hall meetings are a staple of traditional New Hampshire politics, but Trump is supposed to be the nontraditional candidate. So, is this just proof he's a giant conformists now?

SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL REPORTER: Well, it's really interesting because, look, he went the nontraditional right in Iowa. He did not stop by the soapbox there, but here we are in New Hampshire, and it's your traditional town hall.

And I think the campaign is starting to realize you still do a little bit of the traditional stuff, even if you have a nontraditional candidate. So, we saw that with Trump rolling out his immigration outline. We see that now with the town hall in New Hampshire. Then we're going to see a couple of town halls going forward, because the reality is, even if you're Donald Trump, I think voters still have a couple of questions for you. And as we've seen with Trump, he has no problem answering questions. He does from the media all the time.

BERMAN: You know, I've actually been to New Hampshire with Trump. He's been working that state in some ways for a lot longer than other places. How is his message being received there? And do you expect him to do anything deliberate tonight?

MURRAY: Well, look, he's at the top of the polls here. So, I'm sure he's going to come in and thank New Hampshire voters and remind all the press that he is on top here. I think it will be interesting to see this one on one sort of interaction with voters. They're still expecting a big crowd.

But usually voters are screaming out questions in the middle of a speech and he's responding, but I think what's really on voters' minds. The media gets slammed a lot for asking politician questions that voters don't think are central to their lives. So, it will be interests to see what voters in New Hampshire really have the top of mine and how they want to see, you know, Trump interact with them and answers.

BERMAN: So, there's a battle of town halls tonight in New Hampshire. Jeb Bush is just a few miles down the road at his town hall. Is there going to be a measurement of crowd size? Are they going to be worried, the Bush people, that Trump will overshadow them tonight?

MURRAY: I think there would be inevitably a crowd count versus crowd counts situation. And what we've seen from Trump is he draws big crowd. Look, he's a celebrity draw, even if you're not planning on voting, and his team is expecting another big crowd. They tell us they have 1,500 RSVPs, which is more than this venue can hold.

You know, we'll see if Jeb Bush hits that number. He's not really known for his crowd size. If you talk to the Jeb Bush camp, though, they say Trump is pulling support from other candidates more than he's pulling support for Jeb. Again, his super PAC is sort of $10 million ad buy in the first couple of states. So, there's no doubt that there is a little bit of concern there about this rise with Donald Trump.

BERMAN: Yes, $10 million concern. Maybe more than just a little bit.

Sara Murray, live for us in New Hampshire, where Donald Trump arrives in just a few hours -- thanks so much.

I'm joined by commentator and Republican consultant Margaret Hoover. Also with us, CNN political analyst John Avlon.

Thanks so much, guys, for being here.

Margaret, these poll numbers, Trump versus Clinton, pretty interesting, right? Just six points back now -- Donald Trump is with Hillary Clinton, as good or better than any Republican candidate -- and his numbers are getting very much better. It was 16 points he trailed her last month. It was 24 points in June. So, he keeps getting closer and closer.

Establishment Republicans, like you, and I say that very nicely, have said for a long time, the real problem with Trump is he's a disaster for our party. If it's Trump versus Clinton, we're ruined. But doesn't this poll mean, well, maybe not?

MARGARET HOOVER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, first of all, A, I don't know if I'm establishment, B, I don't know if it's a premise that Trump is necessarily bad for the party.

Twenty-four million people tuning into the first GOP 450 days before the election is actually pretty good eyes on the GOP field, never would have had that if it weren't for Trump. I think we have to remember that his polls are a snapshot in time, they are a moment, and they capture a moment. You can't take it away from Trump. He is winning.

BERMAN: I know, I know, I know. I always hear that. So, as a snapshot in time today --

HOOVER: He's winning.

BERMAN: -- August 19th, Wednesday, is he the best Republican candidate to go against Hillary Clinton? Poll says yes.

HOOVER: This poll says yes, sir, but the snapshot doesn't signify the larger sort of truths about what's going to be good for the country, what voters in New Hampshire are going to want when it comes to the second week in February in 2016.

Remember, everybody is coming to Trump right now, because everybody knows Trump. I mean, he is distinguishing himself as a celebrity, the one we know the most in a field of 16 other candidates.

[16:20:00] We don't know the other guys that well. Most people are just tuning in, and the only reason they're tuning in is because of Trump. So, you can't take that away from him.

What I want to see is, is Trump going to work for it? Everybody comes to him, but is he going to go to them and ask for their support?

BERMAN: John, admit it, this surprises you, six points back, as good or better than any other Republican.

JOHN AVLON, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes. I mean, the growth has been significant. There have been past polls showing Marco Rubio and Rand Paul in pretty competitive positions. So, you know, it's not about the Hillary is running away with the matter of general election is, but let's have a reality check here.

You know, if the country really has so soberly look at Donald Trump as the Republican nominee, that's a very different calculus that joining the circuses that they're being treated to today, watching for the next sort of rhetorical car crash, which we're just fascinated with. But the problem is, this isn't reality TV, this is our democracy, and we better take it more seriously.

BERMAN: But every time, John, every time something happens, every time when there's supposed to be a gaffe, it's John McCain, it's the debate, it's the comment about Mexican rapists coming over the border, every time people say this is going to ruin him, this will sink Donald Trump. And then it doesn't, and he goes up in the polls, and now, he's closer than ever.

So, will this reality you are speaking of ever set in?

AVLON: Look, this real -- what is this reality you're speaking of, John Berman?

Yes, I believe it will. I mean, at this point in the cycle, not to belabor the point, we had -- President Perry was looking like he'd have the nomination. John Lieberman was this far ahead in 2004. Whoever is ahead at this point in the cycle, my former boss, Rudy Giuliani, it has a funny way of not becoming the nominee, let alone president of the United States, that they call it the silly season for a reason.

But it shouldn't surprise us that the guy who's willing to say whatever it takes, whatever it outrageous, whatever feels -- comes to his head, really appeals to folks who are conservative populists who love the fact that, you know, this guy isn't a typical politics. He doesn't care about whether it's PC. He's willing to tell it like it is.

Now, whether that's fact check or not is beside the point. And again, it's fun to watch, but at some point, it's our responsibility where the rubber meets the road to take the display, the celebrity, the circus and actually imagine it in the oval office. That's a very different thing for the country and I think most Americans.

BERMAN: You sound flat-out disappointed in American, or at least to 1,000 people responding to our poll right now, John.

AVLON: I believe in America.

BERMAN: I want to talk about a different kind of reality, Margaret. The kind of reality facing Hillary Clinton right now, because our poll, there are some warning signs for her right there. Fifty-six percent of people in the poll now think her use of personal e-mail was wrong. That's up. That number is rising.

HOOVER: That's up since March when we first learned about it. At first, people thought, oh, this is not such a big deal. It's been in the news and it continues to be in the news, and I think she knows and her folks know it's not going away.

This really is a constant drip, drip, drip against her credibility, which is I think why she turned over the server in the first place. She has trustworthiness issues. I mean, this is not just a Republican situation now. This is a nonpartisan problem.

I mean, this is -- people on both sides of the aisle, Democrats are acknowledging that she has challenges on her trustworthiness and credibility that she's going to have to answer for. I mean, this makes a case for a Joe Biden getting in the race. If her candidacy on some level crumbles, who is going to take up the mantel because a Democratic socialist isn't going to win over independent voters in a general election.

BERMAN: Well, at 53 percent, John Avlon, I give you the last words, 53 percent of the people in this poll now say the Democrats now say they want Joe Biden in the race, or at least they is like the idea of him running.

AVLON: They like the idea of him getting in. I think it gives a credibility alternative to Hillary Clinton, at least on the surface. The fact that no Democrat, O'Malley or Webb haven't been able to catch traction, Bernie has momentum from the left wing Tea Party, it's giving Hillary Clinton a run for her money, but Hillary has been her own worst enemy with regard to the email server, resuscitating all those negative perceptions around the Clintons.

So, this is going to tighten up. If Joe Biden gets in, it could really change the calculus. This poll also shows if he stays out, Hillary Clinton benefits.

BERMAN: Benefits a lot, frankly. Almost all of Biden support seems to go to her. John Avlon, Margaret Hoover, great to have you here with us today. I really appreciate it.

All right. Coming up, the stunning allegations against Subway's Jared involving child porn and teenage sex. And now, new shocking details about just how many victims and how much prison time he now faces.

Plus, terrified passengers screaming and closing their eyes, as the plane they're in nearly crashes into the ground. Did the pilots miscalculate in bad weather? That's ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[16:29:02] BERMAN: Welcome back to THE LEAD.

Our national lead: he was the face of Subway restaurants, a household name plastered across American television sets for years. Now, Jared Fogle has agreed to a plea deal and the details of this case are horrific, the details are flat-out stunning.

The former Sandwich spokesman admitted he repeatedly traveled across state lines to pay underage girls for sex. Court documents also reveal he received pornography of children as young as 6 years old from the executive director of the Jared Foundation.

Let's get to CNN's Ryan Young who is outside the courthouse in Indianapolis -- Ryan.

RYAN YOUNG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: John, quite a scene here this afternoon. I can tell you, a lot of people gathered on the sidewalk to see Jared Fogle flanked by security officers as he made his way to his awaiting car.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I cannot think of anything more repugnant than sexually victimizing a child.

YOUNG (voice-over): The detail charges are horrifying.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is about using wealth, status and secrecy to illegally exploit children.

YOUNG: And the guilty pleas are, too.

Jared Fogle was hustled out of the after Indiana court today, refusing to answer questions.