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THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER
Donald Trump's VP Pick; Hillary Clinton Rolls Anti-Trump Ad; Officials: FBI Interviews Clinton Aide Huma Abedin; Hero Recounts Bloodiest Battle In Afghanistan. Aired 4:30-5p ET
Aired May 5, 2016 - 16:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back to THE LEAD. We're back with our panel now. Kayleigh McEnany, SE Cupp and Dana Bash.
Dana, I haven't asked -- I mean, SE, I haven't asked you this yet. Who are you voting for in November if it's --
SE CUPP, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Oh yes.
TAPPER: If the choice is between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton? Neither is the official nominee yet but if it's Clinton versus Trump, who are you going to vote for?
CUPP: You know, I got to tell you. I feel incredibly liberated now that the outcome looks pretty clear and that I have two candidates that I'm not -- I'm not going to vote for. I can't bring myself to vote for either one. Now I feel like a spectator to this carnival and I get to watch and comment certainly about these two candidates, but I'm going to be -- I'm going to be writing someone in, in the event that a third party candidate doesn't emerge. That's a personal -- you know, a personal decision so that I can sleep at night and, you know, tell my son that I was on the side of the good and the right in 20 years.
But I got to tell you, I -- there's such a relief, a weight off my shoulders that now I'm no longer sort of attached to this outcome, you know, that was going to, you know, determine the fate of my party.
TAPPER: Kayleigh, it's not just SE obviously. We have Mitt Romney, John McCain, George W. Bush ,George H.W. Bush. That's four of the last five living Republican presidential nominees or presidents who will not be at the convention where Mr. Trump presumably gets the nomination.
What do you tell Republicans who have the reaction that SE does?
[16:35:03] KAYLEIGH MCENANY, TRUMP SUPPORTER: Look, I think that they are a part of the establishment that is out of touch with this party. That's what the voters have said. They don't like the party. They don't like the establishment so it's really no surprise that, you know, these establishment figures are coming out against Trump, but, you know, I'm just really taken aback by the speaker who said that he would support the nominee and now all of a sudden he's not going to do that. You know, that's what politicians do. They say one thing and then do for another.
CUPP: Kayleigh --
MCENANY: And he calls for unity but then his actions are doing nothing to unity. He used some version of the word unity 27 times. If he truly wants that word to be implemented and practiced, he has to coalesce this party and listen to the voters.
CUPP: But, Kayleigh, you can make the argument that Donald Trump is not interested in unifying with the rest of the party that is not behind him and he's content to completely ignore them. But I'd really love to know what part of the establishment you think that I'm a part of? What makes me -- because the word gets thrown around a lot and I think it just becomes sort of ad hominem to describe people who were offended by Donald Trump. What about me as establishment? I'd love to know.
MCENANY: I'm not speaking about you, I am speaking about the Romneys of the world, I'm speaking about Paul Ryan now. I'm speaking about all of these figures who did everything they could to thwart the will of the people, the voters -- the tenets of the party in Colorado who said that they were going to get rid of the presidential preference poll and in fact did so. I'm speaking about the people who have done everything in their power to actively thwart what the people wanted. That, by definition, is what the establishment does and that is what Paul Ryan is doing.
TAPPER: Dana, let me bring you in. Trump says he's putting together a committee to start finding a running mate and he says he wants chemistry with his VP pick. Who do you think might fit that bill?
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: I'm just crossing Paul Ryan off my list right now.
TAPPER: I think that -- I think that that's safe.
BASH: I think there's no -- he's just not that into him.
BASH: No chemistry there.
TAPPER: That's safe.
BASH: But --
TAPPER: And Nikki Haley is off the list and Rob Portman is off the list.
BASH: Yes. Exactly. I think that at this point in time people are crossing themselves off the list and oftentimes we hear people say, no, no, no, really, I'm not interested and they don't really mean it. But I think that Nikki Haley means it. I think that Rob Portman means it. I think that, you know, John Kasich meant it for everybody, not just Donald Trump. But there's still a lot of people out there.
TAPPER: Jeff Sessions? Senator from --
BASH: Who are legitimate.
TAPPER: Yes. Alabama?
BASH: Yes. Substantive people. Jeff Sessions obviously is somebody who conservative would love. The people who are on the Trump bandwagon and who are coming along. Mary Fallon, the governor of Oklahoma who also served in Congress. Even Bob Corker who's the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, who has a business background, who was a business man in Tennessee, is a serious policy guy. He knows Washington. He hasn't endorsed but he's incredibly complementary of Donald Trump.
So there are a lot of people for Donald Trump to choose from even though other people are taking them out.
CUPP: I think he'd be wise, though, to stay away from the senators and congressmen. I just think that's really off brand. You know, his whole message is anti-Washington --
BASH: But he is saying that he wants a Washington insider.
CUPP: Well, he wants a political person.
CUPP: And so I think he can get away with the governor. I kind of like the idea of Chris Christie. I think he's on brand for Donald Trump. And he can -- you know, a governor is an executive and so a little different than a Washington insider. I think it's really off message if he picks someone in Congress.
TAPPER: For -- Kayleigh, I want to ask you, who would you like to see? You're going to be voting for Trump in November. Who would you like to see on the ticket? We won't hold you to it, but who's your personal preference?
MCENANY: You know, one of the things Donald Trump said recently is there's a 40 percent chance that it was someone who was in the race with him. And I would really like to see that. I think the people who fought this all the way to the end, it would be nice to see them come together. Someone like Mark Rubio, perhaps John Kasich or, you know, maybe Chris Christie. I agree with SE. He'd be fantastic but I'd really like to see someone who was in this race, who fought to the end and who would then comes together with Donald Trump.
TAPPER: All right. Kayleigh McEnany, thank you so much. SE Cupp, Dana Bash here in studio, appreciate it. Thank you all.
MCENANY: Thank you.
TAPPER: There's breaking news this hour on the FBI investigation into Hillary Clinton's e-mail server and we're going to bring you that story next.
[16:43:35] TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD.
Forget highlighting her experience or even calling for her Democratic opponents to exit the stage left instead for a second day in a row. Hillary Clinton's campaign is out with a new video attacking Donald Trump. In yesterday's video, Clinton used the words of fellow Republicans who have attacked Trump and these strikes against the presumptive Republican nominee don't stop there.
Let's bring in CNN's Brianna Keilar.
Brianna, in the last 48 hours Clinton seems to be directing all of her energy towards attacking Trump and defining Trump.
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's right. And this is a new video out where she's basically making him stick to his words. She wants to make sure that he doesn't moderate here in the general election. Everything from his comments on bringing water boarding back to his comments on abortion where he said at one point that there should be some form of punishment for it. Something that he did backed on. But Hillary Clinton has increasingly been taking aim at Donald Trump and another way that she's been doing this is by putting out a list of people who have endorsed Donald Trump, who have given him their support, trying to associate him with their more controversial comments.
For instance, Maricopa County sheriff, Joe Arpaio, saying this, and this is something that she's highlighted on her Web site. "I already have a concentration camp," going on to say it's called Tent City. And then also something that Sarah Palin, the former Republican vice presidential nominee, where she said, if I were in charge, they would know that water boarding is how we baptize terrorists.
And this is something that really is riling up Democrats. They're making a lot of money, her campaign, is on this. It's money that will be spent on the primary and not the general.
But after Donald Trump said what he said about the woman card, and that's what Hillary Clinton had, she came out with a Metro card and you could get it if you were a donor. They raised $2.4 million off of just that.
TAPPER: And Clinton isn't the only one pivoting away from the Democratic primary race, Bernie Sanders barely mentions her at events.
KEILAR: Yes, that's right. In fact, last night, he didn't mentioned her at all. This was something very significant when he was in Lexington, Kentucky. He did certainly take aim at Donald Trump. He said there's a lot of nervousness in the country that Donald Trump is going to be president.
He said, quote, "ain't going to happen." He said that actually it's not going to happen because Americans are not going to elect a candidate who insults people every day in incredibly ugly ways.
But at the same time, I should note, he did emphasize that he performed well in the polls against Donald Trump, but he didn't mention that Hillary Clinton doesn't perform as well as he does or to try to really compare himself to her so much. He just pouted his own performance.
TAPPER: Very, very interesting. Brianna Keilar, thanks so much.
And some breaking news now, just in to CNN about the Democratic frontrunner, Hillary Clinton, and the FBI's investigation into her use of a private, personal e-mail server.
Let's bring in CNN justice team, Pamela Brown and Evan Perez. Pamela, let me start with you. What are you learning about the status of the FBI investigation?
PAMELA BROWN, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, we've learned in recent weeks, Jake, the FBI has been interviewing several people that are in Hillary Clinton's inner circle including one of her closest confidant, Huma Abedin (ph).
These witnesses have been brought in quietly to a room in an FBI building. We're told that the aides including Abedin have been cooperating with the investigators and some of these people have been brought in multiple times for interviews.
The FBI wants to make sure that no stone is left unturned. We know that the FBI is working in tandem with the Department of Justice and the National Security division and also it being assisted by the U.S. Attorney's Office in Alexandria, Virginia.
We expect the FBI to hand over its final findings to the DOJ in the coming weeks. The Department of Justice hopes to wrap this up soon, Jake, but of course, the big factor here is interviewing Clinton and we expect that to come.
TAPPER: So that has not happened yet? Is there actually, Evan, a chance that she could be charged with something?
EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE REPORTER: Well, Jake, so far we're told that the investigators have not found any evidence to prove that she willfully violated the law. Now, clearly if you talk to people involved in this investigation, they will tell you that this should not have happened.
This email server should never have been setup. This is not the way to handle classified and certainly sensitive government information. That's clear, but the problem is that the Justice Department and the FBI have a legal standard to meet in order to bring charges, and it does not meet that. It does not meet the standard to say that she willfully violated the law. As Pamela mentioned, one of the most important parts of this investigation is yet to be done which is the interview of Secretary Clinton.
We know that they're working on trying to set that up. We are expecting that to happen in the next few weeks and you know, clearly the logistics of that are a little challenging.
You have a sitting -- well, a candidate running for president. She is actively campaigning. She is protected by the Secret Service. You have to try to figure out how you could bring her in quietly without her press corps who follows her around knowing anything because the FBI is still trying to keep as much of this under the wraps before their work.
TAPPER: So just to underline, her the top aides have been interviewed, all of them and then the only one who has yet to be interviewed is her.
BROWN: We know some of them have. We're not sure that every single person in her inner circle. We're being told that the ones that have been interviewed including Huma Abedin have been cooperating.
TAPPER: And just to underline this, as of now, the people connected with the investigation don't think that it's a prosecutable. Whatever she did, they don't yet think that it's prosecutable.
BROWN: At this stage.
TAPPER: They have not talked to her yet. OK. Fascinating stuff. Evan Perez, Pamela Brown, thank you so much. We really appreciate it.
True American valor coming up. He faced some of the steepest odds just to get out alive and he made it home to receive the nation's highest honor.
Former Army staff sergeant, Clinton Romesha joins me next to talk about his new book, which details the battle for combat outpost, Keating, and the burdens that a war hero carries forever. Stay with us.
TAPPER: The nation is still mourning the death of Navy SEAL Charles Keating IV. He was killed while rescuing people from an ISIS attack and just as Keating sacrificed for the United States, nearly seven years ago at Combat Outpost Keating, named another fallen hero, Lieutenant Ben Keating, no relation, eight other brave service members gave their all.
And U.S. Army Staff Sergeant, Clinton Romesha, demonstrated his relentless bravery during the deadliest fight American troops based in Afghanistan that year.
In his new book, "Red Platoon," Romesha vividly retells the harrowing ordeal, a story of courage and sacrifice and brotherhood. Let's welcome to THE LEAD, Medal of Honor recipient, an American hero, and my friend, Clinton Romesha. It's so good to see you. Thanks for being here.
CLINTON ROMESHA: Jake, it's a pleasure to be here. Thanks for having us on.
TAPPER: Sure. So viewers of the show are familiar hopefully with the battle at Combat Outpost Keating. I wrote a book about it four years ago. Also we did a documentary about you after you got the Medal of Honor. They may not recognize you.
You look like you fought in the civil war instead in Afghanistan. I want to play something from when President Obama awarded you your Medal of Honor and then get your reaction. Let's play that tape.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Many blessings from Camp Keating, one of them is that our troops should never ever be put in a position where they have to defend the indefensible.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: Defend the indefensible. That really is the description. People should read the book for a really vivid description, but tell our viewers and remind them what made Camp Keating so difficult to defend?
[16:55:02]CLINTON ROMESHA, MEDAL OF HONOR RECIPIENT: You know, it was the location of it. It was the furthest northern outpost in all of Afghanistan at the time. The only way you could access it is by helicopter. The road unfortunately, Lt. Ben Keating had died on there, which the camp got named after. So to reinforce us and supply us was difficult. It was in the bottom of a toilet bowl.
TAPPER: Yes, three steep mountains.
ROMESHA: Everywhere that you looked, you looked up.
TAPPER: So President Obama said that the U.S. troops should never be in a position of defending the indefensible. Do you think that the U.S. military and specifically the generals have learned that lesson?
ROMESHA: You know, I would hope so. I think you can look back to the day of October 3rd as what we were given. You had 52 Americans that defended it and it took a lot of sacrifice.
TAPPER: Almost four hundred insurgents?
ROMESHA: Yes. Yet, you don't want to keep putting them in situations like that. I hope that they teach these lessons at West Point now. They teach it at the NCO academies, the military professional development. The lessons learned there from Camp Keating is getting passed on to the next generation of the leaders in the military and army.
TAPPER: Yes, it's a very vivid book. People should go on to the Amazon page right now and buy it. You were so brave when we sat down for the documentary when you were awarded the Medal of Honor. It's very clear to me at that time that even though you were pivotal to those men surviving, but you still felt bad about the ones who didn't. Let's roll a little bit of it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROMESHA: I called the guys and pull told them that I was sorry. Just told them that I was sorry. I could not hold that position for were them anymore.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: I told you this many times and I know that it means nothing coming for me, but you saved lives. A lot of people saw that documentary and watched it online. How are you doing? How are you?
ROMESHA: I'm doing well. I still look back to that day and it was one of those moments -- growing up my grandfather told me, don't tell someone you're going to do something you can't. So that always holds such weight when I told them that I could do something and I could not get to them.
As time as gone by and understanding and being able to have the families involved and doing the book and having some of these stories come out of what happened that day has given me a sense that we cannot change the past.
We can learn from it and improve on it, but really the things that matter are what are we doing today to improve ourselves or someone else or what are we doing tomorrow? That's where I have started to focus. What are we going do tomorrow to make things better?
TAPPER: I know that you're active for fighting veteran homelessness. What else have been doing?
ROMESHA: I do a bit for the nonprofits and trying to get chiropractic care for veterans. The VA doesn't cover it. Tricare doesn't cover it and the number one thing that soldiers can get kicked off for medical wise is lower back injuries. How can you not have chiropractic care?
The other is with the Medal Of Honor Society (inaudible) development program and going to schools and talking to kids and showing them these values of duty, honor, integrity, patriotism, selfless service and sacrifice to invest in our children who is going to be our future leaders.
That's the key. They are going to take us to tomorrow. If we don't invest in them now, we're kind of shooting ourselves in the foot.
TAPPER: When you were awarded the Medal of Honor, there is a lighter moment when your youngest son. You have three children and your youngest son who was probably about 1 or 2? ROMESHA: Almost 2 at that point.
TAPPER: He was goofing around and running around and hamming it up. You're much more laconic. Now that they're a little older, do they realize what you did and what you went through?
ROMESHA: The two middle ones now 5 and 7, and the oldest is about to be 15. It's hard to believe. The two little ones are still kids, kids at heart. My oldest daughter, you know, I'm going through the teenagers. It does not matter what dad has done. Dad is going to be a dork.
TAPPER: I don't know if the beard helps.
ROMESHA: It's great to see and I know that the day will come and they will start to ask questions. I'm looking forward to it to explain especially my oldest daughter and I was gone most of her life. The two little ones, I was around a lot more for. I am looking for the challenge and putting her mind to rest.
TAPPER: It's an honor to have you on the show. It's more of an honor to know you. Clinton Romesha. Everyone should buy the book, "Red Platoon, A True Story of American Valor." If you want to hear more from Sergeant Romesha, we are going to be talking live on cnnpolitics on Facebook after the show. Head over to Facebook.com/cnnpolitics.
That's it for The Lead. I hand you over to Wolf Blitzer in The Situation Room right now.