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Donald Trump Claims Hillary Clinton Enabled Husband's Cheating; Sarah Palin Says Paul Ryan Soon to be "Cantored"; Cooler Temperatures Helping Firefighters in Alberta, Canada; North Carolina Files Suit Over Bathroom Law; Aired 10-10:30a ET

Aired May 9, 2016 - 10:00   ET


[10:00:00] PAMELA BROWN, CNN ANCHOR: Picture than ever of just how ugly a Trump versus Clinton showdown could get. This morning on CNN Donald Trump accuses Hillary Clinton of serving as an enabler to her husband and his marital infidelities. Here is what Trump said a little while ago on CNN.


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: He was the worst abuser of women.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: You just said, I'm making too much of it. Now you say it's a big thing.

TRUMP: Excuse me. As a politician in the history of our country. He was impeached. He was impeached and then he lied about it. He said nothing happened with Monica Lewinsky and then he said, sorry, folks, it actually did happen. And the guy was impeached for lying.

CUOMO: All of that have can be true.

TRUMP: I know but you --

CUOMO: What does that have to do with Hillary?

TRUMP: She can't talk about me because nobody respects women more than Donald Trump. And I'm going to take -- I will be better for women by a big factor than Hillary Clinton, who frankly -- I don't even think will be good to women. You know, she went and she spoke -- it was very interesting. She spoke a few weeks ago and she said, I'm going to put the miners and the companies out of business. Then she went to West Virginia and she tried to pretend she didn't make the statement. That's the way it is with her. You know, the lies and the deception, it's horrible.


BROWN: Let's bring in CNN's Joe Johns in Washington with more.

Clearly, Trump is not backing down when it comes to Hillary Clinton, Joe.

JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: That's true, Pamela. This is perhaps the sharpest line of attack Donald Trump has taken against Hillary Clinton since he became the presumptive nominee. We've heard some of this before. It picked up over the weekend, really picked up in that interview with Donald Trump on "NEW DAY" this morning. An apparent attempt to attract women voters by linking Hillary Clinton to her husband's indiscretions.

The Clinton campaign's past responses have amounted to a kind of bring it on message suggesting that she's weathered similar attacks in the past, which she says did not work then and won't work now. She's also tried to make some of her characterizations of Trump policy focused by calling him a loose cannon. Listen.


HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think saying that he's a loose cannon really focuses on some of the statements he's made, which I find concerning. Going back to torture, killing terrorists' families, which would be a war crime. And those are just some of the concerns that I hear people talking about, which I think does fit the definition of a loose cannon.


JOHNS: But if you really want to know where this may be headed, the Clinton campaign's response to Trump's attacks claiming she's playing the woman card has been to promote an actual hot pink so-called woman's card courtesy of the campaign which reads, "Congratulations, you're in the majority." So in a way they are incorporating the Trump attacks into their message. -- Pamela.

BROWN: Joe Johns, thank you so much for that.

And Trump is also raising eyebrows by lobbing new threats at House Speaker Paul Ryan who has refused to endorse him at this point. And this morning on CNN he responded to his supporter Sarah Palin who is vowing to work against Ryan's re-election.


CUOMO: Do you want Sarah Palin going out there and trying to turn people against Paul Ryan? You're supposed to be unifying the party.

TRUMP: Well, Sarah has endorsed me.


TRUMP: And I like her a lot. I think she's a terrific person.

CUOMO: But do you want that? Do you want Paul Ryan take that?

TRUMP: Let me finish what I wanted to say, OK. But I have nothing to do with that. I mean, that's Sarah -- you know, Sarah is very much a free agent. She's a terrific person, but she's very much a free agent. And I didn't know about this until yesterday. I guess she has been fighting or she's endorsing somebody that's running against Paul Ryan. And I didn't know about it until yesterday when I read about it.

CUOMO: But this is a big deal. Paul Ryan, the speaker there, you have said to this point, to give you your due, hey, I want Ryan on my side. I want to work with him.

TRUMP: No, no.

CUOMO: Let's meet with him.

TRUMP: I'll go a step further. I've always liked him. He called me not so long ago, I don't know, a number of weeks ago. But he called me and he was very supportive and very nice and -- I thought everything was fine. And then I got blindsided. So we'll see. I mean, look, I'll see what happens.


BROWN: CNN's Phil Mattingly is in New York with more -- Phil.

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Pamela, it looked like Donald Trump was trying to distance himself a little bit from one of his top surrogates, but in no way is undercutting the reality of the threat that was made by Sarah Palin to Jake Tapper yesterday on CNN. And that is this, Sarah Palin is willing to not only support the opponent of Paul Ryan in Wisconsin for his House district, she's going to go all out to try and push him to that victory. Take a listen.


SARAH PALIN (R), FORMER VICE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: I think Paul Ryan is soon to be Cantored, as in Eric Cantor. His political career is over but for a miracle because he has so disrespected the will of the people. And yes, as the leader of the GOP, the convention, certainly he is to remain neutral and for him to already come out and say who he will not support was not a wise decision of his.


MATTINGLY: Now, Pamela, it's important to note I think that on the top line Paul Ryan in his district in Janesville, Wisconsin, is sitting in a very good place up to this point.

[10:05:04] Ted Cruz won that district by more than 19 points over Donald Trump. Paul Ryan with a 76 percent approval rating amongst Wisconsin Republicans. So the threat maybe not necessarily as real as it would appear. But Sarah Palin's point there stands and it's one that Donald Trump has been making as well. He has done the best in the primary. He has won millions of votes. Perhaps it's time that Republican leaders pay more attention to what he wants, his perspective on things, and not expect him to come the other way.

And it's a position actually supported by somebody who you might not expect. 2008 presidential nominee John McCain. Take a listen to what he told CNN's Manu Raju.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Are you worried that there's a disconnect there?

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: There has -- you have to draw the conclusion that there is some distance, if not a disconnect, between party leadership and members of Congress and many of the voters who have selected Donald Trump to be the nominee of the party. We could go down the list, but a lot of it is older, white, blue-collar workers who see no prospect of a job ever again. We see dissatisfied young people who are carrying student debts into their first job for many, many years. So there's -- and, of course, a perception which is largely reality, not totally, that there's gridlock in Washington, and that's given rise to Trump and Sanders, and that's something that we in the Republican Party are going to have to look at very carefully.

RAJU: And should the leadership listen to those folks a little bit better?

MCCAIN: You have to listen to people that have chosen the nominee of our Republican Party. I don't -- I think it would be foolish to ignore them.


MATTINGLY: And, Pam, John McCain, one of the many elected Republican officials facing re-election taking a look at what Donald Trump's likely candidacy as the Republican nominee means for them.

Now for McCain Donald Trump won his state by more than 20 points. There's a reality here as John McCain looks at the map forward, but when you look ahead, Pam, and you look at what Paul Ryan is trying to do, not only is this a policy issue and a tone issue for Paul Ryan, but it's also a political issue. There are many House Republicans, the conference that Paul Ryan leads, that are very wary of a Trump candidacy.

Paul Ryan has provided them cover. That will almost certainly be an issue that comes up on Thursday when there will be that behind-closed doors, face-to-face meeting between Donald Trump and Paul Ryan. No shortage of issues to talk about after this weekend. Things maybe could get a little bit more awkward -- Pam.

BROWN: Yes. It's just incredible to see how this is all playing out. Particularly I can't wait to see what's to come. You know, expect the unexpected, right?


MATTINGLY: Absolutely.

BROWN: Phil Mattingly, thank you very much.

And joining me now to discuss all of this CNN political commentator Matt Lewis, he is a conservative writer and senior contributor for the "Daily Caller," Errol Louis, CNN political commentator and political anchor for New York 1 News, Larry Sabato, director of the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia, and last but not least, Anushay Hossain, Hillary Clinton supporter and editor-in-chief of Anushay'

Thank you to the four of you for coming on. So much to dissect here.

Matt, I'm going to start with you and what we're hearing from Paul -- the last report from Phil saying that basically Trump is now dismissing his need for party unity. Are we witnessing the end of the Republican Party as we know it?

MATT LEWIS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I think it could happen. This is going to be one of the big stories about this election cycle. You know, the Republican Party since the time of Ronald Reagan has been about certain things, and in modern years, you know, whether it's strong national defense or, you know, the right to life, there were things that we believed in, and I could say Paul Ryan specifically has dedicated his career to entitlement reform, to, you know, realizing that entitlements drive the debt and that they need to be fixed if we're going to preserve them and keep the debt from ballooning.

Donald Trump says he doesn't care about that issue. He doesn't care about a lot of the issues that mainstream conservatives care about. So it is possible that this coalition could come unglued with the Donald Trump nomination.

BROWN: And Donald Trump talked about debt this morning on "NEW DAY." In fact, he said I love debt. Let's take a listen to what he said.


TRUMP: I said if we can buy back government debt at a discount, in other words if interest rates go up and we can buy bonds back at a discount, if we are liquid enough as a country, we should do that. In other words, we can buy back debt at a discount. People said I want to go and buy debt and default on debt. These people are crazy.

This is the United States government. First of all, you never have to default because you print the money. I hate to tell you, OK? So there's never a default, but the point is it was reported in "The New York Times" incorrectly --

CUOMO: Then you said you would go to creditors and make them take less.

TRUMP: It was reported in the failing "New York Times" and other places that I want to default on debt. You know, I'm the king of debt. I understand debt better than probably anybody.


BROWN: Larry, so what's your take with this?

[10:10:02] What he's saying is not necessarily in lockstep with what you would hear from rank-and-file Republicans. Is this controversial?


BROWN: Yes, to you, Larry.

SABATO: Yes. Pam, look, I think a crack up is possible, crack up of the Republican Party is very possible. I don't think it will happen quite this soon. We get through this election cycle and we'll see, you know, where the situation is, but there's one thing for sure, Republicans who have been in charge, the mainstream conservatives who have positions that have been developed really since the '50s and early '60s have been in for a rude awakening. They have the first nominee in modern American history who simply doesn't agree with them on a wide variety of things and some of them are in shock.

Others of them are looking for a third party or independent candidate so they'll have somebody to vote for. And still others are trying to find ways to reconcile them to Trump. And you know, it's a giant story. It's a giant story that's going to dominate politics all the way to November and beyond.

BROWN: Right. And that is why we're covering it, leading with it.

Errol, I want to get your reaction on what Donald Trump said about the debt. What's your take? I mean basically saying that, you know, debt is a good thing.

ERROL LOUIS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, it's another break or potential break, certainly a deviation from not only what other candidates have said but what American politics, mainstream politics have been about. I mean, there is a constitutional provision that says the good faith efforts to repay American debt shall not be questioned. I mean, this goes back to the founding of the republic. Donald Trump saying, well, maybe not, you know, let's play with it a little bit. This is one more of these instances where what we've known to be mainstream politics is being challenged or disregarded by a guy who didn't come up through the political system.

Some people say that's good for the system. We need a shock to the system. Others are a little bit horrified at what it could mean, and certainly that accounts for a lot of this cracking up or this fraying at the edges of unity within the Republican Party, which is, by the way, one more thing that Donald Trump isn't all that concerned about.

BROWN: But Donald Trump could come back and say, look, say what you want, but more Americans trust me with the economy than Hillary Clinton if you look at the polls.

But, Anushay, I want to get to you on that because there is this division, this civil war it seems, within the Republican Party. Does this present an opening for Hillary Clinton?

ANUSHAY HOSSAIN, HILLARY CLINTON SUPPORTER: It definitely presents an opening for Hillary Clinton because I think when, after the primaries, the Democrats are going to be much more united and that is just going to be in sharp contrast to the GOP. I mean, I completely agree that we are really witnessing in many ways the end of the Republican Party and the comments that Trump made this morning about calling Hillary Clinton the greatest abuser of women, we are talking about misogyny 101.

Trump is reducing all women voters to their gender and he is reducing Hillary Clinton, former secretary of state, a former senator, to her husband's keeper. This is absolutely ridiculous. We need to remember that Hillary Clinton has been endorsed by Emily's List, by Planned Parenthood. She went to Beijing in 1995 and articulated for one of the first times in history that women's rights are human rights, and we're up against Trump? I mean, this is absolutely ridiculous. It's a lesson in misogyny 101.

BROWN: So, Matt, just to respond to that, in your view to comments like that, the fact Donald Trump is doubling down on them against Hillary Clinton, drive a deeper wedge within the party and with women in particular where he has high unfavorables?

LEWIS: Yes. I mean, part of the problem obviously is Republicans had this autopsy a couple years ago and determined that they need to do better with women. This is an interesting way of trying to achieve that. I think that not only is there a war within the Republican Party, but this election could be almost a war between the sexes heating up, and it's going to get ugly.

I will say this, though, in defense of Donald Trump, if you're a Republican, if you're a conservative who is sick of losing, what you've seen over the years are candidates like Mitt Romney. I think Mitt Romney was a good, chivalrous, decent guy, he was not a misogynist, and he was portrayed and attacked by this bogus war on women, you know, basically accused of being a misogynist, and I think there's a sense, hey, look, if they're going to attack us of being evil, you know, misogynistic men anyway, why not go on the offensive?

And so I think there is at least some conservative, some Republicans out there saying, look, at least Donald Trump is going to be willing to attack Hillary Clinton, not be a wimp like all the other Republicans. So this could excite the Republican base. I wonder, though, in the general election, it's very fraught with danger.

BROWN: And on that note, we are near the general election and, you know, Hillary Clinton seems to be poised to be the Democratic nominee.

[10:15:02] How should she respond to these kinds of attacks from Donald Trump? We saw some of the other GOP candidates and how they responded to Trump and they're all -- they've all gone to the wayside now.

LEWIS: Yes. That's right. Look, I think that Hillary Clinton is going to play, as Donald Trump says, play the women's card or play the woman card . I think this is actually smart of her. She's got a candidate in Donald Trump who I think is going to take the bait. He is going to go on the attack, and, you know, I think it's unclear how it's going to shake out. The problem for Donald Trump is that there are more women than men, and so just from a mathematical standpoint you do have to question the strategy, but I think she's going to keep baiting him and I think she's going to play the victim card to be honest.

BROWN: What do you think, Larry, before we wrap this up?

SABATO: Pam, I think she has to approach this very carefully. On the one hand, the Democrats have learned an important lesson from the 16 Republican presidential candidates who lost to Donald Trump, of all people. And that is you had better respond to the charges made. On the other hand, she doesn't want to be the one doing it because there are a lot of uncomfortable questions left over from the 1990s. The answer is you let surrogates and super PACs and other agents answer Donald Trump in kind.

BROWN: And just quickly before we wrap this up, Errol, you know, look, millions of people have come out to support Donald Trump, new voters who have never voted before in a primary. Should there be concern from the Clinton camp that Donald Trump could pull in blue dog Democrats and some of these other people perhaps independents, perhaps Bernie Sanders supporters?

LOUIS: There is some concern, but not -- I think it's very much overstated. This notion that you've got to worry about what -- the Democrats had to worry about in early 1990s, the so-called Reagan Democrats, that's really not the issue. That's not the path to victory for Democrats. There's something -- I mean, here is just one statistic among many. There's something like 800,000 Latinos who turn 18 every year. Overwhelming number of them are citizens and can become voters. That's where the future of the Democratic Party lies. That's where the path to victory for Democrats lies this year.

That's where Hillary Clinton really should be focusing. She's got to get her base out and not so much worry about Trump's base because they're not going to be competing for the same people.

BROWN: Anushay, to be fair, I want to give you the final word here.

HOSSAIN: The final word is if you want American politics not to end, we need to make sure there's a Democrat in the White House and that candidate is Hillary Clinton.

BROWN: All right. Matt Lewis, Errol, Larry, and Anushay, thank you so much. We do appreciate it.

LEWIS: Thank you.

LOUIS: Thank you.

BROWN: Meantime, a massive wildfire larger than New York City, imagine that. It's forcing tens of thousands from their homes. We'll have a live report up next.


[10:21:48] BROWN: Well, massive wildfires raging in Alberta, Canada, but now at least the weather is starting to cooperate finally. Smoke is still billowing as far away as Florida and officials say it will take months to fully extinguish this fire. And we've also learned that two teenagers died during those evacuations.

CNN's Paul Vercammen is live in Edmonton where many of the evacuees ended up -- Paul.

PAUL VERCAMMEN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Pam, you're right about the weather. It is much cooler today. In fact, it drizzled just a little bit. Just talking to a fire official, the blaze is moving away from Fort McMurray. It is moving to the east a little bit making a run that way. But that is mainly just forest. The focus of course is protecting Fort McMurray which is trying to get back on its feet. That's where they suffered just massive damage and much more will be revealed today about Fort McMurray and what happened there. There's going to be a little bit of a dignitary and media tour.

And then here at the evacuation center the Fort McMurray residents just really concerned about what this is going to show. We talked to a couple sisters about that very issue.


JESSICA RUSSELL, WILDFIRE EVACUEE: We've gotten pictures, and our whole street is knocked down and I think there's like a couple houses left and I'm thinking ours is one of them. But, I mean, what are you going to go back to? Like your whole street is burned down and there's no houses. It would be really depressing.


VERCAMMEN: They are, of course, also worried about their jobs. Fort McMurray is the center of Canada's oil sands industry and some production has halted there as well. We'll see later on today just how widespread that devastation is in that oil town -- Pam.

BROWN: OK, Paul Vercammen, thanks so much.

And we're just getting in some breaking news out of North Carolina. The state of North Carolina now firing back, filing a lawsuit against the federal government over that so-called bathroom bill. We're learning that Governor Pat McCrory will soon announce the suit. This comes hours before the deadline imposed in a letter sent to state leaders by the Department of Justice. The DOJ says the law violates the Civil Rights Act by forcing people to use the bathroom of the gender declared on their birth certificate.

Martin Savidge has more information -- Martin.

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Pam. Well, it was just, you know, one hour ago we were talking about what could the governor do and one of the things I mentioned was he may file suit and in fact he did. This is the suit that's now been filed. And it's a complaint that's asking for declarative judgment. So essentially what they're doing is they're turning around and saying, all right, federal government, here is how we're going to respond. We're responding and we're suing you.

And in this suit is claims that it's asking for not just that judgment but also injunctive relief. Quote, "For the federal government's radical interpretation of Title 7 of the Civil Rights Act of the 1964 which would prevent plaintiffs from protecting the bodily privacy rights of state in place while accommodating the needs of transgender state employees."

So essentially what they're saying is that we don't believe the federal government's interpretation of the 1964 Civil Rights Act applies to transgender issues, and so what is going to be expected now is some sort of ruling on a federal level.

[10:25:03] North Carolina is maintaining here, at least the governor, that this is not just an issue that is limited to the state of North Carolina. Let's face it, bathrooms are all across this country, and so they say this is an issue that must now be resolved on a federal level rather than the Department of Justice trying to step on them in North Carolina. They're fighting back and saying now we want this determined by a federal court.

So we'll see where this goes and how it's handled. The question is timing on this.

BROWN: Yes. North Carolina sending a strong message with this suit. Now we'll wait to hear what the Department of Justice has to say in response.

Martin Savidge, thanks so much for that.

And still to come on this Monday, Donald Trump woos the GOP's money men after slamming them during the primary season. Just how much could it cost him in November? I'll speak to one of them, that's next.