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THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER
Trump's Women Problem; Oregon and Kentucky Vote; Dems Warn Sanders Supporters Could Upend Convention. Aired 4-4:30p ET
Aired May 17, 2016 - 16:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Clinton forces attacking Trump in two ads featuring his own words about women, Trump firing back on Twitter, calling former President Bill Clinton -- quote -- "the worst abuser of women in American political history," all of that as a war is breaking out within the Democratic Party.
A special Election Day of THE LEAD starts right now.
Good afternoon. And welcome to a special edition of THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.
Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are locked in an ugly war of words. Clinton now fighting the battle on two fronts, as she is also trying to stop Bernie Sanders' recent Election Day dominance, voters at polls right now in two states, Kentucky and Oregon, that a Clinton super PAC releases new attack ads today against Donald Trump using his own words and frequently vulgar language in describing women.
Trump firing back, releasing a firestorm of tweets, calling Clinton a liar, charging she cannot close the deal against Bernie Sanders, attacking her over the e-mail controversy, and labeling her husband an abuser of women.
I'm joined by my special Election Day panel of distinguished experts.
But we're going to begin with Jim Acosta at Trump headquarters here in New York City.
Jim, regarding Trump's comments about former President Bill Clinton -- now, I'm not excusing or judging anyone's behavior right now -- but for Mr. Trump to raise the specter of Bill Clinton's infidelities, it seems like an attack from a glass Trump Tower, if you will. Is this really the best line of attack? What's the thinking here?
JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Jake, stones are being throne and at glass towers at this point.
The pro-Clinton super PACs are not waiting for Hillary Clinton to beat Bernie Sanders. They are setting their sights on Donald Trump just days after recent polls show Trump even with Clinton in key swing states. The pro-Clinton PACs are now unloading on the presumptive GOP nominee.
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Blood coming out of her wherever.
ACOSTA (voice-over): Serving up a sample of the battle to come, a pro-Hillary Clinton super PAC launched an all-out assault on Donald Trump with new attack ads that used the real estate tycoon's own words against him.
TRUMP: If Ivanka weren't my daughter, perhaps I would be dating her.
And you can tell them to go (EXPLETIVE DELETED) themselves.
NARRATOR: Does Donald Trump really speak for you?
ACOSTA: The spots' main goal, capitalize early on Trump's negative poll numbers with women voters.
CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: Do you believe in punishment for abortion, yes or no, as a principle?
TRUMP: The answer that there has to be some form of punishment.
ACOSTA: Trump, who has accused Clinton of playing the -- quote -- "woman card," wasted no time lashing back, tweeting that one of the sound bites used in the ad was aimed at China, saying: "Crooked Hillary Clinton put out an ad where I'm misquoted on women. Can't believe she would misrepresent the facts. My hit was on China."
Trump then took the fight to Bill Clinton, tweeting: "Amazing that crooked Hillary can do a hit ad on me concerning women when her husband was the worst abuser of women in U.S. political history."
Trump's aides say team Clinton's attacks won't stick.
MICHAEL COHEN, SPECIAL COUNSEL TO DONALD TRUMP: Unfortunately for her, it's not going to work, because women understand Donald Trump is not sexist. He's not misogynistic.
ACOSTA: The punches below the belt may be expected, but they seem all the more glaring considering the chummy images of Clinton/Trump golf outages or the glowing comments Trump and the Clintons have made about each other in recent years.
BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Donald Trump has been uncommonly nice to Hillary and me. We're all New Yorkers. And...
QUESTION: Me, too.
B. CLINTON: And I like him. And I love playing golf with him.
TRUMP: And I have always liked her on a very personal basis. I have liked her and her husband a lot.
ACOSTA: With an expected win in Oregon, the primaries are all but behind Trump. He's now on the edge of the number of delegates needed to clinch the nomination, which makes him the leader of the Republican Party in the eyes of House Speaker Paul Ryan.
REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: He's wrapping up the nomination. I -- good lord, I hope it is, because the person who is getting the nomination of our party is the person to lead our party.
ACOSTA: Now, as for the pro-Clinton super PAC attacks on Trump, the PAC aligned with presumptive GOP nominee says it's ready to fire back.
As one official put it to me earlier today, Jake, we got stuffing cooking. and that's not all that's cooking. Trump has a meeting with former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger set for tomorrow and a fund- raiser with Chris Christie on Thursday. So, this is not the end of what we will be hearing from Donald on Twitter today, Jake.
TAPPER: I'm sure not. Jim Acosta, thanks so much.
Joining me now is my special panel for today, presidential campaign correspondent for "The New York Times" Maggie Haberman, CNN senior political reporter Nia-Malika Henderson, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Carl Bernstein. He's also the author of "A Woman In Charge: The Life of Hillary Rodham Clinton."
CNN chief political analyst Gloria Borger, Donald Trump supporter Kayleigh McEnany, Republican strategist Ana Navarro, Democratic strategist Donna Brazile, and the former Mayor of the great city of Philadelphia Michael Nutter.
Thanks, one and all.
Kayleigh, let me start with you.
So, Mr. Trump tweeted "Amazing that crooked Hillary can do a hit ad on me concerning women when her husband was the worst abuser of women in political history."
Now, again, I don't want to bring this up, but his escapades, shall we say, Mr. Trump's -- and you might be too young to remember, but they were tabloid fodder for decades, literally. Why bring up Bill Clinton's infidelities, if your own house is not necessarily in order? What is the thinking?
KAYLEIGH MCENANY, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, I think his logic is Hillary Clinton, there are many accusations on the part of the accusers of Bill Clinton.
So, Juanita Broaddrick, Kathleen Willey, Paula Jones have all accused Hillary Clinton of demonizing them or attacking them when they were trying to be heard and trying to make their victimization known. That's a fair line of attack. That being said, I think it would be more powerful not coming from
Trump, but coming from the women themselves. I would like to see Juanita Broaddrick come out and these women come out and in their own voice as victims say, this is what happened and tell their story, because I'm not sure Donald Trump's line of attack will necessarily be effective.
If you can get the victims themselves out there, that might be different.
TAPPER: Mayor Nutter, as supporter of Hillary Clinton, this is not a conversation that the Clintons want to be having, to be honest.
MICHAEL NUTTER (D), FORMER MAYOR OF PHILADELPHIA: Hillary Clinton is running for president of the United States of America.
Bill Clinton has been president already, and was reelected. So I don't know. Maybe Mr. Trump is confused as to who he's running against. He's running against Hillary Clinton.
NUTTER: It's all old news, Jake. It's all old news. It's baked into every cake that anyone has seen or written about or tasted over the last 20 years.
What does that have to do with making people safe in their streets? What does that have to do with kids getting an education? What does that have to do with leading the United States of America?
This politics of personal destruction and attack, we're above that. It's a presidential election. This is not the Roman Coliseum.
TAPPER: So, Gloria, the reason, as far as I can ascertain, that Donald Trump is bringing up this issue is because he's now being attacked very directly by these Clinton super PACs on how he talks about women. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Does she have a good body? No. Does she have a fat ass? Absolutely.
You like girls that are 5'1''? They come up to you know where.
If Ivanka weren't my daughter, perhaps I would be dating her.
I view a person who is flat-chested as very hard to be a 10.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: So, here's my question. Super PACs attacking Donald Trump are not a new phenomenon. They have been trying to go take him down.
GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Right.
TAPPER: Before, they were Republican super PACs. Now they're Democratic super PACs. They haven't worked before.
TAPPER: Why are they going to work now?
BORGER: Well, I think what they're trying to do is mobilize their voters and convince those young voters, in particular those young women, who might decide, well, OK, Bernie Sanders was maybe my guy, I can sit at home this election, to try and make the choice so important that nobody can sit at home.
I think this is a -- this is a real part of the Democratic strategy right now, which is to say that he's risky, that he's a loose cannon, that he is dangerous, and to not participate would be dangerous for this country, and so it's urgent. You have got to participate. And these kinds of ads speak to young women.
BORGER: You know, I think they do.
TAPPER: And that would be great if people only watched super PAC ads from the pro-Clinton forces.
BORGER: Well, OK, OK.
TAPPER: But -- but -- and, Carl, let me bring you in.
Take a listen. Here are just some of the things that Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump have said about one another, and it's only May.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: She was favored to win and she got schlonged. She lost.
HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think he is a loose cannon, and loose cannons tend to misfire.
TRUMP: She was an unbelievably, nasty, mean enabler, and what she did to a lot of those women is disgraceful.
CLINTON: Trump's bigotry, his bullying, his bluster are not going to wear well on the American people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: Carl, to me, this is the kind of thing you hear from candidates in October.
So I cannot even imagine what we're in for.
CARL BERNSTEIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, it's going to be awful. It is awful.
But unlike what Mayor Nutter just said, I think that this is news, and it's not old news, because the real news here is that Trump and the dynamic that he has produced and is producing in this election is driving the media agenda and the political agenda. And so far, it's been working. So, it's new news.
And we all have to deal with this new news. And, look, here, we see Hillary Clinton trying to go on message and make the issue his recklessness. Pretty good issue. But will it work?
Each candidate is trying to define the other in the most negative way possible. And whoever is most successful in accumulating that bad picture may well be the next president of the United States.
TAPPER: And, Nia, whether or not this is old news to old folks like me and mayor-for-life Nutter, it is -- well, I declared him that.
TAPPER: It is new to a lot of people. There are a lot of voters out there who don't remember the '90s or weren't alive even.
NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: I think that's right, and don't spend a lot of time on conservative blogs or listening to conservative radio.
And we're sort of in a new time. If you think about the sort of terrain and the cultural terrain that the Clinton scandals played out on, it's very different now. We sort of live in this kind of a lean- in era, the era of Bill Cosby and those revelations, an era of a very active Twittersphere.
So, I think this is different. The fact that they're elevating some of these names that, again, have circulated in sort of right-wing circles for the decades, I think they're going to get a hearing.
I think we're going to see these women on a different way and read their stories much differently. We will see how this plays. It's sort of an old argument. The woman whose husband cheats on her, somehow, it's her fault? I don't know how that is going to play with the average female voter.
So far, we see Donald Trump struggling with women voters and we will see if this helps him turn around.
TAPPER: All right, don't go anywhere. We have lots more to discuss. And I haven't called on a few of you, and I promise I will first.
Next, breaking news, CNN has obtained new audio of a top Sanders aide telling supporters to take over the Democrats' Nevada convention. Accusations that Sanders staff and supporters were inciting violence and chaos are, of course, what's going on now. That's the very latest next.
Plus, more breaking news. In a major rebuke to President Obama, the Senate passed a bill allowing 9/11 victims' families to sue Saudi Arabia over the attacks. The White House responds coming up. That's a big rebuke.
And Jeb Bush weighing on this picture. We will tell you what he said about the Cinco de Mayo tweet. Stay with us.
[16:15:57] TAPPER: Welcome back.
We have some breaking news. A battle breaking out today within the Democratic Party, fears among Clinton supporters and party leaders that hardcore Bernie Sanders followers could upend the convention, the Democratic convention in Philadelphia. This comes after the ugly scene at Democrat state convention in Nevada, where there was cursing and shouting and crude comments about the female anatomy, all tht disrupting the event.
Senator Barbara Boxer who was booed at the event by Sanders supporters tells CNN, "This group of about 100 were very vocal," Boxer says. "And I can't describe it, disrespectful can't explain it, it was worse than that." Of course, Sanders supporters say there was corruption at the convention and the Democratic party in Nevada was breaking the rules and being unfair.
Manu Raju is on the Hill breaking the news today.
Manu, I want to play an audiotape that you obtained of a senior Sanders aide encouraging supporters to, quote, "take over the convention." Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIIDEO CLIP)
SENIOR BERNIE SANDERS AIDE: You should not leave. I'm going to repeat that. Unless you are told by somebody from the campaign, i.e. probably me or David, that you can leave, you should not leave.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: Manu, what more are you hearing from Democrats? What happened here?
MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: Well, Democrats are very nervous, Jake, that this could spill out into the Philadelphia convention. They believe that Sanders supporters, probably a group, small number, they say a large majority of Sanders supporters are very peaceful, but a small number of them are loud, restless, heckle surrogates of the Clinton campaign. It's something they are worried can spill over into Philadelphia.
Now, what the Sanders campaign says is that, look, the Sanders campaign throughout the process, throughout number of states, including in Nevada, those folks have been shut out of the process, rules have been stacked against them, but that's one thing that the Clinton campaign and that the Democratic Party at large says that's just simply not the case.
What a number of Clinton surrogates say that wherever they go, when they talk, they don't -- they are not greeted respectfully by the small group of Sanders supporters. In fact, they're heckled. There's insults, curse words, et cetera, things that you wouldn't want to repeat. Certainly not on air and they're worried that this kind of tension will make it harder to unite come November, Jake.
TAPPER: All right. Manu Raju in Capitol Hill, thanks so much.
Let's bring back my panel.
Maggie Haberman, let me start with you. There are two issues here, I guess. One of them is what exactly happened in Nevada that the Sanders campaign is so upset about? I'll get to that in a second. But secondarily, the Clinton campaign and other Democrats are saying this is on the feet of the Sanders campaign, they're saying you can't call for a revolution and then be surprised when people start acting like that.
MAGGIE HABERMAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: It's understandable position, right? I mean, I think if the situation were reversed, the Hillary Clinton supporters did the same thing, the Sanders people would be demanding that as well.
We've seen Donald Trump get held accountable for things that his supporter do, and granted we may be talking about, as Manu said, a smaller number of the Sanders protesters than the case of Trump, but regardless, Trump has been asked to be responsible for every single case. The standard is probably not supposed to be different. There are repercussions when you do this.
And I think there's a different issue, too, when you have a senior official delivering one message that is made behind the scenes to look as if something is an organic uprising but it's being encouraged at a higher level, that complicates things a lot.
TAPPER: And, Donna, let me bring you in here. I want you to take a listen. There's a recording of a phone call by a Sanders supporter to the chair of the Democratic Party of Nevada, Roberta Lang. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SANDERS SUPPORTER: That was pretty terrible. You probably just guaranteed fires in Philadelphia. I'm not a psycho Bernie supporter, but there are some out there and he may have made a bad decision by completely ignoring the Democratic process tonight. Thanks. Bye.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: Fires in Philadelphia. First of all, Mayor Nutter and I actually remember legitimate fires in Philadelphia from the MOVE fiasco that sounds ugly. But let's put that aside.
MICHAEL NUTTER, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Right.
TAPPER: Donna, that sounds really ugly. What happened in Nevada? DONNA BRAZILE, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I'm very distressed
by not just the reports that I've seen on television but also the phone calls I received over the weekend from people who participated.
[16:20:06] They felt that the party tried to, as you know, in certain states where you have caucuses, you have a two, three-tier process and they're going through the final phase.
And as you go through the final phase of selecting a thousand delegates to go from the precinct to the county to the state level, as you know, the delegate numbers begin to shrink and their people believe that, you know, they still want to have a seat at the table. Unfortunately, democracy's a messy game. If people don't understand the rules, when they get to these so-called conventions, they often feel alienated.
Look, I'm heartbroken by this. You know why? Because I'm an activist.
And whenever I get calls from activists who tell me how they feel, I say, you know what? Get in my camp. Forty years I've been fighting in this party. We all have a seat at the table.
Now, you want to fight for a seat at the table, we're going to fight for a seat at table in a nonviolent way. We're not going to threaten anybody. We're going to get in a room, we're going to hash out issues and we're going to work together.
So, this calls for leadership. It also calls for Senator Sanders and Secretary Clinton, because I want both candidates to lead by example. And they need to speak up. And they need to say we're not going to condone this in Philadelphia or anywhere else.
BRAZILE: And I hope that will occur.
TAPPER: Ana, what's your take? Obviously, you're not a Democrat. You're a Republican.
TAPPER: You have heard similar language during the Republican primaries. What's your take when you hear some of the recordings and some of the emotions convoyed?
ANA NAVARRO, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Been there, done that. You know, look, I kind of feel like we're on the back in the '80s you had body swap movies "Big", "Freaky Friday". I feel like we've had a body swap, where Republicans have turned into Democrats, and Democrats turned into Republicans in the last six months.
We have seen that in the last two weeks, Republicans have basically fallen in line. Some of us slower than others, some of us will never fall in line. But Democrats are now the ones that are having this mutiny within their ranks. I think what's happened, Jake, is that for the last six months, basically, all the attention, all the oxygen in the room has been sucked up by Trump and the Republican Party nomination process.
Now, we have a presumptive nominee and the spotlight is cast directly on the Democrats' side and those schisms, those cracks that are there are beginning to be revealed to the American public.
I do agree with Donna. I can tell you that when this happened on the Republican side, I called on Donald Trump to denounce, to condemn it, to call on followers not to go there. We saw this exact same -- practically the exact same environment and calls for violence and action from them. Bernie Sanders must do the same thing.
TAPPER: And let me ask, Mayor Nutter. Bernie Sanders weighed in today in a statement. He condemned the violence.
TAPPER: But he called charges against his campaign, quote, "nonsense", and he said, quote, "If the Democratic Party is to be successful in November, it's imperative that all state parties treat other campaign supporters with fairness and respect that they have earned."
NUTTER: Well, I think similar of what Ana said and what Donna said, first of all, denounce the violence and the behavior, period.
BRAZILE: Thank you.
NUTTER: Maybe later in the day, you can pivot some other message or something like that but you can't do, denounce it, but let me now talk for another half hour about, you know, other things that walks over your initial message.
Senator Sanders is a sitting United States senator, a long-serving public servant. Denounce the violence, call for peace and unity. Talk about something else half a day later.
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: You know, he doesn't want to -- I'm not excusing it, I totally agree with you, that I think Sanders out to be out there and saying this is unacceptable. But he is still in a fight, and he doesn't want his people to sit home.
So, what he's trying to do is walk a fine line, which I think is impossible by the way to walk. But what he's trying to do is keep his people motivated, to go out there tonight, you know, and vote, today, and onward to California. So, he doesn't want to tamp down their passion. And you know, there's a way to do it, come out and say, look I don't condone this violence, but I'm thrilled about your passion, let's get out there and do what we need to do.
NAVARRO: Bernie Sanders has had the high moral, right? He hasn't gone after Hillary Clinton on things like her damn e-mails. He hasn't gone into the gutter. He has been aspirational leader. That's why you see millennials backing him instead of Hillary Clinton
because he has become to this process, the leader of a movement. If he wants to continue being that aspirational, inspirational leader, he can tamp down, condemn this violence, but, at the same time, you know, look good himself doing it.
CARL BERNSTEIN, JOURNALIST AND AUTHOR: Let's not exaggerate. We're not up to the level of the yippies in '68. We're really talking about something low level and I think we all know that Bernie Sanders is going to get up and condemn this.
TAPPER: OK. But saying it's not '68 Chicago convention is not ringing endorsement of the process.
[16:25:02] Hold that thought.
Coming up next, breaking news: the Senate and the White House on a collision course at this hour, a unanimous vote and strong rebuke bipartisan against President Obama.
Plus, we're counting down the polls are about to close in Kentucky. Will it be Clinton country or another Sanders victory?
TAPPER: Breaking news: the U.S. Senate dealt a major blow to President Obama. In a unanimous voice vote, senators approved a bill that would let 9/11 victims or their families sue Saudi Arabia over its alleged role in the terrorist attacks of 9/11.
Democratic New York Senator Chuck Schumer said it's a bill dear to his heart, that may give victims, quote, "some small measure of justice".