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THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER
President Obama Campaigns with Clinton in Charlotte; FBI Found 110 Clinton E-mails Had Classified Info; Trump: Clinton Not Charged Because System Is Rigged; Trump Social Media Director Sent Star Tweet. Aired 4:30-5p ET
Aired July 5, 2016 - 16:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I have also known him as the friend that I was honored to stand with in the good times and the hard times, someone who has never forgotten where he came from.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
CLINTON: And, Donald, if you're out there tweeting, it is Hawaii.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I believe in Hillary Clinton.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
OBAMA: And I want you to help elect her to be the next president of the United States of America! That's what I want.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Now, significantly, Jim, there was no mention today of the e-mail controversy, of the decision by the FBI, the recommendation to not file criminal charges.
But President Obama did say clearly, "I trust her judgment." He is making an implicit case here that she was in fact a good secretary of state. But at some point, Hillary Clinton will have to acknowledge the developments here over the last 24 hours or so.
Certainly, the Republicans are seizing on them. But that was a moment for here today. Jim, basically, this going to be is a base election. We have know that from the beginning, but President Obama trying to fire up his coalition, why North Carolina is absolutely critical.
He won the state, of course, in 2008. It was a blue state. Four years later, it became a red state, with Mitt Romney narrowly winning. They hope to turn it into a blue state once again. That's why we're going to see both of them here in North Carolina a lot more.
And we're going to see President Obama on the campaign trail more than we have seen any sitting president in years. Ronald Reagan would be the only one who slightly compares, but he only campaigned occasionally for George H.W. Bush back in 1988 -- Jim.
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN HOST: Jeff, perhaps just in time in the last few months we have seen President Obama's approval ratings tick back up above 50 percent.
How important is that as the president will be out on the campaign trail more often in the coming weeks?
ZELENY: Jim, that is absolutely critical. This is what the Clinton campaign has been waiting for, hoping for.
And that really is a sign of Democrats and even independents, people who voted for President Obama, coming home here. Although he is not on the ballot in this election, his policies and his presidency essentially is.
So, this higher approval rating is essentially a lot of voters are saying we're actually OK with what is going on now compared to the choices we have. So his approval rating will definitely allow him to make the case for Hillary Clinton, in some cases better than her.
But, Jim, it's not only going to be Barack Obama. Look for Michelle Obama, who is extraordinarily popular here and across the country, to also be campaigning here. So the Obamas will be fully on board in this election. His legacy depends upon it, and Donald Trump defeating him is so personal to him as well.
Jim, that is why we saw some of those jabs there, but more substantive than most endorsements we see -- Jim.
SCIUTTO: Jeff Zeleny right in the middle of it there as the president, you can see there, leaving an enthusiastic crowd following that endorsement.
I want to bring our panel back now. We have Bill Kristol. We have Patti Solis Doyle. We have Joe Biden in New York.
Patti, if I could go to you first, certainly a fired-up, pumped-up President Obama there.
PATTI SOLIS DOYLE, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes.
SCIUTTO: How powerful of a voice is he? You and I have spoken about your own concerns about the Clinton campaign, doubts about whether Democrats will get excited about her. How important is his voice in winning those Democrats over, in effect, to back her enthusiastically?
SOLIS DOYLE: Extremely important. I think more than bringing in Democrats, he is there today speaking as
the current president of the United States, speaking -- he knows what the job is like. And he said, I trust her. She is the most qualified person ever, man or woman, ever to run. So, he brings a lot of credibility to her.
And he said it in a very personal way. I like her, I know her, I trust her, vote for her, I'm voting for her.
I think it is really important. And just in contrast to Trump, we had Elizabeth Warren come out and campaign for her. We have President Obama today. We're going to have Vice President Biden on Friday.
This party is coming together. The Democratic Party is coming together. And right now Donald Trump is having a hard time getting people to speak at the convention, much less endorse him, the way Obama endorsed Hillary.
SCIUTTO: Bill, so obviously you want to get the base fired up and ready to go, as the president said there.
But there were interesting comments there going after, it seemed, more than Democrats. The president said at one point you have a very clear choice to make. And he said, this is not a Democrat or Republican choice, it's a choice between those who want to cling to some imaginary past, clearly indicting the Trump view of the world, perhaps to win over independents, even some Republicans?
BILL KRISTOL, EDITOR, "THE WEEKLY STANDARD": I thought -- President Obama is a good politician and he gave a good speech.
But I actually thought it was not effective at winning over independents. And here is why. Precisely when he kept saying there is no choice, well, if you're an independent, if you're an undecided voter, by definition, you kind of think, gee, it is a tough choice. Right?
That's why you're undecided. And the polls show quite a lot of undecided voters. For all the talk about how terrible Donald Trump's campaign has been -- and I'm not a fan of Donald Trump -- he's only behind by five points nationally. He's probably ahead by a point or two in North Carolina.
And, again, President Obama framed it -- it is a referendum on him. America is really great, he said. Things are going in the right direction. But two-thirds of the electorate think things are going in the wrong direction.
If I were in the Clinton campaign, I would be a little worried about suddenly I'm the candidate of more of the same. I'm the candidate of the status quo. This is a change election, I think. The public is in a mood for change. I think they were foolish to go for Trump as the vehicle for change on the Republican side if they have, but nonetheless the public is in the mood for change. And I think if you're Donald Trump watching this, you think fine, fine, let's have a referendum on what President Obama just said. Things are fine in this country is what Obama really said, we're going in the right direction. Let's have a referendum on that.
SCIUTTO: Joe Borelli, I want to ask you -- because the president there took some very direct swipes at Donald Trump as, in effect, the rescuer of the middle class.
He says if your concern is working people. He went on to say if you're voting for the other team, it's not even about the economy. Seemed that that was a message there, kind of an accusation that there is a racist undertone to that support.
I wonder what your response is to the president's argument.
JOSEPH BORELLI, CO-CHAIR, DONALD TRUMP NEW YORK CAMPAIGN: I'm not going to speak about there being a racist undertone to what Obama says.
But for the first time ever, I think I might be agree with what Mr. Kristol has to say. Two-thirds of the American public believe that the country is headed in the wrong direction. This might be effective in rallying some Democrats, but really independents are who is at stake.
And we see Donald Trump winning in those independents. And today you also have like a case of two Hillarys. You have Barack Obama coming out there and saying Hillary Clinton is uniquely qualified to be president a few hours after you had the FBI director says she is extremely careless.
If you have Obama as the figurehead in your campaign, yes, maybe you get to have the great campaigner in chief out there, but you also have to own his record, and his record is not all roses, Obamacare, the VA administration.
Also, one thing we also didn't here was anything that Hillary Clinton was in charge of during his administration, because the Obama administration's foreign policy has been a disaster. She was at the head of that agency.
SCIUTTO: Patti, chance to respond?
SOLIS DOYLE: Well, look, I think the news out of today was that there were no criminal charges against Hillary Clinton, and that that is the big takeaway.
I also think that I agree with Bill. Campaigns are about choices. And this campaign is about a choice between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton's vision and plan for America moving forward and Donald Trump's plans or lack thereof.
And I think when voters are faced -- independent voters are faced with this choice, they are going to choose Hillary Clinton. SCIUTTO: Bill, looking with Obama out there, Republicans must
understand that this can be a asset, at least for portions of the country.
When you see that speech there, are you concerned for the Republican candidate?
KRISTOL: I'm not a big fan of the Republican candidate.
SCIUTTO: Understood. I'm aware of that. But let's separate that for a moment.
KRISTOL: I do basically think Donald Trump is the only Republican Hillary Clinton could beat.
And Hillary Clinton is probably the only Democrat who Donald Trump has a chance of beating. And I do think -- and I'm not a fan of Trump -- that Trump has a chance. People are just underestimating him. He is only five points down.
Barack Obama's approval has ticked up to 52 percent. What does that mean? Three percent of those who say they approve of Obama but think the country is going in the wrong direction could still decide to vote for Donald Trump.
So if I were the Clinton campaign, the played this card well today. They were lucky in the timing. The speech will help take the edge off what the FBI director, Jim Comey, said. But I still would be worried that here I am with the country thinking that we're -- two-thirds of the country thinking we're on the wrong track, and the president of the United States just said I'm going to hand the baton off to Hillary Clinton. Do they want someone to just keep running the same race?
SCIUTTO: That's the key question.
Bill Kristol, Patti Solis Doyle, Joe Borelli, thanks very much.
No reasonable prosecutor would bring charges against Hillary Clinton, the FBI director saying those words that the entire Democratic Party, you might say, had been waiting for, for months, but not before reading out a damning list of ways that the secretary could have and should have known between.
Our other top story, we will be with that right after this break.
SCIUTTO: Welcome back to THE LEAD. I'm Jim Sciutto.
Turning to our other top story today, the FBI recommending the Justice Department not file charges against Hillary Clinton for mishandling classified information, this during her tenure as secretary of state. But FBI Director James Comey did not mince words, laying out a litany of ways that Clinton and her State Department staff should have known better, calling them -- quote -- "extremely careless in the handling of classified information."
JAMES COMEY, FBI DIRECTOR: No charges are appropriate in this case.
SCIUTTO (voice-over): With those seven words, FBI Director James Comey spared Hillary Clinton the devastating prospect of an FBI indictment just four months from Election Day.
COMEY: In looking back at our investigations, into the mishandling or removal of classified information, we cannot find a case that would support bringing criminal charges on these facts.
SCIUTTO: However, in a surprise announcement of the conclusion of what he called a painstaking investigation, Director Comey issued damming criticism of the presumptive Democratic nominee's use of multiple private e-mail servers.
COMEY: Although we did not find clear evidence that Secretary Clinton or her colleagues intended to violate laws governing the handling of classified information, there is evidence that they were extremely careless in their handling of very sensitive, highly classified information.
SCIUTTO: The FBI found that, of the 30,000 e-mails Clinton turned over, 110 e-mails contained classified information at the time they were sent or received, including classifications ranging from top- secret, the highest level, to secret, and confidential, the lowest level of classification.
The FBI's finding contradicts Secretary Clinton's evolving explanations of her e-mail use beginning with her claim that none of the information she read or e-mailed was sensitive when she read or sent them, replying, they were only classified after the fact.
HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I am confident that I never sent nor received any information that was classified at the time it was sent and received.
SCIUTTO: In fact, the FBI found numerous e-mails containing information, which was classified at the time they were sent. Director Comey also addressed the candidate's more recent claims that none of the e-mails were marked as classified.
CLINTON: I'm confident that this process will prove that I never sent nor received any e-mail that was marked classified.
SCIUTTO: In fact, the process found that a small number of e-mails were marked classified at the time she and her staff sent it. Comey also questioned Secretary Clinton's argument that her private servers were never breached. CLINTON: Well, the system that we used was set up for President Clinton's office. It had numerous safe guards. It was on property guarded by the Secret Service and there were no security breaches.
SCIUTTO: In fact, Comey concluded that while the FBI found no direct evidence of such breaches --
JAMES COMEY, FBI DIRECTOR: We assess it is possible that hostile actors could have gained access to Secretary Clinton's personal e-mail account.
SCIUTTO: Secretary Clinton's spokesman quickly welcomed the finding while repeating the candidate's apology. As the secretary has long said it was a mistake to use her personal e-mail and she would not do it again. "We're glad this matter is now resolved."
Donald Trump was, of course, less convinced tweeting, quote, "FBI director said Crooked Hillary compromised our national security. No charges. Wow. #riggedsystem."
SCIUTTO: Joining me now is Republican Congressman Darrell Issa of California. He serves on the Judiciary and Oversight Committee. He also has endorsed Donald Trump. Congressman Issa, thanks very much for taking the time today.
REP. DARRELL ISSA (R-CA), JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: Well, thank you and Jim, thanks for covering both events, the president saying four more years of his administration with Hillary, and in this case, the unindicted conspirator in this project to send and receive classified information outside any authorized system.
SCIUTTO: Let's get to the issue of the e-mails. I want to share what you tweeted in response to Director Comey's announcement. You said, quote, "The FBI decision shows once again how the Clintons and others at the top get to live by a different set of rules from everyone else."
We heard a similar argument in effect from Donald Trump saying the system is rigged. Let's talk about this investigation. Director Comey personally over saw it. He said it was impartial, (inaudible) in fact, it took months.
He is, as you know, served both appointed by a Republican president. He laid out the case for why Clinton was not charged, though, he did severely criticize her. Are you questioning the director's impartiality in deciding this case?
ISSA: Well, first of all, let's remember that the top inspector in Casa Blanca said round up the usual suspects and he would oversee that. So am I doubting that he said the whole truth? Yes, in this case, I am because --
SCIUTTO: This is James Comey, keep in mind, who confronted John Ashcroft on his hospital death bed under the Bush administration to fight for his view of what he thought the law was. Are you saying that he has not been a fair adjudicator of this case?
ISSA: Thank God, John Ashcroft stood by his convictions in that case as we later discovered. The FBI director said he could not get into an Apple phone, and we obviously got into it. You're not always right.
In this case, he is saying there is nothing to prosecute. I'm telling you that there is and I'll give you just an example. There is a Navy sailor right now being prosecuted for a picture that was left on a phone that was thrown away that had some limited classified value.
Pictures of nuclear vessels, but that person is being prosecuted and he will get five or six years and is dishonorable discharge. There is a double standard. We're not talking about Hillary Clinton, we're talking about a double standard.
If this were somebody of lesser power, there would be a plead or we will prosecute, no question at all. I'm from a Navy Marine town, San Diego. I have tens of thousands of Marines and corpsman and Navy personnel and tens of thousands more contractors and civilians.
[16:50:01]All of whom know that if they mishandled a few documents at the secret level, they would lose their jobs. They would be in big trouble and they would likely prosecuted.
In this case, she lied publicly about knowingly transmitting and receiving classified information. So do I have a problem with the FBI director?
In this case I do and the first problem I have is the use of the word careless is inappropriate. It was reckless. Let's just call it what it was. It was reckless to plan and to execute having a private e- mail.
It was reckless to send and received classified documents. And it was reckless to leave the government in violation of the law with those documents and she could have been prosecuted for it. You would have been prosecuted for it.
SCIUTTO: I hear your point and others have made that point. I want to ask you this, though, because Donald Trump tweeted that the decision means the system is rigged. But both of his tweeted responses hit on that point.
It is a theme, as you know, he has hit before. He said he could not get a fair trial because the judge is of Mexican heritage. This is in the fraud case against Trump University. Is he saying in effect that our legal system is politically corrupt beyond this case?
ISSA: You know, Jim, there needs to be a single standard and the standard has to be the same for that lowly sailor who took a picture and left it on a phone when he threw it away and it has to be the same or even more of an example.
And I'll give you another example, General David Petraeus, the finest combat officer I have ever met, he was forced to deal with a conviction in spite of the fact that --
SCIUTTO: The difference there legally was that he intentionally shared classified information. If you speak to lawyers, Democrats or Republicans, they say the key standard here is was there intent, and that appears to be what the FBI director said they couldn't establish.
ISSA: OK, let's go through it. He shared with somebody who was cleared of the level of information he shared. He showed it to them. There was no chance of a third party seeing it. She sent and received classified information including ones that were classified on their face through an unsecured network.
How could you say that wasn't with malice and forethought that it wasn't to design a system that enables you to do it. To keep it a secret, and to do it. She did it and she's -- look, the one thing you can't call Hillary Clinton is dumb.
She is smart enough to know exactly what she did and then lie about it -- compared to David Petraeus, there is a double standard.
SCIUTTO: Congressman Darrell Issa, thanks for joining us today.
ISSA: Thank you, Jim.
SCIUTTO: What else does Donald Trump have to say about the FBI's recommendation? We'll get to that right after this.
SCIUTTO: Welcome back to THE LEAD. Donald Trump is trying to change the subject away from a campaign flap of his own. He is seizing on the FBI's announcement on Clinton saying that the system is rigged. But on a day with big revelations about his rival, can Trump stay focused on Clinton and avoid making any unforced errors?
CNN correspondent, Sunlen Serfaty, has the story.
SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN CORRESPONENT (voice-over): Tonight, Donald Trump is trying to keep the fire focused on Hillary Clinton seizing on FBI Director James Comey's announcement that he is not recommending criminal charges against the former secretary of state just by claiming she acted, quote, "extremely careless with her e-mail servers."
Trump tweeting, quote, "FBI director said Crooked Hillary" compromised our national security. No charges. Wow. #riggedsytem." But Trump is still facing his own fire storm set off by his tweet of a graphic featuring an image of Clinton with $100 bills and a six-pointed star that resembles the Star of David with the caption most corruption candidate ever.
House Speaker Paul Ryan today criticizing Trump and his campaign for the missteps.
REP. PAUL RYAN (R), HOUSE SPEAKER: I think he's got to clean this up. My understanding is that this was done by staff, not by he himself. But more importantly they've got to clean this thing up.
SERFATY: Trump surrogate, Ben Carson, appeared to also take issue with the post tweeting, quote, "Social media provides a great platform for discourse, but we must be careful with the messages we send."
The Trump campaign refuses to apologize, but is trying to explain the origins of the tweet with his social media director, Dan Scavino, releasing a statement Monday night calling the star a sheriff's badge, which is available under Microsoft Shapes.
And insisting the graphics, quote, "was not created by the campaign nor was it sourced from an anti-Semitic site. It was lifted from an anti-Hillary Twitter user where countless images appear."
CNN found that the graphic appeared on a message board filled with anti-Semitic conspiracy theories and white supremacists ideologies ten days before Trump tweeted it and a Twitter who frequently posted Islamophobic and racist means claimed credit for the original image shortly before the account was deleted.
While Scavino (ph) says the tweet in question came from him, his previously spoken about how the Trump is the one who calls the shots when it comes to his Twitter account.
DAN SCAVINO, DIRECTOR OF SOCIAL MEDIA, TRUMP CAMPAIGN: The amazing thing about Mr. Trump is any of messaging and anything that is put out on his Twitter account is 100 percent him.
SERFATY: And Trump has talked about his Twitter habits in the past.
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: During the day, I'm in the office. I just shout it out to one of the young ladies. In the evenings after 7:00 or so, I will always do it by myself.
SERFATY: And as Donald Trump tries to move past this controversy, he is nearing on a decision on his running mate. A Trump advisor tells CNN Trump will likely announce his VP pick in the next week. In the meantime, Jim, he is keeping up those auditions, these public auditions. He's campaigning with Bob Corker tonight and Newt Gingrich tomorrow.
SCIUTTO: Sunlen Serfaty, thanks very much. Coming up, on the NEWSROOM or THE LEAD. That's it for me. I'm in for Jake Tapper today. I want to turn you over now to Wolf Blitzer in "THE SITUATION ROOM."