Return to Transcripts main page
Hillary Clinton to Become First Female Major Party Nominee; Trump Comments on Russian Hack
Aired July 28, 2016 - 14:00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[14:00:12] CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN HOST: Tonight, history for Hillary as she becomes the first-ever woman to accept a major party's nomination for
I analyze the significance of her success so far with her chief campaign strategist, Joel Benenson.
Plus, Trump on the retreat after calling on Russia to hack Hillary Clinton's e-mails, but has the damage been done? I speak to former deputy
assistant secretary of defense for Russia and Eurasia, Evelyn Farkas.
Good evening, everyone, and welcome to the program. I'm Christiane Amanpour in London.
And, tonight, in Philadelphia is Hillary Clinton's big night. The future possible first woman President of the United States will officially accept
the Democratic nomination in what may be the most important speech of her life.
The Democratic convention has so far been packed with big-name speeches, especially last night when President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden
and others took the stage to drum up support for the Democrats and to take aim at Donald Trump.
Here is some of the most memorable moments.
JOE BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Ladies and gentlemen, we all understand what it will mean for our daughters and granddaughters when
Hillary Clinton walks into the Oval Office as President of the United States of America.
How can there be pleasure in saying "You're fired."
He's trying to tell us he cares about the middle-class? Give me a break. That's a bunch of malarkey.
MICHAEL BLOOMBERG, FORMER MAYOR OF NEW YORK: I built a business, and I didn't start it with a million dollar check from my father. I'm a New
Yorker. And I know a con when I see one.
TIM KAINE, U.S. DEMOCRATIC VICE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: Does anybody here believe that Trump ought to release his tax returns just like every other
presidential candidate in modern history?
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The Donald is not really a plans guy.
He's not really a facts guy, either. There has never been a man or a woman, not me, not Bill, nobody, more qualified than Hillary Clinton to
serve as President of the United States of America.
AMANPOUR: A rousing night indeed.
And joining me now, Joel Benenson, Hillary Clinton's chief strategist.
Thank you for joining me. Welcome from the convention center.
JOEL BENENSON, CHIEF STRATEGIST, HILLARY FOR AMERICA: Thank you. Thank you for having me, Christiane.
AMANPOUR: You know, I couldn't help but notice what many people, people like yourself, people who know Hillary the best say is the real Hillary.
She looked thrilled. She looked delighted. She looked really, you know, beaming last night.
What does she have to do tonight to project that Hillary to the crowd and to the world?
BENENSON: Well, look, I think one of the great things about the last three days, and we've had millions of people watching, I think record ratings
most nights, they have gotten a sense of not just what she's done, but how everything she's done has affected the lives of so many people. And
that's been very important.
I think they have heard the story already of how she has been fighting for decades on behalf of people who've had the odds against them. And,
tonight, she's going to lay out I think a very clear vision of where we need to take the country.
That we are, you know, at a moment of reckoning here and we've got a choice to make about whether we're going to be a country that grows together and
believes in our core roots that we are a country that has always been stronger together. That's not just a slogan. It's what always has made
America great, as opposed to the kind of divisive, dark and negative view that we've been hearing from Donald Trump and the Republicans all through
AMANPOUR: Give me a touch, as well as all of that, the strategy, the hope for the future as you outline it, will she get personal?
Because you're right, she does have an amazing personal story. But it seems that not many people hear it from her. And, therefore, project all
these other sort of feelings that they might have onto her.
Will she get personal about herself as a young girl, the valedictorian at Wesleyan, the Yale student, the person who went out and, you know, fought
for civil rights before taking a, you know, big-time lawyer job?
[14:05:12] BENENSON: Well, I think she will. You know, you're right. As a person, she's always felt that doing for others is more important. She
was raised as a woman of faith and I think she will talk about the guiding principle of her Methodist creed a bit, doing all the good you can for as
many people you can. And I think that's how she's lived her life.
But I do think she will talk personally. I think she realizes that this is a moment for her to communicate to the American people for 40 minutes about
where she's from, what her family has been like, what has motivated her her whole life and how that connects to where she's taking this country.
And for men and women who all across this country are working hard, who feels no one is looking out for them and no one has their back, I think
tonight they're going to know Hillary Clinton is the only candidate in this race who is looking out for them and will do it every day in the Oval
Office, particularly in contrast to Donald Trump who's always looked out for himself and left others holding the bag or taken advantage of them at
AMANPOUR: And, Joel, that is actually the nub of her challenge, isn't it. Because for whatever reason, Donald Trump's rhetoric is resonating with the
people who say they're hurting most in the United States, and these people are by and large the working class white voters.
What is she going to say to those people who seem to be right now, you know, flocking to Trump? And, clearly, she has to get more of them on
BENENSON: Christiane, I think, first of all, you frame the question in a way that I feel has a tinge of negativity about Hillary Clinton who in fact
has, you know, been in very good standing through most of this election vis-a-vis Donald Trump.
Presidential elections in this country are always close. Your convention is an opportunity to reach out beyond your base. And the truth is by far
the only person between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump who has ever worked with people in rural America, helped improve the lives of people,
whether they were disabled school children denied ability to get to school or opening up segregated schools in parts of the Deep South or fighting for
health care for people and speaking out for workers who are in industries that really are in decline but that need jobs and need help and need
education for their children.
So I think she will speak to all of America because she believes that we have to lift up all of America, not tear each other down, not tear us
apart. And that when we talk about being stronger together, this wasn't just a principle that started our country out, it's one that's made us at
our strongest throughout our two and a half centuries of history.
AMANPOUR: You must all be looking at the tweeting and the reaction certainly to President Obama last night in anticipation of tonight.
There was significant numbers of conservatives, whether media people or indeed politicians, who said that they now were very worried. That it
looks like the Democrats are expropriating or claiming, you know, patriotism, God and American exceptionalism, which is not what Donald Trump
He seemed to cast off traditional conservative and Republican ideals. And Erick Erickson, for instance, said "I started the evening saying for the
first time I thought Trump could win. Then Obama spoke. I'm so angry at my own party right now."
Do you see there a sweet spot for grabbing anybody who may think that Trump is the answer?
BENENSON: I think the sweet spot is there for Hillary Clinton and has been throughout this campaign. And Democrats, as you talked about, because we
have been the party that has been fighting for people, for the values of America that have always set America apart and made us the greatest country
This was a country that was founded by immigrants in some ways, that believed that despite their differences in those early days, that if we
didn't work together, we wouldn't create a nation that could advance and move forward.
I think when you think about last night in particular, Christiane, you heard from an independent, a man who ran as a Republican for mayor of New
York City and was elected, Michael Bloomberg. A really successful businessman who built a business, a massive empire and fortune from scratch
with no help from anybody else, and he did it. And he made the point not by trampling on other people, not by putting down his workers, not by not
paying his bills as a whim. He did it by working in partnership with people because that's how you build a strong country. It's how you build a
And he really took on this notion. And I think this is what's worrisome to everybody, not just Republicans but all Americans. That Donald Trump stood
up at his convention and said I alone can fix it. If there is any sentence that he has uttered and there have been so many that are antithetical to
what we stand for in America, the notion that one person, one man alone can fix it.
It is so counter to the American story, to patriotism, to service of others, that has exemplified Hillary Clinton's life and the lives of the
leaders you mentioned in your question, Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, who served this country with great honor and dignity and have led people to
[14:10:22] AMANPOUR: Joel, let me play you a snippet of Gabrielle Giffords from last night. She was incredibly moving, incredibly powerful on the
stage. Obviously, hoping that Hillary and saying that Hillary would fight for the issue that concerns her the most.
Just take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GABRIELLE GIFFORDS, FORMER U.S. HOUSE DEMOCRAT: Hillary is tough. Hillary is courageous. She will fight to make our families safer. In the White
House, she will stand up to the gun lobby. That's why I'm voting for Hillary.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: It is so remarkable to see that.
Five years ago, she was nearly assassinated and that she's back and she's talking like that.
Will that be part of the speech tonight? Is there also taking on the NRA and addressing the public's deep, deep desire for gun control?
BENENSON: Well, I think she will address that among other issues and the corrupting influence of special interest groups like the NRA. The damage
that's been caused to our democracy by "Citizens United" and our need to get the dark, secret money out of politics because it pollutes not only our
elections, but our ability to govern as two parties working together. So I think she will address that.
I think people in America feel very much that the system has been rigged for those at the top and those special interests are part of that. And we
need to make the rules tougher on them. Change the rules where we need to, because this is a democracy where she believes the people's voice has to be
heard louder, more clearly, because that's how we'll keep moving the country forward and make the changes we need to help all Americans get
ahead and build an economy that works for everyone, not just those at the top.
AMANPOUR: And, finally, you know the whole world is obviously watching this election. Most of the world knows Hillary Clinton's record,
obviously. And people are still a little bit sort of disturbed certainly overseas when they hear a disruption on the convention floor.
Bernie Sanders has thrown his support behind Hillary Clinton.
Can he get his delegates who still feel like they have been stiffed under control and disciplined?
BENENSON: Well, look, I think we've had very little of that actually. I think we've had three nights of unification. Very strong Democratic Party.
I actually think what's probably more worrisome to people who are watching this overseas is to have a candidate like Donald Trump who yesterday
essentially invites a foreign power to meddle in our elections. And then, today says, oh, I was just joking.
This is a man who fundamentally doesn't understand that the world hangs on every word the President of the United States says. That we are the leader
of the world and the free world in particular.
And that when you say things like that, it has consequences. And that's what makes him so unprepared and temperamentally unfit to be President of
the United States.
I think overseas our allies in particular, our NATO allies who he said we would abandon if they didn't pay us enough money. That's never been how
we've defended our national security interests around the world. And I think it shows people around the world that this man is not the leader that
our allies are going to be looking up to and respecting.
It's going to be Hillary Clinton because she's going to triumph and win and be the leader of the United States and the leader in the free world.
AMANPOUR: Joel Benenson, thank you very much. And everybody will be watching that speech tonight.
BENENSON: Thank you.
AMANPOUR: Thank you so much.
And another strike at Trump now, but this one coming from his own cheerleaders. The USA Freedom Kids performed to much fanfare for Trump in
a Florida rally.
But now in a move that echoes previous claims against Trump, the manager of the group has said that he's planning to sue the campaign for not
delivering on promises, including for financial compensation for the girls and their team.
When we come back, Donald Trump as we've just heard, walks back a call for Russia to hack into U.S. cyberspace. But how will Russia respond to this
unprecedented episode? We tried to find out, next.
[14:16:00] AMANPOUR: Welcome back to the program. It is an extraordinary statement that is still resonating and replaying around the world.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, U.S. REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: Russia, if you're listening, I hope you're able to find the 30,000 e-mails that are missing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: That was Donald Trump this time yesterday encouraging a foreign government to hack into Hillary Clinton's e-mails. But today he says he
was being, quote, "sarcastic," and denies cozying up to the Kremlin.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: When I'm being sarcastic with something -- first of all --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Were you being sarcastic?
TRUMP: Of course, I'm being sarcastic.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When you look at Vladimir Putin, you said he's a great leader of his country, but he's also a guy --
TRUMP: No. I just said, I said he's a better leader than Obama.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But he does --
TRUMP: I said he's a better leader than Obama because Obama is not a leader. So he's certainly doing a better job than Obama is.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Trump's comments have shocked foreign policy analysts and many of his fellow Republicans as well.
Some in the news media even accusing him of treason.
Russia, which denies hacking the DNC's e-mails last week, today has insisted that it is and it remains what it calls a neutral observer of the
To discuss all of this, we go now to Evelyn Farkas, who oversaw America's military relations with Russia at the U.S. Defense Department until last
She's a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council and she joins me live now from Berlin.
Evelyn Farkas, welcome. Tonight, can I first ask you --
EVELYN FARKAS, FORMER U.S. DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF DEFENSE FOR RUSSIA: Hi, Christiane.
AMANPOUR: To put into context just the idea that a presidential candidate is calling the Russian leader, a better world leader, than the American
I can't -- I can't even get my head around it. Every day, you know, I tweeted something like I don't have enough space on my head anymore to
scratch because every day there's another comment.
And it seems like, actually, there are more comments per hour coming out of Donald Trump's mouth that are unprecedented. And, you know, in the case of
some of his comments, frankly, reckless.
And as you mentioned earlier, some of them, while they may not be treasonous, they certainly sound treasonous in their spirit.
AMANPOUR: If an American candidate had said this in the 1950s or any time during the height of the Cold War, what would the reaction have been in the
United States and what would the legal reaction be around it?
FARKAS: Well, I mean I think obviously it would have been absolutely unacceptable. That person would have had to withdraw from the race. But
again, I can't even imagine that someone of Donald Trump's character, frankly speaking, and his lack of depth on foreign policy would have gotten
this far during the Cold War because I think Americans then during the Cold War understood what the stakes were.
The problem is today, we haven't focused as much on foreign policy as we did during the Cold War in terms of, frankly, media attention, education of
People seem to think that Russia and the adversarial relationship we have, the threat posed by Russia, that it popped up overnight when it actually
didn't. But frankly speaking, it did pop up more recently, you know, when Putin took over in 2014 in particular -- 2012, rather. He had a new
approach towards the United States. But we already saw signs of that back in 2007 and even earlier, you could argue.
But the American people really weren't following this. Even after the invasion of Georgia in 2008.
AMANPOUR: Well, let me ask you, because before I get to Russia's side of this story, I again want to ask you, you know, Russia says it's neutral.
Russia says it hasn't done this. Russia says it wouldn't, et cetera.
But surely Russia probably likes what Trump also has said, that he would consider lifting the sanctions because of Ukraine and perhaps even
recognizing the annexation of Crimea.
That must be music to the Kremlin's ears.
FARKAS: Right. That's what I would think. He didn't have just one outrageous statement yesterday. He then went further and said, well, you
know, maybe we could talk to Russia about giving them -- acknowledging the illegal grab of Crimea and he didn't use the terms illegal grab.
[14:20:00] You know, so he actually went on to say even more outrageous things. You know, he likes to think he can work with Russia. But he's
going to work with Russia on those terms that he's actually going to work with Russia, counter to international law and counter to U.S. national
And going back to an earlier comment he made now, I mean, it seems like it was a million years ago, but it was last Thursday or Friday when he
question our Article 5 commitment to our NATO allies. And that is something that is very, very -- first of all, it's a treaty obligation.
The Senate, you know, passed the treaty. We ratified the treaty. We have an international obligation to the Baltic States and all the other states
that are NATO members.
He was answering a question that said, you know, would you come to the aid of the Baltic States. And he said, well, I don't know, if they paid their
FARKAS: ...which is not the way that you deal with a treaty obligation.
AMANPOUR: That was in Cleveland last Friday. You're absolutely right.
But give it to us from the Russian point of view then, because that's obviously what you had to deal with in the defense department.
There is a new, sort of part of the Russian military doctrine that's in their military manual. The talks about the whole sort of nature of war
having changed. It's named for a general, I believe, called Garasimov, who identified after the Arab spring that the idea of tanks and weapons and
this and that is not the offensive that is for today. That it's all about social media and invading, you know, cyberspace.
Give us what you understand to be their military doctrine today, or at least part of it.
FARKAS: Yes. I mean, I think, first of all, you have to understand that historically the Russians have always felt that they were encircled by the
west so they have regarded NATO as adversarial, even though after the Cold War initially, you know, we had a partnership with Russia on paper.
But Putin came in, was very skeptical and ultimately turned against the idea of NATO. And so he's been trying to break NATO, break the
transatlantic relationship between the United States, Canada and our European allies. He'd like to break the European Union. All the unity
But then as you mentioned, the military has taken this and gone a step further. They have said, OK, the rules don't apply. The old rules of how
you're going to deal with an adversary, or potential threat, or even beyond that a real adversary on the battlefield have changed.
And so we're not talking about just conventional war. We're talking about hybrid war. Something that includes conventional war, but it actually
starts at a lower level by creating misinformation and doubt in your adversary's public. So you see now Russia directly affecting.
I mean, I would say this is almost a direct impact on us, but before that they were indirectly affecting us through their propaganda, through their
media network, the Russia today, et cetera. So there are a lot of means they use.
In addition to the media means, they also fund far left and far right parties. We know it's very well documented or at least very accepted that
the Russians have been funding the far right party in France, for example, but also in Hungary and other countries.
So they use these means that are certainly not military, but it's all part of one military or civil military campaign.
AMANPOUR: Evelyn Farkas --
FARKAS: And there's a cyber element to it, I should say also, Christiane.
FARKAS: That's not just spying, but, you know, potential to use it aggressively and in a way that's offensive towards the United States, or
any ally, or any country that wants to interfere in a situation where Russia doesn't want that country to interfere.
AMANPOUR: Right. And this is why everybody is so agitated about this whole episode.
Evelyn Farkas, thank you very much indeed.
Former assistant U.S. secretary of defense dealing with Russia. And as we know, the FBI is looking into this hack of the DNC.
Coming up, a grand musical finale to our program tonight as the Democratic National Convention reaches for the stars and pulls in big ratings. That's
[14:26:15] AMANPOUR: Finally tonight, imagine a galaxy of stars putting their power into politics. While Trump's unpredictable behavior pushing
the bounds of political discourse is often a ratings boost, in fact it's the Democratic convention this week that's drawing in millions more viewers
than the Republicans did in Cleveland last week.
And one factor is the significantly one-sided star wattage. The Republican's Scott Baio and Antonio Sabato Jr. not quite providing the same
pull as Meryl Streep, Alicia Keys, Lenny Kravitz. The stars are all out tonight as well, pops, Katy Perry and the legendary singer/songwriter
Carole King taking to the stage to support Clinton.
But perhaps the starkest contrast with the anger and fear of the Republican convention came last night when the DNC literally burst into song about
Actors of stage and screen singing "What the World Needs Now" in support of the victims of the Orlando massacre, where 49 people were killed in a
Florida gay nightclub.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
Artists singing "What the World Needs Now."
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: And that is it for our program tonight.
Remember, you can always listen to our podcast, see us online at Amanpour.com and follow me on Facebook and Twitter. Thank you for
watching, and goodbye from London.