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THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER
More Clinton E-Mails Released; Secret Service Talks to Donald Trump. Aired 4-4:30p ET
Aired August 10, 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 ANCHOR: So, you know who wondered if Donald Trump's Second Amendment Hillary Clinton comments might be heard that way? The U.S. Secret Service.
THE LEAD starts right now.
Make outrageous statement, deny you meant it how many people took it, attack liberal media, lather, rinse, repeat. The Republican nominee yet again accusing reporters of perverting his words. But now CNN has learned that the U.S. Secret Service has had more than one conversation with the Trump campaign about what Mr. Trump said yesterday.
Injury by 55,000 paper cuts. Another splash of e-mails from Hillary Clinton's secretary of state days, these showing her State Department talking about doing a favor for a mega-donor to the Clinton Foundation.
Nothing diplomatic about it. The State Department today calling upon an ally to explain itself for an offensive anti-gay slur made by that country's president against the U.S. ambassador.
Good afternoon, everyone. Welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.
The Republican and Democrat presidential candidates yet again today in damage control mode, but for very different and un-equivalent reasons.
Donald Trump today defending his off-the-cuff comments that if Hillary Clinton were president and nominating pro-gun control Supreme Court justices, perhaps, he said, perhaps Second Amendment people could stop her.
Critics, including some Republicans, say this seemed to be a veiled call for violence against the Democratic nominee. Hillary Clinton just now in Iowa spoke publicly for the first time about Trump's remarks.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Let me say something about what I think is a critical difference between my opponent and myself. Words matter, my friends. And if you are running to be president, or
are you president of the United States, words can have tremendous consequences.
Yesterday, we witnessed the latest in a long line of casual comments from Donald Trump that crossed the line, his casual cruelty to a Gold Star family, his casual suggestion that more countries should have nuclear weapons, and now his casual inciting of violence.
Every single one of these incidents shows us that Donald Trump simply does not have the temperament to be president and commander in chief of the United States.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: Today, a Secret Service official told CNN's Jim Sciutto that the agency has spoken to the Trump campaign more than once about his comments.
The Trump campaign explained that the candidate did not intend to incite violence. And publicly, Mr. Trump is firing back. He is saying that the outrage is media-driven, media-created, and he was simply calling for political advocacy among gun owners.
Also today, newly uncovered e-mails are raising serious questions about whether a Clinton Foundation donor had special State Department access while Hillary Clinton served as America's top diplomat.
We will have more on the Clinton controversy in a moment.
But today we're going to begin with CNN's Sara Murray, who is traveling with the Trump campaign in Sunrise, Florida.
Sara, you just heard Hillary Clinton. She said Mr. Trump crossed the line. What does the Trump campaign have to say?
SARA MURRAY, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Jake, the Trump campaign is trying to make it crystal clear they did not mean to be promoting violence. They put out a statement. Donald Trump has tweeted.
He has done a number of interviews to try to address this. Jake, what is notable is he has not doubled down. He has not repeated these comments, instead, sticking to talking about needing to protect the Second Amendment and of course bashing the press.
MURRAY (voice-over): Donald Trump is still trying to set the record straight.
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We have to protect our Second Amendment, which is under siege.
MURRAY: Blaming the media for the uproar over this comment.
TRUMP: By the way, and if she gets to pick -- if she gets to pick her judges, nothing you can do, folks, although the Second Amendment people, maybe there is. I don't know.
MURRAY: While some, including the Clinton campaign, saw it as a call to violence, Trump insists it was about encouraging Second Amendment voters to rally behind him.
TRUMP: There can be no other interpretation. Even reporters have told me, give me a break.
MURRAY: The GOP nominee also airing his frustrations on Twitter.
"Media desperate to distract from Clinton's anti-2A stance. I said pro-2A citizens must organize and get out vote to save our Constitution. But even as Trump's backers rush to his defense...
RUDY GIULIANI (R), FORMER MAYOR OF NEW YORK: What he meant by that was you have the power to vote against her. I saw it, I heard it, I know what it meant. I heard how the crowd reacted to it.
MURRAY: Other Republicans billed it as another misstep for a candidate with an affinity for making off-color comments.
REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: It sounds like just a joke gone bad. I hope he clears it up very quickly. You should never joke about something like that.
MURRAY: Senator Susan Collins, who is not supporting the GOP nominee, says she believes Trump was talking about political clout, but isn't surprised others came away with a darker impression.
SEN. SUSAN COLLINS (R), MAINE: Donald Trump has made so many disparaging and reckless comments, that it is not surprising that this one has been misinterpreted.
MURRAY: For her part, Hillary Clinton sought to use the outrage to her advantage, her campaign releasing a statement saying: "This is simple. What Trump is saying is dangerous. A person seeking to be the president of the United States should not suggest violence in any way," and following that up with a fund-raising e-mail saying, "Donald Trump does not deserve to win," along with Trump's quote.
MURRAY: Now, the question with Trump is always whether he will just leave the issue alone, or let it blow over. But as you could see by Hillary Clinton's comments today, it is clear the Clinton camp wants to keep the pressure on him -- Jake.
TAPPER: OK, Sara Murray with the Trump campaign in Florida, Sara, thanks so much. Let's bring in a panel, former Georgia Congressman Jack Kingston, who
is a senior adviser to the Trump campaign, senior political commentator S.E. Cupp. She does not support Donald Trump. And former communications director for Ted Cruz Amanda Carpenter, who also does not support Donald Trump, although you both are conservatives. You should point this out.
Let us start with the quote and the actual sound bite from Donald Trump and let's play a little bit more of it so we can get a little bit more of the context.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Hillary wants to abolish -- essentially abolish the Second Amendment.
TRUMP: By the way, and if she gets to pick -- if she gets to pick her judges, nothing you can do, folks, although the Second Amendment people, maybe there is. I don't know.
But I will tell you what. That will be a horrible day. If Hillary gets to pick her judges, right now, we're tied. You see what is going on. We're tied, because, Scalia, this was not supposed to happen.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: So, I think we got a full flavor there of the context of the quotes.
Congressman Kingston, the Secret Service heard that. They took issue enough to go and talk to the Trump campaign. Is it really the contention of the Trump campaign that all the people who heard a suggestion of violence, joking or not, in those remarks were all just insane?
REP. JACK KINGSTON (R), FORMER U.S. CONGRESSMAN: Well, first of all, I think he said it. Go out and vote. And that's what he meant.
And the reality is people who belong to the NRA, our Second Amendment supporters, they're very responsible and they know how go out and use their political clout.
But I got to say, I have represented the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center for 22 years, where the Secret Service trains. It's not in their position to go out and advise candidates on how to speak. Where were they, for example, in June of 2008, when Barack Obama said -- and I quote directly -- "If they bring a knife to the fight, we bring a gun."
S.E. CUPP, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I don't think they were advising him. They didn't have a meeting with the Trump campaign to offer advice. They had a meeting to investigate the nature of that comment.
KINGSTON: I'm questioning the premise that they actually did it, because I would love to know, when did the Secret Service get involved in giving candidates advice?
TAPPER: I don't know what they said.
TAPPER: The knife and gun thing is a famous speech from the movie "The Untouchables." It's Sean Connery talking to Kevin Costner. If they bring a knife, you bring a gun.
KINGSTON: Well, let me say this. I have seen that statement since 2008. I never knew it was alluding to a movie. I don't think most people in America did.
Where was the outrage from the left when Barack Obama said that? And it was right in the wake of a shooting in Arizona, by the way, and he was running against John McCain. We have to say if we're going to measure them with the same yardstick, why wasn't there outrage when Barack Obama said something which to me was very, very specific?
I'm going to bring our time machine back to 2016.
Amanda, I just want to ask you, how did you interpret it?
AMANDA CARPENTER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Listen, one of the reasons -- I was a speechwriter for Senator DeMint, Senator Cruz. I care very deeply about the meaning of words. And I think it is paramount that our leaders speak with clarity, so there is no mistaking what they mean to our friends, allies, enemies.
Donald Trump may not have meant this, but people could walk away from that. And I really care about this, because working on the Hill in the era where there is security alerts, lockdowns -- and I have been in an office and there's been bullets fired and you don't know what direction they're going.
This is a hot environment. And there is unstable people that are attracted to the political process. My hope, to God, that Donald Trump takes the warnings from Secret Service seriously and tries to ramp it back, or at least acknowledges among his team that he has to be more precise.
TAPPER: How did you take the comment? CUPP: As a Second Amendment advocate, gun owner, NRA member, what bothers me most is that this is not how Second Amendment advocates talk.
Second Amendment advocates know that it exists to resist tyranny, not an elected political official carrying out her elected duties. That is not the role of the Second Amendment. It's not a political punchline. It's not an empty threat or a casual joke at a campaign rally.
TAPPER: But that's what you thought it was? You thought it was a casual joke at a campaign rally?
CUPP: I think he was pandering to a group of people he is pretending to understand.
Donald Trump doesn't understand gun issues. Just as recently as after the Orlando shooting, he called for more gun control. He once believed in an assault weapons ban. He has rented conservative values for the duration of this campaign.
KINGSTON: I have to say, maybe he doesn't understand them to your standard, but Second Amendment and NRA members do understand it.
And they do understand that Omar Mateen's pro-gun control dad was on the front row of a Hillary Clinton debate, a rally. And the question is, why does -- why is down the front row of Hillary Clinton?
CUPP: I can't have a conversation about an issue when it has just completely veered off.
CUPP: Congressman, how do we have a conversation on a topic when every Trump supporter just veers it off to something else?
KINGSTON: I will go through it slower then.
Here is a guy who is pro-gun control. He is on the front row of Hillary Clinton's rally. His son was a terrorist who recently killed 49 people. The Second Amendment people understand this guy is supporting Hillary Clinton, and Donald Trump is supporting the Second Amendment gun owner's rights. And he's saying go out and vote, which is what they're going to do.
TAPPER: For whatever it is worth, Hillary Clinton decried and denounced that man, Seddique Mateen, and said she disavowed him, didn't want his support yesterday.
That's all the time we have for this panel. We could have gone the whole hour, I'm guessing.
Amanda, S.E., Congressman Kingston, thank you so much for being here.
Another potential headache for the Clinton campaign, a new batch of personal server e-mails shedding light on the relationship between the Clinton Foundation and the State Department back when she was secretary of state. Were big donors rewarded with special access? We will take a closer look next.
[16:16:57] JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back to THE LEAD. Let's stick with our politics lead today.
When Hillary Clinton tries to address some of the trust issues that a majority of voters have with her, she often cites how her former rival, President-elect Obama came to truth her enough to ask her to be his secretary of state. Now, behind the scenes of that story at the end of 2008 were weeks and weeks of negotiations between then- President-elect Obama his transition team and the Clinton team, discussions as one former top official told me, quote, "on the front end, about scrupulously keeping separate Clinton Foundation and State Department business," unquote.
Well, a newly released batch of emails illustrates just the kind of headlines the Obama White House was hoping to avoid, a top executive of the Clinton foundation seeming to seek a favor from the U.S. State Department on behalf of a foundation donor.
The emails come as a slew of new polls show Clinton leading Donald Trump nationally and in some battleground states, though other states remain quite competitive. Today, Clinton is in Iowa, one state she is fighting to keep Democratic.
CNN's Joe Johns is traveling with the Clinton campaign in Des Moines.
Joe, has Clinton mentioned or even alluded to this chapter in the email saga?
JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Well, the campaign certainly has, Jake. Quite frankly, the Clinton campaign now in full push back mode on this email story.
Josh Schwerin, one of the campaign spokesmen, just putting out a statement a little while ago, saying the right wing organization that brought all of these e-mails to light, Judicial Watch, has been attacking the Clintons since the 1990s, and no matter how this group tries to characterize these documents, the fact remains that Hillary Clinton never took action as secretary of state because of donations to the Clinton Foundation.
And on background, they are also they trying to make clear the relationship between the billionaire businessman who was trying to seek access to an ambassador and the State Department on that saying Mr. Chagoury, who is of Lebanese descent, we've been calling him Nigerian, was simply seeking to share his insights on the upcoming Lebanese election with the right person at the State Department. For him, this information might be helpful and seeking to provide information. He was not seeking action by the department.
Still, all of this continues to be a headache for Hillary Clinton who has been struggling with trust issues.
HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: I actually talked with them about coming here, so this has got to be a tourist spot as well as --
JOHNS (voice-over): There are questions about Clinton Foundation seeking favors from the State Department. The emails obtained by conservative watchdog Judicial Watch include Clinton Foundation officials lobbying Clinton State Department aides and advisers to hire their associate. The Clinton campaign responding that the emails are irrelevant, saying neither of these emails involve the secretary or relate to the foundation's work.
The emails once again raising questions about Clinton's decision- making and trustworthiness, while Clinton continues to stumble over the issue on the campaign trail.
CLINTON: I may have short circuited it, and for that I, you know, will try to clarify.
[16:20:04] JOHNS: The new e-mails are serving as ammunition for Donald Trump, citing them as evidence that Clinton is corrupt.
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: This was big stuff. Pay for play. It is illegal. I mean, it's illegal. And we'll see what happens with it, folks. We'll see what happens with it, but it's very serious stuff.
JOHNS: The controversy comes amid encouraging poll numbers for Clinton. A new Bloomberg poll showing Clinton beating Trump nationally 50 percent to 44 percent, and Clinton ahead of Trump in key battleground states, besting him in Iowa and Pennsylvania. The two locked in a virtual tie in Florida. Clinton also on top in blue collar Wisconsin, 46 percent to 36 percent.
Vying for another battleground state, Clinton today campaigning in Iowa where she is ahead.
CLINTON: And you can build it in America and I am determined that we're going to build more and we're going to be able to create more businesses and more jobs by doing so.
JOHNS: Clinton continues to add bipartisan support to her campaign, adding to the growing list of Republican endorsements, long time ambassador and former director of national intelligence, John Negroponte, and former Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez, the latest to throw his support behind Clinton.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We all have stories, and every immigrant has -- (END VIDEOTAPE)
JOHNS: Not to be overlooked, there was a little bit of an incident here in Des Moines today as a person who has been identified by some as an animal rights protester tried to rush the stage when Hillary Clinton was speaking, Secret Service agents took their positions, as they always do. The person was taken away. Hillary Clinton moves on from here to Detroit tomorrow and her big economic speech -- Jake.
TAPPER: All right. Joe Johns, thank you so much.
Let's dive a little deeper into these 296 pages of Clinton e-mails just released, 44 of them we are told who are brand new. And one message a Clinton Foundation executive lobbied for a job for someone else, someone it's, quote, "important to take care of." In another email, a top executive of the foundation makes efforts to link a billionaire foreign donor with a U.S. diplomat.
CNN senior investigative correspondent Drew Griffin is helping us sort out the connections.
And, Drew, the campaign told me earlier that the executive of the Clinton Foundation was operating in a different capacity, was operating as a top aide to former President Clinton, not as a Clinton Foundation executive, and that the donor in question has a longstanding relationship with the Clintons. In some ways, it's the very mixing of all these different groups of people, foundation and campaign and the State Department and such that on it's face will obviously create so many potential conflicts of interest, no?
DREW GRIFFIN, CNN SENIOR INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT: That is exactly the point. These e-mails being released now today show what we have been seen over and over again, and it is exactly, Jake, that intermingling of interests and donations and favors being done between the Hillary Clinton State Department, the Clinton Family Foundation, and the donors who apparently have very easy access to both when they need help.
GRIFFIN (voice-over): There are nearly 300 pages of e-mails. Some of them show just how easy it was for Clinton donors to get Clinton favors.
Case in point: Gilbert Chagoury, he's a Nigerian Lebanese billionaire seen here with Bill Clinton at the opening ceremonies for the Chagoury brothers multibillion dollar waterfront development in Nigeria. The project was done under the umbrella of a Clinton Global Initiative to reclaim Nigeria's coastline. Chagourys and Bill Clinton go way back. Gilbert Chagoury is listed as donating between $1 million and $5 million to the Clinton Family Foundation.
And in this new batch of e-mails, it seems Gilbert Chagoury could use his connections to open doors. In 2009, it appears Chagoury wanted to connect with a top U.S. official in Lebanon. Doug Band, who was heading the Clinton Foundation at the time, stepped in to help. He e- mailed Hillary Clinton's top aides at the U.S. State Department, Cheryl Mills and Huma Abedin, asking that Gilbert Chagoury be placed in touch with the State Department's substance person on Lebanon.
Band who once interned for Mills reminds both Hillary Clinton aides that Chagoury is a key guy there and "to us", and he is asking Abedin called the former U.S. ambassador to Lebanon so the Clinton donor and the former ambassador can connect, but there is no mention of why.
There are Clinton Foundation requests for a favor in finding someone a job, paying attention to someone whose ambassadorship was turned down, and intermingling of e-mails between State, Clinton Foundation, and others giving the overall effect of trouble finding why any lines are drawn at all. Even if no legal lines were crossed, government employees have an obligation to avoid even the appearance of a conflict of interest.
SCOTT AMEY, PROJECT ON GOVERNMENT OVERSIGHT: So, you do wonder if there was some kind of impartiality or preferential treatment given to these companies and these lobbyists that didn't go to everyone.
[16:25:08] And that's not the way our government is supposed to work.
GRIFFIN: Jake, we're getting a lot of different responses from the Clinton campaign. But I want to show you what they did send to us as a quote. This is from Josh Schwerin. He says the e-mails are communications between her, Hillary Clinton's aides, and the president's personal aide, and indeed the recommendation was for one of the secretary's former staffers who was not employed by the foundation, and that Doug Band at the time was both working with the foundation as a top aide to Bill Clinton, the e-mails they are telling us were sent from his presidential aide e-mail and not from the foundation's aide email. So, there are a lot of lines even being drawn in their response to us.
TAPPER: All right. Drew Griffin, thank you so much.
Donald Trump says these unseen e-mails are evidence of pay-for-play that will only continue if Hillary Clinton wins the White House. That story, next.
Plus, the president of the Philippines is known for his off-the-wall comments and his latest target is a U.S. ambassador.