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THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER

75 Republicans to RNC: Abandon Trump's Campaign; Aleppo Doctors Beg Obama for Help; Aleppo Doctors Beg Obama For Help; Democrats Openly Blame Russia For Recent Hacks; Macy's To Shut Down 100 Stores. Aired 4:30-5p ET

Aired August 11, 2016 - 16:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[16:31:05] JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back to THE LEAD.

We got so much to discuss. Let's jump right in with our political panel. CNN political commentator Mary Katharine Ham, Democratic strategist and Hillary Clinton supporter, Hilary Rosen, and former South Carolina lieutenant governor and Donald Trump supporter, Andre Bauer.

Andre, let me start with you.

This afternoon, 75 never Trump Republicans, including some former members of the House, former congressional staffers, former RNC officials, they're circulating a letter pleading with the Republican National Committee to shift their resources away from Donald Trump's campaign. They say it's a waste of time. It's a waste of money. He is attacking Republicans, talking about setting up super PACs to go after people like Ted Cruz, et cetera.

What do you make of all that?

ANDRE BAUER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: You know, I don't know, Jake. This is the first I've heard of it. I can tell you, Andre Bauer is not signing the letter.

(LAUGHTER)

TAPPER: Hillary let me go to you.

A former Obama White House senior official told me, speaking -- let's switch the topic to Hillary Clinton and this latest questions about the blurring of the line between the Clinton Foundation and the Clinton State Department. A former Obama White House senior official told me at the end of 2008, when they were making these arrangements for Clinton to be secretary of state, quote, "There were discussions on the front about scrupulously keeping separate Clinton Foundation and State Department business."

It sounds pretty easy to me why it was so difficult to follow.

HILARY ROSEN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I just want to say that I think Trump's team all day is minimizing these Republican defections, but the historic nature of seeing so many defections is really what's a mind-boggling to me. Not who they are and what they stand for.

Back to the Clinton Foundation -- look, I don't think that the e-mails that have come out about the State Department and the Clinton Foundation really show anything that unusual on the last couple of days. If you're involved at all in the sort of NGO world, the nongovernmental organization, global public policy world, there is interplay between foundations and State Department all of the time, almost every foundation that deals in global policy has interacted with the State Department.

So, saying that somebody ought to hear somebody who is interested in a job, or hear somebody you should talk to, you know, I think that's why the State Department thought this was no big deal. That happens. There is really nothing, and that's why the Justice Department declined to go further today and investigative. There's nothing in these e-mails that suggest that there's anything wrong with what occurred.

TAPPER: Or anything illegal. That's what --

ROSEN: Or anything illegal.

(CROSSTALK)

ROSEN: Look, every single State Department has communicated with global --

(CROSSTALK)

MARY KATHARINE HAM, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Not all global foundations have the name of the secretary of state on them. And that is a real difference and it's why they should have been scrupulous about this. And, by the way, when we say like, oh, this kind of thing happens all the time -- this is exactly what Trump voters are responding to and his message, which is things have been wrong for a long time. They're doing things, business as usual, Clinton selling more of the same, and this line sounds like that. The Clintons have very smart people with them, who can be scrupulous about this kind of thing and they chose not to be.

BAUER: And not only that, Jake, the very one that investigated them are their friends. I mean, when you can sit on the tarmac with the attorney general of the United States and meet with them, who knows what they talk about?

But this is the corruption in Washington. This is why people are so sick of cesspool up there because it is so incestuous.

ROSEN: No, no, sorry. None of this really is appropriate to let stand. The fact that this goes on all the time, what we're saying is, oh my God, do people from the State Department communicate with foundations who are working to solve global poverty? Yes. That goes on all the time.

Do people from the State Department communicate on how to solve global AIDS problems? Yes, that goes on all of the time. That's what these foundations do. That's what the Clinton Foundation did. That's what their donors were paying them for.

(CROSSTALK)

BAUER: Sounds great.

HAM: But the Obama White House has asked for certain rules to make this clear so they don't get in trouble, and they avoid following these rules.

[16:35:01] ROSEN: No, no, there is no evidence that they didn't follow the rules.

HAM: Except for all the evidence that they didn't follow all the rules.

ROSEN: That's, in fact, why the Justice Department declined to investigate.

TAPPER: Andre, let me ask --

HAM: You can be wrong but not be criminal.

TAPPER: And, yet, Andre, let me ask you a question -- Andre, let me ask you a question, the reason why Mr. Trump trails in the polls, even though there are these concerns about Hillary Clinton according to polls is because of the things that keep coming out of Mr. Trump's mouth.

Here is Mr. Trump this morning again asserting that President Obama and Hillary Clinton founded ISIS.

BAUER: Well, Jake, you know, I think -- go ahead, let the tape rolls.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: The founders of ISIS. The founders. In fact, I think we'll give Hillary Clinton the you know, if you're on a sports team, most valuable player, MVP. You get the MVP award. ISIS will hand her most valuable player award. Her only competition is Barack Obama.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: I mean, it's not a joke, Andre. This is a terrorist group that has raped and murdered thousands of people. We can get into the whole history of ISI, and Abu Musab al-Zarqawi founding al Qaeda in Iraq, which eventually morphed into ISIS, and the leader is Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. But regardless of that, why be so frivolous with such an incredibly important issue.

BAUER: Jake, his style of campaigning is not how I would campaign. It got him this far. I would love to see him now change. I think there are so many opportunities here to show the difference between him and his business savvy and trying to get the economy back on track and trying to fix some of these international problems we have and I think they're missed opportunities. I mean, as a Trump supporter, I'm sitting here saying I think we're missing great opportunities to show two vast differences in the candidates. I hope he will focus like a laser beam on some of these issues. And this is corruption. This is problems, and this is why people are so frustrated with what is going on in Washington.

So, if I were him, I'd be hammering home what's happening right now. And this is why servers disappear.

TAPPER: Uh-huh.

Mary Katharine, one last note, Donald Trump was on the Hugh Hewitt Show this morning. He was asked about potential debate moderators, and he would say that there would be a number who would not be unfair. Take a listen.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

HUGH HEWITT, THE HUGH HEWITT SHOW: Chuck Todd won't do that. Dickerson won't do that. Jake and Wolf won't do that.

Dana Bash was very fair to you, didn't you think?

TRUMP: I think she's had moments of great fairness.

HEWITT: Mary Katharine Ham, very fair to you.

TRUMP: I've never gotten along with her, no.

HEWITT: With Mary Katharine?

TRUMP: Never gotten along.

HEWITT: Oh, well, we'll have to check in on that. OK.

TRUMP: No, she is not a fan of mine and I've never gotten along with her.

HEWITT: OK, I'll ask her about that.

TRUMP: I don't know her, but she says only bad things. So, let's cross her name off. No, I do not -- I am not a fan.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

ROSEN: Badge of pride.

TAPPER: Say one nice thing about Donald Trump to prove him wrong.

HAM: I think I just defended him on a couple of points, right?

No, I think, look, as a conservative who is concerned and skeptical about those who rule us, I actually -- and govern us -- I actually have not usually fan of "politicians", quote-unquote. We had two nice interactions personally where he came to introduce himself to me. We had a debate in New Hampshire, which turned out -- ROSEN: He says he's never met you.

HAM: It turned fairly well for him in New Hampshire. I thought it was a fair debate. I asked him conservative policy, which is not his passion but is mine and is one of -- for many Republican voters. So, I think it went all right.

TAPPER: How anybody cannot like you is beyond me.

HAM: Thank you.

TAPPER: Mary Katharine, Hilary, Andre, thank you so much.

No food, no water, no electricity and that's not the biggest challenge for the last doctors left in one of the most devastated parts of Syria. They're trying to survive regular bombings every few hours. And now, they're pleading with President Obama for help.

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[16:43:06] TAPPER: Welcome back.

We're back with our world lead now. A dire humanitarian crisis in Syria and a plea for help. An open letter today from 15 of the last doctors serving the remaining 300,000 citizens in eastern Aleppo in Syria, which is being blockaded and besieged by the Assad regime.

The doctors telling President Obama they have seen, quote, "no effort on behalf of the United States to lift the siege, or even used its influence to push the parties to protect civilians," unquote. We thought it was important for you to hear these doctors' words, so let me read an excerpt of their letter.

"For five years," the doctors write, "we have faced death from above on a daily basis. But we now face death from all around. For five years, we have born witness as countless patients, friends, and colleagues suffered violent, tormented deaths.

For five years, the world has stood by and remarked how complicated Syria is, while doing little to protect us.

Right now, there is an attack on a medical facility every 17 hours. At this rate, our medical services in Aleppo could be completely destroyed in a month, leaving 300,000 people to die.

What pains us most as doctors is choosing who will live, and who will die. Young children are sometimes brought into our emergency room so badly injured that we have to prioritize those with better chances or simply don't have the equipment to help them.

Two weeks ago, four newborn babies gasping for air suffocated to death, after a blast cut the oxygen supply to their incubators. Gasping for air, their lives ended before they had really begun.

Unless a permanent lifeline to Aleppo is opened, it will be only a matter of time until we are again surrounded by regime troops. Hunger takes its hold, and hospital supplies run completely dry. We do not need tears or sympathy or even prayers. We need your action. Proof that you are the friend of Syrians."

Let bring in CNN's Clarissa Ward now. She was in rebel held Aleppo just months ago. Clarissa, you also spoke before the United Nations Security Council this week about Syria. Tell us what is happening?

CLARISSA WARD, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, the situation in Aleppo, Jake, is one of these extraordinary things where every time I go, it couldn't possibly get worse and yet it continues to get worse and worse.

You now have 300,000 people living in the rebel-held part of the city, which has been more or less under siege now for nearly a month. You heard the pleas of those doctors. They don't have CT scanners. They don't have life support machines. They don't have oxygen, food, or medical supplies.

They have no electricity. They have no diesel now, which powers the generators that keeps those hospitals operational. We've also heard from the U.N. that there are problems now with the water system and the plumbing. That affecting civilians on all sides of Aleppo not just in rebel help Aleppo.

So clearly this is a humanitarian disaster. We heard from the Russians today that they would like to have a three-hour ceasefire daily whereby some food and aid could be brought in, but the U.N. said right afterwards, hold on a second, we need at least 48 hours to get in there and do the work that needs to be done -- Jake.

TAPPER: Clarissa, this plea from these doctors for help comes as we hear of more suspected gas attacks in the city. What are you learning?

WARD: That's right. We learned overnight according to medical staff on the ground in Eastern Aleppo, there was another chlorine gas attack reportedly three people killed among them a mother and two children. The U.S. one claim to success in Syria, essentially, has been that it coordinated a bargain between the Russians and the regime to remove chemical weapons to stop them from being used on the ground in Syria.

We are now seeing these chlorine gas attacks happening more and more frequently, and you heard the tone from those letters, Jake. The people in Syria believed very strongly that the U.S. by not acting is complicit in these crimes by Russia and by the regime of Bashal al- Assad - Jake.

TAPPER: All right, Clarissa Ward, thank you so much. An electronic Watergate, that's how the Democratic National Committee hack is now being described by a top Democrat. This as that Democrat blames the Russians publicly for the first time. Stay with us.

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[16:51:31] TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper. Our National Lead now, another child is in the hospital after falling from an amusement park ride adding to a list of similar incidents all this week.

Earlier this afternoon, a boy fell off a roller coaster at (inaudible) in Pennsylvania that's about an hour from Pittsburgh. The child was on the "rollo-coaster" with his brother and it is now shut down. So far no update on the boy's condition.

Monday, three girls fell from a ferris wheel at a county fair in Greenbelt, Tennessee. One girl has been diagnosed with traumatic brain injury from that incident. Sunday, 10-year-old Caleb Schwab was killed after riding a water slide in Kansas City, Kansas. That park has since reopened.

Also in the National Lead today, what House Minority Leader, Nancy Pelosi, today called an electronic Watergate. Democrats not holding back on blaming Russia for recent e-mail hacks on party organizations.

Members of the House Intelligence Committee were briefed recently and learned it was not just political groups accessed, but personal e- mails as well.

CNN's Jim Sciutto joins me now. Jim, where is the intelligence community right now as to whether or not Russia can be definitively blamed for this hack?

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Not definitively, but really almost since these hacks were revealed, the intelligence community has told us that Russia is the prime suspect.

However, for a leading official, a leading lawmaker who has been receiving briefings on the hack, to publicly name Russia, that is a first. And we now know that the hack compromised not only Democratic Party organizations, but also the private e-mail accounts of Democratic officials.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SCIUTTO (voice-over): Tonight, the hack of Democratic Party e-mails now includes the private e-mail accounts of a number of Democratic Party and campaign officials.

The hackers, one law enforcement official told CNN, are quote, "Going after everything they can" to the point that both parties have been warned to assume all e-mail correspondence could have been compromised.

And now for the first time, the alleged culprit, publicly identified by a top ranking Democrat.

REPRESENTATIVE NANCY PELOSI (D), HOUSE MINORITY LEADER: This is an electronic Watergate. This is a break in.

SCIUTTO: House minority leader, Nancy Pelosi, who received classified briefings on the hack, pointing the finger directly at Moscow.

PELOSI: I know for sure it is the Russians. The Russians broke in, who they gave the information to, I don't know. Who dumped it? I don't know.

SCIUTTO: So far, the White House has not directly blamed the Russian government for the hack of the DNC or other earlier cyber attacks suspected of Russian involvement. However, intelligence and law enforcement officials have told CNN it is the most likely suspect.

As first reported by the "New York Times," the cyber intrusions targeting Democratic Party organizations include a breach of private e-mail accounts, of a number of Democratic Party officials some with direct ties to the Clinton campaign. This is according to U.S. officials familiar with the investigation.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SCIUTTO: So a senior lawmaker has now identified Russia for the hack, but no one has yet identified who gave those e-mails to Wikileaks which then release them.

As you know, Jake, Wikileaks has claimed that it has more e-mails specifically related to the Clinton Foundation. Julian Assange, the Wikileaks founder, has publicly referred to this as his October surprise. We'll clearly going to be hearing more about this in the weeks and months ahead.

TAPPER: Mr. Assange is no fan of Hillary Clinton. Jim Sciutto, thanks so much.

It is an American retail icon that is now shrinking in this digital age. That story next.

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[16:59:22]

TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper. Today's Money Lead, more proof that shoppers are shifting away from the big box stores and embracing technology. Today, iconic retailer, Macy's, announced plans to shut down 100 stores nationwide. That is about 15 percent of Macy's locations.

Macy's did not detail which stores are closing, but it will happen after the holidays. Macy's says it will try to offer affected employees jobs at nearby stores.

The success of online retailers such as amazon.com seem to be coming at the great expense of old school department stores. Macy's announcement follows other recent big box closures by Walmart, Target, JCPenny and Sears.

I'm Jake Tapper. Thanks so much for watching. Wolf Blitzer in "THE SITUATION ROOM" starts now.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now, founder of ISIS, Donald Trump steps up --