Return to Transcripts main page
Trump Continues to Call Obama and Clinton Founders of ISIS; Some Republicans Want Funds Directed Away from Trump and Toward Congressional Campaigns; Latest Questions on Clinton Emails; Donald Trump Says There is No Place Safer than a Trump Rally. Aired 10-11p ET
Aired August 11, 2016 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[22:00:00] JOHN BERMAN, AC360 SHOW HOST: That does it for us. Thanks for watching. Time now for CNN Tonight with Don Lemon.
DON LEMON, CNN TONIGHT SHOW HOST: Donald Trump doubling down on an outright lie against President Obama and Hillary Clinton.
This is CNN Tonight. I'm Don Lemon.
Trump claims that ISIS honors both of them and for this reason.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, (R) U.S. PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I call President Obama and Hillary Clinton the founders of ISIS. They're the founders.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: He also says that both would be eligible for the terror group's most valuable player award. Clinton says those remarks show Trump is not fit to be president.
And panic in the GOP over the direction of Trump's campaign. A draft letter circulating among top republicans pleading with the chairman of the RNC to divert dollars away from Trump and move them towards vulnerable GOP down ballot candidates.
And Clinton's e-mail scandal. The newly released messages show corruption.
We'll talk about all of that, a lot of ground to cover tonight. I want to begin though, with CNN's senior White House correspondent Jim Acosta and our chief political correspondent Dana Bash.
Good evening to both of you. Thank you for coming on.
DANA BASH, CNN'S CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Good evening.
Jim, I'm going to start with you. You're down there in Florida covering the Trump campaign for us. He's not backing down from his message Clinton and President Obama founded ISIS. It's completely wrong. So, what is he saying tonight? JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Right. Yes, Don, he
quadrupled down on those tonight as you might say, he talked about it last night, talked about it this morning, this afternoon. And then he did it once again at this rally outside of Orlando. He called President Obama the founder of ISIS.
He's basing this argument on this -- he's saying that President Obama when he had the chance to leave a residual force in Iraq that he chose not to do that. And because of that a vacuum was created and ISIS filled that vacuum.
The problem with that is that, and, Don, we've been pointing this out throughout the day is back in March of 2007, and again, in 2008, Donald Trump told CNN and told other news organizations that the United States should just declare victory and get out of Iraq.
He was not advocating leaving a small residual force at that time. And so basically what he is saying is not only false but it raises -- it raises the criticism that he is not really being honest with what he said back in 2007 and 2008.
Here's more of what Donald Trump -- here's how he put it tonight at this rally in Kissimmee, Florida.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Barack Obama is the founder -- hey, if he would have -- folks, we should have never been in Iraq. We were going to destabilize the Middle East. I said it, I was a civilian. Nobody cares. I was a civilian. Nobody cares.
We should have never been in. They should have understood it. They made a mistake. But we should have never ended it the way they ended it. By ending it the way he ended it, and he got everybody out and he let them know when and we're leaving and they just sat back, they just sat back and they went in.
And I'll tell you why. Barack Obama, number one, is incompetent and, number two, remember this, number two, he is the founder in a true sense. If he would have stayed -- I didn't want to be there, but if he would have kept a relatively small force, he probably could have prevented ISIS from forming.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ACOSTA: Now, a couple of things there, Don. Of course, you heard Donald Trump say there during that sound we just played that he didn't want to be there in Iraq. Of course, that is not something that he said in the past.
In the past, he said before the Iraq war was launched, he said this in an interview with Howard Stern that he was sort of giving tepid support for launching the invasion of Iraq. He said that in an interview with Howard Stern.
The other thing we should point out, Don, is that the president is open to some criticism, we've talked about this before in that you'll remember when President Obama said to The New Yorker that he considered ISIS to be the J.V. team.
So, it does raise this issue as to whether the White House, whether the president once underestimated ISIS as a terror organization. But you don't hear Donald Trump talking about what is essentially a fair game in terms of going after the president on this issue.
And we should also point out Mike Pence, who we've seen in this role of doing clean-up after Donald Trump in recent days told a crowd today that he believes the rest of the country knows what Donald Trump is talking about when he says that President Obama is the founder of ISIS. He did not apologize for that either.
LEMON: Yes. And Mike Pence supported going into Iraq and also the troops leaving as well. But, Jim, you noticed someone hanging a Confederate Flag at the Trump rally tonight. What exactly did you see?
ACOSTA: That's right. And, you know, you and I covered a lot of campaigns, Don, over the years, it's just something that you don't see and you never want to see at a political campaign rally.
[22:05:05] There were three men, this was before Donald Trump came out, as there were warm-up speakers addressing the crowd. They hung up a Confederate Flag here in this hall.
And it took a good 15 to 20 minutes for the campaign staffers who were here, who were sort of, you know, their jaws were dropping and sort of wondering, you know, what do we do about this?
It took about 15, 20 minutes for them along with local law enforcement officials to convince these men to take down that flag. They came down once then they put it up again and then finally it was removed for the last time.
Those men told our producers here on the scene here that they actually bought that flag, that Confederate Flag with the words "Trump 2016" on it out in the parking lot from a vendor on site.
So, you have to ask the question, Don, what are vendors on site at a Trump rally -- outside of a Trump rally doing, selling Confederate Flags that is not -- a question that we haven't answered to at this point.
But I will tell you having covered a number of these rallies over the last several months, you do see Confederate Flags out in the parking lot of these rallies from time to time.
There was an African-American couple who went up to these men and started taking issue rather loudly with the fact that they were hanging this Confederate Flag here. It was interesting to see at one point the local law enforcement officials here removed that couple, that African-American couple from the scene here when they were yelling at these individuals with the Confederate Flag.
So, it was a nasty scene that took place here for 15 to 20 minutes before it was finally removed once and for all. Donald Trump I don't think was the wiser. He did not realize this was going on. He was backstage before, you know, before the event and did not even know or at least did not indicate that he knew that this was even going on, Don.
LEMON: Oh, boy. To Dana Bash now. Dana, you have a lot of new reporting today about the conversations between Reince Priebus and Donald Trump. take us through of what you're learning.
BASH: Well, Don, remember last week when Donald Trump decline to endorse House Speaker Paul Ryan in his GOP primary contest. We reported then that the RNC chair Reince Priebus, who is a close friend of Ryan was furious.
And today, I was told that when Priebus called Trump about it, he had a broader conversation that Trump needs to understand the politics isn't always about fairness.
He can't take it personally and that if republicans criticize Trump, like Ryan and others did about Trump's controversial comment about the Gold Star parents, the Khans, that they do it because they feel that they have to because for their own viability or they just think that he's wrong.
And so, I'm told that Priebus explained to Trump that because he's the guy at the top of the ticket he needs to understand that that's OK because they kind of all need each other to win.
And that this is the kind of tough love I have been told for some time that Priebus plays with Trump for the better part of the year, certainly during the primaries and even more so, especially after Trump became the nominee. But it's also clearly getting tougher, Don, for him to play that role.
LEMON: Yes. And, Dana, tell us about this letter, this letter sent to the RNC. Let's discuss this from some republicans who are suggesting that Reince Priebus stop funding Trump. Is that a real possibility?
BASH: Is that a real possibility? Right now the answer is probably no. I should say that this letter is still being circulated.
As of earlier today, there were 75 people who have signed on, we're talking about mostly never Trump republicans, some former congressmen, former GOP campaign officials, Hill staffers asking Reince Priebus to shift party resources from the presidential racial to congressional races to save GOP majorities.
I'll read you part of that letter. It said, quote, "We believe Donald Trump's divisiveness, recklessness, incompetence, and record-breaking unpopularity risk turning this election into a democratic landside. And only the immediate shift of all available RNC resources to vulnerable Senate and House races will prevent the GOP from drowning with the Trump-emblazoned anchor around its neck."
Now, to better answer your question what I'm talking -- the sources I'm talking to are telling me about the RNC plans say is that Priebus is not seriously considering that yet.
And the reason for one thing is that at this point he's not really sure it would even work. Many vulnerable Senate republicans especially are in presidential battleground states.
So, the races are probably intractably tied. I used the word "yet" because I was also told by a source -- a couple of sources actually, that they're going to watch this and if Donald Trump continues to go south when it comes to the polls, they might try to figure out a way to shift some of those resources, at least shift the focus, rhetorically and otherwise.
LEMON: Yes. Always something with this campaign this year. Thank you. Thank you, Jim. Thank you, Dana. I appreciate that.
Joining me now is former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, who is still receiving severance from the campaign and he's a CNN political commentator, Hilary Rosen, a political contributor who is supporting Hillary Clint6on.
[22:10:02] Good to have both of you on.
HILARY ROSEN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Hi, Don.
LEMON: So, Corey, your former boss keeps repeating a lie. He keeps saying President Obama and Hillary Clinton founded ISIS. Watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: ISIS is honoring President Obama. He is the founder of ISIS. He's the founder of ISIS.
He was the founder, absolutely the founder. In fact, he gets -- in sports they have awards. He gets the most valuable player award. Him and Hillary.
HUGH HEWITT, RADIO HUGH HEWITT SHOW HOST: Last night, you said the president was the founder of ISIS. I know what you meant. You meant that he created the vacuum, he lost the peace.
TRUMP: No, I mean, he's the founder of ISIS. I do. He's the most valuable player. I gave him the most valuable player award.
I call President Obama and Hillary Clinton the founders of ISIS. They're the founders. Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, these are the founders of ISIS.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: So, Corey, he is being roundly criticized by both democrats and republicans. They say it makes him sound desperate. Why does he keep saying this?
COREY LEWANDOWSKI, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Look, I think what you have is very clear that ISIS did not exist prior to this administration and the failing...
LEMON: Corey, let me stop you right there. That's not true. ISIS did exist prior to this administration.
LEWANDOWSKI: No, not in a way that we have it today. But this was, look...
LEMON: No, not if you're not going to tell the truth. Hang on. Hang on. No, no, no. No, no.
LEWANDOWSKI: OK. Let's talk about the truth for a second, Don.
LEMON: Let me tell you this. I'm going to tell -- I'm going to let you get it. Let me...
LEWANDOWSKI: The J.V. team -- the J.V. team...
LEMON: Corey, Corey, let me...
LEWANDOWSKI: ... is very different than what it is today.
LEMON: Let me here. So, in March that ISIS was started back in 2002 and also 2003 by Zarqawi. It did -- President Barack was not even president then. He was the state senator in Illinois. Hillary Clinton was not the Secretary of State then.
She was -- she was wrapping her up job as a senator in New York. It did not even exist then so how can you say that they were the founders? Please, go on. Don't repeat -- don't tell that the people are repulsive.
LEWANDOWSKI: I didn't say -- what I said was -- what I said was if you look at where ISIS is today, and where they have come on to administration, they went from J.V. team to the New England Patriots. They went from someone no one has ever heard of to the world champions.
They are the greatest of what they do which is killing Americans and killing people around this world because of the lack of leadership that this administration has put in place. That's very clear.
ROSEN: Look, you know, here's the thing, Don.
LEMON: Hilary, go ahead.
ROSEN: Which is that, President Obama is fighting ISIS in four different countries today. What you have with Donald Trump, and Corey knows this, is you have a guy who basically says whatever he thinks his audience wants to hear. He only goes into favorable audiences.
And when he does a news interview like he did with Hugh Hewitt today, who tried to get him to actually talk about policy, what would you do about ISIS, what is actually the facts on the ground, he has no policy, he has no response.
The fact is that Donald Trump, you know, called for the same withdrawal that Barack Obama actually executed from Iraq and indeed supported the original invasion of Iraq.
And so, you know, we can't -- you know, thank God for CNN all day today, which is actually holding Donald Trump accountable in a way that other people don't seem to be able to.
What he has to do is talk about what he would do different, how is he going to make a different choice than the president and the military is currently making, which is doing everything they can to try and destroy ISIS.
LEMON: OK. Let me...
ROSEN: He doesn't have a policy answer so all he's doing is sort of creating this Trumped up, no plan (Ph) intended...
LEMON: All right, Hilary.
ROSEN: ... rhetoric about, you know, the president. That isn't true.
LEMON: I want to read this. I want to read this and this is from -- and you can pick any fact check, OK. It says "Trump is pointing to the withdrawal of troops from Iraq in 2011 under Obama as a founding of ISIS. But experts say at the expansion of the Islamic state after that point cannot be pinned on troop withdrawal alone," Corey, if at all.
"And there is the fact that George W. Bush had signed the agreement and set the date for that withdrawal. It is a massively complex problem, according to foreign policy experts at the Research Institute Program and on, and people who are experts on the Middle East. It goes beyond one single policy decision about keeping or moving troops."
"Furthermore, Trump himself, supported withdrawing troops from Iraq as early as 2007, telling our very own Wolf Blitzer on CNN in 2007 in an interview that the U.S. should declare victory and leave because I'll tell you this country is just going to get further bogged down."
Roll the tape.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WOLF BLITZER, THE SITUATION ROOM SHOW HOST: How does the United States get out of this situation? Is there a way out?
TRUMP: How did they get out? You know how they get out? They get out. That's how they get out. Declare victory and leave. Because I'll tell you, this country is just going to get further bogged down.
There in a civil war over there, Wolf. There's nothing that we're going to be able to do with a civil war. They are in a major civil war.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[22:15:00] LEMON: So, how can he keep blaming Obama for that when he had the same position, Corey?
LEWANDOWSKI: So, he had that position in 2007, which is now nine years ago. It took the president until what year did you say? Five years ago? Till 2013 to finally withdraw the troops?
LEMON: Two thousand eleven.
LEWANDOWSKI: And what we've seen was -- 2011 to 2016, so five years it's taken. And for anyone to equivocate...
LEMON: But that was according to a status of course an agreement that was signed by President Bush.
LEWANDOWSKI: I understood. For anyone equivocate that ISIS is not stronger today than they were five years ago is either naive or ignorant. I don't know which one it is, but clearly, clearly they are much stronger they are today than they were five years ago.
LEMON: Go ahead, Hilary.
ROSEN: Corey and Donald Trump think the American people are stupid. They're acting like the American people are stupid. That's why he says this all day long. That's why Corey's on TV saying it. You know, President Obama is the founder of ISIS.
The American people are not stupid. They understand that this is not simple, that it is complex, that there are, you know, thousands of experts around the world trying to address this, and yet, Donald Trump wants everyone to think that all he needs to do is just come in and somehow set up some magic bomb that will get rid of ISIS.
That is not case and it is offensive and insulting that that's how he's treating it all day instead of the serious, thoughtful problem that it is.
LEMON: Corey, when he...
LEWANDOWSKI: The difference is Donald Trump was a private citizen and he was very clear. And you guys continue to reference an interview from Howard Stern, which at best was a tepid response that said, yes, OK, and 24 hours after that, 24 hours after that Howard Stern interview Donald Trump said we should get out as quickly as possible.
He was in favor of first not going, and then getting out in 2007 so that ISIS did not grow. And what you're telling me now is it took five years...
ROSEN: What's his answer for now, Corey? Stop attacking the president. What is this something...
LEWANDOWSKI: You know what he said? You know what he said? No, the president is responsible. The president is responsible as the commander-in-chief.
ROSEN: Stop attacking the president.
LEMON: OK. Hilary, Hilary and Corey, hold on.
LEWANDOWSKI: Don't you think as thousands of individual were killed because of this and trillions of dollars were spent.
LEMON: Let's do -- let's one point at a time, Corey.
LEWANDOWSKI: The only thing left was, if we're going to go in Iraq, at least take the oil or have something for it.
LEWANDOWSKI: We left.
ROSEN: What's the answer now?
LEMON: Hilary, hold on, please.
LEWANDOWSKI: We left the oil behind and ISIS continues to have that money from the oil fields.
LEMON: The reason I do it, the reason I cut you off, Corey, as you know, is because I want to make this as clear as possible. When you said 2,000 to whatever, I want the American people and the viewers to know what are the facts and what people are coming on with your saying.
So, you mentioned the Howard Stern interview. Let's discuss the Howard Stern interview, OK.
So, this is, again, according to a number of fact checks I'll just read one of them. "There is no evidence that Trump opposed the war in Iraq before it started on March 19th, 2003. Despite his frequent claims to the contrary, in fact, Trump expressed mild support in September of 2002 for invading Iraq in an interview with radio host Howard Stern."
"The Trump campaign - in a footnote speech - has pointed to an interview in January of 2003 with Fox News's Neil Cavuto. Nut as we have explained before Trump took no position that interview saying that only President Bush should make a decision. Either you attack or you don't attack, he said."
So, again, we're repeating Donald Trump's own words back to him and you are saying that Donald Trump didn't mean that when he said it back in 2003, 2007, and 2011 and then now today?
LEWANDOWSKI: Don, what you said was -- what you said was mild support. You have all the other audio. Play the audio from the Howard Stern tape because it's very clear. When Howard Stern said, "Do you think that we should go into Iraq?" His response was, "maybe, well, I don't know." And that's what you're basing this entire story on that he wasn't supporting with Iraq war which he never was.
LEMON: No, we're not basing an entire story, I'm just -- no. I'm just taking what you're saying and I'm explaining it to the viewer. That's it.
And so we will get the Howard Stern interview and then we'll play it for you and then we'll discuss that as well. But I want you guys to stay with me. I need to take a break right now.
Up next, Trump refuses to change course for the rest of the campaign and he is hinting what he's going to do if he loses in November already.
[22:20:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
LEMON: All right. Donald Trump not backing down from his claim that President Obama and Hillary Clinton are founders of ISIS.
Back with me now, Corey Lewandowski and Hilary Rosen. So, Corey, we want to be fair. So, you mentioned this interview with Howard Stern. Let's listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HOWARD STERN, RADIO HOST: Are you for invading Iraq?
TRUMP: Yes, I guess so. You know, I wish it was -- I wish the first time it was done correctly.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: All right, so he was talking about back in the 90s. There's the interview that you were talking about. He wished it was done correctly back in the 90s. LEWANDOWSKI: Hardly -- hardly an endorsement. Yes, I guess so, I wish
it was done correctly the first time. And that's what all the media storm is for saying Donald Trump is in favor of the Iraq war?
It's clearly not true. "Yes, I guess so" is less than a stellar response and is someone who is saying clearly I don't believe it to be in true. And, you know, the media narrative continues to be that Donald has been in favor of the Iraq war, if that is the audio which the media is perpetuating saying that he's been in favor of it, I think it's a sham.
ROSEN: Well, here's the problem -- his comments are so thin because his policy is thin. So, Hillary Clinton has like, a four-point plan of what she will do to continue the war against ISIS. All Donald Trump has is a tag line against the president.
If he were so focused on addressing ISIS, he would be spending his day talking about what he would do differently, but he and Corey don't have a plan. They don't know what they would do. You know, he openly said he's getting his information about what's happening in the war from TV experts. He's completely incurious about this.
He doesn't have a plan. He has an attack against the president. Start talking about how you're going to help the American peopled Mr. Trump, because your attacks on the president are hollow and are proven multiple times all day long to be wrong.
LEMON: OK. I want to move on now because, Corey, Donald Trump is now saying that he has no plans to pivot, something that so many of his GOP colleagues and even some of his supporters desperately wish he would do.
Here he is on CNBC. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I'll just keep doing the same thing I'm doing right now and at the end it's either going to work or I'm going to, you know, I'm going to have a very, very nice, long vacation.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: How do you think he came to this decision, and is this the right one?
LEWANDOWSKI: Well, I don't think Donald Trump's going to take a vacation to step back. I've never seen him take a vacation. I think he'll do that. I think he's going to be elected president of the United States.
[22:25:02] And I think what you see is that in the primary process and I understand they're different, he received more votes and won more states than any candidate in the history of the Republican Party. That means candidates who have gone on to be elected President of the
United States whether it's George H.W. Bush, Ronald Reagan, George W. Bush. Donald Trump won more primary contest and received more votes in those contests that any candidate in the process has ever achieved.
And so, the process has worked properly. He continues to talk directly to the American people, he bypasses the mainstream media, he uses his social media accounts to get his message out. And that resonates.
And you can you tell that by looking at the size of the audiences that come to his rallies, that are big, packed and very excited to see Donald Trump as the next president of the United States.
LEMON: But, Corey - oh, I should say, Hilary, but if you look at the polls, Hilary, it seems that strategy may not be working at least right now. But if he sticks to this current strategy, is he helping Hillary Clinton?
ROSEN: Corey ran a great primary campaign for Donald Trump. I don't know why he let you go, Corey. Because, the truth is...
LEWANDOWSKI: I'm with you.
ROSEN: ... since the campaign ended, you know, he won about 16 million votes in the primary. But to be elected president, he has to win about 60 million votes. So, you would think that the strategy right now would be about expanding his base.
But all Donald Trump seems to be doing is talking about how fantastic his primary went is, how much those people love him and not really focused at all on how he's going to win more votes.
So, as a political analyst, I'm sitting here not as a partisan saying where are those votes going to come from? Who are you bringing on board? What are you talking about that brings more people to the table?
He just isn't doing that. Instead he's kind of doubling down on the very kind of fiery, rhetorical, you know, nonsense in my view that kind of fired up his 16 million voters...
LEMON: Well, he says...
ROSEN: ... but isn't expanding his base...
LEMON: ... as he says, Hilary.
ROSEN: ... to those 60 million voters he needs.
LEMON: He says the people love it, so he's not going to change things. Thanks to both of you. I appreciate it.
ROSEN: His people.
LEMON: Up next...
LEWANDOWSKI: You know, Don -- Don, look, I think what is the strategy is and the campaign has been clear about this...
LEMON: Very quickly, Corey. Sorry.
LEWANDOWSKI: ... is they have rust belt strategy. They are going to be in Pennsylvania. You saw that Donald Trump is going to Connecticut on Saturday, s traditionally very blue state where he can do very well, and he's going to do well in Michigan.
They're expanding the map by going to places that republicans have not historically at least in the last two presidential cycles done well. And those are places where Donald Trump can do well in Michigan and Pennsylvania...
LEWANDOWSKI: ... Ohio, et cetera.
LEMON: I've got to run. Thank you both.
ROSEN: He's going there without a message.
LEMON: Thank you. Up next, two experts on ISIS in the Middle East. What they think of Trump's claim that Obama and Clinton are founders of the terror group.
[22:30:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
LEMON: Donald Trump accusing President Obama and Hillary Clinton being the founders of ISIS.
I want to talk about that now with Michael Weiss, a senior editor at the Daily Beast and the co-author of "ISIS, Inside the Army of Terror," also CNN military analyst, Lieutenant Colonel Rick Francona, the former U.S. military attache in Syria.
Michael, you first. Trump today doubling and tripling down on his claims that President Obama and Hillary Clinton are the founders of ISIS. Michael, who is the founder of ISIS?
MICHAEL WEISS, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Abu Musab al-Zarqawi in 2004. It was known then as Al Qaeda in Iraq. He pledge allegiance to Osama Bin Laden. That is the organization today known as ISIS. This is a guy who if he had his brothers and he had the opportunity would murder Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and even George W. Bush before them all, OK.
Osama Bin Laden in 2003 said we are laying a trap for the United States in Iraq. We know they are going to invade Iraq and this is the time for all the Mujahideen to pour into this country and to create essentially the Sunni Shia for Jihadism. That's exactly what happened. To claim that the President of the
United States is a terrorist and I'm sorry, every time I argue with the Trump supporters, they always say, oh, he didn't mean that, this is the liberal media misinterpreting what he said.
Donald Trump went on Hugh Hewitt today. And you played the clip.
WEISS: You said -- no, you mean he's withdrawing from Iraq...
LEMON: Let's roll it. Let's roll it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HUGH HEWITT, RADIO HUGH HEWITT SHOW HOST: Last night you said the president of the founder of ISIS. I know what you meant. You meant that he created the vacuum, he lost the peace.
DONALD TRUMP, (R) U.S. PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: No, I meant he was the founder of ISIS. I do. And he's the most valuable player. I give him the most valuable player award. I give her, too, by the way.
HEWITT: But he's not sympathetic to them. He hates them. He's trying to kill them.
TRUMP: He was the founder.
HEWITT: By using the term founder, they're hitting on you again. Mistake?
TRUMP: No, it's no mistake. Everyone is liking it. I think they're liking it. Let me ask you, do you not like that?
HEWITT: I don't.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Go ahead.
WEISS: Most valuable player. This is the republican candidate for president of the United States calling the current commander-in-chief a terrorist. OK, there is no way to parse this otherwise. This is not open to interpretation. He just said it.
He doubled down with Hugh Hewitt. Hugh Hewitt said no, I don't like this. Come on, here's your chance to explain yourself. You mean by withdrawing? Look, I have been one of the most vociferous critics of the Obama administration on its Middle East policy. I have written more on what this administration has done with respect to Syria and Iraq that has inadvertently enabled ISIS to proliferate and expand throughout Syria and Iraq and now the world. To say, though, that this president is in some way a fifth columnist
or is backing a Sunni Jihadist movement -- and by the way, if this candidate had misspoken, right, if this was one off, fine. Let him correct the record.
This is somebody who for five years has been saying things like Barack Obama was not born in this country. Barack Obama is perhaps a Black Muslim. Let's see his birth certificate.
This is a man who has trafficked in every insane conspiracy theory, the things that you find in the Russian state media, the things that the Ayatollah of Iran, the supreme leader, Ali Khamenei tweets, this is what Donald Trump is saying.
This is a man not fit to mow my lawn much less run for president. And I'm very serious about the threat of Sunni Jihadism. I wrote a book on this subject. OK, I take this very, very earnestly.
LEMON: I want to get my other guest in. Lieutenant Colonel Rick Francona, what do you think, what do you make of this? And you just heard the sound bite from Hugh Hewitt. Hugh Hewitt, who is a conservative radio host and a, to use his word, vociferous critic of the Obama administration and of Hillary Clinton trying to give Donald Trump a second chance, a third chance, a fourth chance to correct the record.
[22:35:02] RICK FRANCONA, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Yes, he gave him the perfect out. All he had to do was say, yes, that's what I meant and then follow up on that and say exactly what he believes. And those are common positions.
A lot of people believe that the power that -- what I believe was the premature withdrawal of American troops in 2011 from Iraq, the refusal to help the free Syrian army in 2012, these are the two big power vacuums that created what ISIS is constituted as today.
I just do want to say one thing. ISIS as ISIS really didn't exist until 2013, though because it was the Islamic state in Iraq but you didn't bring in that Syria piece until after 2012.
So, you know, when we're talking about the creation of ISIS, although it existed in name only, it really didn't exists an organization until 2013. Trump could make all of these points.
There's valid criticisms there. There are valid topics for discussion, valid topics for argument but to say he's the founder of ISIS is beyond the pale, just it's not true and there's no reason to even go there.
LEMON: So, Rick, you know, Rick, just last year, retired Army General Michael Flynn, and outspoken supporter of Trump and a harsh critic of President Obama blames the fall of Baghdad for ISIS in the interview with the German magazine speak out (Ph).
He wrote this, he said "As brutal as Saddam Hussein was, it was a mistake to just eliminate him, the same is true for Muammar Gaddafi and for Libya, which is now a failed state. The historic lesson is that it was a strategic failure to go into Iraq. History will not be and should not be kind to that decision."
So, Rick, the decision was not President Obama's, it was President Bush's. This is a Trump adviser. Why is it Obama and Clinton's fault?
FRANCONA: Well, if you're talking about what happened in 2003 and the decision to go in, the invasion was actually kind of well-planned and well executed. They took down Baghdad in record time. They'll study that advance for a long time.
The problem was the follow-on. The plan was never executed. We disbanded the Iraqi army, put 300,000 Iraqis out of work, most of them Sunnis and they became the back bone of the insurgency. We just did the wrong thing after the takedown of Baghdad.
So, in that instance, General Flynn is correct. But, you know, I disagree that we didn't have a plan, we just didn't follow our own plan.
LEMON: Yes. I've got to run.
FRANCONA: As far as that being Obama's fault, it's not there.
LEMON: I got to Michael quickly. If you can tell me, you said that -- you wrote a piece today saying that "Syrian rebel who is fighting for Assad and ISIS, they want Trump to win in November." Why is that?
WEISS: Yes, ISIS pays very close attention to what's happening in the world. They do not despite their propaganda and messianic rhetoric, they don't think they're going to be driving tanks down Pennsylvania Avenue.
What they hope to do is destroy western civilization by forcing the west to enact the policies against ISIS and extremist organization that will vitiate and weaken the west.
This rebel I've known for five years. He has been all throughout Syria, he has fought Assad, Hezbollah, Iran and ISIS. And he said to me, Michael, all the Jihadist on the ground want Donald Trump to win. And I ask him why? He said because they think he's going to destroy America before they'll ever get the chance to do so.
LEMON: Thank you, Michael. Thank you, Colonel Francona. I appreciate that.
Coming up, Hillary Clinton's e-mail controversy is not going away. And Donald Trump is on the attack.
[22:40:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
LEMON: The Clinton Foundation coming under increased security with the release of a new batch of e-mails from Hillary Clinton's tenure as Secretary of State.
I want to talk about this now with Matt Schlapp, he's the chairman of the American Conservative Union who is the former political director for President George W. Bush; and Lanny Davis, he's the founder of Trident DMG who is a former White House special counsel for President Bill Clinton.
Good evening, gentlemen. Thanks for coming on.
LANNY DAVIS, FORMER WHITE HOUSE SPECIAL COUNSEL: Hello, Don.
MATT SCHLAPP, FORMER GEORGE W. BUSH POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Good evening.
LEMON: Here is Donald Trump firing at Hillary Clinton about the e- mails between her office at the State Department and the Clinton Foundation. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, (R) U.S. PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: She's a very dishonest person. New e-mails have come out today. You heard about this whole deal. Now the FBI it seems is very upset because they made a recommendation to justice and justice turned down their recommendation.
But a couple of very bad ones came out and it's called pay-for-play. And some of these were really, really bad and illegal. If it's true, it's illegal. You're paying and you're getting things. But it came out to her people pay-for-play. And very big stories today.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Lanny, why do you say Trump is wrong?
DAVIS: Well, I always start with facts. And if Mr. Trump wants to draw a conclusion from facts that we can't dispute that's his right, but there are facts that can't be disputed. We're talking about two e- mails.
First e-mail from a donor to the -- about a donor to the Clinton Foundation and it came from the Clinton Foundation executive director. And it asks for a meeting where that donor could impart information about a Lebanese election. He was a Lebanese-Nigerian. Fact number one. That's all. The meeting never took place.
Fact number two, no one can dispute fact number one. Fact number two, was a second e-mail, so we're talking about two e-mails in which somebody asked about a young volunteer who worked in Haiti after the hurricane, the disasters, who wanted a position in the State Department his work with Haiti.
That e-mail was sent and asked that he be considered. I don't know whether he ever got the job. I hope so, because he was in Haiti at the worst of times.
LEMON: So, Lanny, let me ask you this.
DAVIS: As a volunteer. Those are the facts.
DAVIS: Now whether that is corruption or improper or any other conclusion, I don't think so, but that's conclusions that have to be based on facts.
LEMON: But when you're a paid government servant, right, when you are elected by the people, you're supposed to avoid impropriety and the appearance of impropriety. I did not see and I don't know if it exists, no e-mail back shutting those people down, saying no.
If someone asks something of you and your job that you cannot do, or it appears that they're trying to gain some sort of favor, wouldn't you send an e-mail back going I can't do that, brother, sorry.
[22:45:01] DAVIS: Sure, if it was a favor that reflected an economic interest, something that did appear to be a quid pro quo or corruption.
What I just said to you are facts. If you are drawing a conclusion, it has to be based on facts.
DAVIS: The fact that a volunteer in Haiti was looking for a position in state to continue his work, I don't share Mr. Trump's conclusion that that's pay-for-play.
DAVIS: The Lebanese gentleman wanted to meet with the ambassador to impart information, not to ask for a business favor or even to obtain information. Now those are facts you want there...
LEMON: I want to let Matt get in here.
LEMON: I see where you're going with this. You say, Matt, that this proves violation of government ethics. Why is that?
SCHLAPP: Yes, I think it's really interesting. I mean, Lanny, you've been doing this for 25 years for the Clintons. And we get it that you're going to go into all these legalisms as to why maybe a law was not broken.
But there's something more serious here, which is 70 percent of the American people in poll after poll after poll don't find Hillary Clinton honest or trustworthy. And why? Here's the most recent example.
She said when s became the Secretary of State, she's very prominent, she has a husband who is the former president although impeached. And she said that she would have nothing to do with the Clinton Foundation, there would be a wall separation, that it would be appropriate.
Now we find out all these years later that there was back and forth. There was back and forth between donors. There was back and forth between people who had shared hats between the State Department and the Clinton Foundation.
How can you say that there would -- there would be a wall of separation between the foundation and State Department when you have employees right next to Hillary Clinton who had hats and roles at the State Department and hats and roles at the Clinton Foundation.
The fact is this, she has broken yet again, the trust with the people who put her in office over the fact that she would follow the rules which she doesn't seem to everyone have follow and simply live up to the promises she made.
We will be mired in this, Don, now for weeks and months. Because not -- they never come clean, they never tell you the full story. Lanny will say why they shouldn't go to prison. I will tell you why this is a problem with her becoming the commander-in-chief.
LEMON: All right. That's going to be the last word. Thank you, Matt. Thank you, Lanny. I appreciate it.
Coming up, Donald Trump says there is no place more safe than a Trump rally. That may not have been the case tonight in Florida.
[22:50:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
LEMON: I told you about this earlier. There's a bit of a dust-up at a Donald Trump in Florida tonight.
Joining me now Kayleigh McEnany, a Trump supporter, and Bakari Sellers, a Hillary Clinton supporter.
Kayleigh, earlier tonight, a Confederate Flag was hanging at a Trump rally. The Trump advance team asks the man to remove it, he did, but then he put it back up. Confrontation ensued where the flag was finally taken.
Donald Trump he always says at his rally is a love fest. Symbols like this can you consider that a love fest?
KAYLEIGH MCENANY, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Hey, it's one person, you can't control everyone in a crowd. They did the right thing, tell them to take it down and I think that's really the end of story. We can't control everyone but we can certainly try and request that the flag be taken down which is exactly what they did.
LEMON: CNN caught up with the man who at the rally who brought the flag there, and he said he put it up because he thought Trump would approve. Here he is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BRANDON PARTIN, HOISTED CONFEDERATE FLAG AT TRUMP RALLY: I understand why they did because most people in our country don't understand the full history behind the flag. So, I understand that the media and a lot of other people are going to, you know, turn it into something that it's not, you know, say that it's a racist thing or, you know, white supremacist.
I am not a white supremacist. OK. And it was about the north and the south. It wasn't about racism at all. The north had African-Americans fighting for them and the south had them for them, too. So, for people who spin it in that direction is just completely false.
PARTIN: I wasn't -- I think that on a personal level between my beliefs and Trump's beliefs, and I don't think he would have a problem with it at all because he probably understands the history and that's why we're all here.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: What's your reaction, Kayleigh?
MCENANY: I mean, I think Brandon gave a logical explanation. I mean, I remember sitting at Harvard Law and I had a black colleague of mine say to me I'm from the south, I understand that most people it doesn't symbol -- symbolize racism for. However, I understand that it does symbolize racism for a lot of other people and because of that it shouldn't be at a state capital. It shouldn't be at a Trump rally.
They did the right thing asking for it to be removed. But I certainly don't think Brandon is a racist for, you know, having southern pride, which is what really what the flag has come to symbolize. But it is offensive to people and it has no place.
LEMON: Bakari, you and I were in South Carolina last year when that Confederate Flag was taken down. Remember we were standing there on TV on CNN live in Columbia. It's 2016, did you ever think that you'd see a Confederate Flag at a presidential rally?
BAKARI SELLERS, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, I mean, I would always not. And I think that me and Kayleigh are republican have some conversations off-air about what that flag means to so many others.
I thought that Brandon, I believe that was the gentleman's name gave a very ignorant statement about the facts and the history of the confederacy. This wasn't just a battle of north versus the south. This was the battle of my ancestors that I'm trying to be freed from the bounds and shackles of slavery.
And I understand that that ignorance is very pervasive and I'm very appreciative actually of Donald Trump's advance staff taking the steps to try to get that symbol removed because it is to so many.
I mean, and so I just would just hope that Brandon takes a moment to educate himself and attempt to empathize with others around him.
But to answer your question directly, my hope is that we don't have to see that flag waved at public places like that, especially when Donald Trump's carrying the mantle of the Republican Party. My hope is that that type of vestige of hate can be put away forever.
MCENANY: Bakari, I agree with you but I do think that's unfair to call anyone who has that symbol somewhere in the south, which has come to represent the south as a whole, not just, you know, this horrible moment in history.
SELLERS: No, it doesn't.
MCENANY: To call every person ignorant who has that flag, I think that that is really kind of an ignorant statement in and of itself.
SELLERS: That's not what I said. That's not what I said. I didn't every person -- I called Brandon ignorant for his, quote unquote, "history" that he gave the American public about the history of the confederacy and the fact that the war was simply between the north and the south. That's not what that war was about. I think we all know that.
[22:55:01] So, yes, that was ignorant. In fact, I know people who believe that that flag represents some type of proud or heritage because their forefathers fought in that war. I understand that.
But for me, that doesn't take away the hate, that doesn't take away the anger, that doesn't take away the pain that as an African-American man I feel, especially one from the south.
MCENANY: That's very fair.
SELLERS: So, Kayleigh, I can tell you directly, no that flag doesn't represent the south. It doesn't represent the south.
LEMON: Yes. Listen, I have a friend who is from Georgia, very -- one of my dearest friends who said when he grew up, he thought that that flag was just, you know, about southern pride and I explained to him that his family, his parents did not teach him the right history of that flag.
Now he has since learned and knows the history of the flag and I think that's what Bakari was saying. But, listen, we were -- I was at the republican convention and you saw the -- you know, some of the things that are being sold by vendors, you know, two fat thighs and those kind of things.
Should they be more careful about what vendors are selling outside of these rallies? Kayleigh, you first. Because he said he got the flag outside the rally.
MCENANY: Sure. I mean, you can't be responsible for what every vendor decides to sell outside of a rally. There were things at the democratic convention I saw outside that I thought were less than becoming of the Democratic Party.
MCENANY: So, I definitely don't think you can control third party vendors from exercising their right to sell things even that seem unseemly or unbecoming.
SELLERS: I agree with Kayleigh wholeheartedly. I mean, I don't -- I don't think we can just go around and just have government or whomever going around patrolling people who are selling whatever outside the gates of those particular rallies or conventions.
But what I can say is you have people like Rudy Giuliani who come on TV and who like to say that somehow Mateen's father, who was actually there just sitting behind Hillary Clinton is joining Hillary Clinton for some unknown reason other than just being a face in the crowd.
And I don't want to impugn this guy tonight waving that Confederate Flag on Donald Trump, I don't think that's fair. So, I hope that Trump supporters take the same approach and just don't impugn everyone who shows up at his rally as a part of their campaign as well.
LEMON: OK. Thank you. We'll be right back.