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THE SITUATION ROOM
Trump to Get First Classified Briefing; FBI Releasing Hillary Interview to Congress; Roger Ailes Advising Trump?; Aired 6-6:30p ET
Aired August 16, 2016 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now: secret briefing. Donald Trump is about to get looped in on classified intelligence for the first time, as his opponents argue he cannot be trusted with America's security.
Advising Trump. Sources say ousted FOX News boss Roger Ailes now is helping the Republican nominee. Can Ailes make Trump a better debater, even as he deals with his own scandal?
Notes on Clinton. In a rare move, the FBI gives Congress new information about an interview with the Democratic presidential nominee and its investigation of her e-mails. Will that ramp up or tamp down the controversy?
And launched from Iran. Russia gets a new base for its air campaign in Syria, raising red flags in the U.S. about Moscow's targets and its military cooperation with Tehran.
We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. Wolf Blitzer is off. I'm Brianna Keilar. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
Right now, Donald Trump is in Wisconsin ready to argue that he is on the side of police and law and order and that Hillary Clinton isn't. Trump making the case near Milwaukee, where a fatal shooting by a police officer triggered protests and violence over the weekend. It is part of Trump's latest attempt at a reset, a sharpened focus on fighting crime and terrorism, this as the Republican presidential nominee is just hours away from learning some of America's national security secrets.
Sources say Trump will get his first classified intelligence briefing tomorrow.
Also tonight, Congress has new information about the FBI's investigation into Hillary Clinton's e-mails, as the controversy continues to hang over her and her campaign. The bureau handed over notes on its interview with Clinton, as well as a report explaining why no charges were recommended.
I will talk about these developments and more with a Trump supporter and former Navy SEAL Carl Higbie. And our correspondents and analysts are also standing by with full coverage of today's top stories. First, to CNN political reporter Sara Murray. She has more on the
Trump campaign -- Sara.
SARA MURRAY, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Brianna, tonight, Trump campaign sort of feels like they're going into the belly of the beast, going into Milwaukee, going into the suburbs, where Trump will make the case that he is the candidate who is on the side of law enforcement, that Hillary Clinton is not.
He is expected tonight to talk about the root causes behind these protests, behind these riots, behind the conflict with police and citizens in their own communities. Overall, he wants to leave voters with the message that if you're a security voter, you should be with Trump.
MURRAY (voice-over): Donald Trump is hitting the trail in Wisconsin today, hammering home his claim that he's the top choice for voters looking for law and order.
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We have to obey the laws or we don't have a country. We have a case where good people are out there trying to get people to sort of calm down and they're not calming down. And we have our police, who do a phenomenal job.
MURRAY: Trump touring a memorial with veterans and members of law enforcement in Milwaukee, a city recovering from clashes after police shot and killed an armed man over the weekend.
His security-oriented visit coming just a day after he delivered a foreign policy speech laden with promises to defeat ISIS.
TRUMP: My administration will aggressively pursue joint and coalition military operations to crush and destroy ISIS.
MURRAY: But sparse on the details of how Trump would accomplish that aim as president.
As the GOP nominee looks to bolster his foreign policy credentials, sources tell CNN Trump will receive his first classified intelligence briefing Wednesday in New York. It's a primer that has already caused heartburn among some lawmakers and former intelligence officials wary of looping in a freewheeling candidate on sensitive information.
It comes just days after Trump reiterated his call for closer ties with Russia.
TRUMP: I also believe that we could find common ground with Russia in the fight against ISIS. Wouldn't that be a good thing? Wouldn't that be a good thing?
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
MURRAY: One of Trump's aides seizing on the news that Russia sent warplanes from Iran to target ISIS in Syria as a positive signal.
Trump social media head Dan Scavino tweeting: "Another Donald Trump idea becoming a reality? Russia going to bomb ISIS at the moment."
Trump has faced blowback throughout his campaign for his calls to partner with Russia and his past praise of Russian President Vladimir Putin. Now he's looking to turn the tables. The Trump campaign blasting out a statement to highlight Clinton's ties to Russia and claiming she and her allies sold out American interests to Putin in exchange for political and financial favors.
The fiery attacks sure to play out further on the debate stage, an area where ousted FOX News chief Roger Ailes may be lending a hand. Sources tell CNN he has been in talks with Trump about debate prep and other campaign matters.
But Trump spokeswoman Hope Hicks is denying Ailes' involvement in Trump's debate prep, saying: "They're longtime friends, but he has no formal or informal role in the campaign."
MURRAY: Now, we're expecting Trump to speak in just a couple of hours outside of Milwaukee.
One of the lines of attack we're expecting him to revive against Hillary Clinton, questioning her strength and stamina. He also brought that up yesterday. But, Brianna, it will be interesting to see how closely he sticks to the questions about her judgment vs. how far he goes into questioning whether she is physically fit to be president -- back to you.
KEILAR: Yes. We will see if he has the discipline that so many Republicans want him to have. Sara Murray, thank you for that report.
Now let's go to Wisconsin. This is where Trump supporters are waiting to hear from him tonight.
CNN national correspondent Jason Carroll is there for us.
And you have Donald Trump, Jason, visiting Wisconsin. You can't really -- it's happening just as you have had these riots break out here a couple days ago. Do you think he is going to address that tonight?
JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, look, he will definitely address it in some way tonight.
And the question is, will in some way try to reach out to the African- American community here? I think there's been criticism that he has not done enough to reach out to African-Americans and Latinos, although, Brianna, when you come to a number of his rallies, he says repeated that African-Americans love him, Latinos love him. Polls show otherwise. What he will probably in all likelihood end up
doing is play to his strengths. And his strengths happen to do with the law enforcement community regardless of what color that they may be. He will play to that strength when he takes the stage in West Bend.
He will do in some ways what we heard after that terrible, terrible crime in Dallas when he stood up and spoke about the need to be the law and order candidate, the need for people to be in their homes and feel safe again, whether it be from a shooting down the street or whether it be in the form of terrorism.
And so perhaps he will do that again tonight. Conversely, what he will do is he will also show that Hillary Clinton is not pro-cop, that she is weak on crime, weak on terrorism. These are themes that are sure to play well here in West Bend -- Brianna.
KEILAR: Jason Carroll for us there in Wisconsin, thank you for that report.
And I want to bring in a Donald Trump supporter now. I'm talking about former Navy SEAL Carl Higbie joining us here in THE SITUATION ROOM.
And, Carl, I want to ask you about what we just heard, which is that Donald Trump is getting his first classified intelligence briefing tomorrow in New York. Certainly, as a SEAL, you have been privy to classified information. And I'm sure that having more information influences how you see things. How do you think these briefings are going to influence his policies?
CARL HIGBIE, DONALD TRUMP SUPPORTER: Absolutely.
Well, I think that Donald Trump does have an understanding of what is going on right now. But these classified briefings will help him better understand how to prosecute the targets of ISIS, not necessarily just in Syria and Iraq and even Iran now, but in Northern Africa and things like that, which is largely unreported and not in the mainstream media.
I think when he receives his briefing, he is going to have an eye- opening experience. And I think he is the guy I trust to react positively to it.
KEILAR: So, you think that if he is getting more information, certainly, obviously, he is not supposed to or allowed to disclose this information. But you think that it will inform his proposals? Maybe where he will add some details to them?
I think he will add some details. But then again, unlike Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump doesn't want to broadcast our plans to the enemy. He is committed to destroying ISIS. And I believe he will, whereas Hillary Clinton is happy to commit right off the bat no troops on the ground. Donald Trump doesn't want to give up, show our hand to the enemy yet.
KEILAR: Can I ask you, though? I just have to ask about that specification of no terror on the ground. There are troops on the ground, right?
KEILAR: They're just -- they're not conventional forces.
HIGBIE: Well, there's A Few thousand troops on the ground right now, but they're mostly in advise and assist roles.
And what that is, they're not the ones going in and kicking in the doors like we were during the battle of Fallujah. And that's exactly what you need to prosecute this target, because the local militants aren't capable. They're not -- I would say at some points not intelligent enough, because they're not backed by adequate intelligence.
And they don't have the funding or resources to go after these targets and prosecute them, because ISIS, quite frankly, owns a majority of the revenue stream and the oil fields.
KEILAR: We have seen I think one special forces member that was killed certainly over there. I don't want to diminish certainly his sacrifice.
I do want to talk about this plan that Donald Trump has laid out. It calls for extreme vetting to make sure that immigrants "share our values and respect our people."
How do you screen for that?
HIGBIE: The problem here is you have two different sets of screening. You have screening for the interpreters or people becoming citizens through the legal process that we have set in place.
We have interpreters like Johnny Walker, who served the SEALs for six years who is spending years and years trying to get his citizenship. Yet, if you're a refugee, they're just bringing you here on a refugee status, sticking you somewhere in America and kind of letting the handcuffs off.
That is a problem. Extreme vetting means, look, look at their social media. Look at anybody they have associated with on the Internet. Look at anybody they had any dealings with in any way, shape or form.
And also the fact that if you're coming from a country where we can't vet you, you might not be eligible to come to this country, as well as we don't want to have people in this country that we have accepted under that program being able to spew anti-American rhetoric. Donald Trump will reserve the opportunity to send them back.
KEILAR: But he makes it sound like, and even some of what you said there makes it sound like the door is open and people are just allowed to come through.
But there is a process. I mean, you have -- for refugees, they go to the U.N. High Commission for Refugees. They're identified. And then if they're matched in the U.S., because many of them are matched to other nations, they go through the National Counterterrorism Center, the FBI's Terrorist Screening Center, the State Department, Department of Defense, Department of Homeland Security.
They're individually interviewed by U.S. officials, and then they have additional screening after that. What I am curious to know, and certainly I think so many people are concerned about this, but what else is added? And I'm not hearing the details on that. And I think a lot of people want to know what they are.
What more can be done besides these steps?
HIGBIE: Well, I'm not officially with the campaign. I'm with Great America PAC, which we're supporting him, obviously, so I can't speak directly to what his long-term plan is.
But I can say that when you vet these people -- a lot of these people are coming from Third World countries that don't have any paper trail whatsoever. So, it's very hard to vet them. But the key part of Donald Trump's proposal that I understand is that if you come here and if you're, let's say, supporting someone on social media that is not conducive to the American way, we can send you back.
And that's a key part of the plan, as well as using things like social media. Just Google somebody. We haven't done that on a bunch of these guys. And you would find stuff if you did.
KEILAR: I wonder what you think, because many of these terror attacks that we -- there is the fear that someone will come in from overseas from a terrorist stronghold and carry out an attack. But so many people that we have seen do this on U.S. soil since 9/11, they're Americans.
You look at Nidal Hasan, American, 2009 Fort Hood shooting. Boston Marathon bombing, one of the brothers, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, U.S. citizen. Chattanooga shooting, Muhammad Abdulazeez, U.S. citizen, San Bernardino shooting, you had Syed Rizwan Farook, U.S. citizen. His wife was a permanent resident. Orlando nightclub shooting, Omar Mateen, U.S. citizen born here in the U.S.
How would Donald Trump's plan have thwarted any of these attacks that are really the attacks that I think are scaring people so much?
HIGBIE: And that's an issue that we have to face internally here.
The other thing is, too, our law enforcement hands are tied because they're so worried about being accused of profiling or being racist that they're not effectively able to prosecute this. Look, we're protected by constitutional rights here in America, but that doesn't give you the right to spew murderous hate on the Twitter feeds and on Google and blogs and things like that. Let's get those people in, let's question them. Let's keep an eye on
them, because, look, a lot of these terrorists had been questioned before and there was a lot of info after they committed their crimes to say, hey, these were bad dudes. Why were not they watched closely enough?
KEILAR: But none of these happened -- these were U.S. citizens. In terms of the screening, this is not something that would have prevented this. Right? You need another solution, another proposal from Donald Trump to address this scourge of violence and terrorism.
KEILAR: And we have many more -- sorry, go on.
KEILAR: I will let you have the word on that.
HIGBIE: Oh, no, I was saying you're absolutely right. And that's a very difficult thing to thread the needle, because you have to give them their constitutional rights here in America.
But I think we should start setting some standards that -- keeping a closer eye on these folks.
KEILAR: Yes. It's a tough problem. We're seeing that. But, of course, we want to know what these candidates are proposing for that.
All right, Carl, stay with me, because I have more with you.
HIGBIE: Will do.
KEILAR: Trump supporter, former Navy SEAL, spent time in Iraq. We will be back with you in just a moment.
KEILAR: So Donald Trump is about to get a small taste of the job of commander in chief when he gets his first classified intelligence briefing tomorrow as the Republican presidential nominee.
It's a really big deal. It's a very big responsibility.
And we're back now with Donald Trump supporter and former SEAL Carl Higbie to talk more about this.
I want to ask you, Carl, about something that Donald Trump's New York campaign co-chairman, Carl Paladino, said. I know you're not with the campaign, but you support the campaign. And I think as a former Navy SEAL, someone who obviously really put your life on the line, you might have a thought about what he said, because he commented on the feud between Donald Trump and the Khan family. The Khan son, as you know, Humayun Khan, a captain in the Army, he
died in 2004 serving in the Iraq War. I think you might have been there at the same time or near to the same time. And I want to you listen to what Mr. Paladino said.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
CARL PALADINO, TRUMP NEW YORK HONORARY CO-CHAIR: I don't care if he is a Gold Star parent. He certainly doesn't deserve that title. OK?
If he is as anti-American as he's illustrated in his speeches and in his discussion, I mean, if he is a member of the Muslim Brotherhood or supporting of an ISIS type of attitude against America, there is no reason for Donald Trump to have to honor this man.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
KEILAR: Now, he is not part of Muslim Brotherhood. And I don't think that we have seen anything that shows he supports the ISIS type of attitude.
From your perspective, as a former Navy SEAL who put your life on the line, just as Khan did, do you think the Trump campaign should be standing by Mr. Paladino's comments?
HIGBIE: Well, I can say this, that I would have let Gold Star families off the table.
I would have fired a shot across the bow and said, Mr. Khan, I appreciate your son's service. However, don't step on a political stage standing in your son to criticize me, and left it at that, and thanked him for his service.
And, quite frankly, I think this is the only network that is still covering that issue because of the negative towards on Donald Trump on it. But I don't see this as something that should be brought back up and needs to brought back up. I think both sides took their licks for it and I think we should move on.
KEILAR: I actually don't think we're the only network who is covering it.
But -- and I hear you saying that you should just move on. But this idea of someone insulting a Gold Star family, you say that that should be off the table. This is his campaign co-chairman in New York.
I think it should be off the table. But, look, if the campaign chooses to go down this road again, fine. But I would recommend to Mr. Khan, don't stand up there on a political platform and expect somebody like Donald Trump not to shoot back at you.
KEILAR: All right, Carl Higbie, supporter of Donald Trump, runs a PAC that is supporting Donald Trump, he's a former Navy SEAL.
Carl, thanks for being with us.
HIGBIE: Thank you so much for having me.
KEILAR: And just ahead: Is Donald Trump going to cost Republicans control of the Senate perhaps? We're on the ground. We're seeing how GOP candidates are struggling to deal with their controversial nominee.
And then Russia's new base for launching airstrikes in Syria. Why is Iran cooperating with Moscow?
KEILAR: Tonight, Republicans are watching Donald Trump's slide in the polls ask they're growing increasingly worried that he is dragging down other GOP candidates. They're now ramping up their fight to maintain control of the Senate even if they wind up losing the White House.
Senior CNN political reporter Manu Raju joins us live now from New Hampshire.
And, Manu, you're in a state where this Trump factor is really weighing heavily on a Republican senator.
MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's absolutely right.
In fact, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has raised so many concerns about the Senate as of late, calling the prospects of keeping the Senate increasingly perilous, dicey, was his words. And one reason why is Donald Trump's standing is evaporating in key swing states, including this one right here in New Hampshire.
RAJU (voice-over): Donald Trump putting Senate GOP candidates in a bind. Nervous about his inflammatory rhetoric and declining poll numbers, Republicans still need his core supporters to help keep their narrow Senate majority.
In New Hampshire, Republican Kelly Ayotte is keeping her distance from Trump, even though he won her state's primary by nearly 20 points.
(on camera): You are saying you support Donald Trump, but you do not endorse him?
SEN. KELLY AYOTTE (R), NEW HAMPSHIRE: I have actually said that I'm going to be voting for him, but I do have significant disagreements with him, which I have been very clear on, so I won't be endorsing him. RAJU: What's the distinction between endorsing and voting?
AYOTTE: There's actually a big distinction, because everyone gets a vote. I do, too. And -- but an endorsement is one where I'm out campaigning with someone. And so, while he has my vote, he doesn't have my endorsement, and I'm going to continue to focus on really my race.
RAJU: Is there anything that he could do to force you to not vote for him?
AYOTTE: Well, like anyone, I think you constantly reevaluate. And so I can say that for any position. The election is in November, so, of course.
RAJU (voice-over): Other GOP incumbents are running away from Trump, like Senator Mark Kirk of Illinois and Pennsylvania's Pat Toomey.
SEN. PAT TOOMEY (R), PENNSYLVANIA: I'm going to see how this plays out and see if Donald Trump can earn the support of Republicans like me.
RAJU: But other vulnerable senators are more willing to embrace Trump because they believe he can turn out the vote, like Rob Portman of Ohio and Richard Burr of North Carolina. And in Florida, Marco Rubio, who months ago called Trump a con artist, told "The Miami Herald" Monday that he stands by those remarks, but he still backs him.
SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R), FLORIDA: I have my own identity. I have my own positions on issues. And I'm not going to be out there undermining him or anything of that nature, because I don't want Hillary to win.
RAJU: Back in New Hampshire, Ayotte is trying to campaign on her battles with Trump, where one poll has him down 15 points.
AYOTTE: Whoever is in that corner office, whether it's my own party or the opposite party, if they're doing something that I don't agree with, that I don't think is right for New Hampshire, I will stand up to them, because I have a history of doing that.
RAJU (on camera): You could work with Secretary Clinton if she became president?
AYOTTE: Absolutely. I will work with anyone.
RAJU (voice-over): Yet the GOP believes that Hillary Clinton's own liabilities will hurt Democrat candidates, like Ayotte's opponent, Governor Maggie Hassan.
(on camera): Do you think that she is honest and trustworthy?
GOV. MAGGIE HASSAN (D), NEW HAMPSHIRE: I support Hillary Clinton for the presidency because her experience and her record demonstrate that she is qualified to hold the job.
RAJU: You think she's honest? HASSAN: She has a critical, critical plan, among others, for making
college more affordable.
RAJU: But do you think that she's trustworthy?
HASSAN: I think that she has demonstrated a commitment always to something beyond herself, bigger than herself.
RAJU: Now, immediately after that interview, Maggie Hassan's campaign gave me a call and said, in fact, yes, she does believe that Secretary Clinton is honest and trustworthy
And, Brianna, when I talked to Kelly Ayotte, I asked her twice, does she believe that Donald Trump could be trusted with his hand on the nuclear codes? She would not answer that question either.