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THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER

Trump Accused of Pushing Racist Values; Trump's Confused Immigration Policy; Iraqi Forces Recapture City of Qayyara from ISIS; Death Toll Climbs to 278 As More Aftershocks Hit. Aired 4-4:30p ET

Aired August 26, 2016 - 16:00   ET

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


[16:00:0]

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: Tim Kaine just accused Donald Trump of pushing -- quote -- "Ku Klux Klan values."

THE LEAD starts right now.

Pointing fingers, charges of racism. The race for the White House is every day sounding more and more like a Facebook comment section, as Donald Trump creates even more confusion about the single most policy issue (AUDIO GAP)

That is a sitting United States governor leaving a voice-mail, and wait until you hear him angry.

Also, Uber lawsuits. It's the most valuable privately held company in the world, so why is Uber losing millions? And will it affect your ride home?

Welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Jim Sciutto, in again today for Jake Tapper.

So, what does Donald Trump want? If you tuned in this time yesterday, Trump seemed to have just walked back from his hard-line immigration position, the one he used to brand all of his primary opponents as weakling and the one that enabled him to remake the Republican Party in his image.

Now, today, Donald Trump is walking back his walk-back, insisting once again that he will build a Mexican-financed wall and that he will not give undocumented immigrants any path to legalized status.

While Trump wages war with his own statements over what he believes, he is making clear that he thinks is his opponent, Hillary Clinton, is -- quote -- "a bigot," telling CNN's Anderson Cooper that her policies are bigoted.

For her part, Clinton barely stopped short yesterday of calling Trump a racist, accusing him of building his campaign on -- quote -- "prejudice and paranoia."

Early this afternoon, her running mate, Tim Kaine, went one step further, saying that Donald Trump is selling "Ku Klux Klan" values.

Have a listen. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. TIM KAINE (D-VA), VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: He has supporters like David Duke connected with the Ku Klux Klan who are going around and saying Donald Trump is their candidate because Donald Trump is pushing their values.

Ku Klux Klan values, David Duke values, Donald Trump values are not American values. They're not our values.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCIUTTO: CNN' Jim Acosta is in Las Vegas, where Trump is spending the day fund-raising.

Jim, it is hard to think of a more vile time in this year's presidential campaign.

JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That is right, Jim. It is hard to imagine this getting much worse, but it probably will.

Donald Trump is here in Nevada. He will have a big fund-raiser later on tonight. And the big question is whether he continue this war of words over the issue of race with Hillary Clinton. And if the past week is any indication, the answer is definitely.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ACOSTA (voice-over): The battle between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton is sharping up to be a race to the bottom. And the bottom is nowhere in sight when it comes to their clash over race.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HILLARY CLINTON, FIRST LADY: They are often the kind of kids that are called super predator.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ACOSTA: Trump fired off a new attack on Instagram, reminding voters of Clinton's use of the term super predators in pushing her husband's crime bill back in the '90s.

QUESTION: You called out President Clinton for defending Secretary Clinton's use of the term super predator back in the '90s, when she supported the crime bill.

Why did you call him out?

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (VT-I), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Because it was a racist term.

ACOSTA: Trump is trying to bolster his case that the former secretary of state is a bigot, an accusation he defended to CNN's Anderson Cooper.

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think she has been extremely, extremely bad for African-Americans.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: But hatred is at the core of that or dislike of African-Americans?

(CROSSTALK)

TRUMP: Or maybe she's lazy.

ACOSTA: The GOP nominee sees to be doing anything but clarifying his position on what to do with the nation's undocumented.

Earlier this week, Trump claimed his immigration policy is softening, now, not so much.

TRUMP: I don't think it is a softening. I have had people say it is a hardening, actually.

ACOSTA: Trump also appears to have abandoned a proposal he floated earlier this week that would have allowed law-abiding undocumented immigrants to stay in the U.S. if they pay back taxes.

TRUMP: There's no path to legalization unless they leave the country and come back.

ACOSTA: The campaign now want those immigrants to return to their country of origin.

KELLYANNE CONWAY, TRUMP CAMPAIGN MANAGER: You can return home. And then if you would like to go stand in line, like everyone else is, the thing that we learn in kindergarten, stand in line, wait your turn.

ACOSTA: Clinton's advisers argue Trump is simply stumbling over a dangerous policy that has not really changed. Her campaign's message in its latest ad, it's Trump who is the racist.

TRUMP: Your schools are no good. You have no jobs.

Look at my African-American over here.

ACOSTA: Clinton's warning the nation, Trump will always be Trump.

CLINTON: He has built his campaign on prejudice paranoia. And it's deeply disturbing that he is taking hate groups that lived in the dark regions of the Internet, making them mainstream, helping a radical fringe take over the Republican Party.

ACOSTA: Trump is denying those allegations.

QUESTION: Do you want white supremacists to vote for you?

TRUMP: No, I don't at all, not at all.

ACOSTA: And accusing Clinton of desperation.

TRUMP: When Democratic policies fail, they're left with only this one tired argument: You're racist, you're racist, you're racist. ACOSTA: So far, top Republicans have not raced to the cameras to

defend Trump against these latest attacks. The RNC's response to that? They're on vacation.

SEAN SPICER, REPUBLICAN NATIONAL COMMITTEE COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR: Congress is on recess. It is August. There is a lot of reasons.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

[16:05:02]

ACOSTA: The Trump campaign ISIS also pushing back on a story that it was New Jersey Governor Chris Christie who urged Trump to change his views on immigration. A senior Trump campaign adviser tells me Trump's latest comments on the issue are all him -- Jim.

SCIUTTO: Jim Acosta in Las Vegas, thanks very much.

I want to get right to our political panel.

We have Donald Trump supporter Kayleigh McEnany, Hillary Clinton supporter Congressman Hakeem Jeffries, Republican strategist Margaret Hoover. They're all with me in New York. We have former communications director for Ted Cruz Amanda Carpenter, Donald Trump supporter Matt Schlapp, and Hillary Clinton supporter Maria Cardona.

Kayleigh, if I could begin with you. You have Tim Kaine here, the vice presidential candidate, accusing Donald Trump of pushing in his words Ku Klux Klan politics. Your response?

KAYLEIGH MCENANY, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Yes, I think that this is gutter politics at its absolute worst I'm not sure we have seen in a presidential election.

Donald Trump is someone who opened his building to the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition and was praised by Jesse Jackson for doing that. He is someone who opened his club Mar-a-Lago to Jews and African-Americans when others were not.

And Abe Foxman, the head of the Anti-Defamation League, praised him for that. But they're maligning him. They're taking isolated things from his past. They yesterday share -- at a conference a few days ago share -- at a Hillary Clinton fund-raiser, compared him to Hitler and Stalin, a maniacal dictator. You have heard no language to this level coming out of the Trump campaign. We could be digging into her past with Robert Byrd.

SCIUTTO: He called Hillary Clinton a bigot, so it's not exactly on direction.

MCENANY: But we're not digging things out of her past, like Robert Byrd, the picture with a KKK grand dragon, or the endorsement from a California KKK grand dragon, or we can go on and on, Bill Clinton keeping the Confederate Star on the Arkansas flag during his time as governor.

We could be doing that. We're not doing that, because this is about issues that matter to voters, not about aligning the opponents.

SCIUTTO: Hakeem Jeffries, fair defense?

REP. HAKEEM JEFFRIES (D), NEW YORK: Well, actually, I think Donald Trump has a pattern and practice throughout his history of engaging in racially provocative acts that have been harmful to the African- American community and communities of color.

You can go as far as back at the 1970s, where his campaign, he was president at the time, was accused of violating the 1968 Fair Housing Act, discriminating in terms of the allocation of apartments, the blacks and Latinos.

MCENANY: Never proven in a court of law.

JEFFRIES: Labeling applicants who were black and Latino with C for colored, well-documented.

(CROSSTALK)

JEFFRIES: And you can review that information.

Then, of course, in the late 1980s, he was very provocative in going after the Central Park Five, five individuals, four African-Americans, one Latino, who were wrongfully imprisoned and accused of engaging in a horrific crime.

Donald Trump, if it was up to him, led the lynch mob and would have -- those five individuals would be on death row right now. And you can continue on and on throughout his history. And so I think it is very fair game, if he is appealing to the African-American community, to examine his history.

Margaret Hoover, Republican strategist, I heard you agreeing with Hakeem Jeffries.

MARGARET HOOVER, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: Well, look, it's not even -- I agree with what Hakeem said. And I think Kayleigh is doing a heroic job trying to defend a candidate that even as recently as the primaries wouldn't denounce David Duke.

(CROSSTALK)

HOOVER: Kayleigh, you and I argued about that on air.

Took a lot of questions from our colleagues, and would not, after given many, many chances on this show, reject him.

MCENANY: I hope the viewers do their research too.

(CROSSTALK)

HOOVER: And they will see that he -- over and over, Jake Tapper offered him the opportunity to denounce David Duke, and he did not do it.

MCENANY: And he did.

HOOVER: He did not do it. That is false, Kayleigh. You are not telling the truth.

(CROSSTALK)

SCIUTTO: I'll tell you what. Before we leave the broadcast, we will play that clip again. But I will let you complete your thought.

HOOVER: What is even more here, besides Donald Trump's past, is his current embodiment of his campaign has embraced values that if you don't -- if you're not comfortable with Ku Klux Klan, as Tim Kaine says, just go spend time on Breitbart.com and spend some time on what they're calling the alt-right, the alternative right, which is a very nasty and uncomfortable part -- for a conservative Republican to see that the dirtiest, nastiest trends and traditions in American politics taking over a great Republican Party is very, very disheartening and disconcerting.

SCIUTTO: Matt Schlapp, you hear that from a fellow Republican, like yourself, expressing distress about the direction of the party. How do you respond?

MATT SCHLAPP, FORMER WHITE HOUSE DIRECTOR OF POLITICAL AFFAIRS: Look, I have great regard for Margaret.

And I think ,when it comes to questions of race, all of our temperatures rise. I'm a Midwestern boy. I'm not as comfortable talking about these types of questions.

But I will tell you one thing I'm completely offended at. I'm completely offended at the idea that, because I support Donald Trump, I have to listen to that speech from Hillary Clinton and hear about the fact that I'm a hater and I'm cavorting with racists and white supremacists.

It's way over the line. And it's not going to make America a place, a better place. It's not going to heal these divisions. Actually, what Donald Trump did is, he did the unthinkable.

He reached out to African-American voters and asked them to give him a chance and to consider him. And that is what this reaction is.

You know what Hillary Clinton said in her ad? You will lose everything. You know what that means? They will lose all their rights. They will lose all their civil rights. They will be second- class citizens.

That is way too many steps too far. And this is when my passion gets -- arises, because this is disgusting politics.

[16:10:02]

SCIUTTO: I'm sorry, but just to be clear, how will they lose all their civil rights? SCHLAPP: Watch the ad. You say you want to play a clip? Play the

clip of her had when they say, what do you have to lose with Donald Trump? You will lose everything.

(CROSSTALK)

SCIUTTO: You're saying that the Clinton campaign is arguing that. I understand. I just wanted to be clear.

I want to give Amanda Carpenter a chance to respond to Matt Schlapp.

AMANDA CARPENTER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Here's the thing that is so disheartening about this campaign on both sides right now.

We have entered the you're rubber, I'm glue, we're going to call names constantly. You're a racist. You're a bigot. You're a racist. You're a bigot.

And it goes back and back and forth. And it is unending. It's exhausting. And a lot of conservatives are so frustrated. Every little charge that you say you're opposed to Barack Obama, you get called a racist.

I think that has exploded all over the place this campaign cycle, because people said, you know what? Maybe I'm going to act like one. You see that among all corners of the Internet. And Donald Trump hasn't done a lot to tamp that down. I think he could do a lot more.

But let's be clear here. Donald Trump is not a member of the KKK. He is not a grand wizard. And it is a really dangerous thing for vice presidential candidates like Tim Kaine to talk like that. I have problems with Donald Trump. I don't like what he said about Judge Curiel. I have said that many times. But we cannot demonize people to this degree, because it makes politics a very dangerous place for everyone.

SCIUTTO: Maria Cardona, Democrat, Hillary Clinton supporter, as you hear this division, keep in mind, within the Republican Party here over Donald Trump's positions, how do you react?

MARIA CARDONA, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: I think this is something that Donald Trump has brought upon himself.

Let's remember the kind of rhetoric that he started with when he announced his presidential campaign, calling Mexican immigrants rapists and criminals. Go back even further, when you're talking about, well, why do people think he is a racist?

And let's remember that in the polls -- this is not just Hillary Clinton. This is not Tom Kaine. In every poll that we have seen, around two-thirds of the American people overall believe that Donald Trump has racist and bigoted tendencies and that he is feeding that kind of rhetoric.

And when you surround your campaign with people like Steve Bannon, who has said that his Breitbart.com is the platform for the alt-right, who has said horrible things about women and African-Americans and minorities in this country, he is the CEO of the Donald Trump campaign.

In Spanish, there is saying that says (SPEAKING IN SPANISH), which means tell me who you are surrounding yourself with, and I will tell you who you are.

So, those kinds of associations, for African-Americans, for Latinos, for minorities, and frankly for women, are very disheartening. And they connect to Donald Trump because he's done nothing to avoid that.

SCIUTTO: OK, folks, listen -- listen, folks, I want you all to stick around, because thankfully, we have more time. We certainly have much more to talk about.

But, first, a vulgar voice-mail full of profanity left on one lawmaker's phone, wait until you hear who left it.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[16:17:01] JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back.

Topping our world lead today, CNN is getting a first look into an Iraqi city just liberated from ISIS after being under their rule for some two years.

Iraqi army Humvees barreling across northern Iraq to capture the key city of Qayyarah, nearly 24 hours ago. Just about 20 miles from Mosul, Qayyarah is a strategically critical city in the fight against ISIS as the Iraqi army hopes to recapture Mosul by the end of this year. Its Iraq's second largest city, it's one of ISIS' biggest strongholds there.

CNN senior international correspondent Arwa Damon shows us the irreparable damage that ISIS left behind.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ARWA DAMON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Just take a look at how desolate it is here, how abandoned the road is, at least in this direction. This was the main road that cut through the town. This was the main market here. It was a thriving place before ISIS took over this town some two years ago, more than two years ago.

And then you still have this thick black smoke billowing above it and that is from the crude oil that ISIS was burning to try to impair the visibility of coalition aircraft and drones, and residents were telling us they've been burning this crude oil for about the last six months. So, forces you see here, they are part of Iraq's counterterrorism unit. They were the ones that first came in and really led this operation to liberate the city.

You see some of the kids, it used to be a lot of more crowder, there were a lot of children out earlier, but the kids right now are wearing three quarter pants or shorts, and they weren't allowed to do this under ISIS. And it may seem like something that is very basic, but just to be able to do that right now for them is a noble experience to a certain degree.

A lot of the residents that we're talking to were also describing how ISIS was using them as human shield. There was a father who was here earlier with his two-year-old son, and he was saying that ISIS had fighters positioned in front of his door, they were firing out towards the Iraqi security forces as they were advancing. And then the Iraqis counter with mortar fire or some -- his household was hit in a mortar. He just described how everything went black and he grabbed his little 2-year-old and ran for it out the backdoor.

People would have escaped if they could. They just said that they weren't able to do so. Twenty-four hours ago, this was an active battle zone. They must have been so afraid.

It's really hard to imagine what it was like for the children. What it was like for the parents that weren't able to keep their children safe in all of this. But what we're seeing here is really just a snapshot of the challenges that the Iraqis are facing, the sheer and utter horror and hardship that the populations are going through. And you think about what is going to lie ahead as the Iraqi security forces pushed through Mosul, Iraq's largest city, and the civilian population that is there, the potential destruction that might be caused there.

[16:20:11] And as one of the residents who we were talking to put it, he said, look, the town can be rebuilt, the country can physically be rebuilt, but what we're paying for in terms of lives lost, that is a price that can never be restored to us.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SCIUTTO: A remarkable view inside ISIS territory just hours after the terror group left.

Arwa Damon, thanks so much.

A man climbs an eight-foot barbed wire fence, steals a truck, and managed to crash that truck into a plane full of passengers. A look at the bizarre and really unsettling airport security breach.

Then, it's expanded all over the world, and it is estimated to be worth nearly $70 billion. So, why is Uber seeing a billion dollars in profits drive away?

(COMEMERCIAL BREAK)

[16:25:23] SCIUTTO: We're back with more now in our world lead.

Another round of strong aftershocks rocking the ground in central Italy. Just moments ago, we learned as well that the death toll has climbed yet again. At least 281 people now dead in that devastating earthquake and its aftermath.

Still striking fear there, today, the first funeral too place for an earthquake victim and there will be plenty more to come. Tomorrow is a national day of mourning in Italy, with a state funeral for dozens of victims of the quake.

I want to bring in CNN senior international correspondent Frederik Pleitgen. He's been at the center of this since the beginning.

Fred, we know rescue efforts -- really, they're still underway. But it is getting to be a critical time to find more survivors. Any signs of hope recently?

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, there is very little at this point in time. And, you're right, it is a critical time right now, because it's about the first 72 hours after a disaster like this hits that the rescue crews believe they still have a chance to find people alive underneath the rubble. Right now, it's -- we're pushing about 68, 69, maybe up to 70 hours after the disaster.

And I can tell you, I can show around a little bit as well, that in the past couple of hours that we have been here, it's about eight our nine hours today, we haven't seen them pull a single person alive from the rubble. But you can see that the rescue crews here are still working, they are going to be working all night and they have brought in more heavy equipment to try and go through that rubble.

But I want to touch on how the aftershocks are causing problems for the rescue workers here and you're absolutely right. That's absolutely the case, the aftershocks are a major issue when they hit. The crews have to evacuate the area. They have to stop immediately.

But there is another thing that's causing a big headache for the cruise as well, and that is that the aftershocks have already knocked out two access roads to this town here, to Amatrice, which is the worst hit down in this earthquake zone.

And the local mayor says that if another road gets knocked out by an aftershock, that this town will be cut off by the landing route from getting any more help. Now, of course, the Italians are going to find some another way to get around this, but it is going to cause more problems than they have had already.

And another fact that we just found out apparently this entire region of Italy, by the force of the earthquake that happened, sank by about eight inches. So, that's how powerful that earthquake and that's why so much of the substance, the houses here have been destroyed -- Jim.

SCIUTTO: That's incredible. Sinking eight inches, one quake.

Fred Pleitgen, thanks so much.

The governor of one state going on an obscenity-laced tirade on a voice-mail to another lawmaker and even told him to record and publicize it.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)