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THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER

Russia Planning to Interfere in U.S. Elections?; Trump's Murky Immigration Plan?; Trump Breaks With Own Immigration Policy; U.S. Investigating Russian Hacking Operation. Aired 4-4:30p ET

Aired September 5, 2016 - 16:00   ET

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


[16:00:15]

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: Did Donald Trump just hedge on giving legal status to undocumented immigrants?

THE LEAD starts now.

Breaking news: Donald Trump breaking with an immigration proposal he laid out just last week. And, today, he suggested we will have to wait until after the election to find out.

Cyber-invasion, the U.S. now investigating Russian hackers and a plan to mess with the presidential elections. President Obama talks about stopping a Wild West cyber-war.

Plus, earmuffs, kids, President Obama met with a vulgar insult from a fellow head of state, an ally, as he heads to Southeast Asia. That has now changed the itinerary of his historic trip.

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

And both presidential nominees today spending the Labor Day holiday laboring, but Donald Trump might have just created a lot more work for his campaign.

The Trump outfit was still to struggling to explain what his position on illegal immigration is as recently as yesterday. And if you listen to Trump surrogate Rudy Giuliani and Trump transition team chief Chris Christie and Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway, it is entirely possible you walked away from those interviews thinking Donald Trump thought three different things on immigration.

Now today, only hours ago, on his plane, Donald Trump said this:

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

QUESTION: Can you rule out that one possibility in that determination is...

(CROSSTALK)

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm not ruling out anything.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCIUTTO: Not ruling out anything, or, in other words, a firm maybe.

But listen to what the Republican presidential nominee told our Anderson Cooper just on August 25.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: If they haven't committed a crime, is there going to be a path to legalization? I'm talking about citizenship.

(CROSSTALK)

TRUMP: No. There is not a pass. There is no path to legalization.

(CROSSTALK)

TRUMP: Unless people leave the country -- well, when they come back in, if they come back in, then they can start paying taxes. But there is no path to legalization, unless they leave the country and come back.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCIUTTO: So, to be clear here, in the span of 10 days, no path to legalization suddenly became not ruling out anything.

That's a seemingly fundamental change, one both Republicans and Democrats will want Trump to explain.

As we said, a big day on the campaign trail today. Both nominees and their vice presidential picks are out there, Clinton, Kaine, Trump, Pence, all converging on Cleveland, Ohio. Clinton's and Trump's charter planes even sharing the same tarmac hours ago.

Trump is doing some gripping, grinning and maybe some corn dog-eating at the Canfield Fair today. Hillary Clinton May finally take some questions directly from the press. And when you look beyond the Buckeye State, the candidates are spending the day hard at work in other battlegrounds they will need to win in November.

Our team is all over the map covering the campaigns like only CNN can.

Want to get right to Jim Acosta. He is in Canfield, Ohio.

Jim, hours ago, Donald Trump answered a very key question, if he will agree to all three presidential debates. What did he say?

JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: He says he's going to do those debates, Jim.

And one of these key questions that will come up during those debates is his immigration policy. As you just stated, Jim, Donald Trump has carved out what seems to be a new position or lack thereof when it comes to the legal status of the documented. He said to reporters earlier today he is not going to rule it out when it comes to a pathway to legalization for undocumented people in this country.

He did say earlier today that people who want a pathway to citizenship would have to leave the country, return to their country of origin and, then come back. But, as you said, we are sort of in a muddle once again when it comes to figuring out Donald Trump's position on immigration.

But seeing him here at this county fair here in Ohio earlier today perfectly captures the state of the race at this moment. It may all come down to Ohio.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ACOSTA (voice-over): In a sign the finish line is finally on the horizon for this carnival of a campaign, Donald Trump hit a county fair in Ohio. Racing to make up lost ground in the polls, Trump and his running mate, Mike Pence, got one more vivid reminder that Labor Day is the traditional kickoff to the fall election season, as in the image of Hillary Clinton's campaign plane parked in Cleveland within view of Trump Force One.

HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I am so happy to have all of you with me.

ACOSTA: And not to be outdone by Clinton's call to bring her traveling press aboard, Trump invited a small pool of reporters to join him on his plane as well to talk about the economy.

TRUMP: We want to bring back jobs.

ACOSTA: But as he reached out to blue-collar workers in Cleveland, Trump had his eye on one other plane.

TRUMP: They are having a fight on the tarmac.

ACOSTA: Trump pointed to that diplomatic dust-up in China from over the weekend, when Air Force One was not greeted with a staircase, forcing Obama to use a back exit as he arrived for a G20 Summit, proof, Trump said, that Mr. Obama gets no respect on the world stage.

[16:05:07]

TRUMP: They won't even give him stair,s proper stairs, to get out of the airplane. You see that? There are pictures of other leaders that are going there and they're coming down with a beautiful red carpet. And Obama's coming down a metal staircase. It is a sign of such disrespect.

ACOSTA: Trump then tied the president's trip to Clinton, predicting more unfair trade deals for Ohio.

TRUMP: It will be the equivalent of NAFTA. I'm not sure if anything can be as bad as NAFTA.

ACOSTA: The Trump campaign is continuing to hammer Clinton over that recently released FBI report on her use of a private e-mail server, pointing to investigators' findings of score of e-mails deleted.

Deputy campaign manager David Bossie said in statement, "The cover-up is always worse than the crime, and voters have a right to know if these records were illegally destroyed and what role Clinton's aides may have played."

GOV. MIKE PENCE (R-IN), VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It's just more evidence that Hillary Clinton is the most dishonest candidate for president of the United States since Richard Nixon.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ACOSTA: Now, as for those debates coming up later on this month, they start later on this month, Jim.

Donald Trump said he is do some prep work, but he is not doing too much prep work. He says sometimes that can trip up candidates before these debates. He says doesn't at this point have somebody playing Hillary Clinton.

You will recall, in previous presidential debate prep courses, they would have someone standing in for the opponent. That happened obviously in previous cycles. And when it comes to when would Donald Trump not do one of these debates, he said perhaps in the event of a natural disaster or a hurricane, so, Jim, it sounds like he is coming to those debates -- Jim.

SCIUTTO: We will be watching. Jim Acosta, thanks very much.

In the last half of August, we barely saw Hillary Clinton. She was on a monster fund-raising swing meant to power her campaign through Election Day. Well, with just two months until voters head to polls, that is about to change as Clinton becomes a lot more visible, maybe even more accessible to the media, something we got a hint of today.

CNN senior political correspondent Brianna Keilar, she joins me now.

So, Brianna, today, Clinton now bringing the press along with her and hinting that she might actually take some questions from the press in a group, yes.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Fancy that.

That is right, Jim. As she faces criticism from Republicans and supporter of Donald Trump for not holding a full-on press conference since last December, it looks like Hillary Clinton may hold at least an informal gaggle on board the plane that she is now sharing with the media as she campaigns in Ohio and Illinois today.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CLINTON: And I will come back and talk to you more formally, but I wanted to welcome you on to the plane.

KEILAR (voice-over): Hillary Clinton's last two months on the campaign trail will be finally be spent on a plane with a room for reporters.

CLINTON: I was just waiting for this moment.

KEILAR: After more than 16 months traveling separately from the press corps that follows her every move.

Clinton is targeting the key state of Ohio, appearing at a Labor Day festival with her running mate, Tim Kaine, in Cleveland.

CLINTON: We need to make sure we have an election that validates the kind of positive future that will make life better for the people of Ohio. And empty promises and racist attacks won't do that.

SEN. TIM KAINE (D-VA), VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Joe Biden.

KEILAR: Kaine in Pittsburgh earlier in the day with a little help from Pennsylvania-born Joe Biden, as he accused Trump of being out of touch with the middle class.

JOSEPH BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Know that there are so many people like Trump who look at us like we're not their equal. I'm sick of it. I have had it up to here.

KEILAR: Clinton is consistently leading polls in Pennsylvania, but her campaign's still focusing on the Keystone state seeing it as a must-win for Trump. This Labor Day, Clinton and her big-name surrogates are blanketing blue-collar strongholds, Bill Clinton at a parade in Detroit, Bernie Sanders in New Hampshire, where he crushed Clinton in the Democratic primary now urging liberal Democrats and his young supporters to choose his one-time adversary over Trump.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I), VERMONT: My dislike for Donald Trump is not just that he is a pathological liar. It's a problem. It is not just that he changes his views virtually every day. The media tries to keep up with him, and it is very difficult. What he has chosen to do is make the cornerstone of his campaign bigotry.

KEILAR: But the simmering controversy over Clinton's e-mail practices while secretary of state has boiled over yet again, the FBI releasing notes from their interview with Clinton that showed she claimed 39 times she did not recall or did not remember key details about her use of a private server for official business.

Clinton getting some backup from her vice presidential pick.

KAINE: There were e-mails that contain classified information that had been improperly marked. So, when she received the e-mail, the material that was classified, which is supposed to be flagged and identified as classified, in many instances was improperly labeled.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

[16:10:05]

KEILAR: Kaine also defended Clinton for not holding a press conference for more than 270 days. He didn't promise a formal press conference, but he said that she and he would be very, very accessible to the press between now and November 8, Jim.

SCIUTTO: Low bar.

KEILAR: That's well put.

SCIUTTO: Brianna Keilar, thanks very much.

More now about those questions of trust that won't go away for Hillary Clinton. Vice President Joe Biden acknowledged as much as he campaigned with Clinton's running mate, Tim Kaine, today in Pittsburgh.

I want to bring in CNN's Jeff Zeleny.

Jeff, you had the opportunity to interview both Biden and Kaine during that stop in Pittsburgh. How did they say they're addressing that trust problem?

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jim, Vice President Biden is on his last campaign of a very long political career here.

He is all in for this race. That was clear by watching him on stage there in Pittsburgh. But I started our conversation with the fact that there are record-high disapproval ratings for both candidates, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. We started our conversation by saying how he might address them.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ZELENY: Why do people have this suspicion about her, though? She's been in public life so long. Is it that she hasn't opened up or is it because of some of her own doing?

BIDEN: I have a bad habit of saying what I believe and sometimes saying all that I mean here.

The truth is, Hillary knows it's a problem. And she is trying to figure out how to remedy it. And my advice to her, the best way to remedy is talk about what you care about and talk about it with some passion and people will see through it.

And -- but this is going to be, and you know better than I know do, Jeff. You have covered it much. This could be the most negative campaign in the history of modern politics, I think.

And so my question is, is anybody going to be able to break through what is just, you know, sort of a notion of pox on both your houses? And that's why you hear her talking more about explicitly what it is she is going to do, how she is going to change things.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZELENY: And that, of course, is part of Joe Biden's role right there, trying to help her break through.

But by saying she knows she has a problem there, that is stating it pretty bluntly, I would say there, Jim. But this is the first joint conversation, the first television interview with Tim Kaine, the person who is running to be vice president and, of course, Joe Biden.

We will talk to them more about the advice that one is offering the other and more insight of this campaign, the interview tomorrow morning here on CNN's "NEW DAY" -- Jim.

SCIUTTO: Straightforward, to say the least. Jeff Zeleny, thank you.

I want to get to our panel now, Donald Trump supporter Matt Schlapp, never Trump Republican Liz Mair. She's now working for a super PAC that is supporting the Libertarian ticket. And vice president at the Center for American Progress Michele Jawando. She supports Hillary Clinton.

Michele, if I could begin with you, that's a pretty big remarkable acknowledgement from the sitting vice president of the United States about the Democratic candidate for president.

MICHELE JAWANDO, VICE PRESIDENT, CENTER FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS: I think there are a few things that are really important.

If you think about the fact that Donald Trump is the least favorable kind of favorable numbers that we have seen in history for a candidate...

(CROSSTALK)

SCIUTTO: The numbers, to be fair, aren't far apart.

(CROSSTALK)

JAWANDO: Well, I think that there are a few key demographics that are important to point out.

So, for example, for women, we are plus-16, for African-American, plus-88. That does not happen unless she is connecting on so many different levels in those particular communities.

SCIUTTO: Matt, I imagine you have a different point of view.

MATT SCHLAPP, FORMER WHITE HOUSE DIRECTOR OF POLITICAL AFFAIRS: Wow.

Hillary Clinton has been doing this for 25 years. Her negatives are deep set over the course of scandal after scandal after scandal. Donald Trump, even people who support Donald Trump don't like everything about Donald Trump.

(CROSSTALK)

SCIUTTO: But his trustworthiness numbers are not improving over time.

SCHLAPP: What you are really seeing is that people -- this is what is strange about this election. People who will tell a pollster that they find a candidate unfavorable, they will vote for one of these candidates.

SCIUTTO: Right.

SCHLAPP: And the fact is, is that 75 percent of Americans, Democrats too, believe that this country is on the wrong track.

That is the number one best poll number for Donald Trump, because he is the outside candidate for change. And she represents the status quo in Washington, D.C.

SCIUTTO: All right, folks, stick around. We are going to have much more time with the panel right after the break.

Today, even less clarity on Donald Trump's immigration plan. When asked whether he could rule out a pathway to legal status for undocumented immigrants, he said no. We will talk about that.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[16:18:08] JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back.

You're looking at live pictures of Donald Trump. This is him campaigning in Canfield, Ohio, there, same state, of course, Hillary Clinton campaigning today.

We're back with our panel now to talk more about the campaign.

So, Matt, I would like to begin with you. You had the trip to Mexico and then you had the big speech on Wednesday, laying it out. You have ten-point plan very clear on no path to legal status for immigrants. You have Donald Trump on his plane this morning saying, well, we're going to work that out later.

MATT SCHLAPP, DONALD TRUMP SURROGATE: Well, I think if you look at his words clearly from his speech, and what he says is everyone has to go home. And what he says every time he talks about building a wall is the wall will have a big door.

SCIUTTO: This morning, he just said, we're going to decide this at a later date. He didn't say everyone has to go.

SCHLAPP: No, but this is the point. The point is, is this, that he has enforcement provisions. I'll tell you as head of the American Conservative Union what conservatives are most worried about --

SCIUTTO: I want to know what his position is on 11 million undocumented workers. Do they have to go home or not?

SCHLAPP: Yes.

SCIUTTO: Because this morning, he didn't say it.

SCHLAPP: No, I don't think that's right. I think that what he's saying is, is that 11 million, we all know is a tremendous amount of people. We haven't done this before, and it's going to face congressional action as well. There's going to have to be the president working with the Congress to figure out how you fund it, how you take this, how you take this on.

It starts with deportation of the criminal element, which he has been very clear about. We have out migration to Mexico because the economy is so weak. And then we come to this other populations, it's all going to be a question work in Congress.

SCIUTTO: Listen, I hear your talking points there. He said words to one affect on Wednesday and he said words to a different affect today.

Did you hear the difference?

LIZ MAIR, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well, personally, I don't hear a lot of difference. When I look at Donald Trump, I hear somebody who is consistently calling for two things. One, a deportation force that's going to throw 12 million people out of the country and round up families and do it probably a very inhumane way because he has spoken favorably about Operation Wetback in the past and that's been consistent through the part of this campaign.

[16:20:02] In addition to that, he is talking about the wall. The wall we probably don't have as much of an issue with, although there are questions about how he thinks he's going to pay for this. But this is somebody who has consistently campaigned on being pro- deportation, pro-deportation force, and this is somebody who now is in the difficult position of coming to grips with what Matt knows very well because American Conservative Union was supportive of the gang of eight, the comprehensive immigration reform bill.

The reality is that the American public and electorate doesn't support what Donald Trump has been campaigning on. You have his campaign manager who is actually pro-comprehensive reform. Kellyanne Conway has done polling pro-immigration reform.

And so, you now have the situation where Donald Trump and his advisers are coming to grips to the reality, which is that the American electorate doesn't want what he has been selling for over a year now and so, he is trying to shift the goalpost and trying to talk about it differently, but he can't do it consistently because he is not actually for comprehensive immigration reform, is deportation.

SCIUTTO: OK. Matt, quick response and, Michelle, I want to hear you.

SCHLAPP: Two quick things, let me just correct the record. It was the previous chairman of the ACU who supported gang of eight bill.

MAIR: That's fine.

SCHLAPP: The second question is, the president and I served for, President Bush 43 when he ran for reelection in 2004, even he, someone who wanted to do everything he could to embrace the idea of immigrants into our economy. Even he said, if you're here illegally, you have to go home, you have to fill out your paperwork and you have to come back legally. You have to demonstrate -- (CROSSTALK)

SCIUTTO: Michelle, I wonder --

(CROSSTALK)

SCIUTTO: There is a lot of talk and Liz makes the point. He is trying to play both side of the issue because he wants to get some of those undecided, middle of the road voters. Could this be a successful strategy?

MICHELE JAWANDO, HILLARY CLINTON SUPPORTER: Absolutely not. There is no other Trump other than how do we separate families, how do we break up what we have always known as the American experiment, when we have immigrants in this country, I am the granddaughter of immigrants who have brought greatness to this country. If you look at great innovation over the past 20, 50 years, there is an immigrant's story deeply meshed in each of them.

And so, for someone like Donald Trump to talk about forcible deportations, breaking up families, there is no new Donald Trump.

SCHLAPP: Obama does that every day.

JAWANDO: This is the same Donald Trump that we've heard every single day.

SCIUTTO: All right. Liz, Matt, Michelle, thanks very much on all counts.

From dueling campaigns in a battleground state to talk of cyber war on American politics. How the evidence is stacking up against Russia as U.S. investigates recent hacks.

Plus, inside the ISIS operation behind the Paris terror attacks, the intricate planning involving cash, social media apps and travel. And it's a report you'll only see here on CNN.

But first --

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: I accept your nomination!

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: For the presidency of the United States.

ANNOUNCER: "The Essential Hillary Clinton".

CLINTON: We are stronger together, in charting a course toward the future.

ANNOUNCER: "The Essential Donald Trump".

TRUMP: I love you and we will make America great again.

ANNOUNCER: All on one blockbuster night.

Clinton has been called the most famous person no one knows.

CHELSEA CLINTON, DAUGHTER OF HILLARY CLINTON: I never understand that, it is so clear to me who my mother is. She never forgets who she is fighting for and she's fighting first and foremost for children and for families.

ANNOUNCER: Trump has a passion for business and the spotlight.

DONALD TRUMP, JR., SON OF DONALD TRUMP: No one is going to outwork him. No one has got more energy than him.

IVANKA TRUMP, DAUGHTER OF DONALD TRUMP: He always said to us, find what it is that you're passionate about and pursue it with your full heart.

ANNOUNCER: They are stories from the people who know them best, CNN Special Report. Hillary Clinton at 8:00, Donald Trump at 10:00, CNN Labor Day.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[16:28:11] SCIUTTO: Welcome back to THE LEAD.

And topping our world lead, U.S. intelligence officials increasingly concerned about what's believed to be a covert Russian hacking operation, potentially trying to manipulate the U.S. presidential election. In China this morning, President Obama weighed in on the escalating cyber campaign.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: What we cannot do is have a situation in which suddenly this becomes the Wild Wild West.

SCIUTTO (voice-over): President Obama warning Russia today about Moscow's expanding cyber attacks on the U.S. This as U.S. intelligence agencies are increasingly focused, U.S. officials tell CNN, on Russian influence on the upcoming presidential election.

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper recently told CNN he is concerned the Kremlin may be seeking to undermine confidence in the vote.

(on camera): Is it your vote that Russia has the intention of, if not influencing this election, undermining confidence in the U.S. political process?

JAMES CLAPPER, DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE: They see a U.S. conspiracy behind every bush. They believe that we are trying to influence political developments in Russia, their natural response is to retaliate. SCIUTTO: Multiple agencies are now assessing the scope of the Russian

intrusion, which includes hacking into voting data and systems. Russia's intention is not clear, maybe less to help one candidate over another than to sow doubt in the overall process and final results.

CLAPPER: Was this just to stir up trouble or was this ultimately to try to influence an election? And, of course, this is serious, serious proposition.

SCIUTTO: So serious that today, President Obama raised the issue as he and Russian President Vladimir Putin met on the side lines of the G20 summit in China.

OBAMA: We've had problems with cyber intrusions from Russia in the past.