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THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER
Clinton Remarks About Trump Supporters; Trump CNBC Remarks Parsed; Trump Donations to His Own Foundation Questioned; Sunset Marks Start of 48-Hour Cease Fire in Syria; The Sentry, Founded By George Clooney and John Prendergast, Uncovers Political Corruption in South Sudan. Aired 4:30-5p ET
Aired September 12, 2016 - 16:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: Raising the specter, of course, that the Clinton campaign is hiding something in the Democratic nominee's medical records.
The entire Trump campaign, of course, is hammering Clinton for tossing tens of millions of Americans seemingly into a -- quote -- "basket of deplorables" on Friday night.
CNN's Jim Acosta is in Asheville, North Carolina, and has this report.
JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Donald Trump didn't have to dig deep into his basket of attacks today on Hillary Clinton.
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: After months of hiding from the press, Hillary Clinton has revealed her true thoughts. That was her true thoughts. She revealed herself to be a person who looks down on the proud citizens of our country as subjects for her rule.
ACOSTA: The GOP nominee devoted a huge chunk of his speech to a military audience today to a line Clinton delivered Friday, when she referred to Trump supporters as a basket of deplorables at a fund- raiser in New York.
HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: To just be grossly generalistic, you could put half of Trump's supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables, right, the racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamophobic, you name it.
ACOSTA: By the next day, the damage was done and Clinton backpedaled, releasing a statement saying: "I regret saying half. That was wrong."
But she added, "It's deplorable that Trump has built his campaign largely on prejudice and paranoia and given a national platform to hateful views and voices."
Now Trump is accusing Clinton of slandering more than just the people backing his campaign. TRUMP: You cannot run for president if you have such contempt in your heart for the American voter. And she does. You can't lead this nation if you have such a low opinion for its citizens.
ACOSTA: The Trump campaign is also using the moment to power new ads in four key battleground states.
NARRATOR: Do you know what's deplorable? Hillary Clinton viciously demonizing hardworking people like you.
ACOSTA: Clinton's comment instantly drew comparisons to Mitt Romney's infamous gaffe from four years ago, when he slammed supporters of President Obama as the 47 percent who don't pay taxes, a defining moment that painted Romney as out of touch.
MITT ROMNEY (R), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: There are 47 percent who are with him who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has the responsibility to care for them.
ACOSTA: But Democrats counter Clinton has good reason to cast some Trump supporters as deplorables, noting the Confederate Flag on display at the Trump rally over the summer, not to mention the GOP nominee's own comment on Mexican immigrants.
TRUMP: They're bringing drugs, they're bringing crime, they're rapists, and some, I imagine, are good people.
ACOSTA: The Trump campaign argues Clinton's remarks were much more revealing.
KELLYANNE CONWAY, TRUMP CAMPAIGN MANAGER: She is reading scripted words, and then they call it a gaffe. It wasn't a gaffe. She had said it before.
ACOSTA: But, of course, Donald Trump ha shown the ability to change the campaign narrative with controversial comments of his own.
Earlier today, he said he wanted debates with no moderator, once again raising the question as to whether he will actually debate Hillary Clinton later on this fall.
And, Jake, we should point out, four years ago, Donald Trump said that Mitt Romney did not have to apologize for his 47 percent comment. Now he wants Hillary Clinton to apologize -- Jake.
TAPPER: All right, Jim Acosta in North Carolina, thanks so much.
Coming up, a live in-studio interview with Republican vice presidential nominee and Indiana Governor Mike Pence. He disclosed his tax returns last week. Will the guy at the top of the ticket, Donald Trump, ever do the same?
But, first, Donald Trump has bragged about his donations to charity, but how much of his own money has he actually given?
One reporter set out upon a year-long search, and he will join me with his results next.
TAPPER: Welcome back THE LEAD. Let's stay with politics.
While the world has been focused upon Hillary Clinton's stumbles, literally and figuratively, Donald Trump this morning went on CNBC and he made several outrageous statements.
He continues to refer to a sitting U.S. senator whose Native American roots have been questioned as Pocahontas. With zero evidence, he accused the Fed chair of not being independent and intentionally keeping interest rates low to help President Obama. And he suggested that the pending presidential debates would be rigged and unfair to him. "They're gaming the system," he said, suggesting that there should be a debate with no moderator.
Mr. Trump made that last claim out of apparent concern that moderators would be extra tough on him after criticism of NBC's Matt Lauer not sufficiently fact-checking Mr. Trump.
One investigative reporter determined to fact-check Mr. Trump has looked into Mr. Trump's claims about charitable giving, and he faced a tough task, since the billionaire will not release his tax returns or list his charitable contributions made before this year.
For months now, "Washington Post" reporter David Fahrenthold has reached out to more than 300 charities to see how much money the self- described billionaire has been donated, recording it with good old- fashioned pen and paper.
David joins me now with his eye-opening look into his finding.
David, thanks so much for being here. Congratulations on all the hard work.
By your calculations, how much of Mr. Trump's own money has he donated to charity?
DAVID FAHRENTHOLD, "THE WASHINGTON POST": Now, between the end of 2008 and this May, I found one donation out of his own pocket. That was for less than $10,000 back in 2009.
TAPPER: And you have called and reached out to how many charities?
FAHRENTHOLD: Three hundred and twenty-six charities so far.
TAPPER: And you have reached out to the campaign and asked for help. And?
FAHRENTHOLD: A number of times.
TAPPER: CNN looked at the tax records for the Trump Foundation, found Trump has not donated to his charity, his own charity, since 2008, the Donald J. Trump Foundation.
You had a blockbuster report over the weekend about the foundation.
From your reporting, what should voters know about the Donald J. Trump Foundation?
FAHRENTHOLD: The most important thing is, it doesn't contain any of Donald J. Trump's money.
In the world of philanthropy, if you start a foundation with your name on it, it's expected that the money in it is yours. But, as you said, Trump hasn't given any money to his own foundation since '08. Instead, he fills it with other people's money, and then he gives it away to people who are under the impression that it's actually Trump's.
TAPPER: And then they give him recommendation for his charitable donations.
FAHRENTHOLD: They give him awards.
And, more importantly for his business, they give him business. Trump's business at Mar-a-Lago in Florida depends on renting out his club to big charities, who can pay as much as $270,000 per night to rent it out.
So, this helps him stay in the good graces of those charities without actually having to spend any of his own money.
TAPPER: What is the difference between the Donald J. Trump Foundation and the Clinton Foundation?
FAHRENTHOLD: They are two really different animals.
The Clinton Foundation is a really large organization, has about a staff of over 2,000. It actually does direct charitable work and employs people who do charitable work.
And the questions are favors that Hillary Clinton might have given to the donors to that foundation. Trump's foundation, by contrast, has only ever had, at most, like $3 million. It only has about a million dollars in it now. It has no staff. Its board is just the Trumps and one other person. It's basically just something that exists on paper to pass money through.
TAPPER: In order for him to get recognition and then to rent out the Mar-a-Lago Hotel?
FAHRENTHOLD: That's possible.
It's also -- he lives in sort of a social world in Palm Beach, where it's important to be seen as being charitable. Often, he wants to sort of make a flourish of saying, I'm going to give my money away.
A good example in on the "Celebrity Apprentice." When he was the host of that, he would often say, you, celebrity, I'm going to give you a donation out of my own pocket. And in those cases, it was also other people's money that he eventually used to give to those folks.
TAPPER: You're on the hunt right now for two things, a $20,000 portrait of Donald Trump and a Broncos helmet autographed by Tim Tebow. Why are you looking for those things?
FAHRENTHOLD: Well, the IRS rules prohibit people who run foundations from using the charity's money to buy things for themselves, for obvious reason.
These are two things that Donald Trump used his charity's money to buy for himself. He bought -- paid $12,000 for a Tim Tebow-signed Broncos helmet at an auction in 2012. And in 2007, we just learned he used $20,000 to buy a portrait of himself.
Now, you're not allowed to buy those things and put them up in your house, put them up in your businesses if you used charity money. So we're trying to find out what has become of those items.
TAPPER: And needless to say, the Trump campaign and the Trump Organization have not been helpful in your pursuit?
TAPPER: You're like Indiana Jones.
David Fahrenthold, thank you so much. Keep in touch. Keep up the great work.
A shaky Syrian cease-fire now just about five hours in, is it holding? Can humanitarian aid get to those who desperately need it? That's next.
Plus, he's an Oscar Award-winning actor who spends his free time tracking down corruption in Africa. George Clooney joins me to explain ahead.
TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper. Let's turn now to THE WORLD LEAD. We are roughly five hours into a cease fire in Syria and war-weary Syrians are praying that it holds.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER (voice over): The hours leading up to sunset in the Middle East, they look shaky(ph). At least 100 people were killed in bombings since the deal brokered Friday by the U.S. and Russia. Just today, seven more were killed in an air strike on Aleppo. The historic city has been decimated by five years of war. Today, the Russian foreign ministry says it worries opposition groups will not put down weapons long enough for humanitarian aid to be ushered in. Let's bring in CNN's Jim Sciutto. Jim, what will it take for the cease fire to hold?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN: I think the operative phrase here is "managed expectations." First, let's start with just the timing. They're starting with just 48 hours as a test to see if this cease fire will work, then they'll go to seven days. That's the real next test and this is all that has to happen for that to continue. First of all, Russia has to get Bashar al-Assad under control; have him stop bombing civilians. He's been doing that for all four years of this war. That's a challenge. Russia says it has a commitment.
The next piece: The U.S. has to get the rebel groups on board. The trouble is the rebel groups are very skeptical. They've been getting bombed, not only by Bashar al-Assad, but by Russia repeatedly and that's despite past promises to stop doing that. So that's a test there. Then the focus becomes the terror groups, specifically of course ISIS, but also the Al Qaida linked group, the Nusra Front which used to be known as the Nusra Front, that's going to become the single target of Russia, Syria, and the U.S. If you believe the three of them can work together, you believe this deal can work.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SCIUTTO: Sunset in war-torn Syria, the official start of a tenuous cease fire brokered by the U.S. and Russia, but in the final hours before the deadline, air strikes by the Syrian air force reign down on northwestern Syria, killing at least 90 people a rights group(ph) said. Here is President Bashar al-Assad vowing defiantly to "retake every piece of land from the terrorists." Today, Secretary of State, John Kerry, said the agreement is based on verification not trust.
JOHN KERRY, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: Promises are one thing. It's the actions that will define whether or not this will be able to come together.
SCIUTTO (voice over): The aim of the cease fire is limited, at first to allow much-needed humanitarian aid to reach the devastated cities under siege, such as Aleppo. Only if the fighting stops for a full seven days will the U.S. and Russia begin discussing cooperation in targeting ISIS and the Al Qaida affiliate previously known as the Nusra Front. In addition, under Russian pressure, Syria has agreed to suspend its air strikes.
SERGEI LAVROV, RUSSIAN FOREIGN MINISTER: The Syrian government has been informed by us about these arrangements and it is ready to fulfill them.
SCIUTTO (voice over): The next 48 hours are crucial; the first test of the deal's staying power. The fighters on the ground, including the U.S. backed rebels of the Free Syrian Army, skepticism still reigns.
OMAR, FREE SYRIAN ARMY FIGHTER: If it's a cease fire like the previous ones, then we certainly won't benefit from it. There must be political motives behind it that will harm the people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCIUTTO: One reason many in the Pentagon are skeptical of this deal: No commitment from Russia or Syria to use precision weapons, Jake. Very easy for both of them to hit something else and say, "Oops, we didn't mean to."
TAPPER: Yes, let's hope that it holds. Jim Sciutto, thanks so much. Stunning fraud uncovered in a two-year-long investigation spearheaded by Hollywood heavyweight George Clooney. He joins me next to tell me what he found.
TAPPER: We're back with our BURIED LEAD today as the people of the world's newest nation are suffering through a civil war. Top leaders there are benefitting financially and politically. That's what a new report co-commissioned by actor and director, George Clooney, alleges.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER (voice over): The link between atrocities and the vast accumulation of wealth in South Sudan. This two-year, under-cover investigation found that while tens of thousands have been killed, millions displaced, and almost half the country is without food, according to the report, South Sudan's president and top generals, those ultimately responsible for mass atrocities have managed to accumulate fortunes; living in multimillion dollar mansions and driving luxury cars, all with the help of international facilitators; bankers, businessmen, lawyers.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: Today I spoke with George Clooney and activist John Prendergast who cofounded the human rights group behind this shocking report.
GEORGE CLOONEY, CO-FOUNDER, THE SENTRY: This is a very deep, deep, long - it's a two-year investigation and, you know, I think what's so explosive about it is we have these guys nailed. We realize you really can't shame the bad guys. Then what you can do is you can follow the money and perhaps shame the people who are hiding it, which are much easier to shame.
TAPPER: And, John, what does this report show?
JOHN PRENDERGAST, CO-FOUNDER, THE SENTRY: It shows that at the very top of the government of South Sudan, the president, the vice president, all the major generals in the army have suctioned that economy dry. They have taken - they have stolen the resources of the country, which are plentiful - I mean, this is an oil-driven economy that had billions and billions of dollars going into the coffers - and they've been able to divert that money into private - for private use, or to fund these deadly wars.
CLOONEY: We're meeting with Secretary Kerry later today. We're meeting with the Treasury Secretary Lew, later today. We have a lot of asks that we're going to do and we're hoping to have the political will to do it. You know, that's the trick in all of this as you know.
TAPPER: What do you want - you have a relationship with President Obama - what do you want him to do?
CLOONEY: Well, I mean, there's a lot of things that can be done. Mostly what we're looking for is obviously targeted sanctions - it's a very tricky slope we're walking. We don't want this to become Somalia. We want this to actually - for people to be able to function within that society, but we want to make it difficult for the people who are profiting, using particularly American dollars or working within the international community.
TAPPER: Obviously, it's uncomfortable to admit, but we're covering it because of George. What does it mean in terms of Washington and doors opening?
PRENDERGAST: I thought it was me. Anyway.
TAPPER: We love you very much.
PRENDERGAST: I saw a study about two months ago in which a competent NGO, nongovernmental organization, found the stolen assets of a particular country and the leaders and how they had ferreted this money out of the system and no one covered it. With Don Cheadle and George Clooney being part of our work - and not just showing up the day of but being part of it throughout, so not only do we get attention, we also get access to bring the policy expertise and say, "Here's a new, different way of doing things."
TAPPER: I want to turn to just a few other issues. One is that you and your wife relatively recently met with Syrian refugees, and I'm wondering what that experience meant to you.
CLOONEY: I've spent a good portion of the last 15 years dealing with refugees in IDP camps and raising money and trying to bring attention to it. This is the worst we've seen since World War II. We're all going to have a responsibility to step up along the way. I believe that there's a huge portion of this that can - that doesn't have to be governmental in terms, particularly in terms of educating people who are stuck in the refugee camp. We know what happens years from now with that group. You know, if they're not allowed - if they're not afforded an education, it just fosters all kinds of other problems.
TAPPER: It must frustrate you as somebody who does a lot of these issues and focuses on these issues, especially when it comes to refugees.
PRENDERGAST: You know, and it doesn't have to be this way. With the common denominator in all these places that are suffering so greatly is you have one of these authoritarian dictatorial leaders who shut out freedom of speech and freedom of assembly and independent voices from the government and use extreme violence to stay in power and syphon off the resources of the state.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PRENDERGAST (voice over): Dealing with this core issue of hypocrisy, of corruption at the center, is absolutely fundamentally important. It's a national security issue.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CLOONEY: For the people who are watching this, as you and I are talking they'll say, "Well, who cares? It's South Sudan. They, you know, it's another corrupt government and you know. Big surprise." But the reality is, if South Sudan is a failed state, we've seen what influences take over in a failed state and it's never good. And that's something that we'll have to deal with for generations if we don't deal with it now. Now it's easy. It'll be a lot harder in the years to come. So when people wonder why now? Why are we giving so much aid already to South Sudan? It's because of that.
TAPPER: Well, thanks to George Clooney and John Predergast. That's it for THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper. I turn you over to Wolf Blitzer, who is joined - I can see him right over there - by republican vice presidential nominee, Mike Pence, in "THE SITUATION ROOM." Thanks for watching.