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U.S. Officials Telling CNN that Pentagon Suspects ISIS Launched a Chemical Weapons Attack Against U.S. and Iraqi Troops. Donald Trump's Campaign Responding to Report That Suggests Trump Foundation Improperly Used Charitable Funds. Aired 4:30-5p ET

Aired September 21, 2016 - 16:30   ET



JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: U.S. officials are telling CNN that the Pentagon suspects ISIS launched a chemical weapons attack against U.S. and Iraqi troops.

Barbara Starr is at the Pentagon to tell us more.

Barbara, where did this happen? What chemical agent was allegedly used? And, most importantly, how are the troops doing?

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Jake, CNN is the first now to report this development. The most important thing, no U.S. troops hurt in this, but some did go through decontamination as a precaution.

It happened an Tuesday, but now, as we speak, this chemical shell is being tested by the U.S. military to see exactly what was in it. The shell landed on an air base in Northern Iraq where U.S. and Iraqi troops are operating, getting ready to fight to try to take Mosul back from ISIS. The shell landed. U.S. troops went out to look at shell. They saw something suspicious. They tested it.

The first test came back positive for mustard agent. They're testing it further. Why do they believe it's ISIS? ISIS up in that area and they're desperate to hold on to Mosul. They wanted to prove to the world that they have, in their view, a caliphate, an Islamic State. ISIS has used this type of mustard agent before against civilians.

A lot of concern about what is happening here. U.S. troops do have and have had protective gear against this type of attack. And, again, the most important thing, Jake, no U.S. troops exhibiting any signs of exposure to the agent, even as the U.S. tries to figure out exactly what did transpire here -- Jake.

TAPPER: All right, Barbara Starr, thank you so much.

More on our politics lead now. Republicans today pouncing on a report in "The Wall Street Journal." In 2014, Bill Clinton was paid $260,000 to give a speech to perfume industry insiders just months before the Clinton Foundation paired with a fragrance company on a charitable effort that would benefit that industry.

The report just the latest to raise questions about people trying to buy influence with the Clintons by donating to their foundations. The former president this week told National Public Radio that some people might have donated to the foundation to gain influence with him and his wife, but that does not mean any donors received anything improperly.

Meanwhile, Donald Trump's campaign responding to a report that suggests the Trump Foundation might have improperly used charitable funds to settle lawsuits against Trump's businesses. But instead of providing more information about their practices, the campaign instead attacked a reporter who brought to light the sketchy use of charitable funds.

CNN politics reporter Sara Murray is live in Toledo, Ohio, where Trump spoke today.

And, Sara, David Fahrenthold, who broke the story for "The Washington Post," he says this seems to him like possible self-dealing, which would not be legal.

SARA MURRAY, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, that's right, Jake. It's not just that it seems to David, the reporter, that way. He spoke with a number of tax experts who say the way Donald Trump spent his foundation's money looks a little fishy.

But one thing is clear. The campaign is not eager to answer specific questions about this, and Donald Trump made no mention of it as he campaigned today in Ohio.


MURRAY (voice-over): After skewering the Clinton Foundation on the campaign trail...

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It's hard to tell where the Clinton Foundation ends and where the State Department begins.

MURRAY: ... Donald Trump is getting a taste of his own medicine, the Trump Foundation now under fire. That's after a "Washington Post" investigation found the GOP nominee may have used his charity for some not-so-charitable purposes, like benefiting his business interests, a potential tax law violation.

DAVID FAHRENTHOLD, "THE WASHINGTON POST": Well, the tax law says that, if you run a charity, as Donald Trump does, you can't take the money out of your charity and use it to buy things for yourself or to help your own business. It's called self-dealing and it's against the law.

MURRAY: Among the questionable foundation expenditures "The Post" unearthed, $5,000 to pay for advertisements for Trump hotels, $158,000 for a plaintiff's chosen charity to settle a lawsuit, $100,000 to a veterans group to settle a legal dispute over the height of a flagpole at Mar-a-Lago, tens of thousands of dollars to buy portraits of himself, one of which was apparently spotted by a Univision anchor hanging at Trump's Miami golf resort.

Trump's allies swiftly came to his defense.

KELLYANNE CONWAY, TRUMP CAMPAIGN MANAGER: I think this is classic Donald Trump. He wanted to raise the American flag as high as he possibly could over Mar-a-Lago. I think a lot of Americans at this point would applaud that. And, of course, the town or the county said he couldn't do it. It had to be smaller.

MURRAY: The campaign issued a statement attacking "The Washington Post" reporter, saying: "The 'Post''s reporting is peppered with inaccuracies and omissions from a biased reporter."

But the campaign didn't offer any specifics on the inaccuracies or provide any evidence to the contrary. The Clinton campaign quickly seized on the report, releasing a statement saying: "Once again, Trump has proven himself a fraud who believes the rules don't apply to him," and calling on Trump to release his tax returns.


As for the billionaire businessman, he still insists he has given millions to charity.

TRUMP: I have given a lot of money and raised a lot of money for the vets.

MURRAY: Even though there is little evidence to back that up.

And as recently as Tuesday, Trump hit the trail gloating about how he convinced others to foot the bill in the business world, a skill he hopes to carry over to the White House.

TRUMP: We are going to get the Gulf states to pay for safe zones. We will lead the project, like it's called OPM. I do it all the time in business. It's called other people's money. There's nothing like doing things with other people's money, because it takes the risk.


MURRAY: Now, so far, the campaign has declined to say what exactly was wrong in that "Washington Post" report. And, of course, if Donald Trump did release his tax returns, we'd have a better idea of how much he personally gave to charity.

But, so far, he and his campaign are unwilling to do that as well -- Jake.

TAPPER: Sara Murray with the Trump campaign, thank you so much.

Who are these men who picked up one of the bombs planted in New York City? The FBI now wants to know and is asking for your help -- that story next.



TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD.

In the national lead today, let me ask you question. Have you seen these two men? The FBI cautions these two are not suspected of being involved in the bombings, but they're asking the public to help identify them because they are potential witnesses.

Surveillance video spotted them unzipping a duffel bag that held a bomb left behind by that alleged terrorist. The two men just left the pressure cooker device on the ground in the open and carted away the suitcase.

CNN's Pamela Brown is here with me in Washington and has the latest.

And, Pamela, what information does the FBI think that these two men might be able to provide?

PAMELA BROWN, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, the FBI believes that these men could provide critical information.

They want to know why these men were in the area just before the blast and why they opened up that luggage and removed the device. And the FBI also wants to recover the bag the men took off with because it's a key piece of evidence.


BROWN (voice-over): The FBI says the two men they're looking for are seen in surveillance video removing one of the bombs from luggage on West 27th Street in Chelsea a short time before a bomb went just off a few blocks away.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They saw the bag on the sidewalk. The admired the bag. They opened the bag. They removed what turned out to be a device, a pressure cooker, placed it on the sidewalk, and they rolled the bag away or carried the bag away on the street.

BROWN: Also today, the first glimpse of the bloody journal Ahmad Rahami was carried when he was captured. It was revealed during a hearing on Capitol Hill.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is a copy of Mr. Rahami's journal that was found on his person when he was taken into custody. I know you're familiar with it. He talks about the sounds of bombs will be heard in the streets, praised Osama bin Laden as brother, talked about Anwar al-Awlaki and Fort Hood, Texas.

BROWN: Investigators says the notebook is full of terror-related ramblings, such as -- quote -- "Inshallah, the sounds of the bombs will be heard in the streets, gunshots to your police, death to your oppression."

It also makes reference to terrorist leaders from a variety of terror groups, including former ISIS spokesman al-Adnani, killed recently in a strike recently.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The evidence, we believe, shows that this was premeditated act of terrorism.

BROWN: This video of the alleged bomber's backyard in Elizabeth, New Jersey, shows what appears to be scorch marks in the ground. In court records, investigators say a video from the cell phone from Rahami's relative shows the suspect setting off an explosive device in his backyard.

The FBI says you can hear laughing in the background. Two days later, bombs went off in New Jersey and New York. Surveillance video shows what investigators believe is Rahami driving out of the Lincoln Tunnel into Manhattan at 6:30 p.m. Saturday. He's then captured on surveillance footage at the site of the blast an 23rd Street at 7:53 p.m.

At 8:30, a bomb explodes, injuring 31 people, a blast so powerful, it tossed a 100-pound dumpster more than 120 feet and shattered windows and buildings 400 feet from the blast site and three stories high. Two minutes after the explosion, Rahami is seen walking just a few blocks away on 27th Street near where an unexploded pressure cooker bomb is later discovered.

Twelve of his fingerprints were allegedly found on the device. At approximately 11:30 p.m., Rahami is seen leaving Manhattan through the Lincoln Tunnel.


BROWN: And the FBI says Rahami is unconscious and intubated at University Hospital in Newark and is not being moved any time soon.

FBI agents are guarding Rahami around the clock at the hospital and hope to speak to him as soon as possible -- Jake.

TAPPER: All right, Pamela Brown, thank you so much.

A new warning about tap water across the country. Millions of Americans could be drinking water that contains a cancer-causing chemical.

Plus, it could be the deciding factor on Election Day, a look at the battleground state that hasn't gone Republican since 1988 -- that story next.


[16:48:29] JAKE TAPPER, CNN THE LEAD ANCHOR: Welcome back to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper. Let's stick with our "POLITICS LEAD" now. We have fewer than 50 days until Election Day, and all eyes are on key Battleground States including Pennsylvania. A commonwealth where both candidates have often campaigned since becoming their party's nominee. A Muhlenberg University poll out this week finds Clinton ahead of her rival there by eight points in a four-way matchup, but a Quinnipiac poll from earlier in the month shows a tighter race with Trump trailing by just five points. CNN's Miguel Marquez is taking a hard look at the Keystone State which could tip the scales come November. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm expecting a huge turnout in November, and we're going to have and we're going to make America great again. Thank you.

[16:49:12] MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Pennsylvania Republicans counting on enthusiasm.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You want to knock on that door? I'll knock on 722.


MARQUEZ: In an uphill battle to turn this blue-collar state red in November.

PETE BECKLEY, TRUMP SUPPORTER: It wasn't won by Republicans for the last few presidential elections. We think Trump is going to win this state.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are you going to vote for Donald Trump?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Probably. It's the only choice.

MARQUEZ: The last time Pennsylvania went republican, 1988. The latest polls shows Clinton ahead in the state, but with exceptionally tight races in Ohio and Florida, Republicans here sense momentum.

If Donald Trump winds Pennsylvania ...

TERRY MADONNA, FRANKLIN AND MARSHALL COLLEGE POLL DIRECTOR: He wins the presidency. Here is why. Pennsylvania is more Democratic than both Florida and Ohio.


MARQUEZ: If he wins here, he wins there. Trump running strong in rural Pennsylvania, but needs support in boat-ridged Philadelphia and its suburbs, where a third of the state's voters live.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You cannot lose the Philadelphia suburbs. Not only are we talking about a large number of votes, but we're talking about the largest pool of swing voters.

TRUMP: Child care is such a big problem.

MARQUEZ: Trump announced his child-care initiative, appealing to swing voters, women and moderates in those Philly suburbs.

TRUMP: Oh, we're going to solve that problem.

MARQUEZ: He and his running mate, Mike Pence, have already been to this state nine times.

TRUMP: Hello, Philly.

MARQUEZ: Democrats, too, have descended on the Keystone State, fighting to keep its 20 electoral votes in their column.


MARQUEZ: Clinton and Tim Kaine have been here 11 times, and that's not including the Democratic Convention held here in July. And her most powerful surrogates, President Obama, made his first solo campaign event on behalf of Clinton right here in Philly.

BARACK OBAMA, UNITED STATES PRESIDENT: I need you to work as hard for Hillary as you did for me.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right. Thank you all so much for coming to help out with our 2 p.m. shift.

MARQUEZ: Voter registration in July and August ahead of 2008, a banner year.



MARQUEZ: So far this year, democrats have registered 418,000 new voters to republicans' 321,000. For both candidates, turnout, critical.

CLINTON: If I'm in the White House, young people will always have a seat at any table where any decision is being made.

MARQUEZ: Clinton seeking support from younger voters, many still burned out from a primary in which their guy didn't win. Jordyn Tannenbaum was a Bernie Sanders delegate. Like many, she says fear of a Trump presidency is a bigger motivation than love for Clinton.

JORDYN TANNENBAUM, CLINTON VOLUNTEER: It's not an election that it's OK to sit out. You know, you can't -- protest votes aren't going to do much this election. It's too risky.

ANDREW CHANG, CLINTON VOLUNTEER: But it's our job to talk to them about why they feel that way, and hopefully change that into positive energy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How do we make the economy work for everyone?

MARQUEZ: And the ad wars have finally come to Pennsylvania. Clinton has spent nearly $12 million in the state. Her latest ad focused on jobs and the economy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Donald Trump's America is secure.

MARQUEZ: Donald Trump after spending zero through August on TV advertising has spent nearly $3 million on ads focusing on immigration and security. Voter registration here ends October 11th with no early voting in Pennsylvania, it will be a race to Election Day. Miguel Marquez, CNN Philadelphia. TAPPER: And be sure to tune in next week to a special "CNN TOWN HALL" event with President Obama at the Fort Lee Army post in Battleground Virginia. The president will answer crucial questions posed by active servicemen and women, veterans, their families and myself. That's at 9:00 p.m. Eastern, Wednesday the 28th.

Coming up, a known cancer-causing chemical found in drinking water. Not just in one town or one city, but in millions of kitchens and bathrooms. The new alarming report and what the EPA is saying, next.




[16:58:] TAPPER: Welcome back. I'm Jake Tapper. Our "BURIED LEAD" now.


ERIN BROCKOVICH: These people don't dream about being rich. They dream about being able to watch their kids swim in a pool without worrying that they'll have to have a hysterectomy at the age of 20.


TAPPER: Do you remember what Erin Brockovich was warning the public about in real life and in that film 16 years ago? It was a cancer- causing chemical called chromium-6, and a disturbing new report from the environmental working group, an independent advocacy organization, finds that hundreds of millions of Americans may be drinking tap water with what some scientists believe are dangerous levels of chromium-6, which as I said is known to cause cancer. This chemical is used in stainless-steel production, leather tanning and textile manufacturing. Now, experts disagree on the safe level of it, in the drinking water. The Environment Protection Agency has never set a federal standard specifically for chromium-6 in drinking water, but in a statement, the EPA said, quote, "Ensuring safe drinking water for all Americans is a top priority. The agency has taken many actions to improve information on chromium and its potential health risks in drinking water." Turning out to our "MONEY LEAD," fireworks flew on Capitol Hill today as Heather Bresch, CEO of Mylan Pharmaceuticals was hammered by lawmakers over the 500 plus percent price increase in the cost of EpiPens. Millions, including many young children, rely on the life-saving device to reverse deadly allergic reactions by injecting the drug epinephrine into the body. In 2007, the average price of a two pack of EpiPens was around $100 compared to more than $600 in some areas today.

HEATHER BRESCH, CEO OF MYLAN PHARMACEUTICALS: I think many people incorrectly assume that we make $600 off of each pen. It's simply not true. After subtracting EpiPen related costs, our profit is $100 or approximately $50 per pen.

TAPPER: In order to help reduce the cost, the company has introduced a generic into the marketplace and offered coupons to consumers. Mylan is still under congressional investigation. That's it for THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper, turning you over to Wolf Blitzer in "THE SITUATION ROOM." Thanks for watching.