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Trump Standing His Ground; Obama Hosts CNN Town Hall; California Protests Escalating. Aired 4-4:30a ET

Aired September 29, 2016 - 04:17   ET


[04:17:28] CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Donald Trump standing his ground, happy with his performance of the big debate, but unhappy with supporters who suggest otherwise.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: The commander in chief face-to-face with the troops at a town hall, taking Congress to task for overriding his veto. The first time this has happened.

ROMANS: Protests escalating overnight in California over the deadly police shooting of the unarmed African-American. This as police reveal what was in the man's hand when he was gunned down.

Good morning, everyone. Welcome to this slightly late edition of EARLY START. I'm Christine Romans.


I'm John Berman. Nice to see you. It is Thursday, September 29th. It's about 4:18 in the East.

This morning, Donald Trump says he won the first debate no matter what anyone else says or the polls for that matter. In fact, in a conference call, campaign officials suggest Trump is angry that some aides are publicly admitting that he struggled in the first debate, that they've been pushing him to change tactics for the second. And at a rally last night, Trump even raised a new conspiracy theory that the Internet is sort of rigged against him.


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The new post debate poll that just came out. The Google poll has us leading Hillary Clinton by two points nationwide. And that's despite the fact that Google search engine was suppressing the bad news about Hillary Clinton. How about that? How about that?


BERMAN: So, this Google-gate, the notion that Trump raised right there. It's actually something that CNN and others have looked into it. It is not true.

ROMANS: Meantime, Trump is also refusing to back down on his criticism of one-time Miss Universe Alicia Machado. Overnight, Trump told FOX News that he saved Machado from being fired by pageant officials after she gained weight, and in return, as Trump put it, I got nothing.


TRUMP: This is a person, Bill, that was the first one under my ownership. She did not do well. She had a lot of difficulties. You know, they wanted to fire her. The company itself wanted to fire her. I saved her job. I bet, if you put up all the time I spoke to her, it's probably less than five minutes.


ROMANS: Overnight, we also got our first look at talking points the campaign is using to defend Trump in the Machado controversy. They focused almost exclusively on Bill Clinton's extramarital affairs. This is the talking points about the Machado scandal. They say that Hillary bullied Bill's accusers, asking why Monica Lewinsky has not spoken up during the campaign, and therefore, arguing her claim she is some kind of a feminist champion, Hillary Clinton is some sort of feminist champion, is a, quote, "joke".

BERMAN: All right. Today, Hillary Clinton heads to Iowa. This is the same day early voting kicks off in that state. It is no coincidence that she's headed there. As of today, 11 states are already voting. But Iowa is the first to offer in-person polling stations.

Secretary Clinton is getting new, we're told, more aggressive help on the campaign trail from former rival Bernie Sanders. She needs his help to reel in unenthusiastic millennial voters.

CNN's Jeff Zeleny is traveling with the Clinton campaign.


JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: John and Christine, Hillary Clinton is heading to Iowa today, only the second time returning to the state since winning the Iowa caucuses back in February. She is going to Des Moines because it is early voting today. Voting is starting for the first time, heading now until Election Day, some 40 days away.

Now, the Clinton campaign is running behind in Iowa. Donald Trump visited on Wednesday. But she is trying to use on the ground campaign and early votes to make up the difference. She is seeking young voters, among all. That is the biggest bloc of the Obama coalition that she has yet to win over.

Now, she was campaigning on Wednesday in that other early voting state, New Hampshire. She had Bernie Sanders at her side. He made this argument to voters.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (D), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: So, I am asking you here today, not only to vote for Secretary Clinton, but to work hard to get your uncles and your aunts, to get your friends to vote. If anybody tells you that this election is not important, you ask why the Koch brothers and Sheldon Adelson and other billionaires, why they are spending hundreds of millions to elect their candidates.

ZELENY: Now, Senator Sanders campaign will be campaigning aggressively in the final month of this campaign. Aides to the senator tell me he will head to Wisconsin and Michigan and other states he won in the hard fought Democratic primary campaign, trying to rally those young voters, those millennial voters. This is why it matters.

Millennials now out-pace baby boomers, except they don't always vote. And some are turning towards the third party candidates like Jill Stein and Gary Johnson. The Clinton campaign is trying to win them over. They are so critical to building that path to 270 electoral votes when the real election day, November 8, comes around -- John and Christine.


ROMANS: All right. Jeff Zeleny, thanks for that.

A new brain freeze for the Libertarian Party candidate for president. At a town hall forum, Gary Johnson, was unable to name a single foreign leader he likes. Only to be rescued by a face saving assist from his running mate, Bill Weld. You can listen for yourself.


CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC MODERATOR: Name a foreign leader that you respect.

GARY JOHNSON, LIBERATARIAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I guess I'm having an Aleppo moment in the former president of Mexico.

MATTHEWS: But I'm giving you the whole world.

JOHNSON: I know, I know.

MATTHEWS: Anybody in the world you like. Anybody. Pick any leader.

JOHNSON: The former president of Mexico.

MATTHEWS: Which one?

JOHNSON: I'm having a brain --

MATTHEWS: Well, name anybody.




MATTHEWS: Name your favorite foreign leader. JOHNSON: Fox He was terrific.

MATTHEWS: Any foreign leader.

WELD: Merkel.

MATTHEWS: Merkel, OK, fine, save yourself. Can't argue with that.


ROMANS: He referenced the Aleppo moment. He was unable to identify the city of the focal point of the war in Syria.

BERMAN: All right. So, while you were sleeping, Congress was not, at least this time. A government shutdown has been averted with just two days to go before --

ROMANS: They did their job. Good for you.

BERMAN: If we got a reader every time we did our job. Congress set to run out of money and Congress continued the bill to continue funding through December 9th. The sticking points had been money to fight the Zika virus and aid to help fix the contaminated water system in Flint, Michigan.

ROMANS: All right. Families of the victims of a 9/11 terror attacks are now legally free to sue Saudi Arabia. Congress voting to override President Obama's veto of the Saudi lawsuit bill. This -- this, folks, is the first time the president has suffered a veto override since he took office. And at a CNN town hall last night, he blamed politics for the setback even though lawmakers from both parties opposed him.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'm concerned and this is not just my concern. General Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs, said it was a bad idea. Secretary of defense said it was a bad idea. And then we found out, some of the people who voted for it said, frankly, we didn't know what was in it, and there was no debate. And it was basically a political vote.


ROMANS: The president's press secretary called the Senate's override the single most embarrassing thing the Senate has done since 1983. That suggestion is provoking anger from Democrats, with one aide calling the moment amateur hour at the White House.

BERMAN: The president made remarks about the Saudi bill during the town hall on CNN.

[04:25:02] The event took place at the U.S. Army post in Ft. Lee, Virginia. The audience made up mostly of military families. And they had plenty to say to the president.

CNN's Michelle Kosinski was there.



Yes, this was different. I mean, I think this is the first time in recent memory that things did not just immediately turn to politics. Not one of these questions was about Donald Trump. In fact, it was emotional.

I mean, listen to this, from a wife of a veteran who died after waiting more than a year for a colonoscopy at a V.A. medical center.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When are we going to actually start holding these contracted doctors and V.A. employees accountable? It is the difference between life and death.

OBAMA: We actually made progress. Again, I don't want to pretend we are anywhere we need to be, but, you know, we have in fact fired a bunch of people in charge of some of these facilities. I don't know the particular case of this individual doctor, but you can bet I'll find out after this meeting.

KOSINSKI: This wasn't exactly an easy crowd for the president either. I mean, when you look at recent polls among U.S. service members, it shows that their approval rating for the president is around 15 percent to 30 percent. And they chose Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton two to one. Also, about 1/5 of troops surveyed said when they had to choose between two candidates, they don't want to vote at all. They don't feel like either major party has their best interest in mind.

So, part of President Obama's goal here was to show that his administration cares and that their policies support the military -- John and Christine.


ROMANS: All right. Michelle Kosinski, thank you.

An angry defense of FBI integrity by the bureau director, James Comey, in the wake of his recommendation not to prosecute Hillary Clinton for using a private email server. Comey testified before the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday. He got a little emotional about all the name-calling he and his staff has endured. Listen.


JAMES COMEY, FBI DIRECTOR: You can call us wrong. You can call me a fool. You cannot call us weasels. That is just not fair.

I hope we have not gotten to a place in Americans public life where everything has to torn down on integrity basis just to disagree. You can disagree with this. There is just not a fair basis for saying that we did it in any way that was not honest or independent. That's when I get a little worked up. Sorry.


ROMANS: House Republicans are particularly upset with Comey for immunity deals given to Clinton's former chief of staff Cheryl Mills. Comey says that decision was made by the Justice Department.

BERMAN: President Obama leaves for Jerusalem this afternoon to lead the U.S. delegation at the funeral for Shimon Peres. The former Israeli prime minister and president lying in state right now. You can see this. A lot of pictures from outside the Israeli parliament, the Knesset.

That is the casket, holding the body of Shimon Peres right now. People coming to pay their respects. Lovely pictures from there.

The Israeli flag flying at half staff all around that country and, by the way, as a show of respect for the Nobel Peace Prize recipient, flags in the United States flying at half-staff as well.

ROMANS: All right. Today, round two for Wells Fargo CEO on Capitol Hill. John Stumpf testifies before the House Financial Services Committee later this morning, two weeks after he was grilled by senators over the fake account scandal.

Stumpf will likely defend himself with this -- he gave up his bonus and $41 million in stock awards. The executive in charge of the unit that created the fake accounts, she is out. She forfeits more than $50 million in stock and options, unexercised stocks and options.

The board of directors is now launching an internal probe. although many people say it's way, way too late. And the board has been caught sleeping here.

The company is ending those sales goals which led to the scandal. It moved up the date for ending the whole sales goals are the oxygen for this corruption.

Many are still calling for Stumpf to resign. Senator Elizabeth Warren fired off several tweets yesterday, quote, "Wells Fargo CEO will be just fine. He keeps his job and most of the money he made while massive fraud went on under his nose." She then repeated calls for him to step down, return his pay and face federal investigations.

This is one of the stories that has struck a chord, struck a nerve with the American public who still don't trust the integrity of bankers post the financial crisis. This is a bank that's trying to separate itself from Wall Street, you know, a California bank, offices in Minnesota, you know, trying to be more community banker and now it just --

BERMAN: I think it struck with lawmakers who like getting upset about this kind of thing, because it's easy to, it's understandable. Interesting to see if voters also pay attention.

All right. Protesters ignoring calls for calm in California after the police shooting of an unarmed African-American man. What police just revealed about the investigation. That's coming up.