Return to Transcripts main page
AT THIS HOUR WITH BERMAN AND MICHAELA
Trump Answers Question of Retired Military Personnel; "NY Times": Trump Didn't Pay Federal Taxes; Trump Questions if Hillary Clinton Was Faithful to Bill Clinton. Aired 11-11:30a ET
Aired October 3, 2016 - 11:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[11:00:00] DONALD TRUMP, (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: But I don't think all of us should be, unless it's a very confined room. We shouldn't be giving up our plans. And it bothers me every time I see where we're planning to attack this one, that one. But the one I saw over the weekend was Mosul. They are talking about attacking. The other problem is you have a lot of the leaders in Mosul. They're not going to be there. They are getting out. Because they hear they are going to be attacked, they are getting out, going some place.
Congressman, do you agree with this?
If I'm a leader and I'm seeing and I'm watching what everybody else is watching, and an attack on Mosul is imminent, I'm saying, bye, folks, have a good time, I'm moving to a different city. What are they doing?
Can there be -- are we allowed to have any more in the military, General, the element of surprise? I would think I would be a good thing. It's called an ancient strength and we don't use it anymore.
UNIDENTIFIED GENERAL: It's a principle of war.
TRUMP: I think it's one of the great principles, the element of surprise. You can take a force that's not nearly as strong and with the element of surprise you can wipe out a much more powerful force.
I don't pretend to be a general or admiral or anything else but I just, every time I see, I see President Obama get up, ladies and gentlemen, we are sending 50 people to Iraq. 50. So that's bad in two ways. Number one, it's such a low number that the enemy is saying is that all. And number two, when you think 50, those people now have a target on their back. They want to find those 50 people and they look for those 50 people.
When Hillary Clinton says no boots on the ground, now, whether you want boots on the ground or not, you shouldn't say it because you've just -- she said there will be no boots on the ground. She's very strong, because politics, it sounds a little better to say no boots on the ground. But by doing that, she has empowered the enemy. She has empowered the enemy. And I think she possibly means it. I'm not sure if she means it or not. But she says no boots on the ground. She has taken a tremendous -- I mean, that's really giving strength to the enemy. Even if she felt that, she should never admit that. She should never admit that. You have to leave all your options open. If you don't leave your options open, you are a fool. And I hated to hear her say that.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To summarize, you are not going to send a message about date a time but you are going to send a message their days are numbered?
TRUMP: Their days will be numbered very quickly.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Third question is asked by Rear Admiral Frank Gallo. Admiral Gallo is a retired naval aviator with 35 years of service, with hundreds of carrier landings, flew almost every fixed wing aircraft in the Navy in his time. Demanded a squadron wing and fleet wing level and was chief of Naval Personnel Command for the Department of the Navy -- Admiral?
REAR ADM. FRANK GALLO, RETIRED NAVAL AVIATOR: Mr. Trump, I'm happy you haven't forgotten the admirals, of course. I hope you will --
TRUMP: I don't have the courage to do that.
GALLO: I hope you will pardon the remnants of a Brooklyn accent.
The Department of Veterans Affairs has a horrible record of taking care of veterans. As you recall, there were lengthy lines at V.A. hospitals, substandard medical care and falsified medical records and accounting. Leadership changes in new unrealistic laws have failed to correct the problems. The V.A. is the most -- probably the most ineffective bureaucracy in all of Washington and it is time for drastic action.
The question is, with the near daily revelations that the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs fails veterans in some form or another, what is your plan to reform and fix the system to ensure veterans can have timely access and quality care for health care services?
TRUMP: OK. So first of all, I want to ask you one question. You had all those aircraft landings on the carriers, right? So can an otherwise excellent pilot, a very, very good pilot, because I have heard that some just can't do this, what percentage of very, very good pilots cannot land on an aircraft carrier? With training?
GALLO: Any very good pilot can land on a carrier after they get the training?
TRUMP: After training.
GALLO: The training is marvelous.
TRUMP: Because I understand it's a very, very special talent. GALLO: It's a talent that you acquire.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: We're listening to Donald Trump in Herndon, Virginia, speaking to a military national security themed event there. He's taking questions from many retired military personnel in the audience right there.
This is really his first event since so many people in this country woke up to the big splashy headline in "The New York Times" on Sunday that Donald Trump wrote off $916 million worth of losses back in 1995. "The New York Times" suggested that perhaps he didn't pay taxes, federal income taxes, for some t15 years after that. This story was the capstone of a week that was already complicated for Donald Trump, a rough debate, not to mention a tweet storm against a former Miss Universe.
Let's go live to Washington, bring in CNN senior White House correspondent, Jim Acosta.
Jim, we have been watching this event closely because this really needs to be the first day in the rest of Donald Trump's life if he's going to get traction back in this campaign.
[11:05:38] JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right. But I think he's picking his audience to deliver this defense. No surprise Donald Trump did not respond to that revelation that you just mentioned from over the weekend that he may not have paid any federal income taxes for nearly 20 years. "The New York times," as we know, obtained this copy of his 1995 tax return that shows a loss of more than $915 million. And tax experts say Trump could have used that loss to avoid paying federal taxes for 18 years.
The Trump campaign, we should point out, has not challenged "The New York Times" report, only saying that the tax return was illegally obtained.
His top surrogates that we should mention were spinning the issue over the weekend on the Sunday talk shows, including on our "State of the Union" saying this tax story shows what a genius Donald Trump is, nowhere near a denial, and it's pretty close to how Trump answered the question himself at the debate one week ago when he said he was smart for not paying taxes and using the tax code to his advantage.
John, we should point out the Trump campaign message of the day does offer a glimpse into how his advisers are handling this issue of his tax return. Top aides say Trump will be attacking Clinton today as someone who never created a job in her life, that she and her husband made their millions giving speeches and writing books, and those speeches were sometimes to banks and trade groups where they may have given those industries the impression that they were going to get something in return in the long run. All of this, to frame Trump's career as a businessman as a positive, because so much attention is being paid to his income taxes.
John, I think at this point, we have to wait and see where Donald Trump wants to deliver this defense. Is it to a friendly interviewer, friendly news outlet? It may not be in a speech. But he has two more later this afternoon so plenty of time left -- John?
BERMAN: Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton has got two events later on today, too, where she can do some offense, regardless of what Donald Trump does on defense.
Jim Acosta, for in Washington, thanks so much.
Want to bring in Austan Goolsbee, he's the former chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers under president Obama and he is an economic adviser now to Hillary Clinton; also Steve Cortes, a Donald Trump surrogate, member of Trump's National Hispanic Advisory Council.
Steve, all weekend we heard Trump's surrogates say the fact he lost $916 million in 1995, the fact that, as "The New York Times" suggests, that maybe he didn't pay federal income taxes for 15 years after that, they say it's a sign of his genius. Explain to me why MENSA should open up its rolls to Donald Trump based on this information.
STEVE CORTES, MEMBER, DONALD TRUMP'S NATIONAL HISPANIC ADVISORY COUNCIL: I can't get into MENSA, but maybe he can.
Look, I think all Americans realize that we pay as little in taxes as is legally possible, and what Donald Trump did is use every legal tactic possible to reduce his tax exposure. He was in an incredibly bad position. By the way, as most real estate people were in the early 1990s. It was a disastrous time for that business.
And I think the more important part of the story isn't just that he used all legal means to reduce his tax bill but more importantly, is that he came back. He got off the mat. He was deeply, deeply in debt. He was essentially insolvent. And so this is really a comeback story more than anything else. The story didn't end there, it didn't end a bad story, it ends instead with him as a multi-billionaire today. I'm proud of him that, number one, he was smart, his team was smart, and they did everything they could within the law to reduce tax exposure. But secondly, and more importantly, they rallied from there. It's a story of a comeback, which I think the American people will respect.
BERMAN: Austan Goolsbee, Donald Trump, comeback kid, you buy that explanation?
AUSTAN GOOLSBEE, ECONOMIC ADVISOR, HILLARY CLINTON PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN: Wow. They are coming up with multiple explanations each day. I think the release of these returns has lit a few things on fire and we will have to see whether it burns the entire thing down.
I think there are a few important questions and at least one policy implication. Questions include, he declared bankruptcy. You only get to deduct losses if you actually had the losses. In bankruptcy, you are shedding your debt so you don't have the losses. So this --
BERMAN: He didn't declare personal bankruptcy, right? His business -- GOOLSBEE: He didn't declare personal bankruptcy but he took $900
million of losses. And the question is, how does he have those losses? And it's raised many questions of who is on the other side, who is holding the debt. So I think this is going to put even more intense pressure on him to release other tax returns or full tax returns to show people that he's not engaged in shenanigan.
Two, we've moved down from the mountaintop when we're no longer asking is a person qualified to be president, have they behaved in a manner that should make them president, and we only say have they done something that would lead them to go to jail or be a criminal offense. If not, then they are qualified to be president.
The policy implication is --
[11:10:27] CORTES: Austan --
BERMAN: Hang on.
GOOLSBEE: -- billions and paid no taxes, your proposal for tax reform, which he says he's the only guy that can reform it, is to create more loopholes and cut s for people just like him. That really doesn't make any sense.
BERMAN: Steve, on that point, there's nothing in Donald Trump's tax proposal that would prevent this from happening again, prevent Donald Trump from claiming another $915 million if he lost it again. He says because he's been through this, he knows how to reform the system but he's got no proposals to reform this part of the system, does he?
CORTES: But he does want to reform the tax system considerably. We want a much, much simpler tax system of only three rates for individuals, all of which are substantially lower than they are today.
BERMAN: But none of it would prevent a real estate mogul from writing off $915 million in losses and perhaps not paying federal income taxes for many years. None of his proposals would prevent that.
CORTES: When people --
GOOLSBEE: And when businesses take losses, of course, they are entitled to --
BERMAN: I want Steve to answer that.
CORTES: -- those loses. Here's the other important part in terms of his tax proposals, is he wants a 15 percent corporate tax that will make America finally competitive again in the world. American companies have trillions of dollars literally in cash and profits sitting overseas that they won't repatriate. Why? Because we have a confiscatory tax structure right now. He's going to change that and unleash economic greatness, just like he did in his personal life since the 1990s.
BERMAN: But, Steve, the question is, the question is, Steve, is it fair for someone, a really rich real estate developer to not pay federal income taxes when a lot of people do pay federal income tax?
CORTES: Look, it's fair for anyone who takes a substantial loss, whether you are a mom and pop who invests in a rental property that doesn't work or a mogul. If you take a loss, of course, it's appropriate to be able to offset that loss against future earnings. That's just reasonable.
By the way, he's paid hundreds of millions of dollars in taxes in total. His property tax bill alone is huge because of the amazing properties --
BERMAN: I want to get both your takes --
CORTES: It's not like he's not a contributor.
BERMAN: I want to get both your takes on something that's in "The New York Times" this morning. Maggie Haberman (ph), the great reporter, had a conversation with Newt Gingrich. And, Steve, this really follows the tax story, what was a really perplexing week for Donald Trump. He had the debate, his tweet storms against Miss Universe, you had him Saturday night questioning Hillary Clinton's fidelity to her husband, Bill. You had him openly mocking Hillary Clinton's pneumonia. Newt Gingrich told Maggie, "I really want him to understand he can win this." He added that Mr. Trump, "is his own worst enemy. He's the one person who can beat him, not Hillary." He thinks that Trump is at grave risk of wounding his own candidacy.
If I can get your take quickly, both of you.
Steve, you first.
CORTES: Yeah, look, as somebody who comes on air every day to defend Donald Trump, sometimes I have my work cut out for med no doubt. But I think look, he's an outsider, a maverick, a non-politician. For the most part, that's a great attribute but, at times, it brings along problems. If we focus into the presidential debate particularly next weekend, if we focus on growth and security, on those macro issues, this is Donald Trump's race to lose.
BERMAN: Austan, the flipside of that is that this has been a tough for Donald Trump and it's unclear how much of a bounce Hillary Clinton got. She got some but, if you can't pull away in this week, there's a real problem. GOOLSBEE: If it stopped here, it might be a problem. She clearly
gained some. I think what's happening to Donald Trump's campaign, and each of these financial things is emphasizing it, is there's a growing suspicion or question, is the man just a big scammer, and is this thing a scam, that he's paying his own campaign, that he's finding ways not to pay any taxes, that he's proposed a tax plan that would benefit his own family by literally billions of dollars. And I think he's going to have a tough time getting out from under that rock.
[11:14:25] BERMAN: Six days until the next presidential debate. Just one day until the V.P. debate. We will see how it plays.
Gentlemen, thank you very much.
Forget about bringing up Bill Clinton's infidelities. Donald Trump is now suggesting that Hillary Clinton hasn't been faithful to Bill, without a lick of evidence. We will discuss that.
Plus, Rudy Giuliani didn't take the weekend off. Among other things, he said Donald Trump would make a better president than a woman, period.
Stay with us.
BERMAN: It was a new something in campaign history Saturday night when Donald Trump openly questioned whether Hillary Clinton was faithful to her husband. A new something when, on CNN, Sunday, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani defended that attack, saying everything's on the table.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RUDY GIULIANI, (R), FORMER NEW YORK CITY MAYOR: That was a sarcastic remark pointing out that Bill Clinton has quite a past and Hillary Clinton has done quite a job on attacking the people who were victims of Bill Clinton. And not only that, she poses as a feminist and has taken money from countries that stone women, kill women --
JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR, STATE OF THE UNION: Bill Clinton -- Bill Clinton is not the nominee, sir. Bill Clinton is not the nominee.
TAPPER: My last question for you, is the Trump campaign, is Donald Trump and the people around Donald Trump really the ones to be casting aspersions on the marriages of anyone else?
GIULIANI: It isn't the marriage. It's the way she goes on the attack and tries to hurt victims of sexual predations.
(END VIDEO CLIP) BERMAN: Notice Mayor Giuliani would not or could not respond to Jake's question, which is, what Donald Trump is doing suggesting that Hillary Clinton is not faithful or was not faithful to her husband.
Joining me, CNN political commentator, Alice Stewart, Republican strategist, former communications director for Senator Ted Cruz; and CNN political commentator, Angela Rye, former executive director of the Congressional Black Caucus.
Just in case you guys missed it, which I know you didn't, let me play for you what Donald Trump said Saturday night.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
[11:20:15] TRUMP: Hillary Clinton's only loyalty is to her financial contributors and to herself. I don't even think she's loyal to Bill, if you want to know the truth.
TRUMP: And really, folks, really, why should she be, right?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: Alice Stewart, is there a defense at all for that statement?
ALICE STEWART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Look, he clearly did that as a throw-away line. It doesn't appear to be scripted. But look, the problem with throwing a nuclear bomb like that, you have to be careful that it doesn't blow up on you after the fact. I think that these kinds of comments about personal lives of former presidents and his opponent should be off the table. And certainly when there are concerns all around on this topic, there are plenty of topics that we need to be talking about that people are concerned with that have nothing to do with marital infidelity. Trump had a good debate where -- the first 30 minutes of the debate, where he talked about his vision for the economic future. He did a great course correction today speaking to vets talking about cybersecurity and also speaking with them one-on-one the need to fix the V.A. This is what he needs to be doing. He needs to stop focusing on issues that are bombastic and focus on the clear issues that people are concerned with.
BERMAN: Angela, is the fact that it was unscripted, there's no evidence that it was scripted, but he still said it out loud, is the fact it was unscripted a defense for making that kind of claim with 37 days left in the campaign?
ANGELA RYE, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: John, you and I both know better. Of course it's no defense, particularly because Donald Trump is at his best if you ask his supporters when he's unscripted, when he's not on prompter. We of course know the campaign folks, the staff, the team around him, the surrogates want him to stay on that prompter but the dude can't because there's no prompter for those tweets. So even when he's not speaking out loud, he tweets out loud, John, at 4: 00 in the morning, 3: 30 in the morning, and says all these crazy things. One of the things just in defense of Hillary Clinton and her marriage, Hillary Clinton is the definition of what we called in the early 2000s a ride or die chick for Bill Clinton. There's no questions asked or answered there, period, point blank. Ride or die, Chick. Sorry.
BERMAN: But "The New York Times" has a story out today and "The Washington Post" had one out last week that did not say what Donald Trump said Saturday night, that Hillary Clinton is not loyal to her husband. But it did look into Hillary Clinton's role in the 1990s in dealing with women who made accusations against Bill Clinton, whether it be Gennifer Flowers and others. It includes quotes in this article from the chair of the campaign saying that Hillary Clinton, let's say, a woman has not helpful things she's done in the past, wouldn't you want to know that and evaluate it. George Stephanopoulos, in his book, flat-out said that Hillary Clinton, of Gennifer Flowers, said we want to destroy her. Are there legitimate questions about this aspect, Angela?
RYE: This is what I would say and, frankly, we need to take off our political strategy hats and put on our human hats. I don't know a single woman or man in this country who, I their partner were cheating with someone who wouldn't say they wanted to destroy the person? I'm not talking about physically taking their lives although in some instances we have seen that as well. I'm talking about someone who says this person has hurt me. They were with my partner. I don't like them. I'm not here for them. I'm not about women's empowerment for someone who cheated with my spouse. I think that is very, very reasonable.
So we can ask the questions but I hope that if she were asked on the debate stage, hopefully, not because we should be talking about policy prescriptions and issues, if she were asked I hope she would say listen, I was mad and I would do what any other spouse would do in that situation. I was defending my own honor, defending my own dignity and yeah, I have a little bit of ego here. This isn't right. I want to get rid of this person. I don't want them in my space.
BERMAN: Alice, quick button on this. Go ahead.
STEWART: I think clearly, having lived in Arkansas for the past 20 years, I heard all kinds of stories on both sides. She clearly expressed her frustration with Bill repeatedly.
But also, as a woman, if you were in that situation, you could certainly understand why she would have comments unfavorable to the women. In her private conversations, she had with her friend, Dianne Blare (ph), where she referred to Monica Lewinsky as a narcissistic loony-tune, it's understandable as someone who was the victim of a cheating husband.
But from the big picture, the women who were victims of Bill Clinton are victims. They should not be the ones being called names. That's the issue that the Trump campaign has is that the victims are being victimized yet again by Hillary Clinton. That's where the focus is.
BERMAN: All right. Let me get one more quote from Rudy Giuliani, who did not take the weekend off at all. He was on the Sunday shows and talking about Donald Trump and his tax plan, and he had sort of a curious quote defending the tax plan, perhaps not paying taxes for 15 years. He had a curious defense of it. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
[11:25:10] GIULIANI: Don't you think a man who has this kind of economic genius is a lot better for the United States than a woman. And the only thing she's ever produced is a lot of work for the FBI checking out her e-mails.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: So, Angela, the question is, what did one hear when they heard that, because a lot of people I have heard say, wait a second, he's saying -- really saying a woman could be better than Donald Trump, what that you heard, or did you hear the whole statement, which is that he went on to say a woman who has created all these email questions.
RYE: I think that Rudy Giuliani expressed the same sentiment that we saw on the stage last week with Donald Trump when he was up against someone who is competing to be his equal. He's fine being everyone's supervisor. We know of course in the A.P. piece today talking about the apprentice he's fine when he can objectify women in the board room. He's not OK competing with someone of the opposite sex. Rudy Giuliani clearly expressed same sentiment yesterday. He doesn't think women can do the job.
BERMAN: Alice, I get the sense while you agree with the types of things a lot of Trump supporters have been saying, including Trump himself the last few days, you think they need some language lessons going forward for 36 days.
STEWART: I think we certainly need to keep adultery off the table all the way around. That shouldn't be a focus of conversation. That's not what voters out there are concerned are. I think we need to focus on what we are going to do to improve the economy, how we are going to tax system: I think with regard to "The New York Times" story, I think he can turn this around in a net positive for him if he were to include some language in his tax reform that addresses this specific issue.
Look, he didn't break the laws. He didn't do anything wrong with what he did. It doesn't sound good that he didn't pay taxes for so many years but he didn't break any laws. The problem with this type of loophole in the tax system that allows businesses to not pay taxes for such a tremendous loss, include that in his tax plan and let people see, look, if you have a problem, here's what I'm going to do to fix the tax system moving forward, and show he is actually out there to turn things around and fix what he refers to as the crooked system.
BERMAN: It's not there. There is no fixing this tax plan currently to stop something like that. But appreciate the effort.
Alice Stewart, Angela Rye, thank you both so much. Donald Trump has suggested that the Iran nuclear deal, the nuclear
deal is the worst deal in history. It turns out a new report suggests that Donald Trump's company had a deal of its own with the same bank in Iran, the same bank that the U.S. have linked to terror groups.
Plus, after Trump brought up a 400-pound man hacking from a bedroom in this election, now going to the basement. What Hillary Clinton says in a leaked audiotape about supporters of Bernie Sanders.