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Hillary Clinton Speaks about Presidential Loss; Republicans Dispute Claims New Government Spending Bill Favors Democratic Priorities; What Role Did Sexism Have in 2016 Election? Aired 8-8:30a ET

Aired May 3, 2017 - 08:00   ET

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


[08:00:00] CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: In two hours, Mr. Comey himself will be grilled by senators about his actions in the final days of the campaign and Russia's meddling in the election. All this as the president pushes for a vote on repealing Obamacare, whether it happens, whether they have the votes still very much in doubt.

We have got it all covered for you. Let's begin with CNN's Joe Johns live after the White House. Joe?

JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Chris, here we go again. After six months and that election battle, Hillary Clinton and President Trump are back at it as the FBI director once again on the hot seat on Capitol Hill.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JOHNS: President Trump firing back at Hillary Clinton after her scathing indictment of the 2016 race, insisting that FBI Director James Comey influenced voters.

HILLARY CLINTON (D), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I was on the way to winning until a combination of Jim Comey's letter on October 28th and Russian WikiLeaks raised doubts in the minds of people who were inclined to vote for me but got scared off. Had the election been on October 27th, I'd be your president.

JOHNS: The president responding in a series of late night tweets, even slamming his own FBI director. "FBI Director Comey was the best thing that happened to Hillary Clinton in that he gave her a free pass for many bad deeds. The phony Trump Russian story was an excuse used by the Democrats as justification for losing the election. Perhaps Trump just ran a great campaign." This response coming hours after Clinton took a job at one of the president's sore spots.

CLINTON: I did win more than 3 million votes than my opponent. I feel a tweet coming. Well, fine, better that than interfering in foreign affairs. If he wants to tweet about me, I'm happy to be the diversion.

JOHNS: Comey expected to face a grilling from Democrats at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing over his potential influence on the campaign. Hillary Clinton blaming Comey's letter to Congress about her use of a private e-mail server and WikiLeaks and Russia for hacking her campaign chairman's e-mails. Clinton refusing to even say Vladimir Putin's name.

CLINTON: He certainly interfered in our election, and it was clear he interfered to hurt me and help my opponent.

JOHNS: But acknowledging some ownership for her defeat.

CLINTON: I take absolute responsibility. I was the candidate. I was the person who was on the ballot.

JOHNS: And now vowing to speak out against her former rival.

CLINTON: I am now back to being an activist citizen and part of the resistance.

(APPLAUSE)

JOHNS: All this as sources tell CNN that former acting attorney general Sally Yates will testify next week that she forcefully warned the Trump White House in January that then national security advisor Michael Flynn lied about discussing sanctions with a Russian ambassador, directly contradicting the White House's version of events.

SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: They wanted to give, quote, "a head's up" to us on some comments that may have seemed in conflict with what he had sent the vice president out in particular.

JOHNS: Yates' testimony likely to raise further questions about why it took the administration nearly three weeks to fire Flynn, a decision that was ultimately made on the same day the story was reported in the "Washington Post.:

(END VIDEOTAPE)

JOHNS: Not to be ignored, that other Russia headline this morning, the phone call between President Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin. They talked a lot, we're told, about Syria as well as North Korea. Both sides now looking ahead to the G-20 summit when these two leaders will meet for the first time. Meanwhile, today President Trump is expected to meet with Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas. Chris and Alisyn, back to you.

CUOMO: Joe, appreciate it. Lots to discuss. Let's bring in the panel, CNN Political Director David Chalian, CNN political analyst Patrick Healy, and senior political analyst Ron Brownstein. David Chalian, your reaction to what we heard from Hillary Clinton in style and substance.

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Yes. If you were to gather -- if Hillary Clinton were to gather around all of her political advisors and say, how should I talk about my election loss, I don't think this is what they would have advised her to do. I don't think this is what they would have come up with.

And yet, I think that's why we got maybe perhaps the most authentic, raw, certainly still angry, unresolved, maybe a little bitter about the election results. All of that was hanging out there. But it was real. It kind of felt like to me this is how Hillary Clinton is talking about her election loss with her friends. I don't think she's winning over any new fans from talking about it this way and blaming Comey and Putin, but it is clearly where her head is at and what she believes happened last year.

[08:05:01] ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: So interesting, Ron, because less than 24 hours after she basically said that James Comey's letter on the 28th was the deciding factor, James Comey is going to Capitol Hill this morning to talk about Russian meddling, et cetera, et cetera. And they will ask him, Democrat senators do want to ask him what responsibility he takes and if he overstepped his bounds. It is going to be very interesting. What are you looking for this morning?

RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: First, to David's point, I think both things can be true. She has a reasonable case that the Comey letter was the tipping point in a very close election.

But the fact that it was that close to begin with when she was running against a candidate that 60 percent of the country at that point and still to this day said was not qualified to be president was itself extremely revealing. And there was nothing in her remarks yesterday that showed any way forward for Democrats on the big choices they face on how to regain power.

Today I think on Director Comey, first of all, you have the president essentially throwing his own FBI director under the bus going into this hearing, accusing him of being soft and almost covering up for Hillary Clinton. And then from the other side you are going to have Democrats asking a very pertinent question that Harry Reid was asking last fall. Why announce the renewed investigation into the e-mail server but not announce you were investigating the question of Russian meddling in the election? That is a very difficult question I think for the FBI director to answer.

CUOMO: So, Patrick, you have the too much and not enough problem that we're going to have here today. In truth, Congress should not obsess on what can you tell me on Carter Page, what can you tell me about Flynn, and how deep does it go, and where is the proof on collusion, because really Comey shouldn't talk about that. You can make a case that with oversight Congress should be more focused on what happened with Russian meddling, how do we stop it the next time. And then you have on the other spectrum, Trump taking the bait again, and taking the bait from Clinton, he minimized the relevance of these Russian investigations. One side too much, one side not enough.

PATRICK HEALY, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Right. And a lot of Democrats feel that the party would be very smart to stay focused on President Trump and Russian meddling and why the FBI made those decisions and not re-litigate the 2016 election. That's what President Trump would love the focus of this to be on, sort of Democrats, you know, still being upset, rending their garments over Hillary Clinton's loss, what that meant for the party, what that meant, you know, for certain Democratic -- the Democratic program.

But, Chris, the bigger issue right now is what does James Comey say when he goes in there, when he goes into the Senate, and how much is he able to reveal, how much is he able to set up what Sally Yates is going to be saying next week about Michael Flynn, about the degree to which there is either just questions overall or a lack of transparency around the Trump administration.

CUOMO: Trump may have done them a favor by questioning once again the legacy of this as a canard, as a ruse by the Democrats. It does give an opening for Comey to say this is very real, otherwise I wouldn't be looking into it. But specifics of who he's looking at and what, he really shouldn't say anything.

HEALY: No, he shouldn't get into that, and he knows that. But in terms of the Democrats and how they are pressing and how much the Republicans try to give him cover, I think President Trump did in those tweets, he could have just gone after Hillary Clinton the way that he traditionally has. But instead he decided to soften up Comey just as he's going for the Senate.

CAMEROTA: Let's talk about another big issue that we're seeing play out this week, and that is the budget. Both sides agreed to keep the government open through September. So Republicans are accusing Democrats of spiking the football, that they're gloating too much about getting what they want or at least shutting down some of the things Republicans wanted. And the White House is basically saying, no, no, that's wrong. We got a lot of things that we wanted. But when you lose Rush Limbaugh, you may have to look at what your message is you're sending, and Rush Limbaugh is not pleased with the conservative tenants he sees are not being held up he says by this White House. Listen to Rush.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: If this is what happens, Mr. Vice President, why vote Republican? What is the point of voting Republican if the Democrats are going to continue to win practically 95 percent of their objectives such as in this budget deal? There isn't anything of the president's deal in this budget and people are beginning to ask when is that going to happen. If you are going to shut it down in September, why not now?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CAMEROTA: David?

CHALIAN: Mike Pence was not on the Rush Limbaugh show just by chance. They understand they had to restive base around this budget deal. That's why you saw the president send Mick Mulvaney, his budget director, to that podium and he did not like the headlines that he was seeing that he got rolled by the Democrats here.

[08:10:00] The clear priority for the White House, Alisyn, was to keep the government open right now. They thought a shut down right now would be devastating to them. And they did, they punted a lot of these battles to the fall. I do think, and the president's tweets suggested it yesterday, gear up everyone for a real shut down battle in the fall because when you have Rush Limbaugh complaining like this and when you have to send out your officials out to really try to get the base back on board, you are going to have to show a fight or you are going to lose folks. And so I would imagine Donald Trump is gearing up to show a fight.

CUOMO: Let's talk about that effort. Ron Brownstein, what did you make of the OMB Director Mulvaney coming out there with pictures from a wall from New Mexico and say, what do you think this is? We're building this right now. The Democrats don't want you to know that. By all indications, that's just not accurate. But why even have him go out there and then have him go out there and say something that's a little bit baloney.

BROWNSTEIN: Yes it was. And David's point is right. Wave elections happen, midterm wave election happens when one party's base is animated and the others is dispirited. And that's clearly what Republicans are getting concerned about.

On the other hand, they are looking at a potential imagine of dysfunction, which is tremendous off putting to more independent and swing voters. The other government shut downs in the past that we've talked about, whether it was Barack Obama or Bill Clinton, was when you had divided government, when you had one party in control of Congress and the other party in control of the White House and you had a clash over their priorities.

The idea that you can shut down the government with unified control is something that is kind of a new idea and one that would I think worry, and in fact the initial reaction shows many Republicans in Capitol Hill already looking at the struggles over health care and the image that projects about simply whether this is a gang that can shoot straight and can govern the country given this unified control, which as we talked about before, Chris, has grown increasingly rare. No one has held unified control for more than four years consecutively since 1968. And both Obama and Clinton lost it after two years precisely I think because people, there was a backlash against the way they exercised it. I think Republicans are worried about being in the same position.

HEALY: And just one point on Mulvaney, he's out there showing pictures of a wall basically aimed toward one person. That's President Trump. He knows President Trump is on the ropes on this health care battle. He's facing Jimmy Kimmel in a late night dialogue who is being tough on preexisting medical conditions and coverage for that. And when Mick Mulvaney and any members of this administration go out and start talking, even if there is not evidence to really back it up, and they start talking about the president's priorities, a wall, a wall, a wall, that is as much to the president and what he wants rolled out as to the truth.

CAMEROTA: Gentlemen, thank you very much, great to talk to you.

So another big story. These numbers are not yet adding up for the Republicans on their health care bill. CNN's latest whip count has 22 house Republicans say that they will vote no. That's of this hour, though of course there is some last minute arm twisting going on by the president that could flip some people. And CNN's Suzanne Malveaux is live on Capitol Hill with more. What is the latest, Suzanne?

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Alisyn, facing a potential defeat on health care, President Trump very much personally getting involved here, reaching out, calling about a dozen lawmakers yesterday, also today meeting with two privately in the White House. All of this is a part of an effort here to try to convince the undecideds or those who are leaning no that it is worth the political capital to push this through the House and pass it on to the Senate.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: How is health care coming, folks? I think it's time now, right.

MALVEAUX: President Trump calling Congressman Bill Long, who is against the bill, twice in the past two days to try to gain his support. The two men will meet at the White House today along with Congressman Fred Upton, another high profile Republican who is also against the bill, over the issue of preexisting conditions.

REP. FRED UPTON (R), MICHIGAN: I have supported the practice of not allowing preexisting illnesses to be discriminated against from the very get-go. This amendment torpedoes that, and I told the leadership I cannot support this bill with this provision in it.

MALVEAUX: Republican leaders have yet to schedule a vote on the Bill. CNN's current whip count has 22 Republicans voting no. If this number holds, Republicans cannot afford to lose another vote. Another defeat on health care could damage President Trump's legislative power and Paul Ryan's standing as speaker of the House.

REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: We're making very good progress with our members and our president has been instrumental in that.

MALVEAUX: This battle playing out as the House is set to vote on the bipartisan spending bill that had more wins for Democrats than the president's priorities.

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: I think the Democrats cleaned our clock. This was not winning from the Republican point of view.

MALVEAUX: President Trump lashing out and threatening to shut the government down in September when lawmakers negotiate the 2018 budget.

[08:15:07] A tactic at odds with the recent criticism of Democrats, issuing their own government shut down threat, something he called terrible.

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY), MINORITY LEADER: I'm not going to lecture him. I hope he'll be a constructive force in 2018 budget.

MALVEAUX: President Trump and White House Budget Director Mulvaney insisting that Republicans came out on top in the budget negotiations.

TRUMP: This is what winning looks like.

MICK MULVANEY, BUDGET DIRECTOR: When you heard in the last 48 hours about the deal, did you think we could build this?

MALVEAUX: Mulvaney attempting to portrait funding towards fixing and replacing existing fencing as a win for the administration, despite the fact there is specific language in the spending bill that prohibits any money from going towards construction of the president's controversial border wall.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MALVEAUX: For the third day in a row, we're going to see the vice president here on Capitol Hill, Mike Pence. He is going to be doing some private arm twisting of the hold-outs on the health care legislation. The goal of the administration here is a self-imposed deadline, 24 to 48 hours to try to get the votes necessary before the house goes to another recess. That starts on Friday. It's an 11-day recess.

So far, House Speaker Paul Ryan not setting on the schedule a vote for this legislation until they have the votes to get this passed -- Chris.

CUOMO: All right, Suzanne. Thank you very much.

We have some breaking news for you out of Missouri. Flood waters are shutting down roads and rushing through neighborhoods. These are aerials courtesy of our affiliate KMOV. This is the scene right now in suburban St. Louis.

You've got to remember, this area, you've got millions of people in and around the St. Louis area. The National Weather Service says record breaking floods can be expected. Take a look at that.

CAMEROTA: My goodness.

We have more breaking news, this one out of Afghanistan. Eight people killed and three American troops among the wounded in a suicide attack near the U.S. embassy in Kabul. Officials say the blast struck during rush hour and targeted a convoy of foreign troops. ISIS is claiming responsibility.

CUOMO: All right. Back to Hillary Clinton taking stock of her 2016 loss. How much of a role does she think misogyny played in her defeat? We talk sexism in politics, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[08:20:56] CAMEROTA: Hillary Clinton seeming unplugged in an interview with CNN's Christiane Amanpour about the 2016 election loss and she also blamed FBI Director Comey and WikiLeaks e-mail hack and sexism.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONNAL CORRESPONDENT: Were you a victim of misogyny and why do you think you lost the majority of the white female vote?

CLINTON: Yes, I do think it played a role. I think other things did as well. Every day that goes by, we learn more about some of the unprecedented interference, including from a foreign power whose leader is not a member of my fan club. And so, I think it is -- it is real. It is very much a part of the landscape politically and socially and economically.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CAMEROTA: All right. Joining us now, CNN political commentators, Mary Katharine Ham and Kayleigh McEnany, and CNN political analyst Kirsten Powers.

Ladies, great to have you all here to talk about this.

So, Mary Katharine, was sexism a factor in Hillary Clinton's loss?

MARY KATHARINE HAM, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, I think there is part of it. No dummy that covers elections, most of us are dummies, think that only one thing caused the outcome of an election, right? But it is the better part of valor for her to concentrate on the things she did wrong because I think many people, her critics and her supporters, think those things exist.

I think a simple "I am always going to wonder if I should have gone to Wisconsin and I'm sorry that I did not" would do her a bunch of good. She also deals with the problem -- the data problem that in the most recent "Washington Post"/ABC poll, he would still beat her in a head to head on the popular vote. So, perhaps it was not these other factors that were the main things, but it was Hillary Clinton --

CUOMO: How do you make sense of that one? Obviously, it is weird to take a look at the numbers now and the support she has now when there is no reason to support her now because she is not a viable candidate and back then. Do you trust, Kirsten Powers, this assumption that Trump would beat her head up now? He lost to her by three million votes on Election Day, but now he beat her when he has record low turnout?

I mean, does that make sense to you? Is that the way to look at this?

KIRSTEN POWERS, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I mean, it's always hard to know in these hypothetical situations, especially because she's going to be more popular now because she's not running and people are regretful. I think some people are regretful about how things turned out. So, yes, I don't really know about that.

But I think on the question, you know, about the things that she said, I think that sexism absolutely played a role. I mean, a woman running for president in this age is going to deal with sexism.

CAMEROTA: But how do you measure -- (CROSSTALK)

POWERS: That's the thing, was it a defining reason for her to lose? You know, that's very hard to measure. It just was clearly part of the race. But I don't know -- I agree with Mary Katharine. I think that she talked about I made mistakes but she doesn't talk specifically about any mistakes she made and then she ultimately ends up with it wasn't really my fault.

And it's probably a mix of a lot of different things and I think she's sort of looking at Nate Silver. She was basically quoting Nate Silver who has said, you know, if the election had been held on October 27th -- you know, that she would have won. Late breaking voters were going for Trump.

But, of course late, breaking voters usually go for the challenger. So, that's not really dispositive. And, you know, then he says, you know, white women were going for Trump that were going to go for Hillary.

CUOMO: How does that square with sexism?

POWERS: In what way?

CUOMO: So, if white women weren't voting, right? The general analysis would be sexism, and it will mean I won't vote for a man candidate as much as I will vote for a male. But does that translate into women maybe carrying the same prejudice?

POWERS: Women can be sexist. Women can be very sexist, actually. So, you know -- but I don't know that that's necessarily why they -- I actually don't necessarily buy that argument that they were necessarily always, you know, not voting for Trump. We don't know.

I mean, these are -- here's the thing. Hillary Clinton got it to the point where these decisions had to be made. And, so, that's part of the problem is that why was she not able to lock these voters in? Why -- these were voters in the states we were talking about, in Wisconsin.

Why were these voters even swing voters? These are white women.

[08:25:00] Why weren't they voting for Hillary?

CAMEROTA: I want to bring in Kayleigh for just one second, because, of course, you were never a fan of Hillary Clinton. But do you think sexism played a factor?

KAYLEIGH MCENANY, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I do think there was a lot of gender dynamics at play. I think sexism and misogyny was at play. I also think there is some women who voted for her because they wanted to see a women president and in that way, her gender was advantageous.

But this comes to President Obama's very lucid, very smart analysis post-election which was this, we are latte-sipping liberals, you don't win by sipping lattes. You win by going to fish fries. He says, "I didn't become senator of Illinois because of a big base in Chicago. I became senator of Illinois because of down state voters, because of going to VFW halls, meeting with farmers, going to fish fries."

That is how you win an election. That is how you show voters you care, by going to where they are, and Hillary Clinton did not do that.

CAMEROTA: Go ahead.

HAM: Yes. No, I think that's right. We all assume that the ground game was strong. But then there was this principal, the candidate who was not doing the obvious things that you would do and she really paid a price for it. Also I think treating the Comey letter, like you were saying, as if its' this stand-alone, one thing that happened. The Comey letter came for a reason, dispute the way that it came however you want, but it came because of this long brewing scandal that was ultimately the principal, the candidate's fault.

And so, that was part of the reason she didn't have these folks locked in and made it this last second game with none other than Donald Trump.

CUOMO: You know, it is interesting. I've sat through a lot of these analyses about the role of sexism with women candidates and it's hard to keep it separate because, you know, you come into the segment, you know, populated with women to talk about this, to put it on the table, but there wind up being these other factors that wind up being overlaid. Did it matter that she was a woman?

Yes, good and bad. But there was all this other stuff. So, how do you ever identify what the real threat is on this level of sexism and what you can do about it?

POWERS: Well, you know, Peter Beinart wrote a really great piece for "The Atlantic" that I would highly recommend to people, where he just gets in to all these sociological studies about how people perceive women in power, especially women stepping into roles that they haven't previously held. So, she's really going into an area that people are not used to seeing women in, and there are all these sort of inherent biases with men and women. Women also will look at a woman differently.

CUOMO: Is she also proof of change because she wound up being at the top of the ticket twice in a row? You know what I mean? That shows --

CAMEROTA: Right. Is she a trail blazer even for Republican women who would come after her? Did she break a ceiling?

MCENANY: No doubt about it. Look, we could look at Hillary Clinton and say she broke that glass ceiling. She didn't make it all the way, but she did break that glass ceiling. But by the same token, we have to look at someone like Kellyanne Conway and praise her for being the first women to successfully run a campaign.

Women like Kellyanne Conway and Ivanka Trump don't get the credit they deserve, I believe, because they're conservative women.

CAMEROTA: I think we celebrated her on the day it was announced she would be the campaign manager, she was here that day and she was excited and I think that we celebrated.

But I hear you. I mean, this is the thing, is that, what are we to do with these lessons? I mean, you know, I don't -- It's hard to know. She was supposed to be the heir apparent. Hillary Clinton was supposed to be the first female president, if you believe the conventional wisdom and then something went wrong.

HAM: Well, that's the question, too. I think you can do these hypotheticals, which are hard. But if a male candidate who was flawed and had the scandal with him and represented the status quo in what turned out to be a change election, had been an identical candidate except male, I do think he would have been at an extreme advantage.

We do not now how exactly that would have played out, but I think those factors were really, really important, that she represented something that voters were turning away from. The heir apparent was not what they wanted.

CUOMO: You know, look, I think -- I think that's a strong point. It would be nice if you could focus on the sexism of it. But I think that the reality is at the end of the day, from jump, Democrats were saying, yes, it is Hillary. But this love of a candidate and if I could generalize a little bit, Democrats need to love their candidates. They are not as much about basic positions, as Republicans tend to be.

If you are on the right place on abortion, right place on fiscal responsibility, you are going to be okay with most Republican voters. It is not like that with Democrats, and she had that problem from jump. She kept it close in a way it wouldn't have been if they had a different candidate. Fair criticism?

POWERS: I think it's a fair criticism. My mom is a prime Democratic voter. She's a feminist. She's a power academic. She's a Hillary voter, right, theoretically?

And even was just like, ah, but I'm voting for her because I want a woman president. You know what I mean? So, it's not -- there was a problem there that Hillary wasn't connecting with a lot of people.

CAMEROTA: Ladies, thank you. Thanks so much.

MCENANY: Thank you.

CAMEROTA: Great to get your thoughts on all this.

So, FBI James Comey is set to face tough questions about his role in the final days of the 2016 campaign. What will he say about that? What will he say about Russian election meddling? Former CIA and NSA director, General Michael Hayden, joins us next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)