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THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER

Clinton Goes After Trump, Controversies in Speech. Aired 4:30- 5p ET

Aired May 26, 2017 - 16:30   ET

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


[16:30:02] PAMELA BROWN, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back to THE LEAD and 2016. Hillary Clinton taking some straight shots at President Trump today in a talk that seemed more stump speech than commencement address. She went after the president and the controversy surrounding his White House.

CNN's Brianna Keilar was there.

And, Brianna, this speech was at her alma mater, her home turf. Might that have had an impact on her decision to get so political?

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: She's definitely sharper, Pam, before a friendly crowd and this was a friendly crowd. These students at Wellesley were very eager to hear her speak. She urged them to use their talents to change the world. She told them repeatedly to keep going, and, yes, she skewered President Trump.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KEILAR (voice-over): Hillary Clinton described her unexpected post- election activities to graduating Wellesley seniors.

HILLARY CLINTON (D), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Long walks in the woods, organizing my closets, right? I wouldn't lie. Chardonnay helped a little, too.

(CHEERS)

KEILAR: A windup of a roast to the president of the United States.

CLINTON: You are graduating at a time when there is a full-fledged assault on truth and reason. Some are even denying things we see with our own eyes, like the size of crowds.

(LAUGHTER)

KEILAR: As Clinton delivered the commencement speech at her alma mater, she also issued a dire warning.

CLINTON: When people in power invent their own facts and attack those who question them, it can mark the beginning of the end of a free society.

(APPLAUSE)

That is not hyperbole. It is what authoritarian regimes throughout history have done. They attempt to control reality.

KEILAR: It was 48 years ago that Clinton gave the student commencement address at Wellesley, a speech that brought her national attention after she rebuked the Republican senator who spoke before her and the politics of then-President Richard Nixon.

CLINTON: We were furious about the past presidential election of a man whose presidency would eventually end in disgrace with his impeachment for obstruction of justice.

(CHEERS)

After firing the person running the investigation into him at the Department of Justice.

(CHEERS)

KEILAR: Of course, Nixon wasn't actually impeached but the point was not lost. She slammed Trump for proposing a budget that cuts Medicaid and other safety net programs for the poor as well as funding to stem the opioid epidemic. Her bitter loss to him in 2016 entangled in her advice to the class of 2017.

CLINTON: In the years to come, there will be trolls galore, online and in person, eager to tell you that you don't have anything worthwhile to say or anything meaningful to contribute. They may even call you a nasty woman.

(CHEERS)

(END VIDEOTAPE)

KEILAR: Clinton at times seemed to be daring Donald Trump to respond. He uncharacteristically has been very non-reactive on Twitter for several days.

The RNC though, Pam, did respond and did take Hillary Clinton to task for this speech. They said that it's a stark reminder why Hillary Clinton lost in 2016, going on to say, instead of lashing out with the same partisan talking points, Hillary Clinton would be wise to look inward, talk about why she lost and expand the dwindling base of the Democrat Party supporters, we won't hold our breath, though -- Pam.

BROWN: All right. Brianna Keilar, thank you so much.

I want to jump in right now with my panel. Thank you so much for being here, ladies.

And, Karen, I want to start with you because as Brianna laid out, this is really a political speech and a direct message talking about drawing the comparison between the Trump administration and the Nixon administration. Were you surprised that she went there? KAREN TUMULTY, NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, THE WASHINGTON POST:

Not at all. I thought this speech was a really interesting bookend to the speech she gave at her own commencement. It was almost a subversive speech back then. "Life" magazine would later call her a voice of her generation for that speech.

And I think, right now, Hillary Clinton is trying to figure out what kind of voice she should be here. In many ways she represents the past of the Democratic Party and yet these are -- these are wounds that are still very, very fresh for a lot of Democrats.

BROWN: And when she first gave that speech at Wellesley, a lot of students, you know, they stood up and they applauded and they talked about will she be our first female president? Obviously, that was not the outcome in this last election, Governor. And listening to that speech, in your view, do you think she's having a hard time letting this go?

JENNIFER GRANHOLM, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: No, not at all. I think she had a lot of humor. She talked about how she has healed herself with chardonnay. The students loved that. I mean, the comparison with Nixon, she didn't -- notice that she didn't mention Trump's name.

BROWN: But come on, she was talking about him.

GRANHOLM: Right, of course, but it was a joke.

BROWN: Right.

GRANHOLM: I mean, they laughed at it. It was intended to be funny, although biting, no doubt. But, you know, to me, she didn't say anything Democrat, Republican.

She did raise the issue of health care and thank God she did. I mean, she did talk about the budget. Thank God she did. I mean, she's really saying who are we as a nation if we're slashing the legs out from people who are the most vulnerable.

So, I applaud her for saying that. I applaud her for calling out false facts and these alternative facts. Good for her, and I think that she was really well-received by those graduates.

BROWN: Kristen, you saw the response from the RNC basically saying what she did today is really the reason she lost the election or one of the reasons. What do you make of it?

KRISTEN SOLTIS ANDERSON, COLUMNIST, THE WASHINGTON EXAMINER: Well, I don't think we saw in the clips just now differs from what you might have seen on the campaign trail last year so in that sense when a lot of Republicans see speeches like this, it's -- it's a reminder that -- that in many ways, I don't know that the Democratic Party has a new strategy, a new set of things they are interested in talking about in upcoming elections.

And so, I don't perceive this as being something that is a big deal for Republicans, worried that Hillary Clinton is going to be a big voice, that's going to be a challenge for then. I think there are other things that may make the next year and a half challenging for Republicans, but I don't think Hillary Clinton is something many Republicans are very concerned about.

BROWN: And while the speech was going on, we know President Trump is overseas, his first overseas trip. And a couple of things have happened, a lot of things have happened actually especially here at home, but one of the things over there is he basically met with the German officials, it was reported, and said that the Germans were bad on trade, he scolded NATO allies for not meeting their financial burdens.

Is he living up to his campaign promises, Karen?

TUMULTY: Well, it's been really interesting this trip. It's almost like two different trips. The Trump we saw in the Middle East was very much sort of a conciliator and an effort to be inclusive.

Here, these are the exact same points that he campaigned on, and so often with Donald Trump, he doesn't say thing to people's faces that he's willing to say in a political setting, in a rally. In this case, he is.

BROWN: And no surprise that he's tweeted on his overseas trip, and today, he tweeted: Just arrived in Italy for G7. Trip has been very successful. We made and saved the U.S. many billions of dollars and millions of jobs.

Was this trip successful, Governor?

GRANHOLM: Well, let me just talk about that tweet. First of all, it got four Pinocchios from the fact checker at "The Washington Post". It is ridiculous.

And, especially, if he really wants to save jobs, then the issue of climate change for him should be front and center because those clean energy jobs are the fastest growing globally. We've got 300,000 of those clean energy jobs in the United States. If they are talking about climate change and they are talking about whether he stays in the Paris accord, if he gets out, then that's going to hurt people who are work and who the people who want to transition into those clean energy jobs, both globally and here at home.

TUMULTY: It was interesting, by the way, to hear the head of the National Economic Council, Gary Cohn, in his cleanup role --

(CROSSTALK)

TUMULTY: But also telling reporters that President Trump is evolving on climate change. Evolving, of course, is a word that Republicans hate to hear.

GRANHOLM: Hopefully, that means at least he's starting to open his mind to the possibility that we can get the jobs that he continues to champion in the United States and not cede them to our international allies.

BROWN: It's interesting, because as my colleague Jim Acosta pointed out, the president is not speaking to the media. He won't hold a press conference. And so, Gary Cohn, as you pointed out, is really having to sort of clean up at times or clarify what the president said.

Why do you think, Kristen, was there any success in your view in this first trip overseas?

ANDERSON: Certainly. I mean, I think this was in many ways a very predictable trip. I think the first half, as you mentioned, Karen, was a fairly conventional -- as conventional as this unconventional president can be in this sort of a setting.

I think it was wonderful what came out of the talks in Israel, especially since there had been any questions about whether that relationship would have challenges, was there any intelligence sharing that happened with the Russians, that should not have happened, things along those lines. That piece of the trip I think in particularly went very well.

[16:40:03] And over in Europe, nothing that he is saying should come as a surprise to anyone. Look, there's been a lot of parsing of things like body language and I think a lot of very genuine concern about whether the U.S. will live up to its commitments to NATO, but it should come as no surprise that he's expecting our European allies to live up to their commitments on things like defense spending.

So, overall, I think actually a trip that goes very much as one might have predicted. I doubt it will move Trump's numbers much one way or the other.

BROWN: All right. Kristen, Karen, Governor, thank you so much. Really appreciate it.

Well, trying to contain a terror network. That is what investigators are attempting to do after learning the Manchester bomber called his brother minutes before the attack.

And then the head of homeland security watching airport security screening today as he issues a warning that could mean radical changes for U.S. airport security.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[16:45:00] BROWN: And we are back now with the "WORLD LEAD." Critical new details about the bomber behind the Manchester terror attack. Libyan official say Salman Abedi spoke to his younger brother just 15 minutes before killing 22 innocent people. Well, that brother, along with the bomber's own father, are now under arrest on suspicion of links to ISIS. Meanwhile, British Police have nine others in custody. Let's gets straight to CNN's Atika Shubert in Manchester. Atika, people who knew the bomber are now trying to help investigators connect the dots, is that right? ATIKA SHUBERT, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely.

You know, Pamela, earlier in the investigation British Police told CNN that he'd been known to authorities but they would say exactly how he was connected to any terror network but we retraced his footsteps and through that, we were able to discover a concrete link.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SHUBERT: Where did Salman Abedi turn to ISIS? Two possibilities, Syria and Libya, but the answer may be much closer to home. Last year Abedi was seen with this man, Abdalraouf Abdallah, also British-Libyan but now in prison, convicted for funneling fighters into Syria. A seasoned veteran wounded in the 2011 Libyan revolution, Abdallah needs a wheelchair which is why several worshippers at the (INAUDIBLE) mosque remember him and Salman helping him push the wheelchair at Friday prayers. Khalid al Kouncil saw them together a year ago?

Do you remember seeing Salman Abedi at the mosque?

KHALID AL KOUNCIL, WORSHIPER: Yes I see him sometimes in here in the Mosque. He comes usually like on Friday (INAUDIBLE) because he comes -- last time I see him -- the last time I see him he was pushing the guy trailer, the disabled guy.

SHUBERT: Also from Libya?

KOUNCIL: Yes, yes, from Libya. Yes. He was very quiet. He was -- when he comes to the mosque, he sat in the mosque and prayed and he goes. He same like with the normal persons.

SHUBERT: The Abedi family attended the larger mosque in the upscale Didsbury area and but its sermons against ISIS and extremism pushed Salman to the fringes.

MOHAMMED FADIR, LIBYA YOUTH COMMUNITY: The Abedi family, especially the father and the older brother were quite respected and well known in the Libyan community. And there were normal people, there was nothing abnormal about them. However, Salman was kind of isolated and inverted. He was not engaging with the Libyan community here and actually most his friends were outside of the Libyan community.

SHUBERT: The picture that's emerging of Salman Abedi is that of a lonely young man drifting between communities here but he didn't have to go far to find other young men and women vulnerable extremism.

Around the corner from Abedi's house at the Whalley Range High School Zahra and Salma Halane caused a stir when they ran away from home to join ISIS. Even when the Halane twins reached Syria, they met up with an old friend from mosque side. (INAUDIBLE), notorious for being ISIS' most prolific British is recruiter, believed killed in a drone strike. Local media citing British investigators say he, too, is linked to Abedi.

Many came here to escape wars at home and now some worry about raising their kids here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Everybody here worried about his children.

SHUBERT: (INAUDIBLE) have sons of your own?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, yes, I mean, you have to worry about them.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SHUBERT: Now despite those arrests that you mentioned and the ongoing investigation, much of Manchester is trying to return to normal on a Friday night and they can take some heart in the announcement from Ariana Grande that she will return to Manchester for a benefits concert. All proceeds of which will help go to help funds for the victims and their families. Pamela?

BROWN: All right, Atika Shubert, thank you so much for bringing us the latest there from Manchester.

And turning to the "NATIONAL LEAD," days after the Manchester bombing, a chilling warning from the Head of Homeland Security about terrorists trying to target U.S. airlines and now Secretary John Kelly will visit Reagan National Airport tonight to mark the start of the summer travel season. Rene Marsh is live at Reagan National Airport, so Rene, what changes could travelers see this summer?

RENE MARSH, CNN AVIATION AND GOVERNMENT REGULATIONS CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Pam. You know, we are waiting for Secretary Kelly to arrive, but I can tell you that at some ten airports across the United States there are some now TSA measures already in place and, of course, that could expand to even more airports. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kelly has not been subtle about his concerns about, potential terror attacks against transportation, particularly aviation. Again, Pam, we are expecting him to arrive here at Reagan National shortly.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MARSH: Travelers are on the move and expected record volumes and the terror risk is as high as it was on September 11th, that's according to Department of Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly.

JOHN KELLY, DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: What I have learned in the last 120 days is this, you know, relentless attempt on the part of terrorist to blow up airplanes and flight. Ideally big airplanes and a lot of people. We are watching a number of very, very sophisticated advanced threats right now.

[16:50:17] MARSH: Travelers flying to the United States from ten airports in eight Muslim-majority countries are already under a laptop ban. Meaning electronics larger than a cell phone are not hall loud in the cabin of a plane over fears they may be used to detonate or conceal explosives. The ban is expected to expand to more countries soon.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So this heightened language without any policy changes really leaves the American public at a -- at a disadvantage. That kind of language makes the American public do one of two things, freak out or tune out, and neither is a good place to be.

MARSH: Travelers at ten U.S. airports may experience new TSA screening measures on larger electronics. The agency is testing screening those items separately before allowing them on board. All this on the heels of a terror attack on concert-goers in Manchester, England and just four months after a gunman retrieved a 0.9-millimeter handgun from his checked luggage at a baggage claim and opened fire in Fort Lauderdale. Now Secretary Kelly is warning Congress homegrown lone wolf attacks will continue.

KELLY: As horrible has Manchester was, my expectation is we're going to see a lot more of that kind of attack.

MARSH: It's why some are alarmed at President Trump's proposed 2018 budget cuts to TSA's viper program. The program dispatches 31 teams of law enforcement and explosive experts to soft targets based on the threat level. The budget cuts would leave only eight teams in place.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There's no consistency between the language of Secretary Kelly and the terror threat and what his budget looks like.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MARSH: All right. Well, Secretary Kelly's warning about the potential threats against transportation, sobering news for the over 39 million people who are traveling this weekend. That's 1 million more people than we saw last year. I do want to point out that those new TSA screening measures that we're talking about happening right here in the United States, the agency says that is due to the very poor performance of TSA when they missed the -- those undercover testing when they miss a lot of those banned -- those banned items going through security. Back to you, Pam.

BROWN: OK. Rene Marsh, thanks so much.

Well, he's compared himself to Hitler and bragged about murdering people, and now the President of the Philippines is imposing martial law. So why is President Trump praising him? Stick around.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[16:55:00] BROWN: And we are back with our "WORLD LEAD." Now we know President Donald Trump has a soft spot for some authoritarian rulers such as Rodrigo Duterte, the President of the Philippines. Well, the U.S. President praise his Filipino counterpart in a phone call last month and now parts of the Philippines are under parts of martial law. CNN's Will Ripley has more.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

RODRIGO DUTERTE, PRESIDENT, THE PHILIPPINES: I've always said do not force my hand into it.

WILL RIPLEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: He's the mastermind of a bloody drug war, has dragged about personally killing people and this week imposed martial law to fight terrorism. The Philippines strongman President Rodrigo Duterte has even compared himself to Hitler for his quest to exterminate drug criminals. Human rights groups have condemned him. President Trump praised him in what the White House describes as a very friendly phone call last month saying "I just want to congratulate you because I'm hearing of the unbelievable job on the drug problem." The leaked transcript obtained by the Intercept, Washington Post and New York Times, a senior U.S. officials briefed on the call verified the basics of the conversation of CNN adding the President was only acknowledging America's drug problem, not condoning violence and human rights violations. CNN has reported extensively on the Philippines' drug war and the thousands killed in its poorest slums, openly encouraged by the government.

BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: I have seen some of those colorful statements in the past.

RIPLEY: When former President Obama criticized the bloodshed, Duterte called him a son of a bitch and told him to go to hell but with Trump Duterte has had a good rapport. Unlike his predecessor, Trump seems largely unconcerned with other country's human rights and is known to lavish praise on authoritarian leaders. On the Philippine President's home island of Mindanao, empty streets and Martial Law, deadly clashes with Islamist militants led Duterte to impose Military rule in the Southern Philippines, an order he may expand. The Philippine Constitution says Martial Law should last a maximum of 60 days, Duterte says it could go on for a year. From the White House Thursday, a statement of solidarity and a promise the U.S. will continue to provide support and assistance to Philippine counterterrorism efforts. Will Ripley, CNN.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BROWN: And that's it for THE LEAD, I'm Pamela Brown in for Jake Tapper and I turn you over to my colleague Wolf Blitzer in "THE SITUATION ROOM."

END