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AT THIS HOUR WITH BERMAN AND MICHAELA

Paul Ryan: "Not Ready" to Back Trump as Nominee; Trump Spokesperson: Ryan Not Fit to Be Speaker; RNC Boss: Trump and Ryan Will Meet Next Week. Aired 11-11:30a ET

Aired May 6, 2016 - 11:00   ET

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


(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

REP. PAUL RYAN (R), WI, SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: I'm just not ready to do that at this point. I'm not there right now.

REINCE PRIEBUS, CHAIRMAN, REPUBLICAN NATIONAL COMMITTEE: In some cases, people are not going to be instantly on board.

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You know that thing, Never Trump? You know why it's Never Trump? Because I'm going to stop the gravy train.

HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We have to recognize that the kind of language coming from Donald Trump is hateful.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

KATE BOLDUAN, CO-HOST, AT THIS HOUR: Hello, everyone. I'm Kate Bolduan.

JOHN BERMAN, CO-HOST, AT THIS HOUR: And I'm John Berman. Welcome to the "I thought we were good, no, not so fast" phase of the Republican primary, as the team Trump recruitment effort hits a major setback.

House speaker Paul Ryan, the highest ranking Republican in the United States right now, refuses to fall in line behind Donald Trump, at least he says, until Trump makes some major changes. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

RYAN: The question is, can our presumptive nominee turn things around, unify and have a different kind of cadence going forward. The way I look at this, Jake, is it's time to go from tapping into anger to channeling that anger into solutions. It's time to set aside bullying, to set aside belittlement and appeal to higher aspirations.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BOLDUAN: So the response from Donald Trump, two can play at this game. He issued a statement saying that he is not ready to support Paul Ryan's agenda. And a Trump spokesman said just his morning that if Paul Ryan doesn't come around to back Donald Trump, then that makes Paul Ryan unfit to be speaker. Said it actually to you this morning. GOP chairman Reince Priebus is now trying to step in as peacemaker,

brokering a face-to-face meet between Trump and Speaker Ryan next. And that is where we being this hour.

CNN's Phil Mattingly is joining us with some of the details. So what more are we learning about this meeting? And what really do they think they can accomplish?

PHIL MATTINGLY, CORRESPONDENT, CNN: So this isn't supposed to happen. Right? Like we're not supposed to have the House speaker --

(CROSSTALK)

MATTINGLY: Right. I just wanted to clarify that right off the bat.

No, Reince Priebus is actually a very important part of this. He's very close to Paul Ryan. Obviously, both from Wisconsin. They have a pre-existing relationship. And he's also become kind of an outlet for Donald Trump at late.

And so that's what made it most interesting when Reince Priebus at a Playbook Breakfast this morning hosted by Mike Allen recalled what happened after Jake's interview aired, a specific phone call from Donald Trump.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

PRIEBUS: No, it wasn't like furious or anything. It was just like what do -- what do I -- you know, what do I need to do? I mean I'm -- and so I said, listen, let me just -- you know, my view is just relax and be gracious and I'll talk to Paul, and we'll try to work on this.

I know Paul really well, and I know he's being honest. And I know how he feels, and so I'm comfortable with the idea that it's going to take some time in some cases for people to work through differences.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MATTINGLY: And I think "take some time" is a key phrase there and for a number of different reasons. Look, this meeting, Donald Trump saying this morning that tentatively it would be set for Wednesday. Reince Priebus saying this morning that it might take place at the RNC.

Both parties acknowledging there will be a meeting. But the way Donald Trump is framing things right now, and as he usually does, he's taking to Twitter and on Fox this morning, saying, look, I've won millions of votes. I am the presumptive nominee. Why do I have to bow down to the Republican Party? Why do I have to come your way?

That is not necessarily what the Ryan team was hoping for. They would have liked to have a meeting where everybody comes together and tries to figure out what can Donald Trump do to make establishment Republicans, or Ryan Republicans, if you will, more comfortable.

And if you look at the issues that he has, tone, certainly one of them. He said it in the interview with Jake. But policy areas, the divergence in the policy proposals between the two. And this is no small issue, not just because Paul Ryan has made his career off of some of these policy prescriptions, but so many of the Republicans in the House and the Senate have made their careers, have won elections, have sacrificed support in some cases to support Paul Ryan on entitlement, on trade deals, on tax policy.

Donald Trump has broken with him on all of that. Donald Trump needs to give something, at least in the eyes of the Ryan team, in order to move forward, in order to get that endorsement. And right now, Donald Trump doesn't seem like he's willing to do that.

BERMAN: Can he unbreak in one meeting? And that's the question to Phil Mattingly --

BOLDUAN: There are real hard lines here that seem very clear, and I don't know if they're forgeable here for them to get together.

BERMAN: Phil, thanks so much.

Let's talk more about this.

BOLDUAN: Thanks, Phil.

BERMAN: Joining us now, CNN's political director David Chalian and our chief political correspondent, Dana Bash.

Dana, let me start with you. On that subject, you know, what does Paul Ryan need to hear from Donald Trump? It's confusing, right? Is it realistic to think that Donald Trump will go in there and say, you know, the ban on Muslims, the temporary ban on Muslims, nah, forget about it?

DANA BASH, CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, CNN: No, that's not realistic at all, and that's why the part of Reince Priebus' comments this morning that we need to really underscore and remember is it's going to take some time. I would be blown away if they walked out of a meeting next week and said -- you know, and held hands and sang Kumbaya or anything close to that. It's not going to happen.

Eventually, possibly, the two of them could find a way back to each other. But because of the very deep policy differences and the differences in tone, it is going to take some time.

But more importantly, the message that Paul Ryan had to Jake yesterday was that it's not just about what he says. It's about what he does. And so no matter what I believe Donald Trump would say in any kind of private meeting with Paul Ryan is irrelevant, because he's basically saying, you know, show me the money. I want to see your actions.

BOLDUAN: Yes, actions speak louder than words. That definitely seems to be part of the message.

And speaking of it's not just what you say, but maybe this is -- goes into the category of what you say, this morning, David, Trump spokesperson Katrina Pierson told John that if Paul Ryan doesn't come around and back Donald Trump, then he's unfit. That makes him unfit to be speaker. Does that help things heading into the meeting next week?

DAVID CHALIAN, POLITICAL DIRECTOR, CNN: Well, it's an interesting choice. Last I checked, Katrina Pierson is not a member of the House Republican conference, and as we all know, those are the folks that will determine who their speaker is.

Clearly, I think that Katrina Pierson was not exactly in the same place as Donald Trump, who, as Reince Priebus described there that you saw in that sound bit there, reached out instantly and said what should I do? You saw when he took the stage last night in West Virginia that he didn't trash Ryan.

Donald Trump is taking a different approach to this political obstacle than he did to his 16 opponents over the course of the last year. And that's noteworthy, because Donald Trump --

BASH: Very much so.

CHALIAN: -- is clearly realizing that as being the presumptive nominee and having vanquished all his opponents, he is in a different place and he's choosing different tactics to deal with his political obstacles.

BERMAN: Yes, but -- right? There is still this issue of Twitter, which Donald Trump can't seem to help himself on. And just this morning, Dana, he tweeted out "Paul Ryan said I inherited something very special, the Republican Party. Wrong. I didn't inherit it. I won it with millions of votes."

So, you know, Donald Trump engaging Paul Ryan there a little bit and raising really an interesting question, Dana, which, whose Republican Party is this right now?

BASH: Absolutely.

BERMAN: The guy who just won the Republican primary or, you know, the guys sitting in Washington?

BASH: Listen, they want a big tent, they got a big tent, right? I mean this is the ultimate big tent.

And Donald Trump is right. He did win it. He did win more votes than all of the people who tried to get this brass ring. And, you know, that's no small feat. And he did it because -- for lots of reasons, but the main reason is, just in my anecdotal experience, going to Trump rallies and going to, you know, many of these states that voted.

They did it because they were done with these politicians, whether it is the Paul Ryans of the world or anybody else. People who are in Washington, the Republican rank and file, many of them out there they think are inherently part of the problem, and it's time to shake things up. They want a disrupter, and so Donald Trump does have a very good point there. But then there is an entire wing of the Republican Party that says, wait a minute, we have to work within the confines of the system, and we have to not, you know, call people bad names. And we have to have somebody who is, from their perspective, more ready to be commander in chief.

CHALIAN: What we're seeing here, guys, this has been the very story of the Republican Party for the last year. This is the story of the Trump candidacy that we've been covering. Every exit poll in every contest shows a majority of Republicans believe their own party leaders have betrayed them, that they want an outsider.

So the guy who fit that bill, who was going against the grain of the party, is the guy who won this Republican Party's nomination. And what I think Reince Priebus is telling him is so just take a breath here, as others who have been reluctant to embrace that or haven't been out there as much come around to this.

There is nothing as important for Donald Trump's electoral success in November to start healing these wounds and bringing the party together. You've got to start with your own base and bringing some of these leaders who clearly have been -- as Dana is saying, the voters have rejected them in many ways, but bringing them into the fold is a key task ahead for Donald Trump.

BOLDUAN: Yes, you call it big tent, you got it. It looks more like a mosh pit right now. I mean that seems to be kind of where they are.

BERMAN: It's such a big mosh.

BOLDUAN: There you go. Big mosh. Dana, David, thanks, guys. A lot more to come today, of course.

Let's talk about this more now with CNN political commentator Errol Louis. He is a political anchor of Time Warner Cable News; also Kellyanne Conley, a Republican pollster who headed up the pro-Cruz super PAC; and New York City councilman Joseph Borelli, a co-chair of Donald Trump's New York campaign; Matt Schlapp, former political director for George W. Bush's 2004 campaign and now the chairman of the American Conservative Union.

Guys, it's great to see you.

Matt, I don't think you've been able to play our games. Kellyanne has been privy. Errol and Joe, they've all been privy to our games, but we like to play these games, and now you get your introduction to it.

This is our game that we like to call they emerge from this meeting next week saying what?

MATT SCHLAPP, CHAIRMAN, AMERICAN CONSERVATIVE UNION: Probably not much more than what was said today. I think a little warmer. You know, look, here what's -- here's the bottom line of this, which is Donald Trump ran against Washington, and he ran against all these Republican elected officials in Washington. Why are we surprised that they're having a little trouble swallowing the fact the guy that's been criticizing them on the campaign trail every day is now the nominee?

So I think Paul Ryan is trying to -- he's trying to negotiate a little bit with Trump. Trump isn't at the 1,237 yet. He's not officially the nominee, so he's going to work on him a little bit. But in the end, guess what? They're all going to unite and they're going to fight Hillary Clinton. It's the way this is going to work.

BERMAN: You say they're negotiating. The question then, Kellyanne, is who's negotiating from a position of strength right now? You know, if these guys are going to end up being friends, who's got to give more?

KELLYANNE CONWAY, PRESIDENT & CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER, THE POLLING COMPANY: I think they need each other. And Speaker Ryan said yesterday that he's not yet ready. That portends that he will someday soon be ready. I don't think Speaker Ryan and the rest of the Republican cognoscente is going to alienate the 10 million-plus people who have voted for Donald Trump --

BERMAN: So far.

CONLEY: -- in his primary. And it's going to be more than that. And he will get the nomination soon enough.

And the fact is, John, that say what you want about Mr. Trump, and plenty have and do daily, but this man has brought voters into the Republican primary and caucus system this cycle that were elusive to our past nominees. And that's got to matter for something, because he could make competitive some of these Rust Belt states where you have these working class voters, who, in focus groups, tell people like me, the men say we're getting screwed. The women say we're struggling, but they're both saying the same thing.

BOLDUAN: Just in their own -- with their own special ways.

Councilman, we were floored when Paul Ryan came out and said this to Jake Tapper yesterday. You have long said they need time to heal and they'll all come around. This seems to mean they need more time. But what was your initial reaction when you heard this from Paul Ryan?

JOSEPH BORELLI, COUNCILMAN, 51ST DISTRICT OF NEW YORK CITY COUNCIL: I was a bit surprised. The one thing that I don't think will actually happen is the chairman of the convention will ever be not supportive of the Republican nominee.

BOLDUAN: It would be unusual --

BORELLI: It would be very unusual.

BOLDUAN: -- I would say.

BORELLI: But to piggyback on what Kellyanne said, there is really a dual burden, and the two men have to meet. They have to come out -- come and hammer out some type of compromise.

But more interestingly, I think a lot of Paul Ryan's members are already seeing the writing on the wall in their own home districts. These are people who say their congressional districts go to Trump 60 percent, 70 percent. His members are not going to be avoiding Donald Trump as much as he thinks they might be.

BERMAN: Errol Louis, here's a question I want you to think about over the break. The question is this. Who's got more to lose in this scenario over the next week and as they head into that meeting? You've got about three minutes to think about that.

Guys, stick around. We're going to talk about that and much more coming up. Also --

BOLDUAN: So don't mess it up, Errol.

Also coming up, the search is on. Donald Trump is ramping up his list of potential running mates. Would he actually consider a Democrat for the job? Well, Donald Trump says one thing, and one of his advisers says another and says he should.

BERMAN: Plus, Donald Trump says he can win states Republicans haven't won in years. Up next, we will look at the map. Which blue states can turn red? What is on his wish list?

BOLDUAN: And we're also waiting for President Obama. He's going to come out and make remarks on state of the economy after the jobs report came out this morning. We're going to bring that to you live from the White House when he comes --

BERMAN: Also a chance to hear from the President for the first time since Donald Trump wrapped up this race, so maybe he'll get into that, too.

BOLDUAN: We shall see.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BERMAN: All right, Donald Trump and Paul Ryan, they will meet next week, after Paul Ryan says he's not yet ready to support Donald Trump. What does this mean? Let's bring back our panel.

BOLDUAN: John Berman's going to be in the meeting. I don't think he wants to tell anybody that yet.

BERMAN: Oh, my god. If there's one meeting I would love to be in, it's that one.

BOLDUAN: Right?

BERMAN: Let's bring back the panel right now. CNN political commentator, Errol Louis, Kellyann Conway, Matt Schlapp and New York City councilman Joseph Borelli.

Errol, when we last spoke, we asked this question. They have this meeting.

ERROL LOUIS, POLITICAL ANCHOR, TIME WARNER CABLE NEWS: Yes. BERMAN: You know, Paul Ryan and Donald Trump sitting down. Who has

more to lose here in the face-off? And I do really think it is a face-off right now.

LOUIS: Well, Paul Ryan has much more to lose. You know, and the reason is simple math. They have a 30-seat majority, the Republicans do, which not coincidentally is the margin by which he remains as speaker or not. So if he wants to keep his job, he's got to keep that 30-seat majority or as close to it as possible.

Now, there were something like 40 Republican-held seats where there's 20 percent or more Latino population. You've got moderate votes. You've got Millennial votes. You've got all kinds of districts that are now going to be put in play because of Donald Trump.

And to the extent that he says I'm going to go out and do mass deportations, I'm going to stop Muslims from coming into the country, that's not going to play well in certain states, and it's not going to play well in certain districts. And speaker Ryan is hearing from every one of those districts.

Those people are on the phone with him saying, listen, if you want me and my vote here to keep you as speaker, you better do something. Go talk to that guy. Ask him to moderate. See if can downplay some things, re-emphasize some other things, arrive at a platform and a message that can keep all of us happy and keep all of us in Washington.

We'll see if that can happen, but the burden is on Ryan to try to make that happen. And he in his speech yesterday threw it back on Donald Trump.

BERMAN: He said (inaudible) Trump.

LOUIS: You're going to have to figure this out.

But they're -- make no mistake. They're on different courses, and I don't know how much common ground they're going to be able to find.

BOLDUAN: I mean look, the reality is there's likely a lot of forces at play here, but one of the things, as Errol's kind of getting to, is now that Paul Ryan has come out, folks think that this will offer political cover for his members to hold off, to run their own local race, to do a lot of things.

Where do those folks go, though, now after Paul Ryan has come out here and now that you've got Donald Trump, who very quickly threw the tennis ball back in his court?

CONWAY: If they're wise, Kate, they won't say anything until after Wednesday's meeting, because these things change -- they're pretty dynamic, not static.

Secondly, I would note that this is nothing new in the sense of running your own race when you feel the top of the ticket either doesn't benefit you or you're not sure how -- or maybe, more to the point, the presidential contender is not actually going to compete in your state.

So if you look at 2008, 2012 when Barack Obama won both times, the Republicans picked up Senate seats in unusual places like Illinois and Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, because those states, yes, sure there are voters out there splitting your tickets, but it's also because you have to run your own race. And this time, if the race -- if running your own race means attacking your presidential nominee, that would be unusual, but you can run your race without mentioning your presidential nominee.

BERMAN: Matt Schlapp, you know, Kate pointed out this line from Paul Ryan to me yesterday, and I think it's really an interesting issue here. Paul Ryan said I think conservatives want to know does he share our values and our principles on limited government, the proper role of the executive, adherence to the Constitution.

Does he share our view on adherence to the Constitution? This guy has been running since June, right? If you're not convinced that he's going to uphold the Constitution at this point, I just don't get what he could possibly say. You know, is Paul Ryan setting up something, an impossible bar to meet here?

SCHLAPP: Not at all. I think -- look, I really believe that this is Paul Ryan, number one, speaking up for the members of his conference, because that's his job. He wants to keep that majority. And he's got House staffers in the NRCC who are panicked over big losses in the House, and he's trying to speak up for those members.

But second of all, he is trying to send a message to Donald Trump. Isn't this pretty clear? All Republicans have been trying to send some kind of message to Trump. Even if they like him, they're like hey, get off the Twitter. If they don't like him, they're saying, hey, we really want to find someone else. Everyone's sending messages into him, and the speaker of the House has the right to do that as well.

But let me be really clear, Donald Trump ran against all these elected officials. If Paul Ryan is going to continue to pick a fight with Donald Trump, it's hard for me to see in the end how that doesn't accrue to Donald Trump's benefit.

Donald Trump is someone who's taking on these sacred cows, and it always seems to benefit him. And I think it's better for everybody to find a way to work together.

They don't -- you don't have to love everything about Donald Trump. If you're the majority leader in the Senate or you're the speaker, if you want to criticize him from time to time, that's fine. But it is absurd that the person who is going to chair our convention wouldn't actually endorse the nominee. It's going to happen. All this is fun, but in the end, we're going to come together, mostly.

BERMAN: I don't think it's fun for Reince Priebus. I'll tell you that.

BOLDUAN: I don't think it's fun for Reince Priebus, but you call it absurd. But it is -- it is very serious. It's not like someone --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.

BOLDUAN: -- forced -- it's not like the media forced Paul Ryan to --

SCHLAPP: No, you're right.

BOLDUAN: -- come out and say I'm not there yet.

(CROSSTALK)

BOLDUAN: I mean this is very, very serious. To the question that John had brought up earlier, who is the leader of the Republican Party? It kind of gets to that.

But one question to you, councilman, is one thing that might not be helping is folks who are speaking for Donald Trump at this moment. Katrina Pierson, spokesperson for the campaign, said to John this morning that if Paul Ryan doesn't come around to Donald Trump, then he's unfit to be speaker. Do you like that?

BORELLI: Well, I probably wouldn't characterize it in that way, but I think as Errol pointed out, Paul Ryan has probably more to lose. Donald Trump's support doesn't come from people who care about which establishment Republican has endorsed him. So why that would matter now to his voters isn't actually clear.

Paul Ryan, since when is the the architect of Republican conservatism, having been on a ticket with --

BOLDUAN: For a while.

BORELLI: But having been on a ticket with Mitt Romney in --

BOLDUAN: He is -- he is a conservative. I think we could --

BORELLI: I'm not saying he's not a conservative, but he also sacrificed --

CONWAY: Yes, but they also lost Wisconsin by seven points. Yes, so let's be fair. Right?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right.

CONWAY: He lost Wisconsin by seven points.

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And was on ticket with Mitt Romney, right?

(CROSSTALK)

BOLDUAN: By the way, this bear hug is making me uncomfortable.

(CROSSTALK) BERMAN: Errol, I want to quickly -- Donald Trump's got two events.

What are the chances Donald Trump out loud on the stump says the name Paul Ryan?

LOUIS: Oh, I doubt it. Although I imagine he could say -- well, first of all, you never know.

BOLDUAN: Can I help himself?

LOUIS: Even his people -- even Joe Borelli will tell you they never know until they're listening to the speech what he's going to say.

On the other hand, I'd be surprised if he left any doubt about who he was speaking to and about. And the reality is to the extent that he has run against the establishment, if the establishment says that they don't like him, he's going to take that and turn it into fuel.

CONWAY: Yes, and let's focus -- Republicans, conservatives watching, let's focus. If you are worried about the Constitution, Hillary Clinton would use it like a paper towel. I mean that is absolutely -- lock it down. You know, it -- so everybody should know that and really keep their eyes focused.

I think a lot of folks are hurting right now certainly, but other people are on their high horses. And they -- the people out there saying they'll vote for Hillary Clinton over the Republican nominee when this woman has likened pro-life Republicans to terrorists but won't call radical Islamic terrorists terrorists --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Never Trumps are going to be the Never Hillarys very soon.

BERMAN: We will see. That is -- that is -- that is the big question.

(CROSSTALK)

BERMAN: Guys, thanks so much for being with us. Appreciate it. Errol, Kellyanne, Matt, and Councilman. Right? Did I miss anybody?

BOLDUAN: I don't know.

BERMAN: Thanks, everyone.

BOLDUAN: You didn't thank me, though.

BERMAN: I always thank you. That's implied.

BOLDUAN: I'm just kidding.

BERMAN: All right, coming up, the Republican Party fractured over Donald Trump's presumed nomination. But our next guest feels vindicated. He even says Donald Trump is the guy to unite the party. What he now needs to do to rally the conservative base.

BOLDUAN: Then Hillary Clinton, she's expected to speak to the FBI, interviewed by the FBI very soon about her private e-mail scandal as secretary of State. She isn't expected to face charges. So far, officials say there isn't any evidence that would say she willingly did anything illegal.

What does it all mean, though, for her general election campaign that's soon to begin? We'll be right back.

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