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AT THIS HOUR WITH BERMAN AND MICHAELA

Sander Supporter Sen. Merkley Not Ready to Endorse Clinton; Anti-Trump Republicans Plot "Delegate Revolt"; "USA Today": Hundreds Say Trump Didn't Pay His Bills. Aired 11:30-12p ET

Aired June 10, 2016 - 11:30   ET

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


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[11:31:16] KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Happening right now, you're taking a look right there. That picture is the picture of Hillary Clinton's home in Washington where Senator Elizabeth Warren is meeting with the presumptive Democratic nominee at her home as we speak. We're watching to see when Warren leaves and to see if she has anything to say to the camera cameras.

While that meeting is going on Senator Bernie Sanders is looking ahead to Washington, D.C.'s primary next week. Though he is not bowing out, he is definitely talking about unifying now. This comes after the big endorsements yesterday of Clinton from President Obama and Vice President Biden.

Joining me now to discuss is Democratic Senator Jeff Merkley, the only U.S. Senator to endorse Senator Bernie Sanders for president.

Senator, thank you so much for your time.

SEN. JEFF MERKLEY, (D), OREGON: You're welcome.

And right now, Kate, every progressive in America is hoping the conversation at Secretary Clinton's house is all about how Elizabeth Warren should be a wonderful -- would be a wonderful vice president of the United States.

BOLDUAN: So you endorse that team. We'll see what they have to say. Maybe they will come out right now and say we agree with Jeff Merkley, we're going for it.

(CROSSTALK)

MERKLEY: And it ties in so much to Bernie Sanders' campaign. In his campaign, he fought for big ideas to take on big challenges, that we need to save our republic by getting the corrupting campaign cash out of politics. We need to save our planet by pivoting off fossil fuels. We need to save our youth by proceeding to make college affordable and get rid of this financial gauntlet that folks face.

BOLDUAN: So, Senator, the Elizabeth Warren, the president, and the vice president, they all endorsed Hillary Clinton. Are you ready to endorse her as well?

MERKLEY: I'm ready to say Elizabeth Warren would make a great vice president and that right now the big question --

(CROSSTALK)

BOLDUAN: You're ready to endorse a vice president but not the nominee for president?

MERKLEY: Certainly, I'm going to be supporting our nominee, and our nominee is Secretary Clinton. But what I really want to see is success in November. And that means bringing together the two halves of the party. And one way to do that is through great policies that resonated so passionately in the grassroots, bring them into the campaign, weed them into the convention, make them part of the DNA of the presidential campaign that Secretary Clinton wages. There's multiple ways to do that through what Secretary Clinton herself, as nominee, says and pitches, and also in this selection of a vice president.

BOLDUAN: Senator, this is the first time I think we've heard you say you're going to support the nominee and the nominee -- acknowledging the nominee is Hillary Clinton. So is this an endorsement of some sort?

MERKLEY: Well, I absolutely support Hillary Clinton. What I have said all along is once a candidate has a majority of the pledged delegates and a majority of the voters, and that happened on last Tuesday night, that we have our nominee. We have our nominee. I want to help her be successful. I want that to occur through bringing the two halves of the party together and that requires embracing some of these aggressive, progressive ways to take on big issues facing America.

BOLDUAN: You fought hard in supporting Bernie Sanders. You were a big supporter of his. What I'm hearing you say now, though, that you will support Hillary Clinton and you will fight to get her elected. That's different than, I think, I even heard from you earlier this morning. What changed, Senator?

MERKLEY: Well, actually, no, I don't think there's a significant change. I'm still making the point that we all have to unify around our nominee. What's changed is we have our nominee now. But to be successful, we have got to take what Bernie Sanders has built and move that into the channels that will empower folks together at the convention and will carry through the convention.

Let me give some examples. In global warming, it's so important, it's a moral issue facing our generation, to get off fossil fuels, it would be wonderful to have Secretary Clinton as part of her campaign embrace keeping it in the ground movement. It would be wonderful for her to take on offshore drilling, to accelerate in every way possible the movement to renewables, and to do so with the -- kind of the conveying to folks the magnitude of the challenge that is faced. That would be tremendous. And in creating living wage jobs, the same type of challenge, to save the middle class. So I think we can take the best of both these campaigns and merge them together.

[11:35:56] BOLDUAN: Senator, if I could get just one-word answer just to make sure for our viewers we're all clear and on the same page, you now support Hillary Clinton for president?

MERKLEY: I do support her, yes.

BOLDUAN: Senator Jeff Merkley making news.

Appreciate your time, Senator. Thank you very much.

MERKLEY: You're welcome. Take care now.

BOLDUAN: Very interesting how what is playing out here. That's the first time we've heard that from the Senator, Bernie Sanders' sole backer in the Senate. He, too, is on board with Hillary Clinton.

Coming up for us, a delegate revolt. Anti-Trump Republicans are searching for a last-ditch effort to stop him from becoming the nominee, but is it even possible? We're going to talk to a Republican who says "yes" and see what he says about it.

Also ahead, Donald Trump says he will create new jobs as president, but a new investigation accuses Trump of not paying his own bills. Carpenters, dishwashers, painters, all say they were not paid for their work. It's a big investigation by a "USA Today" reporter. We'll have that reporter on to give us the details.

We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[11:41:19] BOLDUAN: You're looking right now at live pictures. Senator Elizabeth Warren meeting with Hillary Clinton at Clinton's home in Washington. We're watching to see when Elizabeth Warren leaves. We'll bring you all the news and the latest. Let's just pretend she's definitely going to come to cameras. We don't know but we'll be watching it to see if we get anything when she leaves this meeting fueling wild speculation about what they could be talking about? Possible V.P.? Who knows?

Turning to the Republican side though, some are calling it a coup, a revolt, an insurrection. Some anti-Trump Republicans are talking about staging this coup at the convention next month.

Joining me now to discuss is Bob Vander Plaats. He was a supporter and campaign co-chair of former candidate, Senator Ted Cruz.

Great to see you, Bob. Thanks so much for joining me.

BOB VANDER PLAATS, FORMER CO-CHAIR FOR TED CRUZ PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN & TED CRUZ SUPPORTER: Good to see you, Kate.

BOLDUAN: I have read, Bob, that you said everything has got to be on the table in terms of what to do at the convention to stop Trump. To be clear, are you calling for a revolt on the convention floor?

VANDER PLAATS: No, I'm not calling for a revolt on the convention floor. What I said -- and my name was tied to that story. Yes, everything does need to be on the table. It's not all about stopping Trump. What we are saying is we want a principled conservative and disciplined candidate who is the standard bearer of this party. But if he has things that happened like earlier this week where he disqualifies a judge because he's a Hispanic, that's when all things need to be on the table. There's a lot of Republicans running for governor, for Congress, for state legislature, who are dependent on a strong candidate at the top of the ticket. We're hopeful when we go to Cleveland that we can have a strong candidate in Donald Trump. But that's a Donald Trump issue to show that. That's not a Bob Vander Plaats issue to show that.

BOLDUAN: What does "everything on the table mean" though? The only thing we can do is deal in the theoretical. We don't know if Donald Trump will show the attributes of a candidate you're looking for or if he will continue to do more of the same. If he continues to do more of the same, what does everything on the table mean then?

VANDER PLAATS: Well, what it is, if he continues down a path where it's just, you know, undisciplined and reckless and things of that nature, then the delegates have a huge responsibility. And the delegates are the ones in charge. The delegates make the rules. They get to determine it. That's why it's a presumptive nominee until you get to Cleveland.

Now, I'm hoping -- we have six weeks to watch, and what I have told our people, our supporters, we're in wait-and-see mode. We're watching Trump. We're hoping and praying the best for Donald Trump. Donald Trump is a friend of mine. I want to encourage him to be the best leader he can be so we can defeat a Hillary Clinton at the end of the day. So he's got six weeks leading into Cleveland for the delegates to come around him and to have the concerns, you know, laid to rest. But right now, when you have a speaker of the House, Paul Ryan, being concerned, you have a state legislator in Iowa, who left the Republican Party, a couple of Congress people who withdrew their endorsement, that's a cause for pause moment. That's a concern issue.

(CROSSTALK)

BOLDUAN: Sean Spicer of the RNC, he just said this because I asked him about this concept that lot more people are talking about. He said that this is great Twitter conversation, something people love to talk about.

Stick with me right now, Bob.

We're just looking right now at live pictures of Elizabeth Warren leaving the meeting with Hillary Clinton. We see her pulling out. She looks like she's smiling. Who knows what that smile means and what is behind it. We'll continue to follow that. We're going to continue to follow that.

But I wanted to make sure we brought that as we've been watching that picture outside of Hillary Clinton's home in Washington as Hillary Clinton sitting down with Elizabeth Warren for this meeting that everyone is obviously said has fueled wild speculation of what the meeting could mean.

But, Bob, let's continue our conversation because I don't think you need to comment about that meeting.

Let's comment about this conversation I had with Sean Spicer, though, on the concept of a coup. He said this is a great Twitter conversation, something people love to talk about at barbecues and amongst the New York elite, but this is not the direction we're headed in right now. What do you? Think?

[11:45:27] VANDER PLAATS: Well, this shouldn't be even Twitter conversation, and the fact that it is Twitter conversation is concerning. What we want to do is have a strong candidate. There's a meeting coming up, Kate, that you're well aware of on June 21 with faith leaders in New York. I think it's a great opportunity, there's no press there, for a great conversation with leave a lot of causes and fears around his candidacy. One of the best things he can do is let us know he's going to surround him with the best and the brightest principled conservative people in his cabinet. The first indicator will be who he puts out for his V.P. choice. We're hopeful. We want to encourage him. But at the same time, when he has a misstep or he disqualifies a judge because of his race, we have to hold him accountable. That's what leaders need to do.

BOLDUAN: And that's what many of the leaders in your party are doing. That's why it is so interesting to watch this play out and see what it means. This is what is fueling the speculation of a coup.

Put Bob Vander Plaats in the column of not for a coup, at least not yet.

Bob, great to see you. Thank you.

VANDER PLAATS: Good to see you, Kate.

BOLDUAN: Thank you so much.

Coming up for us, a trail of unpaid bills, hundreds of workers accusing Donald Trump of not paying some of his bills. That's according to a new investigation by "USA Today." Up next, we'll talk to the reporter who broke the story, a three-month investigation into this.

We'll be right back.

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[11:50:47] BOLDUAN: An explosive new report by "USA Today" finds a trail of unpaid bills by Donald Trump. In a three-month investigation, the newspaper reviewed more than 3500 lawsuits and federal actions against Trump. It found hundreds of cases in which he and his companies refuse to pay their bills. The list of aggrieved parties include carpenters, painters, waiters, even lawyers.

Joining me now is Steve Reilly, investigative reporter and data specialist for "USA Today," the man behind this report.

Steve, thank you so much for joining me.

So, a three-month investigation. It's a big report. I read it this morning. Sum it up for our viewers. What did you find?

STEVE REILLY, INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER & DATA SPECIALIST, USA TODAY: That's right. As you said, we started looking at litigation involving Donald Trump and his companies over his decades in business. More than 3500 lawsuits in which Mr. Trump or his company has been a litigant. And the article on today's newspaper looks specifically at cases in which Donald Trump or his companies had been alleged to stiff workers for services provided. That's what we looked at. It's a full range of businesses and workers from dishwasher to Manhattan real estate brokers with which Donald Trump has worked.

BOLDUAN: I mean, obviously, every one of these parties, every one of these carpenters and waiters will have a different story of what their interactions were with Donald Trump. But what stuck out with you? Why weren't they paid? What was the dispute?

REILLY: There appears to have been a pattern in these cases. I mean, some of the contractors we talked to specifically said they met with representatives or the Trumps themselves towards the end of their work and we're told that they wouldn't receive the final payment but they were welcome to work on future Trump projects.

When I spoke with Mr. Trump for this article, his feedback was that if the contract wasn't paid fully, it's because he was unhappy with the services or the contractor didn't meet the terms of the contract. So there are two different stories that what's going on here. But contractors generally say they feel satisfied in terms of the contract, they did the work and were paid not sufficiently.

BOLDUAN: Talk to me about the response from Donald Trump and your conversations with Donald Trump and his daughter, Ivanka, about these allegations. They know they're part of these lawsuits but what did they say when you contacted them to respond to your report?

REILLY: Mr. Trump, I would characterize it as very defensive and he said he's proud of his record of paying businesses on time. He said pretty categorically that if a business owner isn't paid on time or fully, it's because he's not happy with the work. He also said that's the way the country should run. So this is part of his management style we're looking at. And he, you know, is running on his business record, and we looked at that and, you know, found some -- found all these disputes.

BOLDUAN: Steve Reilly, thank you. I heard everybody went to "USA Today" to see this investigation, this three-months' work.

Really appreciate it.

REILLY: Thank you.

BOLDUAN: Thanks so much.

Ahead for us, minutes from now, Hillary Clinton will give her first policy speech since clinching the Democratic nomination.

Donald Trump will also be speaking and taking the stage, his first since the last time we saw him, which was a different Donald Trump, the scripted teleprompter Donald Trump. Which one are we going to see? We'll bring you both events live.

But first, we want to honor this week's "CNN Hero." Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED CNN HERO: This population is the most likely to become harmless and to be incarcerated and jobless. The odds are stacked high against them and they finally get to that amazing place of their own space because they've never had their own home and they're sleeping on the floor.

We need to lift them up and create this foundation from which they can thrive.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

[11:55:06] BOLDUAN: To see more of Georgia's story and how she's give these former foster kids a real chance for success, watch her amazing story right now at CNNheroes.com.

We'll be right back.

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BOLDUAN: Today marks the final farewell to Muhammad Ali. We want to show you live pictures of the funeral procession happening right now, honoring the man known by so many as "The Greatest." It's taking place as we speak. And one of the big moments planned in this -- I believe a 19-mile procession -- you can hear them cheering for him -- is him passing by his childhood home. You can hear the cheers as this is happening as we speak.

After the funeral today, the family will be holding a huge public memorial service in celebration of his life. President Bill Clinton will be among those speakers eulogizing Ali.