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AT THIS HOUR WITH BERMAN AND MICHAELA
Obama Awards Lt. Col. Charles Kettles Medal of Honor; Republican National Convention Starts Today; Trump Campaign Chief: Kasich "Embarrassing" Ohio; France Attacker Searched Online for Terrorist Propaganda; Baton Rouge Police Shooter "Meticulously Planned" Ambush; Trump on Obama Body Language: "Something is Going On." Aired 11:30a-12p ET
Aired July 18, 2016 - 11:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[11:30:01] BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Here at home, it might take time, but we have to remember everyone on our team, just like Chuck Kettles, sometimes we have to turn around and head back and help those who need a lift.
Chuck says the most gratifying part of this whole story is that Dewey's (ph) name and Rowland's name and the name of 42 other Americans he saved are not etched in the solemn granite wall not far from here that memorializes the fallen from the Vietnam War. Instead, it will be Chuck Kettles' name forever etched on the walls that communities have built from southern California to South Carolina in honor of those who have earned the Medal of Honor.
Of course, Chuck says, "All this attention is a lot of hubbub, but I'll survive."
Chuck, you survived much worse than this ceremony.
And on behalf of the American people, let me say that this hubbub is richly and roundly deserved. As a military agent (ph) prepares to read the citation, please join me in saluting this proud American soldier and veteran who reminds us all of the true meaning of service, Lieutenant Colonel Chuck Kettles.
OBAMA: Ladies and gentlemen, that concludes the ceremony, but we have a reception. I hear the food here is pretty good.
Let's give one more round of applause to Mr. Chuck Kettles.
(END OF SPEECH)
[11:36:19] KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: An amazing American, an amazing American, an amazing man. An amazing story, as President Obama awards the nation's highest military honor, the Medal of Honor, to Lieutenant Colonel Chuck Kettles. It was an amazing story that he laid out. He says it's almost too amazing to be true. Going into rescue soldiers in Vietnam, taking on enemy fire, going in not once, not twice, not three times, but four times to get his men out. Getting that amazing award today. He said the message -- President Obama said, the message is we leave no man behind. He also said that's a message that applies today, acknowledging, in the president's words, we've had a tough couple of weeks, saying that we can and should look out for one another.
There from the White House, Chuck Kettles. Lieutenant Colonel Chuck Kettles, we salute you today. Going to take a moment for that.
Then we're going to get back to Cleveland where we're watching the Republican National Convention, getting ready to kick off.
We're also watching, any moment, Hillary Clinton will be giving her first remarks since the deadly police ambush in Baton Rouge. She's expected to talk race and talk policing. We're going to bring that to you live when it happens.
We'll be right back.
[11:40:37] BOLDUAN: Welcome back, everybody. Talk about the Republican National Convention, it's kicking off just hours from now.
Let's talk about the convention and the week ahead, and what is all going to happen today.
Rob Frost is here. He is chairman of the Republican Party here in Cuyahoga County, Ohio.
Rob, thank you for being here. Thank you for sitting with me. I really appreciate it.
So what should we be expecting this week? There's been a whole lot of lead-up to the convention.
ROB FROST, CHAIRMAN, CUYAHOGA COUNTY, OHIO, REPUBLICAN PARTY: Right.
BOLDUAN: And today it gets under way.
FROST: A lot of build-up, a lot of anticipation. Great kickoff events last night. But as you've spoken about, opening night, the theme is security, national security, international security. What we're thinking with here is keeping Cleveland safe. I really want to give kudos to the state of Ohio. A lot of presence of Ohio Highway Patrol state troopers around. But also really to the city of Cleveland. I intend to make a motion in the afternoon session to thank the city of Cleveland for all they've done to keeps safe, to put on a great convention, and to be great hosts. As the Republican chairman here in Cleveland, that means a lot to me, not just as a Republican but as a Clevelander.
BOLDUAN: There's a lot of concern, a lot of questions about security at this moment. That is the theme tonight. I want to ask you about the theme in just a second. This morning on their way to the convention this morning, Paul Manafort, Donald Trump's campaign chairman, he was on "Morning Joe." He was asked about the fact that Governor John Kasich is not attending the convention. We've known that for a while. He's not going to be attending. What Manafort went further and said that John Kasich was embarrassing his state. Is Governor Kasich embarrassing his state right now?
FROST: No, what Governor Kasich is doing, what we've been doing with Governor Kasich is here in Ohio building a broader tent, a diverse, more tolerant Republican party. We've heard Governor Kasich talk about that.
FROST: He's not holding out with any sort of kind of grudge. He wants to see a positive message. What we know, if you know Ohio politics, is you don't win here unless you've got a positive message. We're going to work with Donald Trump. We're going to support him fully here in Ohio. We'll make him a better candidate. That will start the unifying theme tonight.
BOLDUAN: You are mentioning unifying. What Paul Manafort says, is that helping unify? John Kasich's got some pretty great approval ratings in the state. Does that help the party now?
FROST: Sometimes you see this sort of back and forth. And Paul Manafort, very experienced political hand. I'm sure he knows what he's doing and there's conversations going on behind the scenes as well.
But what means a lot to us, we have seen concerns around the country, issues with police, violence against police, most recently, concerns about violence at the hands of police as well. We've had incidents even here in Cleveland in the recent years. What we haven't seen here though, because of the great relationship, particularly led by Governor Kasich and Mayor Frank Jackson, a Republican and a Democrat, is a great community political relationship. So people might be upset, might be deeply upset at times, but we've been able to handle those incidents with civil disobedience, peaceful protests, and been able to work through that and make our community stronger. That's what's on display here today.
It's also a stronger Republican party in Cleveland because of those efforts. Since 2008, Democrats in Cuyahoga County have gone from 400,000 registered Democrats to 200,000. Republicans have gone from about 70,000 to about 150,000. We've narrowed the gap on registration. And John Kasich, in re-election, carried Cuyahoga County, the first Republican governor ever to do that. BOLDUAN: When you talk about security, let's hope it's a safe and
secure convention. There are protests planned. Hope they're peaceful.
BOLDUAN: Rob, thank you for your time.
FROST: Thank you.
BOLDUAN: Thanks for having us in Cleveland.
FROST: Thank you.
BOLDUAN: We'll head back to John in Baton Rouge. Some breaking news coming in -- John?
BERMAN: All right, thanks, Kate.
We've got some new information coming in on the investigation into the terror attack in France. Prosecutors say the man who drove the truck into the crowds there on Bastille Day, killing 84 people, he searched online, we're told, for terrorist propaganda.
Joining us from France, CNN's Will Ripley.
Will, what are you learning?
[11:44:57] WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: John, all of this seems to indicate premeditated and coordinated plot, possibly with the help of others. There are three others, three suspects in Paris speaking with investigators right now who have 24 hours to come up with charges or release these people. We're told one of them received a text message from the attacker, Mohamed Bouhlel, just before the attack on July 14th, on Bastille Day, talking about the acquisition of weapons. He texted somebody. He also visited the Promenade des Anglais several types leading up to the attack. He took selfies including in the crowd on the night of the attack. He also took selfies with himself, with his truck. Online, besides searching for ISIS propaganda and decapitation videos, he was searching for things like "fatal car accident, horrific car accident." So this seems to indicate there was a rapid radicalization. He started growing his beard out just eight days before the attack. He spent 1600 Euros to rent the truck he used to kill 84 people, of which some still are not identified, and injured more than 200 others. That's just the beginning of what investigators say they're discovering.
They say even if he hadn't directly pledged allegiance to the terror group ISIS, he was certainly inspired by their online propaganda. And this is somebody who had before this a wild sex life, a history of violence against his wife and his children and his in-laws. He used to throw parties, he was a heavy drinker, he went to the gym. But yet in a very short period of time, this man, who fit the profile of essentially a petty with a volatile personality and with mental health issues, he became a radical jihad who committed the deadliest terrorist act in the West conducted by one person. So it just goes to show the challenge investigators are facing.
They're tracking thousands of people in France right now. This guy was never on a watch list, never on anyone's radar, until it was too late -- John?
BERMAN: Boy, Will Ripley for us in France.
Thank you so much, Will.
Meanwhile in Baton Rouge, we're getting new information on the deadly police ambush here. A source with knowledge of the investigation tells CNN a tape of the attack shows a meticulously planned approach towards the officers. The killer, an ex-Marine, armed with an assault-style rifle. He died in a shootout with police. He'd come to this neighborhood about a mile from here, police headquarters, to carry out this attack.
Joining us here right now, Grayson Police Chief Mitch Bratton, president of the Louisiana Associate of Chiefs of Police.
Chief, thank you so much for being with us, I appreciate it.
MITCH BRATTON, CHIEF, GRAYSON POLICE DEPARTMENT & FORMER PRESIDENT, LOUISIANA ASSOCIATE OF CHIEFS OF POLICE: Yes, sir, thank you.
BERMAN: We're learning how from officials it does seem as if this killer targeted police specifically, he went out of his way to kill police officers. What are you now hearing from your officers around the state?
BRATTON: Well, in my term as president of chiefs ended last Friday, so I'm technically the past president. At our meeting last week prior to the Baton Rouge attacks and then again since these attacks, I'm hearing a lot. We're trying to balance being able to provide the same level of service to our citizens and to our communities they've com, to expect and they deserve with our need to stay safe and go home every night. And so it's a new day when things like this came to us. We're having to adapt. A lot of agencies are requiring an amount of officers that respond to calls. Some things are being investigated further over the telephone before officers are being dispatched. Just an overall sense of cautiousness.
BERMAN: The need to stay safe and get home every night. You're feeling that in a new way because?
BRATTON: You know, it's always there in the back of your mind, but now it's at our back door. When people are actually coming and targeting us, any time an officer puts this badge on and goes out the door, they know they could try to stop someone from committing an act and lose their life in the process. But now you can simply drive up somewhere and you're the target. So it's a whole new field of events we're having to be prepared for.
BERMAN: You say you're trying to balance it but that means in some cases giving up, perhaps, speed, running to a scene. BRATTON: Unfortunately. You know, if the administration says that
there needs to be two cars, whatever they may choose, it may add seconds to that response time to get those cars together and get there, which is something we definitely don't want to do, but right now, it's the only tradeoff that we have.
BERMAN: Can I ask you one question? There's been a lot of talk about the president. The president spoke out about the need to support our police. Donald Trump said it wasn't enough. Donald Trump says just look at the body language of the president. There's something going on.
BRATTON: Well, I'll be honest, I've said from the beginning, I'm not going to do a referendum on our president based on officers' blood on the street in Baton Rouge.
BERMAN: I respect that, Chief.
Mitch Bratton, thank you for being with us. Our thoughts go out to you and your forces
BRATTON: John, thanks so much.
[11:50:04:] BERMAN: All right, Kate, let's go back to you.
BOLDUAN: We are live in Cleveland at the Republican National Convention. It is going to kick off in just a few hours.
At the very same time, Hillary Clinton is set to give her first remarks since the deadly police ambush in Baton Rouge. She will be speaking at the NAACP national convention happening in Cincinnati, Ohio. She is expected to talk about race, talk about policing in America, talk about these tensions. We'll be waiting to hear her remarks, what tone she sets. We'll have that for you as well.
We'll be right back.
BOLDUAN: As the GOP convention is set to get under way, Donald Trump is weighing in on the deadly police shootings in Baton Rouge and on President Obama's response to the tragedy. Listen here to Trump on FOX just this morning.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE & CEO, TRUMP ORGANIZATION (voice-over): Well, I watched the president, that sometimes the words are OK, but you just look at the body language. There's something going on. Look, there's something going on. And the words are not often OK, by the way --
UNIDENTIFIED FOX ANCHOR: What does this mean, there's something going on?
TRUMP: There's just bad feeling and a lot of bad feeling about him. I see it, too. There's a lot of bad feeling about him. We have a country that's --
UNIDENTIFIED FOX ANCHOR: You know --
TRUMP: We have a country that has not been like this since I can remember it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BOLDUAN: Joining me now to discuss this and the whole week ahead, Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, who is a Trump supporter; CNN political commentators, Van Jones, a former Obama administration official; and Lanhee Chen, former policy director for Mitt Romney's 2012 campaign; and Margaret Hoover, who worked in the White House and for two Republican campaigns; and joining us from New York, Christine Quinn, the former speaker of the New York City Council and a Hillary Clinton supporter.
Guys, thank you so much for being here in the wonderful city of Cleveland.
I hope, as you guys were sitting down, Mr. Secretary of State, you could hear that sound bite from Donald Trump on FOX this morning.
KRIS KOBACH, KANSAS SECRETARY OF STATE & TRUMP SUPPORTER: Yeah.
BOLDUAN: He said he's used this language before. I like to argue, words matter. And I want to get your take on this. He says if you look at the body language that he has, there's something going on, there's something going on. What is Donald Trump suggesting, in your mind? What is Donald Trump suggesting here?
KOBACH: I think it depends on which body language he's talking about, so I'd like to see the exact clip of the president that he's talking about. But you know, I think he may be talking about a broader sense of unease, that a lot of Americans feel like we're not safe, we're domestically, and there needs to be a sense of urgency, a sense of restoring law and order. Maybe he's picking up on that. It's hard to say without looking at the exact body language he's talking about.
VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Look, for me, it was troubling to hear him say that because you're in a situation where right now, you know, lives are on the line. Increasing tension, increasing suspicion, increasing the idea that maybe the president is in on it or something, I think that actually makes everybody less safe. I think in these moments of national tragedy, what we used to do -- we talk about what we used to do -- we used to rally around the president. After 9/11, everybody rallies around the president. In this situation, it's almost like these national tragedies become an opportunity to further divide the country, rather than bring it together.
LANHEE CHEN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: You know, I think the reason why he's engaging in this is because he realizes he needs to unify the party, right? And this is one way to unify Republicans, to attack Barack Obama. So look, I don't think the innuendo is good for the country in the long run, nor for the Republican Party in the long run. But he's clearly trying to say, look, I will be the leader of this party, and I do that by attacking Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.
BOLDUAN: Margaret, isn't there a way to unify the party without innuendos like this?
MARGARET HOOVER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yeah, previously, when we've had elections for president, candidates have used the opportunity to draw contrast between themselves and their opponent on substantive policy matters. This is something we haven't seen in this campaign. And again, what Donald Trump is doing is actually not so different from the innuendo he was drawing when he ran the birther campaign against Barack Obama in 2012. He's simply trying to suggest that the president is somehow illegitimate in terms of his office and where, from the position he comes at.
[11:55:17] BOLDUAN: You know, we'll be hearing from Hillary Clinton for the first time since Baton Rouge, Christine, since the Baton Rouge ambush. We're going to hear from Hillary Clinton very soon, actually. Donald Trump is talking about Barack Obama and how he's responded, saying there's something going on there with this innuendo. How do you want Hillary Clinton to respond?
CHRISTINE QUINN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: First of all, I just want to say, when the attorney general said, well, we have to see which clip and what body language? There is no body language from the president of the United States that indicates something's going on.
And in fact, his statement right after that, Donald Trump's, was about how people feel. This is really, I believe, an un-American way for a presidential candidate to act at a time of really national crisis, if you think about it, to be throwing out these kind of unfounded attacks that are clearly an attempt to imply that the president is somehow involved in all of this. I just think it is completely outrageous. And in addition to that, he says it because he has nothing to say. We will hear real ideas and vision from Secretary Clinton. Donald Trump, as we saw over and over on the "60 Minutes" interview last night, has nothing to say about how to lead this country because he doesn't have the experience or the temperament to be president.
BOLDUAN: I want to get to "60 Minutes" in a second.
I want you to respond, though, Mr. Secretary. Is it un-American what Donald Trump's saying?
KOBACH: No, not un-American at all. The way I read it is he's saying, look, the president doesn't seem sincere. When we see the president talking about recent terrorist attacks and won't say "radical Islam" --
(CROSSTALK) BOLDUAN: Do you think the president doesn't seem sincere?
KOBACH: Many times, especially talking about ISIS and our war on radical Islam --
QUINN: Do you think he's being insincere about this attack? Do you think he's un-sincere on what happened in Baton Rouge?
BOLDUAN: Hold on, Christine.
BOLDUAN: Hold on, Christine.
KOBACH: No, I don't think he's insincere, but I think what Donald Trump's talking about, when he's talking about he feels the president's body language suggests this, I think a lot of Americans understand what I'm saying. Sometimes the president will get out there, he'll read the teleprompter, but you don't feel like he's angry or believes what he's saying. That's how I perceive it.
BOLDUAN: Hold on Christine. One of the big things tonight --
BOLDUAN: One of theme's tonight -- it's OK, satellite delay -- is security. Make America great again is the theme tonight from the RNC and from Donald Trump. Last night, Donald Trump talked about security, he talked about ISIS. He says he wants to wage war on ISIS. This is a little bit of what Donald Trump said on 0 minutes" last night. Listen, guys.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I am going to have very few troops on the ground. We are going to have unbelievable intelligence, which we need, which right now we don't have. We don't have the people over there.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BOLDUAN: You heard that last bit right there.
You ran policy for Mitt Romney in 2012. What policy is he laying out there? Is Donald Trump suggesting that the military personnel we have on the ground are not the right people?
CHEN: It's unclear to me what he's suggesting, because the problem is, particularly if you look at his foreign policy, incoherence after incoherence. The problem is we're at the stage of the campaign where we have to get serious about this, because we're talking about selecting the next commander-in=chief. So he's got to lay out, what is he going to do differently from this administration when it comes to the dealings with ISIS, for example? How will he deal with the Middle East differently, more than just, well, maybe we should just pull back from our alliances, because that the not going to get to done.
BOLDUAN: If it's so incoherent, how did he win the primary? Why do people support him?
BOLDUAN: People like the message he's sending.
HOOVER: Let's talk about who those people were. It was a plurality of Republican primary voters, who constitute maybe 25 percent of people who vote Republican, OK? He did not win a majority. More than 50 percent of Republicans are dissatisfied with Donald Trump as the nominee. That's how we're starting the first day of the Republican National Convention. We need to remember that. But in terms of his foreign policy here, he's actually been incredibly consistent. He is this new isolationist, wants to pull back from the world. And frankly, what he's suggesting for ISIS is not that different from Hillary Clinton. She wants to defeat is with a limited footprint on the ground and she wants to embolden our allies. Frankly, if you apples to apples, there's not a lot of difference there, so if you're looking for contrast in how Donald Trump is going to defeat ISIS, the substance just isn't there.
BOLDUAN: What do you think of the speakers tonight on this whole topic, Van? You've got Melania Trump. She's going to be speaking. You have survivors from the Benghazi attack speaking, along with others. What do you think?
BOLDUAN: They'll be unloading on Hillary Clinton, I can promise you that.
JONES: Well, sure. But I think sometimes we might be missing the point of what Trump is trying to do. I don't think Trump is applying for the job of the best prepared person with the smartest military background. I think he's trying to say I have the attitude that has been missing, I'm tough and I'm willing to do whatever is needed to be done, because he's trying to deal with a sense of anxiety. What you're going to see tonight, I think, is the other side of Trump. They're trying to do two things that usually don't go well together.