Return to Transcripts main page
THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER
Interview With General John Allen; Hillary Clinton Night at Democratic National Convention; Final Day of DNC Under Way Ahead Of Clinton Speech. Aired 4-4:30p ET
Aired July 28, 2016 - 16:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: It will be a night of history and a night of a daunting political challenge.
It was in this city in 1776 when John Adams read his wife's admonition to the founding fathers not to ignore women -- quote -- "If care and attention is not paid to the ladies," she wrote, "we are determined to foment a rebellion."
Well, that care and attention was not paid to the ladies. And earlier this week, we saw a 102-year-old delegate voice support for the first woman major party presidential nominee, that delegate born before women had the right to vote.
Welcome to THE LEAD. We're live from day four of the Democratic National Convention.
Let's turn from this moment 's historical significance to the tough task that Hillary Clinton faces this evening. We have heard this week the biggest Democratic acts in the land booked night after night, Michelle Obama, Bernie Sanders, Bill Clinton, Vice President Joe Biden, President Obama, all telling you why Donald Trump is the wrong man for the job and Hillary Clinton is the right woman for the job.
But these three nights of shall we call them opening acts, no matter how well-received they were, they might not matter much if the Democratic nominee herself does not deliver.
Can she rise to the challenge in a neck-and-neck race causing Democrats anxiety and insomnia? We have teams spread across this convention hall as we await the gavel to call the final day to order.
We will start right now with chief political correspondent Dana Bash. She's on the floor.
Dana, Hillary Clinton will soon make I think it's fair to call it the most important speech of her political career. Polls suggest most Americans don't trust her and she's in a tough status quo position in what seems to be a change election year and yet, of course, her opponent is Donald Trump, who has his problems as well. What do we know about what she's going to say this evening?
DANA BASH, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jake, she wrote what became a famous book and a famous phrase from the book, the title, "It Takes a Village," when she was first lady during her husband's White House years.
And she is going to kind of link that to the theme of the night and certainly the theme that we have seen lately of the Clinton campaign, which is stronger together, a very clear sort of discussion of why not only this country needs to stand together, but the Democratic Party, but also an attempt to be contrary to the message we heard one week ago from Donald Trump, which is to suggest that he can make things better.
So her idea and her theme is going to be, we all need to work together, we need to come behind the government, all of us, as opposed to Donald Trump's message last night. That is the thrust of the theme that Clinton aides say that they will give tonight.
One thing I should tell you is that, when we were walking in here about an hour ago, a Clinton aide told me that she was still working on the speech. So, even now, a few hours before she gives it, it's not finally complete.
TAPPER: Dana Bash, thank you so much.
Much more to talk about in advance of tonight's convention speeches.
But, first, I want to bring news on the national security front. James Clapper, the retired general who is the director of national intelligence, just weighed in on suggestions from the Clinton campaign and others that the Russian government is trying to interfere in the U.S. presidential election by hacking in to the Democratic National Committee's e-mail server and then leaking the e-mails to WikiLeaks.
WikiLeaks will not confirm where they got the e-mails from. And you will remember just yesterday in response to allegations, Donald Trump said that Russia should try to find those 30,000 deleted e-mails from Hillary Clinton's private server during her tenure at secretary of state. Today, Trump said he was just being sarcastic.
But let's listen to what General Clapper had to say just moments ago about the charge that Russia was definitively involved.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
QUESTION: An official in the White House described -- said to me there is little doubt it's Russia. I just wonder, does the intelligence community share that certainty?
JAMES CLAPPER, NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE DIRECTOR: Well, I will just say that I don't think we're quite ready yet to make a call on attribution.
I mean, we all know there are just a few usual suspects out there. But in terms of the process that we try to stick to, I don't think we're ready to make a public call on that yet.
[16:05:03] QUESTION: And is that because you haven't made a decision to publicly
name and shame or because there is still some uncertainty?
CLAPPER: A little of both.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: Let's bring in right now special presidential -- the former special presidential envoy for the Global Coalition to counter ISIS, retired General John Allen. He endorsed Hillary Clinton this week and he will be speaking tonight right here at the convention.
General, it's good to have you here. Thanks for joining us.
LT. GEN. JOHN ALLEN (RET.), INTERNATIONAL COALITION COORDINATOR: Thanks, Jake. It's great to be with you, as always.
TAPPER: This is unusual for you. You're not a political guy.
ALLEN: No, I'm not.
TAPPER: Are you a Democrat?
ALLEN: No, I'm not aligned with either party.
But I support Hillary Clinton because I have known her. She was secretary of state when I commanded our forces in Afghanistan. She was of huge value to me. She set the conditions diplomatically for much of the success that we were able to accomplish, very supportive.
She understands that the influence of the United States is exerted through our relationships and our alliances. And she gets this issue. And that is a very important aspect of her.
TAPPER: This is none of my business, really, but have you voted Democratic your whole life or...
ALLEN: I won't talk about...
TAPPER: You're not going to talk about how you vote?
ALLEN: Not at all. Not at all.
TAPPER: But is this -- should -- I mean, people out there might think, well, he's probably just a Democrat and now he's retired, so he will...
ALLEN: They should think that I'm supporting Hillary Clinton for president of the United States and to be commander in chief. That's what they should think.
TAPPER: And let me ask you, what do you think of Donald Trump? Because we have heard suggestions that there are a lot of people in the military who are wary of him because of comments that he's made along the lines of he would order our troops to kill the families of terrorists, to bring back torture, et cetera. What do you make of that?
ALLEN: Well, I think we have to be very careful about comments in that regard.
The armed forces of the United States of America are the finest on the planet. And they should never be reduced or even considered to be reduced to being an instrument of torture or an instrument of murder or an instrument of any illegal activity.
This organization, the armed forces of the United States of America, stands for the best of what we are and who we are as a people and as a republic.
And we have got to be careful about making statements like that, because it will turn allies very cold on us. It will turn our opponents against us. And just the suggestion that the United States may use its military to torture in the battle space can create radicalization that we will pay for with our troops at the front edge of American influence.
TAPPER: Mr. Trump yesterday, and he says he was just being sarcastic, but he said something that sounded to a lot of critics, especially Leon Panetta, who was secretary of defense at one point, it sounded to him like Mr. Trump was calling on Putin to commit espionage, to get those 30,000 missing e-mails from Hillary Clinton's private server and then leak them to the press.
What did you think when you heard that?
ALLEN: First thing I know is that the Russians are watching this campaign very, very carefully.
The future of their relationship with the United States is going to be defined in many ways by the outcome of this election. They are going to be watching what is said in the campaign. They are going to be watching what is said by the candidates. They are going to be examining very carefully the personalities of both.
And they are going to be looking, Jake, for vulnerabilities. They are going to be looking for opportunities when some day during a crisis they can exploit that vulnerability by -- because of the close observation they have made of our candidates and their personalities.
So, there is no time when sarcasm isn't going to be viewed by the Russians as an inherent indication of really what is on that individual's mind, one way or the other.
TAPPER: Putin isn't really known for his sense of humor.
I want to ask you. FBI Director James Comey predicted that success against ISIS in the battlefield could mean more possible terrorist attacks here in the U.S. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JAMES COMEY, FBI DIRECTOR: At some point, there is going to be a terrorist diaspora out of Syria like we have never seen before.
Not all of the Islamic State's killers are going to die on the battlefield. Hundreds and hundreds of them, when the coalition succeeds -- and I'm confident it will -- in crushing the Islamic State, through the fingers of that crush are going to come hundreds of really dangerous people.
And they are going to flow out primarily towards Western Europe, but we might as well be right next door to Western Europe.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: All right, so that is a terrifying thought. You headed up the coalition, anti-ISIS coalition. What do we need to be doing to prevent that from happening?
ALLEN: Well, we have known for a long time that the -- that ISIS as an entity would ultimately go global in a global network and use that network in many respects to attack us in our homelands, in our heartlands to try to break up the cohesion and the resolve of the coalition to fight and defeat this organization.
And, in fact, we are shrinking them. They are, in fact, being defeated on the ground in Iraq and Syria. But it's the global network that we must focus on now. It's the global network that provides ISIS the capacity to both inspire and to direct attacks.
It's the global network that provides the capacity for command and control. It's along that global network that they can move fighters and weapons and money.
So, we really need to double down as a coalition and as a community of nations to understand this global network, to ensure we're integrating our intelligence and law enforcement activities, along with our security services, to try to disrupt this network, no matter where we find it, how often we find it, because, by disrupting that network, it enhances our security at home.
Director Comey is exactly right. Now is the time, as the pressure is increased on Da'esh, on ISIL, that they're going to strike out as much as they possibly can to reduce the pressure on the center.
We need to continue to pressure the center. We need to shrink the center. We need to crush the center. But at the same time, we have to be organized in our intelligence and law enforcement and security services to detect the key nodes and critical vulnerabilities and the critical pathways of this network, and be in constant disruption operations around the world.
And until we do that, we're going to continue to see those kinds of isolated attacks.
TAPPER: General Allen, it's always good to see you.
ALLEN: Good to see you.
TAPPER: Thank you for coming. Good luck. I know you're not worried. You have faced tougher things than audiences before. Thank you so much.
ALLEN: I wish you the best, Jake. Thanks.
TAPPER: Just hours from now, Hillary Clinton will take the stage. And after three days of rousing speeches, ramping up to this evening, the big question, will she be able to close on a high note?
Stay with us.
[16:15:15] JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back to THE LEAD, live from the Democratic National Convention in beautiful Philadelphia.
It looks like time healed wounds made during a feisty race between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton in 2008. And now, an embrace between the first African-American president and the woman who might become the first female to hold that office.
Let's bring in CNN's Brianna Keilar.
Brianna, some folks are seeing a disconnects between President Clinton calling his wife a change-maker, embracing the change label, while President Obama basically said stay the course.
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: No, that's right. And Bill Clinton, of course, known for being politically astute and pretty good at gauging the mood of the electorate. He didn't really have to be all that astute this week, though, to see it because some of the disunity at this convention was on full display, and that is the challenge for Hillary Clinton, trying to convince Americans that Democrats deserve a third term in the White House as she acknowledges that many of them want a change.
KEILAR (voice-over): Tonight, the stakes for Hillary Clinton couldn't be higher. Her speech the grand finale of the national convention with an introduction from her daughter Chelsea, who has been working on her speech for weeks.
CHELSEA CLINTON, DAUGHTER OF HILLARY CLINTON: I'm going to try really hard to not cry.
MATT LAUER, NBC NEWS: You're allowed.
CLINTON: I just -- I think my heart will burst.
KEILAR: Hillary Clinton will try to deliver an optimistic rebuttal to Donald Trump's message at the GOP convention last week. DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: Nearly 180,000 illegal
immigrants with criminal records ordered deported from our country are tonight roaming free to threaten peaceful citizens.
KEILAR: President Obama setting a high bar last night.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I stand before you again tonight, after almost two terms as your president, to tell you I am more optimistic about the future of America.
KEILAR: He offered his most vocal endorsement yet.
OBAMA: I can say with confidence there has never been a man or a woman, not me, not Bill, nobody more qualified than Hillary Clinton to serve as president of the United States of America.
KEILAR: As he took aim at Clinton' opponent.
OBAMA: Does anyone really believe in guy who spent his 70 years on this earth showing no regard for working people is suddenly going to be your champion?
KEILAR: Vice President Joe Biden and the man who wants to replace him, Virginia Senator Tim Kaine, hitting Trump as well.
JOSEPH BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: He's trying to tell us he cares about the middle class. Give me a break. That's a bunch of malarkey.
SEN. TIM KAINE (D), VICE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: We're it going to build a wall and make Mexico pay for it, believe me.
REP. DEBBIE WASSERMAN SCHULTZ (D), FLORIDA: Everybody now, settle down.
KEILAR: During a week punctuated by the resignation of the party chairwoman over leaked e-mails that showed the DNC favoring Clinton over Bernie Sanders.
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I), VERMONT: We have got to elect Hillary Clinton and Tim Kaine.
KEILAR: And protests of Sanders' supporters loathe to support Clinton, this speech is her biggest chance to unify her party and build a convention bounce.
KEILAR: And next for Hillary Clinton, it is a bus tour with her running mate Tim Kaine revealing where she thinks she is vulnerable. She'll be heading to western Pennsylvania and Ohio courting white blue collar voters -- Jake.
TAPPER: All right. Brianna Keilar, thank you.
The final day of the Democratic National Convention now officially under way. We're going to be back with live coverage, next. Stay with us.
[16:22:44] TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD, live from the Democratic National Convention.
We're just a few hours away from the most consequential speech of Hillary Clinton's life, I think, it's fair to say. Let's go right to our panel. David Gergen, Gloria Borger, Michael Smerconish, Nia- Malika Henderson, former Hillary Clinton campaign manager for 2008, Patti Solis Doyle, Van Jones, Republican strategist Ana Navarro, and the former lieutenant governor of South Carolina, and a Donald Trump supporter, Andre Bauer.
Thanks one and all for being here.
Patti, let me start with you. What does she need to do tonight?
PATTI SOLIS DOYLE, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, look, I think all week, we've heard from people who know her, give testimony to her humanity, give testimony too why we should trust her. Her husband gave stories that we've never heard about their courtship, about their marriage. She's going to be introduced by her daughter.
So, everyone has been personal. And I think what she needs to do is be personal herself. We need to hear from her about why she wants to be president, what drives her. And be aspirational. This is not her forte giving speeches. Perhaps the best orders not the only in the Democratic Party, but in the country, in the world, have given speeches this week.
So, the bar is pretty high. But if she is revealing, I think she can hit it out of the park.
TAPPER: Ana Navarro, you are a Republican whole not vote for Donald Trump.
ANA NAVARRO, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I like to call myself a Republican in exile right now.
TAPPER: A Republican in exile.
What do you think Hillary Clinton needs to do?
NAVARRO: You know, I think she does need to be personal. I think she needs to be likeable. She's got a likability issue that she's got to address. She's also got a trustworthiness issue.
She also has to show she is qualified in ways that Donald Trump is not. That she is steady in ways that Donald Trump is not. She has to address national security.
This has been a great convention, great speeches, uplifting, optimistic, a very stark contrast with what we heard in Cleveland. But if there's been something missing, it's been that component of national security, of fighting ISIS. She need as to speak to those people that are in fear, that feel that the country and this world are under siege. So, I think she needs to do all those things. She needs to do it with grace. She is the first woman. She needs do it with strength.
Look, it's no an easy formula that she's got to somehow figure out.
[16:25:04] TAPPER: And here's a red alarm. I want to bring up these new Gallup numbers showing that Hillary Clinton has a problem with young voters. Gallup's daily tracking poll found only 31 percent of 18 to 29-year-olds approve of her. That's down from 47 percent less than a year ago.
Van Jones, that's -- you know, that's a siren.
VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, that's a big part of the Obama coalition that is right now still trying to digest the Sanders defeat. And part of the problem when you have a chair like Debbie, who did not do what you see Donna Brazile is doing. Donna Brazile is calling every single major leader inside, not just Sanders, not just the top people that you know, all the grassroots people and telling them we need you, we need you. When that doesn't happen, if you don't feel that the DNC is on your side and fair, then when it's time to turn, it's hard to make that turn.
And so, I think that the Hillary Clinton campaign may pay a price with younger voters for a moment. At the same time, I think that I saw something last night with the president. There was a feeling of remembering. For some of these people who were very young when he first came on the scene don't forget, and there was a recalling of what this is all about. The healing has begun, but it should not have taken this long to get the healing under way. And I appreciate Donna Brazile for her great work.
TAPPER: We have less than a minute until the pledge of allegiance.
Andre, I want to play for you some sound from Harry Reid responding about Russia. And if we don't have time for your response, then we'll get to it after. Let's roll that sound.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. HARRY REID (D-NV), SENATE MINORITY LEADER: He's being dumb. Donald Trump can't control his mouth. He can't control his brain. He's proven that time after time.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: Your response?
ANDRE BAUER, DONALD TRUMP SUPPORTER: The people are refreshed to have a voice of someone that says what they think. They're refreshed to have somebody different than Washington and I think they made a big mistake this week in parading out so many politicians, 13 out of 18 yesterday and they continue to show -- people think Washington is broken. It's not anymore about Republicans and Democrats. They want all of
them gone. If it weren't for their ability to raise enormous amounts of money, all of them would get beat. They clean house.
TAPPER: OK. The Pledge of Allegiance is coming up. We're going to take a break. Let's stand and listen. These are newly naturalized citizens performing the pledge. Let's listen in.
(PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE)
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
TAPPER: Those are newly naturalized citizens of the United States giving the pledge of allegiance.
And now, we're going to hear Star Swain performed the national anthem. She is an assistant principal at Jefferson County Middle and High School in Tallahassee. You might know her from her a cappella rendition of the anthem outside the Lincoln Memorial.
TAPPER: Star Swain, the assistant principal at Jefferson County middle high school in Tallahassee whose a cappella rendition of the national anthem earned her more than 35 million Facebook views.