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AT THIS HOUR WITH BERMAN AND MICHAELA

Trump Controversies Erupt; U.S. Air Strikes in Libya against ISIS. Aired 11-11:30a ET

Aired August 1, 2016 - 11:00   ET

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


(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

[11:00:00] KHIZR KHAN, FATHER OF FALLEN U.S. SOLDIER: Donald Trump, you have sacrificed nothing.

DONALD TRUMP, (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE & CEO, TRUMP ORGANIZATION: I think I made a lot of sacrifices. I work very, very hard.

KHAN: Every decent Republican has rebuked his behavior.

TRUMP: If you look at his wife, she was standing there. Maybe she wasn't allowed to have anything to say.

GHAZALA KHAN, MOTHER OF FALLEN U.S. SOLDIER: My religion or my family or my culture never stopped me saying whatever I want to say.

HILLARY CLINTON, (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE & FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: He has consistently insulted and demeaned groups of Americans. One doesn't know where the bottom is.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. I'm Kate Bolduan.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm John Berman.

General election, meet general disarray. We've barely entered the next phase of the campaign season and there are new questions about Donald Trump's words, positions and heart. Just this morning, Trump was tweeting about the Gold Star family who lost a son in Iraq while they were speaking on CNN. This on top of his statements about how involved Russia is or isn't in Ukraine. This on top of claiming the NFL wrote him a letter about the presidential debate schedule and when the league says no such letter exists.

BOLDUAN: Donald Trump has been tweeting all morning but we will hear from him very soon. He's going to be holding a live town hall a little later this afternoon. It will be very interesting to see if Donald Trump addresses any of these issues when he takes the mic. One can never know until he takes to the mic.

At the very same time, Hillary Clinton is having to play a little clean up herself this morning after saying in an interview that the FBI director said she was truthful in answering questions about her e- mails. The fact checkers are having a field day with that one. We're going to get to that in just a second.

First, let's get in CNN's political director, David Chalian.

David, I think -- let's put it all in perspective for a second. How would you characterize the last 72 hours for Donald Trump?

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Well, clearly, it's been a very rocky 72 hours. But I would just say rocky 72 hours, dot, dot, dot, again. This is not the first rocky 72 hours we've seen for Donald Trump. Clearly, this is not anybody who would design a presidential campaign, they would not design these 72 hours as where they would want their candidate to be coming out of the conventions and heading into framing the fall debate. So I tend to look at this stuff, guys, I step back and I say, OK, what did Donald Trump do today to add voters to his coalition? Because we know his supports likely go nowhere. He doesn't tend to lose voters over these controversial moments for him. But where is he at? I think that's the critical question we need to look at going forward.

BERMAN: David, let me just read you a statement we got from Matt Thornberry, the chairman of the Armed Services Committee in the House. He says, "Along those lines, I think what you see with Donald Trump is when he starts down this cycle of hours of disarray or the campaign spins into this other cycle, it's when other Republicans step in and start saying things when you notice there's really trouble." This is the chairman of the Armed Services Committee. "I'm dismayed at the attacks Khizr and Ghazala Khan have endured after they spoke about their son's service and sacrifice. There's never enough honor we can show to those whose loved ones have made the sacrifice to our country. Service to our country is above politics. I believe each of us are called every day to show our deepest respect and gratitude to all of those who protect our freedom and their families."

Again, that's the Republican chair of the Armed Services Committee. No bones about it, he's differentiating himself from where the Republican candidate is.

CHALIAN: Right. I do understand one point Donald Trump is making, which is politics -- this became political because the Khans took to the stage at the Democratic National Convention. They wanted to make their son's service and sacrifice a political issue, as did the Clinton campaign, because it was clearly featured on the last night of the Democratic National Convention.

BOLDUAN: What do you think of Republicans? Do you think this hits the level where Republicans will start pulling back endorsements? So far, we have seen Republicans condemning what Donald Trump has said, trying to distance themselves from Donald Trump and what Donald Trump has said. I at least have not seen anyone pull back an endorsement.

CHALIAN: No, I haven't either. Guys, again, there's nothing -- there is nothing more inspiring about our country than the sacrifice someone makes of their own life to defend our country. It seems like an issue that Donald Trump would, in his right mind, just not touch, right? And that's why you're seeing all these Republican statements come out. But to me, these moments tell us again the bind the Republican Party's in. Because when you have someone like John McCain statement rebuking what Trump has said about the Khan's parents and about this issue, and yet nowhere in that statement is, "And this is why I am completely repudiating the Trump candidacy." That part is missing.

Same with Speaker Ryan. Same with Mitch McConnell. So this is what happens. The Republican Party gets in a bind, they feel they have to get out there and say this is clearly just wrong what he's doing and going after the mother of this fallen soldier. And yet, he is still their candidate at the end of the day.

BERMAN: All right, David Chalian, always great to have you. Thanks so much, David.

CHALIAN: Thank you.

BERMAN: A little earlier this morning, I did get a chance to speak to the Gold Star parents, Khizr and Ghazala Khan. I got a chance to ask them about this back and forth with Donald Trump, how they feel about it now, and if they have a current message. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

[11:05:17] BERMAN: Donald Trump said you attacked him at the Democratic convention. In a tweet, he said, "I was viciously attacked by Mr. Khan at the Democratic convention. Am I not allowed to respond?"

KHAN: Bear with me.

BERMAN: Go ahead.

KHAN: That is -- again, that is, again, his ignorance of the First Amendment. I have exactly same rights as he does. He had been abusing, disrespecting women, judges, all decent Americans. He had been so abusive of them. I exercise exactly same rights. That, again, proves his ignorance. He wants to have one set of rights for himself and he wants to have another set of rights for others. No. Somebody should tell him that there is equal dignity, equal protection of law in this country. That is why that Constitution came to play. I keep that in my pocket because I cherish this document. I wish somebody would read it to him.

BERMAN: Mrs. Khan, I want to talk to you, because Donald Trump specifically questioned you and questioned your silence at the Democratic convention last Thursday. I want to play you the sound. Undoubtedly, you've heard it by now of what he had to say about your choice not to speak on Thursday. Let's listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: His wife, if you look at his wife, she was standing there, she had nothing to say. She probably -- maybe she wasn't allowed to have anything to say. You tell me. But plenty of people have written that. She was extremely quiet. And it looked like she had nothing to say. A lot of people have said that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: Mrs. Khan, I would like to give you a chance to respond to that right now.

GHAZALA KHAN: I can say that my religion or my family or my culture never stopped me saying whatever I want to say. And my husband is very supportive of me in these things. I have all the rights as a wife, as a mother, as a daughter. I have done very well saying my mind out but that time was different, and anybody can see that, how different that time was when I was standing there in front of America. Without saying I word, I had lots of love. I touched lots of hearts. So I'm thankful for --

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BOLDUAN: There's a lot more of that interview.

But let's discuss what was said in that interview and where things stand right now going back and forth between Donald Trump and Mr. and Mrs. Khan here and what this means for the state of the race.

Republican strategist, Rich Galen, is joining us; Daisy Khan, executive director and founder of WIISE, Women's Islamic Initiative and Spirituality and Equality. Also with us, Margie Omera, Democratic pollster with PSB Research and the co-host of "The Pollsters Podcast; and CNN political commentator and Donald Trump supporter, Scottie Nell Hughes.

Thank you all so much for being here.

Scottie, to you.

Do you like where Donald Trump has taken this conversation in the past 72 hours, do you like this back and forth with Mr. and Mrs. Khan?

SCOTTIE NELL HUGHES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Of course not. I wish he never engaged it in the first place. But I think it's because he did feel he was attacked from that stage. And I feel like every time I've seen one of these interviews, someone has to put this disclaimer. This in no way disrespects the loss of their son. But does realize these are two separate issues we're talking about here. The Muslims that serve in our country are only .02 percent of all gold star families so when I'm coming on here, I'm talking to the other 4,486 soldiers and their families who have been killed because they've been over there trying to fight Islamic terrorists and I believe the Khans missed a great opportunity to talk about why their son fought for the freedom of America and why they moved to this country, with the opportunities of this country. Instead, they've made this a political gesture to sit there and try to discredit Mr. Trump and obviously get Hillary Clinton elected.

BERMAN: To be clear, the Khans to me this morning did speak when asked about the battle against Islamic terror and they said that the front lines here are with Muslim-Americans and that they're the very people who need to be engaged right now. And he agreed with some of Trump's statements that more needs to be done to protect this country, so the Khans have very much engaged in that.

HUGHES: They did not do that on the stage at the DNC when everybody was watching them. And the dad said himself today --

(CROSSTALK)

[11:09:55] BERMAN: But Scottie, but Scottie, Scottie, so they said what they said and you yourself said you wish Donald Trump hadn't responded.

Because Rich Galen, you've been in this game for a long time. You know and you've seen when leaders talk or engage with grieving families, these gold star families that have lost sons, daughters, mothers, sisters, that generally speaking it is done with a delicacy that we didn't necessarily see here with Donald Trump, specifically, when he questioned silent.

RICH GALEN, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Correct. All he needed to do was say -- Donald Trump, all he needed to do was say, I grieve with the family on the loss of their son, I thank him for his service. And this thing would have been over in 20 seconds. Instead, as usual, it stretched on into two days, three days. And Scottie's right, he never should have engaged. Once he did, he's in this.

There's a theory in astronomy that a star will continue to grow and produce things until it gets to iron. When it gets to producing iron, it will collapse on itself because iron takes more energy to produce than it does to fuse.

We've said this before, but it may well be that this issue is the iron in the Trump campaign story.

BOLDUAN: You think this might be -- this might be a step too far? And I feel like we have asked this question, everyone has asked this question after every --

(CROSSTALK)

GALEN: Yeah, I've been wrong 14 straight months. Got that.

BOLDUAN: No, no. It's true. But why -- Rich, I do want to get your take, why, Rich, do you think this might be a step too far, what is the difference?

GALEN: Because everybody -- this isn't Benghazi. This isn't Russia. This isn't Crimea. This is something every American gets. Americans take a specific I think -- have a specific place in their collective hearts and souls for people who have given sons and daughters to the protection of their country in a war, no matter what you think of the war. So I think this is one that really does have the capacity to stay on people's minds for a long time.

BERMAN: Daisy, let me bring you into this discussion.

Donald Trump's defense here, and we heard Scottie suggest it before, and we heard Donald Trump discuss it before and David Chalian brought it up, too. The Khans choose to be part of this political discussion when they walked on this stage. That's the most political place you can step during the two-week period we just finished, on the stage at one of these conventions. They chose to make a statement. By doing so, did they not open themselves up to being part of this political discussion?

DAISY KHAN, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR & FOUNDER, WIISE, WOMEN'S ISLAMIC INITIATIVE AND SPIRITUALITY AND EQUALITY: First of all, they didn't choose to, they were invited to. And all the reports that we hear is that they didn't even know they were going to be on stage until they actually got there. You know, when you've lost somebody like that and your entire community is being maligned or you're being accused of terrorism and your own son actually fought against the terrorists, you have an obligation to let the public know because the whole discourse around America is about Islam. We feel like we are a football that's being thrown around between the various camps.

It's an obligation on him to straighten out the record, to let Americans know that his son gave the ultimate sacrifice. I don't think it was polite sizing. I think it was simply stating the fact. And I think he was also speaking not only for American Muslims, for all the things we have endorsed with Trump, but he was al speaking about immigrants. You notice when he took his constitution out of his pocket, that's the one thing we immigrants do, we actually take the oath of citizenship and we swear we are going to uphold the constitution and its laws. We even swear that if called upon we will bear arms for this nation, that we would join the armed forces. So this is an obligation.

I think it was a teaching moment for America. He was simply coming on stage and saying America is much greater than what you're hearing Donald Trump say. So I think we should see it in that spirit. He was raising the bar.

BOLDUAN: I want you to respond to -- we heard -- Scottie mentioned -- Donald Trump, has said, it's actually two different things. That this isn't about -- this isn't about Mr. And Mrs. Khan or their son, this is about fighting Islamic terrorism. We saw Trump tweet about it today. Your take on that?

MARGIE OMERO, DEMOCRATIC POLLSTER, PSB RESEARCH: It doesn't really matter what he says. He's shown himself to be -- to lack basic temperament, basic compassion. I mean, I'm a mom. I was there on the floor. I knew exactly why Mrs. Khan wasn't speaking. It was -- she was overwhelmed with grief. It was obvious to anybody watching. And the fact that Trump doesn't see that is a sign that he lacks the basic humanity required to be the moral leader. To be someone we can look up to, that we want our children to aspire to be in and to feel inspired by. You know, he may have a tweet or two that vaguely tiptoes into policy. But make no mistake, the daily Trump is one that lacks just the basic temperament and knowledge and curiosity to be president.

(CROSSTALK)

[11:15:03] BERMAN: Scottie, let me just read you a statement from Senator McCain. Senator John McCain put out a statement and said, "Arizona is watching. It is time for Donald Trump to set the example for our country and the future of the Republican Party. It is not accompanied by unfettered license to defame those who are the best among us."

I'm curious what your response is to John McCain, to Matt Thornberry, the chairman of the Armed Services Committee. Roy Blunt, the Senator from Missouri, who put out a similar statement.

Who else did we hear from?

(CROSSTALK)

BOLDUAN: Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell.

BERMAN: -- from Colorado.

There are a lot of Republicans now putting out these statements, Scottie. What's your message to them?

HUGHES: My message to them is, first of all, I put more stock in people like Senator Sessions than John McCain.

BOLDUAN: Why?

HUGHES: John McCain in a very -- Senator Sessions -- or with John McCain in a very contentious race right now. I would encourage him -- everything he's doing right now is political so I don't put much into what he says --

(CROSSTALK)

BOLDUAN: But, Scottie, John McCain is one of the most -- I mean, John McCain is well respected on issues regarding, anything regarding military, especially military families.

HUGHES: But he's already shown his bias, his anti-Trump bias along this whole way. That's the one thing that's been the biggest pain to deal with is having t deal with McCain and Graham, others whose egos are hurt, the Republicans actually in the party have chosen Trump over them. I really don't put much stock into it.

Let me just point out why this is actually going to help Mr. Trump in the end. Outside of you and John being very fair in your questioning, you're on a panel we've seen all weekend, four versus one. There's never -- and that is why the American people are watching these segments and saying wait, maybe this is more politically motivated. This is what they're focusing on. They're not talking about yesterday. Hillary Clinton actually sitting there once again doubling down against the Benghazi soldiers --

(CROSSTALK)

BOLDUAN: Scottie, Scottie we're going to continue to that conversation. That is part of our conversation that --

(CROSSTALK)

BOLDUAN: -- we're going to be having and you're going to be part of that conversation after a commercial break. But criticizing the makeup of a panel does not help the argument for Donald Trump.

HUGHES: But it does help because it shows the continued media bias that you want to sit there and harp on him on these issues and you're forgetting the other issues on the other side.

(CROSSTALK)

HUGHES: She lied about the girl in the wheelchair in 1973, we've not talked about the issues on the other side. There's not a vetting process right now for the media --

(CROSSTALK)

BOLDUAN: Scottie, look at the images on the screen right now. You have Rich Galen, longtime respected Republican on this panel, as well as you. This makeup of this panel --

(CROSSTALK)

BOLDUAN: I'm not going to get into a disagreement about. We have a longtime relationship with you on this show. You know that we are fair.

HUGHES: But you, the hosts, are fair, yes. Rich, unfortunately, a longtime person criticizing Mr. Trump. And you're not actually looking at Mr. Khan, what his motivation, what his ties are, his background is. He's not somebody they just randomly picked from the floor. He is somebody that, you know, has ties to law firms that have tied to Clinton Global Initiative. There's a lot more to this story because it's not an easy thing for a long time the Democrats have used this type of idea of using someone to cover for the story. We saw it in --

(CROSSTALK)

BOLDUAN: You question Mr. Khan's motivations? You think he has some --

(CROSSTALK)

BOLDUAN: You think no matter what his background is -- I have no idea what you're talking about, what law firm he's connected to. You don't think he has a right to stand on the stage and voice his opinion as a Gold Star family?

HUGHES: Of course, he has the right to. We all have the constitutional right. But he has the right to sit there and honor his son. In doing that, he could have done a much better job of promoting how wonderful this country is, instead of sitting there and bashing and pointing out the hate and going on a media tour the last three days to discredit Mr. Trump.

OMERO: Your candidate attacked a grieving mother and you're concerned --

(CROSSTALK)

HUGHES: And your candidate attacked --

(CROSSTALK)

BOLDUAN: Scottie, let her talk. You've been talking for a long time.

BERMAN: Margie, go ahead.

OMERO: Your argument is we can't find more people to agree with Trump's decision to attack a grieving mother? That there should be 50 percent of the panel that agrees with attack a grieving mother? I'm sorry this is so beyond the pale, it's so egregious. It's dominated the news deliberately because that's what Trump does. And of course, we're talking about it because it's outrageous, it's disgusting.

(CROSSTALK)

BERMAN: Rich Galen?

(CROSSTALK)

BERMAN: Hang on, hang on, hang on, Scottie. There are four people on this panel. We have to let other people talk.

Including lifelong Republican, Rich Galen.

Rich, I want to get your take on where this discussion is going.

GALEN: Well, having been married for 44 years, I any better than to get in between two women who are having a spirited debate. I got that part.

Let me just say this, I was in favor of Donald Trump. I tried to defend him. I tried to be for him. I tell you when I fell out of love with him, Scottie, is when he got off the reservation on the federal judge, calling him a Mexican when it was his own personal case that was being tried, had nothing to do with the campaign. That's when I fell out of love with him --

(CROSSTALK)

[11:50:11] HUGHES: You're out of love with him, OK.

GALEN: No. Let me say, I could do in one word what you took 45,000 words to say. I'm going to repeat, iron. Every time you get into this thing, you're extending that iron into the star. And, I'm telling you, you're going about this the wrong way.

BOLDUAN: Guys, stand by. We've got a lot more to discussion.

Fact checkers are jumping all over Hillary Clinton's latest comments on her e-mail scandal. You're going to hear what she said that's not passing the truth test. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BOLDUAN: We'll get back to our political discussion in a second.

We have some breaking you. The U.S. has conducted air strikes inside Libya against ISIS. This is the first air strike of its kind in the area.

Let's get to Barbara Starr right now. She's got the breaking details.

Barbara, what are you picking up?

[11:24:47] BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Good morning to both of you.

The Pentagon announcing a short time ago that both manned and unmanned drone aircraft conducted a series of air strikes in Libya against ISIS targets.

Let's go to the map. This happened in a place called Sert. This is where the emerging Libyan government has been trying to fight ISIS. There may be upwards of 5,000 operatives in Libya. They've been trying to fight them. These air strikes now will help this very fledgling emerging government in Libya be able to push ISIS out and take hold.

Why is this so significant? Of course, because these ISIS operatives, this has been a training area for them to stage attacks across the border in other places. Libya, of course, just south of Italy, a short sail, if you will, across the Mediterranean into Europe. A lot of concern that ISIS operatives in Libya can move around and begin to conduct attacks in other places.

The Pentagon signaling this will be the first of many attacks. Other additional air strikes to support the new government in Libya.

Very interesting question here, why would you announce you're going to do more air strikes? Because if these ISIS operatives go on the run trying to avoid what they think are coming air strikes, they only have two places to go, out into the desert or out to sea. Much easier to find them and target them there -- John, Kate?

BERMAN: All right, Barbara Starr, thank you very much. We'll keep our eyes on that. A very interesting development in the battle against ISIS.

Twenty-six minutes after the hour. Donald Trump says Vladimir Putin won't invade Ukraine even though he kind of already has. Now Donald Trump tweeting more about this. Perhaps trying to re-characterize what he said and what he really meant.

BOLDUAN: Also this. What would you watch a debate between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton or an NFL game. Why that is now the center of the grand debate over presidential debates now. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)