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THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER
Interview With Tennessee Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn; Trump Flip-Flopping on Immigration?; Donald Trump's Health; E-mail Questions; Clinton Tries to Dismiss Email, Health Issues; Pence Reacts to AP Analysis of Clinton State Dept. Meetings. Aired 4-4:30p ET
Aired August 23, 2016 - 16:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: The World Wide Web turns 25 today, so www.happybirthday.com? THE LEAD starts right now.
She passed her physical on Jimmy Kimmel, but Hillary Clinton cannot outrun questions about her e-mails. Today, Donald Trump's call to take the investigation to a whole new level.
His doctor would have you believe that Donald Trump is as healthy as Superman. But how many buckets of fried chicken did Clark Kent eat? We take a look at Trump's physical fitness after he has spent days questioning Hillary Clinton's.
Plus, it almost always means you're going to die, so how did a 16- year-old boy become one of just four people in the past 50 years to survive a brain-eating amoeba?
All right, welcome to THE LEAD. I'm John Berman, in for Jake today.
Donald Trump is demanding a special prosecutor to investigate the Clinton Foundation after new e-mails raised questions about special donors getting access to the then secretary of state.
We're also following breaking news this afternoon. U.S. officials tell CNN "The New York Times" and other news organizations have been hacked by cyber-soldiers working for Russian intelligence. We will have more on both those stories in just a minute.
But, first, Donald Trump took out a red pen last night and seemingly made some changes to the cornerstone of his campaign, his immigration policy. The Republican nominee made no mention of a deportation force last night. Trump, claimed he merely wants to enforce laws already on the books.
Already on the books, does that mean Donald Trump now wants to continue the policies of Barack Obama when it comes to enforcing immigration law in this country?
Jason Carroll is in Austin, Texas, where Donald Trump is attending a town hall focused on immigration and border security tonight.
Jason, what are we expecting to hear in terms of laying out this policy, if it is in fact new?
JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, look, some of his critics are not likely to get the clarity they're looking for in terms of Donald Trump's immigration policy.
But, personally, we're hearing that he is going to address this issue when he takes the stage here tonight, speaking here in Texas, where, as you know, John, the issue of illegal immigration is a key issue here in the state.
But expect much of what he talks about tonight, expect him to continue to go after Hillary Clinton on the issue of those e-mails and the Clinton Foundation.
CARROLL (voice-over): Donald Trump transitions from defense over campaign missteps to offense against Hillary Clinton and the Clinton Foundation. He is accusing the foundation of so-called pay-for-play access to the State Department in exchange for donations to the foundation, even calling for a special prosecutor to investigate.
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The amounts involved, the favors done, and the significant number of times it was done require an expedited investigation by a special prosecutor.
CARROLL: Trump also taking aim at Clinton on the e-mail controversy, this after the FBI found nearly 15,000 e-mails and documents from her personal server that Clinton had not turned over to the State Department.
Last night, Clinton seemed to laugh off the latest developments with comedian Jimmy Kimmel.
HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: My e-mails are so boring.
JIMMY KIMMEL, HOST, "JIMMY KIMMEL LIVE": Yes. My aren't. Yes.
CLINTON: I'm embarrassed about that. They're so boring. So, we have already released, I don't know, 30,000-plus, so what's a few more?
CARROLL: A federal judge ordered the State Department to release the e-mails after a conservative watchdog requested the documents be made public.
Meanwhile, Trump facing criticism of his own after he made this appeal to African-American and Latino voters:
TRUMP: We will get rid of the crime. You will be able to walk down the street without getting shot. Right now, you walk down the street, you get shot.
CARROLL: Trump's critics also questioning his position on illegal immigration. Trump initially said he would deport some 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the United States, then saying he would first just deport the "bad ones."
Now his campaign calling the deportation plan to be determined and postponing a planned speech while it works out the specifics. In an interview last night, Trump saying he would enforce the laws already in place under President Obama, but Trump says with more energy.
TRUMP: Obama got tremendous numbers of people out of the country, Bush the same thing. Lots of people were brought out of the country with the existing laws. Well, I'm going to do the thing.
KELLYANNE CONWAY, TRUMP CAMPAIGN MANAGER: Immigration is a very complex issue. And to get the solutions right, to come out of with your specific plans should not be rushed.
CARROLL: One point is clear. Whether it is building a wall on the border or deporting illegal immigrants, Trump promising to do it quickly.
TRUMP: That wall will go up so fast, your head will spin.
They go around killing people and hurting people. And they are going to be out of this country so fast, your head will spin.
CARROLL: And, John, Donald Trump's campaign chairwoman says that Donald Trump is not changing his position on illegal immigration. She basically says the what he is doing is taking counsel, also she says, speaking to people on the best way to move forward with his ideas and his proposals -- John.
BERMAN: OK, Jason Carroll for us in Texas.
Let's talk more about all of this. Joining me now is Republican member of Congress Marsha Blackburn from Tennessee. She supports Donald Trump.
Congresswoman, thanks so much for being with us.
REP. MARSHA BLACKBURN (R), TENNESSEE: Yes, good to be with you. Thank you.
BERMAN: For some time, you have been calling for greater scrutiny of the Clinton Foundation. What do you want or what would you think a special prosecutor would do?
BLACKBURN: Well, a special prosecutor would laser-focus on what has transpired with the Clinton Foundation.
And you're correct. May 19, 2015, is when I was joined by many of my colleagues who sent a letter to the IRS inquiring about the tax-exempt status of the foundation, wanting to know how they were able to achieve this status when they have not filed their 990s, when they were accepting foreign contributions. They went from '98 to 2007 never reporting foreign contributions. And
so you have to ask, how were they able to do this? We have had subsequent letters to the FTC and then recently a letter to the IRS, FTC and FBI asking them to investigate.
We do have a referral to the Tax Exempt Organization Division of the IRS. But here is the thing. If you put a special prosecutor on it, they are not going to be under the thumb, if you will, or the guidance of the Department of Justice. They are going to act independently and separately.
They can assemble information that Congress has found, that others have found, and take a deeper dive into that.
BERMAN: A deeper dive, can I pick up on that?
BLACKBURN: Sure, absolutely.
BERMAN: So, you know, it is highly unlikely that the president will appoint a special prosecutor 77 days before the Election Day to investigate the Clinton Foundation. That seems highly unlikely.
Donald Trump says that the Clinton Foundation represents pay to play. Specifically, what evidence is there of that?
BERMAN: Because the FBI says they looked into and they saw no criminal activity. Look, politically questionable, that's a different story, but illegal activity, what evidence do you see of that when it comes to pay-to-play?
BLACKBURN: I would say go in and look at what has transpired between Frank Giustra, between Uranium One, between Laureate Education, Nigerian land deals. The information that has come out in this latest tranche of e-mails with Huma Abedin and an individual from the Clinton Foundation seeking access for individuals who have just made large contributions, when you look at it, John, you have got Bill Clinton, you have got Hillary Clinton, you have got the Clinton Foundation, and then you have the individual making the request.
And they are in this circuitous relationship. Our nation's foreign policy has never been for sale. The way Hillary Clinton -- they should not -- now they're saying, oh, look, what we will, we will do the right thing, we will shut the Clinton Foundation down if she wins.
BLACKBURN: And it should have been done when she was secretary of state.
BERMAN: I understand the question of appearances, something that Richard Lugar, then a senator, raised at the time she was coming in.
BERMAN: But, again, the question is, can you prove the quid pro quo here? And even Judicial Watch, which came out with its release, said there's no -- or they didn't come up with any proof of the quid pro quo.
I do want to move on to immigration right now and Donald Trump's policy on immigration. Last night, he used again language that I have not heard him use before. He says he wants to enforce the laws on the books. And then he referred to President Obama's policy on deportation.
And he said, well, I'm going to do the same thing.
So do you understand it to be the fact that Donald Trump's immigration plan is now to some degree a continuation of the Obama plan?
BLACKBURN: Oh, not at all.
The Obama administration has not enforced the laws that are on the books. And that has been one of the problems that we have had. I do appreciate the fact that Mr. Trump is listening to many individuals that, especially there in the House, when we have said let's do things one at a time. Build a wall first, and secure the border, whatever method you're going to use, technology, but secure that Southern border.
We're joined in that by so many individuals who are fighting drug trafficking, human trafficking, sex trafficking, that say you have to secure the Southern border first.
And I think there is beginning to be agreement on that. And then you get to the other issues. I have the legislation the CLEAR Act that would require deportation of criminal illegal aliens. Put that into effect. And then make certain that the laws that are on the books are being followed, that ISIS is following proper protocols, that preferential treatment is not being given to individuals that are coming legally into our country.
Make certain that you're looking seriously at this issue with the Office of Refugee Resettlement, the process that is taking place around the Syrian refugees. When you talk with so many of our groups who have been so engaged in refugee resettlement programs, they're very concerned with knowing that the terrorist organizations, that they can infiltrate that.
BERMAN: Congresswoman, again, what I was getting at right there is, what exactly is Donald Trump's policy right now?
And, again, I think there's some cloudiness about whether he says he will still work to deport the some 11 million immigrants who are in this country. Do you think that is still his plan, to force them out? BLACKBURN: I think that what you have is, he is saying let's do first things first.
And look at the laws on the books. Enforce those laws on the books, and then move forward from there. And going back to the Clinton Foundation and what you said there, what you have to do is take the information that you have and then see if that is going to lead you to anything that you would say is criminal activity.
It is questionable, the way they have worked with Uranium One and Laureate and the Nigerian land deal and paying for access. So, there is plenty there that needs to be reviewed about Hillary Clinton and her actions.
BERMAN: Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn, thanks so much for being with us. Appreciate it.
BERMAN: All right, a jar of pickles and a pulse. Now Hillary Clinton is tackling attacks on her health. That's next.
[16:16:11] BERMAN: With 77 days until Election Day, Hillary Clinton is facing a new call for an investigation with some fuzzy considered optics at the State Department. Donald Trump claims it was a pay for play relationship with her family's Clinton Foundation charity. Then, there is nearly 15,000 documents related to her e-mail that could go public just weeks before Election Day. All that, plus she is laughing off conspiracy theories about her physical health.
CNN's Jeff Zeleny joins us now from Washington.
Jeff, where is Secretary Clinton today and how is she responding to all of this?
JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Well, John, right now, she is in Los Angeles. And a few moments ago, she just left Justin Timberlake's house. Seriously, it's one of the four fundraising event she is having today. It still will star with Jennifer Aniston, Jamie Foxx and others. She is on a west coast fundraising swing to raise millions. In fact, $5 million at one event alone last week.
Her campaign believes she needs it to fight back on those allegations and accusations from Trump, particularly to pay for TV ads this fall, to try and hold on to a major lead she has in many critical battleground states.
JIMMY KIMMEL, TV HOST: Please welcome, Hillary Clinton. ZELENY (voice-over): The campaign trail goes Hollywood. From the late night talk show circuit, to star-studded fundraisers. Beyond the laughter, Hillary Clinton is not missing a chance to go after Donald Trump.
CLINTON: I would prefer to run against someone I thought was qualified to be president and temperamentally fit to be commander in chief.
ZELENY: But Trump is calling for a special prosecutor to investigate the private email server she used as secretary of state, a controversy she tried brushing aside with Jimmy Kimmel.
CLINTON: Jimmy, my e-mails are so boring. I'm embarrassed about that. They're so boring. So we already released I don't know, 30,000, plus. So, what's a few more?
ZELENY: While she says the content may be boring, the FBI director says her handling of them were careless and Trump hopes to use against her.
TRUMP: I want an investigation by a special prosecutor immediately, immediately, immediately.
ZELENY: But Trump has veered from controversy to conspiracy, the latest is on an unfounded attack on her health.
CLINTON: Take my pulse while I'm talking to you.
CLINTON: So, make sure I'm alive.
KIMMEL: Can you open this jar of pickles? This is not for amateurs.
ZELENY: The life blood of the campaign is cash and she raised $6.3 million on Monday alone, at two stops in Beverly Hills. First at the home of basketball great Magic Johnson, and later with entertainment mogul, Haim Saban, which drew protesters. And today, she is making the rounds to four fundraisers, including one hosted by star Justin Timberlake.
Meanwhile, friends of the Clintons are defending the family's charitable foundation from fierce attacks from Trump.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is who we are.
ZELENY: They say it's work around the world like fighting malaria has been overshadowed by allegations of the foundation's political influence.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A million people had to die but we have to prove a point. OK, go ahead, you have your point, wow. What a great idea.
ZELENY: Tonight the fight to define Trump is intensifying with a new ad from the pro-Clinton super PAC.
TRUMP: They're bringing drugs, they're bringing crime. They're rapist. It's laying the ground work for their biggest battle yet. Their first debate, only a month away.
CLINTON: You've got to be prepared for like whacky stuff that comes at you. And I'm drawing on my experience in elementary school.
ZELENY: Now that debate, scheduled for September 26th, could offer Trump his best chance yet to turn the tide of this race and to give some skeptical Republicans more reason to hope. The Clinton campaign, John, is doing everything they can to define Donald Trump before then and she is scheduled to deliver yet another installment of her Trump lecture series, this time on temperament, Thursday, in Nevada.
[16:20:06] BERMAN: All right. Jeff Zeleny for us, thanks a lot, Jeff.
Donald Trump asking questions about Hillary Clinton's health, but what about his own? He is a year older and he admits he likes fast food.
Then, four cases of very rare and deadly infection have killed three people this year alone, but one teenager survived. How he became only the fourth person ever to beat this infection in more than five decades.
[16:25:01] BERMAN: All right. Welcome back.
For the past several days, we have heard Donald Trump and his supporters raised questions or concerns about Hillary Clinton's health, concern is really might not be the right word. They're more like conspiracy theories with no evidence to back them up.
But what about Trump's own health?
CNN chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, joins us right now.
And, Sanjay, what doe know about the medical history of the Republican nominee?
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, John, we don't know a lot. We get some hints from the candidate himself on the campaign trail. We know, for example, he doesn't sleep much, he says three to four hours a night. He does eat fast food. Golf is one of his primary forms of exercise. These are things that he's talked about. There was a single letter that sort of came out from his doctor sort of trying to piece it together. It was a very short summary.
But here's what we learned in aggregate. Take a look. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)
GUPTA (voice-over): This presidential election, many spin doctors are posing as real doctors.
TRUMP: She also lacks the mental and physical stamina.
GUPTA: But when it comes to strength and stamina or anything else, what do we really know about Donald Trump's health? The only real document we have is this letter from his personal physician, Dr. Harold Bornstein.
What struck me as a doctor is the language used. A recent medical example showed only positive results. In medicine, positive results can mean a negative outcome. Details such as a normal blood pressure and that he takes daily aspirin and statin are important, but don't really tell you anything about his overall health now.
Dr. Bornstein signs the letter as a fellow of the American College of Gastroenterologists. But when we spoke to the association, they said he hasn't been a member there in more than 20 years. And despite signing on behalf of Lenox Hill Hospital's division of Gastroenterology, he's not listed on staff and just has admitting privileges at the hospital.
And finally the letter ends with, quote, "If elected, Mr. Trump, I can state unequivocally, will be the healthiest individual ever elected to the presidency." That, of course, is simply unknowable.
GUPTA: Part of the problem, John, obviously, when you have more questions and answers with a letter like this, that adds even more fuel to the spin doctors. So, there's request that we've been requesting to sit down and talk to the doctors to try and get more information about the health.
BERMAN: Obviously, as journalists, we want transparency, Sanjay. Any medical organizations weighing in on this?
GUPTA: Yes, you know, it's interesting. The American Psychiatric Association came out in a pretty strong admonishment and this dates back to Barry Goldwater where people were sort of making these armchair diagnosis of candidates. It happens all the time.
But they came out and said, look, there are too many people, including physicians, who are making these diagnoses from a far and they want it to stop. They basically say that is completely not appropriate in situations for anyone other than the doctor who's examined the patient to be weighing in on a diagnosis. Whether that diagnosis is a favorable one or not so, John.
BERMAN: All right. Dr. Sanjay Gupta, thanks a lot.
GUPTA: Thank you.
BERMAN: Some breaking news into CNN.
Moments ago, Governor Mike Pence issued a blistering statement hitting Hillary Clinton for pay-to-play politics, what he calls, and demanding the Justice Department launch a criminal probe. He is reacting to a brand new "Associated Press" analysis that shows a lot of overlap between the Clinton Foundation and the Clinton State Department, at least in terms of who Secretary Clinton was seeing. More than half of the people outside of government that ended up with a face-to-face meeting or a one-on-one phone call with the then-secretary of state were also donors to the Clinton Foundation.
Let's talk about this. I want to bring in our political panel advisor. Senior advisor and Donald Trump's campaign's Sarah Huckabee- Sanders joins us, and Democratic strategist Michael Feldman.
Michael, let me tart with you, because this "A.P." report, again, specifically, it's more than half of private individuals that met with Hillary Clinton during her time as a secretary of state were foundation donors. Now, this doesn't include foreign heads of state or foreign officials or U.S. government officials. But again, more than half of her meetings are foundation donors?
MICHAEL FELDMAN, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: I think what you'll find when you look at the list in detail is that there's a lot of overlap between people who gave to the foundation, and people who were involved with causes, and who would otherwise get a meeting with the secretary of state or can certainly ask for a meeting with the secretary of state.
You have to understand, the Clinton Foundation was set up to basically match donors with causes. So, it's not unusual that people, high net worth individuals who were able to give substantial sums of money to help prevent HIV and AIDS transmission in Africa, if you're one of those 11.5 million people, by the way, who had access to treatment because of the Clinton Foundation, you certainly got the Clinton Foundation was set up.
If you're one of those 50,000 preventable deaths, you know, somebody who survived because of the work at the Clinton Foundation, you're certainly glad that money was there. But I don't think it's that unusual that there was a overlap between a pool of people who funded the foundation and a pool of people who had otherwise have reason to deal with the Clintons in their official capacities.
BERMAN: And, look, you can also make the case that a lot of the private meetings she would be having with friends and private people she knew, who would also donate to the foundation. But, though, Michael, doesn't get to the issue, again, just of appearances. And there was so much work and there is so much concern, when she came into that job. The Obama administration was concerned about this. They want a strict separation.
And when you're dealing with more than the visitations, when you have Doug Band emailing Huma Abedin to set up meetings, again, it's just the appearance that there are these fuzzy lines.