Return to Transcripts main page

AT THIS HOUR WITH BERMAN AND MICHAELA

E-mails Haunt Clinton as Clinton/Colin Powell E-mails Released; Clinton Responds to RNC Chair's Tweet; Libertarian Candidate Needs Clarification on "Aleppo". Aired 11:30-12p ET

Aired September 8, 2016 - 11:30   ET

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


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[11:33:15] KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Hillary Clinton's problem with her e-mails still not going away. Last night, explaining herself and her use of a private e-mail server during her time as secretary of state. Listen to what she said at the forum last night.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HILLARY CLINTON, (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I have said repeatedly it was a mistake to have a personal account. I would certainly not do it again. I make no excuses for it. Classified material has a header which says "top secret, secret, confidential." Nothing, and I will repeat this, and this is verified in the report by the Department of Justice, none of the e-mails sent or received by me had such a header.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: All right, want to bring in CNN justice correspondent, Evan Perez.

Evan, along with this last night, there was also the release of an e- mail exchange between former Secretary of State Colin Powell and then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton about the use of private e-mail. Explain.

EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, John. Representative Elijah Cummings on the Oversight Committee in the House, which has been investigating all this issue, released this e- mail. It's the first time we've seen this actual e-mail that we heard a lot about actually.

It's kind of fascinating. It goes back to 2009. Hillary Clinton had just taken office. And she asked Colin Powell for advice on what to do, how he operated as secretary of state, whether or not he was able to use his Blackberry. Remember, around that time, President Obama had to get a special Blackberry issued by the NSA so he could keep using one. That's what she was kind of after.

[11:35:00] What we get from Colin Powell is fascinating simply because it has that he went to try to evade his personal matters getting into the government e-mail systems.

We'll read a piece of his response. It says here, "There is a real danger. If it is public and that you have a Blackberry and if it (sic) government" -- I'm sorry -- "and you are using it, government or not, to do business, it may become an official record and subject to the law. Reading about the president's Blackberry rules this morning, it sounds like it won't be as useful as it used to be. Be very careful. I got around it all by not saying much and using systems that captured the data."

You get a sense from this e-mail from Colin Powell, he's kind of trying to push back against the rules that were trying to limit how much he could use Blackberry, frankly, for security reasons. But keep in mind this is 2005 when Colin Powell was in office. When Hillary Clinton takes office, it's 2009. The cybersecurity concerns were far different. And, really, what she ends up doing is setting up a private server to all her government business, which is not really anything that Colin Powell ever did while he was in office.

BOLDUAN: And she's still answering questions about it and still talking about it this morning.

PEREZ: Exactly.

BOLDUAN: Was asked a lot about it last night.

Evan, thank you very much. We'll talk more about that, ahead.

In the meantime, the chair of the Republican National Committee, under fire this morning after hitting Hillary Clinton for "not smiling enough" in last night's national security forum. We'll get the Clinton response. That's next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[11:39:54] BERMAN: 14 hours of presidential politics, things keep on coming.

Our panel is joining us, CNN political commentator and Hillary Clinton supporter, Hilary Rosen; Republican political commentator and Donald Trump supporter, Paris Dennard; and Alice Stewart is here, the former communications director for Ted Cruz as he ran for president.

Hilary Rosen, last segment, we heard about Hillary Clinton and the e- mails. We heard some sound last night from the forum. Still fascinates me she spent so much time re-litigating in great detail what was printed and not printed on the e-mails in terms of what was marked classified and not marked classified. When the FBI director flatly said, she should have known she was sending and receiving classified e-mails. It seems to me when she tries to re-litigate the issue of what markings were on what papers, that isn't the level of candor in some cases that I think people want to hear on this issue.

HILARY ROSEN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, first, I think everybody would agree that there was far too much discussion last night about the e-mails in a way, because people wanted to hear more from Hillary Clinton about what she will do as commander-in-chief. I think Matt Lauer did a disservice by letting so much conversation about the emails. Her response on that, I don't think she's re- litigating it. She's apologized. She's said numerous times it was a mistake. What she was doing was showing some respect for this audience, a new audience of veterans who care about national security, who care about these issues, to give them the respect, to try and explain herself in terms of her treatment of classified information. And what she said was true, John, it wasn't a falsehood. They were not marked at the top. The FBI director has said that, you know, et cetera.

(CROSSTALK)

ROSEN: So, you know, it has been talked about over and over again.

But I do think her attempt last night to explain herself wasn't about re-litigating, it was about trying to show some respect.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Paris, I'm sure you want to respond.

PARIS DENNARD, REPUBLICAN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: At the end of the day, this comes down to judgment. Secretary Clinton should have known better. She's been in the public service, in high-profile positions for decades. She should know what classified, things mean, whether it was at the top, at the bottom or in the middle. And why it's important for the American people, especially the audience, to Hilary's point, to hear about the e-mails is because the issue is her judgment on national security and fighting terrorism. The root of this e-mail controversy stems from Benghazi. So we have to keep that in context. She should know better --

(CROSSTALK)

BERMAN: No, no, no, no, the way it came before Congress was because of the Benghazi investigation. That wasn't why --

(CROSSTALK)

DENNARD: That's true.

BERMAN: That wasn't why -- it was after the fact she made the decision to have the private server.

DENNARD: That's correct. I was referring to what -- the Hill inquiries and investigations there. But --

(CROSSTALK)

ROSEN: Which showed nothing, demonstrated nothing.

(CROSSTALK)

BOLDUAN: Go ahead.

DENNARD: The FBI director stands in stark contrast to that opinion. And the American people stand in stark contrast to that opinion. That's why the issue about the e-mails and her candor and her re- litigating is important, because we have to get to the bottom of it. It speaks to her judgment and is she capable of leading. She has an ad out about that says it takes one call about judgment, one issue. Well, her judgment, her character, as relates to her time as secretary of state, on Egypt, Syria, and all of the other countries in the Middle East where she failed us. We have to talk about this issue. It's going to be an issue all the way until November.

BOLDUAN: Paris, your candidate --

(CROSSTALK)

BOLDUAN: Hold on, Hilary.

I do want to ask you, get your take, Alice, on this, involving the Republican committee. The chairman of the committee, Reince Priebus, is taking heat this morning after sending out a tweet last night criticizing Hillary Clinton for not smiling. "Hillary Clinton was angry and defensive the entire time, no smile and uncomfortable, upset she was caught wrongly sending our secrets." The "no smile" bit, that's what everyone is pouncing on, saying it smacks of sexism. Other people said, "Smile more, why isn't she smiling," they have been hit with this very same criticism throughout the campaign. No one's talking about Donald Trump smiling. This morning, Hillary Clinton was asked about it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CLINTON: I don't take my advice and I don't take anything seriously that comes from the RNC. We were talking about serious issues last night. I know the difference between what we have to do to fix the V.A., what we have to do to take the fight to ISIS, then just making political happy talk.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BOLDUAN: Alice, do you take any issue, after everything that was talked night, that's what Reince Priebus wanted to tweet about, not smiling?

ALICE STEWART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I think if you look at the full tweet, you understand what he was trying to say, look, surely this was a serious topic and it deserves serious composure by those involved in the forum. But the Democrats are pouncing on the smile part of the text because they don't want to talk about the part of the text where he says she wrongly sent our secrets. That is the takeaway from the tweet. Is that she, as Paris said, showed a complete lack of judgment when it compares to the use of --

(CROSSTALK)

[11:45:24] BOLDUAN: Alice, we're not talking about --

(CROSSTALK)

BERMAN: Alice, the smile thing though, that may all be true. As a communications expert, was about the smile there, because it would distract from those points you wanted to make? STEWART: In hindsight, if he wanted to focus on the real issue, which

is wrongly sending the secrets, he could have left that out. But I don't think for the Democrats and Hillary supporters to pounce on the fact and claim that it's sexist, I think that's completely inappropriate. I think a lot of times comments are made about Hillary Clinton that is the go-to line to say it's sexist, in order to distract from the real issue. I think what Reince was trying to show --

(CROSSTALK)

BOLDUAN: We did not find the tweet from Reince Priebus anywhere on his feed about anywhere else smiling.

BERMAN: Ever.

BOLDUAN: Talking about any smiling.

STEWART: Well, I think we're making a mountain out of a molehill. I think the focus of that tweet is about sending secrets through he e- mail server. I think too much is being made out of that part of the tweet. When clearly the message is what was really the takeaway from the night is that she is still, still, trying to explain why she exposed classified information through her private e-mail server and that's going to be an issue that will continue to dog her as we get through the next 60 days. That's the focus and that's the real issue. Democrats can distract about --

(CROSSTALK)

BOLDUAN: Hillary?

ROSEN: Look at me. I'm smiling. That's how silly I think this conversation is in a way.

When Hillary Clinton is in the Oval Office making the hard decisions about the deployment of American soldiers, I do not want her smiling. I want her thoughtful. And I don't want her being made a fool like the way Donald Trump did last night.

(CROSSTALK)

BERMAN: All right, guys.

BOLDUAN: All right, for the record, we did check the tape. They both smiled when they came on stage, not many smiles after that.

DENNARD: Let's all smile right now.

(CROSSTALK)

BOLDUAN: I'm smiling on the inside very often, Paris, on the inside.

BERMAN: We're going to smile as we go to break.

Thanks so much, guys. Coming up next, a stunning question, really sending shockwaves throughout this political race right now. We're not talking about a Democrat. We're not talking about a Republican candidate for president. We're talking about the Libertarian candidate for president, what he said, what he asked, and what is now being said about it.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

[11:50:38] MATT LAUER, NBC NEWS ANCHOR: What would you do if you were elected about Aleppo?

GARY JOHNSON, LIBERTARIAN PARTY PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: About?

LAUER: Aleppo.

JOHNSON: And what is Aleppo?

LAUER: You're kidding.

JOHNSON: No.

LAUER: Aleppo is in Syria. It's the epicenter of the refugee crisis --

JOHNSON: OK, got it. Got it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BOLDUAN: That was Libertarian presidential candidate, Gary Johnson, this morning on MSNBC. And what is not surprisingly become one of the biggest "holy wow" moments of this election.

BERMAN: Let's bring in Bill Carter, CNN media analyst and author of "The War for Late Night, When Leno Went Early and Television Went Crazy"; Kirsten Powers, CNN political analyst and "USA Today" columnist and former Clinton administration official; --

(CROSSTALK)

BERMAN: -- and Jackie Kucinich, CNN political analyst and Washington bureau chief of "The Daily Beast."

Kirsten, I want to start with you.

Gary Johnson just put out a statement and he said what was about Aleppo. He was immediately thinking about an acronym and not the Syrian conflict. "I blanked. It happens. It will happen again during the course of the campaign."

KIRSTEN POWERS, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: This was glaring. But what does it matter? Gary Johnson isn't going to be president of the United States. What effect does it have on the campaign? KIRSTEN POWERS, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I think it is going to have an

effect because he's pulling 9 percent or 10 percent on most polls. It's not a minor issue. Some people think he's polling equally. The recent public policy polls in Florida shows in the four-way match-up including Jill Stein, you have Trump up. When you do a head-to-head with Hillary, Hillary is up. There's an effect of having you in the race. So I think if he flounders or drops out, it could make a difference with him pulling away from other people.

BOLDUAN: Jackie, with that, despite the explanation, is Gary Johnson's time in this race over?

JACKIE KUCINICH, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: The other thing this says is it sort of squelching any talk of lowering the bar to get into the debate. There was some talk about is 15 percent too high? After those comments, probably not. There is a reason. Kerstin is right. He does make a difference. Should he drop out? It is up to Gary Johnson. It is going to be very hard to recover from #whatisAleppo at this point.

BERMAN: Bill Carter, media expert, there's a question about whether or not the moderator of the forum was fair, was too tough on one candidate, didn't press back on another candidate. Matt Lauer let Donald Trump get away with saying that he was always opposed to a war when the evidence was to the contrary. It leads to the question, is there a double standard when it comes to measuring these two candidate candidates, and what does that mean going forward this.

BILL CARTER, CNN MEDIA ANALYST: This has dominated the discussions really since the primary. Trump was being given a lot less scrutiny and can get away with saying much less. I think the other thing -- I think Matt Lauer is a good interview. Let me say that, in general. I think this format was terrible for him, not well set up. I think it was overly aggressive with her. He didn't have a chance to talk to her bout the e-mail before he was going to go after it. It seemed a little hostile. Objectively speaking, that seemed a little hostile. If you're interviewing these people, you're under incredible scrutiny yourself. The media itself has become a big part of the story and whether or not they're standing up to the job is something everyone is examining.

BOLDUAN: Kirsten, to that point, David Axelrod tweeted something interesting. He said, "Matt Lauer's performance last night could actually help Hillary Clinton in the debate." His line of thinking is, if Lester Holt reads the critiques of his colleague, he's not going to give Donald Trump the same pass.

POWERS: Right. I doubt Matt Lauer went into it thinking that he was going to give Donald Trump a pass. But when I was watching it with Hillary, I thought this is good, he's being aggressive. I think it's good he's being aggressive with her, but will he be as aggressive with Donald Trump. You can't be aggressive with one and less aggressive with the other. It seemed he was less aggressive with Donald Trump than Hillary Clinton.

[11:55:10] BERMAN: Jackie, in the debate, what role do the moderators play? Is it their job to say, I'm sorry, what you just said is wrong, or is it the job of the other candidate?

KUCINICH: I feel like if it distracts away from the debate, it couldn't be about the moderator debating the candidate. Something about Trump's statement about Iraq, so pat at the present timely false, does warrant a mention. The scrutiny is going to be on the moderator for sure as much as the candidates going into this. They're going to be watching very closely. Donald Trump is a very different person to handle than Hillary Clinton. He's very different than any presidential candidate. And Matt Lauer isn't the first anchor to be sidelined by Donald Trump. Maybe they should be watching Jake Tapper's interview over and over and over to find out how to get an answer.

BOLDUAN: Last week, Bill, the challenge looking at the debates?

CARTER: I think all the moderators will watch that and say, I have to up my game. This will be a real challenge. I can't let everything go. I have to come after them fairly, but if they say something is wrong, I think they have to comment.

BERMAN: Bill, Kirsten, Jackie, you all brought your game. Thank you very much.

(CROSSTALK)

BERMAN: Hillary Clinton will speak live any minute in North Carolina. This is a big speech after the event last night. How will she take on Donald Trump today? Stand by for that.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)