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AT THIS HOUR WITH BERMAN AND MICHAELA

Rep. Jason Chaffetz Talks Ryan Reluctance to Endorse Trump; Obama Awards Medal of Valor to 13 Law Enforcement Officers; Paul Nehlen Challenges Speaker Paul Ryan for Congressional Seat. Aired 11:30a-12p ET

Aired May 16, 2016 - 11:30   ET

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


[11:30:00] JASON CHAFFETZ, (R), UTAH: Well, I think it's all the dust is settling down a little bit and at the end of the day there will be two people on the ballot and it's going to be Hillary Clinton and in this case Donald Trump, and to me that's crystal clear. You got to pick. They didn't get the person I wanted. I want Mitt Romney to be the president of the United States for, goodness take, but that didn't happen either, so.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Donald Trump is accused of faking his identity and posing as his own spokesperson in the 1990s. This was a story that came out in "The Washington Post." I'm sure you have seen it. I'm sure you've heard the tapes. What do you make of that story?

CHAFFETZ: I can't say that I have heard the tapes, but it's one of those things that I don't know that it will sway anybody one direction or the other. I wish he hadn't done that. It seems a little silly and juvenile, but it happened, I guess. And I think they got to shake those trees really hard. If you're going to be the president of the United States, let's understand this. I think the whole "New York Times" piece about the women, I didn't read all that, but, you know, you're talking about a guy who was a single person for part of this. It was a little in the "National enquirer" mode as opposed to let's talk policy, let's talk foreign policy. And I guess that will come later in the fall, but that's what I think is actually going to sway people.

BOLDUAN: Mr. Chairman, we wanted to get to all of those things. President Obama, though, is coming out right now. We're going to have to cut this short though.

Mr. Chairman, thank you so much.

President Obama awarding the Medal of Valor to 13 law enforcement officers across the country. Let's listen in to the president right now.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And most of all, I'm proud to be with the heroes in the front row and with the families who have supported them, and the family of one who made the ultimate sacrifice.

It's been said that perfect valor is doing without witnesses what you would do if the whole world were watching. The public safety officers we recognize today with the Medal of Valor found courage not in search of recognition, they did it instinctively. This is an award that none of them sought. And if they could go back in time, I suspect they'd prefer none of this had happened. As one of today's honorees said about his actions, "I could have very well gone my whole career and not dealt with this situation and been very happy with that." If they had their way, none of them would have to be here, and so we're grateful that they are. And our entire nation expresses its profound gratitude.

More important, we're so grateful that they were there, some on duty, others off duty, all rising above and beyond the call of duty. All saving the lives of people they didn't know. That distinction that these 13 officers of valor saved the lives of strangers is the first of several qualities that they share, their bravery, if it had not been for their bravery, we likely would have lost a lot of people, mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, friends, and loved ones. Thankfully, they are still with their families today because these officers were where they need to be most at a critical time, at a gas station during a patrol, in the middle of a busy hospital, in a grocery store, on the campus of a community college, near an elementary school where a sheriff's deputy's own children were students and his wife taught. In all of these places, in each of these moments, these officers were true to their oaths. To a person, each of these honorees acted without regard for their own safety. They stood up to dangerous individuals brandishing assault rifle rifles, handguns and knives. One officer sustained multiple stab wounds while fighting off an assailant. Another endured first-degree burns to his arms and face while pulling an unconscious driver from a burning car on a freeway. Each of them will tell you very humbly the same thing, they were just doing their jobs, they were doing what they had to do, what they were trained to do, like on any other day. The officer who suffered those terrible burns, he left urgent care and went straight to work. He had to finish his shift. And that sense of duty and purpose is what the Americans embody.

The truth is it's because of your courage, sometimes seen but sometimes unseen, that the rest of us can go about living our lives like it's any other day, going to work, going to school, spending time with our families, getting home safely. We so appreciate our public safety officers around the country from our rookie cadets to our role model of an attorney general. Not everyone will wear the medal that we give today, but every day, so many of our public safety officers wear a badge of honor. The men and women who run toward danger remind us with your courage and humility what the highest form of citizenship looks like. When you see students and commuters and shoppers at risk, you don't see these civilians as strangers. You see them as part of your own family, your own community. As scripture teaches us, you love your neighbor as yourself and you put others' safety before your own. And you're a proud example of public service. And you remind us that loving our country means loving one another.

[11:35:55] Today, we also want to acknowledge the profound sacrifices made by your families. And I had the chance to meet some of them and they were all clearly so proud of you but we're very proud of them. We know that you wait up late and you're worried and you're counting down the minutes until your loved one walks through the door safe after a long shift. We know it never gets easier. And we thank you for that.

And, of course, we honor those who didn't come home, including one hero we honor posthumously today, Sergeant Robert Wilson III. He gave his life when two men opened fire at a video game store where Sergeant Wilson was buying his son a birthday present.

To his family who is here, his grandmother, Constance, his brother and sister, please know how deeply sorry we are for your loss, how grateful we are for Sergeant Wilson's service.

We also honor the more than 35 who have give their lives in the line of duty so far this year. One of them, an officer in Virginia named Ashley Marie Guidon (ph) who was taken from us on her very first shift.

I have seen this sacrifice when I joined some of you at the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial not far from here. We read the names carved on these walls and we grieve with the families who carry the fallen in their hearts forever. We've been moved deeply by their anguish. But also by their pride in the lives their loved ones lived, and in those moments we're reminded of our enduring obligation of citizens that they sacrifice so much for that we do right by them and their families.

Medals and ceremonies like today are important, but these aren't enough to convey the true depth of our gratitude. Our words will be hollow if they're not matched by deeds. So our nation has a responsibility to support those who serve and protect us and keep our streets safe. We can show our respect by listening to you and learning from you, giving you the resources that you need to do the jobs. That's the mission of our police task force, which brought together local law enforcement and civil rights and faith leaders and community members to open dialogue and build trust and find concrete solutions that make you job safer. Our country needs that right now.

We're going to keep pushing Congress to move forward in a bipartisan way to make our criminal justice system fairer and smarter and more cost-effective and enhance public safety and ensure the men and women in this room have the ability to enforce the law and keep their community safe. A few minutes ago, I signed in law a package of bills that will help keep safe and honor our law enforcement officers, including one that will help state and local departments buy more bulletproof vests.

Emerson once said, "There is always safety in valor." The public safety officers we honor today give those words new meaning, for it's your courage and quick safety. So we want to thank you for your service. We want to thank your families for your sacrifice.

I had a chance before I came out here to meet with the recipients and I told them that although this particular moment for which you are being honored is remarkable, we also know that every day you go out there you got a tough job, and we could not be prouder of not only moments like the ones we recognize here today but just the day-to-day grind, you doing your jobs professional, you doing your jobs with character. We want you to know we could not be prouder of you and we couldn't be prouder of your families for all the contributions that you make.

So may God bless you and your families. May God bless our fallen heroes. May God bless the United States of America.

And it's now my honor to award these medals as the citations are read.

[11:40:38] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Officer Mario Gutierrez. Medal of Valor presented to Officer Mario Gutierrez, Miami-Dade Police Department, Florida, for bravery and composure while enduring a violent attack. Officer Gutierrez sustained multiple stab wounds while subduing a knife-wielding assailant who attempted to set off a massive gas explosion that could have resulted in multiple fatalities.

(APPLAUSE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Patrolman Louis Cioch (ph). Medal of Valor awarded to Patrolman Louis Cioch (ph), Johnson City Police Department New York, for courageously resolving a volatile encounter with a gunman. After witnessing the murder of his fellow officer, Patrolman Cioch (ph) pursued and apprehended the gunman at a hospital, thereby saving the lives of patients, employees, and visitors.

(APPLAUSE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Officer Jason Salas, Officer Robert Sparks and Captain Raymond Bottenfield (ph). Medal of Valor presented to Officer Jason Salas, Officer Robert Sparks, and Captain Raymond Bottenfield (ph), Santa Monica Police Department, California, for courage and composure in ending a deadly rampage. Officer Salas, Officer Sparks and Captain Bottenfield (ph) placed them themselves in mortal danger to save the lives of students and staff during a school shooting on the business campus of Santa Monica College.

(APPLAUSE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Major David Huff. Medal of Valor presented to Major David Huff, Midwest City Police Department, Oklahoma, for uncommon poise in resolving a dangerous hostage situation. Major Huff saved the life of a 2-year-old girl after negotiations deteriorated with a man holding the child captive at knife point.

(APPLAUSE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Officer Donald Thompson. Medal of Valor presented to Officer Donald Thomas, Los Angeles Police Department, California, for courageous action to save an accident victim. While off duty, Officer Thompson traversed two freeway dividers and endured first and second-degree burns while pulling an unconscious man to safety from a car moments before it became engulfed in flames.

(LAUGHTER)

OBAMA: (INAUDIBLE) (LAUGHTER)

(APPLAUSE)

[11:45:35] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Officer Coral Walker (ph). Medal of Valor presented to Officer Coral Walker (ph), Omaha Police Department, Nebraska, for taking brave and decisive action to subdue an active shooter. After exchanging gunfire, Officer Walker single handedly incapacitated a man who had killed a man who had killed multiple victims in a shooting spree.

(APPLAUSE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Officer Gregory Stevens (ph). Medal of Valor presented to Officer Gregory Stevens (ph), Garland Police Department, Texas, for demonstrating extraordinary courage to save lives. Officer Stevens (ph) exchanged gunfire at close range and subdued heavily armed assailants preventing a deadly act of terrorism.

(APPLAUSE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mrs. Constance Wilson, accepting on behalf of Sergeant Wilson III. Medal of Valor presented to fallen Sergeant Robert Wilson III, Philadelphia Police Department, Pennsylvania, for giving his life to protect innocent civilians. Sergeant Wilson put himself in harm's way during an armed robbery, drawing fire from assailants and suffering a mortal wound as he kept store employees and customers safe.

(APPLAUSE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Officer Niel Johnson (ph). Medal of Valor presented to Officer Niel Johnson (ph), North Miami Police Department, Florida, for swift and valorous action to end a violent crime spree. Officer Johnson pursued a man who had shot a Miami police officer and two other innocent bystanders, withstanding fire from an assault weapon, and apprehended the assailant.

(APPLAUSE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Special Agent Tyler Caul (ph). Medal of Valor presented to Special Agent Tyler Caul (ph), Federal Bureau of Investigation, for his heroic actions to save a hostage. Special Agent Caul (ph), who was off duty with his family, helped rescue a woman from her ex-husband who had violated a restraining order and held the victim at gunpoint.

(APPLAUSE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Deputy Joey Tortorella (ph). Medal of Valor presented to Joey Tortorella (ph), Niagara County Sheriff's Office, New York, for placing himself in grave danger to protect his community. Deputy Tortorella (ph) confronted and subdued a violent gunman who had shot and wounded his parents had inside their home and, by doing so, prevented the gunman from threatening the safety of students at a nearby elementary school. (APPLAUSE)

[11:50:44] OBAMA: Let's give one last big round of applause to the recipients of the Medal of Valor.

(APPLAUSE)

OBAMA: Thank you all. Thank you for your dedication. Thanks for your service. You are continuously in our thoughts and prayers. And we are continuously giving thanks for all that you and your families do.

Thank you, everybody.

(APPLAUSE)

BERMAN: President Obama awarding the Medal of Valor, the highest decoration for bravery exhibited by public safety officers in the United States. 13 recipients, 12 living, one, sadly, deceased, but 13 officers who saved lives.

BOLDUAN: And from a range of things, I mean, poise, valor, courage, unbelievable circumstances, from a school shooting to a hostage situation to pulling an unconscious person from a burning car. And also, including the officer who stopped the would-be attackers in Garland, Texas, people who are now considered terrorists by the FBI. That officer single handedly stopped those terrorists from going into that facility in Garland, Texas. Amazing.

And also, we always want to note when there is -- it's a very serious ceremony, of course, but that really adorable moment.

BERMAN: Donald Thompson.

BOLDUAN: The big guy on stage. That picture -- hopefully, his family would get that picture to give to him. The president couldn't even reach his arms around his neck because he was such a big guy.

BERMAN: President Obama needed a stepladder there.

Exceptional courage from all of these heroes, and our thanks go out to them.

BOLDUAN: Yeah, a good moment.

We'll be back.

BERMAN: We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[11:55:] House Speaker Paul Ryan is facing a challenge at home in Wisconsin. Paul Nehlen is a tattooed, chief partier, motorcycle- riding businessman livid at Ryan's slow walk towards endorsing Donald Trump. He is challenging Ryan for his seat and saying challenging Ryan for a little bit more. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PAUL NEHLEN, (R), WISCONSIN CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE: Mr. Speaker, you champion this trade deal. Why don't you come back to Wisconsin and debate me, man to man, face to face. If you don't want to debate me, maybe we can arm wrestle.

(MUSIC)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BOLDUAN: There's an introduction to Paul Nehlen.

And Paul Nehlen is joining us right now.

Mr. Nehlen, thank you so much for joining us.

NEHLEN: Thanks for having me.

BOLDUAN: Of course.

So you have really hit Paul Ryan very hard, the House speaker, for not supporting the Republican nominee. In one interview, you said that "If he were a unifier" -- talking about Paul Ryan -- "he would look for ways to work with the candidate that the American people have chosen in state after state."

You're talking about Donald Trump there. But after the meeting this week on Capitol Hill between Donald Trump and Paul Ryan, where it seems all signs point towards a road to unity, do you support those moves?

[11:55:00] NEHLEN: Yeah. Paul Ryan, I don't get how Paul Ryan is positioning himself right now. And that's what he's doing. He's positioning himself. He's not unifying the party. The only thing Paul Ryan unifies is big banks, big law firms, and big insurance companies to work against American workers. That's what Paul Ryan unifies.

BERMAN: But he just held a meeting with Donald Trump. They both emerged from it saying that we do have party unity. We share common core values. He's got a meetings set up this week to hammer out policy proposals they can all work together on, Team Trump and Team Ryan. So if that's not unity, what is?

NEHLEN: Paul Ryan should have backed Mr. Trump already. The will of the voters -- the voters have spoken. Paul Ryan is withholding something like he is going to bend the arc of Mr. Trump's intentions. And Paul Ryan, Paul Ryan can't get a budget through. Paul Ryan has a job to do and he's not doing it. Paul Ryan should respect the will of the voters of this country. This is a republic. Paul Ryan is the highest Republican elected official. So for him to try to hold this back or to try to do something -- it's disingenuous, at best, for what Paul Ryan is doing right now.

BOLDUAN: If and when Paul Ryan backs Donald Trump -- he came out of the meeting himself saying they were on the same path having this conversation. If, let's assume, when Paul Ryan does back Donald Trump, does that make your challenge against him or your chances more difficult?

NEHLEN: No, not at all. First of all, I would say -- and I have not spoken to Mr. Trump -- but I would have to expect he's going to put a positive spin on this because he doesn't want to see Mr. Ryan declown himself more than he has. But, no, this doesn't hurt my candidacy at all. I'm four weeks in this candidacy, I started with no name recognition, I've got 4,000 donors, I've already exceeded Dave Brat's funding by far. I've got three months to go. I've got a strong message for Wisconsin's first district. I am a businessman. I've created jobs. I know getting government out of the way helps businesses. Paul Ryan has had 18 years in Congress, going on 20 years in Congress. We've got a heroin -- a cheap Mexican heroin problem in this country, we've got a wide-open border, and what's Paul Ryan doing? He's uniting behind the people who want to bail out Puerto Rico. Why is Paul Ryan -- where does Paul Ryan come off that he's a small government -- he's a conservative from the conservative wing of the conservative party? Paul Ryan is the candidate of only Paul Ryan. He is a big-government, Davos-government guy. I can't tell you how disappointed I am with him.

BERMAN: Mr. Nehlen, thank you so much. We are out of time. Good luck on the campaign. Hopefully, we get a chance to talk to you again.

NEHLEN: Thanks so much.

BOLDUAN: Thank you so much.

We'll be back in a moment.

BERMAN: We'll be back in a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)