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THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER
Interview With Congressman Jason Chaffetz; America's Crumbling Infrastructure; Trump vs. Warren; Clinton Slams Trump's Housing Crisis Moments. Aired 4-4:30p ET
Aired May 25, 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 turns out those damn e-mails, well, that story is not going away any time soon.
THE LEAD starts right now.
Breaking news. She did not cooperate, and she clearly broke the rules, the inspector general for the State Department putting blame on Hillary Clinton for her private e-mail server. But the big question, did anything she do break the law?
A small insecure money-grubber. Senator Elizabeth Warren sure knows how to get under Donald Trump's skin. Today, Trump firing back.
Plus, falling apart, America's roads and bridges crumbling. A CNN special investigation. As 30 million people get off in their cars to kick off the summer, how comfortable and secure should you feel driving over that bridge?
Welcome to THE LEAD, everyone.
You're talking at live pictures right now. Donald Trump is speaking in Anaheim. That's him on the left side of your screen. On the right side are protesters and onlookers outside the arena where he is speaking. We're monitoring the events there. If he says anything newsworthy, if anything happens outside the arena that is newsworthy, we will bring it to you.
Things could get ugly, of course, as they did last night in Albuquerque, New Mexico, when protesters smashed door,s broke through barriers at the venue where Trump was speaking. They threw bottles at police horses, trampled on police cars.
We will monitor Anaheim throughout the hour and bring you news as it warrants attention.
I'm Jake Tapper.
A potential bombshell in our politics lead today, a pointedly critical investigative reporter by the U.S. State Department inspector general today, one that not only assails the way former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton conducted professional business on her private e-mail server, but one that directly contradicts claims that she's made about that server.
In the report set to be released tomorrow, but obtained by CNN, the State Department's independent watchdog says Clinton -- quote -- "did not comply with the department's policies regarding the preservation of e-mail," that despite claims to the contrary like this one on her campaign's Web site, they could find no evidence that Clinton and her team ever sought legal permission to use the private server, that when two State Department tech staffers raised questions about whether the private server complied with policy, the director told them the matter was not to be discussed any further, and that there remain questions about whether her server was ever hacked, despite Clinton's insistence to the contrary.
Now, it should also be noted that Clinton and her senior staff refused to cooperate with the inspector general of the very agency where they once worked and that she headed, even though former Secretaries of State Madeleine Albright, Colin Powell, Condoleezza Rice, and current Secretary of State John Kerry, they all did cooperate.
Let's get right to CNN justice correspondent Evan Perez.
Now, Evan, to be clear, and the Clinton people are emphasizing this part of the report, the conclusion, "Longstanding systemic weaknesses related to electronic records and communications have existed within the office of the secretary that go well beyond the tenure of any one secretary of state."
So, it's a longtime problem, but the report clearly singles out Hillary Clinton in particular. Let's go through some particulars, things she's said in the past about her handling of the e-mails. Compare it with the report says.
Here's Clinton talking about how what she did was above board.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: My personal e- mail use was fully above board. It was allowed by the State Department, as they have confirmed.
The truth is, everything I did was permitted, and I went above and beyond what anybody could have expected in making sure that, if the State Department didn't capture something, I made a real effort to get it to them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: So everything she did was above board. What does the inspector general say?
EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: The inspector general says that this was a clear violation of the rules that were in place when Secretary Clinton was in the office.
And it says there's no evidence that the secretary requested or obtained guidance or approval to conducted official business via a personal e-mail account on her personal server. They checked with the General Counsel's Office. They checked with security officials and they could find nobody who approved of this.
She also said that she turned over all the e-mails, because one of the issues here is this regulation that you need to keep a record of all these e-mails.
TAPPER: She didn't provide them to the State Department, so, ultimately, she then says she later did. She turned over all of the e-mails. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CLINTON: After I left office, the State Department asked former secretaries of state for our assistance in providing copies of work- related e-mails from our personal accounts. I responded right away and provided all my e-mails that could possibly be work-related.
We turned every thing that was work-related, every single thing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: "We turned every thing that was work-related, every single thing."
What does the inspector general say?
PEREZ: Not everything.
She turned over 55,000 pages, 30,000 e-mails. But the inspector general report says -- quote -- "No e-mails covering the first few months of Secretary Clinton's tenure, including from January through March or April of 2009, were turned over."
And it should be noted that she didn't turn them over when she first left. It was only after these FOIA, these Freedom of Information lawsuits, that came forward that the State Department went to her and got this information.
Now, a big issue obviously is the security, if she is transmitting information that is confidential or secret or classified, whether or not anybody could break into the server, any hackers.
Take a listen to what she has said about the server's security.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CLINTON: Well, the system we used was set up for President Clinton's office. And it had numerous safeguards. It was on property guarded by the Secret Service, and there were no security breaches.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: What does the report say?
PEREZ: The report mentions a couple of times where she thought she was being hacked, and apparently one of her advisers wrote and says: "We were attacked again, so I shut down the server for a few minutes."
Essentially, they unplugged it to solve the problem.
TAPPER: All right. So, maybe they tried, but didn't get in. Maybe she is parsing there in serves of successful attacks.
TAPPER: Lastly, is there anything in here -- and this is very important, obviously, for the FBI investigation -- that suggests that Clinton or any of her top aides or any of her lower aides violated not just policy, but law?
PEREZ: Well, there's no -- this report does not address whether or not she violated the law.
But we do know that the kind of violations that are described here, the kinds of things that you would get in administrative sanctions, something people even get fired. The former ambassador to Kenya was fired for very much the same issue.
He had other issues as well. We do know that the FBI is still ongoing an, their investigation is still ongoing, and we expect that she's going to be interviewed in the next couple of weeks.
TAPPER: All right, Evan Perez, thank you so much.
Joining me now to talk about the inspector general's report, Republican Congressman from Utah Jason Chaffetz. He chairs the House Oversight Committee.
Congressman, thanks so much for joining us.
What's your initial reaction to the report?
REP. JASON CHAFFETZ (R), UTAH: Well, it's sorely disappointing that the secretary, who has an opportunity to clear her name, could have sat with the inspector general and explained what she did.
If you got nothing to hide, sit with the inspector general and do that. The inspector general was able to sit with Secretary Kerry. They were able to sit with the previous secretaries, but only Secretary Clinton decided not to do that.
I guess on the policy side or the concern is that there was compromised confidential, if not classified information that may have gotten in the hands of some very nefarious characters and you worry about the danger that created in the world. TAPPER: I want to read a response from the Clinton campaign to this
inspector general report -- quote -- "While political opponents of Hillary Clinton are sure to misrepresent this report for their own partisan purposes, in reality, the inspector general documents show just how consistent her e-mail practices were with those of other secretaries and senior officials at the State Department who also used personal e-mail. As this report makes clear, Hillary Clinton's use of personal e-mail was not unique, and she took steps that went much further than others to appropriately preserve and release her records."
What's your response to that?
CHAFFETZ: It was totally unique.
To say it wasn't unique is a stretch by any sort. That is absolutely not true. The secretary is the only one who created this convenient relationship with herself in setting up this e-mail. It wasn't some evil Republican or some other conspiracy, other than she averted and tried to get around what was law.
It was under Secretary Clinton's administration where e-mail was the first to be fully deployed across the agency. And she had a duty and an obligation under the law.
She also had a duty and an obligation if she did want to use personal e-mail to get diplomatic security and the I.T. people to sign off on that, but, as the report points out, she never sought, nor did she get that sort of permission to set up this arrangement with herself.
TAPPER: Did you find anything in the report that suggests Clinton or any members of her team violated not only State Department policy and practice, but violated the actual law?
CHAFFETZ: It's too early for me to tell.
I cannot tell you that I have read every word of the report at this point. We're going to let the FBI continue in its investigation and find out and see what they find along the way.
I want to be cautious and just stick to the facts and not try to spin this, but the concern is that she created vulnerabilities unnecessarily that may have created a real danger in security around the globe.
TAPPER: One of the missions of the investigators looking into this at the FBI is to determine whether Clinton or any of her top aides did any of this knowing that it was any sort of violation of policy or, even worse, law.
Do you have anything in here that suggests she did any of this knowingly in terms of being on the wrong side of the law?
CHAFFETZ: Well, as the secretary, she's supposed to abide by the rules, internal, and the laws under the Federal Records Act.
And it's pretty clear to me that she violated several of those. Now, again, when she won't sit down with the inspector general and answer questions, it's very hard to understand what she did and did not do.
But based on just the surface of the facts, that she created this own -- her own system, and what I have been reading about with classified e-mails, even though she said there weren't classified e-mails, it's clear that there was a potential for a lot of violation here.
TAPPER: Thank you so much, Congressman Jason Chaffetz. Appreciate it.
CHAFFETZ: Thank you.
TAPPER: Our panel is here to discuss Hillary Clinton's e-mails, plus the one woman not named Clinton who is getting under Trump's skin.
Stick with us. We will be right back.
TAPPER: That's Donald Trump live in Anaheim, California.
Welcome back to THE LEAD.
Mr. Trump often says he doesn't start fights. He's just an aggressive counterpuncher. He is currently in the midst of counterpunching three politicians who have criticized him publicly. All of them are women. And one of them, New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez, is a member of his own party.
CNN political reporter Sara Murray joins me now live from Anaheim.
[16:15:02] Sara, outside Trump's event yesterday, anti-Trump protesters were throwing rocks at police horses. They were walking and smashing police cars. They smashed a door.
Protesters outside Anaheim today, at least as of right now, it seems a little more peaceful. Yes?
SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL REPORTER: You're right, Jake. It's been a lot calmer here today, at least outside, and even the protesters inside.
But Donald Trump is definitely trying to keep the heat on Hillary Clinton. He's brought up the State Department report on her e-mails as proof that his nickname crooked Hillary is fitting for her. All this comes amidst of his West Coast swing that's brought his supporters as well as those protesters you were mentioning.
MURRAY (voice-over): Coming up a ruckus night marred by protesters in New Mexico, Donald Trump is campaigning across the Golden State.
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Hillary, as I say crooked Hillary, crooked Hillary -- she's as crooked as they come.
MURRAY: All as he unleashes a spade of attacks against Hillary Clinton and Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren.
TRUMP: Hillary Clinton has somebody to -- did you ever hear Pocahontas? Huh? It's Pocahontas Elizabeth Warren, she was going out. She's probably the senator that's doing just about the least in the United States Senate. She's a total failure.
MURRAY: As Clinton slammed Trump for once rooting for the collapse of the housing market.
HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: And I want you to know that Donald Trump actually rooted for the housing crash that caused 5 million families their homes. I'm not making this up. He said, profiting off working people losing their homes would be a, quote, "good result".
So, a good result in Donald Trump's world as he gets his and you get hurt.
MURRAY: Trumps is playing defense, arguing he was simply speaking as a savvy businessman.
TRUMP: They've got some clip of me from many years ago where I'm saying, yes, if it goes down, I'm going to buy. I'm a businessman. That's what I'm supposed to do. That's what I'm supposed to do.
MURRAY: Meanwhile, Trump's efforts to unite the party hitting another rough patch Tuesday, as he took a swipe at New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez, a fellow Republican.
TRUMP: Your governor has got to do it better. She's not doing the job. Hey! Maybe I'll run for governor of New Mexico. I'll get this place going.
MURRAY: Trump's diss prompting a sharp response from Martinez's office, in a statement saying, "The governor will not be bullied into supporting a candidate until she is convinced that that candidate will fight for New Mexicans." And adding, "She's disappointed that she didn't hear about that last night."
And today, Hillary is piling on.
CLINTON: Last night, he insulted the Republican Governor Martinez of New Mexico, just gratuitously. I don't know. He seems to have something about women. I don't know.
MURRAY: And you can see Donald Trump is still speaking here in Anaheim behind me. After he wraps up this event, he's going to be headed down to Los Angeles where one of his first high-dollar fund- raisers as he makes the transition from being a candidate who was self-funding his campaign to one who can accept up to nearly half a million dollars per donor, Jake. TAPPER: All right. Sara Murray, thank you so much.
A lot of news today. We've got a stellar political panel here to discuss it all. Democratic strategist and Hilary Clinton supporter, Hilary Rosen, Trump campaign national spokeswoman Katrina Pierson, and Washington correspondent for "The New Yorker", Ryan Lizza.
Ryan, before we get into the back and forth here, as the objective political analyst, how big of a deal do you think this inspector general report is? How damaging could it be for Hillary Clinton?
RYAN LIZZA, WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT, "THE NEW YORKER": You asked the crucial question about whether there was a legal line that was crossed, and so far, I haven't seen that argument that there is one. That would be the worst outcome if there was any legal jeopardy for what he did. But from just a political observation, most interviews when she's been asked about this setup, her response was that it was all approved and okay. The big headline in the I.G. report is that that wasn't the case.
TAPPER: Yes. They didn't ask anybody for approval.
LIZZA: They didn't ask and they didn't get it. And from the Clinton campaign, you know, I'm sure Hillary will -- forgive me if I'm wrong -- but that's what has been coming from Clinton all this time. So I think that is significant.
Also politically, I think this is the kind of thing that encourages Bernie Sanders to stay in the race, to go to the convention, even though he hasn't made this a significant issue, it raises questions. You know, maybe this isn't -- I'm not saying this is the death penalty for her campaign, but it keeps the story in the news, and it increases the stakes for the other investigations that are going on, both the Judicial Watch, which is suing Clinton over the emails, and much, much more important FBI investigation.
[16:20:00] TAPPER: Hilary, I want to play some sound to you. Donald Trump just moments ago spoke about the inspector general report, as is probably not a surprise to you. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: She's as crooked as they come. She had a bit of bad news today, as you know, reports that came down weren't so good. But not so good. The inspector general's report, not good.
I hear they want to put Biden in. I hear they are going to actually slip Joe Biden in and he's going to take Bernie's place. I hear they want to slip, because I will say, the system is rigged against Bernie, 100 percent.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: All right. You forgot the Biden part. But this is fair game. This is political fodder for Donald Trump in his crooked Hillary argument. HILARY ROSEN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Look, it's not great news. It's not a good report. The good news is, it still does not appear like there were any national security breaches, that there was, you know, no laws broken.
But there is that one outstanding question. But, look, elections are about choices, and the choice people are going to have is, Hillary Clinton has been, you know, open about the fact that she made a mistake, she had poor judgment on the use of a separate e-mail system and we look at Donald Trump and we look at what he has done to the American people in making his money and doing his business, you know, 150 lawsuits against him by people he has cheated in business, companies he's bankrupt and workers haven't gotten paid.
I mean, people are going to have to choose, you know? Everybody is going to make some mistakes. People are going to have to decide what mistakes are more of a violation against the values that they hold and where they go with that.
TAPPER: Katrina, I know you're going to slip in a response about the e-mails. I want to ask you something else about Donald Trump last night in Albuquerque taking on New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez, who has not yet -- she's a Republican, she's not yet endorsed him, she has been critical of him.
Take a listen -- we don't have that bite. Let's not worry about that. But why? Why go after Susana Martinez? Like what's the goal there?
KATRINA PIERSON, NATIONAL SPOKESPERSON, TRUMP CAMPAIGN: Well, the goal was to let everyone know the state of the state, for example, and he was reading unemployment statistics. He was reading food stamp statistics and they've increased. And he mentioned that she's got to do a better job of taking care of New Mexicans, which is why I said if I run for governor, I'll take care of you.
TAPPER: But she's the head of the Republican Governors Association. I mean, why go after a fellow Republican in an election season at a time when he should -- she should be, too, coalescing around the nominee?
PIERSON: Well, he is doing a very good job at uniting the party. And if you go after Mr. Trump, he will respond in kind and that's exactly what he did in this case.
If I could get to the e-mails quickly here, there's going to be a choice this November whether it's the mistakes that you've made or the decisions that you've made, judgment is extremely important. And with this case, when you've had a woman who has been essentially in public office for a very long time, whether as first lady, as senator and as secretary of state, who at this level of her political career still making judgments, essentially put national security at risk, I think that's something that voters are going to take into consideration in November.
TAPPER: All right. Katrina, Hilary, Ryan, thank you so much. Appreciate it. She's one of just the few Democratic senators who has yet to endorse
Hillary Clinton, but right now, Elizabeth Warren may just be Hillary Clinton's best friend. That story next.
It's a system that helps coordinate our nation's ballistic missiles and nuclear bombs and it turns out, it's all being stored on eight- inch floppy disks. Yes, you heard me right. Floppy disks, those things from the '80s. The kids out there, the millennials, you can Google it during the break. We'll be right back.
[16:28:03] TAPPER: We're back with our politics lead on THE LEAD.
Senator Elizabeth Warren, Democrat of Massachusetts, still has not picked between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders in the Democratic primary. But that's almost irrelevant given how much she has become a bur in Donald Trump's proverbial saddle. The Massachusetts senator and progressive darling has been really given the business to Donald Trump recently and scores a personal and occasionally quite vicious attacks. Thirty-three of her last 34 tweets have been dedicated to dressing down the presumptive GOP nominee.
And as our Jeff Zeleny reports, Warren has so wrangled Trump, calling her a money grabber in a tweet last night that attacking Warren is now part of Trump's stump speech.
JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): She's never been Hillary Clinton's biggest defender, but Elizabeth Warren is becoming Donald Trump's sharpest critic.
SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D), MASSACHUSETTS: Donald Trump was drooling over the idea of a housing meltdown because it meant he could buy out more property on the cheap. What kind of a man does that?
ZELENY: Friends of Warren tell CNN she knows she needs to step up and it's good for her own politics, after Bernie Sanders has eclipsed her as the Democrats leading liberal.
Her words are pointed.
WARREN: A small, insecure money grubber who doesn't care who gets hurt so long as he makes a profit off of it.
ZELENY: And she's getting under Trump's skin.
TRUMP: Goofy Elizabeth Warren, I call her goofy. She's a nasty person.
ZELENY: Democrats have long wanted Warren in the race, at first as a candidate herself. But after taking a pass on her own run, she spent months in silence not endorsing Clinton or Sanders.
WARREN: Thank you. ZELENY: She still hasn't. But CNN has learned she and Clinton now
communicate frequently, mostly about taking on Trump as she did Tuesday night in a blistering speech.
WARREN: Now that he has sewn up the Republican nomination, Donald Trump is dropping all pretense. He's kissing the fannies of the poor, misunderstood Wall Street bankers.