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AT THIS HOUR WITH BERMAN AND MICHAELA

Trump Tried to Explain Away Russia Hack Remarks; Chelsea Clinton's Turn to Star at Convention. Aired 11:30-12p ET

Aired July 28, 2016 - 11:30   ET

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


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[11:31:10] KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: We are live in Philadelphia on the fourth and final day of the Democratic National Convention. That means Hillary Clinton is batting clean-up with her big speech tonight. Democrats, though, think President Obama already hit it out of the park, including when he said Donald Trump is so bad, he's not even a Republican.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: But what we heard in Cleveland last week wasn't particularly Republican. And it sure wasn't conservative. What we heard was a deeply pessimistic vision of a country where we turn against each other and turn away from the rest of the world. And that is not the America I know.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: All right. We want to bring in Sean Spicer, chief strategist and communications director for the Republican National Committee.

Sean, you heard the president right there. Erick Erickson, a conservative, tweeted last night saying, "Thank you for noting Donald Trump is neither Republican, nor conservative."

Is Donald Trump Republican or conservative?

SEAN SPICER, CHIEF STRATEGIST & COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR, REPUBLICAN NATIONAL COMMITTEE: Of course, he is. It's interesting what didn't get talked about last night. They talked about Donald Trump a lot. They didn't talk about is. They didn't talk about Israel. They didn't talk about national security. They didn't talk about the national debt. They talk a lot about Donald Trump but they don't talk about what the policies and vision is for America right now and I think that's because they represent the status quo. This is the status quo establishment ticket. You have heard a lot of them talking about Donald Trump. But the fact is, is that they may not like what they heard in Cleveland, but when you -- there was a CNN poll that verified this, that the American people actually by 76 percent did like what they heard. He's talking about what's really happening in this country, the challenges we face both domestically and abroad.

BOLDUAN: He's also, President Obama, was actually the one to name- check President Reagan, not Donald Trump. That's leading some Republicans to say they're stealing our best lines. Are they?

SPICER: No, look, I think by all accounts --

(CROSSTALK)

BOLDUAN: Where's the optimism?

SPICER: Right now, what the American people want is reality. They are facing challenges at home. They fear for their safety. They fear for their family. That's what I think a lot of people, you know, a lot of politician, a lot of, frankly, people in the media and a lot of pundits just don't get. He continues to rise in the polls. It's because he's actually tapping into an understanding of the American people that no one's getting.

BERMAN: Sean Spicer, do you want Russia to hack Hillary Clinton's e- mails?

SPICER: Absolutely, not. Let's look at what the reality is. Number one, she said this was -- the e-mails she didn't turn over were about yoga and Chelsea's wedding. We find out there's a ton of classified information on there. I think that information, if Russia has access to it, hopefully, they'll get that to the FBI. Mook went on the air and talked about this is a national security problem. Time out. It was a national security problem when she installed a secret server and allowed classified information to get put on this. She's the only candidate of the two that has had access to national security information and violated that trust.

BOLDUAN: But take the contents of the e-mail out of it. The mere fact that Donald Trump said, hey, Russia if you have access to the e- mails, we'd love to see them. Even if he says it's loose talk and it's sarcasm, can a presidential candidate afford to have loose talk like that?

SPICER: What's more dangerous is the fact that one of the two candidates actually did have access to the information, did make it vulnerable to foreign hacking --

(CROSSTALK)

BERMAN: Sean, can they --

(CROSSTALK)

BERMAN: You served overseas. You know, can you afford to have loose lips?

(CROSSTALK)

SPICER: I'd rather have someone who's joking around than someone who actually violates that trust --

(CROSSTALK)

BOLDUAN: Do you think he was joking? SPICER: He says he was joking. But I'd rather have somebody joking

or half-serious or whatever than someone who actually put this country's security at risk.

BOLDUAN: What would your reaction be if Hillary reaction said, hey, Russia, I hope you can hack Trump's e-mail?

SPICER: With her history? I could say after you did this, then you joke about it, that's really pathetic. The idea we're not talking about what's potentially at risk here because of her actions.

[11:35:13] BOLDUAN: It is fine. There is plenty to talk about and we have talked about the e-mail issue and the scandal around that. I mean, we absolutely have. Putting -- that's one discussion. This is the discussion, though, that seems every Republican we've tried to talk to tried to jump around the fact. Do you think it is dangerous or says --

(CROSSTALK)

SPICER: When somebody's joking around, they're joking around.

(CROSSTALK)

BOLDUAN: You think it's OK to be joking like that?

SPICER: I think the context he was saying, the real discussion, and it's not going around, it's saying, OK that was a joke, but the reality is we have serious national security problems. We have potential classified information a foreign government is at risk. We're talking about whether it's appropriate for him to joke about it. I think the priorities are wrong. The priorities are is our country at risk because of actions that Hillary Clinton took.

BOLDUAN: You can talk about both of those things.

BERMAN: Sean, does Putin have strong leadership qualities?

SPICER: I'm sure if you're a Russian, you probably think he's tough --

(CROSSTALK)

BERMAN: Do you approve of your party's candidate for president saying -- admiring things of his leadership qualities?

SPICER: Look, it's one thing to say is he a tough leader. Sure, he's been elected a few times. But the reality is, the only ones with connections to Putin are the Clintons. Their foundation has taken a ton of money from them. Clinton hits the reset button. Bill Clinton --

(CROSSTALK)

BOLDUAN: That's not necessarily true.

SPICER: Hold on.

(CROSSTALK)

BOLDUAN: -- Donald Trump himself said at one of the GOP debates they get along really well, they met, they were stable mates for a "60 Minutes" interview, he has said that himself.

SPICER: Right. He was stable mates and "60 Minutes" interview. He didn't take --

(CROSSTALK)

BOLDUAN: He's the one that touted it.

SPICER: It's Bill Clinton than got speech fees from him, the Clinton Foundation that got money from him. The relationship between the Clintons -- they are doing a great job of diverting --

(CROSSTALK)

BERMAN: So the answer you've given us on the e-mails and Putin have essentially been I know you are but what am I, essentially --

(CROSSTALK)

SPICER: No, it's --

(CROSSTALK)

BERMAN: It's not bad but it's much worse --

(CROSSTALK)

SPICER: No. To be clear, I think there's a bigger thing at stake. You have a money trail between Clintons and Putin and the Russian government. And we're talking about --

BOLDUAN: Real quick.

SPICED: -- a couple of the comments that were made. I think the focus is where the real action has been and the stakes that are existing because of what she's done.

BOLDUAN: I asked House Speaker Paul Ryan, his team, to react to this, what Donald ump said that sound bite, when he said, hey, Russia, help me out. This is the response. "Russia is a global menace led by a devious thug. Putin should stay out of this election."

Sure seems like yet again Paul Ryan is having to distance himself from Trump. That's the reaction.

SPICER: I think Paul Ryan is right that Putin is a menace, they should stay out of our elections. Again, I get back to the only reason they're potentially involved in anything is because the DNC was lax with their e-mails. Hillary Clinton allowed things to get hacked. Their actions have allowed this to get where we are now. Let's not forget why we are were we are, because Hillary Clinton installed a secret server and because the DNC did what they did. The reality is their actions got us here, not ours, not Donald Trump's.

BERMAN: Sean Spicer, fish out of water, Republican at the --

(CROSSTALK)

SPICER: Thanks for having me on Kate's birthday, it's an honor.

(CROSSTALK)

BOLDUAN: Yes.

This is how he wishes me happy birthday. Yeah, yeah, yeah.

BERMAN: Sean, thanks so much. Appreciate it.

BOLDUAN: Thank you, Sean.

Get off my set.

(LAUGHTER)

BERMAN: Tonight, Hillary Clinton's big moment. She's giving a speech tonight, you might have heard. She's being introduced by her daughter, Chelsea. What she says she fears and she hopes will happen as she steps into the spotlight.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

[11:42:34] TRUMP: Russia, if you're listening, I hope you're able to find the 30,000 e-mails that are missing. I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press. Let's see if that happened.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BOLDUAN: "Can't anyone take a joke?" That's the word from Donald Trump this morning after those remarks when he asked Russia to hack Hillary Clinton's e-mail. Now, Trump says he didn't mean it. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: You have to be kidding. His client, his person, deleted 33,000 e-mails illegally. You look at that. And when I'm being sarcastic with someone --

UNIDENTIFIED ANCHOR: Were you being sarcastic?

TRUMP: Of course, I'm being sarcastic. But you have 30,000 e-mails deleted. And the real problem is what was said on those e-mails from the Democratic National Committee.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BERMAN: All right, joining us now, Kellyanne Conway, a senior adviser and pollster for the Trump campaign; Austin Goolsbee, a Hillary Clinton supporter, also the former chairman of the Council on Economic Advisers under President Obama, and he starred in this "Funny or Die" video that aired at the DNC Monday night.

That will forever be part of your resume.

Also joining us, Margaret Hoover, CNN political commentator, former staffer for George W. Bush and veteran of two Republican presidential campaigns; and John Avlon, CNN political analyst and --

(CROSSTALK)

BERMAN: -- editor of "The Daily Beast."

Margaret Hoover, Republican, Donald Trump says he's joking. Does that settle it?

MARGARET HOOVER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: That's all I needed to hear. No, that was me being sarcastic, because you know when I'm sarcastic. You know it doesn't look like sarcastic. There was a moment on August 11, 30 years ago, when Reagan into a hot mic -- not knowing it was hot, said, "My fellow Americans, in five minutes, we begin bombing the Soviet Union." Reagan was a jokester. You knew he was joking. Maybe it was inappropriate. Everybody knew he was joking.

This doesn't pass the smell test. The worst part about this is the utter hypocrisy of Republicans Bending over backwards to somehow suggest this kind of interference by an aggressor of the United States of America on behalf of hl to win a political election is OK.

BOLDUAN: But, John Avlon, can't anyone take a joke?

JOHN AVLON, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Look, I think more people need a sense of humor in politics and in life. The problem was, this wasn't a joke. This is somebody shooting from the hip, because he's primarily an entertainer, not a politician, let alone a political leader. Some people like that. But we're in the serious stage of the campaign and the allegations, which the FBI is looking into that Russia hacked into the DNC to influence the election, could not be more serious. So -- and look, there's a lot of situational ethics and spin in politics and it's what disgusts a lot of Independents. Imagine if Hillary Clinton went on TV today and said, China, I want you to hack Donald Trump's servers. I think you'd be massively rewarded by the American press. Republicans would be freaking out, totally with reason.

[11:45:26] KELLYANNE CONWAY, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I would be thrilled because it meant she had a press conference for the first time in --

(LAUGHTER)

Kellyanne, you poll, and you know that Vladimir Putin doesn't poll well with the American people.

CONWAY: We actually don't put him in our --

(CROSSTALK)

AUSTIN GOOLSBEE, FORMER CHAIRMAN, COUNCIL ON ECONOMIC ADVISERS UNDER PRESIDENT OBAMA: Donald Trump considers him as his running mate.

(CROSSTALK)

CONWAY: Look, I do think people can't take a joke. You're covering the most joyless nominee in the history of politics, Hillary Clinton. I think all of this says again there's a disconnect. Americans see this election as a referendum on Hillary Clinton. And many in the media see it as a referendum on Donald Trump. That's not how voters see it. They see it as she's the one who's been in public life for decades. Do we want what she's selling, which is a lack of integrity? We hear she's the most qualified person in the history of people running for president. To a lot of voters, a D.C. resume is not a qualification. Integrity is a qualification.

The other thing is Donald Trump said he was being sarcastic. Go watch the whole press conference. It was an hour's worth --

(CROSSTALK)

BERMAN: We did, but --

(CROSSTALK)

CONWAY: And he was just talking to the press in terms of why don't you force her to have a press conference and he was basically saying to the media wouldn't you be thrilled to see what's in those e- mailings. I think most Americans, even though we want to see a billionaire's tax returns, because we've never seen a billionaire's tax returns --

BOLDUAN: That's not way.

CONWAY: -- they would rather see her e-mails than his tax returns.

GOOLSBEE: In the same discussion, he's talking about maybe he'll recognize the Russian invasion of Crimea and say, oh, it's OK that they did that, we're not going to hold them accountable. We've had the experience of him saying -- proposing to default on treasuries in a recession to try to save money for the government and then coming back and saying no, no, I was just kidding, that's not what I meant. You see the Trump people doing what they consistently do, which is let's try to change the subject to something else when he gets called on what he's saying.

(CROSSTALK)

GOOLSBEE: Now, I don't blame him. I would be trying to change the subject, too. If my candidate were going out and saying these absolutely asinine, insane things -- (CROSSTALK)

CONWAY: And leading in the polls.

GOOLSBEE: He may be leading in the polls, they're totally disqualifying and unreasonable. They're trying to change the subject from what you heard last night, where President Obama made clear --

(CROSSTALK)

BOLDUAN: But to Kellyanne's point, I want to get your take. If Donald Trump is saying asinine things, if he's such a weak candidate, if that convention was such a disaster, why are the polls the way they are?

GOOLSBEE: Well, let us see what happened in the polls after this convention is done. Mike Dukakis was ahead by 17 points in the election at that same spot in between the conventions.

AVLON: There's always a bump.

And Kellyanne will, of course, appreciate the importance of polls but might downplay them after the typical post-convention bump on the Democrat's part. I am surprised to hear you say integrity is the alternative to Hillary Clinton. I don't think that's --

(CROSSTALK)

CONWAY: -- is a qualification --

(CROSSTALK)

AVLON: -- is his strong suit --

(CROSSTALK)

CONWAY: Well, 68 percent of Americans say Hillary's neither honest, nor trustworthy.

John, I don't know what we're going to hear tonight or this year that's going to turn that around for her. I'm open to listening. What is she going to say or do that's going to turn around two-thirds of Americans admitting to a stranger on the phone they can't trust her?

GOOLSBEE: Again, this is trying to change the subject from what --

(CROSSTALK)

BERMAN: Let him talk.

GOOLSBEE: -- is what Donald Trump said. The most damaging thing to the Donald Trump campaign are the words that come out of Donald Trump's own mouth. That's what's the most dangerous thing here.

HOOVER: It's not about what Hillary Clinton is going to say. She's a pretty safe candidate. She doesn't take a lot of risks. We kind of know what she's going to do. We don't have any idea what Donald Trump is going to say --

(CROSSTALK)

GOOLSBEE: I think -- I'm afraid I do know what he's going to say and we do know what --

(CROSSTALK)

GOOLSBEE: -- and that's even scarier.

CONWAY: What about the 10-point V.A. reform plan? That doesn't matter, him saying I don't want veterans to die anymore? It's got a concrete 10-point --

(CROSSTALK)

GOOLSBEE: He has a 10-point minimum wage plan but they're all contradicting each other.

CONWAY: So you're just laughing off, you're just blowing off --

(CROSSTALK)

GOOLSBEE: I'm not laughing it off --

(CROSSTALK)

CONWAY: Veterans have been dying for care --

(CROSSTALK)

GOOLSBEE: I'm not laughing it off --

(CROSSTALK)

AVLON: -- that you're contrasting yourself with --

(CROSSTALK)

CONWAY: I'm sorry?

AVLON: I'm not sure, you know, that anyone's pro-V.A. deaths. To sort of claim the moral high ground --

(CROSSTALK)

CONWAY: But he says -- John, you're talking about the fact we don't know what's going to come out of his mouth. Listen to what's comes out of his mouth like the 10-point plan so veterans --

(CROSSTALK)

GOOLSBEE: Like what are the 10 points?

CONWAY: Go read it. He put it out in Virginia Beech. You don't want to read it.

GOOLSBEE: I do want to read it. I've seen his tax plan --

(CROSSTALK)

BOLDUAN: The one thing I would love is if Donald Trump is telling a joke, I would like him to say, I'm telling a joke, and then tell a joke.

[11:50:00] CONWAY: That's something Hillary would say, I'm about to be funny, watch. Person after person last night said, I know you don't like her --

(CROSSTALK)

CONWAY: With friends like that, I mean, she's not a great speechwriter, I know you don't like her, but.

BERMAN: Last word, 10 seconds, go.

GOOLSBEE: I'm an economist. We're not funny but, tell me, how was that Donald Trump joke funny? That wasn't funny at all.

BERMAN: Thank you, all.

(CROSSTALK)

BOLDUAN: Austin, you are funny. You were hilarious in that video. You're now no longer an economist. You're an actor.

(LAUGHTER)

GOOLSBEE: I didn't say anything at that point.

(CROSSTALK)

BOLDUAN: Thank you, guys.

AVLON: Happy birthday.

HOOVER: Happy birthday,

(CROSSTALK)

BOLDUAN: Thank you very, very much.

(CROSSTALK)

BOLDUAN: Thank you.'

BERMAN: Next up, Chelsea Clinton, she'll be introducing her mother tonight. And we just got a preview.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) CHELSEA CLINTON, DAUGHTER OF HILLARY & BILL CLINTON: I just, I think my heart will burst. This election is so important to me because I am now a mom. As proud as I am of my mom, this election, to me, is about my children, Charlotte and Aiden. And I couldn't imagine a better president for them. I couldn't imagine a better grandmother for them either. I think standing there, thinking about my children and looking at my mom, I think it's going to be overwhelming.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BOLDUAN: That's Chelsea Clinton giving a preview of what tonight will be like. She'll be introducing her mother, Hillary Clinton.

With us now for another preview of tonight, CNN senior Washington correspondent, Jeff Zeleny.

Jeff, what are you hearing about the speech tonight? Is it done?

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: It is never done in Clinton world when we have this much time. It will be done when she's lit in the Teleprompter.

But tonight is an opportunity really for Hillary Clinton to tie all the themes in that we've been hearing, but for her to make the case for herself after she's introduced by her daughter, that for anyone out there who may not like me, I'm going to fight for you. I think that's one of the biggest goals that the Clinton campaign wants to take away from this. Her people are with her. Her supporters love it. She's trying to reach the people who may not yet be with her. We say Hillary Clinton has done everything before, run for president before, been in the Senate, secretary of state. She has not done this before. This is a new moment. She's never accepted the nomination before and gone ahead to do this.

Boy, look at the village surrounding her. We use the word a lot, "It Takes a Village." Look at the people surrounding her, a couple of presidents, vice president, vice president and a potential nominee, she has this village. Tonight she has to bring it and they think she will bring it and make people like her a little bit more if that's possible. It's a big moment for her tonight.

[11:55:58] BERMAN: The village will not be on stage with her. We will see if they propel it forward.

BOLDUAN: It's a great way of putting it, though, that this is -- she's done so many things before. From here on out, it's a new moment.

BERMAN: Jeff Zeleny, great to have you. Thanks so much.

BOLDUAN: Thanks, Jeff.

BERMAN: Kate Bolduan, happy birthday to you.

BOLDUAN: Thank you.

Thanks for joining us, everybody. Our special coverage continues in just a moment.

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