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AT THIS HOUR WITH BERMAN AND MICHAELA

Clinton: Comey Said My Answers Were Truthful; Trump: Putin "Not Going into Ukraine" Despite Crimea; Trump Camp Focuses on Key Swing States. Aired 11:30-12p ET

Aired August 1, 2016 - 11:30   ET

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


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[11:31:11] JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Hillary Clinton put the fact checkers to work this weekend with an interview where she put a spin on how FBI Director James Comey described her e-mail use.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HILLARY CLINTON, (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE & FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: Director Comey said that my answers were truthful, and what I've said is consistent with what I have told the American people, that there were decisions discussed and made to classify retroactively certain of the e-mails.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: Joining us now, Rich Galen, Margie Omero, Scottie Nell Hughes.

Margie, what Hillary Clinton said there is actually quite different than what James Comey said during his testimony and during his statement. While he did say that Hillary Clinton did not lie to the FBI, he specifically didn't want to answer questions about whether or not she lied to the American people. And, when pressed by Trey Gowdy whether or not what she said in public when he said, she hadn't said classified e-mails was untrue, Director Comey said no, that wasn't true. So Director Comey actually pretty much contradicted what Hillary Clinton said in that interview. "The Washington Post" gave it four Pinocchios.

MARGIE OMERO, DEMOCRATIC POLLSTER, PSB RESEARCH: Look, polls show this continues to be a bit of a challenge for her. And I expect that that will continue for folks who are predisposed to want to look at that when it comes to Clinton. I don't think in the end there are that many voters who are undecided, not sure how they're going to vote, are going to look at this interview and say, well, now I'm going to vote for Donald Trump. I just don't think that it's in the same league as what we're talking about. What we were talking about in the last segment, Donald Trump. It's not even in the same league. Everyone has acknowledged most of the e-mails were retroactively deemed classified. That's where the bulk of this conversation is. I think ultimately people are going to be looking at the record and confidence of the two candidates, and there's clearly no comparison. KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: But, Margie, shouldn't she be better at

answering this question by now? I mean, after the hours that her team has spent dealing with the fallout.

OMERO: You know this is the answer that she has and, you know, I think it's not going to be satisfying for some folks. I think -- but she's right. You saw that line, Comey did say she did not lie to the FBI. When she said Comey didn't say I didn't lie to the FBI --

(CROSSTALK)

BERMAN: But Comey did not say she did not lie to the American people. In fact, he quite specifically did say that.

And just because -- Margie, we're not comparing this to anything Donald Trump did. This is Hillary Clinton we're talking about and whether what she's saying to the American people through that interview is truthful or not. "The Washington Post" looked at it and said four Pinocchios there.

Rich Galen, this is the kind of thing you would want to talk about today, if other things weren't superseding.

RICH GALEN, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: I disagree on whether or not it will have an effect on votes. I think it absolutely will. I don't think it will make somebody who was going to vote for Clinton vote for Trump, I don't think that's likely. Think it is likely some number, maybe a significant number, say you know what, a pox on both their houses, I'm not voting for either one of them. When they might have otherwise said, I don't like Trump or Hillary but I'm going to vote for Hillary. I think this is the thing that puts people off and makes them don't trust either" so it could have an effect.

Another thing that Trump said on the Sunday show -- Scottie, I want to get your take -- talking about this e-mail thing that Republicans would love to be talking about if not shadowed about by other things. What Trump said about Russia and Ukraine. Listen. I'll read it for you. Donald Trump says, "He's not going into Ukraine, OK? Just so you understand. He's not going into Ukraine." He said that a couple times. He said mark it down, put it down, take it anywhere you want. George Stephanopoulos said he's already in there, isn't he, talking about Vladimir Putin. Donald Trump trying to explain that away. He tweeted this morning to play a little clean-up it seems: "When I said in an interview Putin is not going into Ukraine, you can mark it down, I'm saying if I'm president. They're already in Crimea."

Does that clear it up for you?"

[11:35:27] SCOTTIE NELL HUGHES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Absolutely. I think your first guest said it right on the segment. You're predisposed. If you want to ignore certain parts, you're going to do it. Those of us who support Trump, we say that's exactly what he meant.

(CROSSTALK)

GALEN: Please -- how can you say --

(CROSSTALK)

HUGHES: -- we can sit there and question -- if you're not going to sit there and you're not going to question, you know, 33,000 e-mails disappeared we've now seen have been hacked in possibly belie Russians or anybody else --

(CROSSTALK)

GALEN: The Russians are in Crimea --

(CROSSTALK)

BOLDUAN: Hold on --

(CROSSTALK)

HUGHES: If you're not going to question that --

(CROSSTALK)

BOLDUAN: Hold on.

HUGHES: If you're not going to question that, don't sit there and question -- Mr. Trump got told last week he's going to start to have these security briefings, things that possibly in the past Clinton has been able to have --

(CROSSTALK)

GALEN: I don't have security briefings --

(CROSSTALK)

HUGHES: He clarified his position --

(CROSSTALK)

GALEN: When I said was day time, I really meant it was night and you have to believe that.

HUGHES: See, you wonder why I say this panel is not necessarily fair and balanced --

(CROSSTALK)

BOLDUAN: Oh, my god, Scottie. Really? Do you want to waste more air time talking about the panel, go ahead. I'm surprised you're going this route rather than making a cogent argument for your candidate.

(CROSSTALK)

BOLDUAN: Rich Galen, respond.

GALEN: I'm sorry.

BOLDUAN: Rich, go ahead.

GALEN: I'm sorry, I mean, this is -- later on, he said, well, the people of Crimea made their own decision they wanted to be with Russia. That's like saying the people in Trump Tower now want to be with more NATO ((ph), so I'm going to give up Trump Tower. You can't do that. I mean, that's -- that is -- I think he didn't know. He had no idea what the situation was in Ukraine. He has no interest in the stuff. He didn't know what was in his own --

(CROSSTALK)

HUGHES: You're assuming.

GALEN: Well, I am assuming. I'm allowed to do that, too. I'm also assuming he didn't read his own party's platform, because he had no idea about all of that going on. So I think that there is a reason to suggest that Donald Trump is not nearly as interested in being serious -- Remember, he told us a long time ago, wait until I get the nomination, I'll be more presidential than you can believe. Well, I'm waiting.

BOLDUAN: Fun as always.

Rich, Scottie, Margie, thank you very much.

HUGHES: Thank you.

BOLDUAN: Coming up next, breaking news involving the Zika Virus inside the United States. We're now getting word of more cases of infection through mosquito bites in the United States. After the break.

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[11:42:08] BERMAN: We have breaking news out of Florida. The Department of health has identified 10 more cases of Zika. That brings the total number of locally transmitted cases to 14. Governor rick Scott's office says the newly identified victims likely caught the disease through a mosquito bite, a mosquito bite in Florida. Why officials there are so concerned. He says all the patients right now, all 14, are in a small area of Miami-Dade County. We'll keep our eye on that for sure.

Back to politics. 99 days until the election, which means a lot of balloons for each and every one.

BOLDUAN: How did you know what they were talking about?

BERMAN: Did you like that?

BOLDUAN: I did.

BERMAN: Hillary Clinton soon heading to Nebraska to pick off a single electoral vote there. BOLDUAN: For Donald Trump, it's a battle for the battlegrounds,

hitting up the same states and even some of the same cities of his opponent. As I look into my electoral map crystal ball, I see Trump spending time in Pennsylvania, Ohio and Florida between now and November.

Joe Johns is tracking the map for us.

They are all over the map, Joe. What is the method to the madness?

JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: You're absolutely right, Kate. If there's a thread that runs through this, it's all about the battleground states right now. Much of the focus, at least at first, in the beginning of the week, week one, by the way, after the conventions, is on working class white voters. Donald Trump begins the week with stops today in Ohio, where the polls show that the race between him and Hillary Clinton is extremely close. And he goes on to Pennsylvania where it's tight, too, but where Hillary Clinton appears to have a slight edge. Trump is visiting Columbus and Harrisburg where Hillary Clinton just took her bus tour. Tomorrow, Trump's going to Loudon County in northern Virginia, which not only is a critical state, but it's also the home state of Hillary Clinton's running mate. And it will be Trump's first stop in Virginia since Tim Kaine was picked for the Democratic ticket. Wednesday, Trump, more battlegrounds action as Trump goes to Florida, making stops in Jacksonville and Daytona. It won't be until Thursday that Trump moves into blue state territory, going into Maine. That's one of those states that splits its electoral votes, rather than winner take all. Then on to upper New York state.

Meanwhile, Clinton has just wrapped up her three-day bus tour to Ohio and Pennsylvania, and making her third post-convention state Nebraska. This as billionaire businessman Warren Buffett's part of the country. He's already endorsed her. Another reason is that Nebraska's the other state, like Maine, that splits electoral votes. So Hillary Clinton going to Colorado on Wednesday, Las Vegas Thursday, and likely back here in D.C. on Friday.

Back to you.

BOLDUAN: I need a flow chart to watch all that happen.

JOHNS: I know.

BOLDUAN: Great to see you, Joe. Thank you so much. Great to see you.

That's how I feel right now. I don't know what -- anyway. Maybe just go this way.

Let's discuss this with Ron Brownstein, here with us, senior political analyst and senior editor for "The Atlantic."

Ron, let's dig into your very smart brain on the electoral map. The biggest most important states for Trump in the cycle, Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania, narrow in on the Rust Belt. What's shifted there? [11:45:25] RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, look,

I mean, historically, if you look over last six election cycle, it's the modern political era where Democrats have won the popular vote in five out of six. There are five swing states in the Rust Belt, Ohio, Iowa, more distantly, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania. Over those six elections, Democrats have won those five states 27 out of 30 possible opportunities. In this election -- and they've won them because they've run slightly better among those working class whites in each of them in every election since 1990, since 2000 at least nationally. Donald Trump puts them in play, Ohio and Iowa, because of his strength among working class whites. But the problem he's got is as he is gaining, potentially gaining ground in some Rust Belt states, he's at risk of losing ground in the Sun Belt swing states which have been more Republican leaning over last 25 years but where the combination of growing diversity and large number of white collar white voters creates a challenging environment for Trump in places like Colorado, Virginia and probably even North Carolina.

BERMAN: It is interesting, obviously, but the big question for Trump is Pennsylvania. It's Pennsylvania or bust right now.

BROWNSTEIN: Yeah.

BERMAN: Ron, for all of us who sit, you know, and play the electoral map games every night, flipping Ohio, flipping Pennsylvania, Iowa, New Hampshire, you know, does any of it matter if Hillary Clinton wins Florida?

BROWNSTEIN: Probably not.

BERMAN: Right.

BROWNSTEIN: The way to think about it, you have two buckets of swing states at this point. You have five in the Rust Belt, plus New Hampshire, which is demographically similar. And then you have the Sun Belt swing states, North Carolina, Virginia, Florida, Colorado. There's some question about whether Arizona could join in this year, even Georgia, on or on the other side, even if Trump could put Minnesota into play. More likely though is the 11 states. The Democrats start with what I called in 2009 the blue wall. That has 242 electorate college votes. If you add Florida to that, you're done. Essentially, Trump has probably has to take Pennsylvania as the state with the blue wall that he has the best chance and he has to prevent Clinton from winning Florida.

Here's where it gets really -- gives you a sense of how challenging this can be for Trump. Even if he won Ohio, Pennsylvania and Florida, if Hillary Clinton simply took North Carolina back from the Republican side and held the rest of the states that President Obama won, she'd still have an Electoral College majority. So he's operating on a narrow playing field. And Florida of course is much more challenging than Ohio or even Pennsylvania in this cycle.

BOLDUAN: Florida becomes the Trump card.

Ron Brownstein, great to see you. Thanks so much. BROWNSTEIN: Thank you.

BOLDUAN: Coming up, Donald Trump says the NFL sent him a letter that slammed the presidential debate schedule, but the NFL says that never happened. What does that mean? I think we all need clarification there. Senior Trump officials attempt to clear the air. That's coming up.

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[11:52:13] BOLDUAN: Donald Trump is facing backlash this morning and not just the Gold Star military families but for his comments about Ukraine and Russian involvement there. And this is what started it, the interview with "ABC News" this weekend.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE & CEO, TRUMP ORGANIZATION: He is not going into Ukraine, OK? Just so you understand. He's not going into Ukraine. You can mark it down, you can put in down, you can take it anyway you want.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC NEWS ANCHOR: He is already there, isn't he?

TRUMP: Well, he is there in a certain way. But I'm not there yet. Obama is there. And frankly, that whole part of the world is a mess under Obama.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: And he is there in a certain way. Russia went into Ukraine more than two years ago, annexing the Crimea peninsula. Trump was also asked about changes to the Republican platform which call for -- which removed calls for giving lethal weapons to Ukraine so it could defend itself from Russia. Donald Trump was asked about that as well, and he said he personally had no part of those changes.

And now, joining us to discuss this, Valeriy Chalyi, the Ukrainian ambassador to the United States.

And, Mr. Ambassador, than you so much.

Just to clear it up, is Russia in Ukraine in your opinion?

VALERIY CHALYI, UKRAINIAN AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED STATES: Yes, sure. So that is a fact that Russia not only in Ukraine, but also unfortunately having troops in Ukraine.

BOLDUAN: So then what is your reaction to Donald Trump when you heard that sound bite right there?

CHALYI: Well, not only the sound bite, but everybody else was surprised about the fact, because were concerned that Mr. Trump do not have all of the fact, and for example those who have approved the GOP platform. It is my concern that it is a contradiction of the GOP platform, and the positions of the Republicans and the Democrats by the way, bipartisan support of Ukraine, including lethal weapons approved in the Congress and this is a public statement by Mr. Trump that is in contradiction of this.

BERMAN: And to be clear, the Republican Party does not have a platform calling for lethal weapons to Ukraine to defend against Russia. You wish it did. You wish that had not been taken out of the Republican platform?

CHALYI: And before, Mr. Trump mentioned about the Crimea and the lift of the sanctions, it can be discussion, but now it is in contradiction with the official position of White House, official position of the United States, and the Republican platform. That is the main problem because the is a lack of strategy, and to continued discussion, demonstrates the lack of strategy of Mr. Trump team for the foreign security. So we are concerned what will be after November.

And another problem we are facing including Ukrainians- American, and traditionally, they voted for the Republicans, and that new public statement by Mr. Trump to push them out for the support, and it is not just a problem for Ukraine, but Mr. Trump team.

BOLDUAN: He's what Donald Trump tweeted this morning, Mr. Ambassador, about that interview. He clearly tried to clarify what he said. He said, "When I said in the interview that Mr. Putin is, quote, unquote, 'not going in Ukraine. You can mark it down. I'm saying if I am president. Already in Crimea'."

And now understanding the position of Donald Trump about Ukraine, what would he do to keep Russia out?

[11:55:27] CHALYI: Once again, we appreciate the bipartisan support, and the strong position of Republicans, including Senators. And I met with them in Cleveland, and I met with Mr. Trump's team. And everybody told me that every single way we keep this position, and we are rejecting any annexation of your territory of Crimea from the Russian side. But I am concerned that this is a shake of the position by the candidate, and this is the most problem. I do not want to interrupt or be involved in the election. And it is the American people who will decide who is going to be the United States, but we are counting that the United States will be having a predictable leadership, and predictable foreign policy. And that is the main part of our side. And as a diplomat, I want to, once again, have an understanding from both camps what will be in the future for Ukraine, for the position of the sanctions, Crimea, et cetera.

BERMAN: Ambassador Valeriy Chalyi, thank you so much for being with us. Appreciate that.

CHALYI: Thank you.

BOLDUAN: Thank you, sir.

BERMAN: A long-time Republican and top adviser to Jeb Bush says that she is leaving the Republican Party. Hear why. That's coming up.

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