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AT THIS HOUR WITH BERMAN AND MICHAELA

Interview with Lindsey Graham; Clinton Campaign Reacts to Seeming Iran Money/Hostage Exchange; Clint Eastwood: I'd Have to Go for Trump. Aired 11:30-12p ET

Aired August 4, 2016 - 11:30   ET

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


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[11:32:53] KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: We're back. And Senator Lindsey Graham is with us.

I want to talk about the Iran deal and most specifically what we've been learning about in the last couple of days, this $400 million in cash going to Iran on the same day that four American hostages were released. The White House administration says this was not ransom at all. You're not satisfied, why?

LINDSEY GRAHAM, (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: Because I got a half a brain. I'm not claiming to have a whole brain, I'm in the Congress, but I'm telling you this, you'd have to be dumb as a rock to believe this is not connected. Iran/Contra, remember that, where we gave arms for hostages, it proved that Reagan was wrong? When the Obama administration tells you this money being sent -- which wasn't U.S. dollars, by the way, that we went to foreign banks to get foreign currency to appease the Iranians to get our hostages back. What did Iran do after that? They've got three more people in jail. There's nothing Obama won't do to appease the Iranians. He wants this nuclear deal to the point of being I think over the top about it, to be quite frankly, putting us at risk. This guy I think would walk through glass on his knees to keep this deal in place. He gave the Iranians money to get the Americans out of jail. To think anything else is crazy.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Again, what critics of your stance say, correlation isn't causation. They say the Obama administration --

(CROSSTALK)

BERMAN: Let me just put this out there. They say the Obama administration announced this money was going to Iran. The day this all happened. So what you're taking issue with is the timing which, as we learned in the last 24 hours, it was that day it arrived on the ground before the hostages were released. The timing and the fact it was in Euros, not dollars?

GRAHAM: I'm putting the relationship in context. They fired four missiles, in violation of U.N. resolutions, since signing the Iran deal. We've done nothing about it. They captured our Navy sailors and held them in violation of international law. We've done nothing about it. The money continues to flow. They have three Americans in jail now that are being held, in my view, illegally. And we're doing nothing about it. They don't want to disrupt this deal. If the Iranians make a demand to keep the deal intact and to get hostages back, we give in. To think anything else really is to ignore the relationship of the last two years.

[11:35:28] BOLDUAN: Do you think Iran should is be paid back for a contract that was canceled when the shah fell.

(CROSSTALK)

GRAHAM: No.

BOLDUAN: Do you think they deserve their money back at all?

GRAHAM: No. No. It was a deal with the shah. They overthrew the shah. This is the most radical regime on the planet, who doesn't deserve anything. I wouldn't honor any agreement between the United States and the Iranian government before the ayatollah. Why in the world should we negotiate with this regime --

(CROSSTALK)

GRAHAM: Who has helped supply weapons. Huh?

BOLDUAN: I know you've asked for a hearing but do you think -- you know, it's in the past, what happens now, what is going to happen now? What do you want to see happen?

GRAHAM: I'm going to tell you what Lindsey Graham is going to do now. I'm going to introduce legislation that will take sanctions relief away from Iran based on the four missiles they testified, ballistic missiles, being test fired in violation of U.N. resolutions aimed to destroy Israel over time and maybe to hit us. And I'm going to put on the table that if they fire missiles in the future in violation of U.N. resolutions that it would take more sanctions relief off the table. Clearly, the Obama administration is not going to do a damn thing towards the ayatollah and his regime, so we're going to fill in the vacuum in Congress.

And do my Democratic friends, you better get ready to vote on Iran when you come back, because you're going to vote on Iran when you come back.

BERMAN: Senator Graham, the four hostages who were released, again, the administration says it wasn't for ransom. They say there was no quid pro quo. You don't buy that. But how would you have had them released?

GRAHAM: Number one, I would demand they be released. I wouldn't have honored the deal. I wouldn't have signed the Iran nuclear deal to begin with. I would have put Iran on notice that you're holding four Americans in violation of international law, and that you're going to be more isolated, not more embraced, and that all options are on the table when it comes to your provocative behavior against Israel, our allies in the region. And I would have stopped your nuclear program by using sanctions to they point they would work. Keep the pressure on. And I'd keep every option on the table. The Iranians should fear us. This is an imbalance of power here. They have a pair of twos and we have a full house. And we're afraid of them. Why? Because this president wants an Iran deal so bad he can't stand it and they're walking all over him, like the Russians are walking all over us. Everybody in the world is walking all over us. And Donald Trump is right about that. But Donald Trump's problem is that when he presents solutions, they're more bizarre than what Obama's doing, in my view. If he could get his act together, I think he would have a shot at being competitive because the world is so mismanaged.

BOLDUAN: Senator Lindsey Graham, thank you so much, Senator.

GRAHAM: Thank you.

BERMAN: All right, Hillary Clinton running against Donald Trump. She's looking at the poll numbers right now and she sees big approval ratings for President Obama. Can she capitalize on that? That's next.

BOLDUAN: Plus, Clint Eastwood's interview with "Esquire" magazine. Why his support for Donald Trump and comments about racism in the current political atmosphere is creating quite a bit of social media conversation, to put it kindly.

We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[11:43:05] BOLDUAN: President Barack Obama is facing the press today, holding a press conference at the Pentagon.

BERMAN: No doubt, he'll face questions about whether the Obama administration paid $400 million to Iran to free American hostages. The White House says the money did go but insists it wasn't ransom.

We're now joined by Hillary Clinton campaign press secretary, Brian Fallon, live from Brooklyn.

Brian, thank you so much for being with us.

You've been asked about this Iran deal, the $400 million, and you say you have no reason to question the administration's stance that it wasn't ransom. Let me put it to you this way, if this release, if the release of the hostages was conditioned on the transfer of $400 million, would that concern you?

BRIAN FALLON, PRESS SECRETARY, HILLARY FOR AMERICA PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN: There's no evidence that that was the case, John, the White House has spoken to that, not just yesterday when this new "Wall Street Journal" story came out, but back in January, when both the president and Secretary of State Kerry announced this payment being made and really the journal story yesterday contained no new information other than how the delivery of the payment was made. The fact this payment was announced from the podium back in January, this issue was addressed at that time. All these questions were answered then. The White House has been very clear. It remains the policy of this administration that the United States does not pay ransom and these two things happen on completely separate tracks. This was the settlement of a claim from 1979. The White House has been very clear about that.

BOLDUAN: If the White House, if the administration, had paid ransom, would that bother you?

FALLON: Yes, I think it would bother the existing administration, that's why their policy is they don't pay ransom. Look, all of this, by the way, happened almost three years after Hillary Clinton left the Department of State. She was very crucial in bringing some of the recalcitrant nations like Russia to the table and put in place crippling sanctions on Iran, which is what helped get them to the table on this nuclear deal and the talks on the nuclear agreement were started during her tenure as secretary of state. But this matter of the $400 million payment happened nearly three years later.

(CROSSTALK)

[11:45:16] BERMAN: But you also heard -- sorry, Brian. You also heard Senator Lindsey Graham. He was just on with us. And we asked why he's not satisfied with the answer from the administration. Yes, as you said, Hillary Clinton wasn't there when they were making the deal. He says because he has half a brain, that's why he's not satisfied with the answer coming from the White House.

FALLON: Well, again, Kate, this has been answered by the White House not just yesterday but back in January when this whole thing was announced. There were multiple pieces that were negotiated on separate tracks between the U.S. And the Iranian government since there was an opening of a diplomatic channel for the first time in many years. So one of the things that was resolved on a separate track was this issue of this outstanding payment for weapons that were delivered. But that the payment -- or the payment, rather, was delivered to the United States but the weapons were never provided because of the ouster of the shah in 1979.

BERMAN: Again, as a candidate for president, as a Democratic nominee, does Hillary Clinton have concerns about the timing, that the money arrived on the very same day the hostages were released?

FALLON: Two things, John. Number one, she has no reason to question the administration's she believe the administration, has confidence in the administration's answers, that these things were negotiated separately and that the payment had nothing to do with the release of the detained Americans. Secondly, she absolutely supports existing policy and will continue this policy as president, which is the United States does not pay ransom.

BERMAN: Clear answer.

BOLDUAN: Clear answer. Thank you, Brian.

You guys had a big fundraising month last month. $90 million you brought in. Donald Trump, we learned yesterday, big month as well. $82 million they brought in. What went through your mind when you heard that number of Trump's fund-raising?

FALLON: Look, I think he had nowhere to go but up in terms of where he was starting from. Right after --

(CROSSTALK)

BOLDUAN: He sure went up.

FALLON: Well, I think --- we're very proud of our numbers in terms of not just the overall figure but, if you look at the total from last month, we had 65 percent of our donors last month were new donors to this campaign. I think that's a sign we are growing. We're expanding our appeal from the people who supported her during the primary. Now that we're in general election mode, we're seeing more people are getting behind this campaign. That's what we're sensing on the ground as well. I think even the polls are showing Hillary Clinton are expanding her support level. Whereas Donald Trump I think is inching backwards. In fact, there's a lot of surveys that came out after his convention that said more people that watched his convention, that tuned in, actually came away less likely to support him as a result. I think he's continuing to speak only to his core supporters. By contrast, I think Hillary Clinton is reaching out to Democrats and reasonable Republicans.

BERMAN: Brian Fallon, live from Brooklyn. Thanks so much for being with us, Brian. I appreciate it.

FALLON: Thanks, John.

Thanks, Kate.

BOLDUAN: Thanks, Brian.

Coming up for us, Clint Eastwood, taking on politics, once again. Four years ago, after speaking to an empty chair, or maybe it was a stool, whichever one you decide, that's where --

BERMAN: It had a back then.

BOLDUAN: That's a chair then.

BERMAN: It's a tall chair.

BOLDUAN: It's a tall chair. That's not what we're going to be talking about. He's not holding back when it comes to 2016. That is coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[11:52:27] BERMAN: Four years after debating an empty chair at the Republican convention in 2012, Clint Eastwood has a new interview with "Esquire" magazine about this race. He said Donald Trump's candidness is fresh. Quote, "Secretly, everybody's tired of the political correctness kissing up. That's the kiss-ass generation we're in right now."

BOLDUAN: He also told the magazine that if he had to pick between Clinton and Trump, he'd have to go with Trump.

Michael Haney, he interviewed Eastwood for "Esquire." He also the executive editorial director of the magazine. He joins us now with two copies fresh off the presses.

MICHAEL HANEY, EXECUTIVE EDITORIAL DIRECTOR, ESQUIRE MAGAZINE: Fresh off the presses. Free to you today.

BOLDUAN: We don't take free. We don't take free anything.

(LAUGHTER)

HANEY: Complimentary.

BOLDUAN: Michael, so reading some of this article, I was kind of left wondering, does he actually like Donald Trump? He was pretty harsh.

HANEY: I don't think he likes Donald Trump. He made clear in the interview, I pressed him, look, who would you vote for? I think he's a guy who is a lifelong sort of right Republican, sort of maybe almost Libertarian. He said, I think like some people in this country he doesn't like Hillary, so he'd probably be over here with Trump. But this is a guy who, we have to remember, he's former mayor himself. He's a politician. He's served office and I think going all the way back to Ronald Reagan with Reagan invoking "make my day." So now he's a guy who every sort of every presidential season seems to make his way into the campaign because he's got this stature that all these Republicans sort of seem to sort of somehow want to stand next to.

BERMAN: I couldn't tell if this was partisan or just more grumpy.

(LAUGHTER)

There's a little bit of this sounded like, "Kids these days" or "Get off my lawn."

HANEY: He's a little bit of Grand Torino, right. When he read that script, his producer, who found this, says this is an amazing script, he said, you're not going to like it. He went home and read it that night, came back in and dropped it, he's like, "We're doing this next."

I think he likes to be provocative and like a lot of people, he speaks his mind. He's an individual. He's a bit of a maverick, right. And I think that's what always appealed to us about Clint. When it intersects with the political moment, that tends to be sort of divides people but I generation and that's where he comes down.

BOLDUAN: Did he reflect on his chair moment? How does he feel about it four years later?

HANEY: He was funny about it. He kind of rolled his eyes and said, look, I'm sitting back stage hearing all of these guys going on and on saying the whole thing about he's great, he's great. As an actor, I'm sitting there, I got to follow with some better material. He said, I just I'm looking at this chair and thinking about the Neil Diamond song, you know, and he said, so he said, give me a chair, I'm going on. And he improved it. He said, it wasn't the greatest thing in the world, but I tried something. He was, I wasn't losing my marbles. I was trying to do something original.

[11:55:21] BERMAN: Michael Haney, the --

(CROSSTALK)

BERMAN: By the way, glad he thinks it's funny. The Romney people not so much anymore.

(LAUGHTER)

BERMAN: Michael Haney, great to have you with us.

HANEY: Thanks for having me.

BOLDUAN: Thanks, Michael. We really appreciate it.

BERMAN: All right, it is ground zero in the U.S. war against Zika. How Florida is now fighting to stop the spread of this dangerous disease and the historic warning for travelers. That's ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[12:00:02] ANA CABRERA, CNN ANCHOR: Hello everyone. I'm Ana Cabrera, in for Ashleigh Banfield. Great to have you here with us here on "Legal View."

If you're counting, it is now 96 days until the presidential election. And now more than 24 hours since --