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THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER
Interview With Illinois Congressman Adam Kinzinger; Did Trump Campaign Chair Take Illicit Cash?; Historic Flooding in Louisiana; Donald Trump Delivers Address on Terrorism; VP Biden Makes Campaign Trail Debut with Clinton; Trump Gives Anti-ISIS Battle Plan. Aired 4- 4:30p ET
Aired August 15, 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: We got a glimpse of commander in Trump today.
THE LEAD starts right now.
In very blunt terms, Donald Trump paints the war against ISIS as a clash of civilizations as he tries to pull his campaign out of what seems to be a tailspin.
His last document dump was called by the Democratic leader of the House an electronic Watergate, and it cost the head of the Democratic National Committee her job. What does Julian Assange have up his sleeve next?
Plus, heart-stopping rescues -- more than 20,000 Americans pulled to safety, including a woman and her dog, grabbed just in time as her car was started to plunge and go down. The historic flooding in Louisiana ahead.
Good afternoon, everyone. Welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.
To borrow a Bidenism, God love you, 84 days left until the election, as the vice president hits the stump in his hometown, Scranton, PA, today to make an unabashed sell to voters that very well be inclined to go for Mr. Trump. More on that story in a minute.
But, first, Mr. Trump today bullet-pointing his plan to crush radical Islamic terrorism. He says the fight to combat ISIS goes far beyond ISIS. He says it is a struggle between two worlds, the West vs. the radicals, characterizing the conflict in a way that President Obama and President Bush before him painstakingly avoided.
Trump was clear today in saying his approach will be different. Any nation that aligns itself against terrorism will be counted as an ally, he said. And the U.S. will apply new litmus test to weed out terrorists trying to enter the United States.
CNN's Sara Murray is in Youngstown, Ohio, where Mr. Trump laid out his plan just minutes go -- Sara.
SARA MURRAY, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jake, if it's another week, it's another reset for the Trump campaign.
And this week, they are focusing on foreign policy. When Donald Trump showed up here in Youngstown, Ohio, it was clear he had two goals, one, to flesh out his vision for how to combat ISIS, but, two, to tear into Hillary Clinton.
MURRAY (voice-over): Donald Trump's battling to take control of his own campaign message by laying out his vision to defeat ISIS.
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We cannot let this evil continue.
MURRAY: And ginning up doubts about Hillary Clinton.
TRUMP: With one episode of bad judgment after another, Hillary Clinton's policies launched ISIS onto the world stage. Things turned out really to be not so hot for our world and our country.
MURRAY: Even questioning whether she is physically fit to be commander in chief.
TRUMP: She also lacks the mental and physical stamina to take on ISIS and all of the many adversaries we face.
MURRAY: The billionaire businessman calling on the U.S. to abandon its attempts at nation-building and saying it is time focus on fighting ISIS on all fronts.
The GOP nominee framing it as an ideological war hearkening back to the days of George W. Bush as he called on the U.S. to team up with any ally willing to help battle ISIS.
TRUMP: We cannot always choose our friends, but we can never fail to recognize our enemies.
MURRAY: Trump also fleshing out his plan to block immigrants from countries he claims breeds terrorism, proposing a test to determine whether immigrants they hold extremist views that don't mesh with American ideals.
TRUMP: I call it extreme, extreme vetting.
Our country has enough problems. We don't need more. And these are problems like we have never had before.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
MURRAY: Trump's policy-focused address the latest attempt to keep the freewheeling candidate who refuses to stay on message, on message.
On Sunday, "The Wall Street Journal"'s editorial page tweaked Trump further, calling on him to turn his campaign around by Labor Day as proof he can behave like someone who wants to be president, or turn the nomination over to Mike Pence. And today Trump is facing another potential hiccup as his campaign chief, Paul Manafort, faces increasing scrutiny for his alleged ties to pro-Russian interests. That's after a "New York Times" alleged Ukraine's pro-Russian political party earmarked millions of dollars in cash for Manafort from 2007 to 2012.
While Manafort is dismissing the story as unfounded, silly and nonsensical, the Clinton camp is seizing on it, releasing a statement slamming the troubling connections between Donald Trump's team and pro-Kremlin elements in Ukraine.
MURRAY: Now, as Donald Trump tries to poke holes in Hillary Clinton's foreign policy credentials, her campaign came out early this morning with their own Web ad highlighting Republicans who are experts in foreign policy who are not backing Donald Trump -- Jake.
TAPPER: All right, Sara Murray in Youngstown, Ohio, thank you so much.
Let's take a closer look now at those charges first reported in "The New York Times" about Donald Trump's chairman, Paul Manafort. Did he receive secret cash from a pro-Russian party in the Ukraine?
CNN senior investigative correspondent Drew Griffin is digging into these charges.
And, Drew, these charges stem from Manafort's business dealings in Ukraine. He did work for a Russian-backed regime. It is all happening, of course, as Trump's adversaries are today accusing his campaign of being too cozy with Russia.
DREW GRIFFIN, CNN INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Jake.
And this entire story comes from Ukraine's anti-corruption bureau, which is specifically investigating the excesses and corruption of the former and now much-hated government of Ukraine, which Paul Manafort was a campaign adviser for, party that ran that former government, we should say.
That's why his name is being wrapped up in all of this. They are getting their information from 841 pages of hand-written documents which seem to be a record of expenditures. So far, the actual documents with Manafort's actual name on them haven't been released.
But this is an example of what they look like, Jake. They call this the black ledger in Ukraine, black accounting. Black accounting. It has names, dates, amounts, even reasons for the expenses, like phone bills, seminars, car insurance.
What you will not see on any of these released documents is Paul Manafort's name. We are told by a spokesperson for this Ukraine agency that in fact, in the hundreds of pages, there are 22 mentions of Manafort's name linked with $12.7 million in designated payments. And there is no proof whatsoever that those payments were made or received by Paul Manafort.
But no one is quite clear on where these documents came from either, Jake. So it is all wrapped up in this anti-corruption drive that basically is trying to get the government of Ukraine back in step with, I would say, Western accounting.
TAPPER: And, Drew, I guess the question, of course, we knew Paul Manafort had done this work for the former Ukrainian government. Would this be illegal in any way if he was paid this money? Presumably, he was paid for the work.
GRIFFIN: Yes, as you said, he worked for the political party in the Ukraine. That is no secret. And it is not illegal.
So unless it is proven this was illicit money or under-the-table payments that were made out, by the way, I don't think we can draw any conclusions yet. And in fact this anti-corruption bureau in Ukraine has gone out of its way to say there is no evidence Manafort was paid anything from these sheets.
Manafort himself calls the entire report silly. Here is his entire statement that we got. "The simplest answer is the truth. I am a campaign professional. It is well-known that I worked in the United States and have done work overseas campaigns as well. I have never received a single off-the-book cash payment, as falsely reported," he says, 'by 'The New York Times,' nor have I ever done work for the governments of Ukraine or Russia. The suggestion that I accepted cash payments is unfounded, silly and nonsensical."
CNN has asked for the specific documents that show Manafort's name on them, Jake. We haven't received them yet. And just a side note, I have talked to Paul Manafort in relation to other stories about his Russian connections. He says he has never met Vladimir Putin and he has never done any business for the Russian government.
Trump, we know, said he met Putin and then retracted and said he didn't meet Putin. It is hard to guess what kind of ties these guys do or don't have with the Russian government.
TAPPER: All right, Drew Griffin, thank you so much.
Let's bring in Illinois Congressman Adam Kinzinger now. Kinzinger is a pilot in the Air National Guard, previously served in Iraq and Afghanistan. He is also a Republican who has said he doesn't think he can support Donald Trump for president.
Congressman, thanks for joining me, as always.
REP. ADAM KINZINGER (R), ILLINOIS: You bet, Jake. thanks.
TAPPER: So, first of all, let's get your response to Mr. Trump's foreign policy speech today.
He said that we can find common ground with Russia in the fight against ISIS. He said, if you work with us against terrorism, you're an ally. Do you agree?
Look, let's think about what the Russians are doing. First off, the Russians are aligned with two very bad people, Bashar al-Assad in Syria and the Iranians. They are all kind of one alliance right now, aimed at propping up this guy that has murdered half-a-million people.
American standards I think should shun that, just to say the least. The other thing is, the Russians are constantly engaged in bombing medical facilities in Syria. There's a human tragedy in Aleppo right now, that the Russians have been bombing indiscriminately civilians, and, frankly, allies of the United States and the West.
So this idea that somehow allying ourselves with Russia and saying that we are going to ally ourselves with anybody -- ISIS is a very important foreign policy problem right now, probably the most important we are facing. But it's not the only important foreign policy problem. You have the Russians, frankly, annexing Crimea, parts of Georgia.
And you see what looks like to be a military buildup for potentially an impetus for a larger invasion of Ukraine, not to mention their current Spetsnaz in Eastern Ukraine.
TAPPER: One of the bigger applause lines during Mr. Trump's speech was when he pledged an end to nation-building. Now, that probably polls well. What do you think of it as a matter of policy?
KINZINGER: Yes, that's it. It polls well. I think, basically, through the last 30, 40 years of American politics, people talk about the end of nation-building.
But, on the one hand, you can't say we shouldn't have left Iraq because, frankly, we were nation-building in Iraq, and that it was us leaving that nation-building mission that led to this rise of ISIS, which I actually agree with, that it led an area for ISIS to operate, expand out of Syria.
But nation-building is not something that anybody is advocating the U.S. should just go into all these nations and rebuild them on our own. But bringing allies together in the Middle East, for instance, the Saudis, the Jordanians, to help to create a post-ISIS government, post-Assad government, to build a government in Libya, you can't solve -- otherwise, what you're going to end up doing is, it is basically like dropping a rock in a bathtub.
For a moment, you are going to vacate an area of ISIS or of water, but it's simply going to be refilled by ISIS II, Al Qaeda III, or whatever the next iteration is.
We don't want the United States to be the sole nation-builders. Nobody is advocating for that. But this idea that helping to build post-terrorist governments is wrong, I think, is frankly, pretty bad policy.
TAPPER: Any thoughts on the charges against Paul Manafort and his response today about his ties allegedly to the pro-Russian Ukrainian party, the former Ukrainian party that ran the country?
KINZINGER: Yes, look, I think Donald Trump ought to really investigate this and where his chief adviser, what his association with the Russians are.
Look, very well may be that within this corruption they forged Paul Manafort's names as a way to make these payouts. I'm not going to level that charge.
But we do know that there was a push for some reason at the RNC to take offensive weapons out of our platform. That wasn't anything anybody was talking about it. It just happened. That has been this affection in the campaign for Russia and Vladimir Putin.
In my thought, I have concerns for the chief adviser of Donald Trump, you know, having done work for a pro-Russian government in Ukraine, and, then, all of a sudden, there is this real affection for Russia in the campaign.
It very much violates what I believe as a Republican, which is we have to be an example to people that live behind iron curtains and under oppressive regimes of how to live life better.
TAPPER: Congress, it is not as though Illinois is a particularly contested state, but how do you think you are going to vote in November for president?
KINZINGER: I still have to go through that decision.
I have said I'm a never Trump guy. I'm saying I'm having a hard time seeing how I get there. I definitely will never vote for Hillary Clinton. That is something I continue to go through. And I have made my thoughts of that clear. And we have got 90 days.
TAPPER: All right, Congressman Kinzinger, thank you so much. Appreciate it.
KINZINGER: You bet, Jake. Take care.
TAPPER: Hillary Clinton is trying to focus on appealing to working Americans, but the FBI and Congress might try to make that hard for her in terms of staying on topic this week.
Stay with us.
[16:16:34] JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.
More on our politics lead. The FBI's notes from a three-hour interview with Hillary Clinton over her private email server could arrive on Capitol Hill any day now and the notes could contain political sensitive information at a politically sensitive time. But for now, the Democratic presidential nominee is staying focused on her White House bid, rallying in a Rust Belt town with a not-so average surrogate, Vice President Joe Biden.
Biden made his debut on the campaign trail today with Clinton in his hometown of Scranton, PA, and he went after Trump hard.
Let's bring in CNN senior Washington correspondent Joe Johns.
Joe, this Clinton-Biden event, it was initially supposed to happen a few weeks ago, right?
JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: That's right. Scheduled a few weeks ago, Jake and it had to be postponed due to the shootings of multiple police officers in Dallas. But when the vice president and Hillary Clinton finally got on the same stage here in Scranton, Pennsylvania, just a blistering attack from the vice president on Donald Trump, on domestic issues, foreign policy, calling him totally unfit and unqualified for president.
JOHNS (voice-over): Joe Biden on the trail for the first time with Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton. Channeling his blue collar roots in his hometown of Scranton, Pennsylvania.
JOSEPH BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Hillary understands the hopes and aspirations of the people in Claymont and Scranton and every Scranton and Claymont in the United States of America.
JOHNS: Hammering away at GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump.
BIDEN: This guy doesn't care about the middle class. And I don't even blame him in the sense that he doesn't understand it. He doesn't have a clue. No. He really -- I mean, he really doesn't.
JOHNS: Saying Trump is the most unprepared nominee ever for the job of president.
BIDEN: I've worked with eight presidents of United States. I've served with hundreds of senators, dozens of secretaries of state and secretaries of defense of both parties. And I can say without hesitation, my word as a Biden, no major party nominee in the history of the United States of America has -- no don't cheer, just listen -- has known less or been less prepared to deal with our national security than Donald Trump.
JOHNS: And repeating a line of take Clinton's campaign focused on for weeks, Trump cannot be trusted with the nuclear codes.
BIDEN: He is not qualified to know the code. He can't be trusted.
JOHNS: In a raw moment, the vice president even hitting Trump for comments, the Republican made about dictators, like former Iraq leader Saddam Hussein, suggesting the Republican would even admire the former Russian ruler responsible for murdering millions.
BIDEN: He would have loved Stalin. He would have a loved Stalin.
JOHNS: Biden joined Clinton in an appeal to white working class voters to Pennsylvania, a demographic Clinton has been struggling with.
HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: I always remember, I am the granddaughter of a factory worker and the daughter of a small business owner, and I am so proud of it.
JOHNS: Trump is struggling in the latest polls in Pennsylvania, trailing by nine points. He continues to tell voters he is worried the election could be rigged against him.
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: The only way we can lose, m my opinion, I really mean this, Pennsylvania, is if cheating goes on.
[16:20:04] JOHNS: Tonight, members of Congress could soon receive notes from Hillary Clinton's interview with the FBI over her private e-mail server. Director strongly chastised her use of a server and said she and her staff likely putting sensitive information at risk.
JOHNS: Not a mention of the FBI notes issued here, of course. The Clinton campaign preferring to stay on offense at least for now and going with things that work. For example, earlier today, they put out a web ad focusing on Donald Trump once again and the issue of whether he could be entrusted with the nuclear codes -- Jake.
TAPPER: All right. Joe Johns in the gritty town of Scranton, as vice president described it. Thank you so much.
Donald Trump said any country that fights terrorism will become an ally of the United States. Does that mean Russia is an ally of the United States? That story next.
[16:25:30] TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD.
More on our politics lead now. We're joined by our political panel.
With us, 2008 Hillary Clinton campaign manager, Patti Solis Doyle, former adviser to Jeb Bush's presidential campaign, Michael Steel, and Donald Trump foreign policy adviser, Howie Lind.
Howie, thanks for being here. Your first appearance here on THE LEAD. Appreciate it.
Let's start with you and I want to talk about the speech Mr. Trump gave and specifically the ban from immigration from countries where there are terrorism problems.
HOWIE LIND, FOREIGN POILCY ADVISER, TRUMP PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN: Right.
TAPPER: Now, in June, Jeff Sessions, the Alabama senator and Trump advisor, said that the ban list could include Pakistan, Egypt and Syria. Do you have any idea how many countries would be on the list? What lists and what they would be?
LIND: No, no. First off, thanks for being here with you today. It was a great speech. He gave a wonderful talk about how to attack ISIS, the immigration ban. And he will have to figure out what -- he talked about the commission on radical Islam, that's where we figure out how to go after them. Going after them right now, killed 33,000 people since 2002, 80 percent from 2013. It's a huge national security problem that we have in this country. He is going after it and he is tackling it hard.
TAPPER: Michael, I want to ask you, you've send these reports about Ukrainian officials with records that theoretically talked about payments, possibly legal, possibly not, who knows, to Paul Manafort, the chairman of the campaign, with denials from Mr. Manafort that any money changed hands that was improper. Obviously, it's a cardinal rule in politics that a staffer should never overshadow the primary, the candidate. But on the other hand, Mr. Trump generally speaking is very loyal when it comes to his people.
MICHAEL STEEL, FORMER ADVISER, JEB BUSH PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN: Well, I think what's of concern here isn't whether or not Mr. Manafort was paid for cash or check, whether he was paid for by the political party or directly by the government, what is the real concern is Donald Trump acting against or arguing against decades of fairly bipartisan concern about Russian aggression in Crimea and Georgia, in the Baltics.
You know, our role traditionally has been to lead Europe in containing Russia, and I think that abandoning that plan and trying to make an ally out of a former KGB agent who's running Russia is a dangerous, dangerous idea.
TAPPER: Howie, since you're former policy adviser, I will give you the chance to respond. There are lot of people in this town, Democrats and Republicans, who are concerned that Trump sounds way too pro-Putin.
LIND: Well, I'd say -- I'd get back to the original focus of the speech today was how do we attack ISIS? The Russian aspect is one part of it. This is about tackling this huge problem that the Clinton and Obama foreign policy team have not -- they caused the rise of ISIS and he is going after, as best he can, with the knowledge we have now, how the military operationally, financially, cyber world, crush ISIS across the world.
TAPPER: Patti, I'll give an opportunity to respond to him saying that Mr. Obama and Mrs. Clinton had something do with the rise of ISIS. There are people who say that the pull back of troops from Iraq and the red line with Syria, the refusal to actually attack, that that actually did play a role in creating a vacuum where at the very least ISIS could thrive. PATTI SOLIS DOYLE, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Look, I think President
Obama and Secretary Clinton understand the threat of ISIS. They have worked very hard to battle ISIS.
I think when Donald Trump goes out there and says that President Obama and Hillary Clinton were the founders of ISIS, I think that poses -- first of all, it's wildly irresponsible. But as Joe Biden today said on the trail, I thought he was extremely effective that when Donald Trump plays fast and loose with his words, he poses a threat to our country and more importantly to the troops on the ground.
I thought he was effective today. And I mean, I just don't think anybody believes that President Obama and Secretary Clinton aren't going to do everything they possibly can to defend our countries against ISIS.
TAPPER: Rudy Giuliani introduced Donald Trump at the rally in Youngstown today, the speech in Youngstown, today. And he said something that raised a few eyebrows. Let's play that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RUDY GIULIANIA, FORMER NYC MAYOR: By the way, under those eight years before Obama came along, we didn't have any successful radical Islamic terrorist attack in the United States. They all started when Clinton and Obama got into office.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: I mean, I hate to, you know, to nitpick, but there was a fairly successful terrorist attack within the United States in the eight years before President Obama, it was 9/11.