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THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER

Trump Flip-Flopping on Immigration?; Hillary Clinton Argues Trump Campaign Built on Prejudice and Paranoia; Trump: Clinton Lies. Aired 4-4:30p ET

Aired August 25, 2016 - 16:00   ET

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


[16:00:12]

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: Hillary Clinton says Donald Trump's campaign is built on -- quote -- "prejudice and paranoia."

THE LEAD starts right now.

Hillary Clinton wrapping up moments ago, saying Donald Trump is taking hate groups mainstream. Will this only fire up his supporters even more?

Meanwhile, Donald Trump is budging on his rock-solid stance on illegal immigration. Did he sell something to millions of voters that was never really going to happen?

Plus, amazing signs of life and a glimmer of hope; 17 hours after an earthquake recked entire towns, a little girl pulled from the rubble in this heart-stopping video.

Welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Jim Sciutto, in again today for Jake.

You just heard Hillary Clinton deliver a stark warning to voters.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Donald Trump has built his campaign on prejudice and paranoia. He's taking hate groups mainstream and helping a radical fringe take over the Republican Party.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCIUTTO: The Democratic presidential candidate calling her opponent for taking hate groups mainstream, tying them, trying him to so-called alt-right movement driven in large part by white nationalists.

Clinton's speech coming as Trump tries to broaden his message and appeal to African-Americans, Latinos and voters who might be persuaded to support a more moderate-sounding Trump, while Clinton is looking to turn the page on days of persistent questions about foreign and corporate influence on her family's charitable foundation.

CNN senior Washington correspondent Jeff Zeleny is live in Reno. Jeff, Clinton trying to tie the Trump campaign to the alt-right movement, but one of the challenges has to be that many people at home don't really know what that means.

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: That is true, Jim. They don't necessarily know what it means.

This speech was part a political science lesson, if you will, having her read a description from "The Wall Street Journal," of all places, a conservative editorial page, about what this alternative right movement is.

But she said that she was really trying to make the point here that this is not normal politics. This is not business as usual in a presidential campaign. Her tone was different than we hear in most of her speeches. She said this is not Republicanism as we know it. This is not conservatism as we know it, Jim, trying to make the point here this is something different, this is something that is dividing America, that he has radical views. And she told Americans that they should not fall for it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CLINTON: Now Trump is trying to rebrand himself as well. But don't be fooled. There is an old Mexican proverb that says, tell me with whom you walk, and I will tell you who we are.

Well, we know who Trump is. A few words on a teleprompter won't change that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZELENY: And the speech went on to go really chapter and verse here about the new advisers has brought on board.

She explained Breitbart News, the ultra-conservative Web site, some conspiracy theories that they put forward as well.

But, Jim, in all of the Trump speeches that she has given, from her foreign policy takedown to her economic takedown, really trying to undercut some of his strengths, this one sounded different to me. It was really reaching out also across the aisle in many respects to Republicans.

She had a reference to Bob Dole in there and a reference to his convention back in 1996, when she said he told anyone who has racist views to leave the party. She said Donald Trump is doing something much different than that. He is inviting them in and embracing them.

The question here, Jim, is, is she a good messenger for this type of message? Many Republicans simply don't trust her and may be tuning her out. But there are some in the middle here who I think could have been listening to the speech. But this is a certainly different tone. She's trying to turn the page during what has been a rocky week for her campaign -- Jim.

SCIUTTO: She mentioned George W. Bush has well reaching out to Muslims right after 9/11.

Jeff Zeleny, thanks very much.

I want to hash out what Hillary Clinton just said in Reno with our chief political correspondent, Dana Bash, and CNN's political director, David Chalian.

So, Dana, I know you have been speaking to officials, senior officials in the Clinton campaign. What exactly was their goal with this speech and in your view did she achieve that goal?

DANA BASH, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I think just -- I talked to officials beforehand, but just in listening to her speech, there was not a lot of nuance there.

It was about as straightforward as Hillary Clinton gets when she gives a speech. She practically hit everybody over the ahead with what her message was: Donald Trump is intolerant, and he is not the guy you want to be looking at and listening to in your living room every day as president of the United States, never mind the other issues that she has talked about in the past with regard to his personality and temperament.

[16:05:15]

This obviously was much more about tolerance. So did she achieve it? I agree with Jeff Zeleny. It is unclear how much people who hear for themselves some of the things that bother them about what Donald Trump has said, whether Hillary Clinton trying to emphasize that is going to change their mind.

I think those few persuadable voters, even those who are on the Republican side of the ledger, will probably make up their mind based on what they see and hear from Donald Trump, not be convinced by Hillary Clinton.

SCIUTTO: Now, David, this speech, of course, comes as Trump softens his stance on immigration. He's had this outreach to African-American voters.

Did you hear Clinton here in effect trying to attach Donald Trump to his earlier, harder-line positions and statements?

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Well, there's no doubt that that is what she was trying to do, not just his positions, but those of people supporting him, or working for him, any association. She wants to paint with one big broad brush stroke. There's no doubt about that.

She is also just trying to make Donald Trump something other than your typical Republican presidential nominee. She wants to paint him as so far outside the mainstream of American politics, that if you are to cast a vote for him, from her point of view, you're really risking something else that is not something we have seen before.

And that why I think she -- in putting the speech together, it was not so much a rallying cry for the faithful, but she was trying to sort of I think raise the stakes of this election with this more sober, serious tone that she took throughout the speech.

SCIUTTO: Dana, in effect, a similar tack to what Hillary Clinton did weeks ago, when she was talking about national security and foreign policy issues, in effect saying these are not just differences of opinion on national security, these are a real threat to American interests, basically calling him an extremist.

BASH: That's right.

That was really playing on fears of Americans. Do you want this guy to be the one in the White House with his finger on the button and controlling the nuclear weapons arsenal?

This speech was a different side of that same coin, I think, you can say, in that do you really want this guy who is not what America is supposed to be, not tolerant, do you want him to be in that chair?

Now, obviously, we have already heard from the Trump campaign, and they're pushing back on the concept of him not being tolerant. But the idea that she hearkened back to not just Bob Dole in 1996, and also George W. Bush, but the I guess now famous moment from John McCain's 2008 when he told a supporter in his audience who stood up and said Barack Obama is not American and he's a Muslim, said, no, no, no, he is a good guy, reminding those kind of -- again, those Republicans who are not so sure about Trump that is the Republican Party.

And I think maybe her most successful line was that the fringe has hijacked the Republican Party. That is the one thing that I think might make Republican voters sit up and go, oh, yes, is this really my guy?

SCIUTTO: No question.

David Chalian, Dana Bash, thanks very much.

Now, I want to bring in our political panel to weigh in on this whole day in politics.

We have Trump national spokeswoman Katrina Pierson, Hillary Clinton supporter, as well as executive director of the New York State Democratic Party, Basil Smikle, Donald Trump supporter Kayleigh McEnany here with me in New York, former executive director of the Congressional Black Caucus Angela Rye, conservative writer S.E. Cupp, and former Georgia Congressman Jack Kingston. He is a senior adviser to the Trump campaign.

Katrina, if I could begin with you here, you heard Dana and David there talk about how, in effect, the message here, the attempt here was to say, this is not your run-of-the-mill Republican. This is an extremist Republican.

What is your response?

KATRINA PIERSON, TRUMP CAMPAIGN SPOKESPERSON: Well, that was what she was trying to get across.

But I will agree with her that this is definitely a different style of politics. This is what we call gutter politics. This was an opportunity for Hillary Clinton to actually tell the people what she wanted to do and instead she decided to invoke the KKK, which any reasonable person would hear that and lose all credibility there, particularly when Donald Trump has been in the public eye for four decades.

You don't just wake up all of a sudden and become a white supremacist. There is a record there.

SCIUTTO: Basil, I heard your laughing there.

BASIL SMIKLE, NEW YORK STATE DEMOCRATIC PARTY EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR: Well, I will go back four decades and talk about how, in every major area of the life of communities of color, housing, criminal justice, where they have been discriminated against, he has exacerbated that discriminatory practice, number one.

Number two, there are three things that I got from her speech today. One, I could not be more proud of her, because she seemed to understand the complexity and the nuance of the African-American community, talking about that there are homeowners, that there are business owners, that the black church has been a core of social and economic justice of the African-American community for decades.

[16:10:13]

Two, I think she was talking to Republicans, and saying, look, if you're Paul Ryan or Mitch McConnell, you're saying, this man is a racist, but I'm going to stand with him, you can't do that anymore. That is no longer acceptable.

And, number three, if you're thinking about voting for this man for president of the United States, and you're concerned about the kinds of comments that he is making, and aware of structural and institutional racism, what he is going to do is cement all of that in place. And those are very important messages.

KAYLEIGH MCENANY, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: But that is so odd to say that, because Hillary Clinton, if this guy was such a bad guy, why did she go to his wedding?

If he was someone who has been engaging in discriminatory practices since the 1970s, why did she show up with her husband to support him engaging in matrimony with Melania Trump? It falls on deaf ears.

SMIKLE: I don't think so.

MCENANY: What we see from Donald Trump is an inclusive message.

SMIKLE: I don't think so.

MCENANY: What she failed to say today is Donald Trump said the black community has raised the national conscience. He said the black community has fought in every war. He said the black community runs more franchise small businesses than any other group of people in this country.

(CROSSTALK)

SMIKLE: But he has not engaged the black community. He has talked about black people.

And he has done it in a way by throwing up every negative stereotype of people of color that you could find.

(CROSSTALK)

SCIUTTO: I want to get to some of our other panelists.

(CROSSTALK)

PIERSON: And he went to Chicago and we keep leaving that out of this discussion. He made an attempt.

SCIUTTO: We will come back to you.

S.E., why is it not a fair argument to say that the Democratic Party has talked a lot about serving the needs of African-Americans, but hasn't succeeded?

S.E. CUPP, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: It is fair.

And had Trump started on that line, instead of where he did, and had he, you know, not failed to disavow David Duke three times, and questioned the ethnicity and trustworthiness of Judge Curiel, and all of the other things he had, that might actually be working.

It is a good point to bring up some of the Democratic failures in cities around the country and in black communities. But Donald Trump has decided instead, somewhere along the way, someone told him, he needs white nationalists to win.

And I'm not sure if he knows that there are not enough of them to win, but he has over, over, and over again at every opportunity decided to court that voter, the Breitbart voter, now doubling down on that by bringing Breitbart on to his official campaign, instead of trying to win new voters.

So, I don't think Donald Trump -- I think Trump has given up on actually winning those voters. And he is speaking now to conservative women like me who are appalled by the things that he has said, in hopes that he can sort of turn some Republicans back around on him over the course of the next couple of months.

SCIUTTO: Congressman Kingston -- and Angela, I want to get to you next.

Congressman Kingston, strong words from S.E. Cupp there, criticizing Trump. What is your response?

JACK KINGSTON (R), FORMER U.S. CONGRESSMAN: Well, let me say this.

As somebody who served in Congress under Bill Clinton, this is such a Clintonesque move. When their hands are caught in the cookie jar, they want to change the subject.

There was no talk -- I have never heard of alt-Republican or alt- conservative, whatever that term was that she was trying to throw out there.

But I know what pay to play is. I know what corruption is. I know that if you're in public office and your spouse is making millions of dollars, you want to change the subject.

CUPP: You know you just changed the subject.

(CROSSTALK)

KINGSTON: This was absolutely nothing but a partisan speech fit for Philadelphia.

And if she is reaching out to Republicans or trying to unify America with race-baiting, that is a very sad thing. Now, all I heard was a series of name-calling. I would have loved to hear her talk about the economy. As you know, 94 million people who are underemployed are unemployed.

(CROSSTALK)

(LAUGHTER)

KINGSTON: We hear nothing. We hear nothing.

(CROSSTALK)

SCIUTTO: Fair point.

I do want Angela to respond. You just accused Hillary Clinton, in effect, of race-baiting in this speech.

Angela, I'm curious how you respond.

ANGELA RYE, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I don't want to directly respond directly to that.

What I do want to say is, it was interesting to hear Congressman Kingston here talking about changing the subject, and we took a hard right turn, no pun intended.

I think what is interesting is, he also brought up Philadelphia. And it could not have been a better segue to my point, which is this. Hillary Clinton today had her Barack Obama Philadelphia speech moment in 2008, when he had to address what was going on with Reverend Jeremiah Wright.

This was her moment. It has come much later in the campaign, as we can see, but it was perfect. He talked about name-calling. Congressman Kingston mentioned that Hillary Clinton -- there was a bunch of name-calling here.

What is so interesting about this to me is that Hillary Clinton literally took this moment to use Donald Trump's words against him. She called out the different things he has been involved in, discriminatory practices over time.

She also used Breitbart's words against Donald Trump's brand-new campaign chairman. So, this was not a moment where she was going -- out of line using anything, other than his words. And I think, for that manner, it was perfect. She had a very high moment at the end.

[16:15:03] KINGSTON: Jim, let me say this --

RYE: Hold on, I'm not finished. Jim, very high moment at the end when she talked about --

KINGSTON: Let me say this.

RYE: I'm in the middle of my sentence --

(CROSSTALK)

SCIUTTO: Let her finish, then I come to you.

RYE: The bronze medalist who also happens to be a black Muslim woman in the country, whether or not she has a place in Donald Trump's America. I thought it was great.

KINGSTON: Jim, let me say this, if she was really serious, why did she accept millions upon millions of dollars from countries that discriminate against women.

RYE: Why did he do business with those countries?

KINGSTON: And discriminate against gays. I mean, she wants to really lead by example, she should return that money. But again, I know what's going on here, this is to solidify the base because she is losing it.

I think in America, it is a good thing for candidate to reach out to the African-American and minority communities. I think all Republican should say, you know what, might not agree with Donald Trump on everything, but the fact that he is making a run for the minority vote, that' s a positive thing.

(CROSSTALK)

SCIUTTO: Listen, folks -- we have a luxury of time here, a lot more to talk about. Of course, Trump also had a major speech today. Please stick around. Plenty more to talk about after as we come just after this break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) [16:20:17] DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: So what does she do when she can't defend her record? That's right. She lies, he said it. She lies. And she smears and paints decent Americans, you, as racists.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCIUTTO: Welcome back to THE LEAD. I'm Jim Sciutto, in for Jake.

That, of course, was Donald Trump just a short while ago in Manchester, New Hampshire, arguing that voters that Hillary Clinton is trying to smear every single voter who supports him, wrongly, as a racist. That came moments before Clinton blamed Trump for mainstreaming a hate movement.

But this is all happening as Donald Trump made a jarring statement about what was his signature immigration policy. In the primary race, Trump swore that he would send the 11 million undocumented immigrants already in the United States back to wherever they came from.

But at a town hall with voters, when talking about undocumented immigrants, Trump now says, quote, "We have to work with them."

CNN's Phil Mattingly is here with me in New York.

Phil, Donald Trump and his senior advisors, they spent days talking about immigration. At this point, you've been covering this campaign very closely. Is it clear what exactly his immigration proposal is?

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, we know it includes a wall, right? They haven't backed off of that, and they are some core principles that the campaign and the advisers have really stuck to over the course of even the last couple of days. But on one issue primarily, deportation. There is a lot of wiggle room there and frankly, the advisers don't seem to agree on much at all.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MATTINGLY (voice-over): Today, Donald Trump is pledging a strong immigration policy.

TRUMP: Very strong on illegal immigration. We have to be. We have no choice. We either have a country or we don't. We either have borders or we don't.

MATTINGLY: Even as he appears to soften his hard-line stance on the issue, a central policy plank of his campaign that fueled his rise to the GOP nomination.

TRUMP: They'll pay back taxes. They have to pay taxes. There's no amnesty, as such. There's no amnesty.

But we work with them. Now, OK, but when I look at the rooms, and I have this all over, now everybody agrees we get the bad ones out.

MATTINGLY: It's language that sounds a lot like the competitors he vanquished and ridiculed.

TRUMP: Bush is weak on immigration. Rubio, ready, weak on illegal immigration. Like weak like a baby.

MATTINGLY: And the GOP primary, like Marco Rubio.

SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R), FLORIDA: We're not going to have amnesty. Sanctuary cities should lose all their federal funding and criminal aliens should be immediately deported.

MATTINGLY: Or Jeb Bush.

JEB BUSH (R), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If they pay a fine, if they work, if they don't receive government assistance, if they learn English, over -- they got provisional work permit, over a period of time they can get legal status.

MATTINGLY: It appeared a long way from this earlier position on deportation.

TRUMP: People that that have come into our country illegally, they have to go.

MATTINGLY: But Trump's advisers insists there is no change at all.

KELLYANNE CONWAY, TRUMP CAMPAIGN MANAGER: We're trying to find a way to explain, well, for Donald Trump to articulate to Americans a very complex issue and how he feels about it. But I assure you, nothing has changed in terms of the policies.

MATTINGLY: The campaign has already delayed Trump's long-touted immigration policy speech. And contrary to reports, it still hasn't been rescheduled.

But Trump's apparent shift is drawing sharp criticism from Republicans, questioning their nominee's core principles.

AMANDA CARPENTER, FORMER COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR FOR SEN. TED CRUZ: We really, really told you this is going to happen, everybody. I mean, yes, we told you so, because Donald Trump never had a coherent immigration position.

MATTINGLY: As well as from his opponent, Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.

HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: Somebody told him, I guess the latest people that he's consulting how damaging his statements have been. How terrible his deportation plan is.

MATTINGLY: Trump's move to dial back his rhetoric on immigration comes as he continues his renewed focus on outreach to minority voters, including a roundtable today, with black and Latino fellows from the Republican leadership institute, just one day after attacking Hillary Clinton on race.

TRUMP: Hillary Clinton is a bigot who sees people of color only as votes, not as human beings worthy of a better future.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MATTINGLY: And, Jim, you saw those attacks related to race, and just overall against Hillary Clinton really sharpened again today in New Hampshire. Donald Trump and his advisors feel like they've really kind of gotten into a grove on the message that they want to get out against Hillary Clinton. But when it comes to immigration, there's no question about it, Donald Trump's advisors acknowledged he is struggling a little bit with the issue, how to deal with it, how to deal with its complexities.

[16:25:07] It's not as simple as it was during the primary where strength and the wall and deport all of them was a simple message. Now, he is trying to dig in on those details, that's what we're waiting to hear about.

SCIUTTO: Phil Mattingly, thanks very much.

Tonight, Anderson Cooper will sit down exclusively with Donald Trump, how does Trump explain this evolving immigration stance? Tune in tonight to "AC360". That's tonight at 8:00 p.m. Eastern, to find out. You won't want to miss it.

So, will Trump's counter to Clinton's speech resonate with voters other than those already in his base? We ask two reporters right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCIUTTO: Welcome back to THE LEAD. I'm Jim Sciutto.