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AT THIS HOUR WITH BERMAN AND MICHAELA
Weiner, Wife Separating Amid New Sexting Allegations; How Clinton, Trump Prepare for Debates. Aired 11:30-12p ET
Aired August 29, 2016 - 11:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[11:34:07] JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: We have some breaking news involving one of the more well-known political marriages in the country now. That between former member of Congress, Anthony Weiner, and his wife, Huma Abedin, who is probably the closest aide to Hillary Clinton, the Democratic nominee for president. A statement Abedin just released said, "After long and painful consideration of work on my marriage, I have made the decision to separate from my husband."
Now, why are we telling you this now? It has to do with new reporting that came out this morning in "The New York Post."
Joining me, Miguel Marquez, Brian Stelter, Jeff Zeleny.
We'll talk a little about this now.
First, Miguel, give us the background what is in the "New York Post" today?
[11:34:49] MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's a disturbing story in the "New York Post." Here we go again with Anthony Weiner. A guy who posed -- discussed with this woman from out west, sent her a posts from January 2015 to early this month. In one of the photos, Weiner appears only in his underwear next to his sleeping child. He texts this woman, saying, "Someone climbed into my bed." Weiner responds to the posts saying, "Look, we've been friends for some time, the conversations were meant to be private and anything I ever said to her was appropriate."
In 2011, he resigned his congressional seat after mistakenly tweeting to everybody an explicit photo of himself rather than sending it through a private individual direct message. In 2013, it looked like he was making a comeback. He was running for mayor of New York. And then more sexually explicit tweets came out under an alias of Carlos Danger.
Abedin has stuck by him. She's been a longtime aide to the Clintons as secretary -- a chief of staff when she was secretary of state. And currently, as the vice chair of her campaign. CNN reached out to Anthony Weiner himself. Obviously, the news from Huma Abedin takes sort of precedence here and is everything we need to know about where they are. It's been very tough --
BERMAN: We do know Anthony Weiner has taken down his Twitter account. Jeff Zeleny, I want to bring you in.
Anthony Weiner's in a different place this third time. First, he was a member of Congress. So public interest there. Second, he be was running for mayor so there was public interest there. Now he's really the spouse, he's the spouse of Huma Abedin would is a central player, like one of the most important players in the Hillary Clinton campaign. Tell us more about what she is saying and how -- what she intends to do going forward.
JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): John, he is more than a spouse. He is a central player. Of course, Huma Abedin, you cannot understate the importance of her to the Hillary Clinton campaign. There's no one who is at the candidate's right hand more often than Huma Abedin, everything she does, policy meetings, fundraisers. She's in Hamptons, New York, on a fund-raising swing. Huma was by her side yesterday. She released a short statement. She said, "After a long and painful consideration and work on my marriage, I have made the decision to separate from my husband. Anthony and I remain dedicated to doing what is best for our son, who is the light of our life. During this difficult time, I ask for respect for our privacy."
John, this really is a personal matter, not a campaign matter. But it is really angering some people on the campaign I've spoken to this morning when this "New York Post" report came out. Because most have thought the former Congressman, the former mayoral candidate, had gotten it back together, in their words, and they were hoping he would not embarrass this campaign, embarrass Huma. That's what's happened.
But there are so many aides and so many people who work on a campaign, but, again, no one closer in every respect to Secretary Clinton than Huma Abedin. We've seen her name come up in controversies over e- mails. She's worked for her for two decades, really grown up at her side here. So one can only imagine the personal conversations Huma is having with Hillary Clinton -- John?
BERMAN: No doubt about that.
Brian Stelter, this follows the release of a documenting, surprising documentary that Anthony Weiner allowed. This had to do with the second sort of round of controversy.
BRIAN STELTER, CNN SENIOR MEDIA CORRESPONDENT & CNN HOST, RELIABLE SOURCES: Right, and his wife seemed to be a reluctant player in that documentary.
What's strange about this, among other things, Weiner continued a public life through this documentary and on his Twitter feed. A very engaged Twitter feed until this morning when he deleted it.
The problem here was his sexting behavior. It's perplexing. It's mystifying. Now, just downright sad. People have had fun with this story. The "New York Post," among others, certainly have. But now to have a child involved, to have the child on the cover of the "New York Post" with his father in bed, with him taking lewd photos, that is just sad for everyone involved.
BERMAN: Anthony Weiner's not running for anything at this point. He's not a member of Congress --
STELTER: I would disagree with Jeff. I think it is a campaign matter because Donald Trump is sure to weigh in on this --
BERMAN: It may very well come up in the campaign.
STELTER: I wonder if Trump will chase to weigh in or not now that we've heard from Huma on this.
BERMAN: We shall see.
Miguel Marquez, Brian Stelter, Jeff Zeleny, thank you.
[11:40:07] The presidential debates. A former aide says Donald Trump says he wants it to be Wrestlemania, so how is he preparing? Well, if you believe the well-placed leaks, with burgers and hot dogs. And we'll discuss.
BERMAN: "The main event at Wrestlemania," that is what one former Donald Trump adviser says Donald Trump hopes to deliver when he takes on Hillary Clinton at the first presidential debate, which is less than one month from today. The pre debate spin fest is in full gear. So if you believe the leaks, this weekend, Trump's debate prep involved an informal session over burgers at one of his golf courses. While in contrast, Hillary Clinton is sticking to a more methodical approach.
CNN's Sara Murray is live for us in Washington for what the Trump people are telling us is really going on behind the scenes at debate prep.
[11:45:22] SARA MURRAY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, John, this is certainly going to be a different kind of debate for Donald Trump. Obviously saw him on that debate stage in a very crowded GOP primary field. This is looking more like it's going to be one on one. Right now, it doesn't look like any of the other candidates are going to make it aside from Trump and Clinton. It's just four weeks away. So that means the prep is beginning.
And for Donald Trump, it's been working a little bit differently. This is not a guy who is sitting there reading these briefing books every night, although he does have them available. This is someone who has his circle of advisers that includes Laura Ingraham, of course, Steve Bannon. He goes back and forth with them as he tries to figure out exactly what he wants to hit on every issue in terms of the policy and in terms of how he wants to frame it.
Once again, he's going to try to be true to himself. That's why he brought on Steve Bannon and Kellyanne Conway, to hit the same Trump tone. He is aware a general election debate goes much further into the details than the primary debates did. Part of that was he would fade into the background for long stretches of time, and then show, then fade back again. That's not a strategy that's going to be successful in a general election debate.
BERMAN: Two people on stage for 90 minutes, you can't go anywhere.
Sara, thank you.
Joining me to discuss, CNN political commentator, Bill Press, a former Sanders supporter who now supports Hillary Clinton; Mary Katharine Ham, senior writer at "The Federalist"; John Phillip, talk radio host, political columnist for the "O.C. Register," "The Orange County Register" and Donald Trump supporter.
Mary Katharine, I want to start with you. From one to 10, how important is this first presidential debate?
MARY KATHARINE HAM, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Oh, I'm thinking like a seven or eight probably. It's going to be hugely watched. We should have low expectations for both of them, which makes the expectations game sort of hard to play. They're saying, oh, I'm anticipating a very good game from Donald Trump. I think they'll both be good at the things they're good at. She'll be studied. If often wrong. Will be entertaining if often unstudied. The voters will have to choose.
BERMAN: When it comes to the expectation games, what the campaigns are telling us about debate prep, I believe nothing. Every four years, we are spun to no end here. Brian Fallon tweeted, "For all his lack of substance --Brian Fallon, Hillary Clinton's spokesperson -- "For all his lack of substance, Trump's showmanship and ex TV star makes him a formidable debate foe. He thrashed his rivals in Republican debates."
On the flip side, Bill Press, "The Washington Post" -- the Trump campaign was leaking all over to "The Washington Post" about their debate prep and they claim they don't know if Donald Trump wants to do mock debates. I believe nothing. Both campaigns are trying to set the bar unbelievably low, Bill. So what is the real bar for the candidates?
BILL PRESS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: First all, you're very smart, John Berman. Don't believe a word that's coming out of either camp.
I want to raise a different question first. I think there's still a question on the table about whether or not Donald Trump shows up. He has not confirmed he's going to attend. He's still trying to figure out if there's a moderator he can possibly live with. I can think of a dozen excuses, so could you, why he would not show up. And I think he could maybe even not show up and get away with it.
But here's what I see. These are two totally different events. As you pointed out, Donald Trump sees this as Wrestlemania. Hillary sees this as what we know presidential debates really have been and I think should be and are. Which are substantive discussions about really serious issues. This is Hillary's long suit. She's done dozens of these debates. Donald Trump has never done one of them. I question whether he is intellectually capable of holding the stage on a one on one, on a serious discussion about issues. One liners and insults are not going
BERMAN: John Phillips -- by the way, Bill Press helping lower expectations for the Trump campaign.
Doing the Trump campaign work for him, even though he is a Hillary Clinton supporter.
But, John Phillips, the Trump people saying he's looking at this like Wrestlemania. Do you really believe that? Because the flip side of that possibility would be that if he shows he can be presidential, if he goes on that stage and holds his own with Hillary Clinton on the issues, he appears to the country like he could do the job, but isn't that a very important thing for this candidate in particular?
[11:50:12] JOHN PHILLIPS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, if it's Wrestlemania, I think he'll do just fine. As a point of fact Trump has hosted two different Wrestlemanias at his hotel in Atlantic City.
The only debate coach better is Roger Ailes, who is helping him here. If you look at who he has helped in the past, roger has coached them to be extremely aggressive in debates. Go back to the 1988 election when George H.W. Bush just lost Iowa. He not only lost Iowa, he came in third behind Pat Robertson and Bob Dole. It looked like it was coming to an end. New Hampshire was a must-win state. He went in and got aggressive. He had that interview with Dan Rather where he came out and really knee-capped Dan Rather. I think Donald Trump is getting the same advice from Roger Ailes, the same advice from Laura Ingraham. He'll come out swinging. It may not be Wrestlemania, but something close to it.
BERMAN: Go ahead, Mary Katharine.
HAM: If it's Wrestlemania, can we get the rock on stage so I can vote for him and be done with it?
HAM: It does seem this year especially is a bit of a shame that looks like a third party candidate won't make it on stage. Dissatisfaction with both choices and it looks like no one will hit the 15 percent necessary to get on the debate in people would like to hear something different. I think Trump will be aggressive. I think he will be Trump because that's what he's comfortable doing and he loses much of his advantage when he's not being Trump. The question is even if he's decent on the stage and is being Trump does that translate into more general election votes? BERMAN: Katharine, Gary Johnson in the latest Quinnipiac poll is at
10 percent, the Libertarian candidate. The debate commission says you need to be at 15 percent. Now 10 percent isn't 15 percent but it's impressive. Do you think there's pressure on the debate commission to find a way to let Gary Johnson on the stage?
HAM: I think Gary Johnson should be on stage. The American people deserve more choices. And I don't care whether 8 percent, 10 percent, or 12 percent, he should be on stage.
I want to come back to one thin Sara Murray said that was very important, this is a one on -- well, maybe two, but looks like now one-on-one debate, so Donald Trump, that's much different than having 17 other people, 16 other people on stage you can throw darts at and then disappear. He has to hold his own. And, John, when Roger Ailes was coaching George H.W. Bush, he was coaching somebody with a lot of substantive background there and a lot of experience, not like Donald Trump.
BERMAN: John Phillips, which candidate wants Gary Johnson on stage, Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump?
PHILLIPS: Hillary Clinton wants no part of Gary Johnson. If he shows up to the debate, he'll be removed with mace if she has her way.
I think he's bleeding more votes from Hillary at this point than from Trump. Jill Stein also is a factor in the election.
BERMAN: Well, but she's not going to get -- as of now in the polls, she isn't close to 15 percent, not double digits.
BERMAN: John Phillips, Mary Katharine Ham, Bill Press, thank you for being with us. Appreciate it.
BERMAN: Coming up for us, the mother of four gunned down while pushing her 3-week-old baby in a stroller. We're going to talk about this horrible crime, the discussion that really has continued next.
[11:57:50] BERMAN: The plague of gun violence in Chicago hitting the family of an NBA star. Two brothers, who police say are gang members on parole, are now charged with the murder of Dwyane Wade's cousin, Nykea Aldridge. She was pushing her baby in a stroller Friday near a school when she was caught in the crossfire. The child was not hurt.
Aldridge's mother spoke through tears about her loss, and she also spoke about forgiveness.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DIANE ALDRIDGE, MOTHER OF NYKEA ALDRIDGE: They want their mom, and it just hurts to hear kids saying they want their mom, and their mom won't be in their lives anymore. Only through spirit, only through -- only through pictures. That's the only way they can know their mom for the rest of their lives, the only thing they have to go on is what they had. It's just heartbreaking. It's really -- heartbreaking not to have her here to raise her own children. I thank god right now for allowing her to be in our lives as long as he did. I thank God for it, and I thank God for the kids because it's going to take all of us to raise them. A village. That's what we are. We are a village and I truly, truly from the bottom of my heart, I forgive them. I forgive them. I can't bring her back but I forgive them. And I just pray to God that they pray it to God to ask for forgiveness for what they've done. They've taken a precious life senselessly.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: That was an interview with CNN's Rachel Crane. And our heart does go out it to that family.
Aldridge was among at least nine people, nine people, killed over the weekend in Chicago with dozens more wounded. At the rate they're going, they are on pace to exceed last year's record for gun violence.
Thanks so much for joining us AT THIS HOUR.
"Legal View with Ashleigh Banfield" starts right now.
[12:00:03] ASHLEIGH BANFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. I'm Ashleigh Banfield. Welcome to "Legal View."
71 days before the election, Donald Trump is promising details, details on that signature policy. Just two days away --