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AT THIS HOUR WITH BERMAN AND MICHAELA

Clinton Boards Campaign Plane with Press; Trump Talks Immigration Policy on Campaign Trail; Obama Comments on Kaepernick National Anthem Protest. Aired 11-11:30a ET

Aired September 5, 2016 - 11:00   ET

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


[11:00:00] JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. I'm John Berman.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Kate Bolduan. We're finally back together. You missed us so much.

Today is an important day. It marks the first day of the rest of your life. An overstatement perhaps. Labor Day marks the kickoff of the final stretch of the presidential race. If you thought it was messy already, hold on to your pants.

BERMAN: Basically, everything that happened before now just a pregame stretching exercise.

BOLDUAN: Good stretches.

BERMAN: Moments ago, Hillary Clinton boarded her brand-new campaign plane traveling with the press for the first time. And, stand by for news on that front.

BOLDUAN: Yes, kicking off the final stretch pretty much every surrogate. Former President Bill Clinton at a Labor Day parade in Detroit. Running mate, Tim Kaine, and the current vice president at a parade in Pittsburgh. Kaine will join her in Cleveland later today. And then she has an event in Hampton, Illinois, right next to Iowa, by the way. Later, Bill Clinton will be in Cincinnati. And Bernie Sanders is on the trail in New Hampshire for his first solo campaign event supporting Clinton.

BERMAN: Donald Trump is heading to Canfield, Ohio. Look at this map. It's all on, all over the place.

CNN senior political correspondent, Brianna Keilar, covering the Clinton campaign. Phil Mattingly on the Trump campaign.

Brianna, let's start with you. A new campaign plane, traveling with the press for the first time, Hillary Clinton. And breaking news, she spoke to the traveling press corps.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: She did. This is an informal introduction. And, you know, ever since she declared her candidacy last April, more than a year ago, she has traveled separately than the press. Donald Trump has done this as well. But a lot of times, for instance, when you had Mitt Romney in 2012, they share a plane with their press. Hillary Clinton is now at that point. And she had what she called an informal welcome for the media as they -- shortly after they got on the plane, and here is what she said.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

HILLARY CLINTON, (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Hey, guys.

(CROSSTALK)

CLINTON: Welcome to our big plane! So exciting. What do you think?

I think it's pretty cool, don't you?

(CROSSTALK)

CLINTON: You're supposed to say yes.

(LAUGHTER)

(CROSSTALK)

CLINTON: I'm so happy to have all of you with me. I've been just waiting for this moment. No, really. I'll come back and talk to you more formally. I wanted to welcome you on to the plane. How was your Labor Day weekend?

It was good, it was really good. We had a good time. The last moment of -- hello, Mark. I recognize your hat. How are you? I'm glad you're here.

Last comments before the mad dash the next two months, so I hope you guys are ready and -- are you ready? I'm ready. I'm more than ready.

Are you ready, Aaron (ph)?

(LAUGHTER)

Has Aaron (ph) been taking good care of you?

UNIDENTIFIED CORRESPONDENT: Yes, very good.

UNIDENTIFIED CORRESPONDENT: (INAUDIBLE)

CLINTON: Aaron (ph) has been -- how long have you been working for me? 2 and half years. He started -- well, you were still in college, right?

(CROSSTALK)

CLINTON: I know. I know. We're so happy.

UNIDENTIFIED CORRESPONDENT: (INAUDIBLE)

CLINTON: What?

UNIDENTIFIED CORRESPONDENT: (INAUDIBLE) CLINTON: Happy Labor Day. I know, that's exactly right.

UNIDENTIFIED CORRESPONDENT: Do you have a Labor Day message?

CLINTON: Oh, I do. You'll hear it.

(LAUGHTER)

I definitely, I definitely do. If you want more happy Labor Days, you know who to vote for.

(LAUGHTER)

Thanks. I'll come back later.

UNIDENTIFIED CORRESPONDENT: Thank you.

(CROSSTALK)

(END VIDEOTAPE)

KEILAR: A shout-out there to her press staffer who frequently accompanies the press.

But as you guys know, Hillary Clinton has been very press averse. Not just in terms of not traveling with press on the plane, but the fact that she hasn't had a press conference, a full-fledged press conference, since last December. It's been a considerable amount of time. She's taken questions, a few here, there, in gaggles. But she hasn't had a full-fledged conference. She's been coming under a lot of criticism from Donald Trump and his supporters for not being more accessible. It's not a format she enjoys. Little sarcasm in that where she said, "I've just been waiting for this moment." I think perhaps a little hat tip to the fact that maybe she hasn't.

BERMAN: I think we -- it wasn't almost heard a little sarcasm.

Brianna, at the end, she may have tipped her hat a little more. She said, I'm going to come back and talk a little later. I wonder if Hillary Clinton is planning a more formal question-and-answer session with that traveling press on that plane maybe now.

KEILAR: I think she probably is. I would find it odd if she didn't. Because if she were to have this first day where she's traveling with her press, the press that follows her, that has been assigned to her since the beginning, and many of these people on the plane have been following her for a considerable time prior to her launch in April, I think it would be odd if she started the day, you know, going on the plane with them and then wasn't accessible to them. It might just highlight some of the issues that she's had with press accessibility.

BOLDUAN: It's hard to remain inaccessible when you're on the same plane.

KEILAR: Oh, they still manage though. They still manage.

(LAUGHTER)

Because, you know, you're separated. It's not like there's free roaming up the aisle ways.

BERMAN: The Secret Service is literally between you.

KEILAR: Yes.

(CROSSTALK)

[11:05:21] BOLDUAN: With a little note, come speak to us, please send food.

Let's go from Hillary Clinton to Donald Trump.

Phil Mattingly is covering that.

So Hillary Clinton on the plane with the press today. Where do things stand today with Donald Trump, hitting up several stops in Ohio and hitting up several stops on his immigration policy along the way?

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Exactly right. Depends on who you talk to, what Donald Trump's immigration policy is. Trump was clear on a lot of his immigration policy in the big speech in Arizona last week. One of the key issues he backed off a little bit, immediate deportation for the 11 million undocumented immigrants in the country. What he says he wants to do is prioritize, first criminals, then those who overstay visas. That's about six million people. That leaves a decent amount of people left. It's TBD, according to most of his aides, except for former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani. This is what he had to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RUDY GIULIANI, (R), FORMER NEW YORK CITY MAYOR & TRUMP SUPPORTER: Donald Trump, he expressed in one of his interviews recently, would find it very, very difficult to throw out a family that's been here, you know, for 15 years and they have three children, two of them are citizens and -- that is not the kind of America he wants.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTINGLY: Now, that is not what Donald Trump said last week. Donald Trump made very clear there is no pathway to citizenship. There is no pathway to legal status, unless those that are undocumented in this country go back first. But what we're seeing right now is a lot of obfuscation from the Trump advisers. At least one Republican lawmaker, Senator Jeff Flake, said all he heard last week was Donald Trump doubling down, saying that on "State of the Union" on CNN yesterday. Trump responding on Twitter calling Jeff Flake weak and then very weak in back-to-back tweets. As you know very well, there's nothing Reince Priebus, the chairman of the GOP, likes more than attacking other Republicans on Twitter.

Now at least for today, Donald Trump as you noted, Kate, on the campaign trail in battleground states going to Ohio. And why that matters more than anything else is where he's going in Ohio, Northeast Ohio, a part of the state that completely identifies with the type of voter that Trump said he could bring to the party, that Republicans hadn't been able to get before, blue collar, former Democrats. That's who they're targeting today. We'll see a lot of that in the weeks ahead now that we're officially at that starting gun for the homestretch.

BOLDUAN: Forget everything that's happened until this point because this is when it really matters, right?

BERMAN: Until tomorrow.

BOLDUAN: Until tomorrow.

BERMAN: Today, too.

BOLDUAN: Yeah, OK.

Phil, great to see you.

Let's bring in our panel, Paris Dennard, Donald Trump supporter and he worked in the George W. Bush White House; Basil Smikle, executive director of the New York State Democratic Party and Hillary Clinton supporter; Lanhee Chen, Mitt Romney's former director during the '12 campaign; and joining us in a moment, Hilary Rosen, a Democratic strategist and Hillary Clinton supporter.

A little teaser as we're dealing with a technical glitch, as we like to say.

Basil, let's start where we are right at this moment. Hillary Clinton has the plane, the press riding on the plane with her. Goes back to say hello and says I'll be back for a little bit. Is she going to be able to avoid the press like she has now that they're on the plane?

BASIL SMIKLE, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, NEW YORK STATE DEMOCRATIC PARTY: I don't -- I wouldn't use the word avoided.

(LAUGHTER)

(CROSSTALK)

SMIKLE: I wouldn't use the word avoided. But I do think she's going to talk to-- I would like for her to talk to the press. I think it would be great. She's got a lot to say. She's been talking about some great policies over the last couple of weeks, including some issues related to mental health. It's gotten lost in some of the other coverage, unfortunately. She's got a lot to say. I hope she can engage the press more.

BERMAN: Some of that other coverage which you're referring to is the e-mails and the FBI report and the notes that took coming out on Friday and the idea that, you know, she didn't know what "C" meant, it was a mark for "confidential" on the form there. Does she need to explain this out loud today? SMIKLE: Listen, I don't think so, to that particular point, Director

Comey said anyone who saw that notation could have easily not thought it was classified.

(CROSSTALK)

SMIKLE: No, the big picture is this, the FBI unanimously believed there was no indictment, no charges that need to be brought. There's really nothing more to say, except what she already said. She took responsibility for it. We have all said that. A lot of her surrogates have. I don't know what else she could say to change the conversation except to say what she's already said.

BOLDUAN: Things keep coming up, she's going to have to keep saying something, even if she doesn't like it, Basil.

SMIKLE: There are other things to talk about including policy issues --

[11:10:07] BOLDUAN: Some of the things we'd also like to talk about right now, Paris, Donald Trump, he's still answering questions about his immigration policy, a speech he gave on Wednesday. There still seems to be playing a lot of clean-up in terms of advisers don't seem to -- struggle to explain what he meant in his immigration speech on Wednesday. You heard Rudy Giuliani, Phil Mattingly talked about that sound bite, where he said that he would find it very, very difficult to throw out a family that's been here for 15 years, they have three children, two of whom are citizens, that is not the kind of America that Donald Trump wants. Do you support -- do you think that's exactly what Donald Trump is saying right now?

PARIS DENNARD, DONALD TRUMP SUPPORTER & WORKED IN THE GEORGE W. BUSH WHITE HOUSE: You know, I think there's a stark contrast between what Donald Trump is saying and the fact that he is actually saying something. We've had Secretary Clinton actually avoid the press and not have a press conference for over 275 days, so hopefully she will begin to answer the questions --

(CROSSTALK)

BERMAN: Hey, Paris, Paris --

(CROSSTALK)

DENNARD: -- as it relates to the FBI.

But as it relates to Mr. Trump -- but as it relates to Mr. Trump, I think he's had a very clear 10-point plan on immigration. And anyone who listens to hip understands that it is a process. When you go through this election, when you go through the campaign, it becomes a process of learning, of listening and understanding the best way, the best solution to deal with the illegal immigration policy that we have not had. Mr. Trump is the candidate who said he is going to solve the problem once and for all. That the Democrats, that this administration and Secretary Clinton have been unable to do.

(CROSSTALK)

BERMAN: One second, Basil.

This is Donald Trump at a roundtable in Ohio. He's meeting with some voters. I think that's Mike Pence.

(CROSSTALK)

BERMAN: There's no audio of this but he working that key swing states.

You said everybody understands what Donald Trump was saying. That's just patently false because the Trump campaign has been trying to explain what he said for five days now. Donald Trump himself came out the next day and said people didn't get what I said because of all the cheering and what not. They've had to explain it day after day, including yesterday with Rudy Giuliani. So if he's trying to say that he won't work to deport some of the 11 million undocumented immigrants here, people aren't getting that message.

HILARY ROSEN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, because he doesn't want to say it.

DENNARD: Mr. Trump has a 10-point plan on illegal immigration. He's laid it out and it's very clear. What people are trying to figure out, or say or distort, is whether or not everybody's going to go out at once, everyone's going to come out, you know. What he said is the criminal illegal immigrants that are here, the ones that have done criminal harm, that have enacted violence against American citizens, they will be the first to go. Then he said we will deal with the rest of them. But let it be known, let the facts reflect that Mr. Trump is not for amnesty. He has not ever been for amnesty. He said if anybody is here illegally, they have to go back and come back in and do it the right way. But the process to figure out as to how that happens. It's a difficult process. Let it be known, no amnesty, and people will have to leave.

BOLDUAN: Lanhee, let me pose the question John threw out to you. As a former policy director for Romney, if Romney gave a speech and five days later, folks -- or it's not clear -- or folks are still trying to understand what he was saying in the speech, is that helpful to the candidate?

LANHEE CHEN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Let's put it that way. If that had happened, I wouldn't have had a job. This is incredibly unusual. The challenge is when you look at a policy on immigration, really the only question that people care about is what you're going to do with the 11 million people who are here as illegal or undocumented immigrants. Saying you're going to deal with the people who have criminal backgrounds first is great. I think everybody agrees. That's about 690,000 people. Those who overstay their visas, you've got about 1 percent of that population that comes into the country each year that overstays. That's another number on top of that. I think the question now becomes will we ever get clarification on that. I think the reason why you're not getting clarification is because it's a very sticky issue. What Donald Trump has said is that folks have to return home first implies that there is going to be some kind of deportation. I think all their surrogates have to get on the same page. It's a tough policy area. There's no doubt, we haven't gotten a lot of clarity from the Trump campaign on how the campaign would address that particular question.

BERMAN: Hilary Rosen, I want to bring you into the discussion.

I want to change it up and talk about the issue of race, because Donald Trump went and spoke at an African-American church on Saturday in Detroit. And there was a fascinating article out this morning in "The New York Times," Jonathan Martin, talking about some focus groups have been done with African-American Millennials, essentially says Hillary Clinton isn't doing as well as you might think. She's certainly not doing as well as President Obama did. But there's some softness there among Millennials in particular in the African-American community who aren't supporting Hillary Clinton in the numbers she would need going forward. Why do you think that is?

[11:15:00] HILARY ROSEN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, let's just go big picture for one minute. To the extent we still talk a week later about Trump's positions on anything, just means that -- it shows that he just doesn't really have solid policy positions and ideas for going forward. So let's relate that.

Look, there are no easy answers. People are discouraged about politics generally. Black Lives Matter would not have had the energy and excitement among the young African-American community that it has had over the last year if people felt great about their opportunity. So I think you have Hillary Clinton out there with real economic investment, real infrastructure investment, real solid tax cuts for the middle class and education investment. She has plans. Whether or not that's going to make everybody happy is a tough call. I think it's certain that Donald Trump's tax cut for the rich and trickle-down economics is not going to help. I'm not worried that Hillary Clinton will win the African-American vote. And I don't particularly think that Trump's sort of Johnny-come-lately analysis here is going to be persuasive.

BOLDUAN: Basil, kind of in an unrelated element to this, as it happened this morning, President Obama was asked at the G-20 presser he was holding to weigh in on Colin Kaepernick's protest. It happened earlier this morning. Let's play what Donald Trump -- pardon me, what President Obama said, and we'll talk about it afterwards.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: As a general matter, when it comes to the flag and the national anthem and the meaning that that holds for our men and women in uniform and those who fought for us, you know, that is a tough thing for them to get past, to then hear what his deeper concerns. But I don't doubt his sincerity, based on what I heard. I think he cares about some real legitimate issues that have to be talked about.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BOLDUAN: Colin Kaepernick's protest has really got a lot of people talking. What do you make of how President Obama reacted?

SMIKLE: I think he's right. Number one, he has a right to protest. Number two, there are individuals that may feel uncomfortable about the way that he is protesting. What is true, and I say this all the time, you can love this country and still protest and push it to be greater. I think that's a cornerstone sort of, of our country, of our Constitution, that we're always trying to be greater. I think that's where protests throughout history, particularly that scene with Muhammad Ali and Jim Browns and others standing behind him. That's still a powerful image, supporting him when he did not go to Vietnam. I think there's a long history of protest, particularly among athletes. I absolutely agree with the president.

I would also say, just to go back to Hilary Rosen's point, it was Hillary Clinton, the first candidate to acknowledge openly that black lives do matter. So there are many ways in which I think about this particular protest with Colin Kaepernick and you have Hillary Clinton on the campaign trail engaging communities of color at churches and elsewhere where the African-American community is very, very much engaged in this election. So I take little issue with how that -- how that reporting was done. I think they're very engaged.

BERMAN: All right, Basil, Paris, Hilary, Lanhee, thank you.

BOLDUAN: Thanks, guys.

BERMAN: In addition to Colin Kaepernick, President Obama was asked about Vladimir Putin. He had a 90-minute meeting with the Russian leader.

BOLDUAN: Look at that stare down.

BERMAN: The subject of hacking and some of the digital shenanigans going on, that came up.

BOLDUAN: Shenanigans, technical term.

Plus, scary new CNN reporting coming out reveals mysterious operative linked to the terror cell that was involved in the Paris terror attack. Don't miss it.

[11:19:21] And a Hispanic Trump supporter warns America there will be taco trucks on every corner if Donald Trump does not win. The man who just quit Trump's Hispanic council joins us live to discuss that and his immigration policy, ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BOLDUAN: "Candid, blunt and business like", that's how President Obama described his 90-minute sit-down with Russian President Vladimir Putin today at the G-20 summit.

BERMAN: We look happier than they do.

BOLDUAN: We're better at faking it.

BERMAN: OK.

BOLDUAN: Shortly after U.S. and Russian negotiators failed to strike a deal on the long-standing war in Syria.

Here was President Obama in China just a short time ago. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: We have had some productive conversations about what a real cessation of hostilities would look like that would allow us, both, the United States and Russia, to focus our attention on common enemies like ISIL and Nusra. But given the gaps of trust that exist that's a tough negotiation.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: Gaps of trust. Gaps of trust that don't seem to be healing any time soon.

CNN Pentagon correspondent, Barbara Starr, joins us now.

Barbara, what is the status of the Syria discussions?

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT; Well, you might think of it this way, the other two entity that are candid, blunt and business- like are the State Department and the Pentagon. The Pentagon, very skeptical of the State Department's diplomatic efforts to get this agreement with the Russians.

Why is it so important? Well, of course, the humanitarian disaster in Syria. If it can get so-called cessation of hostilities, maybe you can get some humanitarian aid in, maybe some relief for the tens of thousands besieged in Syria.

But the Pentagon really wants the Russians to make a verifiable commitment that if this happens, they will turn to fighting ISIS. That's the U.S. goal, of course, get rid of ISIS, you know, reduce the threat of another terror attack. The Russians, on the other hand, very much still supporting Bashar al Assad. And their air strikes really have been pounding the people in northwest Syria, very much aimed at getting after the opposition groups to Assad, while the U.S. wants to get after ISIS. That may be the biggest gap of all right now.

[11:25:33] BOLDUAN: While that's going on also, Barbara. President Obama was asked during this press conference he was holding about whether he thought Russia was trying to impact the U.S. election through the hacking that we've talked so much about. President Obama did not answer that question.

STARR: He side-stepped that one, big time. Of course, a lot of this looking for reaction to a story in "The Washington Post" today, that the Russians may be very covertly trying to influence the U.S. election through some cyberattacks. The president would not directly address that question. But he was none too subtle, nonetheless. His view, the U.S. had the greatest cyber capability in the world. He talked about it being both defensive to prevent attacks -- and he used a very interesting word -- he said the U.S. also had offensive capability in cyberattacks. The president putting a little bit of skin in the game there, just making sure the Russians remember and others remember that if they hack the United States, the U.S. has the capability to engage in offensive operations in cyberspace as well.

BERMAN: Yes, the president doesn't accidentally note that the United States has more offensive and defensive capabilities when it comes to digital warfare than anyone else, it was fascinating hear him say that.

Barbara Starr, thanks so much.

STARR: Sure.

BOLDUAN: Thanks, Barbara.

Coming up for us, that stunning new CNN reporting, ISIS planned for the terror attacks in Paris to be much, much worse, a much bigger plot. They also plotted more attacks across Europe. That's ahead.

BERMAN: Plus, Donald Trump advisers explaining his immigration plan, saying that it has, in fact, softened. So, what do the people who actually quit Trump's Hispanic council think about this softening? One joins us live, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)