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Trump's Shocking Responses; Powell's Email Goes Public; Obama Speaks Live in Laos. Aired 4-4:30a ET

Aired September 8, 2016 - 04:00   ET


[04:00:13] JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Revealing responses from Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton on the same stage for the first time. Not exactly at the same time, though. Trump with harsh words for U.S. generals, kind words for Vladimir Putin and standing by a controversial tweet about women. We will show what he said coming up.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Hillary Clinton at the same forum fresh on her email controversy and now, a new wrinkle, emails from Colin Powell about how to handle communications at the State Department.

BERMAN: So, what does President Obama think about all this? Well, we will soon find out, a live news conference. His overseas trip no doubt, facing some serious questions. We'll bring that to you live.

Good morning, everyone. Welcome to EARLY START. I'm John Berman.

ROMANS: And I'm Christine Romans. Nice to see you all this morning. It is Thursday, September 8th. It is 4:00 a.m. exactly on the East Coast.

Breaking overnight: Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump giving some revealing and surprising answers on national security to some, frankly, surprising questions and non-questions at a national security forum here in New York. Trump defended a tweet about women in the military. He offered new compliments for Vladimir Putin, and also issued new claims about information and impressions from inside his national security briefing.

Hillary Clinton faced tough questions about her e-mails and some of her foreign policy choices.


MATT LAUER, NBC NEWS: Do you know more about ISIS than they do?

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: I think under the leadership of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, the generals have been reduced to rubble.

HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: I think that the decision to go to war in Iraq was a mistake. We must learn what led us down that path so that it never happens again. I'm asking to be judged on the totality of my record. LAUER: When referring to a comment about Putin made of you, I think

he called you a brilliant leader.

TRUMP: When he calls me brilliant, I'll take that compliment, OK? He is really very much of a leader. I mean, you can say, oh, isn't a terrible thing? He called -- I mean, the man has very strong control of a country. Now, it's a very different system and I don't happen to like the system. But certainly in that system, he's been a leader.

LAUER: Were some of the e-mails sent or received by you referring to our drone program, a covert drone program?

CLINTON: Yes. Every part of our government had to deal with questions and the secretary of state's office was first and foremost. So, there are ways of talking about the drone program.


ROMANS: CNN's Brianna Keilar following that story for us. She has the very latest.



Much of Clinton's part of the forum centered around her email practices while she was secretary of state. And she really parsed her words that she tried to make the case that she did not endanger national security using a private server because there weren't e-mails with classified headers transmitted, the kind of e-mails that would be on the classified system versus an unclassified system, like the official State Department system or the one that she used on her private server, a very different thing though, than sending classified content, even without a header.

CLINTON: You know and I know classified material is designated. It is marked. There is a header so that there is no dispute at all that what is being communicated to or from someone who has that access is marked classified. And what we have here is the use of an unclassified system by hundreds of people in our government to send information that was not marked, there were no headers, there was no statement, top secret or secret or confidential.

I communicated about classified material on a wholly separate system. I took it very seriously.

KEILAR: It was a surprising approach considering Clinton herself said recently that when she tries to explain herself, it just sounds like she's making excuses for herself.

And then there was a moment with Donald Trump who is struggling mightily in the polls with women when he doubled down on this tweet.

LAUER: In 2013 on this subject, you tweeted this, quote, "26,000 unreported sexual assaults in the military, only 238 convictions. What did these geniuses expect when they put men and women together?" unquote.

TRUMP: Well, it is a correct tweet. There are many people who think that is correct. And we need to have strength and we need to have --

LAUER: So, it should have been expected and the only way to fix it is to take women out of the military?

TRUMP: And, by the way, since then it's gotten worse. Not to kick them out, but something has to happen.

[04:05:01] Right now, part of the problem is nobody gets prosecuted. You have reported and the gentlemen can tell you. You have the report of rape and nobody gets prosecuted. There are no consequences.

KEILAR: Trump also claimed that he did not support the Iraq war, which is untrue. Initially, as the nation went to war, he actually did support it and it was only later that he spoke out against the war publicly at a time when many people who had initially been in support of the war actually changed their minds -- John and Christine.


ROMANS: All right. Brianna Keilar, thanks so much.

Now, reaction to this forum last night started burning up Twitter overnight, even with the show still on the air. Republican Party chairman Reince Priebus tweeted, "Hillary Clinton was angry and defensive the entire time. No smile. And uncomfortable, upset that she was caught wrongly sending our secrets."

The Clinton campaign lashed back, "Actually, that's just what taking the office of president seriously looks like."

Moderator Matt Lauer faced sharp criticism from pundits and journalists. Some of them calling his performance weak and an embarrassment, specifically Lauer was criticized for Brianna just talked about, not fact checking Donald Trump's claim that he was always against the Iraq war.

That claim is simply false. In a radio interview in 2002, Trump said he supported the invasion. But once again last night, he said he always opposed it and Lauer did not correct him.

A pretty major world figure will respond to all this in just a few minutes. President Obama holds a news conference in Laos. He is finishing up the summit there. So, what did he make of the candidates looking to replace him last night?

Let's bring in White House correspondent Michelle Kosinski live for us in Laos.

Good morning, Michelle.

MICHELLE KOSINSKI, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes. We haven't heard from him yet, except to talk about the last day of the farewell tour to Asia, talking about building relationships here. But you know when he gets before this press conference in a half hour, he will be asked about what's going on in the United States, namely some of the statements that were made last night.

When he is on these trips, you never know how much he will get into it. I mean, there had been times that he has gone off on these riffs or rants as he called one of them in Canada on Donald Trump. But other times, he said, you know, I have pretty much said what I was going to say. I will let the American people decide.

Because this relates to national security issues, I think he's going to weigh in. I think we're going to hear a little bit more on his ideas there. But that's going to be no surprise. I think it could be interesting based on what questions are asked.

I think he's going to get asked about, you know, what his interaction was with the new president of the Philippines, Rodrigo Duterte last night. I mean, this was the guy who called president a son of a whore right before the meeting they were supposed to have. The White House then cancelled that meeting.

Well, last night, these two leaders were in the same space. The White House says that they had a brief discussion and exchanged pleasantries. But that's the extent of it, that's as far as what happened. I think he's going to be asked about that.

And also today, the president reaffirmed this international tribunal's ruling in July that China has no claim to islands that are disputed with the Philippines. That is a huge source of tension in this region. The U.S. has been kind of in the middle of it.

So, today, President Obama brought that up. I think he's going to go into a little more detail and get asked a little bit more about how you manage that relationship between China and the other countries here that the U.S. is aligned with, that are having these disputes.

Back to you, guys.

BERMAN: All right. Michelle Kosinski for us in Laos.

Again, President Obama set to answer questions for the press, reporters like Michelle Kosinski, in just a few minutes. We are expecting him to face questions about that presidential forum last night. So, stay tuned. Thanks, Michelle.

ROMANS: All right. To money now. There are a record number of open jobs in the U.S. a record number of job openings, but employers not find the right workers. How many job openings?

A record, 5.9 million in July, and there's this other figure, dramatic figure showing the improvement for job seekers. There is one open job for every the fewest since 2001. This number shows strength of the jobs market. The job openings come from skilled positions, business services, up 166,000. Some of those positions require years of experience.

Durable goods manufacturing up 27,000 just in July. These are higher paying jobs which require technical training. The biggest decrease in jobs, health care and social assistance, jobs there include a lot of low-wage positions.

The bottom line: there are good jobs open out there. Millions of them, but workers need to have experience and skills to get them. It is a very specific match and it is not happening in the labor market right now, something that economists look at the numbers and it is a mystery. It's a riddle to them.

BERMAN: It is really interesting. A whole new world order.

All right. Nine minutes after the hour.

Colin Powell in his own words. What did the former secretary of state tell Hillary Clinton over email about e-mail at the State Department?

[04:10:06] Those records finally go public. That's next.


ROMANS: New support this morning for Hillary Clinton's story that she got detailed advice on email use from former Secretary of State Colin Powell. An email exchange just released shows Powell told Secretary Clinton has to use a personal computer to keep certain emails from going through the State Department servers. The exchange took place just after Clinton became the nation's top diplomat.

The e-mails show Powell warning Clinton he got all kind of nonsense about bringing his devices into secure areas.

We get more on this story this morning from CNN's Elise Labott.


ELISE LABOTT, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, John and Christine, two days after being sworn in as secretary of state, Hillary Clinton and her predecessor, Colin Powell, exchanged e-mails about communicating outside State Department servers. Those emails were released Wednesday night.

Clinton asked Powell in them, what were the restrictions of the use of your BlackBerry?

[04:15:03] Did you use it in your personal office? Powell responds he didn't have a BlackBerry. He used a personal computer hooked up to a private phone line. That's an AOL account. Quote, "So I could communicate with a wide range of friends directly without it going through the State Department servers. I even used it for the foreign leaders and some of the senior folks on the department on their personal email account." He also used it on the road and hotels.

Now, Powell warned, quote, "there is a real danger that if it is public, if you have a BlackBerry and it is government and you're using it, government or not, it may become an official record and subject to the law. The Democratic Congressman Elijah Cumming released that e-mail

exchange, saying was released saying Powell advised Secretary Clinton with a detailed blueprint on how to skirt security rules to preserve federal records. He said Clinton did not rely on Powell's advice, but Clinton has cited Powell's advice to justify her use of a private email server.

Now, Powell has been up front about his use of that private e-mail accounting, wrote about it in his book. He acknowledged sending Clinton a memo about it. He hasn't responded to the release of this latest exchange. But in recent weeks, he voiced a lot of frustration, the Clinton camp was trying to pin her e-mail troubles on him. So, John and Christine, I'm not sure Congressman Cummings really did Secretary Clinton any favors by releasing those emails.


BERMAN: All right. Elise Labott, thanks so much.

FBI Director James Comey is defending the bureau's investigation of Hillary Clinton's e-mails and decision to release documents on the Friday before the Labor Day holiday. Comey says the decision was not a close call. A memo to FBI employees, Comey writes, "At the end of the day, the case itself was not a cliffhanger despite all the chest- beating by people no longer in government, there really wasn't a prosecutable case."

Now, about the Friday release, he says, "We don't play games. We are continuing to process more material and release batches of documents as they are ready, no matter the day of the week."

Look, what's interesting here is this language in the back that it chose to release this memo, a memo to his employees. It just shows, I think he's a little angry or frustrated with the second and third or fourth guessing about what's he's done.

ROMANS: Only fourth guessing, fifth or sixth, eight guessing.

BERMAN: A lot of guessing.

ROMANS: Right.

Seventeen minutes past the hour.

A lot of rhetoric about global security at last night's Commander-in- Chief Forum. How are Trump and Clinton's positions being received around the world? A live report, next.


[04:22:02] BERMAN: All right. Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton not quite face-to-face, but appearing on the same stage last night in a televised presidential forum. Hillary Clinton vowed that she has learned from her past mistakes, insisting she offers the nation rock steadiness. Donald Trump offered new praise for Vladimir Putin while being

intentionally vague on his anti-ISIS strategy. How is this all being received overseas?

Let's go live in Rome and bring in CNN senior international correspondent Ben Wedeman.

Ben, you know, other countries and leaders don't get to vote in our election. But that doesn't mean they aren't watching it very, very closely. What are they saying right now?

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think with the world leaders and global audience is going to be a bit taken aback by some of the things they heard from both candidates. Certainly, Mr. Trump's assertion that the United States should have kept Iraq's oil is probably going to be the source of some concern among many people because this really harkens back to the golden age of European imperialism.

You know, the fact of the matter is that if the United States had kept a certain group behind us, Mr. Trump said, to keep the oil, to exploit the oil, that would have caused a backlash that would have been far more broad and violent than what were seeing from ISIS which at the end of the day is just several thousand disaffected extremists. You would have the entire region up in arms.

It's also important to keep in mind Iraq's oil is in the south which is predominantly Shia and the northern areas, which are predominantly Kurdish. And, probably, if you put those two areas together, there are fewer ISIS sympathizers in them than there are in Brussels or Paris. Now, Mrs. Clinton's assertion, for instance, that there are no U.S. ground troops in Iraq and Syria would probably be met with a little confusion from many observers since the United States has around 5,000 troops in Iraq, several hundred special forces in Syria.

Now, of course, they are called advisers, not troops, but I've seen them. They are men and women in uniform with weapons very close to the front lines in Iraq. For instance, there have been battlefield fatalities among the Americans in the war against ISIS in Iraq and in Syria.

So, certainly, both candidates are pushing a line that seems from the outside don't make a lot of sense -- John.

BERMAN: All right. Ben Wedeman for us in Rome, watching the race here in the United States -- thanks so much, Ben.

ROMANS: All right. Still no comment from Russian officials after one of their fighter jets came within ten feet of a U.S. Navy plane over the black sea. The Pentagon is calling the incident an unsafe, close range intercept.

[04:25:04] The encounter plane lasted 19 minutes. U.S. military officials say the Navy P8 plane was conducting routine exercises in international airspace when it was buzzed. They were warning the Russians not to unnecessarily escalate tensions. BERMAN: Secretary of State John Kerry and his Russian counterpart

Sergei Lavrov, they are set to meet face to face in Geneva over the next two days. They will try once again to reach a ceasefire agreement in Syria.

Fighting ISIS also on the agenda. This meeting comes as fresh government air strikes hit the rebel held areas in Aleppo. Residents their claim chlorine gas was used in an attack earlier this week that killed more than 100 people.

All right. Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, they face tough questions on national security, also faced some non-questions about some of their answers. What did Donald Trump say about women in the military that has a lot of people raising their eyebrows this morning? That's next.