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THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER

Interview with Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren; Soon: Hillary Clinton to Speak on National Security. Aired 4:30-5p ET

Aired September 9, 2016 - 16:30   ET

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


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[16:31:58] JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back to THE LEAD.

We're waiting for former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to come out of a national security meeting with top foreign policy brass, including former acting CIA Director Mike Morell, General David Petraeus and others. We'll take that live when it happens.

Clinton is hoping that high profile Democrats such as President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden will be able to give her candidacy a boost.

Today, Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, a darling of the progressive movement, hit the stump for the Democratic nominee in Philadelphia.

In an exclusive interview this morning, I asked Senator Warren once considered a possible vice president choice, why someone she once called a thin-skinned racist, sexist bully Donald Trump is keeping this race so close.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TAPPER: You are clearly not a particular fan of the Republican nominee, Donald Trump, and I think the feeling is mutual.

Why do you think the race is so competitive? I mean, if he is, as you depict him, a racist fool, that's kind of how you depict him, why is Hillary Clinton -- why is this gong to be so tough for her to win? Shouldn't she be ahead by 10 or 15 points?

SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D), MASSACHUSETTS: Look, the way I see this is that Donald Trump has tapped into something that's real, there is a lot of anger.

TAPPER: Something that you talk about all the time.

WARREN: And I was just going to say.

TAPPER: Yes.

WARREN: It's real, because the game is rigged against hardworking people. The game is rigged against young people. The game is rigged against a lot of people who have done their dead level best, who worked hard, who played by the rules and just see any chance at economic security way outside their reach.

And he's tapped into how angry people feel about that, rightly angry. The problem is Donald Trump's so called solution just heads in the wrong direction. And so, what we've got now as Donald Trump says, yes, I get that you're angry, let me tell you what's wrong, it's them. It's the people who don't look like you, it's people who don't worship like you. It's about immigrants. It's about Mexicans. It's about women. It's about everybody else. It's about them.

Donald Trump is about turning people against each other and telling America that's the way we're going to build a future.

TAPPER: But he also blames trade deals, a lot of the trade deals that you have concerns about.

WARREN: But, look at them, what is Donald Trump's solution to that? He is just not offering anything. He is -- he's just empty at that end. He has nothing to say, here is a plan, here is how we build a future going forward.

What he's got is a bunch of secret ideas he just doesn't want to have to tell the American people about.

TAPPER: What do you make of his comments about Vladimir Putin and his desire to have a better relationship with Russia?

WARREN: Well, it's not just that he says, I'm going to try to have a better relationship, come on.

He is out complimenting the guy, calling him a better president than Barack Obama, and how does he know that?

[16:35:02] Because he has higher approval ratings? I mean, Saddam Hussein had higher approval ratings, too.

But Donald Trump needs to remember that he isn't running for dictator. He is running to be president of a Democratically elected country, and somebody who has such disdain for our military, for the work that people had tried to do in this country. He should never get within 100 miles of the White House.

TAPPER: When you talk about the game being rigged, Open Secrets looked at the money going to the presidential candidates, industry by industry. And when it goes to the financial industry, securities, investment, Hillary Clinton's campaign and super PAC have raised $47 million from that industry, only $345,000 from that industry is going to Donald Trump.

I know you don't think that these people are giving to Hillary Clinton's campaign and super PAC out of the goodness of their heart. Does that trouble you?

WARREN: Am I troubled about the influence of Wall Street in every election that happens in this country? You bet I am.

TAPPER: Including Hillary Clinton's? WARREN: Well, but I want to be clear on this one. I think that one

reason you see them not giving to Donald Trump is they look around and say, Donald Trump is bad for business, a guy who is so unhinged. That guy with the finger on the nuclear trigger is not a guy that can be president of the United States.

But, yes, I do worry about the influence of Wall Street. Wall Street has been buying his way into Washington for decades now, and they're a big part of not only how the game is rigged, but how we ended up with a financial crisis in 2008 that was the worst since the Great Depression.

We need to take this country back. And right now, money is sloshing through the electoral process is making that virtually impossible.

I will say this with Hillary Clinton, she has said that she will work to get money out of politics. That she is willing to lead the charge. We get a Supreme Court, you know, we're 4-4 in the Supreme Court right now. We get another chance to look at money and politics if we get a justice whose eyes are open and they're willing to consider it.

So, I regard the whole issue of the influence of Wall Street as very much lively. Something we've got to pay attention to, and something that we at least, might, have a fighting chance to beat back over the next few years. But it's where we have to go.

TAPPER: As a progressive, I know I there are a lot of progressives out there who are very suspicious of Hillary and Bill Clinton who think that the Bill Clinton years were bad for the middle class, who think that trade deals were bad for them. These are people who supported Bernie Sanders, who support you, why should they support Hillary Clinton who has been part of the system and you've criticized her for bankruptcy bill and for other things, why should they support her over somebody who they think might shake up the system, like a Donald Trump, or a Jill Stein, or a Gary Johnson?

WARREN: Look, Hillary Clinton has laid out a progressive agenda. She laid it out in the primaries and she has stuck with it in the general. He has said, this is what I'm running on.

The way I see it, it is the job of progressives to get her elected on a progressive agenda, and then work our rear ends off to help get that progressive agenda enacted when she is president.

TAPPER: And kind of be a watchdog --

WARREN: You bet.

TAPPER: -- of the Clinton administration if there is one.

WARREN: You bet.

TAPPER: Do you have any concerns that Clinton is, as Donald Trump depicted her, when it comes to foreign policy, too trigger happy, too militaristic, too eager to send in troops? That's a knock on her that we've heard from many progressives and Donald Trump is repeating it as well.

WARREN: Look, I want to start with the fact that hearing that from Donald Trump, who has talked about, asked the generals, why we don't use our nuclear weapons more, who has talked about breaks with NATO. I mean, so, we've got to start with the fact that this is Donald Trump spinning in any direction he wants.

But it is like every other issue that we debate in America today. We've got to be vigilant. We've got to be vigilant on our side.

Democracy is not about electing one person and then having that one person dictate the terms of where we go.

[16:40:02] It's about the rest of us being part of this conversation, too, and saying we worry about what's happening around the world and how it is that America can keep us safe and not escalate tensions elsewhere.

I see this as -- this is the responsibility of all of us in a democracy. We need to be with our president as our president makes us safer, and that are our president genuinely and truly pursues peace, not war.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

TAPPER: My interview with Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts.

We're just minutes away from Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaking to reporters after a national security meeting.

CNN senior Washington correspondent Jeff Zeleny is outside the meeting.

Jeff, before going into this meeting, Clinton released a statement about the North Korean nuclear tests. In the statement, she implied that Donald Trump is unfit to handle this crisis.

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRRESPONDENT: She did indeed say that, Jake, and she said that North Korea's decision to conduct another nuclear test, she called it outrageous and unacceptable. She said it is another reminder why this presidential campaign is indeed so important.

And she just wrapped up a meeting that went for a little over 90 minutes or so, Jake, and the roster of advisors she was meeting with is indeed bipartisan, some familiar names from the Bush administration. Chief among them, David Petraeus, of course, the architect of the 2007 surge in Iraq, as well as a former Bush administration Homeland Security secretary as well.

What Secretary Clinton is trying to do here today, of course, is show that she is a bipartisan leader, that she could lead in a time of crisis, like this happening here. And the Clinton campaign, of course, is also trying to convince any more skeptical Republicans out there that A, Hillary Clinton even though she may not be their first choice, is acceptable, and Donald Trump is not. So, this meeting was more designed, Jake, I'm told, as a listening

session, and some of the attendees were actually listening via video conference that David Petraeus was as well, Janet Napolitano, the first Homeland Security secretary of the Obama administration was on video conference, and this was a moment for Secretary Clinton to listen to their concerns. Of course, this comes on the 15 year anniversary of 9/11 coming up on Sunday which heightens the awareness and the fears in this country of terrorism and the threats abroad.

TAPPER: And while we wait for Secretary Clinton to come out let me bring in David Chalian and Gloria Borger.

And, David, just look at the image, obviously, Secretary Clinton is hoping her words and presence of the men and women behind her will convey a certain presidential mien. But look at that, I mean, it's not quite the portico, but it is White House-esque.

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: It could be -- yes, the cross hall, yes, it is definitely White House-esque, there's no doubt about that, and it is definitely a meeting that -- we got a picture of the meeting itself earlier that also was very well-stage managed in that way. That kind of presidential stage craft.

It's interesting to hear, Jeff, when he referenced Petraeus as the architect of the surge. Remember, that was a surge that Hillary Clinton opposed, that Robert Gates said she did so for political reasons. I wonder as Donald Trump on this day is going after Hillary Clinton for being trigger happy, for military adventurism, to surround herself with some of these folks who maybe bolster that image rather than break away from it.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: You know, particularly David Petraeus. I mean, don't forget Benghazi is a huge issue for Hillary Clinton. David Petraeus was at CIA at the time. And for David Petraeus to now come out, he has not endorsed, we should say that, but participating in this meeting is a public showing of the fact that you can engage in a foreign policy discussion publicly with Hillary Clinton, you're willing to do it.

So, it's not an endorsement but it's just short of it. I think it is kind of important for them to have him there. Also Michael Chertoff, you know, Bush's former head of homeland security.

So, if you want to talk about fighting terror, keeping America safe, Chertoff is an important person to have participate in this.

TAPPER: Although I think it's a good point, and Jeff Zeleny, let me bring you back. I mean, obviously, Clinton right now going for a presidential image, going to -- trying to reassure voters, look, I am stable, my opponent is not. This is the kind of meeting you would have, announcement you have after a crisis during a Hillary Clinton presidency, but as David points out, a lot of the people that are going to be standing there, presuming they come out, are people that have been associated with military adventurism in the recent past.

ZELENY: No doubt about that, Jake. This is about optics and you all mentioned the flags before, I can tell you, just before, not long ago, they were ironing the flags, that level of detail here, showing this is a different moment in the campaign. We've seen all week long really a running audition to be commander in chief. We see Donald Trump on one side, Hillary Clinton on another, but this is yet another example convening a meeting here. And this all happened before the North Korea nuclear exercise overnight.

But presidential campaigns in their final stretches, in the final 60 days here, they often have a reaction of things in real time, real things as they come up indeed here. So if by convening this meeting - and I'm told it's the first in a series of meetings for the final stretch here of the campaign, Secretary Clinton will be having meetings like this, bipartisan meetings like this. And there are still are republicans out there skeptical of Donald Trump, and that's what this is aimed at as well, trying to convince them that she in fact would lead in a bipartisan way. And in fact they're up on the air in battleground states with similar ads, saying that she would work across the divide here. Now the argument will fall on deaf ears to some republicans, no doubt, but certainly not to all republicans. So this is a moment for her in this campaign to try and distinguish herself.

TAPPER: We were talking earlier today about the battleground state of Pennsylvania where Elizabeth Warren was and Bill Clinton as well today campaigning for Hillary Clinton. I think it is fair to say, Gloria, that this event is aimed more at the moms and dads in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, outside Philadelphia than it is the Bernie-or- bust students at the University of Pennsylvania or Temple.

BORGER: Right, this is aimed at people who already know why they're skeptical of Donald Trump, but they need an affirmative reason to vote for Hillary Clinton. To those voters, having a bipartisan session like this on foreign policy, they're hoping in the campaign will give them something to hang on and say, "Look, she's not as liberal as Bernie Sanders, she's willing to work with Michael Chertoff, she'd be willing to work with David Patraeus, so it will give them something, they hope, to hang their hat on; suburban women for example who are concerned about national security. It's a bit issue for women voters. I think these kinds of pictures are very good for her.

ZELENY: And you know the most recent poll this week, we saw foreign policy is a strong suit for her; she's beating him by some 16 points or something. But on terrorism as a specific topic, she's a little bit behind him. They're much closer. She is about 5 or 6 points behind him on that score, and I think you see the Clinton campaign wanting to make sure, as terrorism is such the foreign policy issue that is discussed day in and day out, want to bolster that, that she can handle terrorism better than Donald.

TAPPER: All right, David, Gloria, Jeff, stay with us. We're going to sneak in a quick break while we're waiting for Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, former Secretary of State Clinton to come out and talk to reporters. Stay with CNN.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)[0:05:13.5] TAPPER: Welcome back. Hillary Clinton moments away from coming out and speaking to reporters after her national security meeting with the host of bipartisan national security stars, for want of a better term. We'll bring her remarks to you live as soon as she comes out. Let's bring back in David Chalian, Gloria Borger, Jeff Zeleny. Jeff, you have Juliette Kayyem with you. She's a former Obama administration official in the Department of Homeland Security and obviously a former CNN consultant. She was in this meeting with former Secretary Clinton.

ZELENY: She was indeed, Jake. And Juliette, let me just bring you in here. What was the tone of the meeting like here? As a bipartisan meeting, how did Secretary Clinton conduct herself in this meeting.

JULIETTE KAYYEM: Yes, nonpartisan. I think just as an aside, that was probably the most interesting part of the meeting is being in a room with people sort of cutting across the ideology. It was mostly she was asking lots of questions. It focused on three themes, the homeland of course in light of 9/11 and the anniversary of 9/11; the specific issue of ISIS and how to combat it abroad; and then I think the more sort of generational issues that we are going to be confronting around the world in terms of the threat. And so she just - I had only met her once before. She took lots of notes - I mean, they say that it's true - and asked questions about what can be done. Can we get the Europeans more engaged with this struggle and what do we do with the homeland?

ZELENY: Now there are people around the table who were in this meeting as well who aren't necessarily - who A. haven't supported her and have supported positions that she has not been in favor of. What was that dynamic like? Particularly with General Patraeus.

KAYYEM: So I have to say, you know, it was very - how do I put this nicely? The vast majority of people in my space, in national security and homeland security, agree on fundamental things. I think that's one of the issues related to the Donald Trump campaign. It's just the extent to which some of his opinions are outliers. So everyone who's had a history in this world knows antagonizing our Muslim neighbors is bad, let along the Muslim community in American - not just bad because it's wrong, but bad because it's bad as a counter terrorism strategy; it's ineffective. That there's common understanding of, so there's much more commonalities than distinctions between sort of what kind of force or the use of force in, say, Syria or against the war on ISIS.

ZELENY: Was there a conversation about Donald Trump's policies in there? Just quickly.

KAYYEM: Yes, I mean, I think the extent to which when and if she becomes president, the extent to which some of the conversations that are going on now have to be addressed specifically. I think in particular, our Muslim neighbors who, if we don't want to fight another war abroad, we need to engage them more effectively in the war and also Europeans. I mean, to the extent that they are less than willing than us in instances. That's an important piece of the pie.

ZELENY: Juliette, thank you very much. KAYYEM: Thank you.

ZELENY: Jake, back to you.

TAPPER: We're going to take a moment here and continue with politics in my conversation earlier today with Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren. She had a lot to say about a shocking breach of customer trust at one of the nation's biggest banks, Wells Fargo, which was today slapped with fines totaling a record $185 million, the bank admitting 5400 of its now former employees were involved in a scheme to create bogus accounts. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau levied its highest fine ever against Wells Fargo, $100 million. The independent agency is the brainchild of Senator Warren, so I asked her about it and here is what she had to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DEMOCRATIC SENATOR, ELIZABETH WARREN: This is a staggering fraud and it is staggering both for how big it is and also for what it says about Wells Fargo. You know, look, Wells Fargo just turned around and said, "Hey, we're firing all the workers who were doing this but not the management team." My view on this is one of two things is true: Either they knew - come on, this went on for years and they didn't smell anything in the air about fake accounts and generating all these fees off customers? Either they knew or they didn't know, in which case how can you run a giant, multinational bank - I mean, it's a bank, right? They're supposed to keep track of peoples' money, safety, security - and not know what more than 5000 of your employees are doing? If they really didn't know, then that tells me this is a bank that is simply too big to manage.

TAPPER: So is the fine enough? Does there need to be more regulation and investigation, a congressional hearing?

WARREN: You know, this is the classic, so far as I can tell, and I only know what I've seen in the papers like everyone else. It's not like you need a new law. It's not like, oh they explored some creative fraud that might, you know, slip between - no. This was illegal. This was wrong. This was flatly wrong what they were doing. So it's not that we need more laws. What we need is aggressive enforcement of those laws. And, you know, it's the reminder the CFPB is a cop on the beat. It's someone on the side of all those people, of all those customers who had checking accounts to try to level the playing field. But there is this larger question about the management of Wells Fargo, and this is something the bank regulators, the guys who are supposed to keep supervision over the too-big-to-fail banks really need to take a hard look at.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: Elizabeth Warren earlier today in Philadelphia. We are still waiting for former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to come out after meeting with her national security team. We will bring that to you live. Gloria Borger, I can't help but think as I listen to Elizabeth Warren talk about Wells Fargo and the extent of the fraud and the $100 million fine from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau that I haven't hear Hillary Clinton talk about it.

BORGER: Right.

TAPPER: She's talking about national security, she's talking about North Korea, that's one of her topics(ph). This is also one of the reasons why Elizabeth Warren said in the same interview, she feels like she's going to need to be a watchdog of the Clinton administration, because those populist economic issues aren't necessarily the ones that inspire Clinton as they would have done, for instance, a nominee Bernie Sanders.

BORGER: Whenever Joe Biden once said these aren't issues that come easily to Hillary Clinton because she hasn't spent her lifetime with these issues, Elizabeth Warren has spent her political lifetime on these issues, and I would expect that if she does have a role, if Hilary Clinton were to win or a role in the senate, in the administration, that this would be what she would be keeping this - any administration straight on. I mean these are her issues that she cares about and by the way they were issues Bernie Sanders really cared about.

CNN HOST, DAVID CHALIAN: Right. It was part of their fight over the nomination(ph).

BORGER: Exactly.

TAPPER: And, David, it was just interesting in the - for Senator Warren to say, A. she understands why this race is so competitive because the anger that many Trump voters feel is real and legitimate and B. that the idea - when I said to her "You're going to be something of a watchdog on the Clinton administration," she said, "You bet."

CHALIAN: There was no doubt about that and putting Hillary Clinton on notice. If she is successful, I am certain she's going to have to look over her shoulder to listen to Warren and the United States Senate regularly, because we know how Warren feels about these issues. This is - especially Warren and Bernie Sanders teaming up together with Hillary Clinton as president, they're going to try to keep the pressure on constantly.

TAPPER: Yes, and obviously Sanders and Warren, that's part of their message to progressives.

BORGER: It's also where the democratic party is right now in a lot of ways; the younger voters in the democratic party. So I think Hillary Clinton would not pay attention to them at her own political peril. I think she understood that during the primaries and I think if she were to be elected, she would understand that again.

TAPPER: It's a very sincere argument, though. Elizabeth Warren is not saying, "Hey, this is, you know, the second coming of Janice Joplin." I mean, she's not pretending Hillary Clinton is one of them. She's saying, "It's a progressive agenda, she ran on it, we're going to win, and we need to keep an eye on her." CHALIAN: It's why when Hillary Clinton is up with an add today

talking about reaching across the aisle to work with republicans, when she's meeting with the bipartisan group today, it gets some of the more liberal progressively in the party a little nervous.

TAPPER: All right. Be sure to join me Sunday morning for a special September 11th edition of STATE OF THE UNION. That's 9 a.m. Eastern and noon. That's it for THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper. Wolf Blitzer will bring you Hillary Clinton's comments live in "THE SITUATION ROOM." Thanks for watching.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN: Happening Now. Breaking news: Nuclear fallout.