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AT THIS HOUR WITH BERMAN AND MICHAELA

Soon Trump to Hit Clinton over "Deplorables" Remark; Assad Agrees to Syrian Ceasefire, Vows To Take Back All of Syria. Aired 11:30-12p ET

Aired September 12, 2016 - 11:30   ET

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


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[11:33:32] JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: A short time from now, Donald Trump will address the National Guard Association' conference in Baltimore. This, as Hillary Clinton has canceled her trip to California after revealing that she has pneumonia. This morning, Trump addressed Clinton's health. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE (voice-over): I want her to get better. I want her to get out there. I look forward to seeing her in the debate. I will say this. We will be scheduling, if you look at my scheduling and compared to anybody else's scheduling, it is not a contest. So you know, I have found the whole challenge to be very invigorating.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Sara Murray is live in Baltimore following the Trump campaign today.

Sara, as John said, Hillary Clinton off the trail for the next couple days. How's Donald Trump feeling today?

SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL REPORTER: Well, it's interesting to see how differently Donald Trump is talking about Hillary Clinton's health and physical stamina now than he has in the past weeks on the campaign trail before this incident. In the past, he tended to question her physical stamina. Today, the campaign is taking pains to try to be very respectful. They warned their surrogates and warned campaign staffers, no one is to post about Hillary Clinton's health, and they really want to maintain this respectful stance.

Obviously, you saw Donald Trump there still trying to draw a contrast between the kind of schedule Hillary Clinton's been keeping and the kind of schedule that he's been keeping. He continues today, he will be here in Baltimore, Maryland, in just a few minutes. He will campaign later today in North Carolina.

And he's also sort of upping the ante when it comes to the health front, saying he had a physical last week with his doctor. He's now pledging to make the results of that physical public later this week. We are still waiting to see if Hillary Clinton is going to sort of follow suit there and release more medical records. Obviously, there's a lot of interest in this now in the wake of this incident over the weekend -- Kate?

[11:35:21] BERMAN: To be clear, he also is floating ideas and rumors, saying he's not sure whether he believes it's actually pneumonia here, which is what the Clinton campaign is saying. He did that in an interview this morning.

Sara Murray --

BOLDUAN: "Something's going on," is one of the lines he used today.

BERMAN: "Something is going on," he said.

Sara, at the event in Baltimore, thanks so much. We will check back in a little bit.

In the meantime, he was the director of the CIA under President Bill Clinton. In this election, though, he's only advising one candidate, and the name of the candidate is not Clinton. We have an exclusive with this man, James Woolsey, coming up.

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[11:40:12] BERMAN: Donald Trump is about to address the National Guard conference in Baltimore. This is just days after saying Vladimir Putin is a stronger leader than President Obama. Those comments sparked heavy criticism, including from former acting CIA director, Mike Morell, who along with Intelligence official, Mike Vickers, said in "The Washington Post," "You cannot credibly serve as commander in chief if you embrace Russian President Vladimir Putin."

BOLDUAN: Joining us to discuss, James Woolsey, who served as CIA director under President Bill Clinton.

Director, great to see you. Thank you so much for being here this morning.

JAMES WOOLSEY, NATIONAL SECURITY & INTELLIGENCE ADVISOR, DONALD TRUMP PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN & FORMER CIA DIRECTOR: Good to be with you.

BOLDUAN: As we mentioned, you were CIA director under Bill Clinton. The news this morning, you are now advising Donald Trump. What is your role?

WOOLSEY: Just an adviser. He and his campaign got in touch last Friday and he and I met briefly and I agreed to advise him. It would be, I'm sure, principally, if not exclusively on national security matters such as defense, intelligence, maybe some aspects of energy. I don't know, whatever he needs.

BERMAN: Not to be pedantic, the fact you are advising Donald Trump means you support Donald Trump for president?

WOOLSEY: Well, sure, but I'm not in the business of going around dispensing endorsements. I'm a consultant and investor in national security and energy matters, and I'm not a political operative. I have worked on two campaigns in my life, Eugene McCarthy in 1968, which I organized at Yale and the John McCain campaign eight years ago. So I'm not in the business of doing lots of endorsing.

BERMAN: Seems like you just did, though. To be clear, you do say you support Donald Trump for president. That may not be an endorsement with a capital "E" but you are throwing support behind him for president.

WOOLSEY: Correct.

BOLDUAN: In consideration of advising Donald Trump, do you like Donald Trump? Or is it you more do not like Hillary Clinton? Is this more about Trump or more about Clinton?

WOOLSEY: I don't make decisions on who I think ought to be president based on who I like or how I feel. I think that Trump has come out on two things that I think are very important. First of all, he seems to be very much more so than his opponent in favor of a strong defense budget and we have got a lot of space to make up, problems that have been left in defense by the Obama administration. And the other is that he seems willing to keep a secret and not to blab everything to the public and our opponents when he comes up with something about national security that ought to be kept quiet. I think that's good. You can't go yakking about everything you're interested in. You have to keep your counsel.

BERMAN: Just to be clear, he did talk about the classified intelligence briefing that he got. He said he left with the impression that the briefers did not agree with the administration policy. And he said he could tell that by their body language. So was he keeping a secret there?

WOOLSEY: I wouldn't suggest body language is classified. I never heard of it being classified.

BOLDUAN: Is there an example in particular where Hillary Clinton blabbed, as you mentioned, told secrets?

WOOLSEY: No. I --

BOLDUAN: Is there an example that puts you over the edge here?

WOOLSEY: No, not that I know of. But I think the problem is her budget. She is spending so much money on domestic programs, including ones we don't even have now, and the ones we have now are underfunded, that I think there will be very little room for the changes and improvements in defense and intelligence that I think need to be made. That's my major argument with her positions.

BERMAN: Mr. Director, do you think Vladimir Putin is a stronger leader than President Obama?

WOOLSEY: Well, he may be stronger, but strong is not always great. I think it was George Orwell, who said, "You can always have peace if you're willing to live with a boot in your face." Putin effectively puts his boot in a lot of faces. He may be strong but it doesn't mean he's a good leader or a good political figure.

BOLDUAN: Then what do you make of Donald Trump's praise of Vladimir Putin, who, said, "He's been a leader far more than our president has been a leader"? He's also said, if he compliments me, I'll compliment him?

WOOLSEY: Well, look, in 1941 to '45, we were a close ally of the man who at that point, had killed more people than anyone in history, Stalin. He and Franklin Roosevelt said kind things back and forth to one another. Franklin called him -- Roosevelt called him Uncle Joe. What matters is not the sort of niceties and so forth. It's what they do, and whether they have a strong national security establishment and whether they utilize it wisely. I don't really think saying somebody is a strong leader is a disastrous move at all.

[11:45:32] BERMAN: What do you think Donald Trump's policy to defeat ISIS is?

WOOLSEY: Well, I think he has said some things but he's been very cautious in setting out details. I think that's good. I think you don't want to telegraph in advance what you are going to do. So even if I had discussed that issue with him, I wouldn't share it.

BOLDUAN: One of the things he has said, and he has given detail on, is that he's said he thought that the U.S. should have gone in and taken the oil after invading Iraq, that it would have changed kind of the course of history. Do you think that would have been a good idea?

WOOLSEY: It would have been necessary to take over, I think, the refineries and a lot of structure. It would have been complicated and would have entailed a great deal of time and effort. But I think it's probably not impossible. It's one of a bunch of things that, once you consider in deciding how to undercut the power that accrues to some of these countries in the Middle East, I think Iran is the biggest problem as a result of their possession of so much oil.

BERMAN: Can I ask you a couple things in the news today? Obviously, a lot of big campaign news over the last few days. Hillary Clinton suffering from pneumonia right now. Should that be a factor when voters consider her fitness to be president?

WOOLSEY: Like Donald Trump, I wish her well and hope she recovers quickly. I don't have anything else to say about that.

BOLDUAN: Would you like to see both candidates -- you think the candidates should release fuller history -- fuller reports of their medical histories?

WOOLSEY: Look, I do defense and foreign policy and intelligence and national security, including particularly energy. I don't speculate on or advise people about whether they ought to release their medical records or not. That's not my world.

BERMAN: What about taxes, though? You're not an accountant, either, but at the same time, you are a voter, who, just like the rest of us, wants to learn as much as possible about these candidates. Every president going back decades has released their tax returns. Donald Trump is the first not to. Do you think he should?

WOOLSEY: I would be very surprised if he asks my advice on how and when he ought to release his tax returns. It's none of my business. It's not something I am advising him on.

BOLDUAN: One of the things he may ask your advice on is with regard to the Muslim ban. When Donald Trump came out with this Muslim ban, you called it a bad idea. What gives you faith then in a man and leader that would come up with an idea like that?

WOOLSEY: I think there are legal problems involved, quite possibly First Amendment problems, in banning Muslims but there are -- it's perfectly reasonable even, though it might be very tough, to ban at least temporarily, let's say, people from a particular country where there are a great deal many terrorists being generated. Syria is one example. So it would have probably been sounder to have proposed a ban, a temporary ban, while one gets in control of the system for validating people and figuring out whether their passports are real or not and all those steps. That would be, I think, probably reasonable. And I think he's modified what he says about the Muslim ban over the course of the last few months. But it seems to me that same thing could be accomplished, a temporary pause in immigration from certain areas, doing it country by country rather than otherwise.

BERMAN: New Donald Trump adviser, James Woolsey, thanks for being with us.

BOLDUAN: Thank you, Mr. Director.

WOOLSEY: Good to be with you.

BOLDUAN: Thank you.

[11:49:13] BERMAN: Breaking news, just moments from now, a ceasefire is set to begin in Syria, but it comes amid a stunning warning from the Syrian leader, Bashar al Assad. His vow to re-take now all of Syria. We go live to the border.

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BOLDUAN: Breaking news. Live pictures showing here, of the city center in Aleppo, with a Syrian ceasefire brokered between the U.S. and Russia set to take effect just minutes from now. Over the weekend, Syrian President Bashar al Assad announcing his support for that deal.

BOLDUAN: And also in a stunning show of defiance, Assad touring an area previously claimed by rebels, and he vowed to retake all of Syria from what he called "terrorists."

CNN's Arwa Damon is following the story live from the Turkey/Syria border.

Arwa, we are minutes away from this ceasefire. How's it looking?

ARWA DAMON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, so far, it seems as if things have ever so slightly quieted down. But that being said, since the deal agreement was announced, some 200 people have lost their lives in Syria, most of them in rebel-held areas. And the deadliest of the acts of violence taking place in the province of Idlib where air strikes hit a market where people were shopping ahead of the Muslim holiday of Eid, which began today.

You mentioned the Syrian's president's trip to Damascus' suburb there. He went there for prayers, walking around amidst devastation. This is an area that has effectively been under siege since 2014, where people living within that neighborhood starved, went thirsty, went without medication for years before a locally brokered truce allowed rebel fighters to leave and allowed residents that remained behind to be relocated.

[11:55:06] There's a lot of skepticism surrounding this deal, though, it must be said. Because the rebel fighting groups mostly do feel as if it will eventually swing the battlefield in favor of the Assad regime.

That being said, they are not rejecting it, because they really don't have much of a choice. And a lot of the areas under siege desperately need that humanitarian aid, which everyone hopes will begin moving in if it seems that this ceasefire is at least going to initially hold, even if just for a short duration of time.

And it's also important, too, even if this ceasefire only holds for a few days, that at least is a few days where there is not the type of bloodshed we have seen for the better part of the last five years taking place.

BOLDUAN: That's a sad statement of it. Just two days, if you will, of a halt, is what -- they'll take anything they can get at this point.

Arwa, thank you so much. Watching that, it's about to set in, in minutes. BERMAN: Just minutes from now, Donald Trump's campaign says he will

go after Hillary Clinton for her comment about a basket full of "deplorables." This, during a speech in Baltimore. What will he have to say about Hillary Clinton and her health situation? Stay right here. That coming up.

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