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AT THIS HOUR WITH BERMAN AND MICHAELA
Paul Ryan, House GOP on Call to Discuss Trump; Trump Threatens to Jail Clinton over E-mails; Ryan Tell House Members "Will No Longer Defend Trump, Focus on Your Own Races". Aired 11:30-12p ET
Aired October 10, 2016 - 11:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[11:30:27] ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: All right. The breaking news comes from a conference call that Paul Ryan, the speaker of the House, is having with the Republican members of Congress right now. Some direction, we think, on what Paul Ryan will and will not do for Donald Trump going forward.
Our senior political reporter, Manu Raju, monitoring this call for us.
Manu, I think we have some big news here.
RAJU: Yeah, we do have some big news. Paul Ryan, the House speaker, saying he's done defending Donald Trump, saying that on a conference call with Republican members just now.
I want to read you some notes from they are sending me an e-mail about how it went down. The speaker and Republican leaders want to talk about the political landscape. What they wanted to focus on is that they will only worry about the House Republican majority going forward. They believe that's where they want to spend all their energy for the next month, not on helping Donald Trump. They are saying the speaker told Republican members, quote, "You all need to do what's best for you in your district." That means that if you need to abandon Donald Trump, you should dump Trump. If you need to run with Donald Trump, run with Donald Trump. But what the speaker said very clearly, that he will not defend Trump or the campaign or Donald Trump's campaign for the next month.
He also said that his entire energy is going to be focused on trying to keep the Republican majority. Why, Kate and John? Because he wants it to be a check on a Democratic administration. He said that he does not want to give a blank check to a Democratic-controlled White House, a Democratic-controlled Congress or a Hillary Clinton administration. So that could be interpreted in some ways as throwing in the towel, saying that Donald Trump has no chance of winning, so we need to worry about ensuring that if Hillary Clinton does win, which it looks like she may, we have a Republican House to prevent her from doing whatever she wants. So he made it very clear that he is just trying to keep the House Republican majority.
Now, one thing that is not clear right now is whether or not he revoked his endorsement of Donald Trump. We were told going into this from Ryan officials that he was not going to change his position at this time about endorsing and supporting Donald Trump. So we are not -- it's not clear yet whether or not his own personal -- he still plans on voting for Donald Trump in the fall.
But he's making a political decision that it's time for his party and his party's leadership to worry exclusively on the congressional majorities, those down-ticket races, because simply, at the end of the day, they can't defend all the things Donald Trump has been saying -- guys?
KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Say the word endorsement or non-endorsement or not, that sounds like exactly what we are looking at here in what he's described to members of the House.
Manu Raju, thank you so much.
That call I believe is still going on.
Let's discuss this. Joining us, John Jay LaValle, regional vice chairman of the New York State Republican party and a Donald Trump supporter; Krystal Ball, senior fellow at the New Leaders Council, a group that recruits progressive candidates, and a Hillary Clinton supporter; David Brock, founder of the pro-Clinton super PAC Correct the Record; and Scottie Nell Hughes, CNN political commentator and a Donald Trump supporter.
I have notes from someone who was on the call as well, very similar to what Manu had. He's not going to defend Donald Trump or campaign with him for the next 30 days. That's not showing support, John Jay LeValle. What I hear, that's Paul Ryan saying it's over.
JOHN JAY LAVALLE, REGIONAL VICE CHAIRMAN, NEW YORK STATE REPUBLICAN PARTY: I think that's a complete misinterpretation of what the speaker is talking about. He's the speaker of the House of representative. They're trying to -- obviously, they will keep the majority. And he's got a lot of members in tight districts. He's saying he's focusing on those individuals. Just like in the Senate, McConnell will focus there. I think it's a little bit of an exaggeration. What he sees --
BOLDUAN: He's not going to campaign with Donald Trump for the next 30 days.
BERMAN: I'm sorry. I'm not sure what the other interpretation is of "I want to spend my entire energy making sure that Hillary Clinton does not get a blank check." The only way Hillary Clinton gets a check of any kind is if she's president. That, definitionally, seems that Paul Ryan is assuming a Hillary Clinton presidency.
LAVALLE: The frustration that someone like Paul Ryan will have or Mitch McConnell is that they see what the issues are. They see the Democrats have failed on the economy. They see that the Democrats are not making us safer. But they see the media only talking about dirt, not talking about the real issues in this race, and the real issues that are going to move Americans --
KRYSTAL BALL, JOURNALIST & SENIOR FELLOW, NEW LEADERS COUNCIL: I'm sorry. Who called the press conference with Bill Clinton's accusers last night and brought up that dirt? I just want to say one thing.
LAVALLE: It's a response to her dirt.
[11:35:06] BALL: But I think there's an important point to be made here. Paul Ryan is speaker of the House. The House is supposed to be lock solid for Republicans. And he is now so worried about the Donald Trump campaign that he is worried about the majority in the House. We're not even talking about the Senate anymore. So to the extent that Republicans were cheered at all by Donald Trump's performance last night, they are not thinking this man can win. They are thinking, well, maybe we can keep it to six points instead of double digits here. And Paul Ryan has basically thrown -- this is unprecedented. It's really remarkable.
BOLDUAN: Scottie, why don't you help out John here?
SCOTTIE NELL HUGHES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: First of all, has Paul Ryan ever defended Donald Trump? We heard the first -- he has had no help. In fact, as we have seen --
BALL: He was supposed to campaign with him this weekend.
HUGHES: Exactly. And when he went there and Donald Trump wasn't there he got booed. There has been a large disconnect between Washington, D.C., and the people. These campaigns this year are all about being the anti-establishment, anti-status quo, something that Paul Ryan represents. This does no damage to Donald Trump. If anything, this actually helps.
Thank you, Paul Ryan, if you are not going to help us, good luck.
I think Mr. Trump is going to need a solid House.
And as you learned by Tim Hillscamp (ph) in his primary, who went against Donald Trump, he's packing up his box and going home.
Donald Trump is going to motivate people in November to the races. The fact that people lose, if the House members lose, it's not because of Donald Trump. It's because they didn't represent their voters for the last two years.
BOLDUAN: David, your take?
DAVID BROCK, FOUNDER, CORRECT THE RECORD SUPER PAC: I think from what we just heard, which is basically an attack from a Trump supporter on Paul Ryan, what we are seeing a real cleavage in the Republican Party. It goes to what Donald Trump's strategy was last night and why the speaker is recognizing reality this morning, cutting him loose. That strategy last night of going tabloid, of calling Hillary Clinton to go to jail, was doubling down on this Alt-Right base strategy. And is Donald Trump really in this to be president or is he trying to monetize this for some Breitbart TV network? Because that's who he appealed to last night, the Clinton haters in his base.
BERMAN: Hang on one second, guys, because the control room just told me Hillary Clinton came out with a tweet on this.
Can you guys repeat what Hillary Clinton just said? If you have it, put it on the screen?
Hillary Clinton says, "Ryan is still endorsing Trump."
Now, I'm not sure Hillary is dialed into this conference call. Maybe she has some language we are not aware of yet.
But, Krystal, it's interesting here because now the Clinton campaign or Democrats are in an interesting position. Either they want to create -- they want to cleave Donald Trump from Republicans to try to pick off some maybe moderate Republicans, or they want to tie --
BOLDUAN: Yeah, tie them together.
BALL: They want to tie them together. Because they see that the House could legitimately be in play. So this has been the strategy down-ballot the whole time, even for folks who have already dis- endorsed Donald Trump. They are saying this is someone who stood with him, this is someone who agrees with him on X, Y, Z issues. Because they think that's the way to go to have a chance to take become tack the House. It's still a long shot, but we also need to keep our eyes open here. Does anyone really think this is the only tape of Donald Trump that's out there?
BALL: Does anyone really think there are women out there who are thinking, he says these are words and not deeds, I have proof otherwise? So Paul Ryan and Mike pence for that matter seem to be keeping their options open that if they get evidence that this was not just words but deeds, they still have an exit hatch here.
LAVALLE: That was irresponsible for you to say.
BOLDUAN: Hang on. Hang on.
BROCK: There were news reports yesterday that strongly suggested people affiliated with this "Apprentice" show say they have tapes that were much worse than what we saw on Friday, if you can believe that.
LAVALLE: This is exactly what we're talking about. All you want people to do is talk about dirt because you don't want to talk about issues.
LAVALLE: You are not capable of dealing with the issues.
BERMAN: We will take a quick break.
Have you seen the tapes? Have you seen the tapes?
BROCK: No. We are trying to get them. We offered money for them actually --
BROCK: -- to level the playing field with Donald Trump who spent his money to shut these people up. People need to hear these tapes.
BERMAN: But as of now, you haven't seen tapes. You are speculating. Let's make that clear.
BROCK: I saw a news report yesterday with a producer who said there are such.
[11:39:21] BERMAN: We'll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: If I win, I am going to instruct my attorney general to get a special prosecutor to look into your situation because there has never been so many lies, so much deception. There has never been anything like it.
CLINTON: It's just awfully good that someone with the temperament of Donald Trump is not in charge of the law in our country.
TRUMP: Because you would be in jail. (END VIDEO CLIP)
BOLDUAN: That was one of those moments, one of the memorable moments from last night.
Let's bring back the panel to discuss.
John Jay LaValle, "because you would be in jail." You like that answer?
LAVALLE: First of all, that was a joke that followed her comments. What he said was completely appropriate. Her situation, it is clear that it was not handled properly. There were a lot of lies. She lied to Congress. She lied to the American people. There are crimes that have been committed. I'm pretty sure about that.
BROCK: Did the Republican FBI director ever find them?
LAVALLE: I wouldn't call him a Republican FBI director.
BROCK: I would because that's what he is.
LAVALLE: That's not what he is.
BROCK: So he has no integrity? What happened?
LAVALLE: The bottom line is there was nothing inappropriate with what he said. He said, if I - when I am elected I will have my attorney general appoint a special prosecutor, not an inside job like this was, a special prosecutor that's going to look --
BALL: Actually, that's not even what he said. He said throw her in jail.
LAVALLE: No, afterwards -- afterwards she said and he made a joke. But what he said --
BALL: His humor is terrible. That's not a joke.
[11:45:14] LAVALLE: Well, in your estimation, it might be.
LAVALLE: But America actually enjoyed that.
BERMAN: Hang on one second. Scottie?
LAVALLE: Because they know it's true.
HUGHES: In the last poll in July, 92 percent of Americans do believe that there wrong committed, with Hillary Clinton and her e-mails, or there was something suspicious about it, that we didn't get the full truth. This is speaking to the people. The majority of Americans, Republicans and Democrats, know there was something wrong going on with those e-mails.
BROCK: But the public says they are tired of hearing about this.
BOLDUAN: Wrong but not criminal.
BOLDUAN: Wrong is not criminal.
HUGHES: There is a question out there about it. That's what we are finding out. That's why WikiLeaks every day -- we just had the latest released an hour ago, talking about Podesta and his e-mails in collaboration with surrogates and media --
BERMAN: Hold on. Hold on.
David Brock is the person who has not interrupted in the last 10 seconds.
BROCK: No, I was saying keep running down this path because there's no public interest in this, except on the part of a Clinton-hating cohort in the Republican base that Donald Trump was trying to appeal to last night and I think he did that effectively, but it had no appeal to anyone else.
BALL: But we are missing that Donald Trump in an unprecedented way saying that his political opponent should be jailed. That has never happened in the history of American politics. It's a new low.
BALL: If we didn't already have P-gate going on, it would be dominating the news cycle.
BALL: In any other election, it would be an endgame for a presidential candidate. LAVALLE: Where you are missing is she was served with a subpoena from
Congress and she then deleted the e-mails--
BROCK: No. That's the lie Donald Trump told last night. She wasn't served a subpoena. She didn't delete e-mails.
LAVALLE: Then she bleached them. She bleached them.
BALL: It has been thoroughly investigated.
BROCK: What the Defense Department says was entirely appropriate. Those e-mails were deleted before the --
BOLDUAN: But when we're talking about a presidential election, do you think it is appropriate that he said she should be in jail?
LAVALLE: That was a joke that he made.
HUGHES: Martha Stewart went to jail for doing less than she has done.
BOLDUAN: Martha Stewart is not running for president.
LAVALLE: Who cares? If you're a criminal, you're a criminal.
BALL: She's not a criminal.
BALL: There was no criminal wrongdoing.
BERMAN: All right. Do we still have time left in the segment? I can't hear the control room.
BOLDUAN: We do? OK. Let's talk about taxes.
BERMAN: Let's talk about taxes. We're going to talk about taxes right now. Because the issue of does Donald Trump or has Donald Trump paid
federal income tax or did he in the years after he claimed that loss, it came up last night. This is what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON COOPER, DEBATE MODERATOR: You have not answered, though, a simple question. Did you use that $916 million loss to avoid paying personal federal income taxes?
TRUMP: Of course, I do. Of course, I do. And so do all of her donors or most of her donors. But I will tell you that, number one, I pay tremendous numbers of taxes. I absolutely used it. And so did Warren Buffett, and so did George Soros.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BOLDUAN: Could be very big admission. But also I would say, on the flipside, he turned. He used the "P" word, different "P" word, pivot, and turned it on her, indictment of Hillary Clinton and her donors.
BALL: Well, he expects her to answer for not only her husband's failure but also what everyone else did on their tax returns.
Here's the issue I don't think anybody has really raised with Donald Trump and his taxes. Yes, you can understand minimizing how many taxes you have to pay. Everybody does that. But the question for the American people is, what has this man actually contributed to the country. We know he hasn't been paying taxes.
HUGHES: Oh, really?
BALL: We know he wasn't paying taxes. We know he wasn't giving any money to charity.
LAVALLE: Oh, man.
BALL: So what has he actually demonstrated in his 70 years of life that he actually cares about anything but himself and his wealth and riches?
BERMAN: Scottie, you get 20 seconds then we have to go to break.
HUGHES: First, this is the same rule that Hillary Clinton used in 2015 with her own attacks, the same as "The New York Times" and others have used.
But the truth is these laws are for real estate developers. The laws are set up for them to pay the least amount as possible so they will put that money back into the economy, which he did, hence, why his buildings with his name on it that say "Trump" and 32,000 employees --
BERMAN: 20 seconds is up. 20 seconds is up. We got to go to break.
BERMAN: -- thank you so much. Appreciate you being with us.
[11:49:20] BOLDUAN: There we go. "Do what's best for you." I say that to all of you. But also, that is what Speaker Ryan has said to his members. He will no longer defend Donald Trump, Speaker Ryan says, telling Republicans to focus on protecting their own races. We will have more on the breaking news coming out of Capitol Hill, next.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
BERMAN: All right. Breaking news right now is there is one heck of a conference call going on apparently at this moment between House Speaker Paul Ryan and the Republican members of the House of Representatives about Donald Trump and whether or not they should continue to support him going forward.
Our Manu Raju has new details about this call.
Manu, what are you learning?
RAJU: Well, Paul Ryan, this message that he's not going to campaign with Donald Trump, he will not defend Donald Trump, and he will only worry about down-ticket races and keeping that House majority, not going over well with his conference. We're hearing a lot of pushback from members expressing frustration to the House speaker on this call that actually doing this, by not defending and not helping Donald Trump, this is going to help elect Hillary Clinton. This is going to help turn the Supreme Court to the left. This is a real serious concern that a lot of members are expressing in this conference call.
Now, Paul Ryan has actually made clear on this call, and his office has as well, that he's not un-endorsing Donald Trump at this time, but what he's saying to his members, we should worry about the congressional majority, worry about your own House seats. We'll do everything we can over the next month to worry about those down-ticket races and not worry about what Donald Trump is doing. But that is not going over well with a lot of conservative members who have a lot of Donald Trump supporters in their districts and they need Donald Trump to win.
So it just shows you guys how divisive this is on how to deal with their nominee and how Paul Ryan in a lot of ways is in a box here politically.
[11:55:28] BOLDUAN: If he wasn't before, it seems he sure is now on a conference call. How to get into a box on a conference call seems tough.
Manu, thank you.
A lot going on. Let's bring in CNN political analyst and Washington bureau chief for "The Daily Beast," Jackie Kucinich; CNN Politics executive editor; Mark Preston; and "Washington Post" national political reporter, Phillip Rucker.
Guys, thanks for being here.
Jackie, we've covered Capitol Hill a long time together. So what is Paul Ryan doing? Cutting members loose? Why is he getting so much blowback? Your take?
JACKIE KUCINICH, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: It seems like he's trying to split the baby here, right? He has members that can't -- can't be with Donald Trump now, someone like a Charlie Dent. But you have these other members, they need Donald Trump supporters. He himself was booed at that rally this weekend. So he really is in sort of in an impossible position, and what should he do in this situation? Obviously, he's having his own personal issues supporting Donald Trump. A lot of these members -- there seem to be two sets of members right now, the ones that didn't want to support Donald Trump at all in the beginning and now they have an excuse not to, and those who went along and were married to this once he became the nominee.
BOLDUAN: And listening to their constituents in their districts.
BERMAN: It seems to me, based on the reporting, this is an official cutting them loose. Do what you need to do, you are not obligated to support the Republican nominee.
Phillip Rucker, if I'm mistaken -- I read so much great reporter over the last 24 hours -- I think you wrote a great piece about it this weekend --
BOLDUAN: Just say yes.
BERMAN: -- the generation of Republicans right now who have a real problem how to deal with Donald Trump. I'm right you wrote this and what this means?
PHILLIP RUCKER, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, THE WASHINGTON POST: That's correct. And Speaker Ryan is one of them. He's one of these Republican stars that really came to prominence in the Obama era, who have tied themselves to Donald Trump. They've endorsed Donald Trump, said this man should be president of the United States, that he is fit to hold that office. And now, given what's happening with the Trump campaign, there's a lot of fear in the Republican Party that this entire generation of stars will be tainted for cycles to come.
But the problem for Speaker Ryan is that Trump had such a strong debate last night. If Trump had just imploded on that debate stage, it would have been a lot easier for the loose entirely. But what he did last night was to motivate and galvanize the conservative base in the party, and now they can't really abandon him.
BOLDUAN: It seems obvious Paul Ryan is in a difficult position. He's been in a difficult position the entire time. But he has tried to walk a fine line. Not there yet on the endorsement, then endorsing, then criticizing Donald Trump, text of racism in something Donald Trump said, but still endorsing, still saying he's voting for him. It seems he's trying to do it here again.
What does it mean he's not un-endorsing? There's no change in status of his endorsement quite yet, Mark, at this point in the game, 30 days out.
PRESTON: Look, walking a fine line. What I think needs to be put into context is that Paul Ryan's number-one job, make sure there's a House majority. Paul Ryan's number- one job not to get Donald Trump elected. He looks at Donald Trump right now as Kryptonite for many of his members. Even though we are hearing as this call continues to go on that people are angry and shouting at him. I bet you the majority of those House Republicans are saying, look, we're doing what we want.
I talked to a GOP strategist last week and I said, what are you going to do about Trump? Are you concerned? The GOP strategist said, "We're telling our people, shelter in place." Right now, pretty sure they're not sheltering in place. They're locking the door.
BERMAN: Jackie, he's on a conference call right now where there are no cameras and no recording devices. Does Paul Ryan go, you know, hide for the next 29 days? He is going to have to go in public and answer questions at some point from reporters and explain what this means and why he's saying "shelter in place" but not un-endorsing?
KUCINICH: If he's going to focus on keeping the House majority, he's going to be out on the trail. He's going to be with these guys. I'm curious if maybe you have someone who says they don't want him there because of this. That will be interesting, district to district, because it is -- he might have someone who are moderate yet their district is a lot of Trump voters. It'll be really interesting to see how this plays out for Speaker Ryan.
BOLDUAN: He's trying to clear something up.
BOLDUAN: He's got a lot of work to do.
Guys, great to see you. Thank you so much.
BERMAN: That is all for us today.
"Inside Politics" with John King. And I think they have a little bit to talk about.
BOLDUAN: Just a little bit. BERMAN: That starts right now.
JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to "Inside Politics." I'm John King. Thanks for sharing some time with us on another busy and remarkable day in campaign 2016.
Debate, round two --