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AT THIS HOUR WITH BERMAN AND MICHAELA
Attack Between Clinton, Trump Getting Ugly; Head of TSA Security Fired. Aired 11-11:30a ET
Aired May 24, 2016 - 11:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
[11:00:00] HILLARY CLINTON, (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE & FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: He could bankrupt America like he's bankrupted his companies.
DONALD TRUMP, (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE & CEO, TRUMP ORGANIZATION: She's not qualified to be president. She suffers from bad judgment.
CLINTON: How can anybody lose money running a casino? Really.
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS, (I), VERMONT & DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The objective evidence is very clear, we defeat Trump by larger numbers than does Secretary Clinton.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, there. I'm John Berman.
KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Hi, everybody. I'm Kate Bolduan.
New attacks this morning in the battle for the White House, or should we call them old attacks with a 2016 twist? Trump hitting rewind to focus on Bill Clinton with a video posted by Trump highlighting past allegations of sexual abuse, even making passing reference to a debunked conspiracy theory about the suicide of a Clinton associate. Hillary Clinton is also diving into the past, Trump's past, unearthing remarks he made in 2006 about capitalizing on the housing crisis and unleashing a battleground state media blitz against Trump's business record.
Meanwhile, Bernie Sanders says he isn't afraid to get his hands dirty either, or the exact word is messy. Things could get messy, he warns, at the Democratic convention. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SANDERS: Democracy is messy, that people will have vigorous debate on the issues.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Will the convention be messy?
SANDERS: Well, of course it will be. But everything -- that's what democracy is about.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: 2016, it's messy.
CNN's Phil Mattingly is here with the latest.
BOLDUAN: You're messy.
BERMAN: Hillary is like the neatest person on earth right now, but the campaign is messy.
PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: No question about it. You heard what Bernie Sanders said. Democrats still facing a little bit of rough waters before the general election, but it's important to note the general election that's likely, Hillary Clinton versus Donald Trump, is essentially an opposition researcher's dream match-up. What you're seeing from both campaigns, both candidates is a willingness to dig in Donald Trump's case in a place traditional Republicans wouldn't want to go because this is a critical moment of the campaign. This is the moment where you define your opponent. This is the moment where Barack Obama in 2012 was able to really unsettle Mitt Romney for the remainder of his campaign. That's why you're seeing both campaigns dump lots of money into the possibility of these attacks and you're seeing them razor sharp focused on attacking one another.
I think it's an interesting point here that if you pay attention to what Donald Trump is doing, no question about it, it's not traditional. It's what a lot of Republican operatives wish he wouldn't do, but it's a line of attack his campaign believes they can seize on. They believe they're bringing up issues that places that Hillary Clinton is vulnerable, perhaps areas where they're vulnerable, they can actually exploit these issues and hopefully themselves. For the Clinton campaign, they've made here, there's a lot of issues with his past. They believe they can attack in the primary but not in a sustained way. Throw a lot of things up against the wall and see what sticks. It's early.
BOLDUAN: It's early, but they both telegraphed they were going to go this route. Donald Trump said he was going to go personal and Hillary Clinton saying they want to take on issues, his business record.
MATTINGLY: That's exactly right. I think what's most interesting here is usually there's some subtlety to how the attacks go, or there's a surprise new line of attack here. Not so much this time around. Everybody has been very, very clear this was going to be the direction they were going to head. The most interesting things watching each side try to defend exactly what they now is coming, and the Clinton campaign trying to stay above it on the personal attacks, putting out positive statements about her campaign every time Donald Trump attacks on personal issues, attacks on Bill Clinton's infidelities, the Trump campaign doing what the Trump campaign has always said they were going to do. The big question is how this impacts each candidate in the polling going ahead. BOLDUAN: Yeah. Right.
BERMAN: All right. Phil Mattingly --
BOLDUAN: Stay here.
BERMAN: -- thank you so much. It's messy.
BOLDUAN: Stay here, Phil.
Let's bring in -- let's add to the conversation. Alice Stewart, communications director for Ted Cruz; Barry Bennett, senior adviser to the Trump campaign; and CNN political commentator, Hilary Rosen, a Hillary Clinton supporter.
Barry, first to you.
How does the Donald Trump campaign, how do you respond to these attacks coming from the Clinton campaign?
BARRY BENNETT, SENIOR ADVISOR, DONALD TRUMP PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN: Well, I mean, you know, we don't have any expectation that this is bean bag, right? The Clintons are very good at what they do. At the expect them to come at us with knives, but they need to understand we're coming right back at them.
BERMAN: But, Barry, the specific allegation is he was rooting for a housing crash in 2006 prior to a terrible housing crash where so many people suffered. You know, is this something he denies having said? Does he deny that he wasn't looking for buying opportunities, which is what it sounds like on this video they're putting around?
BENNETT: To say he was rooting for housing crashes is laughable. It's nonsense.
BERMAN: It says, "I sort of hope that happens so then people like me would go in and buy"
[11:05:14] BENNETT: Uh-huh. But I mean, that's not rooting at all.
BENNETT: I mean, that's not rooting at all. He's just talking about if the housing crisis happened, he would go in and invest and make money. A lot of people did.
HILARY ROSEN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: You know, it's kind of worse than the Mitt Romney's 47 percent comment where he was talking about 47 percent of the people are, you know, feeding off the government. Here Donald Trump is actually saying people like me, I'm excited to go in and profit from people's misfortune, and I think that's the difference that we're seeing now with the Clinton Donald Trump versus what we saw in the Republican primary, which is that the Republicans really didn't -- you know, it wasn't a big issue in the primary to sort of fight for the middle class and fight for the economic issues. The Trump comebacks were more sort of personal and insult oriented.
But Hillary Clinton is going to be very aggressive on a few things. You think this guy is going to help you but he's not. When he declares bankruptcies, it's the construction workers that don't get paid. You know, when he's got 150 lawsuits against him for cheating in business. He's rooted for the housing crisis when thousands and thousands of people lost their homes. This is not a guy who is going to be on your side. And that's a very different kind of attack. That's really based on his history and based on what real people are worried about, which is their own pocketbooks.
BOLDUAN: Well, I mean, I want you to respond though, Hillary, to what Donald Trump is going after then. Dipping into the past is exactly what the Trump campaign is doing, and in this video at the end of this video they put out, he asks is Hillary really protecting women? Clearly, that is what he's trying to get at. He's dipping into the past as well. How do you respond to it?
ROSEN: Well, you know, I think one issue is going to be how is Hillary Clinton going to be as president, how is Donald Trump going to be as president? And Hillary Clinton's record on behalf of women and supporting women and families, whether it's fighting for health care or fighting for pay equity or fighting for welfare reform that's helped working moms, those are the issues that matter for women, and Hillary Clinton's record is clear on that. If Donald Trump wants to trash Bill Clinton, you know, and his affairs, you know, that's a glass house where those stones shouldn't be thrown.
BERMAN: Alice Stewart, you have been on the receiving end of attacks from Donald Trump. You have also been on the receiving end of attacks from Democrats and the throwing end on attacks on both ends as well. Whose hit is better here? Who is winning this battle today?
ALICE STEWART, COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR, TED CRUZ PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN: I think both of them should avoid this topic altogether. And it's unfortunate we're not talking about the issues. We're talking about the two front running candidates, lead candidates, their personal past as opposed to our country's future, and there's a great quote in "the Wall Street Journal" this morning which says people -- Americans are less interested in sexual transgressions than they are about public accomplishments. That is from Donald Trump, defending Bill Clinton back in the '90s. So it's kind of disingenuous for him to be criticizing Bill Clinton for something he defended years ago. And I know the campaign has come out and said they were friends then, it's a different territory now. But unless he can tie Hillary Clinton, the enabler, which I truly believe she is -- I live in Arkansas. I'm familiar with the history of the Clintons. Unless he can tie her as the enabler to Clinton's sexual transgressions, this is a road that Trump should not be going down, but ideally both of them would get off this nonsense and focus on what they can do to help improve people's personal economy, what they're going to do to improve our national security, immigration. Those what are we need to be talking about.
BOLDUAN: Interestingly, though, Phil, to this point, Donald Trump's bringing up the Clinton campaign, Hillary Clinton, Bill Clinton, they are not engaging, and they have made a point that they will not be engaging on the attacks on Bill Clinton's past and accusations against Bill Clinton and his past. To this moment, they haven't. Can they -- do you think they can sustain that?
MATTINGLY: I don't think there's any question they plan to sustain it. There's no real reason for them. Their calculation is this, getting into the mud on these specific issues will bring nothing but dirt onto their campaign. They want to stay away from this as much as possible, and they actually believe there's some benefit to it. People will be so turned off by these lines --
BOLDUAN: It will backfire on them.
MATTINGLY: And historically, that has been the case. Hillary Clinton's approval ratings went up when they were attacked. Bill Clinton's did as well when House Republicans put a target on their back. They think that will be the case again. And if you talk to Republican pollsters, particularly who look at women on this issue specifically, they have said this is not something that benefits the Republican Party or its candidate if the attacks are made. The question is Donald Trump is not the traditional Republican candidate --
MATTINGLY: -- and does that mean his campaign is very different because this has been a very different cycle?
[11:10:13] BERMAN: Barry --
ROSEN: Can I just respond to one quick thing though that Phil just said, which is painful?
BERMAN: Go ahead.
ROSEN: This notion that somehow the Clinton campaign or Hillary Clinton's welcoming this attack for strategic reasons. Look, these are real people involved. She is a wife and a mom. The last thing in the world that Hillary Clinton enjoys is a public attack or conversation about her husband's past infidelities. So that's why she's going to stay above this, because it's beneath her dignity and beneath the dignity of the conversation.
What Alice is talking about is exactly right. The American people want a conversation about issues. And every time we or anyone else starts talking about, you know, how Donald Trump is attacking Hillary Clinton or Bill Clinton, he is avoiding dealing with any real specifics about his own program, about what he really will do to help the American people.
BENNETT: This is crazy. BERMAN: Mr. Bennett, Barry, I want to ask you quickly about a
question in our poll. You have been on our show saying people don't care about Donald Trump's taxes. Our poll says that's not true. 64 percent of people said they think Donald Trump should release his taxes. So, you know, are these people lying to us? That's what they say, Barry.
BENNETT: No, they answer that question, but if you ask them are they going to base their vote on it, almost none of them say they are.
I want to go back to what Hillary said. She said it was beneath the dignity to talk about these issues. Then why are the Clinton campaign constantly talking about Donald Trump in the '80s and '90s. For some reason, it's only beneath about the dignity when it's about him.
ROSEN: His business behavior.
BENNETT: No, no, no. They talk about Howard Stern and everything else. It's ridiculous, OK?
ROSEN: No, no. He's touting his business record.
BENNETT: 40 million who vote this fall were kids in the '90s. They don't know anything about this.
BENNETT: He's touting his business record and --
ROSEN: -- saying that's what's going to make him qualified.
BOLDUAN: Wait a second, Barry.
Go ahead, Hilary.
ROSEN: The Clinton campaign, Hillary Clinton is not talking about Donald Trump's personal life. Maybe other people are, but she is not. What she is saying is the way he conducts his business for his own company is how he's going to conduct the business of the country. That's a telling and very important thing. The same way she says, the way I've legislated on behalf of children and families is how I'm going to work on behalf of the country. Very different.
BENNETT: If the campaign does it, it's not Hillary.
STEWART: It's important to note that the Hillary Clinton super PAC has put out a negative ad on Donald Trump using his own voice and comments he's made that are critical of women. And I think it's important for people to know that while Hillary Clinton herself is not personally doing this and there's no coordination between she and the super PAC, it is being done. There are attacks being made against Trump for comments he's made about women -- (CROSSTALK)
BOLDUAN: Alice, as Ted Cruz made very clear, there is no coordination between super PACs and the candidates. That is something we heard quite often I think from Ted Cruz during the primary.
BOLDUAN: But to say there's no attacks on Trumps for his --
BENNETT: I didn't say there were no attacks. I'm just saying that's not what Hillary Clinton is focused on.
BENNETT: Donald Trump isn't focused on this either. He's focused on the people hurting out there. He's focused on --
ROSEN: He is.
BENNETT: -- Mexican heroin.
BERMAN: All right, guys, we have plenty to talk about for next time.
Phil Mattingly, Alice Stewart, Barry Bennett, Hilary Rosen, thank you all so much.
BERMAN: So Bernie Sanders says it could get messy. He's talking about the Democratic convention this summer. His team sort of says, you know, well, no, he didn't really mean messy. It sort of depends on what the definition of messy is. We'll discuss.
BOLDUAN: The definition of messy, that is ahead.
Then this. Some of the country's busiest airports brought to a standstill by hours' long waits. The TSA security chief fired. And now new questions about why he was also taking home $90,000 in bonuses.
BERMAN: And developing this morning, the high-profile Democratic governor of Virginia, Terry McAuliffe, close friend of the Clintons, fundraiser to the Clintons, he says he's shocked after CNN broke the story he is under federal investigation, that a federal investigation is looking into his campaign fundraising. It involves more than $100,000 in campaign cash from a wealthy Chinese businessman who has given to the Clinton Foundation. Governor McAuliffe is set to speak any moment. That's coming up.
[11:18:18] BOLDUAN: Bernie Sanders still in it to win it and predicting the Democratic convention this summer could be messy, his word. He says it's a good thing for democracy, but is it a good thing for Democrats?
BERMAN: And will the party straighten up this mess before the general election?
In the meantime, Hillary Clinton, she is refusing to debate Bernie Sanders in California. She says she is focused on Donald Trump instead. That fight, yes, is already messy.
BOLDUAN: As you saw by our last conversation.
Let's bring in CNN political commentators, Hilary Rosen, a Hillary Clinton supporter; and Bill Press, a Bernie Sanders supporter. Also with us, Washington bureau chief for "The Daily Beast, Jackie Kucinich.
Bill Press, the word messy to me does not go hand in hand with party unity. When I hear messy, I don't think party unity.
BILL PRESS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: John, relax, OK? First of all, let me define messy for you.
PRESS: I think messy to me is spirited. It means lively. It means there are going to be some meaningful votes taken at this convention. I know we're Going to see some real debate on some of the platform issues like the minimum wage, like trade deals. There are going to be some debate about the process and rules like super delegates or caucuses or like closed primaries versus open primaries. As a journalist and as a Democrat, I think this is great. As a journalist, it will give us something real to talk about. There will be some real action taken as opposed to some pageantry that we pre-scripted that we cover, and as a Democrat we'll come out of the convention stronger and more united than ever.
BERMAN: When I tell my boys their room is messy, they'll say, no, it's good for the party.
BOLDUAN: It's good for the party.
PRESS: We're Democrats. We're messy. We're Democrats.
[11:20:05] BERMAN: Hilary Rosen, do you welcome the messy? Do you think messy means spirited with a big smile like Bill Press says? ROSEN: I think Bill is right. The one thing I will say is some of
these rules conversations that people are going to have at the convention, it won't apply late under the bylaws for it to apply to this election, but for future elections there could be conversations. But look, you know, the DNC and the chair, Debbie Wassermann Schultz, did something this week that hasn't been done before, which is that she gave the losing candidate is significant number of seats on the platform committee to make his own appointments guaranteeing that there will be spirited conversation about it, and I think that she welcomes it. I think the DNC welcomes it, and Hillary Clinton yesterday and in speeches said she welcomes the conversation. So I think that Bill is right. We are going to have a conversation about what progressive values we need to be most energetic about in this campaign to motivate voters, but in the end we're going to be unified, and we're going to be unified to beat Donald Trump and keep the White House.
BERMAN: I want to talk about the platform committee in a second. I don't want to let go of the mess --
BOLDUAN: Can't let go.
BERMAN: -- just yet.
BOLDUAN: Can't let it go.
BERMAN: Jackie, along these lines, it seems Bernie Sanders and his team have had to walk back a succession of statements. It's going to be messy. Lesser of two evils, saying Hillary is the lesser of two evils. Back to the unqualified. It seems he keeps on going out there, then walking it back. Going out there and walking it back. Is this intentional do you think?
JACKIE KUCINICH, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, THE DAILY BEAST: It's hard to say whether it's intentional, but you're right in that messy used to mean confetti all over the floor because it's a party for the party, right?
BOLDUAN: The balloon drop.
KUCINICH: Really, balloon drops. But at this point it does seem like the danger is that Bernie Sanders' message about walking it back isn't really getting through to his supporters. His supporters are amped up and a lot of them think Bernie Sanders could still get this, and they're not really doing anything, with all due respect to bill, to dial that back at all.
BERMAN: To clean up the mess.
KUCINICH: To clean up the mess.
BOLDUAN: They're not picking up their socks. That's what Jackie Kucinich is saying.
Hilary, real quick -- Bill, I know you want to jump in. And I'm going to ask Hilary a question and then you can yell at me.
PRESS: All right. OK.
ROSEN: I'll be fast, Bill, so you can answer.
Hilary, is it a missed opportunity that Hillary Clinton is passing California?
ROSEN: Look, I think Democratic voters in California know where both of these candidates stand. They're both spending the week in the state talking to voters every day. So, you know, they're going to get plenty of time to hear the candidates' views, and I don't think another debate matters one way or another.
BERMAN: Bill, I assume you want another debate. I assume you're also willing to thank Debbie Wassermann Schultz and the DNC for the five slots on the platform committee and say that, you know, all bad blood is gone between the Sanders' team and the DNC?
PRESS: Quick, three things real quickly.
First to Jackie's point, right, this primary is going to continue through the primary here in Washington, D.C., on June 14, and Bernie clearly still wants to win every delegate that he can and with that slim hope of getting the nomination.
To Hilary's point, you're speaking now, you're listening of the state of California. Damn right, we would like another debate in California, and I think it would be great.
By the way, Hillary is a skillful debater. I think she won every one of the debates so far. I don't think there's any problem for her, and people in California do not like to be taken for granted. I think it's a mistake not to have a debate.
And your final point, John, I don't remember --
BERMAN: I was asking about the platform committee.
PRESS: Oh, the platform committee. I do want to say I thought yesterday was a great move. Look, Hillary got six appointments. Bernie Sanders got five. The people that are on there are terrific people on both sides. This is going to be a great, great platform that we can all be proud of.
BOLDUAN: Do you think Bernie Sanders is going to say thank you, Debbie Wassermann Schultz? PRESS: He did. He did yesterday. He put out a statement saying this
is a great committee. And this is just the first step of the unity you're going to see in this party. I'm telling you.
BERMAN: Can they stand this you have unity? That's the question going forward.
Bill Press, Hilary Rosen --
ROSEN: We, the messy Democrats.
BERMAN: -- thank you so much for being with us, guys. Appreciate it.
BERMAN: The TSA's head of security is out of a job after failing to speed up airport security lines, despite being paid big bonuses. But will this leadership change the growing concerns about security at airports?
[11:24:40] BOLDUAN: Plus, Bill Cosby back in court and awaiting a major decision about whether or not the criminal case against him will go to trial. We are live at the courthouse.
BERMAN: Long lines, short tempers, and no more excuses, a top official with the TSA booted as Congress takes a hard look at the agency.
BOLDUAN: The TSA has been under fire for giving its now former intelligence chief a $90,000 bonus despite ongoing problems with airport security and long, frustrating wait times at airport security checkpoints.
CNN aviation and government regulation correspondent, Rene Marsh, has been following all of this.
What is the very latest here and what does it mean for the lines that folks are still seeing at the nation's airport
RENE MARSH, CNN AVIATION & GOVERNMENT REGULATION CORRESPONDENT: Well, I can tell you, Kate and John, this is a pretty major shake-up in leadership at the TSA. Of course, as you mentioned, this is all happening as airports, airlines, and passengers are complaining about those painfully long airport security wait times.
Now, the head of TSA security operations, he made more than $90,000 in bonuses. They paid that to him in $10,000 increment. And that was --