STATE-OF-UNION sked xfdsu TRANSCRIPT May 15, 2016 NEWS PROGRAM JAKE TAPPER JAKE TAPPER HOSTS CNN'S "STATE OF THE UNION" - Part 2 Roll Call, Inc. 1255 22nd Street N.W. Washington, D.C. 20037 Transcript/Programming: Tel. 301-731-1728 Sales: Tel. 202-419-8500 ext 599 sales@cqrollcall.com ...

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May 15, 2016




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And so I think that, if that's going to be the Republican attack on Hillary, it's not going to work.

TAPPER: Well, there are going to be a lot of them, I bet.

But let's move on. The latest Q poll has Trump beating Hillary Clinton by four points in your home state of Ohio, 43 percent to 39 percent. One thing that's been talked about as a result of this in part is putting you on the ticket. Also, you have progressive credentials that might help her shore up some of those Sanders supporters.

Now, you have said you're not interested in the V.P. job. But, obviously, Senator, if Clinton came to you and said, "I really need you to be my vice president," you wouldn't say no, would you?


BROWN: Well, I'm married to a journalist, and as I said, Jake, and as you know, and she -- we know you have to ask that question. I'm not going to answer it any differently. I respect the work you do. I'm not going to answer any differently.


BROWN: I love the job I'm doing. My priorities are to continue to fight for manufacturing in my state and for jobs and health care and deal with lead issues in my beloved city of Cleveland, where I live, and every other city in the industrial Midwest.

I will put real effort into helping elect Hillary Clinton. I -- as I said, I love this job, and that's -- I'm just not going to give you a different answer.


BROWN: So, keep -- keep trying.

TAPPER: I would just say -- I would just say it's not Shermanesque.

But I appreciate...


BROWN: That's not -- I understand. I understand that.

TAPPER: OK, not a Shermanesque denial.


TAPPER: Senator Sherrod Brown, thank you so much.

Say hi to your wife for us. We appreciate it.

BROWN: Good to be back. Thanks.

TAPPER: Coming up: Those Trump tapes that have everyone talking, the reporter on the other end of the line says she thinks Trump leaked them himself, but why?

That when we come back.



TRUMP: Well, I'm not the president right now, so anything I suggest is really a suggestion. And if I were president, I'd put in legislation and do what I have to do.

MATT LAUER, NBC HOST: Would you put in legislation --

TRUMP: No, I'm looking at it very strongly.


TAPPER: Donald Trump this week saying that his campaign pledges are merely suggestions. Is he backing off one of his signature proposals? Here to talk with me about it, Donna Brazile, vice chair of the Democratic National Committee, Oregon senator, Jeff Merkley, who is supporting Bernie Sanders, Andre Bauer, former lieutenant governor of South Carolina who's supporting Donald Trump and CNN political commentator Ana Navarro.

Thanks one and all for being here.


TAPPER: Not supporting anybody.

I should point out that both Merkley and Bauer's names have been (INAUDIBLE) for vice president by me during the commercial break just a few minutes ago.

So let me just start with you, everything is a suggestion, Mr. Trump says, including he was specifically being asked about his proposed ban on all non-citizen Muslims entering the U.S. -- quote -- unquote -- "until we figure out what the hell is going on." Now he's saying it's just a suggestion.

Do you think that it might disappoint some of his supporters the idea that he seems to be kind of backing off?

ANDRE BAUER, FORMER SOUTH CAROLINA LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR: You know, his supporters are very loyal. They're so frustrated, he's talked about a multitude of different things. They're glad anybody is even engaging in the discussion at this point in time, because political hot button issue no one wants to engage in the discussion you can never fix them. So at least there's a candidate now who's willing to engage in some of these discussions that for far too long have been something that no one wanted touch so I think it doesn't do anything to hurt his group of supporters.

TAPPER: Donna.

DONNA BRAZILE, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: But presidents don't suggest things. I mean, if Abraham Lincoln has suggested the emancipation and not actually gone forth, we would still have slavery. So I don't think presidents suggesting.

I think Donald Trump is in an awkward position because in a general election, which is different from the primary, we're going to bring up all of these so-called flip-flops on reproductive rights, on even one suggestion that he would support Hillary Clinton as president. Now of course he says something else. So (INAUDIBLE).

TAPPER: You're saying because he contributed to her in 2008?

BRAZILE: Absolutely so he'll (ph) be choosing for president

TAPPER: Senator?

SEN. JEFF MERKLEY (D), OREGON: This goes to the fact there is no ideological core no, policy core. We see that on issue after issue. We have a self-promoting huckster as a Republican nominee. We see this, for example, when he talks about creating jobs in America but in fact he imports workers from overseas to be employees in his enterprise.

There is no hard core and really, I mean, for folks to think that he's going to be a champion for workers, that's equivalent to asking the Koch brothers to be champions for solar power.

TAPPER: But, Ana, is this not -- I'll let you have the final word on this, but is this not reassuring to some in the Republican elite who want Mr. Trump to back away from some of these things said during the primaries? Is this not in a way potentially smart politics?

NAVARRO: If anything, we've learned from Donald Trump is that he can have one position one day and another position the next day. He can have one position one hour, another position another hour.

I actually found this answer about things being a suggestion during the presidential campaign a refreshingly blunt and frank answer. We could fill up buildings and buildings in Washington with campaign promises that candidates have made during campaigns that when they become president, if and when they become president really only turn out to be a suggestion.

Here's the bottom line. Both of the major candidates, the possible nominees have a slew of flip-flops. On Hillary Clinton's side, you could do trade, you could do TPP, you could do gay marriage.

On Donald Trump's side it is way too many for me to even get into, OK? There's just -- there's way too many from last week to get into, between Muslims and taxes and everything else.

So you can take your choice, folks, which of these two inconsistent candidates do you want to vote with? Which of these two candidates who don't believe in transparency do you want to vote for?

TAPPER: Who are you going to vote for, Ana? Hold on --


NAVARRO: Let me just tell you -- I'm going to devote for Dwyane Wade. I think that's what I'm going to write. Go Heat.


TAPPER: But you -- the point you're making right now. You think that this is false equivalence (ph)?

BRAZILE: Look, I think for Republicans who are dealing with a very unpopular nominee their strategy is very clear to me. And I've watched -- Jake, I stood back for a whole week and just watched it and what I see is basically a party that wants to throw everything, every bit of mud that you raised today with Sherrod Brown about the Clinton global initiatives.

No money, zero money, zero change of hands, yet it was put in "The Wall Street Journal" with no sources, no fact, but it's salacious. And so you have to go ahead and muddy up the other candidate simply because you can't defend the presumptive nominee of the Republican Party.

NAVARRO: Donna, the bottom line is both parties are dealing with the most unpopular nominee they've had in history.

BRAZILE: I'm not going to contradict --


NAVARRO: You know I'm not going to...


BRAZILE: Don't litigate. Don't put that...


BRAZILE: ... in the middle of a campaign.

NAVARRO: ... reason why we are in mid-May. And there's still a Democratic primary going on, because both candidates are incredibly flawed and unpopular.

BRAZILE: Because we don't have winner-take-all. We don't have winner-take-all. We don't --


NAVARRO: No you've got two delegates...


NAVARRO: ... you know, the epitome of Grand Poobah --


BRAZILE: You tell me.

NAVARRO: And so are you baby that's why I don't (INAUDIBLE) too much.


BRAZILE: I'm pointing at the person (INAUDIBLE).

TAPPER: OK. Andre, let me -- I know you want to say something but first I also want to play this tape as you know "The Washington Post" published some audio of Donald Trump on Friday.

"The Washington Post" saying it's him posing as his own spokesman -- quote -- unquote-- "John Miller." Now, yesterday Sue Carswell, who is a former "People" magazine reporter on the tape, she told CNN that she did not provide those tapes to the "The Washington Post" and she believes that Donald Trump did. Take a listen.


SUE CARSWELL, FORMER REPORTER, PEOPLE MAGAZINE: I didn't release the tape. I believe he did.

MICHAEL SMERCONISH, CNN ANCHOR: Just to distract our attention from all the other things that have now been published about him?



TAPPER: Is that possible, Donald Trump released his own tape to change subject from the tax returns or from whatever?


BAUER: Think of how silly that is. Who wouldn't rather talk about their tax returns?

Look, Anderson Cooper does a great impersonation of Donald Trump. The number of people that do Donald Trump impersonations is going to be "yuge." You're going to continue to see it more and more clearly that would be --

TAPPER: So you think it's an impersonator. You think it's somebody --

BAUER: I don't know who it is. And my job is not to decipher that.

And I think there's so much bigger issues to be engaged in that this is not going to be -- we may get involved in whether it's important. The average person out there that doesn't think their income's right, doesn't think their country is moving in the right direction, they're way more concerned about that than who this is.

TAPPER: Ana, who do you think is on the tape?

NAVARRO: Look, since I don't partake of Trump Kool-Aid I clearly think that is Donald Trump on the tape. And frankly I think it's just one more dose of the, you know, daily telenovela drama that we are getting out of this campaign on a daily basis. We get it doled out by little doses by little doses daily. Maybe he released it so that it doesn't come out in October. It's a lot better to deal with this in May...

TAPPER: If so that's smart.

NAVARRO: ... than it is in October.

What has surprised me is that he hasn't done what he's done with so many other things that have come out so far which is basically shrug his shoulders and laugh it off and say that was then, I'm a presidential candidate now.

TAPPER: All right. Stay with us. As Donna mentioned there's this new report in "The Wall Street Journal" raising more questions about former president Bill Clinton and the Clinton Foundation. Donna I'm sure will have a lot to say about that.

Will it become a problem for Hillary Clinton? Stay with us.



DAVID AXELROD, "THE AXE FILES" HOST: What would you be saying about her if you were doing your show right now?

JON STEWART, FORMER HOST "THE DAILY SHOW": What I think about Hillary Clinton is, you know, I imagine to be a very bright woman without the courage of her convictions because I'm not even sure what they are.


TAPPER: Ouch. That was former "Daily Show" anchor Jon Stewart's take on the possible Democratic nominee and leading Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton.

She is slouching (ph) towards victory. Just a handful of pledged delegates away from locking up the nomination but still fending off rival Bernie Sanders who keeps racking up wins.

Let's go back to our panel now.

And, Donna, Jon Stewart I don't think there's any mystery as to who he's going to vote for in November if it comes down to Hillary Clinton versus Donald Trump. But isn't his voice very progressive kind of one of the problems for Hillary Clinton? There are a lot of progressives out there, you are sitting next to one of them, who have their doubts about her?

BRAZILE: You're looking at a progressive. You're going to have somebody who I believe has fought for every battle on the progressive cause but you're also looking at someone who has as well. Hillary Clinton has been out there in the fight for as long as I can remember.

Jake, I remember when I worked for the Children's Defense Fund, working on a project with Marian Wright Edelman, this is a woman who went back to my beloved south, your beloved south, to fight for poor kids to make sure they have health insurance, woman who believes that human rights -- equal rights they are important symbols of our national government. So I disagree with Jon Stewart, who I love and admire, but she's a woman of strong convictions.

TAPPER: Senator Merkley, your home state of Oregon I would say they vote Tuesday but probably been voting for the last three months.

MERKLEY: That's right.

TAPPER: But the final result comes in on Tuesday.

Bernie Sanders is expected to do quite well there, but the math, the delegate math is almost insurmountable, take a look. You have Clinton with 1,720 pledged delegates plus 521 super delegates, 2,241, Bernie Sanders 1,426 pledged delegates, 41 super delegates, 1,467. Even if you take out the super delegates she still has this 300 delegate lead which is much wider than the lead Obama had or Hillary Clinton.

MERKLEY: Absolutely. It's an uphill climb. He'd need to win about two-thirds of the remaining regular delegates.

If he was to win the regular delegates it would be a conversation. Super delegates don't really belong in the Democratic Party. But it's an uphill climb. But such an important conversation for New Jersey to have this conversation, Kentucky, Oregon, California, the Dakotas, for every voter in the Democratic Party in America to be able to weigh in about these big issues facing -- we're talking about all the scandals, scandal, scandal but there's these big issues.

In fact the middle class is getting squeezed. The middle class is being left out in the cold and Bernie is creating a clear message resonating with Americans about the fact that we don't just need small changes. We need big changes. We need to put this nation back on track and that's why it's important to carry this conversation through all of the primaries.

TAPPER: Let's talk about the questions raised in "The Wall Street Journal" report about the Clinton Global Initiative, what the report basically suggests is that Bill Clinton steered money and he has these conferences, and he gets private equity -- private capital to go to causes that he finds important and one of them was this green energy firm that was partly owned by a friend of his and he steered $2 million toward it. Now the Clinton Foundation says there's nothing untoward at all. This is what he does but it is a for profit organization.

Is this kind of thing -- do you think it's going to hurt her?

BAUER: Of course it is. She's going to continue to struggle with all voters because of the perception of an inability to be honest.

TAPPER: And Donna, you say there's nothing untoward here at all?

BRAZILE: Well, first of all it's very difficult to disprove a lie in this culture because what we have today --

TAPPER: What's a lie of what I just said?

BRAZILE: Because there was zero money exchanged. What Bill Clinton --

TAPPER: It was a pledge. It was a pledge.

BRAZILE: It was a pledge. What Bill Clinton did and a lot of foundations and everyone knew this, Jake, including the Republicans like Carly Fiorina, like you know, the Bush family, that have gone to these Clinton Global Initiatives, where they basically identify people with money to help these causes, in this case a green energy company that insulates low income houses.

This is a good cause but instead of talking about the cause, we got to talk about the controversy because of course the only thing that keeps the Republican Party going at night, because it can't have any issues is this whole issue of trying to find a scandal. There's no scandal. This is a discredited book.

I read it. It's salacious journalism and it should not be in "The Wall Street Journal."

TAPPER: As quickly as possible.

NAVARRO: It's "The Wall Street Journal," it's not the "Enquirer."

Look, everybody knows what we're getting with the Clintons. We're getting a family that blurs lines between philanthropy, politics and business. That's just what it is.

There are no saints running for president this year. Take your choice, folks. I think we know all the warts that come with both of them, and you know, frankly, she should release the transcripts and he should release the tax returns. The American people should make this decision as bad as our choices are as informed as we can be.

TAPPER: Got to go. Sorry.

The hottest political event in town is a graduation ceremony this weekend. That's right. Both Donald Trump and Vice President Biden will be in the audience at today's University of Pennsylvania commencement. What could happen? It's the subject of this week's "State of the Cartoonion" that's next.


TAPPER: Welcome back.

This year college graduation season happens to intersect with election season. At one particular graduation ceremony today in the great city of Philadelphia, attendees will be treated to more than your average pomp and circumstance and that is the subject of this week's "State of the Cartoonion."


TAPPER (voice-over): Congratulations, graduates of the University of Pennsylvania, class of 2016.

We apologize for all the secret service agents here today. Even though you've spent your lives being coddled and told you're very important people, we have here today two actual very important people in attendance.

TRUMP: Everybody knows what a great school it is. Everybody knows that to get into Wharton is probably the hardest school to get into.

TAPPER: That's right. Please welcome Donald Trump, an alumnus of our business school.

TRUMP: I'm really smart. Went to the Wharton school of finance, did well at the school, came out, made a fortune.

TAPPER: Trump is here to celebrate the graduation today of his youngest daughter, Tiffany, who he says got all As and is a winner

TIFFANY TRUMP, DAUGHTER OF DONALD TRUMP: His hard work ethic is truly inspiring. Whenever I'm, you know, at school studying these long hours, I see him on TV without any sleep and it just makes me want to continue to work harder.

TAPPER: Also here today, Vice President Joe Biden, here to celebrate the graduation of his granddaughter, Naomi. We'll be trying to keep the vice president and Mr. Trump separated, since how this election has played out was not really the stuff of Mr. Biden's dreams.

JOE BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think I would have been the best president, but it was the right thing not just for my family, but for me.

TAPPER: We considered asking the vice president to give the commencement address today, but we did not want to keep you here until the next semester. We did ask Mr. Trump his advice to the students assembled here. He said, there's nothing wrong with the size of his hands. OK. Anyway, congratulations, graduates.


TAPPER: Thanks for spending your Sunday with us.

You can catch me here every Sunday and weekdays on "THE LEAD" at 4:00 p.m. Eastern. Go to CNN.com/SOTU, that's STATE OF THE UNION for extras from the show.

I'm Jake Tapper in Washington.