Email Exchange Between Powell, Clinton Released; FBI Director Defends Clinton Email Probe, Document Releases; Trump Calls for



Defends Clinton Email Probe, Document Releases; Trump Calls for

Increased Defense Spending; Trump Facing Growing Pressure To Release

Tax Returns; Trump Speak At Commander-In-Chief Forum. Aired 8-9p ET - Part 1>

[20:00:09] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening. Thanks for joining us.

We begin tonight with breaking news. Representative Elijah Cummings has released an e-mail exchange between former Secretary of State Colin Powell and then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in which Powell advises Clinton on the use of personal email. Now, the exchange took place two days after Clinton was sworn in.

And there are new details tonight about the decision to not charge Clinton in the investigation to her use of a private server and FBI director James Comey speaking out about that in very stark terms tonight.

Justice correspondent Evan Perez joins me now with late details.

So, let's talk about this exchange between Clinton and Powell. What does it say, exactly?

EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, it helps to first to put some context here. Remember this was back in 2009 and President Obama had to get special permission to use a BlackBerry issued by the NSA, because, you know, he was addicted to using the BlackBerry.

And this was Mrs. Clinton was asking Colin Powell for advice on how to keep using her BlackBerry. So, she sends an email in which she says, "Colin, what was your restriction on using a BlackBerry? Did you use it in your personal office? I've been told that diplomatic security personnel knew that you had one and used it, but no one fesses up to knowing how you used it."

"President Obama has struck a blow for berry addicts like us. I have to figure out how to bring along the State Department."

And Colin Powell responds, that "I didn't have a BlackBerry, what I did, I used a personal computer that was hooked up to a private phone line and it sounds ancient," he says. "So I could communicate with a wide range of friends directly without going through the State Department service. I even used it to do business with some foreign leaders, and some senior folks in the department on their personal e- mail accounts. I did the same thing on the road in hotels." And, Anderson, what you are getting a picture here from this e-mail exchange that the Democrats have released is simply that, you know, not only that Secretary Clinton used private e-mail while she was in office, but Colin Powell used it and that in essence, what she did was not unusual and if you talked to FBI and what was released last week, they show you what she did was extraordinary. She used all, she did all of her government business while using a private server that was established at her home in Chappaqua, New York.

COOPER: Some of these details were in the FBI's report which were released last Friday. So, I mean, what, if anything, is really new here? I mean, we haven't actually seen this letter, which obviously --

PEREZ: Right. We haven't seen this letter before, and, you know, there was a little bit of detail that was released previously and "New York Times" previously wrote an article citing a forthcoming book in which essentially Clinton seems to suggest that Powell suggested that she used a private server. That's not what you get from reading this e-mail exchange, however.

COOPER: The news of FBI Director Comey, how did he defend his department's findings in the e-mail investigation?

PEREZ: What he says is that this was not a cliffhanger. He's been getting a lot of heat, as you know, not only from people in Congress, from Republicans, and from Donald Trump, but also internally from FBI folks and people -- former FBI agents who are doing interviews on television. And certainly when he's met with them, they've told him that not only is it extraordinary for him to give so much detail about a case in which they didn't bring charges, but also some of them are openly critical of the idea not to charge Secretary Clinton with what they believe is a grave, grave error in judgment.

So, what he is saying today is this is simply not a cliffhanger. It wasn't even close, and he's saying that people who don't have access to all of the information of the case are full of baloney. That's what he said in his memo to employees today.

COOPER: There was also criticism about the timing of the release of these documents, essentially in the news business we called it a Friday night document dump that was sort of late in the day on Friday when a lot of people maybe aren't going to be watching the news and aren't going to be paying attention and a holiday weekend, no less.

What did he say about that?

PEREZ: You know, one -- that's one of the criticisms we heard from Paul Ryan today. He did an interview in which he said made that same criticism.

Look, the internet doesn't shut off at 1:00 p.m. on Friday before a holiday. Everyone read this. This is a big story on Friday and we reported certainly that the FBI was about to release this.

One of the things that was happening behind the scenes, Anderson, was that the CIA and other agencies were insisting on additional redactions and so, that's one of the things that held up the release and it happened on Friday. We and other news organizations were certainly pushing the FBI to release this as soon as possible. Comey said that they released it as soon as it was available.

COOPER: All right. We have spent a lot of time Friday night on it, but still a lot of people were probably elsewhere.

Evan Perez, thanks very much.

Joining me now, CNN political commentator and Clinton supporter, Christine Quinn, Clinton supporter and national spokesperson for, Karine Jean-Pierre, CNN senior political reporter, Nia- Malika Henderson, and CNN political commentator and Trump supporters Kayleigh McEnany and Jeffrey Lord.

[20:05:05] Nia, what do you make of this Colin Powell exchange with secretary Clinton? Interesting to read? Anything new in the reporting?

NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: I don't think there's anything new to report, but this is something that Hillary Clinton has talked about, and the Colin Powell advice that he apparently gave her in sort of talking about other secretaries of state and had a similar setup even though she did have a distinctly different setup with the personal server.

So, you know, I think this is Elijah Cummings trying to run interference for Hillary Clinton. They always complained about selectively leaked documents and I think here is another document that sheds some light and gives a little bit of credence to this story that Hillary Clinton told about Colin Powell. She, I think, at one point said that he talked about this over dinner and he couldn't remember that.

So, I think it helps -- listen, any time you are talking about Hillary Clinton's e-mails, it's not a good day for Hillary Clinton and this again, it's the drip, drip, drip of this, and this is what we see in the trustworthy numbers. It helps Trump ultimately.

COOPER: Karine, is this a good thing from Hillary Clinton?

KARINE JEAN-PIERRE, HILLARY CLINTON SUPPORTER: I would say, I think, look, I think the memo that we saw from Comey tonight that there's nothing there. Just another exoneration. She didn't do anything illegal, right? She apologized and said it was a mistake and would never do it again or she would do it differently, and we should move on now.

But there is no smoking gun. There's nothing there and it's time to move on from this.

COOPER: Christine, it is hard to move on, though, when there is this drip, drip, drip and new information coming out, and now, this letter comes out and it's understandable. I found it fascinating just to Secretary Clinton and Secretary Powell. CHRISTINE QUINN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: No, that is kind of, if you're a political junkie cool in a way just to see two secretary of states corresponding with each other, but I think it is a drip, drip, but not every drip has to be followed like it's a waterfall, right? And that's what's happening with every piece of information.

And Director Comey said it wasn't a cliffhanger, it wasn't close. This is a man, remember, Director Comey who is above politics, above a character assassinations in the way he's conducted his career. So, if there's a man you want to say you didn't break the law, it's this guy, because he is above reproach and the Colin Powell correspondents is interesting in the fact that it was raised about the dinner and was it discussed at dinner and he couldn't remember which was totally fair and then Secretary of State Clinton was attacked as a liar lying about Colin Powell when in fact there were conversations whether it was e- mails or letters, there were conversations.

So, I think this is important because it also puts a period on the end of that sentence and puts it at rest.

COOPER: Kayleigh, does it put a period at the end of the sentence?

KAYLEIGH MCENANY, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: No, it doesn't. And it actually opens to me a bigger kind of worm. If you look at the third paragraph of the email from Secretary Powell, former Secretary Powell to former Secretary Clinton. He says, as a warning, if you use a BlackBerry for government business, it might be common official record and thus subject to the law. The law to which he refers is the Federal Records Act which requires that you turn over your e-mails, that your emails are public records, any business you conduct the American public is entitled to see.

With that clear warning from Secretary Powell, what does Secretary Clinton do? She has 13 blackberries. Her aides, her proxies proceed to smash them with hammers --

COOPER: Two of them.

MCENANY: Two is too many.


COOPER: I'm not judging either way, I'm just saying.

MCENANY: They're lost and they were only able to recover two of these lost devices and two were beaten with sledge hammers, despite the fact that she was given a clear warning before she took office that these had to be preserved and not doing so was in direct contradiction of the law.


COOPER: OK, go ahead.

JEAN-PIERRE: I was just going to say, OK, 13 devices. Yes, that sounds like a lot, but she didn't use them all -- I'm thinking of the 13. She didn't use them all at once. She used them at different times.

It seemed like every six months or so she would get a new BlackBerry for whatever reason she needed to do that. But it's not as if like, you're putting it out there as if she was hiding something and using 13 BlackBerrys at the same time.

COOPER: And that's certainly something Donald Trump has raised --

JEAN-PIERRE: But If you read the notes, right? It actually says yes, she used them all at different times.

MCENANY: She didn't preserve them and that's the issue. The Federal Records Act required she preserve them and turn them over. She did not do that. She's required by law because we as American citizens are entitled to see what was on those devices that was work-related.

COOPER: Jeffrey, on the Comey exchange coming out and saying look, this wasn't each close and this wasn't a document dump. Do you think that puts -- I mean, there are those not only who doubt Secretary Clinton and those who doubt the FBI.

JEFFREY LORD, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: You know, frankly, the document dump is what does it for me.

COOPER: You have no doubt it was a document dump?

LORD: Oh, no.

[20:10:00] I mean, how hard is this? All the director has to say is wait until Tuesday. That's it. I do think Evan is correct, in the day and age of the Internet, document dumps aren't what they used to be.

The fact that they could not t this is a document dump on a holiday weekend -- I mean, would cause further problems says something in itself.

QUINN: You know, back to the point of the devices, right? Let's be clear: she broke no law as the director said, whether it's the law and you're referring to any other and that's been made clear and put to rest by the director of the FBI, a man above reproach.

But also let's think about all of ourselves when our devices when we're done with them, we trash them and we destroy them but you retain the material. I actually am glad that the secretary of state had people destroy her devices because you don't want all of that information going out.


LORD: The rest of us are not secretary of state.

QUINN: Pardon me?

COOPER: I do want to point out --

QUINN: But I'm glad that happened because I don't want her old devices floating around.

MCENANY: She didn't retain the material. She deleted 15,000 e-mails and used BleachBit to bleach e-mails.

QUINN: She turned over information in an unprecedented amount and the director of the FBI said it wasn't even close.

MCENANY: He said she did not turn over the work-related e-mails.

QUINN: He said in that email today in a memo, it wasn't a cliffhanger and it wasn't each close. Again, this is a man all of us on both sides of the aisle have to give kudos to --


COOPER: In the Comey exchange --

QUINN: That's not illegal.

COOPER: We've also now heard Comey saying he did -- they considered waiting until Tuesday, but he promised transparency and he knew there would be blowback for releasing on Friday, but that was his reasoning that if he'd waited until Tuesday some people would say you're holding on.

LORD: I don't understand why that would be such a big problem. I mean, document dumps and the very fact that we call them document dumps, there's a whole long history here in Washington, D.C., which most people in America don't pay attention to thankfully. Because they've got lives on their hands.

COOPER: Unlike the rest of us.

LORD: The rest of us who follow every jot and tittle of this sort of stuff and he had to know this would be a problem. So --

QUINN: If it was a document dump it would have ended up this big somewhere on page 37 of the newspaper. It is clearly not a document dump because it's Wednesday and we're still talking about it.

COOPER: Every jot and tittle.

QUINN: There you go.

COOPER: I've never heard that before.

I want to thank everybody. Time for a quick break.

When we come back -- Donald Trump says the U.S. military is falling behind and he'd build it back up with more spending and more troops and a very short deadline for a plan to beat ISIS. His position in fighting ISIS, I got to say, has changed several times from having a secret plan, saying he knows more than the generals, and making the generals come up with a plan. We'll get into all of that coming up next.


[20:16:04] COOPER: Donald Trump held two events today both with the focus on the U.S. military. The big takeaway, he would increase military spending he's now saying, everything from the number of troops, the number of planes and ships. He also took shots at Hillary Clinton, calling her, quote, "trigger happy and very unstable" when it comes to foreign policy.

In a statement, the Clinton campaign said Trump can't rely on facts when he's criticized so he responds with childish insults like a school yard bully.

Sunlen Serfaty is on the campaign trail with Trump today. She joins us now.

So, Trump spoke today about plans for military spending. Let's talk about the specifics of what he had to offer.

SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, notably, Anderson, Donald Trump did not specify exactly how large that increase in military spending would actually be.

We do know that he would want to eliminate the military sequester cuts from 2013 which a Trump campaign official tells CNN, they believe that would amount to roughly $500 billion of reinvestment over the next ten years. And we did see a little bit of where Donald Trump would want to use some of that. He spoke broadly about increasing troop levels and increasing military aircraft and increasing ships and what he called a retooling of the military -- Anderson.

COOPER: He also drew some sharp contrasts or tried to between his plans and those of Secretary Clinton.

SERFATY: That's right. He used some weighty words today in describing where he sees those contrasts. He called Secretary Clinton trigger happy, unstable, reckless. These are big words that he's using to draw that distinction, and it was notable to me that he really seemed to be making the temperament argument almost an admission that they do have to have some time to pay some time this.

The questions are on his temperament to be president. So, Donald Trump tonight trying to put the own us on Hillary Clinton, not himself and paint himself as the steady hand at the wheel -- Anderson.

COOPER: Sunlen, thanks very much.

Over the course of the campaign, Trump's repeatedly promised that he'll, to use his phrase, knock the hell out of ISIS. Now, he's saying that if he's elected on day one, he'll convene all the top generals and give them what he calls a simple instruction, submit a plan in 30 days to quickly defeat ISIS.

And it is a confounding notion for many reasons not the least of which that Trump has boasted that he knows more about ISIS than the generals do, and that's just one example of what he said about fighting ISIS over the past couple of months, is big on tough talk, short on nuance and sometimes even contradictory.



DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: I have a plan. I promise, I don't have a plan. I don't want to tell it. We want to be unpredictable.

I know more about ISIS than the generals do, believe me.

I would listen to the generals, but I'm hearing numbers of 20,000 to 30,000. We had to knock them out.

I would bomb the hell out of those oil fields. I wouldn't send many troops because you won't need them by the time I got finished.

With ISIS in Iraq, you've got to knock them out.

You've got to fight them.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Troops on the ground?


Let Russia bomb ISIS. They want to bomb them. Let them bomb them. Bomb the hell out of them.

Why are we letting ISIS go and fight Assad and then we pick up the remnants?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You would rule in the possibility of using nuclear weapons against ISIS?

TRUMP: Well, I'm never going to rule anything out.


COOPER: Well, back with me, CNN senior political reporter Nia-Malika Henderson. Joining us CNN world affairs analyst Fareed Zakaria, host of "FAREED ZAKARIA GPS". Also, our senior military analyst, retired Army Lieutenant General Mark Hertling and retired Air Force Colonel Cedric Leighton.

I appreciate all of you being with us.

Fareed, let's start with you. How big of a problem is it that Donald Trump seems to have evolved, if it's the right word, referring generals to get a plan together when previously he said he has a plan, it's a secret plan, take the oil of Iraq and bomb the hell out of the oil, more troops, less troops?

FAREED ZAKARIA, CNN WORLD AFFAIRS ANALYST: Well, as with almost anything Trump says, you know there is no thought through public policy or strategy. He's sort of winging it and every day depending on the crowd, he says what he thinks at that moment, either the crowd wants to hear or what moves him.

So, you know, it's in a sense part of a pattern.

[20:20:04] The important thing to understand here is that his most recent incarnation, which is he's going to ask the generals, he's going to ask the Mark Hertling and company to come up with a plan in 30 days to defeat ISIS, is sort of meaningless, because the U.S. military is the strongest armed force in the history of the world. ISIS is probably 30,000 likely armed insurgents.

The United States military could defeat ISIS within two or three months under any circumstances. The problem, the question is, what do you do then? You now own real estate in Syria and Iraq. Who's going to run it?

That's what's been stopping the United States military from doing that. The problem we have is you defeat ISIS. You take over Mosul. You take over Raqqah. Who's going to run it?

COOPER: General Hertling, is that to you part of the problem that it's not just a question of militarily defeating a force and engagements on the battlefield?

MARK HERTLING, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: It certainly is, Anderson. You have to have the government there after you defeat the force to take over. We've seen that multiple times in Afghanistan and Iraq over the last 16 years. What Fareed said is exactly on target.

And the other thing is, I'm not sure I would agree with Fareed completely if we had the U.S. military there, we could complete the destruction of this force in two months. We had less than this in terms of al Qaeda and what happens is they fade away. Unless you have an indigenous force that's actually fighting the enemy where they know they are and where they can talk with other people, it sometimes becomes counterproductive.

So, it is best in these kind of situations to let the indigenous forces do it, but at the same time make sure there is a government to support that indigenous force afterwards. That's where we've gotten in trouble in both Afghanistan and Iraq. We've tried to do too much.

COOPER: Colonel Leighton, it is interesting that Trump -- you know, you don't hear him saying as much and whether he still believes it or not, surround the oilfields and take Iraq's oil as sort of to the victor goes the spoils which is the term that he referenced recently, get oil companies in to pump it out and surround them with U.S. troops and take the oil and. It does sound like he's trying to appeal to other people or, you know, talking to some of his military advisers have put forward some meat on the bone of troop levels.

CEDRIC LEIGHTON, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Well, yes, Anderson, the idea of taking over the oilfields is a non-starter. First of all, it would be difficult to do it. It could be done, but it would be a very difficult thing to do on a consistent basis and on a continuous basis.

COOPER: It's also taking the oil of a sovereign nation, which is our ally and probably irritating just about everybody is not already hateful of the United States there.

LEIGHTON: Well, that's right. And it would be one of the more difficult things from that standpoint diplomatically. What you really want to do is you want to have the oil as part of the healing process for the sovereign nation and the day after the invasion and the day after the occupation, you want something there so that it can sustain the indigenous population, as well as that new state that you're trying to develop and failure to do that would be very short sighted.

And it fits in with General Hertling's point that you need to plan for the day after next when you do take over territory and when you come up with plans to defeat a group like ISIS, you need to know how you're going to actually fulfill that.

COOPER: Nia, I mean, how much of this do you think is, you know, Donald Trump trying to reach out to some undecided voters or independent voters or at least trying to seem more presidential than perhaps earlier on when saying bomb the hell out of them, which is appealing to a lot of people in the primary.

HENDERSON: I think that's right. I mean, I think we've seen something of a Trump pivot, him standing there in front of those flags. I think this speech at least in part is reaching out to establishment Republicans. At times it was like listening to Mitt Romney when he talked about adding 100,000 more troops in terms of elevating the levels of folks in the army, increasing the number of naval ships. I mean, that is boilerplate Republicanism. He name dropped the Heritage Foundation twice, I think.

But then there is the isolationist Trump, right? Who in some ways sound like Barack Obama of 2008 when he talks about the need to diplomacy, and decries Hillary Clinton for military adventurism.

So, I mean, there's sort of a Trump for all seasons and I think that's going to make it very hard for the Hillary Clinton campaign to really try to nail him down. They want one Trump. They want the primary Trump, but he has a lot of different iterations, I think, and we saw that with his speech tonight.

ZAKARIA: He says Hillary Clinton is trigger happy but he's going to bomb the hell out of ISIS, right? This is the problem. It's almost shadow-boxing because he changes his position so quickly that you don't quite know which position you have to attack.

COOPER: General Hertling, he's talking about the numbers of troop levels, of, you know, numbers of aircraft, number of naval vessels.

[20:25:06] I mean, I guess there's an argument to be made and clearly some people believe that's the right way to go. Others argue that the conflicts of the future is not just about numbers of ships or numbers of planes.

HERTLING: Yes. We wanted details from Donald Trump. We got them today during his speech, Anderson. But if I can go back just a second before I answer that question, it has to be that the American people wanting a simple solution when he talks to them. This has no simple solution, ISIS, I'm talking about, and our wars.

The question that military and strategic leaders have asked, what does this look like when it's all over? If you're just talking about a battleground where there are a lot of bad people, you haven't solved a problem. What it has to look like is a government there.

From the standpoint of building the forces that he said today, yes, there's definitely some need to rebuild the U.S. military. We are challenged. We are tired. We are worn out and the equipment is beat up after 16 years of the fight.

It's going to take some monetary contributions to take things back to normal, but when you're talking about designing a force for the future, it isn't a large navy with the number of ships. It may not be brigades and battalions and numbers of aircrafts. It may be more special operations forces.

These are the kind of things he got into because of the Heritage Institute and what they fed him, but it might not be the force that we're looking for.

COOPER: Yes, I want to thank everybody and much more to talk about ahead and Trump is throwing out a lot of numbers about how the military is supposedly falling behind. Do the numbers add up? We'll take a reality check, coming up next.


[20:30:33] COOPER: As we mentioned, Donald Trump today called for more military spending, more troops, more ships, more submarines and more planes. Didn't say how big the increase in military spending would be but he did throw out a lot numbers in justifying the increase.

Tom Foreman tonight has a reality check. So, let's talk about some of the specifics of what Trump said.

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, he did Anderson put some hard numbers on how he thinks the military is falling behind.


DONALD TRUMP, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We currently have the smallest army since 1940. The navy is among the smallest it has been since 1915. It's a 100 years ago, and the Air Force is the smallest it's been since 1947.


FOREMAN: Well, those are very historic numbers but let's put some reality on that. If you look at U.S. Armed Forces, right now, there are about 1,015,000 people in the army if you count active, guard and reserves and apply the same metric to the rest of the military, you have 1.1 million more in the navy, the marines and the air force and yeah, compare it to the 1940s when World War II is raging, look at that, more than 16 million people served in all the branches. So, they're all are weighed down, that accounts for what he said about the army and the air force.