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Face the Nation Transcript August 21, 2016: Priebus, Sessions, Mook

JOHN DICKERSON, HOST: Today on FACE THE NATION: Donald Trump tries another staff shakeup and debuts yet another version of Trump. But with just 78 days left in the race, can he turn his campaign around in time?

The new Donald Trump came close to an apology Thursday.


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Sometimes, in the heat of debate and speaking on a multitude of issues, you don’t choose the right words. And, believe it or not, I regret it.


DICKERSON: We will hear from the head of the Republican Party, Reince Priebus, plus Trump supporter Senator Jeff Sessions, along with Pennsylvania voters who once supported Trump, but are now wavering. What will it take to win them back?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think, initially, being authentic was great. But now he’s being a little too authentic.


DICKERSON: And as Hillary Clinton gains in some polls...


HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Even though we’re doing fine right now, I’m not taking anybody anywhere for granted.


DICKERSON: ... we will hear from her campaign manager, Robby Mook, about their strategy for the fall.

And we will take a look at the state of play in the battleground states with new Battleground Tracker polls.

Plus, the authors of “The Washington Post”’s comprehensive new biography on Donald Trump and our political panel. It’s all ahead on FACE THE NATION.

Good morning, and welcome to FACE THE NATION. I’m John Dickerson.

We have new Battleground Tracker numbers from two key states. In Ohio, Hillary Clinton is up 46 percent to 40 over Donald Trump. That is a two-point increase from July, just before the conventions. And in Iowa, it’s even at 40 percent each.

CBS News elections director Anthony Salvanto is here.

OK, Anthony, what does it mean?

ANTHONY SALVANTO, CBS NEWS ELECTIONS DIRECTOR: Well, Ohio, which is so critical to Donald Trump’s fortunes now, he sees it moving more towards Hillary Clinton.

She’s made gains with women. She continues to do better with her Democratic base than Trump does with his Republican base. In fact, last we talked to these folks earlier this summer, there were some Democrats who were considering Donald Trump. They’re gone now. They have all gone to Hillary Clinton.

And the other thing here is, you look at Iowa, where they are even, but Iowa in some respects just spotlights some of Donald Trump’s larger problems. Iowa is older. Iowa is a less diverse state. Now, Donald Trump does very well with those kinds of voters. In fact, among older voters, it’s an outlook issue as much as it is demographics.

Older voters say that they feel American life is changing for the worse.

DICKERSON: So, of these two states, Ohio is likely to be more like the other states in which he’s competing. Iowa is kind of a bit of special case, which turns us to the larger map.

What is the -- what’s the state of the race in that larger map in all the battleground states that we pay attention to?

SALVANTO: It’s a lot of blue, a lot of Democratic blue.

In fact, we started this race identifying at least 11 states that we thought could be contested or go either way. You look across that map now, and Hillary Clinton is leading, most times outside the margin of error, in poll after poll in state after state.

And what that does is, it underlines Donald Trump’s central issue here. He has to not just swing a few tossups. He’s got to take back now states, Ohio, Florida, North Carolina, Virginia, probably a couple of others in which Hillary Clinton has a substantial lead. DICKERSON: So, what does he do to come back in places like Ohio, Virginia, Colorado, those places where he’s down by -- by outside the margin of error?

SALVANTO: Well, if you’re going to swing states, you have got to change voters’ mind. So, we asked people, what would it take for you to reconsider Donald Trump?

And there were a number of voters who said that they might, not a lot, but enough. And the top answer there is, show me he’s ready to be commander in chief. That’s been one of the things that really weighed down his poll numbers to this point.

The other thing is, they would like to see him apologize to the people that he’s offended. Now, in some sense, that puts him in a bit of a box, because, as you know, his supporters, they don’t much think he has anything to apologize for at all.

DICKERSON: And so what we see and what you have outlined is basically what the campaign has now been doing this week, trying to touch those things. Is there a group that he has particular trouble with?


You know, let’s call them the reluctant Republicans. In all of these states, you find not only is he underperforming a bit with Republicans, but they tend to be a little more moderate. They tend to be women. They are not yet sold on Donald Trump. They are more likely to call him a risky choice.

But even though they do not like Hillary Clinton and don’t have much of anything good to say about her, there’s one little piece where they are more likely to say they think Hillary Clinton is not always treated fairly. I think that puts Donald Trump in a bit of a box as he tries to go after them, right?

DICKERSON: Because, if he attacks Hillary Clinton, he offends those voters who worry that she’s being treated unfairly.

SALVANTO: Exactly.

DICKERSON: But give us just a little bit more detail on Hillary Clinton’s fix, because he’s in trouble, but she’s got weaknesses herself.


Now, she has succeeded in making Donald Trump look like that risky choice so far, which was clearly one of the objectives of her campaign. But her numbers on so many other things are really, really low. Her honest and trustworthy numbers continue to be down, and it’s stayed there. People think that she is under the influence of donors, of foreign donors.

And I think this all connects to a larger issue, which is, remember, we started this year, people were looking for an outsider. And you connect the dots through all that. People who think that she’s connected to big donors are the ones most likely to think she doesn’t tell the truth. So there’s still that suspicion and that skepticism there that her campaign has yet to address.

DICKERSON: All right, Anthony, thanks so much for being with us.

SALVANTO: Thanks, John.

DICKERSON: Republican strategist and CBS News contributor Frank Luntz led a focus group discussion yesterday in Pennsylvania and our cameras were there.  Many participants once supported Donald Trump, but don’t support him now.  How did Trump lose them and can he regain their support? 
FRANK LUNTZ: How many of you in this room are supporting Donald Trump right now? Raise your hands. One, two, three, four, five, six.
How many of you at some point in the campaign at least leaned towards Donald Trump? Raise your hands.
Almost all of you. So what happened?
MARIE M: …He was my first choice. But just along the way, he has -- I guess I can say he’s lost me. I’m not saying there’s no chance of turning but he’s become outrageous. I mean, we all have thoughts, but I think he speaks without thinking.
MICHAEL R: …When he initially began to run, he gave voice to a lot of the frustrations that I was feeling about how government is working or more to the point not working. But since then, he’s been running as a 12 year old and changes his positions every news cycle, so you don’t even know where he stands on the issues.
DEBBIE M-K: I almost think the last couple of weeks, he might be second-guessing this, because he even said yet like a week ago, “it’s okay if I’m not the president.” And then he’s just throwing out all of these bizarre comments. So I’m wondering: is he serious still about it?
HOWARD E: …Whenever somebody makes a derogatory comment to him, like in a democratic convention, Trump feels like he needs to attack that person. And he says things that are crazy. And I keep asking myself: is this the kind of person I want to handle the nuclear codes? 
LUNTZ: And what’s the answer?
HOWARD E: No way.
BILL C: ...I think the traction that he first got was because of the issues that he chose to focus on. I think he didn’t realize that it was his issues that were drawing people. His personality, sure, I mean everyone knows Donald Trump and he’s flamboyant. But the more he made it about his personality, the less likely that I am to vote for him and it seems like everyone else is going in the same direction here, who started out as Trump but has moved away. Now, the last couple of weeks, I’ve seen kind of a pivot back to the issues, and that gives me a little bit more hope for him. But he’s yo-yo’d back and forth so many times I need to see a little bit more.
FRANK LUNTZ: ...How many of you would consider, would still consider voting for him in the fall? Raise your hands if it’s a possibility for you.
…So more than half of you. So what does he have to do?
SHARON J: He’s got to get back to the issues, and solve the problems. You know...
FRANK LUNTZ: No he can’t solve it. He’s running for president. He can’t do anything.
SHARON J: Not solve it, but he’s got to at least give us a plan of what he -- some kind of plan of action of what he would like to do.
FRANK LUNTZ: He’s already done the economic plan, he’s already done a national security plan. What do you want?
SHARON J: I want him to talk more about that and stop attacking people and acting erratic…
MICHAEL A: …I think we’re looking for leadership that inspires all of us to be greater than ourselves. So I’m looking for the things that he says that are scripted, even the teleprompter that he makes fun of but now he uses. But also the unscripted things like the debates, and let’s see how he reacts under pressure when he has to -- one on one with Hillary.
MANTEL F: He’s so busy focusing on what he wants to say and trying to, I guess, impress people. And I think right now we’re not looking -- I think initially, being authentic was great, but now he’s being a little too authentic. Now he’s giving us too much of himself. He needs to pull back a little bit…
FRANK LUNTZ: ...Don’t you think you have the right to know who he really is?
MANTEL F: Yes, you do have the right to know that. But I think no one gives you 100% of themselves, especially at this stage.
FRANK LUNTZ: But don’t you want 100%? Don’t you want…
JANICE K: I want his best foot forward. It’s a job interview. This is not how you would behave when you’re going to a job interview, by throwing tantrums and calling the interviewer names. Or the other applicants.
FRANK LUNTZ: …How can you have such a negative impression of him and still consider casting your ballot for him? Please explain it.
MICHELE C: Because the other candidate is unfavorable in my estimation and I don’t have another choice and I don’t want to give up my vote, because I think that it would be worse not to vote.
MICHAEL A: …We’re now to the point where the showmanship is over. We want to see some policy details. We want to see that you have a staff, that you’re going to have a Cabinet. I think those are important choices. Because a president is not by himself. A president is led by a lot of good advisors. I haven’t seen any good advisors yet.
MARIE M: …The party is voting against -- or doesn’t want him to be nominated. You know--
FRANK LUNTZ: You think the Republicans are against him?
MARIE M: Yes, the Republicans. I mean his own party is not, you know, totally supporting him.
FRANK LUNTZ: And why do you think that this?
MARIE M: Because of his outrageousness. I think they find it embarrassing.
MARIE M: At times, yes, because it’s hard to comprehend…for me, it’s hard to understand also with all of this going on and all the negative feedback why his team isn’t reeling him in or explaining to him the damage that he is doing by the way he’s acting.


DICKERSON: Joining us now is chairman of the Republican National Committee, Reince Priebus.

Mr. Chairman, you heard those voters there. They were on the Trump train. They have now gotten off. What would you advise Mr. Trump, having heard that?

REINCE PRIEBUS, REPUBLICAN NATIONAL COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: Well, I think that keep doing what he’s been doing over the last 10 days, which is, I think he’s shown maturity. I think that he’s growing in his role. He’s a person who has never run for public office.

And, look, some of this stuff was very -- it’s an interesting intro that you had there, because you have got a choice in this election. This election is about choice, is you have someone who is not politically correct, who at times has said some harsh things, even he admitted, vs. someone who lies with incredible skill and grace.

And so the question is whether or not in the fall, making the case of the American people that the outsider, which is what the American people want -- they want that outsider. They want that product that Donald Trump presents, not Hillary Clinton. But they also need to know that it’s going to be a safe product.

And I think if you look at the last week-and-a-half, I think Donald Trump understands it. I think he’s being consistent. I think if he continues down this track, you’re going to see more polls like Iowa happening, where things tighten down, we get to the first debate and America is given that great choice.

DICKERSON: They want a safe product. What he doing to make people feel safe? Using a teleprompter and saying regret, that doesn’t contain safe.

PRIEBUS: No, listen, what -- no, what it shows is consistency.

Look it, it’s very difficult. I don’t care how good you are as a speaker. Now, I have been doing this for six years. Other people like Hillary Clinton has been doing it for 30 years. You can’t -- it’s very difficult to get in front of a crowd with no notes and speak for 45 minutes. And so...

DICKERSON: But that’s what caused him to do so well in the primaries.

PRIEBUS: It id. But we also had 16 people running. And there was a lot of things happening.

But, look, what I’m excited about is the fact that I think that Donald Trump has really focused in on this campaign. And you look at the differences between Hillary Clinton, who we’re talking about DOJ not taking action after the FBI asked them to in investigating the Clinton Foundation.

You have someone whose public persona is cast in stone. I believe that Donald Trump’s upside is far greater than Hillary Clinton’s upside.

DICKERSON: You mentioned that he’s never run for public office. He is -- that’s been kind of his best attribute in running for president. He said, I have never done this before. And I’m going to be extra great.

So, if you look at his campaign, he’s now on his three -- his third top manager of his campaign. You have seen campaigns before. So, assess the health of the Trump campaign.

PRIEBUS: Well, I think the main -- I assess it by looking at Donald Trump and looking at his actions and where his head and his heart is at.

And you look at the fact that he made this pitch to African- Americans and communities across the country, and the Hispanic roundtable yesterday. He’s going to be doing more of that. But if you look at that polling issue, the most important thing said there, which was very insightful, is that bringing back the Republican base is the difference between being up by six and down by six, which is where he was right after Cleveland.

That is the easiest piece for us to take care of. And once the Republican base gets just back up to where it was after the convention, those polls in Ohio and North Carolina and New Hampshire are going to be right back where we need them to be.

DICKERSON: But let me ask you question of what we know about Donald Trump as a manager. It seems to me what you’re saying is, things may be a little bumpy and chaotic, but he’s never done this before. Is that going to be true of his presidency? Is it going to be a little bumpy and chaotic because he’s never done it before?


DICKERSON: That’s not exactly the promise he’s making. The promise he’s making is one consistent victory after another, with no problems at all.

PRIEBUS: Well, we will find out about the victory in November.

But the truth is,I s that when you’re a first-time candidate, I think you learn things as you go. And you -- and it is not the easiest thing in the world for people who have never been in politics to read 2,000 stories about them every day.

When you become president, I think there’s a consistency and there’s a level of compartmentalism, departments, Cabinet positions. There’s a sense of consistency there that isn’t necessarily driven by choice, but by history and by precedent.

DICKERSON: You’re talking about consolidating the Republican base. You said that is what is going on now.

Isn’t it late to be doing that? Don’t you usually have your base consolidated after the convention, and then you can work on those other voters? Isn’t he behind in terms of...

PRIEBUS: What we’re talking about is a few percentage points. When you need -- after the convention, I think he was at 88, 89 percent support.

You go down 5 or 6 percent on your own -- on your own base of support, obviously, that can be the difference between being down by two or down by six. I think that what you’re seeing over the last week-and-a-half is a -- I think a pretty consistent view within Republican Party that Donald Trump is doing exactly what he needs to be doing. If he keeps doing what he’s doing, we’re going to be right back to even or ahead.

DICKERSON: Other people have advice for you. And they’re saying -- you’re getting memos saying, cut Donald Trump loose, get rid of him. PRIEBUS: Yes.

DICKERSON: What -- what is your response to that?

PRIEBUS: Well, here is the problem with all of this. And people need to kind of just take a deep breath and understand what’s happening.

They need to learn about Federal Election Commission campaign finance. In 1996, there was soft money. The national parties were essentially a pass-through on soft money. What we do, for example, is identify voters in swing states.

Let’s just take Ohio. I need to know everything about a particular voter, how to move them, but then I need to make sure that I point an absentee ballot or an early vote procedure in the hands of the people that I need to vote, whether they’re voting for Rob Portman or Donald Trump. There is a process and a field operation and a data operation to make that happen.

There is no moving the turnout operation or the absentee ballot program away from Donald Trump and in some senator’s favor. It doesn’t work that way.

DICKERSON: It’s all mixed together.

PRIEBUS: It’s all one thing that has to happen in a swing state.

There’s no hundred million dollars in a drawer that might not be spent on one person, but in favor of another. 1996 was a soft money year, where national parties took in soft money in the end, and they can move it everywhere they wanted. That does not exist today.

And some of the people that signed that letter were the same people that took away that power.

DICKERSON: All right, so you’re -- people have said ‘96 is what you should duplicate today. Your point is, you can’t do it today.

PRIEBUS: It’s not 1996.

DICKERSON: All right, Mr. Chairman, thanks so much for being with us.

PRIEBUS: All right, thank you.

DICKERSON: And we will be back in one minute.


DICKERSON: Joining us now is Alabama Republican Senator Jeff Sessions. He is a key supporter of Donald Trump.

Welcome, Senator.

One of the things you have been helping Donald Trump with is his ideas on immigration. He’s going to speak about that this week. He met with some Hispanic leaders and said he’d like to find a humane and efficient way to deal with the 11 million or so undocumented workers in the United States. What does that mean to you, humane and efficient?

SEN. JEFF SESSIONS (R), ALABAMA: Well, I think, first and foremost, he has made clear that we end the illegality, we fix our border and secure it.

That can be done with the president alone, really, if he had a determination to do so. And Congress could help make it even better. And then we will have to think about what is the right thing to do. He listened to a lot of people. I don’t think he made any commitments.

He’s thinking that through. I think that is the right thing. But he is absolutely committed to the first thing that has to be done. And that’s end the lawlessness to protect Americans from danger and to protect American jobs from excessive flows of labor that pull down wages and job opportunities for Americans.

DICKERSON: As he’s articulated it in the primary, ending that lawlessness -- and he’s talking about law and order now on the stump -- ending that lawlessness means removing, soon after he’s president, the 11 million who are here from the country, enforcing the laws that they -- he says they are breaking, removing them from the country, and then putting them at the back of the line.

Is that your understanding, that that is still his position?

SESSIONS: Well, he’s wrestling with how to do that.

People that are here unlawfully, that came into the country against our laws are subject to being removed. That’s just plain fact.

DICKERSON: Yes, there was a little confusion about his position. But you’re -- you’re pretty certain where he is in terms of removing the 11 million from the United States?

SESSIONS: Well, what I’m certain about is that did he not make a firm commitment yesterday or at the meeting the other day about what he will do with that. But he did listen, and he’s talking about it.

DICKERSON: I want to ask you about -- you mentioned security and those who are coming into the country. He’s talked a lot about extreme vetting for people who are coming into America. But a lot of these terrorist attacks, whether it’s in Chattanooga or Orlando or San Bernardino, were committed by people who are U.S. citizens.

So, that wouldn’t be taken care of by the extreme vetting. You were involved with security discussions with the Trump campaign this week. What is the plan for dealing with those U.S. citizens who are participating in these terrorist acts?

SESSIONS: We had big group of national security experts presided over by Rudy Giuliani. And we -- he listened intently to various ideas about this.

But, look, second-generation, most of these were either first- generation refugee or immigrants or their children. So, it does increase the likelihood of an attack if you bring in more people from dangerous areas of the globe.

American people clearly support an idea that if you can’t vet somebody from a dangerous area of the globe, they should not be brought into the United States. You don’t have a constitutional right to demand entry to the country. We should admit those who make America a better place, have a chance to flourish here and do well and love America.

DICKERSON: Well, those who are citizens presumably have that opportunity to flourish, but the vetting program won’t get at them. Donald Trump has suggested in the past some kind of a test for citizens. Was that discussed?

SESSIONS: Well, I don’t know that we discussed that in any detail, no.

But the idea that you ask people about their understanding of what a good government is -- if you have two people, one that wants to -- believes in the democratic republic, like we have, one that has an ideology that wants to impose a narrow view of how the government should be run, a theocracy, then why would you not choose one who is most harmonious with our values?

I think we can ask some of those questions. We have to be careful. We should talk to our lawyers and think it through carefully, but there’s no doubted that we can ask certain questions, as we have for decades, of people before they are admitted to our country.

DICKERSON: But what about people who are already here as U.S. citizens? How would the process work to ask them questions?

SESSIONS: Well, you can’t do that for a citizen.

Once you get citizenship, you are just like anybody else. And you have every right of an American, no matter how you came here. Once you get that citizenship, you have equal rights of every American. But if you are applying to come, you, of course, can be evaluated differently.

DICKERSON: All right, Senator Jeff Sessions, thank you so much for being with us.

SESSIONS: Thank you.

DICKERSON: And we will be right back.


DICKERSON: For some insight into Hillary Clinton’s campaign, we to go her campaign manager, Robby Mook, who is at Clinton headquarters in New York.

Robby, I want to start with a finding in our poll; 51 percent of voters in Ohio think Hillary Clinton is influenced by foreign donors. Why do you think that is?

ROBBY MOOK, CLINTON CAMPAIGN MANAGER: Well, I think there are right-wing attacks out there against her based on the important work that the Clinton Foundation has done that are simply not true.

I think it’s important that voters step back and evaluate what influences there might be on candidates. The Clinton Foundation does incredible charitable work around the world. It provides AIDS and HIV drugs to over 10 million people, lifesaving medical treatments.

What has not gotten as much scrutiny are the financial connections that Donald Trump has. We just learned yesterday in “The New York Times” that his businesses owe millions of dollars to the Bank of China, which is run by the Chinese state, as you know.

That is enormous leverage, should he decide to act on his promises, for example, to have a trade war with China. So, I think we need to evaluate both candidates here. But what is important to know is, Secretary Clinton doesn’t draw a salary from the foundation. It does charitable work.

Donald Trump’s businesses, which affect his bottom line and his net worth, have real ties to countries like Russia and China.

DICKERSON: All right, Robby, well, we will be back after this break.

And we will talk whether this is just a right wing, or whether there is a little bit more of a connection between the Clinton Foundation and the Clinton secretary of state’s period of time.

But, for the moment, we will take a break. Stay with us.


DICKERSON: Some of our CBS stations are leaving us now, but, for most of you, we will be right back with a lot more FACE THE NATION, including a preview of a brand-new book about Donald Trump by “The Washington Post,” and our political panel.

Stay with us.



We continue with Robby Mook, Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager.

Robby, you said this was all the result of right-wing attacks, these questions about the relationship between the Clinton Foundation and the Clinton State Department. But e-mails have come out showing a call from Bill Clinton’s personal office to the State Department about a large donor and the response that the State Department was not, go away, it was, we’ll handle it. So these are not totally unfounded. Democrats I talked to are worried about this connection. It sounds like you’re saying there’s nothing - nothing to see here. For a candidate with trust issues with the electorate, is nothing to see here really the right election response?

ROBBY MOOK, CLINTON CAMPAIGN MANAGER: Well, first of all, the interaction in question that you’re talking about, as you said, was from President Clinton’s personal office. It wasn’t from the foundation. The person in question was somebody who the Clintons had a long standing relationship, even before they had set up the foundation at all. And he was reaching out because he wanted to share some information with our - with one of our ambassadors. Just some background information.

So, again, this is evidence of how -

DICKERSON: So, Robby, just a quick question. He’s a big donor to the foundation. So the fact that he was a big donor did nothing to help ease his access to those e-mail accounts and that request was made not because of any donations he was giving at all? That didn’t help him at all?

MOOK: No, my point is that the request didn’t come from the foundation. The request came through President Clinton’s personal office, and this was someone who had been a friend of the Clintons for a long time, before the foundation was ever set up. So, again, we have Republicans in Congress and right-wing groups doing everything they can to try to make something out of nothing here. The fact is that at every juncture the foundation has gone above and beyond what is usually in place in terms of ethics and rules for a foundation like this.

When President Bush - the second President Bush came into office, you never heard people asking questions about his family’s foundation, which was a very similar situation, and members of his family remained on the board of their foundation while he was president. So what we’re just asking for is for people to take a fair look at this situation. And as I mentioned, nobody’s asking Donald Trump about his deep financial ties to China, to Russia, to other foreign countries.

DICKERSON: Well, let me ask you about - let me ask you a bottom line questions about Hillary Clinton. When people look at the relationship between the Clinton Foundation and the Clinton State Department and anything that’s about to come - that may come out in the future, when they take a look at that, is that the ethical standard that they should expect from her in the presidency as they determine whether they are going to vote for her to be president?

MOOK: Well, what I’m saying is that every step she and the foundation have actually gone above and beyond.


MOOK: What has been done in the past. And the - well, and the foundation is now saying that they’re going to take even further steps should she become president of the United States.

DICKERSON: Let me ask you about the - there’s a report this week in a book by Joe Conason that Hillary Clinton got the idea for the private e-mail account while she was secretary of state from Colin Powell. Is that right?

MOOK: Well, I’m -- you’re going to have to ask them about what conversations they might have had. And Secretary Powell put out a statement on this. What we do know is that he did, in fact, use private e-mail as secretary of state. It’s important to understand that and - and to understand that Secretary Clinton wasn’t the first person to do this and that the rules were - were very murky. But, nonetheless, she has said that this was a mistake. She’s apologized for it. She wouldn’t have done it if she could go back. And I think the American people are ready to move on and talk about issues like creating jobs, affording health compare and affording college.

DICKERSON: There’s, obviously, a dispute about whether the rules were murky and the servers different than a private account.

But as a final question, it’s been 260 days since a press conference, and somebody I was talking to had been in a White House said, if a candidate can’t have press conferences and deal with the cut and thrust of a press conference, that weakens them when they become president because they’re going to need that as a way to communicate with the American people. So why not have a press conference?

MOOK: Well, the real question here is whether Secretary Clinton has been taking questions from reporters, which she absolutely has. We went and counted and she has been in more than 300 interviews with reporters this year alone. I know she’s been on your show and we’re going to continue to do that. And there are a lot of different formats in which she can engage with reporters, whether it’s those one on one interviews, whether it’s talking with her traveling press reporters, or a press conference. And we’re going to look at all of those as we move forward.


MOOK: But I - I don’t think it’s fair to say that someone is shying away from tough questions when they’ve taken over 300 interviews from reporters. We tried to have the interns look at how many questions she took, which is a much bigger number -

DICKERSON: All right.

MOOK: As you would appreciate, and we haven’t even finished tallying that.

DICKERSON: All right, Robby Mook, thanks so much for being with us.

Next up, the authors of an extensive new book on Donald Trump by “The Washington Post.” It’s called “Trump Revealed: An American Journey of Ambition, Ego, Money and Power.” The introduction credits some 38 “Washington Post” staffers for the work involved and the two who wrote it are here with us today, Michael Kranish, he’s an investigative reporter with the paper, and Marc Fisher is the senior editor.

Michael, let me start with you. Is it possible to know the essential Donald Trump?

MICHAEL KRANISH, “TRUMP REVEALED”: Well, I think a biographer helps put into context patterns that you see throughout Donald Trump’s life. So we really try to tell right from his ancestors up to the convention. The story of Donald Trump. How he developed his thought patterns.

What’s very striking is, you see a lot of contradictions in Donald Trump’s personality. For example, he changed party registration seven times. He was a Republican. He was a Democrat. He was a Reform Party candidate (ph). Then he was a Republican.

He also has changed positions quite a bit. So this week he had said that he doesn’t want to pivot - people should see exactly who he is. I think we show pretty clearly that this is a man who has been a practitioner of the pivot, and the question is, is that something done for convenience or is that today the person who he really is?

DICKERSON: So, Marc, if we’re trying to put a finger on the core Trump beliefs, he’s talked about in “Art of the Deal,” he talks about braggadocio being important and kind of setting - creating an image. What are his core beliefs? Is the pivot the part of a core belief or what?

MARC FISHER, “TRUMP REVEALED”: Absolutely. He is a - he’s an improviser. He’s someone who jumps out and tries to provoke and tries to connect with people by speaking plainly. And he truly believes that all publicity is good publicity. He also truly believes that where you are on a particular issue doesn’t especially matter. What matters is connecting with people and getting what you wanted, getting the final step. The bottom line is what’s important to him. And this has been true throughout his business career and his personal life. It’s all about him. It’s am about getting to the goal. And he is quite willing to run roughshod over people to get there.

DICKERSON: Just getting a win. Just calling it a win.

FISHER: Getting a win. He grew up in a house where his father warned him against being a nothing. And his whole life has really been structured around proving to himself and others that he is something, something big and important. And this is only the latest step in really a very consistent pattern throughout his life.

DICKERSON: Michael, talk about that ego a little bit. That ego piece. When I talk to people who have had conversations and dealings with him in the campaign context, they always come back to his view about how he’s being perceived, how he doesn’t want to take advice if it’s seen as if the advice is making him do something. He wants to be the author of his own way. Every politics has ego. Where is he on this scale of politicians you’ve written about in (INAUDIBLE)?

KRANISH: Well, he’s quite high, no doubt about it. He has his name on buildings. During a lot of his business dealings, he did, as Marc said, ran roughshod over a lot of people and he told us that his ambition, when he was doing business deals, because he had a lot of catastrophic failures that we write about, he was looking out for Donald Trump. And if other people suffered as a result, well, he was looking out for the best deal for himself. He told us that if he’s president, he’ll look out for all sorts of people, everybody. But if you look at his career, he was quite blunt in saying that he was looking out for the best deal for himself.

FISHER: He truly believes that the system is rigged. This is not just a campaign line of his. This this something he’s believed throughout his life and so -

DICKERSON: All systems are rigged.

FISHER: Yes. And sometimes rigged against him. But the - he uses that to justify actions that other people would think of as barely ethical. And so from his very first business deals, from his very first big project, he’s working the system. He’s getting tax incentives that no one’s gotten before to build a hotel in midtown Manhattan. He’s giving campaign contributions to all sides to get the politicians on his side to get his projects done. So shading the differences and working the system is at the core of what he does.

DICKERSON: Is there an origin story, Michael? Is there a place you go back to that says, this is really where the essential Donald Trump began?

KRANISH: Well, yes, I think there is. And I think that is when he was working with his father, he was in early 20s, and his father had made him president of the Trump Management Company, which rented many thousands of units in Brooklyn and Queens, and he decided at one point that he wanted to leave his father’s employ and basically go across the bridge to Manhattan. He thought that this - he didn’t like the poverty, the crime, everything he saw over there in Brooklyn and Queens.

But as he was leaving, the U.S. government sued him and his father for racial biased. They said that they were - the company was not renting to blacks. That they had lists and they marked down number nine for a black person and sent them to other apartments. So Donald Trump had to face a very important question, was he going to settle with the U.S. government or was he going to fight them. And he was in a nightclub one night and he ran into Roy Cowen (ph), the famous lawyer for Joe McCarthy (ph) of (INAUDIBLE) McCarthy hearings fame. So he got to talking to Roy Cowen and Roy Cowen said, no, fight like hell. Fight the government. And when they hit you, hit back ten times harder. And so he decided to do that. For two years they fought the federal government. We have these wonderful transcripts of the case where Roy Cowen is arguing on Donald Trump’s behalf back in 1973.

The bottom line is, over two years, they did not convince government to drop the case. Roy Cowen tried to sue the government in a counterclaim for $100 million. That failed. And they eventually did settle the case. In fact, Donald Trump had to put advertisements in the paper saying, we solicit African-Americans renters to come to our properties. But it shows you some of the animus that he’s had with the federal government. He’s still, to this day, is very upset that the government sued him for racial bias.

DICKERSON: Marc, what kind of a winner is Donald Trump? He’s been obviously very successful. He’s promising that his personal success is going to translate into president success. I talked to Reince Priebus about how that’s working out in the campaign. But is he a winner, as he promises to be one, constant set of successes, or is he a person who wins, and then loses and wins and loses and on balance things are going great but it’s a bit of a ride in between?

FISHER: His whole life is a series of very dramatic hills and valleys. And so he’s had great successes. He built casinos in Atlantic City. They did well for a while and then they didn’t. And so he went through a series of corporate bankruptcies. And it’s interesting, the pattern is that when he succeeds, it’s all about Trump, the brand, the name, the image, the aspirational sensibility. But when he fails, it’s, the system is rigged, it’s other people’s fault, other people don’t get paid. He stiffed a number of vendors and contractors. There’s a long list of people who have spoken to us who are in the book who violated their non-disclosure agreements to tell us about how he treated them when things went sour. And so he is someone who does not take well to losing and who - someone who, when he wins, it’s all about him.

DICKERSON: Michael, at the Republican Convention we heard stories from the kids about how he prefers to spend his time, Donald Trump does, with the people working at the site, not the guy in the corner office. Is there evidence of that in terms of his - it’s his pitch to the electorate, I’m - I’m with you, I’m with the regular person.

KRANISH: Yes, well they try to have this image that he is a self- described billionaire who’s a populist and who is blue collar. You know, this is something he was very successful at in the primaries. Really his most successful mark and he was able to connect with people who really aren’t like him. He has tapped into that anger that a lot of working calls people have about wages being stagnant and is then directing their anger towards people who are super wealthy, which he is, or he says he is certainly. He has been able to channel that anger. And so he - it is true, he certainly does like to go to the job sites. One thing he certainly loves to do is build. So there’s no question that he does like to spend time, whether he hangs out all night, that’s doubtful, but there’s no question that he does put on a hard hat and go to the job sites.

DICKERSON: All right, Michael Kranish, Marc Fisher, thanks so much. The book is “Trump Revealed,” a look into his entire life. Thanks to both of you.

And they’ll be talking about their book tomorrow morning on CBS “This Morning.” So be sure to tune into that. And we’ll be right back with our political panel.


DICKERSON: And now to our panel. Amy Walter is national editor of “The Cook Political Report,” Ben Domenech is publisher of “The Federalist,” Jennifer Jacobs is a political reporter for Bloomberg, and Ezra Klein is the founder of

Ben, I want to start with you. Changes in the Trump campaign.


DICKERSON: What do they mean? The third head of the campaign now.

DOMENECH: Yes, third time around. So we’ll see if this one’s the charm. There - this was an interesting week for the Trump campaign because you had some strong speeches I think delivered by Donald Trump. Some of the strongest that he’s given on the - on the trail to this point. And yet that was kind of stomped on within the political chattering class because of the internal moves and a real sense that perhaps the campaign was at a point where it felt the - the need, perhaps out of desperation, to bring some new folks in.

Kellyanne Conway is a professional political commentator and pollster who’s been around for quite some time. She’s been doing work in political campaigns since the ‘90s. But the more eyebrow raising hire was that of Steve Bannon, who’s the head of Breitbart Media, who has been known less for being a conservative or a campaign operative - he’s never worked on a campaign in any capacity - but rather for someone who’s more confrontational, very - very tied to anti-immigrant voices and to anti-trade voices. And so it’s - in terms of what we’re going to see, the impact they’re going to have on this campaign, I think it’s very early - it’s too early to really tell.

DICKERSON: Ezra, the - the candidate, as Ben mentioned -


DICKERSON: Donald Trump gave some speeches. Went down to Louisiana to visit the flood victims. If he in habits this, Reince Priebus thinks he’s going to get Republicans to come back. So might that even things up if Republicans come home who are clearly - there’s some uncertainty about Donald Trump?

KLEIN: Donald Trump is starting in a pretty big hole and one thing about president campaigns, after you’ve been campaigning at this level of media exposure for a year or more, is that people’s opinions of you are pretty set. It doesn’t mean nobody will come back, but it is - it is more than a speech. It is more than a weekend. It is more than a three or four or five day stretch of not making news for say something horrible to change people’s opinion of you.

But something to what Ben said that I think is important, the - the Donald Trump pitch is that he will hire the best people. He will find the best people. He will manage them. He will bring the competencies of an executive from the business class to run an organization effectively. I think one real problem for him in the campaign chaos is he’s not being able to show that pitch. He’s not hiring the best people. He’s getting very inexperienced people. He’s not being able to run a stable organization. He’s not running an effective organization. He’s a media celebrity and he’s running like one, but in terms of the idea that we needed a businessman, he’s showing that he doesn’t actually have those skills.

DICKERSON: Right, it’s -

JENNIFER JACOBS, BLOOMBERG POLITICS: Although, John, he is hiring some new staff. This morning we - we learned that he brought upon Sean Spicer, who is the communications direct for the RNC. That’s a big deal for them. We’re going to be seeing more staff additions this week. We’re going to be seeing some interesting faces. But probably less of an impact in the staff is Trumps own expect that he is losing and he needed to change his approach. I mean it was just a few months ago that Trump was, you know, saying he could kill people and not lose voters, that famous Fifth Avenue comment he made about shooting someone on Fifth Avenue, whereas now you’re seeing him change. The code words that we’re hearing this week were things like, love each other, regret, unity. So he’s changing his tone. This is a guy who has invested $48 million of his hone money in his campaign, so he’s got - he’s motivated.

DICKERSON: And Republicans are saying - or - are saying there are a - there is a group of Republicans who are desperate for a reason to come back to him and - and this is - even though it’s just one or two speeches, is giving them a reason.

Amy, give us a sense of the map. Ezra said Donald Trump is in a hole.


DICKERSON: The polling certainly seems to suggest that. Give us a sense of the nuts and bolts of the challenges he faces now with voting some places starting as - as early as late September.

WALTER: Yes, we are three weeks away in some of threes states for - for the early vote to start. And, you know, we are to the point now, Ezra’s right, we’re at the point where not only are opinions of the candidates baked in, but we’re now talking about the Electoral College map is the thing that we should be spending most of our time looking at, the state by state realities. And we knew coming into this race that there was something that was called the - the blue wall. These states that democrats had held in the last few elections, election after election, win or lose. And the question for Republicans was, could they break through that wall? Could they win a Pennsylvania? Could they win a Wisconsin? And it’s clear from the polling right now, that’s not happening.

It’s also clear that the states that newly turned purple, or have been leading a little more blue than they had in the past, Colorado and Virginia, those look off the map now for - for Donald Trump. So in a place where he’s doing well, Iowa, that’s - that’s wonderful. Jennifer, Iowa’s a beautiful place. We love - we love the state of Iowa.

JACOBS: True swing state.

WALTER: But it only - true swing state. It only has a handful of votes. And what we’re seeing, and I think we’re going to start to see this at the congressional level, too, this bifurcation in this country between states that have a diversifying population, Virginia, Colorado, et cetera, versus states like Iowa, that are overwhelmingly white. And in suburban district what we’re hearing from pollsters on the ground there is, Hillary Clinton is over performing how Obama did in those state - in those districts. But in those more rural (INAUDIBLE) districts, she’s underperforming. And so the real challenge for Donald Trump is not just to get some of those people back that he’s lost since the convention, but how is he going to get back those Republicans who year after year, college educated suburban votes, vote for a Republican.

DOMENECH: Particularly, how are you going to get that back without the necessary organization to really convince them?


DOMENECH: The whole problem with analyzing this election at this stage is that you have to assume a campaign. One that really has not come to fruition or really come to the point of existence yet. The RNC can pick up some of the slack, as Reince Priebus was talking about earlier on the program, but there is a gap there where you don’t - you no longer have a traditional campaign organization to do the kind of - of data driven voter contact that has made such a difference in recent years.

DICKERSON: Jennifer, Donald Trump has said, I don’t need all that stuff. I’ve got these rallies and these people are turning out and these - and these people who have never voted are going to turn out. And Democrats who have voted, you know, are going to vote for me this time. Is there evidence that - that that’s happening? That there is some group of voters out there that are being missed that are - that are going to rush to Donald Trump?

JACOBS: Well, I know that Steve Bannon wants to target voters who want someone rich and powerful and rebellious enough to stand up to the rich and powerful. So I think we’re going to start seeing a little bit of - more of a ground game in the - in the next few weeks. Time is their enemy right now and they’re really starting to move. In order for him to win, we’re going to have to start seeing him make big moves in places in Pennsylvania. But I also know that they’re going to start showing up in some really unpredictable places. I know - I’m told that their top brass has - has this planned out, they have the math figured out, they think they really, truly know how to win, but they’re going to be showing up at some odd places, I’m told. Things - places we would never expect.

DICKERSON: Odd places like, what, like Canada?

JACOBS: I am not sure. Probably not that odd.

WALTER: I think if you look at a place like - like Long Island, all right -


WALTER: Is a - is a fascinating place to look, where you’re going to see Donald Trump do really well in one part of Long Island and do really poorly in another part. But that doesn’t mean he’s going to win New York.


WALTER: It means he’s going to win a congressional district there.

JACOBS: Another thing we’ll see is that they’re going to start really spending on digital advertising. So the - their new report that finally came out last night and their biggest expenditure is $8.4 million for digital. So watch for Trump messaging to start popping up on our devices in some unusual places.

DICKERSON: Ezra, I want to ask you about messaging. There’s some reports about Donald Trump changing his position maybe on immigration. It was interesting to see Senator Sessions, who’s very strong on the immigration question. It seems to be up in the air what Donald Trump’s going to do with the 11 million undocumented workers. At the end of the primary, I didn’t think that - that question was up in the air.

KLEIN: It seems to me to be a strange pivot to make in your messaging, where your argument becomes, if you do not like my position on immigration, well the good news is, you’ve also can’t trust me. That does not seem to me to be the move people need from Trump.

I think to - to the point just made, there is a problem where this campaign cannot get away from the personality and the strengths and the weaknesses of a candidate himself. And they just keep doubling down and doubling down on what they know. Going to digital advertising is a good example of that.

I’m a big fan of digital advertising. It supports my publication.

DICKERSON: Yes, I bet you are.

KLEIN: So I’m all for people moving to digital advertising. But what they keep doing is bringing in folks and moving to structures that are extremely good for the kinds of strength they have in the primary, which is reaching people they already agree with. These are not ways you reach people you don’t agree with. And you don’t reach people you don’t agree with by coming out and saying, my message was actually, completely confused and I was lying about my policies. We can look at it as messaging, but the way people experience this is trustworthiness. And when you come out and say what I’ve been telling you all this time is no longer true because I still want to get elected and it isn’t working, that doesn’t actually help.

DICKERSON: Ben, what do you make of the immigration? Am I missing something or was that - or is it - is it surprising that - that this kind of - there was a confusion here about what’s going to be done.

DOMENECH: It is - it is the policy that’s most closely associated with him. I would argue it was the point where he became a serious candidate, when he actually put forward his immigration plan. I think that this is possibly testing the waters on something, perhaps a move that could be made to try to soften his message a little bit for a general election. But I would agree with the idea that getting away from this would hurt his brand more than it would help. The people who are convinced that Donald Trump is anti-immigrant and holds those views personally are not going to be convinced to come back to him. I think the real problem for him is, turning himself into an acceptable candidate for a general election where he needs to be acceptable to college educated whites, particularly suburban whites. I think that’s one of the reasons why you’ve seen him talking in more soft terms about racial reconciliation and things like that.

KLEIN: That’s right.

DICKERSON: Last 20 seconds to you.

WALTER: And I think that’s much more - that’s much more the point that I don’t think he’s going out and trying to reach out to get Hispanics or African-Americans. What he’s saying is to the suburban educated voter who says, I don’t like where he stands on these issues. He’s saying to them, it’s actually not that bad.

DICKERSON: Right. And that’s showed up in the polling too.

WALTER: Come back. Came back to the Republican side.

DICKERSON: Right. Exactly.

All right, thanks to all of you.

And we’ll be right back.


DICKERSON: That’s it for us today. Thanks for watching.

Start your day tomorrow with “CBS This Morning.” They’ll have more from the authors of “Trump Revealed,” plus more from that Frank Luntz focus group with voters in the state of Pennsylvania that Donald Trump is targeting.

Until next week, for FACE THE NATION, I’m John Dickerson.

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