Questioning Clinton’s health transparency and Trump’s charitable giving

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GWEN IFILL: For more on how health issues are dogging Hillary Clinton and raising questions of transparency for both candidates, it’s time for Politics Monday with Tamara Keith of NPR and Susan Page, Washington bureau chief for USA Today.

Tam, we just heard Dr. Markel say the warranty begins to run out after 50, and he doesn’t understand why people just don’t tell us what their issues are.

How did health become central to this campaign?

TAMARA KEITH, NPR: Well, Hillary Clinton did have a coughing fit about a week ago on the campaign trail that interrupted a press conference and also later — earlier interrupted a rally where she was speaking.

That was — there was already a lot circulating about her health that was completely unsubstantiated, a lot of rumors, conspiracy theories, and Donald Trump talking about her stamina. So this was floating in the ether, when, yesterday, at the 9/11 commemoration, she faltered as she was leaving. Her knees buckled and she had trouble getting into her van.

She took off in that van. And the press wasn’t allowed to follow. And about 90 minutes later, the campaign said, well, she’s at Chelsea Clinton’s house. She’s feeling better, and she was overheated.

GWEN IFILL: Then hours later said…

TAMARA KEITH: Then hours later…

GWEN IFILL: Well, it seemed like a long time if you were covering it, I’m sure. For those of who weren’t paying as close attention…

(CROSSTALK)

TAMARA KEITH: Well, it was about 5:00 p.m.

GWEN IFILL: It was the end of the day.

TAMARA KEITH: It was the end of the day…

GWEN IFILL: Right.

TAMARA KEITH: … when the doctor, her doctor, released a statement saying she was overheated, dehydrated, and, oh, by the way, on Friday, three days earlier, was diagnosed with pneumonia, and they hadn’t told anyone about that before.

GWEN IFILL: Well, that’s the point, Susan. Was this really about — is our concern really about her health or is it about the fact of the failure to disclose in a timely fashion?

SUSAN PAGE, USA Today: I think both things are issues.

I think she will now need to come out and show that she’s healthy and vigorous and has stamina. She has — the fact that she was diagnosed with pneumonia, and we didn’t know about it, and had this incident caught on a video has legitimized some of the critiques that Trump and Rudy Giuliani in particular have been making that she’s — that there’s some question about her health.

(CROSSTALK)

GWEN IFILL: Donald Trump, who has not released his…

SUSAN PAGE: His own health records. That’s right.

GWEN IFILL: OK, just to make that point.

SUSAN PAGE: Yes, absolutely.

But I think her failure to disclose it is also an issue. And it goes to a different vulnerability she has, which is, is she straightforward with the Americans whose votes she wants to get?

GWEN IFILL: And they say there is a higher standard for the woman candidate. That’s what the Clinton people say.

TAMARA KEITH: Yes. They do. They do say that.

And they say that they are going to meet that higher standard. They both — say that they have already released more. They have released more health records, they have released more tax records than Donald Trump. They say they will release yet more health records to prove that this pneumonia isn’t part of something larger.

But there was a tweet today from David Axelrod, the adviser to President Obama back when he was running for president, that really sums up what Susan is talking about. He says: “Antibiotics can take care of pneumonia. What’s the cure for an unhealthy penchant for privacy that repeatedly creates unnecessary problems?”

GWEN IFILL: OK. That’s privacy.

Let’s talk about something that she did in full view of everyone on Friday night. She gave a speech at a fund-raiser given for her by a gay and lesbian group. And she said this:

HILLARY CLINTON (D), Presidential Nominee: To just be grossly generalistic, you could put half of Trump’s supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables, right, the racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamophobic, you name it.

GWEN IFILL: Now, here’s the other thing that she also said.

She said: “But the other basket — and I know this because I see friends from all over America here — I see friends from Florida, from Georgia, and South Carolina, and Texas, as well you know, New York and California” — she is basically going on to say that this — “I’m sorry. I didn’t finish reading it.

I will finish reading it: “But that other basket of people are people who feel that the government has let them down, nobody cares about them, nobody worries about what happens to their lives and their futures and they are just desperate for change.”

A lot of attention, Susan, given to what she said about the Trump — the half of Trump supporters who are deplorables, but not a lot given to the — what she said about the other half.

SUSAN PAGE: First of all, if a candidate is starting a sentence with let’s be grossly generalistic…

GWEN IFILL: She should stop.

SUSAN PAGE: … you do not want to finish that sentence. That is never a good idea.

And it is true she was trying to make a more complicated point, as Barack Obama at a similar moment eight years ago, when he talked about some voters clinging to guns and religion. He was trying to make a larger point about the frustration and angst that voters feel.

But what came across, I think, was kind of an elitist statement at a fancy fund-raiser talking about millions of Americans who are support her opponent. And, by the way, if she wins the White House, as she hopes to do, these are Americans she will be seeking to represent.

GWEN IFILL: So, here is the thing I’m curious about. Is what she said true, or is the way she said it the problem?

She said that half of Donald Trump’s supporters — and half of them do believe that Muslims should be banned. Half of them do believe that blacks are lazy. Half of them do say they believe many of the more offensive things that he has said from the stump. Is what she said wrong?

TAMARA KEITH: Well, what she said about what she said, she released a statement that was described as sort of walking it back. She said, I shouldn’t have said half and I shouldn’t have been so grossly generalistic.

But the challenge, the real challenge, is when you start a conversation with people by labeling them. And instead she could easily talk about the behavior. She could talk about Donald Trump retweeting white nationalist memes or things like that. She can do the thing that she’s done many times before, without targeting the voters and without creating a sound bite that immediately shows up in a Donald Trump ad.

GWEN IFILL: And instead she’s given him the ammunition to accuse her of intolerance.

SUSAN PAGE: And that’s been one of the strongest issues she’s had against him, including with some voters who traditionally vote Republican and are uneasy about him.

I think there are a few supporters of Donald Trump who are deplorable. David Duke is deplorable. Other Trump supporters may have views you think are deplorable, but they are not deplorable. They’re Americans who are looking at this election and trying to make the right decision for them and their families. And candidates need to acknowledge that.

GWEN IFILL: It’s the other basket I guess she was talking about.

Let’s talk about this wonderful piece of — wonderful in that it was a great piece of reporting in The Washington Post. David Fahrenthold from The Washington Post went through everything that — went through the Trump charities, essentially, and found out that — a couple of interesting things just by going through public records, among them, that Donald Trump raises money — raises other people’s money and then doles it out under the name of the Trump charities.

Kind of remarkable.

TAMARA KEITH: Yes, and that Donald Trump gets credit for it, but that he hasn’t put his own money in for several years.

This reporting is really solid. This is the kind of reporting that we all should aspire to, where you go through the records, you’re methodical. He’s been calling hundreds of these charities, trying to find out which donations were given and from what pots of money. Very impressive reporting.

GWEN IFILL: And, in one case, actually solicited — broke the law by using some of that money to buy a 6-foot-tall painting of himself at auction, or Melania did, I suspect.

The question is, how does something that, which maybe on a day like today, how does that compare to the Clinton Foundation questions that have been raised?

SUSAN PAGE: You know what’s remarkable is that these are devastating — this is a devastating story that’s solidly backed by public records. It’s not some leak from some anonymous source.

But it seems to have very much lost impact than the Clinton Foundation stories have toward Hillary Clinton. And I’m not 100 percent sure why.

GWEN IFILL: Susan Page of USA Today, Tamara Keith of NPR, thank you both.

TAMARA KEITH: You’re welcome.

SUSAN PAGE: Thank you.

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