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THE SITUATION ROOM
Trump Gets Back on Hitting Clinton; Clinton Tries Again to Explain E-mail Controversy; The Next President and the Nuclear Trigger; Sources: Trump Plans to Endorse Paul Ryan Tonight; Trump: Clinton 'Pretty Close to Unhinged'. Aired 5-6p ET
Aired August 5, 2016 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN: We now go back to THE SITUATION ROOM where we find one Wolf Blitzer. Have a great weekend.
[17:00:11] WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now, breaking news. Amid a GOP revolt, Donald Trump reverses course. Sources say he will endorse House Speaker Paul Ryan for reelection after refusing to do so earlier.
And Trump is now backing off claims of he saw a video of a $400 million U.S. cash payment being unloaded in Iran.
Russian agent? A former CIA chief says Donald Trump is an unwitting agent of Russia's Vladimir Putin and says Trump's personality traits would make him a danger to U.S. national security as president.
Short-circuited. Hillary Clinton may be digging a deeper hole for herself when it comes to her e-mail controversy. She now says she may have mischaracterized or short-circuited the FBI director's comments about her truthfulness. Is she keeping the story alive by fumbling her explanations?
And nuclear codes. The next commander in chief will have authority over America's nuclear arsenal, always shadowed by a military aide with a briefcase containing the launch codes. We'll take you for a closer look inside.
I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
BLITZER: Our breaking news: as fellow Republicans panic and his own poll numbers plunge, Donald Trump is now backing off his earlier refusal to back House Speaker Paul Ryan for the election. Sources say Trump will endorse Ryan tonight.
Trump is also backtracking on his claim that he saw a video of a U.S. cash payment being unloaded from a plane in Iran.
But Trump is still on attack, slamming Hillary Clinton as unbalanced and saying her election could bring the, quote, "destruction of this country from within."
Clinton is again trying to explain the differences between her public statements and what the FBI director has said about her private e-mail system. She now says she may have, quote, "short-circuited" when she claimed that the FBI director, James Comey, said she was truthful to the public about discussing the issue.
And whoever becomes the next commander in chief will control America's nuclear arsenal. A military aide will always be hovering nearby, holding a briefcase with nuclear codes and communications devices. We'll take a closer look at what's called the nuclear football.
I'll speak with Congressman Ted Yoho. He's a Trump supporter. And our correspondents, analysts and guests, they will have full coverage of the day's top stories.
Let's begin with our national correspondent, Jason Carroll. Some very uncharacteristic backtracking by Donald Trump. Jason, what is this all about?
JASON CARROLL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, you may be seeing a different version of Donald Trump. I mean, when have you ever known him to backtrack on anything?
We're hearing now that Donald Trump will, in all likelihood, endorse Paul Ryan when he goes to Wisconsin later this evening.
CARROLL (voice-over): Donald Trump is taking a step toward unifying the Republican Party with his expected endorsement of House Speaker Paul Ryan at a rally in Wisconsin tonight.
Trump caused another interparty rift earlier this week. He said he was not ready to endorse Ryan's reelection bid.
GOP vice-presidential nominee Mike Pence split with his running mate after Trump says he gave the go-ahead.
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINE: He came to me. He called the other day and said do you mind because he says I like Paul Ryan. Paul Ryan is a good guy. He's a good guy.
CARROLL: Ryan said today he has not spoken to Trump since the convention last month, and again suggested his endorsement of Trump is not set in stone.
REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE (via phone): There's never a blank check, and you know that. I see no purpose in doing this tit for tat, petty back and forth with Donald Trump, because it serves no good purpose in my mind.
CARROLL: Ryan and other top Wisconsin Republicans -- Governor Scott Walker and Senator Ron Johnson -- are expected to skip tonight's Trump's event in Green Bay.
Trump also moving today to clean up his false claim that he saw video of a U.S. cash payment made to Iran. TRUMP: You know, it was interesting, because a tape was made, right?
You saw that with the airplane coming in, a nice plane, and the airplane coming in and the money coming off, I guess.
CARROLL: The GOP nominee tweeting this morning, "The plane I saw on television was the hostage plane in Geneva, Switzerland, not the plane carrying $400 million cash going to Iran."
Democratic vice-presidential candidate Tim Kaine looking to capitalize on Trump's mistake.
SEN. TIM KAINE (D-VA), VICE-PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: I have no idea what he's talking about.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That video doesn't exist?
KAINE: It doesn't exist.
CARROLL: Noting Trump also slipped when he missed up the Virginia governor with former New Jersey Governor Tom Kean, a Republican.
KAINE: He was confusing it with the situation from two or three decades ago. Maybe that's what he's doing with this bogus video claim.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You think Donald Trump is confused?
KAINE: I absolutely think he's confused.
CARROLL: The Clinton campaign also blasting Trump on foreign policy today, releasing a new TV ad featuring conservative Trump critics.
[17:05:12] MICHAEL HAYDEN, FORMER CIA DIRECTOR UNDER GEORGE W. BUSH: If he governs consistent with some of the things he's said as a candidate, I would be very frightened.
CARROLL: All this as Clinton picks up the endorsement of former CIA director Mike Morrell, who referred to Trump in a "New York Times" op- ed as unqualified and "a threat to national security," even adding that Trump's praise of Russian President Vladimir Putin had turned him into an "unwitting agent of the Russian Federation."
Pence responding that Trump has the toughness to stand up to Putin.
GOV. MIKE PENCE (R-IN), VICE-PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: People that know Donald Trump know that he knows how to stand up, and he knows how to stand strong. And standing up to Russian aggression is going to be really different under a Trump-Pence administration.
CARROLL: So Wolf, something of note: after listening to Trump yesterday in Portland and hearing him today, speaking in Des Moines, I've noticed a different tone in the way that he's addressing his crowds. There's less shouting, less screaming, less name calling, more focus on the issues. More focused on Hillary Clinton. I mean, at one point he did go off topic at one point, re-litigating
this whole thing about a joke that he made earlier this week about throwing a baby out of a rally in Virginia. But aside from that, this seems to be a real attempt to turn the page in the way Trump is addressing his crowds and the way he moves forward in this campaign -- Wolf.
BLITZER: All right. Thanks very much. Jason Carroll in Green Bay, Wisconsin.
Donald Trump may be backtracking on some things, but he's not necessarily backing off on his attacks against Hillary Clinton. He just held a rally in Iowa. Our senior White House correspondent, Jim Acosta, is there.
Jim, Trump is going all out right now against Hillary Clinton.
JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf. At the top of this event here in Des Moines, Iowa, Donald Trump referred to Hillary Clinton as a, quote, "dangerous liar"; also called her unstable. So this is an example, I think, of Donald Trump trying to get back on message, trying to get back on track after taking on so much water over the last several days.
As Jason Carroll was just mentioning here, Trump has been engaged in sort of a day of corrections here. As a matter of fact, just in the last couple of moments, just over my shoulder, Donald Trump was once again saying he loves babies. He didn't mean it when he was heard throwing out that baby at that rally earlier this week.
As for this expected endorsement of Paul Ryan that we're going to hear later on this evening, I'm told by some Ryan aides that they don't have anything to say about it at this point. They're referring questions to the Trump campaign. So that's an example of, I think, perhaps inside the Ryan campaign, that they will believe it when they see it.
But you're right, Wolf: when it comes to Hillary Clinton, you are hearing Donald Trump get back on message, something that his campaign obviously would like to hear, and that's what we heard earlier in this rally here in Iowa. Here's what he had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: If Hillary Clinton becomes president, you will have -- you will have terrorism; you will have problems; you will have, really, in my opinion, the destruction of this country from within.
She's really pretty close to unhinged. And you've seen it -- you 've seen it a couple of times, but people in the background know it. The people that know her know it, and she's, like, an unbalanced person.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ACOSTA: And Wolf, in another example of some of the extraordinary comments that you just hear from Donald Trump from time to time on the campaign trail, it was something of an amazing statement that he just made a few moments ago, sort of conceding how the public is feeling right now about the state of his campaign, about how his campaign is perhaps in a little bit of trouble right now. Donald Trump just told this crowd just a few moments ago, "If you don't like me, that's OK. Vote for Pence."
A sign that -- that perhaps Donald Trump understands inside the Republican Party there are some misgivings about this candidate, even though there's still plenty of people in this party that like the bottom half of this ticket, Wolf.
BLITZER: Yes, but he spent so much time going after Hillary Clinton. He also said not only she was unstable, she lacks character, she's dangerous, she's a liar. And you hear some people in the crowd scream -- and you've attended a lot of his rallies recently. They start screaming, "Lock her up, lock her up." He restrains himself in responding to that chant, at least lately, right?
ACOSTA: That's right, and Donald Trump, you know, he has really been taking it to Hillary Clinton all this week. And I think one of the things that we've noticed about his rallies all week long, Wolf, is that yes, at just about every rally he goes after Hillary Clinton. He goes after her in ways that you don't normally hear in a presidential campaign. He called her the devil on Monday night in Pennsylvania.
But he has had this tendency -- and we've seen it time again -- to sort of go off the rails and say things that just creates messy headlines for him and his campaign. Throwing the baby out of the rally on Wednesday. Talking about what Megyn Kelly, you know, was doing when she was asking him questions and he made that comment about blood coming out of her wherever. He was re-litigating that in Florida the other day.
So he has this tendency to get off message when he's talking about -- when he wants to talk about Hillary Clinton, when his campaign wants him to talk about Hillary Clinton. We saw less of that today at this rally here in Iowa, although he wanted to go back and correct the record on that baby. He said he loves babies, so he wanted to make that clear to this crowd here in Iowa, Wolf.
BLITZER: Just wrapping up his speech there in Des Moines with his vice-presidential running mate. They're both walking out right now.
All right, Jim Acosta. Thank you very, very much.
Joining us now, Republican Congressman Ted Yoho of Florida. He's a Donald Trump supporter.
Congressman, thanks very much for joining us.
REP. TED YOHO (R), FLORIDA: Wolf, thanks for having me on.
BLITZER: Why do you think it took Donald Trump so long. He will finally endorse the House speaker, the top-ranking Republican, Paul Ryan. Why did it take him so long to do that? YOHO: Well, I think what you're seeing is, you know, Mr. Trump is a
businessman. He's used to negotiating. And I think you're seeing posturing. You know, if you go back when Paul Ryan first came out and said he wasn't sure if he was going to endorse Mr. Trump, I think it's a posturing thing, and I think it's gotten the results that he wanted.
So, you know, I don't -- I don't put a lot into it. As he said, he's going to come out and endorse Mr. Ryan.
BLITZER: When you say he got the results he wanted, he irritated a lot of your Republican colleagues in the House. He irritated a lot of the Republican leadership. What results was he trying to achieve by being coy and say, when he said he's not yet ready to endorse Paul Ryan?
YOHO: Well, I think you pointed out a very good point, you know, that he's irritated a lot of people. But, you know, look at this presidential candidate. Look at this presidential season. This is something we've never seen in our country before. When you have somebody like Donald Trump that wins a primary through the tough season that they went through, against 16 seasoned politicians, and the American people brought him to that stage. I think it's OK. This is a different time.
I think we have to adapt a lot to the difference in politics today. And Donald Trump, he's a fighter, and he's the guy that's used to being in the ring, and it's just a different style. And I think, you know, as people -- you know, we go down this pathway, you're going to say, you know, he knows what he's doing.
BLITZER: Because you know, a lot of people are saying he was responding to some serious pressure from within his campaign, from within the Republican Party leadership.
BLITZER: Mike Pence endorsed Paul Ryan yesterday, the day before. He made no bones about it.
YOHO: Well, you know, and the thing I like about this is Donald went ahead and he changed course, said he's change course. It's just like on that video where he said he saw that. When he realized he made a mistake, one of the signs of a quality, of a good leader, is being willing to say "I made a mistake." And he apologized for it.
So I think this is a good trait, and I think you're going to see a lot more of this in the coming months going up to November 8.
BLITZER: I don't know if he apologized for that. He simply -- he simply corrected what...
BLITZER: ... the impression that he initially left. But he didn't say, "I'm sorry" or anything along those lines.
YOHO: I'll correct myself: you're absolutely right. He did not apologize. He said he made a mistake on that.
BLITZER: There were -- there will be tonight in Green Bay, Wisconsin, a lot of noticeable absences at Donald Trump's rally there. The speaker, Paul Ryan, won't be there; the governor, Scott Walker; Senator Ron Johnson; the Republican Party chairman, Reince Priebus, who's from Wisconsin. Apparently, none of them are going to be there in -- to demonstrate physically their own support for Donald Trump. What do you make of that?
YOHO: You know what? I don't know what their schedules are. I know schedules are fluid, and they're very demanding. And I don't know if they're in other parts of the country politicking and campaigning for Mr. Trump. So you'd have to ask them.
We saw this at the convention. We saw people there that were there in support, and we saw people that didn't show up. Again, this is a different campaign than I've ever seen in my 61 years, but again, the American people have put him there resoundingly without any questions.
BLITZER: But you've got to admit, Congressman, he's the Republican presidential nominee. He was elected. He beat 16 other Republicans, governors, senators decisively, impressively. Right after the convention, he's out there campaigning right now. Do you really believe it would be scheduling problems that would prevent these other Republicans, for example, in Wisconsin, from showing up when he visits their state?
YOHO: Well, you know, he was down in Daytona the other day, in my state, and I didn't make it there. I did make the one in Jacksonville. The crowd was phenomenal there. There was over 15,000 people there.
You know, I know people can't make everything. And again, I'd have -- I refer you to those guys and ask why they weren't there.
BLITZER: How many of your colleagues, as far as you know, are now asking Donald Trump to get involved and help them in their own campaigns?
YOHO: You know, I haven't heard anybody ask at this point.
But what I can tell you is he came to the Republican conference about three and a half, four weeks ago. And there was a lot of, you know, grumbling; you know, people weren't real content with Mr. Trump as their nominee.
But after Donald spoke to them -- he came in, and what I heard is he was very humble; he was very gracious. I was there. He stayed there for over an hour, an hour and a half, answering questions until everybody was done.
He talked about one of the most important things a president can do in this next election, and that is to appoint conservative Supreme Court justices. And he laid out his plan. He laid out what he had done vetting these Supreme Court nominees. And then he talked about national security. He talked about tax
reform. He talked about growing the economy, raising the quality of life in America. And when he left, the people around me, they said, you know, "This is unlike what we had thought he was going to be. We're very impressed with him." And I think you're going to see that unity continue to grow.
BLITZER: Congressman, we have much more to discuss. I also want to get your reaction to very, very blunt, bold comments from the former acting director of the CIA, who now says Donald Trump may be an unwitting agent of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Much more with Congressman Ted Yoho right after this.
[17:20:39] BLITZER: Breaking news: Donald Trump now backtracking. Sources say he'll endorse the House speaker, Paul Ryan, later tonight after refusing earlier to back his reelection bid.
And Trump also stepping up his attacks on Hillary Clinton, saying if she's elected president, she'd bring about, potentially, the destruction of this country, his words, from within.
We're back with the Republican congressman, Ted Yoho, of Florida, Donald Trump supporter; also a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
Congressman, as you know, the former acting CIA director, Mike Morrell, he endorsed Secretary Clinton today in an article he wrote in "The New York Times." And he also wrote this -- and let me -- let me put it up on the screen. I'll quote him. He said, "Donald J. Trump is not only unqualified for the job, but he may well pose a threat to our national security."
Here's the question: How can Donald Trump address these concerns, not only for Mike Morrell but other former high-ranking intelligence national security officials?
YOHO: Well, Wolf, I think the majority of Americans feel our national security is already at risk. And, you know, I went down to the Republican National Convention, and I had the opportunity to speak with 80 different ambassadors. We were talking about energy.
There was a reception afterwards, and I had a group of the NATO ambassadors come up to me. And this was what I found very interesting, because when Donald Trump talked about restructuring NATO and putting more pressure on them, these ambassadors came to me, and they said, "Listen, we haven't been good members. We haven't paid" -- one of the countries said, "We're going to pay our arrears, and we're going to become current." Other countries said, "We put it into the budget to be current when the new president takes care -- or takes charge."
And I think this is a great sign, and I think this comes strictly from Donald Trump. When he went out and said what he said, and then President Obama says, you know, "He's got these people shaking in their boots." I agree; I think that should happen. Because he's got people's attention, because there's an unknown factor.
But I can tell you what. He's a businessman. And people worry about where he is with women and, you know, genders and things like that. I think if we go back and look at the tapes of his kids at the convention, there's no question about the values this guy has and where he stands. And I'm not worried about national security with him. I worry about national security with where we're at; and if Mrs. Clinton gets in there, I know where we're going to go, because we're going to have an extension of what we've seen under Barack Obama for the last eight years.
BLITZER: All right.
YOHO: You know, I sat there with the Benghazi hearings. I sat there with the Iran nuclear deal. I've seen what we've done, the no-fly zones in Libya, those were her concoctions.
BLITZER: This is...
YOHO: And we're suffering from that now as a nation.
BLITZER: But remember, Mike Morrell served 30-plus years in the intelligence community, a career professional; worked his way up to be the acting director; served under three Democratic presidents, three Republican presidents.
He also says this, and it's very significant when you read that article. He said that the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, has played on Trump's vulnerabilities, making Trump -- this is Mike Morell saying -- an unwitting agent of the Russian Federation, that he's playing Trump right now. I want to get your reaction to that, because that's a blistering indictment of the Republican nominee.
YOHO: It is. It's real blistering, if you believe in conspiracy theories. But there's generals that are there supporting Donald Trump, General Flynn. And we can go down the list and compare one to the other.
And I think if Vladimir Putin is saying this, maybe he's a little intimidated by Donald Trump. And I think that's a good thing.
So I feel a lot more confident in the people in my district. In fact, we ran a poll last night, which covers Republicans, Democrats and independents. Seventy-two percent of the people voted for Donald Trump in that poll.
BLITZER: What evidence is there that Putin might be intimidated by Mr. Trump?
YOHO: Well, I think he knows he's a businessman; he knows he's a negotiator. It's just like those ambassadors coming up to me, saying, "Hey, we're going to get our dues current for the new teacher or the new principal coming into town," and that would be Mr. Trump. And I think, under this administration, if we look back, we have
created a void on the world stage as far as national security. That void has been filled by Vladimir Putin, with what he's done with Crimea, with what he's doing going into Syria.
And, you know, just the other day, when Assad launched those barrel bombs, the chlorine barrel bombs, Vladimir Putin said, "Oh, that's the American press. They're spreading, you know, paranoia and fear." And I think he's afraid of Donald Trump.
[17:25:09] And that -- Vladimir Putin has been emboldened by this administration and the lack of resolve of our -- of our country. And Donald Trump will fill that void.
And if America is not leading, the world's not a safer place. And I think we can just look around the world, whether it's the Middle East, North Africa, you know, and South America, China. Look at what's going on in the China Sea because that void is there. And this void will be filled by the next president, who will be Donald Trump.
BLITZER: Congressman Ted Yoho of Florida, thanks very much for joining us.
YOHO: Wolf, I appreciate it, and good job. Thanks.
BLITZER: Thank you.
Coming up, a surprising new poll shows Hillary Clinton leading Donald Trump in a reliably Republican state in the Deep South.
We're also taking a much closer look at what it actually means to hand over the nuclear codes to the commander in chief.
[17:30:27] WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: We're following breaking news, Donald Trump launching a new round of attacks on Hillary Clinton as he tries to unify the Republican Party and puts some of this week's major controversies behind him.
Joining us here in THE SITUATION ROOM, our senior political reporter Manu Raju, our CNN political director David Chalian, and "Daily Beast" politics reporter Betsy Woodruff.
Guys, thanks very much for joining us. Listen to Donald Trump's speech. I know you know this as well, David. He said she could lead to the destruction of this country from within. She's unstable. She lacks character. She's a dangerous. She's a liar. She's pretty close to unhinged. She is an unbalanced person. She would be a disaster as president. And he said that very quickly. I mean, he was really going after her.
DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Yes. I mean, he's now trying to take the frame that Hillary Clinton is building around him, and his temperament, and flip it on its head. That clearly -- never mind whether it's getting under his skin or not, just from a political strategic point of view, he wants to call into question her fitness for the office as well. He does not want this to be a one-sided conversation.
BLITZER: And he made that clear. Go ahead, Manu.
MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: It was a clear effort to change the conversation and focus on Hillary Clinton, which is what the Republicans have been begging him to do for the last two weeks. Instead he's been in engaging in these interparty squabbles and he's distracted from that message. So finally perhaps moving in the direction that most Republicans want.
BLITZER: So what does that say about Donald Trump, that he's finally moving in the direction that the Republican leadership here in Washington and within the campaign, that they want him do this?
BETSY WOODRUFF, POLITICS REPORTER, THE DAILY BEAST: Well, it sounds like the last disastrous week might have finally persuaded him that he needs to go after folks other than the parents of a man who died in war in the war on terror and also Paul Ryan. It seems like he's actually figured out that he's running against Hillary Clinton, not against a whole bunch of random folks. And he's making a little bit of a change, although, you know, we'll see if it's too little too late.
BLITZER: Yes. Speaking of Paul Ryan tonight in Green Bay, Wisconsin, we now expect, based on our sources that he will go ahead and do what he refused to do earlier in the week, formally, publicly endorse Paul Ryan who faces a primary election next Tuesday.
CHALIAN: Yes. Our sources say that the current plan. Let's see when Donald Trump gets on the stage to make sure that that actually happens. But clearly you saw Mike Pence get out there and endorse him. And in fact then you had Donald Trump tell the story about how Mike Pence sought his permission and he gave his blessing for Mike Pence to go out there and endorse his friend Paul Ryan.
So he clearly received an onslaught from so many inside the party that trying to sort of embarrass Paul Ryan a week before his primary is not the route to go if you want to unify the party and specifically we know that Reince Priebus who's very close to Paul Ryan, chairman of the RNC, was really personally upset about this and he and Trump have really been trying to forge a working relationship throughout this process.
And I think Donald Trump understands that there is no path for him within this election without a unified Republican Party. And we saw it at the convention in Cleveland what unifies and animates the Republican Party the most is taking the fight to Hillary Clinton every day. So to stop this intra party fighting is a critical mission for him to have a unified party going into the fall.
BLITZER: So if in fact he does endorse Paul Ryan later tonight, remember earlier in the week he was tweeting nice things about Paul Ryan's challenger in this Republican primary. If he does, does that mean he effectively was succumbing to this kind of pressure from other Republicans?
RAJU: I think so. I mean, not just nationally but also within this day, a lot of these politicians, leading politicians were saying, why are you doing this? The political class in Wisconsin is behind Paul Ryan. And the fact is that Donald Trump is not particularly popular in Wisconsin. He lost overwhelmingly to Ted Cruz. Donald Trump does well in western Wisconsin, in northern Wisconsin, the rural parts of the state. He does not do well in some of the population centers in southern Wisconsin, outside of Milwaukee, outside of Madison.
He'll need to do well if he wants to actually win there in November. And who could help him? Paul Ryan. Scott Walker, the folks that, you know, he has alienated by some of the positions and the comments he's made.
BLITZER: And Senator Ron Johnson. And none of them, by the way, Betsy, as you know, are going to be there tonight.
WOODRUFF: Right. Exactly. And the funny things is, Charlie Sykes, the most influential conservative talk radio host in Wisconsin told me that last Wednesday before Trump came out and like started flirting with Paul Nehlen, Mike Pence actually met with him in person and talked about, how do we shore up support for Trump in southeast Wisconsin, which is kind of the bastion of the never Trump movement. So I had a great conversation, he said, and Pence is really trying to build a bridge there, and then Trump came along and blowtorched it. So of course it's nice that he's potentially endorsing Paul Ryan tonight, but I mean, way, way later than it should happens.
BLITZER: Stick around, there's much more.
[17:35:01] We've got more breaking news coming into THE SITUATION ROOM. We've got to take a quick break, we'll be right back.
BLITZER: Hillary Clinton today tried once again to explain the differences between her public statements and what the director of the FBI has said about her private e-mail server. Clinton says an earlier attempt to answer questions may have, in her words, short circuited.
Let's bring in our national correspondent Suzanne Malveaux.
Suzanne, take us through Hillary Clinton's latest explanation.
[17:40:01] SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well certainly, Wolf. It was interesting because this was before about 1400 journalists, Hispanic and African-American journalists. And she started off her remarks saying that as president she was going to put forward comprehensive immigration reform, that she had started this all-Spanish Twitter account, and that she was going to deal with black and Latino unemployment. But as soon as those questions came they were fast and furious and it was all about her authenticity and the e- mail scandal as well. And here is how she explained it. A rather tortured explanation.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: Director Comey had said that my answers in my FBI interview were truthful. That's really the bottom line here. And I have said during the interview and in many other occasions over the past months, that what I told the FBI, which he said was truthful, is consistent with what I have said publicly. So I may have short circuited and for that I, you know, will try to clarify.
Because I think, you know, Chris Wallace and I will probably talking past each other because, of course, he could only talk to what I had told the FBI and I appreciated that. Now I have acknowledged repeatedly that using two e-mail accounts was a mistake. And I take responsibility for that. But I do think, you know, having him say that my answers to the FBI were truthful and then I should quickly add what I said was consistent with what I had said publicly. And that's really, sort of, in my view, trying to tie both ends together.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MALVEAUX: So, Wolf, quite a bit to unpack there. But she was trying do so. We didn't really hear anything new regarding the explanation, really kind of doubling down on what she said before. But again saying it was a short circuited kind of explanation there. So I think there are still so many questions to be answered there. She tried in her strategy to really move beyond the e-mail controversy and make the case that she's trustworthy in other ways. That she is actually done things that are good for the American people and for the voters and in that sense she's been entrusted with those duties, those jobs, and she's come through in the end. And that's really what she tried to emphasize here today -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Suzanne Malveaux, reporting for us. Suzanne, thanks very much.
I want to bring back our political experts. So, David, this e-mail controversy still follows her, but does it really matter to voters based on all the evidence we're getting?
CHALIAN: Well, I think it clearly does matter to voters and they have shown that over the course of the last year. I don't know that it matters more going forward. My sense is that this e-mail story is now fully baked in. She -- her unfavorables are higher than her favorables, her honest and trustworthy members do not seem to be improving even after a very positive convention for her and she got a bounce but not in honest and trustworthy.
So to me that means she is where she is going to be on this. There's not more damage to be done except as a distraction. So today this is the Hillary Clinton story that gets talked about because she is still talking and parsing language and going in detail about this instead of just sticking to the one line of, this was wrong and I wouldn't do it again. As soon as she starts getting into the Comey stuff I feel like she's lost the argument because she is not -- she's not sticking to the top line of, I wouldn't do this again if I had the chance. BLITZER: The polls, the national polls in states and battleground
states, and there's a poll out right now, in Georgia, she has a four- point lead over Donald Trump in Georgia. You can see it right there. So she may still have the e-mail controversy, but in the polls she is doing really well right now.
RAJU: Yes, because it has been in comparison in Trump's unfavorabilities are just as bad as hers. And, you know, this is the thing that the Clinton is hardened by, that they could presumably competitive in some of these red states. Presumably Arizona, maybe outside chance of Utah. There's some polls, says she's close there.
But I do agree with David. I mean, her explanation was so tortured today about this e-mail controversy, there is no person -- objective person watching that, hearing, I was at that Comey hearing and he was -- gave a blistering critique of her practices and the e-mail server and said that she, you know, potentially could have endangered national security. Possible actors had gained access to classified information. So it hurt her for saying that, you know, she was vindicated in some way by Comey will just hurt her and undermine her credibility and undermine her truthfulness, which is why there's still a chance for Donald Trump at the end of the day.
BLITZER: Yes, he said she was negligent. That was a specific word he used on that.
There's a new jobs report came out today showing 255,000 new jobs, Betsy, were created last month. 4.9 percent unemployment. Pretty good numbers there. Politically how will that impact this contest?
WOODRUFF: It helps Clinton but she needs as much help as she can get on this front if you just look at the real clear average of what Americans think as far as the direction the country is going, upwards of 70 percent think the country is on the wrong track.
[17:45:04] Of course this jobs report helps kind of undercut some of the main numbers, early numbers this year that were really ugly. But at the end of the day what Clinton is in fact running to carry on and build on the Obama legacy and unless these numbers consistently stay well and get even better, it's going to be tough for her to make a case based solely on the perks of the status quo.
CHALIAN: But this doesn't just seem to be a one-off. They revised some of the previous months up and with Obama at this historic high approval ratings right now, it seems like everything in that direction would be going Hillary Clinton's way.
WOODRUFF: I think the funny thing is that even though Obama's approval ratings are so high, most Americans don't think the country is moving the right way, just like a weird incongruity. I mean, that's the way that is.
RAJU: Yes, 46 percent in that most recent CNN poll don't think the country is moving in the right direction. A real inconsistency.
BLITZER: Yes, right direction, wrong direction. The question always very, very key.
Guys, stand by. We have other news we're following. Donald Trump's critics say he can't handle nuclear codes. Up next, we'll take a closer look at what's in the case known as the nuclear football. Also the newly released and deeply disturbing police body camera videos of a deadly shooting that is sparking outrage in Chicago.
[17:50:50] BLITZER: Donald Trump has expressed concern about the security of the U.S. nuclear weapon but he's also voiced a willingness to use them. Critics, including Hillary Clinton, say Trump can't be trusted with nuclear weapons meaning the command codes and communications devices that are always carried by a military aide accompanying the president.
And Brian Todd has been looking into this. Bryan, what are you looking -- what are you seeing when it comes to that so-called briefcase?
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, you got some fascinating new information tonight on how this nuclear briefcase works. We spoke to a former Marine who for three years carried what they called the president's emergency satchel. It enables the commander-in-chief to set a nuclear strike in motion from a motorcade, an aircraft, even from inside an elevator.
TODD (voice-over): Just a few feet from the president, no matter where the commander-in-chief happens to be, a military aide carries a briefcase. It's nicknamed "the football," and the power this satchel can unleash is legendary.
KINGSTON REIF, ARMY CONTROL ASSOCIATION: Immense, unprecedented power. The United States currently right now deploys approximately 900 nuclear warheads that are on the order of 10 to 20 times more powerful than the weapons that destroyed Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
TODD: Five military aides, one from each branch of the armed forces, work in a rotation carrying the football. For three years, as a young Marine major, Pete Metzger carried the nuclear football for President Reagan. The responsibility can be nerve-wracking.
PETE METZGER, CARRIED NUCLEAR FOOTBALL FOR PRES. REAGAN: I wouldn't say I was on edge but I was very, very, very focused on what I was going to do. The time is so short between alert and execution, you have to be ready any time for any moment. And that's why one of us was always in very close proximity to the president.
TODD: Metzger says there's a separate football for the vice president if the commander in chief becomes incapacitated.
(On camera): How does it compare to this? Bigger, heavier?
METZGER: It's somewhat longer, a little bit wider, in somewhat heavy. TODD (voice-over): Inside the case he says there's communication
equipment. Metzger won't discuss the other contents but Bill Gully, a former director of the White House Military Office, described in his book four crucial components inside. A so-called black book listing strike options for retaliation if the U.S. is attacked with nuclear weapons. A book listing bunker locations where the president can be taken in an emergency. A manila folder listing procedures for the emergency broadcast system and a small card with authentication codes to verify it's the president ordering a nuclear launch.
REIF: That is known as the biscuit. It's another interesting name.
TODD: Hillary Clinton says Donald Trump doesn't have the right temperament to be trusted with the nuclear launch codes.
CLINTON: Anyone who can be provoked by a tweet should not be anywhere near nuclear weapons.
TODD: Trump has vehemently refuted that. Metzger says to carry the football, he had to undergo rigorous background checks by the military, Secret Service and FBI. It included extensive psychiatric screening.
METZGER: The result of a decision the president would make is so grotesquely horrible, so grotesquely horrible, it would change the face of the earth, it would change humanity, it would change mankind. And I guess when you're on duty, you try not to think about the import of that, but you're fully prepared to do so if you have to.
TODD: If the president decides to use the football and launch a nuclear strike, is there anyone in the chain of command who can stop that order? The White House won't comment on that but Pete Metzger and other experts tell us unless there's a full on mutiny, no one can stop that order -- Wolf.
Brian, the security surrounding this briefcase, it's truly incredible. But there have been missteps with it, haven't there?
TODD: Sure have, Wolf. Former Joint Chiefs chairman Hugh Shelton wrote in a book that around the year 2000, an aide to President Bill Clinton lost that so-called biscuit. That card with the nuclear codes. Shelton wrote that the aide had no idea where the card was for a period of months and the Pentagon didn't find out about that for months. Shelton said it probably happened without President Clinton's knowledge.
BLITZER: Brian Todd, thanks very much. Fascinating report.
Coming up, Donald Trump reverses course. Sources say he will now endorse the House Speaker Paul Ryan for re-election. But Trump is staying the course with his attacks on Hillary Clinton saying she bring the destruction of the U.S. from within. [17:50:06] And Chicago authorities have released video in that fatal
police shooting of an unarmed black teenager but why are investigators missing a key element in this case?
BLITZER: Happening now, breaking news. Reversal on Ryan. CNN has learned Donald Trump will flip on supporting House Speaker Paul Ryan in his re-election bid. Trump is expected to offer his endorsement tonight just days after snubbing Ryan and igniting a GOP firestorm. After a disastrous week, is Trump trying to get back on tract?
Russian doll? A former CIA chief warns Vladimir Putin is using his intelligence training to exploit Donald Trump's weaknesses and make him an unwitting agent of Russia. Is Trump being played by Putin?