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THE SITUATION ROOM
FBI Chief Says ISIS a Bigger Threat Than Al Qaeda; Tentative Deal for U.S. Access to Turkish Bases; Interview with James Comey; Interview with Representative Mike McCaul; Prosecutors Confirms Sandra Bland's Death Suicide by Hanging; Trump Visit U.S.-Mexico Border; Aired 5-6p ET
Aired July 23, 2015 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[17:00:08] WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now, America's biggest threat. The head of the FBI says ISIS has surpassed al Qaeda, and now poses the greatest terrorism danger in the United States. I talk exclusively with James Comey about the growing menace in a rare one- on-one interview.
More firepower. The Defense secretary makes a surprise trip to Iraq, and says U.S. troops may soon have to take on a bigger role in the fight against ISIS. How much more U.S. involvement increase and when?
Border wars. Donald Trump travels to the U.S.-Mexico border, bringing more controversy with him. Could the Republican presidential candidate mix up the race as a potential third party candidate.
Policy violation. Texas officials now say guards failed to do timely checks on Sandra Bland whose jailhouse death has reignited the uproar over policing and race. Will new autopsy results shed new light on this very mysterious case?
I'm Wolf Blitzer, you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
Its brutal and ruthless tactics have horrified the world. And its sweep across vast stretches of the Middle East has drawn the U.S. and its allies into a new war. And now the head of the FBI says ISIS poses a bigger terror threat to the United States than al Qaeda whose 9/11 attack changed everything.
You're about to see my exclusive interview with James Comey and his disturbing assessment of the danger we now all face.
We're also following Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, moving his campaign spotlight to the U.S.-Mexico border and igniting new uproar with controversial remarks and a threat, a threat of a third party candidacy.
We're covering all of that, much more this hour with our correspondents and our guests, including the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, Congressman Mike McCaul. He's standing by live.
But we begin with CNN's Brian Todd, he has much more on the ISIS threat. Brian, what is the latest? BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, tonight your interview with the
FBI director is creating major buzz in national security circles. Comey has got a stark and disturbing new assessment of the ISIS threat inside the United States. This is illustrated by this photo of an ISIS sympathizer near the White House. He says ISIS is able to provoke attacks at a speed which the intelligence community is struggling to keep up with.
TODD (voice-over): They're young, vicious and tech savvy. ISIS is not your parents' al Qaeda, the FBI director says, and tonight he says he believes the group presents a bigger threat to the homeland than al Qaeda.
In an exclusive new interview with Wolf, James Comey paints a chilling picture of the growing ISIS threat.
BLITZER: Why is ISIS so powerful?
JAMES COMEY, FBI DIRECTOR: Well, they have adopted a model that takes advantage of social media in a way to crowd-source terrorism. They have invested about the last year in pushing a message of poison primarily through Twitter.
TODD: U.S. officials and independent analysts tell us the FBI director is concerned because ISIS is now using certain parts of Twitter and other social media that are not in the open. ISIS operatives are moving to encrypted communications on those social media platforms, experts say, to recruit terrorists, inspire or even direct attacks.
LILLIAN ABLON, RAND CORPORATION: Below the water, that huge iceberg, you know, up to 80 percent times bigger than what's above the water, that's the deep Web, that's the part of the Web that's not indexed.
TODD: The attack on a Prophet Mohammed drawing contest in Garland, Texas, was believed to have been carried out after encrypted communications between ISIS and the gunman. Comey says those encryptions are dark to the FBI, nearly impossible to track. And unlike al Qaeda which thoroughly vets recruits and brings them to training camps, ISIS simply tells anyone who will listen over social media, kill where you are. And ISIS, Comey and others say, is actively seeking, quote, "troubled souls."
MATTHEW LEVITT, WASHINGTON INSTITUTE FOR THE NEAR EAST POLICY: ISIS targets people al Qaeda would never have dealt with in the past, people with troubled backgrounds, people with substance abuse problems. ISIS doesn't care about that one little bit.
TODD: The result, Comey says, more ISIS followers and potential attackers inside America.
COMEY: The FBI's investigations related to this threat all across the country, and there are hundreds of investigations, we're trying to understand where somebody is on the spectrum between a consumer of this poison on Twitter to an actor who is about to try and murder innocent people and evaluate where are they in that spectrum/
TODD: And Comey says they are looking at hundreds of potential terror suspects on that spectrum. Analysts say the fact that the FBI director came out and publicly said that ISIS is a more present danger to the U.S. than al Qaeda is very significant. They say it means the game has changed radically since the days after 9/11 when al Qaeda was the national obsession. U.S. officials including Comey himself have admitted they are struggling to keep up with the pace of ISIS' reach and of the group's secrecy -- Wolf.
[17:05:10] BLITZER: It's a huge, huge challenge.
TODD: It is.
BLITZER: They're also trying to monitor people loosely sympathetic to ISIS here in the United States.
TODD: Right. And that's a huge challenge in it of itself. They're trying to track those people, Wolf. A U.S. intelligence official recently told us that there are strong concerns in the intelligence community about a surge in the number of those loose ISIS sympathizers in the United States. They are struggling to identify what they call these active consumers of ISIS propaganda. They say there may be several thousands of those, but again weeding the serious potential attackers out from the posers is very difficult, and you've got to look at everybody. It's really a monumental problem.
BLITZER: Yes. It's a huge, huge challenge.
BLITZER: All right, Brian, thank you.
U.S. troops may soon be taking a bigger role in this fight against ISIS. The Defense Secretary Ash Carter today made a surprise visit to Baghdad where he said the scale of U.S. involvement depends on what Iraqi forces are able to do.
Let's go to our Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr. She's getting new information.
I understand, Barbara, you're learning the U.S. and coalition forces may have access to a new base or new bases?
BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: This may be a significant step forward, Wolf. We are being told by Defense officials there is now a handshake agreement between the United States and Turkey that for the first time U.S. and coalition war planes will be able to conduct airstrikes from Turkish bases. That has not happened before. If this military agreement is actually finalized, goes into force, it will give the U.S. a new platform from which to launch airstrikes right into northern Syria, the stronghold of ISIS. A real step forward in the campaign. Defense Secretary Ash Carter today traveling in Iraq looking at the
situation there, talking to officials, visiting with troops, raising the Specter that also in Iraq, as he has expressed concern about the ability of Iraqi forces, if they get better, the U.S. may be called to do more to help them. Have a listen to what he had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ASH CARTER, DEFENSE SECRETARY: It's possible that we'll need to do more and have the opportunity in the sense to do more when they get more proficient. And obviously we're hoping that they do. More motivated, more proficient, more able to carry on the fight themselves. Then we and the rest of the coalition could help them more.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STARR: The big test is coming because Iraqi forces are beginning to be in the very initial stages of trying to take back that city of Ramadi that the U.S. has been so critical. Carter has been so critical that they ran away from just a couple of months ago. Not the full battle yet but in the initials stages.
So how strong is the ISIS manpower on the other side of the equation? The latest U.S. intelligence assessments are that ISIS still can muster 20,000 to 30,000 troops in Syria and Iraq. That is actually down a bit, but still 20,000 to 30,000 troops -- Wolf.
BLITZER: And they are very, very motivated.
All right, Barbara, thanks very much.
Let's get some more now of my rare and exclusive interview with the FBI director James Comey. We spoke at the Aspen Security Forum in Colorado.
Comey, like most federal officials, calls ISIS by its alternate acronym ISIL, and he says the threat is very real and very urgent.
BLITZER: What keeps you up at night?
COMEY: What keeps me up at night is, probably, these days, the ISIL threat in the homeland. And I worry very much about what I can't see. You know, that's what keeps me up.
If you imagine a nationwide haystack, we're trying to find needles in that haystack. And a lot of those needles are invisible to us, either because of the way in which they're communicating or just because they haven't communicated or touched a place where we could see them.
BLITZER: Is that now a bigger threat to the U.S. homeland than al Qaeda?
COMEY: Yes. Yes. The -- the threat that ISIL presents, poses to the United States, is very different in kind, in type, in degree than al Qaeda. ISIL is not your -- your parents' al Qaeda. It's a very different model.
BLITZER: Why is ISIS so powerful?
COMEY: Well, they have adopted a model that takes advantage of social media in a way to crowd-source terrorism. They have invested about the last year in pushing a message of poison, primarily through Twitter, but other parts of social media, that is a siren song with two dimensions.
They are preaching through social media to troubled souls, urging them to join their so-called caliphate in Syria and Iraq, or if you can't join, kill where you are. And Twitter is a valuable enterprise because it works to sell shoes or to sell ideas. It works to sell this message to troubled souls.
[17:10:01] With al Qaeda, if you wanted to consume their propaganda, you had to go find it somewhere on the Web. You'd read their magazine. If you wanted to talk to a terrorist, you might send an e- mail in to their magazine and hope that somebody answers you.
ISIL has changed that model entirely because ISIL is buzzing on your hip, right. That message is being pushed all day long. And if you want to talk to a terrorist, they're right there on Twitter direct messaging for you to communicate with. It's the reason we have these investigations all across the United States. That year of investment is producing a warped view of the world.
And the people that ISIL's trying to reach are people that al Qaeda would never use as an operative.
BLITZER: Why is that?
COMEY: Because they are often unstable, troubled, drug users and -- and ISIL also does something that al Qaeda would never do. They'll vet an operative by tasking them. Right? Give them as assignment, go kill somebody, as a way of checking out whether they are a real person or an informant of some kind.
BLITZER: So when ISIS publicly puts out there on social media, if you can't come over to Iraq and Syria and fight with us, go out there and kill U.S. military personnel or law enforcement officers, you take that seriously.
BLITZER: You told us recently that you and your colleagues thwarted a July 4th attack or attacks, right?
BLITZER: What can you tell us about that?
COMEY: Not much.
COMEY: Yes. There were a number of -- what's interesting about the ISIL model there, too, is the normal terms inspired, directed or enabled blend together with ISIL because they just push it, you know, like a devil on somebody's shoulders saying kill, kill, kill all day long. So to figure out whether someone was directed or inspired or enabled is actually a waste of time in many cases.
There were a number of people who were bent on engaging in attacks in the United States, killing innocent people, timed to the July 4th holiday. And thanks to great work, not just by the FBI, but by our partners in state and local and federal law enforcement, it was disrupted.
BLITZER: And that's why you've concluded now that ISIS represents the major threat to the U.S. homeland as far as terrorism is concerned?
COMEY: Right. And one of the reasons I say that is the sheer volume. Again, I have investigations -- the FBI has investigations related to this threat all across the country. There are hundreds of investigations. We're trying to understand where somebody is on the spectrum between a consumer of this poison, on Twitter, to an actor who's about to try and murder innocent people, and evaluate where are they on that spectrum.
We have hundreds of people we're looking at on that spectrum. The ISIL Tweeters in Syria have 21,000 English language followers. Hundreds of those people, probably thousands, are in the United States.
And the other challenge that we face, again, totally unlike your typical al Qaeda model, is what we call the flash to bang, is both short and unpredictable with ISIL, that is often an operative will have an idea to do something, say, on July 4th and wake up on June 2nd, and say, you know, I'm not waiting. Today's the day, I'm going to go kill people. Which poses an additional challenge for us conducting the investigations.
BLITZER: You think you have a pretty good appreciation of how many Americans have actually gone over there and trained with ISIS?
COMEY: I think we have a reasonable idea. It's not a high confidence read because there's lots of ways to get to Syria. But I think we have a pretty good sense.
BLITZER: How many?
COMEY: I'll give you dozens of people have gone with ISIL -- to ISIL. Again, it's a hard phenomenon to track because they range in age from 18 to 62.
BLITZER: What's the biggest stumbling block you have right now because we were talking about the encrypted communications, the dark side?
COMEY: I'd say one of two stumbling blocks in these cases. The first is the technological one. ISIL's MO is, they'll broadcast on Twitter, get people to follow them, then move them to Twitter direct messaging while they evaluate whether they're a potential live one, either to travel or to kill where they are. Then they'll move them to an encrypted mobile messaging app where they go dark to us.
And so that's what I mean by the needle becoming invisible. We can, with court authority, get access to the Twitter contacts, but we don't have the ability to break strong encryption. And so if they move to the mobile messaging app, we're going to lose them.
BLITZER: What do you need now, legally, in order to get access to that? Because as you know, there's a big controversy. A lot of people who don't want their privacy infringed on, they don't want you to have access to that.
COMEY: We need -- what the FBI needs in all of our investigations, right, we want to listen to that communication or intercept the content flowing back and forth. We've got to get a court order. So we go to a judge or, if it's sitting on a device, we go to a judge for a search warrant. But the problem we're facing is, even with judicial orders, which is at the core of our work, we are unable to find out what people are talking about when we've demonstrated probable cause to believe they are terrorists or they are serious criminals.
BLITZER: Why is that?
COMEY: Because of the nature of the encryption. We don't have the ability to break the strong encryption. The way in which the mobile messaging app, for example, has been designed, stops us by virtue of its design. Right? It is end-to-end encrypted so without the key of one of the two devices at the user end, you have no ability with a court order to intercept and look at that communication.
[17:15:09] BLITZER: So do you want the software manufacturers to allow some sort of key that would give you that kind of access, once you get a court order?
COMEY: The answer is, I don't know exactly. I can picture the end state we need. We need judge's orders to be complied with. Now how to figure that out? Lots of people, smart people, tell me, oh, it's too hard. I don't buy that. I don't think we've tried hard enough yet. If we recognize that we all share the same values, I think smart people can figure out how to do it.
BLITZER: We're going to have more of the interview coming up with the FBI director, that's coming up shortly. But I want to get some reaction to what we just heard. The chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, Congressman Mike McCaul of Texas, he's here with us. He's joining us now live from Capitol Hill. We're going to talk about this ISIS threat.
Congressman, I want you to stand by. We'll take a quick break. We'll get your full analysis right after this.
[17:20:27] BLITZER: Disturbing new assessment of the terror and danger the United States is facing. In a rare and exclusive interview of the FBI director, James Comey told me that ISIS now poses a bigger terror threat to the country than al Qaeda does.
Let's talk about it with the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, Republican Congressman Mike McCaul of Texas.
Mr. Chairman, thanks very much for joining us. Do you agree with the FBI director that ISIS has surpassed as -- surpassed al Qaeda as the biggest terror threat to the homeland?
REP. MIKE MCCAUL (R), HOMELAND SECURITY CHAIRMAN: Yes, I agree with Director Comey. I think ISIS is the greatest threat to the homeland. Now they are the winning game in town. And so in the radical Islamist jihad world, you're seeing more and more of these recruits going over ISIS rather than al Qaeda. But as he talked about, this whole phenomenon over the Internet, you know, Wolf, this is not bin Laden anymore.
These are very young sort of cyber commanders, if you will, out of Raqqa, out of Syria, that's sending these direct messages to primarily a lot of young people in the United States. Thousands of followers that they're trying to activate, as Comey mentioned, to attack, to kill, to attack military installations and police officers. So this is a very different kind of threat and it's very difficult to stop this kind of thing and it's very difficult to track it all.
BLITZER: And they have a lot of money, ISIS. They stole a lot of gold and money from the banks in Mosul and these other towns that they've taken over in Iraq and Syria. And they can develop a lot of these encrypted software capabilities to really go dark.
MCCAUL: I think the dark space is one of the biggest concerns on the part of counter terrorism officials right now because it enables the terrorist to really communicate in darkness. I think Comey did a good job of explaining how they jump into direct messaging box and then from there go into platforms that are designed specifically to be secure. So that there's no way even if we have a lawful court order, to be able to access those communication.
So what's happening is the terrorists are communicating in darkness in the United States with individuals here in the United States, and there's no ability on the part of law enforcement to track these communications. That is what keeps me up at night as well.
BLITZER: Yes. He says that there are these investigations now in all 50 states, not just in New York City or Washington or Los Angeles, but all 50 states there are investigations the FBI is taking right now because of this threat.
Is the biggest concern right now, this lone individual threat from ISIS or some sort of cell, some sort of organized capability to conduct a large-scale attempt? MCCAUL: Well, I think it's both. I think the traditional al Qaeda
strategy was to do a long-term planning, spectacular attack, as you saw of the killing of the leader of the Khorasan group, that's been greatly diminished in terms of threat to the aviation sector. But with these Internet directives, it's basically designed to hit anybody who's vulnerable that they could prey on to attack. So they could involve one person, but it could also involve a particular cell.
We saw, you know, individuals in New York, for instance, before the Fourth of July. That plot was broken up and busted. And so it can take all varieties and all forms, but again it's one case, the flags don't come up where the communications could happen in dark space. We don't know, for instance, if the individual in Chattanooga was communicating in dark space with these people in Syria or not. We certainly know that he was radicalized.
BLITZER: He may have been communicating with al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, too. He was devotee, supposedly, of Anwar al-Awlaki, the American born cleric who was killed in a U.S. airstrike, a drone strike back in 2011.
Quickly before I let you go, Mr. Chairman. You heard Barbara Starr, our Pentagon correspondent, report that potentially a very significant development, Turkey, a major about-face, may finally start allowing U.S. war planes to launch strikes against ISIS in Syria and Iraq from air bases -- or at least one air base inside Turkey. Give us your perspective about this. I assume you've been briefed.
MCCAUL: A very significant development to get Turkey to put some skin in the game. I think, Wolf, what happened, they've been turning a blind eye for a long time, these foreign fighters going in to fight Assad because they don't like Assad. He's a Shia, they're Sunni, but the fact is 20 of their diplomats got taken hostage, and then we saw just yesterday a suicide bomber, ISIS bomber killing 30 people inside of Turkey.
[17:25:05] And I think that's a wake-up call for them that they need to join the fight. I believe that there could be a coalition of these Sunni Arab nations to provide the ground force to fight ISIS. And I've met with Central Command about this very issue to try to get more these nations involved in the fight. Opening up this airbase in Turkey, though, will allow us to conduct more airstrikes very, very close to Raqqa, which is the headquarters of ISIS.
BLITZER: Yes, it would be a huge deal if that NATO airbase in Incirlik, for example, in Turkey, if the U.S. could use that, launch airstrikes with F-15s, F-16s, go from that base into Syria, that would be a major, major development. And it looks like it's about to happen.
Mr. Chairman, thanks very much.
MCCAUL: Thank you, Wolf.
BLITZER: Mike McCaul is the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee. Coming up, new revelations about what happened in that Texas jail
between the time Sandra Bland was arrested during a traffic stop and when she was found dead. The woman who was in the next cell now is telling her story.
And later, Donald Trump visits the border, and argues with reporters, hints, yes, hints at a possible third-party run for president.
[17:30:42] WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: We're now learning new details about Sandra Bland's time in a Texas jail and about the autopsy that prosecutors say she definitely committed suicide in her cell.
Bland's death is attracting nationwide attention, it's sparking outrage especially after a video of her arrest during a traffic stop showed a state trooper pulling a stun gun on her and threatening, and I'm quoting now, "I will light you up."
CNN's Ed Lavandera is joining us now live from Texas with more on what's going on.
What's the latest there?
ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Wolf. Well, as you know there's been a great deal of suspicious -- suspicions surrounding what officials here in Waller County have been saying, this official line that they believe that Sandra Bland had committed suicide. But now we're hearing from another source, a woman that was across the hallway and been held in the jail here in Waller County, during the time that Sandra Bland was here, she tells us -- and she asked us not to identify her, but she tells us that during the time that Sandra Bland was inside the jail here in Waller County, that she was extremely emotional, oftentimes crying that she was worried about not being able to get in touch with family members, and that she was worried about missing her first day on the job.
And even more significantly, she also points out that in the hours leading up to the moment where Sandra Bland was found dead, that she did not hear any kind of commotion, or anything that would suggest foul play going on inside of that jail cell. And we've also heard a phone call that was recorded by a friend of Sandra Bland's when Sandra Bland reached out to this friend asking out -- asking to hear, and asking this friend to call back.
As we know over the last couple of days, she had been trying to get friends and family to call her back so she could post this $500 bond, but that never happened.
And all of this coming, Wolf, just a few hours ago, officials here in Waller County going into much greater -- Waller County, excuse me, going into greater detail about this preliminary autopsy report. And the real headline is here is that they say there is no signs of any kind of struggle on the body of Sandra Bland, and that is one of the reasons why they continue to believe that this case is simply a suicide -- Wolf. BLITZER: Ed Lavandera with the latest there in Texas. Ed, thank you.
Joining us now in THE SITUATION ROOM, the president of the National Urban League, Marc Morial, the former FBI assistant director Tom Fuentes, he's our law enforcement analyst, and the former federal prosecutor, our CNN legal analyst Sunny Hostin.
Sunny, we heard the DA say that the sheriff violated policy. What are the next steps in this very, very significant -- potentially significant case. What are the next steps legally?
SUNNY HOSTIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: I think certainly the DA has made it clear that most suspicious deaths are presented to the grand jury, and that he intended to present this case to the grand jury, and so I think the investigation into her death will continue and it will culminate hopefully. And if it's going according to protocol, it would be presented to the grand jury.
I also think during the press conference, Wolf, that he alluded to potential violations by this sheriff. So perhaps we will see a criminal investigation into what this sheriff did because in my view, after reviewing this dash cam video at least a dozen times, it seems to me that he had no reason to arrest Sandra Bland or to order her out of the car. And so it seems to me that a false arrest investigation would be appropriate here.
BLITZER: We know the jail was failing to check, Sunny, check in on the prisoners every 60 minutes or so, which is the minimum standard. We know she did have a serious history of depression, spoke about earlier -- spoke about suicide. Should she have been put on some sort of watch by prison authorities?
HOSTIN: There is no question, Wolf, that she should have been on a suicide watch, and should have been checked at least every 15 minutes. I have been speaking to law enforcement officials. I've been speaking to officers who have worked in prisons, and they have universally told me that given her history, given her self-admission that she had tried to commit suicide in 2014 by taking pills, there is simply no question that she should have been on suicide watch, should not have been isolated.
[17:35:02] And moreover, I think it's really important to note that in this exact county jail, there was a suicide by an inmate in 2012. And so there are violations all over the place by this particular jail, and I think that has to be investigated as well.
BLITZER: I want Marc Morial to weigh in. Specifically on several issues, but Marc, we -- now know based on the video she got frustrated when she was pulled over, she refused to put out her cigarette when the police said put out your cigarette, she spoke back to the police officer. Obviously that's not excusing what happened by any means, but there's now once again a revived debate over what people should do when they get pulled over. Should they show their frustration? Just do whatever the cops say? Give us your analysis.
MARC MORIAL, PRESIDENT, NATIONAL URBAN LEAGUE: Well, you know, there's one thing about what in the perfect situation how a person should operate. We're dealing with human beings. And this, Wolf, is a tragedy. A lane change on a barren street and you're stopped because, quote, "you didn't what?" Use your turn indicator? And the end result is that this woman dies in this jail.
From the very beginning, and I think this reaffirms why these dashboard cams are so helpful in reconstructing what actually happened. We don't have a situation here where it's a police officer's word against a dead person's word. We can all see what happened. And I think that the police officer exercised very poor judgment, and Miss Bland acted as a person would act, with a sense of frustration as to why she was in fact being stopped, and I think the police officer acted provocatively and unconstitutionally.
He had no right to pull her out of that vehicle, he had no right to get irritated, because, quote, "she may have," quote, "talked back," or she was smoking a cigarette. So this tape needs to be shown. This is a learning experience. But for the family and -- it's a tragedy because this woman is now dead and it's a chain of what I call constitutional violations by the sheriff, and now we are learning that the jail processes and procedures may have also been offensive to the Constitution in the sense of high standards.
BLITZER: Let me get Tom Fuentes.
Tom, before you were the FBI assistant director, you joined the FBI, you were a beat cop. Give us your analysis of, A, what happened first of all when she was pulled over for this traffic violation, but then later what happened in jail.
TOM FUENTES, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, first of all, on the traffic stop I think it's pretty clear that this officer loses his temper. And intended to issue a warning ticket, and when she didn't put the cigarette out, he changed his mind and decided he's going to arrest her.
And I think, you know, a series of events there in that traffic stop were mishandled by the police officer. Yes, she, you know, was belligerent a little bit verbally with him, but it really is no excuse. You take that all the time. That's a daily occurrence for police officers. They have people argue with you, or have a bad attitude. You just take it in stride, do your job, if you're going to give a warning, give it, let it be on her way.
You know, but he loses his temper, there's no offense or doubts about that fact. Now as far as the jail, you know, that investigation is ongoing, and we still need to see that investigation. It sure looks like that the officials at that jail were negligent in not checking on her adequately or not putting her in a situation to be on a suicide watch, to monitor her more closely. And you know, that's certainly still has to be really examined, for sure.
BLITZER: It certainly does.
All right, guys. Stand by. We have more to discuss. Let's take a quick break. Much more on this and all the other day's important news, right after this.
BLITZER: This afternoon Texas prosecutors revealed the results of an autopsy that they say confirmed Sandra Bland's jail cell death was in fact a suicide. They also revealed she had marijuana in her system.
We're back with our experts, the National Urban League president, Marc Morial, among them, joining us Sunny Hostin and Tom Fuentes is with us as well.
And Sunny, let me get your reaction to this then I'll bring Marc back into this conversation. A friend of Sandra Bland's released a voicemail she left for her from her prison cell, from her jail cell. I want you and our viewers out there to listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SANDRA BLAND: I'm still just at a loss for words honestly about this whole process. How did switching lane with no signal turned into all of this, I don't even know. But I'm still here so I guess call me back when you can.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: So explain what's going on. A routine traffic stop, she didn't use her signal to make it -- you know, to move from a lane. All of a sudden she's in jail for three days. She can't post bail. Was that the problem here?
HOSTIN: It seems to be that's what happened here because she was arrested on Friday, July 10th. We know that she went in front of the judge on Saturday, July 11th, and she was given a bong, a $5,000 bond. Now typically that means you have to get together about $500, 10 percent of the bond, and you can do that by going to a bail bondsman. My understanding after hearing her sister said that the family was aware that they needed to come up with the bond and that they were really working expeditiously to get that bond to her.
[17:45:11] We know that on Sunday she was still there for another day. And by Monday morning she allegedly committed suicide. And so I think the reason that she was still there was because of the bond, but I also think, when you listen to her, she's having feelings that any one of us would have, how could this happen? How could it be that I get pulled over for a traffic violation, and I've been in prison for three days on a -- you know, on a $5,000 bond?
And she was actually charged with a felony for assaulting a public safety officer. And so, you know, I think that many people, Wolf, are surprised at the three days that she was there, based on this traffic stop, but it is because she was charged with assault on a public safety officer, which is a felony.
BLITZER: Yes. It certainly is. Is there problem, a built-in problem, Marc Morial, here, something that all of us should start working on?
MORIAL: Yes, it --
BLITZER: To see if we can fix this?
MORIAL: Here's what you have. You have a police officer and an incident, and then you have an over-charging -- she's charged with this felony -- when this essence, the true violation was a minor traffic violation, and then she ends up with a $5,000 bond.
This woman should probably have been released on her own recognizance. The idea of bail is simply to ensure that she will return for the proceedings that are going to take place, in fact, if she is charged. So this sheds a light on multiple issues with the workings of the criminal justice system in this county just west of Houston, Texas.
From the way in which the sheriffs operated to the way in which she was charged, to how she may have been treated and what the procedures or lack thereof were in the jail there. So this sheds a light, Wolf, into this larger conversation as to why we need this issue of reforming the criminal justice system in this nation, has to be at the top of the agenda.
The president and the attorney general and many members of Congress on a bipartisan basis have raised it, but this is about state, this is about county, this is about local law enforcement.
BLITZER: And Tom Fuentes, quickly button it up for us. Your thought.
FUENTES: Well, I think that an officer using bad judgment like that at the time bond is set that the judge probably wasn't aware of, that hasn't seen these videos, and it's a serious charge to assault a police officer. But on the other hand the charge can't be abused and police officers can't abuse their authority or be bullies or use bad judgment. They're just not allowed to. We put this trust in them and we need them to be trustworthy.
BLITZER: Yes. Good conversation, lessons need to be learned out of this tragic incident.
All right, guys. Thanks very, very much.
Coming up, Donald Trump takes his presidential campaign to the U.S.- Mexico border, and talks about his chances with the Latino voters.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I employ hundreds, and actually thousands of Hispanics, and over the years tens of thousands, but I'm leading in the poll by a landslide with the Hispanics.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[17:52:43] BLITZER: We're following new developments in the presidential race. Donald Trump just finished a raucous, sometimes combative stop at the U.S.-Mexico border. Trump came away from his visit saying, and I'm quoting him now, "You have to have a wall."
CNN's Dana Bash saw it all unfold. She's joining us now live from the border area in Laredo.
Tell our viewers, Dana, what happened.
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It was certainly something to behold. I think that the best way to say it is that the political circus came to town here in Laredo. And that is because Donald Trump knew exactly what he was doing as he usually does when it comes to the press and capturing what he wants to on cameras, and that was a big part of the reason why he came.
Now I should say that he started -- wanted to come here to have a tour given by the local Border Patrol agents. But they uninvited him when he was basically in the air coming down here because they said that they didn't want to be seen as endorsing. He said that it was because they were petrified of their bosses on a bigger level.
So it's unclear, Wolf, whether or not he actually had -- got information during this trip or whether it was really mostly, you know, to put the focus back on the issue that really has made him do well in the polls, especially with a certain sector of the Republican electorate, when it comes to immigration. But that whole issue that got him in trouble during his announcements, talking about rapists, talking about criminals, coming across the border, that came up over and over with reporters here. Listen to one example.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: What you said when you said that people across the border are rapists and murderers --
TRUMP: No, no, no. We're talking about illegal immigration and everybody understands it. And you know what? That's a typical -- wait. That's a typical case of the press with misinterpretation. They take --
TRUMP: They take half a sentence -- by the way, they take half a sentence then they take a quarter of a sentence, they put it all together. It's a typical thing. And you're with Telemundo and Telemundo should be ashamed. No, no, you're finished. You've obviously been through it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BASH: There were a lot of other questions that didn't really get answers, Wolf, including what his plan would be for the 11 million undocumented immigrants already in this country.
[17:55:09] He seemed to be unclear whether he still wants to build that big wall across the entire border which he said he would get Mexico to pay for. So, you know, they're certainly -- he was accessible to the reporters but not sure we got a lot of answers -- Wolf.
BLITZER: We've got more on the story in the next hour. All right, Dana, thank you.
Coming up, ISIS now the biggest terror threat facing the United States. In a rare and exclusive interview, the head of the FBI tells me why ISIS has now surpassed al Qaeda.
BLITZER: Happening now. The number one terrorist threat the FBI director tells me he's now more worried about the danger from ISIS than al Qaeda. Stand by for his unprecedented warning and more in my exclusive interview.