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THE SITUATION ROOM
Trump: Undocumented Immigrants 'Have to Go'; Trump Wants to Send U.S. Ground Troops to Fight ISIS; Concerns in White House About a Biden Run; Hundreds of Clinton Emails Flagged for Review. Aired 5:00- 6:00p ET
Aired August 17, 2015 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[17:00:13] WOLF BLITZER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Happening now: Trump on top. The real-estate tycoon towers over his GOP rivals in the latest poll, as he talks about sending undocumented immigrants out of the United States and sending American troops into Iraq.
Clinton e-mails flagged. Intelligence officials want hundreds of messages from Hillary Clinton's private server scrutinized as fans of Vice President Joe Biden are urging him to jump into the Democratic race.
The West on fire. Blazes burning from one end of California to the other while a quarter-million acres are scorched in one Idaho fire alone.
And warning of war. North Korea warns of the nuclear attack as U.S. troops carried out military exercises with allies in the South.
I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
Donald Trump today answered a call for jury duty in New York City, a day after he essentially called for doing at least part of the 14th Amendment to the Constitution by saying all undocumented immigrants must go home, along with their children who are born in the United States. Trump also says that if he becomes commander in chief, he would send U.S. troops back into Iraq. The latest national poll puts Trump far out in front, as establishment candidates fall far back into the pack.
And new disarray for Democrats, as intelligence officials are now calling for further scrutiny of hundreds of e-mails sent from Hillary Clinton's private server, and supporters of Vice President Joe Biden now encouraging him to run for the top spot. I'll speak with one of Donald Trump's rivals, Republican presidential candidate Senator Lindsey Graham. And our correspondents, analysts and guests, they are standing by with full coverage of today's top stories.
Let's begin with our senior Washington correspondent, Jeff Zeleny. Jeff, Donald Trump today, he got specific over the weekend on an immigration platform. Tell our viewers what he laid out.
JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, it's the first policy proposal we've seen from Donald Trump, and not surprisingly, it was on immigration, one of the key issues that created his first controversy after he jumped into the race.
Now, he went further than many of his Republican rivals, say all illegal immigrants should be deported, including young people who came into this country as children.
Now he called for the ending of the birthright citizenship. This is a provision in the 14th Amendment, which originally allowed freed African-American slaves to become citizens after the Civil War. He also said Mexico would pay for a wall at the border by increasing fees on visas issued to Mexican CEOs, increasing feeds on border crossing guards, and increasing fees on NAFTA working visas and other things.
He also called for tripling the number of immigration officers and for eliminating federal grants to so-called sanctuary cities that don't cooperate with federal law enforcement, Wolf.
BLITZER: As you know, Jeff, something that's gained a lot of attention since he released this program, Trump's approach to what's called birthright citizenship. Let me play a clip from what he said on NBC.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We have to make a whole new set of standards, and when people come in, they have to...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're going to split up families?
TRUMP: Chuck -- Chuck, no, no. We're going to keep the families together. We have to keep the families together.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But you're going to kick them out.
TRUMP: They have to go.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But what if they have no place to go?
TRUMP: We will work with them. They have to go. Chuck, either we have a country or we don't have a country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: As you know, the 14th Amendment to the Constitution, Jeff, starts with these words: "All persons born or naturalized in the United States, or subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and the state wherein they reside."
So what he's basically suggesting is that these kids, even if they were born in the United States, would not automatically be U.S. citizens. This would require a constitutional amendment to revise that.
ZELENY: It would, Wolf. The reality is, no matter how intense this immigration controversy is in this country, it is just simply not that realistic. It would take a vote of two thirds of the House -- of both the House and the Senate as well as a ratification of two-thirds of state legislatures. So very unlikely anything like that would happen, specifically given the high immigrant population in big states like California and other things.
But this is not sitting well with many Republican rivals. We heard Jeb Bush just a short while ago, in South Carolina, address what he thinks of Donald Trump's plan. Let's take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JEB BUSH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I appreciate the fact that Mr. Trump now has a plan, if that's what it's called, but I think that the better approach is to deal with the 11 million people here illegally in a way that is realistic and to have more security that is done in the right way to lessen the number of people crossing our border.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZELENY: But there's no question that Donald Trump's plan here is going to get some traction on the right. And that is going to play out throughout these next six months in the first phase of this Republican presidential campaign. It's not going to sit well with many of his rivals -- Wolf.
[17:05:11] BLITZER: All right. Jeff Zeleny, thank you.
Donald Trump may have the outlines of an immigration plan, but he's still shooting from the hip when it comes to the fight against ISIS. He favors U.S. troops on the ground in Iraqi once again, taking over oil fields that are controlled by ISIS.
Let's go to our Pentagon correspondent, Barbara Starr. She has a reality check on Donald Trump's vision. Barbara, what are you seeing?
BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, good evening.
If Donald Trump's plan works, take over the oil from ISIS and Iraq. He wants to -- he says he wants to take that money and give it to families of the fallen and the wounded. It's just not exactly clear yet how all of that would work.
STARR (voice-over): If he becomes commander in chief, Donald Trump has new details on his plan for dealing with ISIS.
TRUMP: ISIS is taking over a lot of the oil in certain areas of Iraq. And I say you take away their wealth. You go and knock the hell out of the oil, take back the oil. We take over the oil.
STARR: On NBC's "Meet the Press," Trump was adamant how he would do it.
CHUCK TODD, NBC'S "MEET THE PRESS": So you're talking ground troops? TRUMP: We can circle it.
TODD: Maybe 25,000?
TRUMP: We can circle it. We're going to have so much money.
STARR: A Trump military critic says not so fast.
LT. GEN. MARK HERTLING (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: You just don't go into another country and steal their national wealth, which is exactly what he's suggesting we do.
STARR: The just-retired top retired Army general had issue with Trump, as well.
(on camera): When you hear Donald Trump saying we should just move in with our troops and take their oil and bomb the Iraqi oil fields to take the oil away from ISIS, does anything like that even remotely have military utility?
GEN. RAY ODIERNO (RET.), FORMER ARMY CHIEF OF STAFF: See, there's limits to military power, and so we can have an outcome, but again, the problem we've had -- do we achieve sustainable outcome? It's about sustainable outcome.
STARR: So you disagree?
ODIERNO: I do. I do.
STARR: With Donald Trump?
ODIERNO: I do.
STARR (voice-over): The majority of U.S. airstrikes against oil targets have been in Syria, not Iraq. ISIS controls about 10 percent of Iraq's oil fields. How much money would a President Trump get? In 2014, Iraq earned $300 million a day in oil revenue. Now it's down to roughly $240 million a day, due to falling oil prices.
HERTLING: To suggest that we just go in and bomb the oil fields and take them over, it's also a violation of international law. And Mr. Trump may have a lot of lawyers in the Trump corporation, but I don't think they're going to be able to get them out of the Hague when he's tried for that kind of a plan.
STARR: Where does Trump get his military advice?
TRUMP: Well, I watch the shows.
STARR: Now, this is not the first time, of course, that Donald Trump has caused a stir about his comments connected to the U.S. military. He has repeatedly said that he believes the Obama administration does not support veterans enough. And of course, he caused a lot of controversy several weeks ago
with his comments that John McCain, a Vietnam P.O.W., U.S. senator from Arizona, was not a war hero.
So still a lot of controversy about all this, but one thing isn't in dispute: he's at the top of the Republican list of candidates -- Wolf.
BLITZER: At least right now. He clearly is the front-runner among the Republicans. You're absolutely right.
Barbara, thank you.
On the Democratic side, the front-runner Hillary Clinton's private e-mail server now in the hands of the U.S. Justice Department, and some of 300 plus of her messages have been set aside for special scrutiny. That's making some in the Democratic Party nervous right now, and fans of the vice president, Joe Biden, are urging him to run for the presidential nomination, but that's also making some Democrats nervous, especially inside the White House.
Let's go to our senior White House correspondent, Jim Acosta. What are you hearing about a possible Biden run, Jim?
JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, by all accounts, all of this Joe Biden chatter is picking up steam as he's taking his time deciding whether he will jump in the presidential race.
But a well-placed source tells CNN even though the vice president is a beloved figure inside the White House, there is little enthusiasm for a Biden candidacy in the West Wing.
So far a movement to draft Joe Biden for president is gaining momentum, collecting some 200,000 signatures. And the vice president himself is fueling speculation, considering a run while he's on vacation in the nearby primary state of South Carolina.
But Wolf, a well-placed Democratic source told me there are concerns at the White House that a Biden candidacy would end badly, damaging his image as an elder statesman, adding -- we'll put this up onscreen. According to a source, "I'm not getting any sense of a Joe Biden caucus inside the White House."
Now, one reason why top Democratic sources inside the White House, outside the White House say Clinton remains the party's best hope for protecting and expanding President Obama's legacy, but there's also deep affection for the vice president at the White House, where it is clear, Wolf, officials are giving Biden time to grieve his son Beau's recent death and weigh his political future.
We should also point out a source familiar with the vice president's thinking says Biden's decision is expected at the end of the summer, but this official, this person, this source close to the vice president is digging is saying that that means late September. It does not mean August. It means late September. So several more weeks to go.
BLITZER: He doesn't got a whole lot of time if he really wants to be serious about this effort to become the Democratic presidential nominee.
This weekend, as you know, Hillary Clinton, she was joking about her e-mails in Iowa. I want to listen -- I want you to listen to what she said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: By the way, you may have seen that I recently launched a Snapchat account. I love it. I love it. Those messages disappear all by themselves.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ACOSTA: Jim, she may be joking about the whole e-mail controversy, but there is a crisis, potentially, that she has to endure right now, especially with the FBI now investigating.
ACOSTA: That's right. When you talk to people inside the Obama administration, this is not a laughing matter. And according to a report filed with a federal judge today, U.S. intelligence community officials are recommending that 305 documents from Hillary Clinton's private e-mail server be turned over to various agencies for further review.
We should point out Clinton has repeatedly has hasn't done anything wrong, but Wolf, it was notable over the weekend her campaign indicating it was well aware of this controversy. She told a crowd out in Iowa over the weekend that she's turned over that e-mail server to the Justice Department, and she accused Republicans of dragging her down into the mud.
But the e-mail controversy is clearly why Biden is getting a hard look by some Democrats, who see the vice president as something of a safety net for the party at this point, even though one key source I talked to today, Wolf, said that people in Biden-world, even those who are close to the vice president, would be very surprised if he jumps into this race.
I talked to another Democratic strategist today who said she's not putting any money on what the vice president will do, because he often makes these decisions with his gut -- Wolf.
BLITZER: And I'm sure with his closest family and friends around him. All right. Thanks very much, Jim Acosta, for that.
I want to bring back our senior Washington correspondent, Jeff Zeleny, who's been looking into all of this.
Jeff, you know, I've been around Washington for a long time. Once the FBI starts investigating, the Justice Department, U.S. attorneys, they start calling for witnesses, maybe witnesses going before quiet, secret grand juries, you don't know where this is going to wind up. You don't know what people are going to say.
ZELENY: You don't. It's a totally unscripted moment. But even worse for her, it's happening during a presidential campaign. Presidential campaigns are all about control, trying to, you know, roll out everything exactly, what's going to happen this month and that month. And this adds a level of uncertainty to that.
But I was out with her in Iowa over the weekend, and I was struck by a change in strategy, a third change in strategy from the Clinton campaign. She's trying to put these Democratic concerns at ease. She's making some jokes about this, and she's trying to convince Democrats that this is the same old partisan witch-hunt that we've become so familiar with, going back to that famous vast right conspiracy in 1998.
Unclear if it will work, though, here. She's trying to rally the base behind her, but Republicans now have a moment with that Snapchat that we just saw a second ago. You can bet as her campaign goes on, that will become a television ad against her.
BLITZER: That presumably is one of the reasons Joe Biden has not ruled out running. He wants to see what happens over the next few weeks.
ZELENY: It is one of the reasons.
BLITZER: I'm sure it is.
All right. Jeff, stand by. Want to take a quick break. When we come back, we'll speak with one Republican presidential candidate, Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina. He's got a lot on his mind right now. He's in Iowa. We'll join with him, when we come back.
[17:18:40] BLITZER: Let's get back to our top story. Donald Trump riding high in the latest GOP poll as he unveils his immigration plans and his plans for potential war with the U.S. ground troops in Iraq against ISIS.
Joining us now, Republican presidential candidate, Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, joining us from Iowa from the state near there. Senator, thanks very much for joining us. We've got lots to go through, but...
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Thank you.
BLITZER: I quickly want your thoughts on Hillary Clinton, the e- mail controversy right now. Based on what you know, do you think she potentially committed a crime?
GRAHAM: You know, I don't want to go down that road, but she's certainly not telling us the truth about the server. She said that everything related to work was turned over to the State Department, but we now know it had not been. She said no classified information went through the system. Now we know it did. So the trust problem looms. I guess this could potentially be a criminal problem for her, because classified information's involved.
BLITZER: She says it wasn't marked classified. And she's being very specific on that.
BLITZER: Maybe now they say they're going back and reviewing that maybe it was classified, but she makes the point that she didn't send or receive anything marked classified.
GRAHAM: Well, she was secretary of state, and if people in her organization are sending classified material unmarked or misidentified, that falls -- falls on her feet, too. You can't have it both ways. You can't be in charge and not be in charge.
This is Clinton. This is typical Clinton: setting up a system nobody else could set up, avoiding transparency, saying things that don't hold water. Whether or not it's a criminal act, I don't know, but I can tell you this. You're sending information through this private e-mail server that should have been classified. I blame you for making -- for not having it classified.
BLITZER: I want to play for you what she said over the weekend on this controversy, because she got angry. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CLINTON: I've just provided my server to the Justice Department, but here's what I won't do. I won't get down in the mud with them. I won't play politics with national security or dishonor the memory of those who we lost. I won't pretend that this is anything other than what it is, the same old partisan games we've seen so many times before.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: All right. Your reaction, Senator.
GRAHAM: Typical Clinton, trying to blame the person who's asking legitimate questions.
Let me tell you, Secretary Clinton: you did play -- you did play party politics with national security when you and Susan Rice and everybody else tried to make the American people believe that Benghazi was a protest caused by a hateful video. There's not one ounce of evidence coming from Libya there was a protest outside the consulate.
So what bothers me the most about her and the Obama administration is how they misled the American people after the attack, how she allowed it to be a death trap by turning down additional security request. She said she didn't know about the additional security request, then I blame her. So this is an effort to divert attention away from her failings.
BLITZER: Let me get your reaction to what Donald Trump did over the weekend, releasing his immigration plan. Among other things, he wants a constitutional amendment that would take away the so-called birthright clause of the 14th Amendment to the Constitution, which says if you're born in the United States, you're automatically a U.S. citizen. Are you with him on that?
GRAHAM: Yes, I don't mind changing that law. I think it's a bad practice to give citizenship based on birth. We have evidence of people buying tourist visas for the express purpose of coming over here and having a child. I don't think that's a good idea.
But that's not going to happen until we fix a broken immigration system.
Donald Trump's eight-page plan is absolute gibberish. It is unworkable. Mitt Romney said his biggest mistake as a candidate for president was embracing self-deportation. That hurt our party. Donald Trump's plan is forced deportation. It's not going to work; it is unworkable. This idea of invading Iraq and taking their oil is literally insane.
BLITZER: Well, let me get back to that birthright issue. So you're with him on that. You favor a constitutional amendment that would deny automatic citizenship to children born in the United States whose parents, let's say, are illegal immigrants?
GRAHAM: Absolutely. After we fix our broken immigration system, that comes second, not first. And you might can do it statutorily.
But what Donald Trump is not doing is embracing a workable solution to a broken immigration system. We're not going to force deport 11 million people. This is worse than self-deportation.
We've two problems as Republicans, Hispanics and women, and this plan is really just incredibly unworkable, and I think it's going to hurt the Republican Party. We're going backwards on immigration, not forward, as a party.
BLITZER: Let's talk a little bit about what he wants to do in Iraq. He says go ahead and blow up areas that ISIS controls around oil fields in Iraq. And that's where they get their money. The U.S. should do away with that. You've been to Iraq probably more than most other U.S. lawmakers, a lot of times over these past several years. You're in the U.S. Air Force reserves. Is that idea smart?
GRAHAM: All I can tell you is that ISIL doesn't just get money from clandestine underground oil cells. Donald Trump is suggesting we go back to Iraq, take the oil away from the Iraqi people, and give the money to our wounded warriors. He's suggesting a ground invasion of Iraq by U.S. forces to take their oil away from them.
This guy is so unfit to be commander in chief. Anybody who would suggest such a thing has no idea how that sounds in the Mideast. We've got soldiers in the Mideast right now. When somebody running for president would suggest that an American military force would come into their country, take their oil away from them, you're making it very dangerous for those who serve over there right now. BLITZER: As you know, he's far and away the leader in the GOP
field right now. That brand-new FOX News poll has him at 25 percent, more than double digits ahead of Dr. Ben Carson, Cruz. You're near the bottom of that poll. Why is he doing -- why is he doing so well, and you're not?
GRAHAM: Well, I think he's tapping into frustration. I get that. But what's going to change is when I talk about how to fix immigration, and you can't do it without Democratic support, a workable solution for the 11 million.
What's going to sink Mr. Trump over time, I believe, is solutions to problems that are real, like dealing with ISIL. I've never heard a military commander suggest that we go back to Iraq and take the oil away from the Iraqi people.
He is not embracing a rational solution to destroying ISIL. He's talking gibberish on foreign policy and absolutely demagoguery on immigration. And over time this will matter.
We live in dangerous times. I'm ready to be commander in chief. And I can't imagine any military analyst, any person who's aware of the Mideast, the way it actually works, would suggest that Mr. Trump is making any sense at all. And this will be his undoing.
BLITZER: Senator Graham, thanks very much for joining us.
GRAHAM: Thank you. Come to Iowa.
BLITZER: All right. Good luck over there.
Coming up, following a dramatic confrontation with China over manmade islands in the Pacific Ocean, the United States is now issuing new warnings to China, this time to Chinese spies operating in the United States. What's next for this increasing tense U.S.-Chinese relationship?
Plus, North Korea issuing an ominous threat amid military drills on the Korean Peninsula.
BLITZER: North Korea's threatening war and touting the nuclear arsenal as the United States carries out military exercises with allies on the Korean Peninsula. The barrage of threats comes just days after a landmine explosion maimed two South Korean soldiers patrolling the border.
CNN's Brian Todd is joining us with more on the escalating tensions. Brian, what's the latest?
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, very serious tension tonight along the world's most heavily-fortified border. We're talking about the demilitarized zone between North and South Korea.
Both sides are engaging in psychological warfare with loud speakers blaring propaganda messages across this border to each other's soldiers. And tonight the start of joint U.S./South Korean military exercises has brought a threat from the North Koreans, which Pentagon officials tell us they are closely monitoring.
TODD (voice-over): Thirty thousand U.S. troops, close to 50,000 South Koreans, engaging now in annual military exercises like this inside South Korea. The drills, called Ulchi Freedom Guardian, bring a threat from Kim Jong-un through his news agency.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): If the United States wants the mainland to be safe, then the Ulchi Freedom Guardian should stop immediately.
TODD: The North Koreans taking a step further, virtually threatening a nuclear attack. A Pentagon spokesman tells CNN they take all these threats seriously and are, quote, "monitoring the situation."
The North Koreans make threats every year during these exercises, but this year, the tension is thicker.
LT. COL. TONY SHAFFER (RET.) FORMER U.S. ARMY SENIOR INTELLIGENCE OFFICER: What makes this year particularly different in that the tensions are heightened on both sides as we've gone through this because of the landmine incident on the DMZ.
TODD: Earlier this month Kim Jong-un's soldiers, according to South Korean and U.N. officials, crossed the border in the Demilitarized Zone and planted landmines that nearly killed two South Korean soldiers. North Korea denied it.
Analysts say American troops could have just as easily be wounded if they'd been in that area. And it's been less nan a year since North Korea actually did launch a successful attack on the U.S., the cyber strike on Sony Pictures Entertainment in response to the movie "The Interview." With those attacks and all the executions inside his regime, analysts worry about the decision making of the young dictator.
SUE TERRY, FORMER CIA OFFICER: He's very rash. He's unpredictable, and he's very impetuous. He has anger management issues, very quick to anger. So all these things make the situation so much more unpredictable than in the past.
TODD: But can Kim strike the U.S. with a nuclear weapon? U.S. officials and weapons experts tell CNN the North Koreans don't yet have the capacity to hit the U.S. with a nuclear-tipped missile. Experts say Kim's regime has 10 to 15 nuclear bombs now, has many tries at warheads to fit missiles that can reach the U.S. But the North Koreans haven't flight tested those missiles yet, and they could break up as they reenter the atmosphere.
DAVID ALBRIGHT, INSTITUTE FOR SCIENCE AND INTERNATIONAL SECURITY: It may be down 10, 20 percent chance of success. And are you willing to commit suicide for a 10 percent chance of success? I mean, most nations would say absolutely not.
TODD: Still U.S. officials and analysts say the North Koreans are trying to perfect that capability and are working feverishly behind the scenes. It has prompted analyst Sue Terry to say she misses Kim Jong-un's father, Kim Jong-il. The father, she says, was ruthless but predictable -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Interesting point. Adding to the tension, as you know, this year, Brian, isn't one of the areas where the U.S. and South Korea military, they're conducting their exercises, actually, pretty close to the Demilitarized Zone?
TODD: That's right, Wolf. We're told that one of the areas where live fire drills are going to be held is near Po Chan, which is near Seoul. This is where Po Chan is. Seoul is about right here. Po Chan, of course, right near the DMZ.
Now, the North Koreans would view that as a provocation, former U.S. officer -- U.S. Army officer Tony Shaffer told us. He said it's meant to show the North Koreans that the Americans and South Koreans are very serious and that they can take the fight to them if they have to. They want to show the North Koreans they mean business by doing live fire drills right there, but it could cause provocation, Wolf.
BLITZER: A tense situation on the Korean Peninsula right now, Brian. Thank you.
[17:35:04] Let's discuss these disturbing developments with former State Department senior advisor Christian White. And Christian, thanks very much for joining us.
So what do you make of this, North Korea threatening to attack the U.S. homeland over these military exercises that go on every year? Are they really serious about this? Should the U.S. even be concerned?
CHRISTIAN WHITE, FORMER STATE DEPARTMENT SENIOR ADVISOR: It does feel a bit different this time. And that's the question you're always asking. After all, North Korea has been somewhat adequately deterred, at least deterred from a general war against the U.S. and its allies.
There are provocations. They sank a South Korean ship in 2010. But this does have a slightly different feel. Because they've said that, rather than just resisting American nuclear weapons with North Korean rifles, that they have their own nuclear arsenal.
So it sort of leads you to wonder if Kim Jong-un, the North Korean dictator, is seeing the world in a different manner, and one that would have more of a role for North Korean aggressive activity.
BLITZER: Can we infer anything special, Christian, about Kim Jong-un's grip on power right now by this unusual rhetoric?
WHITE: I think he feels that the rhetoric actually enhances his position, and traditionally -- certainly, the second two Kim's, Kim Jong-Un and his father, had relied much more on the military, as opposed to balancing it with the party in North Korea. So having this sort of nationalism actually can strengthen him with the military.
And also, you know, he sees the world around him, certainly, it's a very closed environment in North Korea. You don't have a lot in critical thought going on. But he look at Russia getting away with military aggression. He looks at China, aggrandizing more and more in the South China Sea, and he's internalizing these lessons, probably.
BLITZER: Christian White, thanks very much for joining us.
WHITE: Thank you.
BLITZER: Coming up, the U.S. Is trying to manage growing tensions with China right now after a showdown over manmade islands this year. So why is the Obama administration issuing a new warning to Chinese government -- to the Chinese government about spies operating here in the United States?
Plus, wildfires are scorching drought-stricken western states. We'll get the very latest on the efforts to try to bring them under control.
BLITZER: Hundreds of firefighters are waging a desperate battle against wildfires in several western states. More than a quarter million acres have burned in Idaho alone. Drought-stricken California is a tinderbox right now, with fires raging from one end of the state to the other.
Let's get the very latest from our meteorologist, Jennifer Gray. Jennifer, it's pretty awful. What's going on?
JENNIFER GRAY, CNN METEOROLOGIST: It is awful, Wolf. And they're not getting help from the weather.
Look at this brown color. It indicates very, very dry air sinking in for especially Oregon and northern California. That's going to stick around. That allows very dry grass and trees to become even drier, and allows these fires to spark up even faster and travel more quickly.
Look at this. The wind also is going to stick around. The wind can cause these fires to travel very, very far in a short amount of time. And you take those tiny embers. And they can travel with the winds for a couple hundred yards, and then you all of a sudden you have another fire sparked just like that.
And so we're going to continue to see the windy conditions. We're going to see the heat play a role, especially in the Pacific Northwest, and along the California coast. So very warm temperatures, windy conditions, and the lack of rainfall. The fire danger is going to stay elevated, at least for the short term. We don't see any relief in sight with rain, especially, at least for another week. And let me show you on the ground, where all of these fires are,
we are looking at above normal activity, 73 active large fires, 6.5 million acres burned, and we are in an extreme drought across the west. Forty-two percent in severe drought. This is west of the Rockies. Twenty-three in extreme. And 8 percent in exceptional drought.
Of course, we may see a little bit of relief from El Nino we talked so much about in Southern California, but that may not be the case in the Pacific Northwest, Wolf. They are going to stay drier than normal for the next couple of months.
BLITZER: A horrible situation, indeed. All right. Thank you, Jennifer.
Coming up, the Obama administration issues a new warning to China about spies operating inside the United States. We have details.
And Donald Trump outlines his immigration plan, drops a bombshell saying all undocumented immigrants and their children born in the United States must leave the country.
[17:48:29] BLITZER: The Obama administration is delivering a stark new warning to the government of China about the activities of Chinese spies operating here inside the United States. American officials say the agents are part of a Chinese effort to try to stamp out corruption by returning fugitives from abroad.
Let's go to our chief national security correspondent Jim Sciutto. He's got the latest on this latest source of tension between the U.S. and China.
Jim, what's the latest?
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf. And there is a long list. U.S. officials confirmed to me that American diplomats have warned their Chinese counterparts that China stop this practice. They note that the U.S. and China do have a bilateral legal cooperation agreement. But that requires cooperation between the Justice Department here, Chinese officials, law enforcement officials there, them operating on their own on U.S. soil, not only unacceptable in the words of U.S. officials but criminal.
SCIUTTO (voice-over): Today U.S. officials made clear. China posting foreign law enforcement agents on U.S. soil is prohibited and criminal.
JOHN KIRBY, STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESMAN: Foreign law enforcement agents are not permitted to operate within the United States without prior notification to the attorney general. And it's a criminal offense actually under U.S. law. SCIUTTO: As first reported by the "New York Times" the Chinese
government has deployed spies inside the U.S. to influence Chinese nationals to return home and face justice. Hundreds of senior officials have already been arrested and charged inside China. Right up to the highest level of the Chinese leadership. And though many have fled to countries like the U.S. with their families and their money, China's broad anti-corruption drive is now extending the hunt to U.S. soil.
[17:50:06] BOB BAER, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: The Chinese government, Chinese intelligence, has been doing this for years. They primarily use commercial cover. They use students here. They've been spying on the United States for decades. They're very good at it.
SCIUTTO: This is just the latest case of China aggressively pushing its influence far beyond its borders. China has been building and militarizing islands in the South China Sea. 600 miles from its shores. And in waters the U.S. considers international territory. Leading to tense confrontations in the sky which we experienced firsthand aboard a U.S. surveillance aircraft in May.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is the Chinese Navy. This is the Chinese Navy. Please go away quickly.
SCIUTTO: U.S. officials have all but publicly blamed China for the massive hack of the Office of Personnel Management, one of the worst ever against the U.S. government. Hackers obtained personal data of more than 20 million current, former, and prospective federal employees.
BAER: They're just getting much more aggressive. They're stealing more secrets. They're very difficult to catch.
SCIUTTO: And just last week, the Chinese government devalued its currency to boost its economy, a move that has rattled financial markets and undermined U.S. exports.
All of this as President Obama prepares to roll out the red carpet next month for the first official state visit by China's new president, Xi Jinping.
SCIUTTO: U.S. officials say they have cooperated with Chinese law enforcement before, that that cooperation which includes sharing evidence has even resulted in indictments by the U.S. Justice Department against corrupt Chinese officials. But that's with U.S. law enforcement involved, Wolf. This is a very difficult case. U.S. officials saying, in effect, the Chinese operating freelance here on their own. One of many issues between these two countries.
It's going to be very interesting and difficult summit between the U.S. president and the Chinese president next month.
BLITZER: State visit. Obviously very, very important.
All right. Jim, thank you.
We're back with our CNN counterterrorism analyst, the former CIA official, Phil Mudd, and our law enforcement analyst, the former FBI assistant director, Tom Fuentes.
What are the Chinese thinking here when they send people over to try to intimidate Chinese people who are living in the United States to go back home?
TOM FUENTES, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, Wolf, they've been doing this for 50 years. I mean, this is just common practice for them.
BLITZER: So you knew about this when you were working at the FBI?
FUENTES: Well, yes. Not going to discuss it in any great detail but this has been common knowledge in the government for many, many years.
BLITZER: And there are actually -- the "New York Times" reporting threatening these people who are living in the United States, if you don't come home you have relatives back in China, we're going to deal with those relatives?
FUENTES: Well, I won't go that far to talk about the details of it but just say that Chinese espionage in the U.S. has been big business for many, many years, as has U.S. espionage in China.
BLITZER: Right. Espionage is one thing --
FUENTES: And as long as -- well --
BLITZER: U.S. spies in China, China spies on the United States, everybody knows that. But people coming here --
FUENTES: Well, the problem --
BLITZER: -- to threaten Chinese residents of the United States and trying to force them to go back, that sounds relatively recent.
FUENTES: Right, the problem with it is that it's hard to tell exactly who sent them here. Are they part of the Ministry of Public Security, which are the police? Ministry of State Security, which is their intelligence arm. You know, or the military? So it's hard to tell exactly who's behind this and how extensive it is.
BLITZER: Phil, what do you think?
PHIL MUDD, CNN COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST: Well, it's interesting. To my mind the question is, what do you do about it? The president is going to meet the Chinese premier, this is surely a subject that's going to come up. There are a couple of issues here. Number one is these people presumably coming over. The Chinese, they're not diplomats. That means they don't have diplomatic immunity. Presumably you could arrest them. Not just expel.
I doubt that would happen but that's an option. You also, as Tom, have to think about what happens in terms of espionage versus intimidation. What is the motivation for sending these folks here? I think it would be hard to make a case that says a Chinese person coming here to say please come home is actually conducting espionage. That's an intimidation tactics.
BLITZER: So especially if they're warning these people that if you don't come back to China, they're going to do something bad to relatives who are still in China.
MUDD: That's right. We saw this elsewhere, too. It's not only a Chinese tactic. We saw this happen with Iran. A lot of Iranian expatriates here in Los Angeles, for example. Back home in Tehran, as it would happen in Beijing, the government comes in and says, look, there's somebody overseas we want to come home, if they don't come home, send them an e-mail, talk to them on the phone and tell them life's going be tough for you back home.
BLITZER: Usually the first step in sending a message to China along these lines is to give this kind of information to the news media. They get the message, they get the point, at least indirectly, that way.
FUENTES: Well, I think the first step that is secretly done is covert messaging back and forth between the two governments of, OK, you know, we've put up with so much up until now, and no more, cut it off. So I think there's a lot said behind the scenes before it ever gets to the media.
BLITZER: All right. We'll stay on top of this story, we'll obviously cover the visit by the Chinese leader when he gets here to the United States.
Guys, thanks very much.
Coming up, Donald Trump says he wants to send all undocumented immigrants out of the United States, including children actually born in this country. But what about the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution? What does that say?
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