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THE SITUATION ROOM
Guns in America; Paris Attack Averted; Interview With Oklahoma Senator James Lankford; Law Enforcement Training to Confront Active Shooters; Battle Raging Between Trump, Cruz; Sex Scandals Resurfacing as Bill Clinton Campaigns for Wife. Aired 6-7p ET
Aired January 7, 2016 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[18:00:01] WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Police kill a knife-welding man trying to rush their station wearing a fake suicide vest and carrying an image of the ISIS flag.
Fresh fear gripping the French capital tonight on this, the one-year anniversary of the magazine attack that killed 17 people. Are other plots being hatched in Paris right now?
Ghosts of scandals past. A decades-old rape allegation against former President Bill Clinton resurfaces as he campaigns for his wife. Donald Trump seizing on the former president's scandals on social media. What impact will renewed focus on Bill Clinton's alleged misconduct have on Hillary Clinton's campaign?
Guns in America. President Obama tackling one of the most divisive issues facing the country in the live CNN town hall tonight. As the president orders stricter gun control, law enforcement trains to take on active shooters. Will any of it reduce soaring numbers of gun massacres terrorizing the U.S.?
We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
It may or may not have been a hydrogen bomb, but whatever North Korea detonated this week is sending shockwaves right now of a different kind around the world. There is growing condemnation of the Kim Jong- un regime, tonight, growing fear of his nuclear capabilities even as so-called sniffer planes are testing the air around North Korea right now for signs of increased radiation. We will get an exclusive live update from Pyongyang in just a moment.
We're also following developments in Paris right now, where a terror attack was averted today on this, the one-year anniversary of the massacre of the offices of the "Charlie Hebdo" magazine. Police shot and killed a knife-welding man outside their station. He was later found to be wearing a fake suicide vest and carrying an image of the ISIS flag.
We're covering all of this, much more with our guests, including Senator James Lankford of Oklahoma. He's a member of the Intelligence and Homeland Security Committees. And we have our reporters covering the race for the White House across the country tonight. Our correspondents and expert analysts are also standing by. Let's begin with North Korea's alleged test of a hydrogen bomb.
Our chief security national correspondent, Jim Sciutto, is working the story.
Jim, there's lots of diplomatic fallout, but so far apparently no radioactive fallout. Who do we know?
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: That's right. Still no radiation directed -- detected, rather, in the atmosphere in and around North Korea. Doesn't mean they won't find it. It could take some time, but on the ground already finger-pointing.
The U.S. blaming China for not pressuring North Korea enough and China blaming the U.S. for not reaching out to North Korea enough. What all sides agree on is alarm at possible advances in North Korea's nuclear program.
SCIUTTO (voice-over): Japanese military planes take off on a mission to test the air around North Korea, looking for clues on the country's claimed hydrogen bomb blast. This U.S. Air Force jet designed to sniff out radiation may soon join the search, say U.S. officials, to discover exactly what kind of device Pyongyang tested in its underground nuclear facility.
PETER COOK, ASSISTANT TO THE SECRETARY OF DEFENSE FOR PUBLIC AFFAIRS: We're using as many resources as we can to try and get a better picture exactly what took place.
SCIUTTO: So far, Japan and other countries in the region have not detected a change in radiation levels in the atmosphere. That has done little to calm fears of further advances in North Korea's nuclear program.
JOSEPH CIRINCIONE, PRESIDENT, PLOUGHSHARES FUND: They are kind of bragging, inflating themselves to be more powerful than they are. Even though they probably didn't detonate an H-bomb, they may be getting an H-bomb reaction, which is, enough is enough.
SCIUTTO: Many South Koreans are furious, protesters burning North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in effigy. Seoul now says it will resume propaganda broadcasts over the border into the North, a step that Pyongyang has in the past declared an act of war.
CHO TAE-YONG, SENIOR SOUTH KOREAN SECURITY OFFICIAL (through translator): Our military is at a state of full readiness. And if North Korea wages provocation, there will be firm punishment.
SCIUTTO: Today, Secretary of State John Kerry rebuffed suggestions that the nuclear deal with Iran diverted the administration's attention away from North Korea's nuclear program.
JOHN KERRY, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: North Korea has never been left unattended to, not for one day. SCIUTTO: Still, Secretary Kerry and other U.S. officials argue that
China, as North Korea's longtime ally and economic lifeline, must apply more pressure.
KERRY: Now, China had a particular approach that it wanted to make and we agreed and respected to give them space to be able to implement that, but today in my conversation with the Chinese, I made it very clear that has not worked and we cannot continue business as usual.
SCIUTTO: Wolf, this is the closest we will get to real-time images of North Korea's claimed hydrogen bomb test.
[18:05:03] These are satellite images obtained by DigitalGlobe and assessed by the Institute of Science and International Security taken just one hour after that blast. And here is what ISIS noticed in these photos.
This is the entrance of the underground tunnel where the blast took place. All four of North Korea's nuclear explosions since 2006 have taken place underground. They identify two possible instrumentation vehicles going in, as well as four objects which they assess could be instrumentation equipment as well, which is exactly, they say, what you would see after a nuclear blast, that they would send that equipment, have it deployed outside, send it in afterwards to measure the yield in effect of this explosion.
What they did not see is huge disturbances or noticeable disturbances among the snow or the ground here, which they might have seen if this was a larger blast. They are still putting this in the category, the same size, rough size of previous North Korean nuclear tests, which would indicate not a successful hydrogen bomb test, but again, as we said earlier, they're still testing the air for radioactive signatures. There's a lot more they have to learn about exactly what happened underground here.
BLITZER: We will see what they learn. Jim Sciutto, thank you.
Here in Washington, the House of Representatives will vote next week on new sanctions against North Korea, but inside the country, there is defiance and celebration right now.
CNN's Will Ripley is in the North Korean capital of Pyongyang.
Will, it's Friday there already, Friday morning, and it's Kim Jong- un's birthday. What's the latest over there?
WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Just after 7:30 in the morning here, Wolf.
Behind me, I can hear the city coming to life. We will be venturing out within the next few hours visiting a science center where we are told that we will meet with experts with close knowledge of what North Korea has claimed is a hydrogen bomb, despite all the skepticism internationally. They say they will explain to us the science behind their test, the test that they say was conducted very deeper into that mountain and the launch site that Jim was talking about to prevent radiation from skewing into the atmosphere, which may explain why China, South Korea and Japan are not detecting a change in radiation levels right now, even though that could take weeks before it's detected in the environment.
You talked about those sanctions. And last night, I met with some North Korea officials and asked them specifically about the possibility, the very real possibility of additional sanctions against this country. They said, frankly, they expect more sanctions from the United States and the international community as a result of this fourth nuclear test.
And they say they have lived under crippling sanctions for so many years that as a nation they will collectively tighten their belt, as they have in the past, and continue to invest very aggressively in developing these nuclear weapons, which they feel are their only defense against the threat of imminent invasion from the United States and its allies, Wolf.
BLITZER: As you know, Will, Donald Trump told me that in his assessment China has total control over North Korea. What's the reaction to that from officials in the North Korean capital, Pyongyang, where you are?
RIPLEY: When I informed them about the comments made by Donald Trump, the response was very strong that nobody has total control over North Korea except for the Workers party, which is led by the supreme leader, Kim Jong-un.
They also told us that they feel other countries, other entities including the U.S. are trying to drive a wedge between North Korea and China, because China is North Korea's most important and most powerful friend. They provide economic assistance to this country and trade with China has essentially been partially fueling, in a great part, fueling this country's economic growth.
And you do see some small signs of economic growth. There are more cars on the streets here in Pyongyang. People have electronics, people have smartphones and other goods, many of which are imported from China. The North Koreans, of course, want to maintain that relationship, but then again, the Chinese government obviously infuriated about this test.
I was in Beijing yesterday when officials said they received no advanced warning about this, unlike the previous three nuclear tests. Another potentially volatile situation, and we will have to see how the regime here in Pyongyang reacts, would be if the South Koreans turn on those loudspeakers.
Over the summer, when that happened, when there was propaganda coming across the border, they fired back. They launched artillery at the loudspeakers and called it an act of war and they assembled troops to the border.
And given that many people feel this regime truly is unpredictable, nobody knows what their move will be in the coming hours if the loudspeakers are turned back, especially considering they will be turned on, on the supreme leader's 33rd birthday -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Will Ripley in Pyongyang for us with exclusive reporting, Will, thank you very much.
We're learning new details tonight about a thwarted attack in Paris, man armed with a knife carrying an image of the ISIS flag shot and killed by police as he tried to rush their station. This comes one year to the day after the attacks began on the "Charlie Hebdo" magazine and a kosher market that left 17 people dead.
[18:10:08] Our terrorism analyst, Paul Cruickshank, is in Paris right now.
Paul, the man was also wearing a fake suicide vest. What more can you tell us?
PAUL CRUICKSHANK CNN TERRORISM ANALYST: Wolf, it appears tonight that this may have been an ISIS-inspired attack, that this man would have been inspired by all that ISIS propaganda with that flag, a picture of an ISIS flag that he had.
He also appears to have pledged allegiance to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. We have seen that in other lone wolf plots before, notably in San Bernardino, California, last year. And this attempted attack took place at exactly 11:30 a.m. this morning. Why is that significant? It's significant because the Kouachi brothers exactly a year ago, they launched their attack against the "Charlie Hebdo" offices at exactly 11:30 in the morning.
And it seems no coincidence likely there that this was perhaps an individual who wanted to attach himself to the cartoon cause, these jihadists very angered by some of these cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed that have been published. Perhaps he believed that that was a way he could get to the afterlife.
Why a fake bomb? Perhaps that was a way to make sure that he was shot dead by police to get his wish.
BLITZER: Paul, you're also reporting on a very concerning development in the November attacks in Paris that killed 130 people. Police now hunting for two terrorists operatives they say are armed and dangerous and still at large.
What role do officials believe they played in the Paris attacks?
CRUICKSHANK: They have evidence, strong evidence that they were playing a coordinating role in the Paris attacks, that they were in touch by phone before, during and after the Paris attacks with the Paris attackers, issuing orders, that they played a more senior role in this conspiracy than Abdelhamid Abaaoud, and that in the months leading up to the attack they played a key role in preparations, that they traveled in September with Salah Abdeslam to Hungary likely to go and fetch some of these attackers who had come from Syria, that after the attack, they wired money from a Western Union office in Brussels -- and that's why we have some of these CCTV images -- to the female cousin of Abdelhamid Abaaoud, so that he could get lodgings in Paris.
They also, it is believed, arranged for a safe house for the plotters that they arranged in the south of Belgium in a place called Auvelais. They actually rented a villa there where they prepared the attack.
We're also learning that they made the bombs, all of these plotters, in a safe house, in an apartment right in the center of Brussels in Schaerbeek very near all those European headquarters buildings. And the police have actually found a sewing machine that was used to stitch up those vests, which were then transported all the way to Paris for the attacks.
BLITZER: Paul Cruickshank in Paris for us, thanks for that information.
I want to dig deeper into all of this right now.
Joining us, Republican Senator James Lankford of Oklahoma. He's a member of the Intelligence and Homeland Security Committees.
Senator, thanks for joining us. I want to get to the thwarted attack in Paris shortly.
But, first, you have been briefed on the situation, very tense situation in North Korea, remember, a million North Korean troops along the DMZ, almost a million South Korean troops along the DMZ, nearly 30,000 U.S. soldiers in between. It's a very tense situation right now. First of all, what kind of nuclear test was this?
SEN. JAMES LANKFORD (R), OKLAHOMA: Yes, we don't know fully yet what kind of nuclear test this was.
Obviously, North Korea says it's a hydrogen bomb. The reason they brag about that and say that is what it is, it would be a more powerful weapon, it would be a smaller weapon that they could carry on their existing ballistic missiles a longer distance.
We know they have done multiple missile tests of late. This is their third test of a nuclear device just in the past six years, so they have ramped up their number of tests that they have done. It's very important that we actually know what type of weapon it is so we know kind of capability and what type of missile that would be.
That's why this becomes so provocative.
BLITZER: As you know, the House of Representatives is expected to vote on new sanctions as early as next week, but North Korea is already sanctioned brutally, if you will, tough sanctions. Do you think even more sanctions are going to make much of a difference?
LANKFORD: You have to find the leverage point on it.
As has been mentioned multiple times, China does two-thirds of the trade with North Korea. It's incredibly important that we work with China to be able to shut down the access to some of the trade and some of the things that are coming in. North Koreans are incredibly poor at this point.
[18:15:00] Their average total amount of income is about $1,200 a year for a North Korean. It's an incredibly poor country and the reason they have had such great poverty is because their leadership continues to make poor decisions, not only in their economy, but with their military activity and continue to isolate them from the rest of the world.
It's incredibly damaging to the Korean people. And they have suffered a tremendous amount. The challenge is, we can't allow a rogue nation to continue to develop nuclear weapons and be this provocative right on the border of South Korea and so many nations that are allies of ours in Asia.
You have to continue to use the leverage of sanctions, work with China in coordination with them and to be able to shut off many things that are actually coming through North Korea right now.
BLITZER: And as tensions escalate in Asia, they are dramatically escalating in the Middle East right now, especially between Saudi Arabia and Iran.
Senator, stand by. We have more to assess. We will take a quick break. We will be right back.
BLITZER: Fresh fears of terror tonight in Paris, where police shot and killed a man who tried to storm their station wearing a fake suicide vest, carrying an image of the ISIS flag. The thwarted attack came year to the day of the deadly attack on the "Charlie Hebdo" magazine.
We're back with the Republican Senator James Lankford of Oklahoma, a member of the Intelligence and Homeland Security Committees.
[18:20:03] You have been well-briefed on these terror threats in Europe, as well as here in the United States. Should we be bracing for more ISIS-inspired attacks?
LANKFORD: We should, actually, and that's one of the things that's the most challenging in this current environment is ISIS is trying to both inspire attacks through social media, telling people come join the caliphate, come fight in Syria and Iraq. If you can't come join us here, kill people where you are and just tell them you're with us.
So, what has happened in Paris today is exactly the type of thing that ISIS is trying to inspire around the world to say you don't have to be connected with us, be around us, take the ISIS logo, go kill someone, tell them you're with us, because their goal is to create this kind of terror and this kind of instability in the every part of the Western world.
BLITZER: Yes, I think you're right. And the fears here in the United States are significant. Let's talk about the escalating tension in the Middle East right now.
As bad as it is, seems to be getting worse by the day, and now there are these claims by the Iranians that the Saudis hit the Iranian Embassy in Yemen today. The Saudis are denying it. What can you tell us about that?
LANKFORD: There is a really proxy war going on both in Syria and in Yemen right, but especially in Yemen, right on the southern border of Saudi Arabia, where Iran has supported the overthrow of the government there.
For a short period of time, the leader of that country was kicked out. Now he's back in country. The Saudis and the UAE, they are trying to support the return of that leader, but this becomes a Sunni-Shia fight between Iran and Saudi Arabia and Yemen, very similar to what is happening in Syria as a whole, as Iran is propping up Syria, and the Saudis and multiple other Sunni nations are trying to actually be able to push back on that.
It's been a giant mess and continues to get worse. We see it in North Africa as well, with ISIS attacking some of the oil facilities, trying to destabilize the very young government trying to be formed in Libya as well and a cease-fire that's occurring there. There are a lot of issues that are happening there.
But I tell your viewers, it extremely important to watch the relationship between Saudi Arabia and Iran. They have not gotten along well at all. They do have very different perspectives of the future of the Middle East and both of them want to be the key player in the Middle East.
The hard part for us is Russia is the one stepping in now, due to their position in the Middle East, trying to broker that relationship and it's important that the United States stays in the lead to be able to help in that area.
BLITZER: Senator, you're -- I want to switch gears and talk about guns for a moment while I have you.
You're on the subcommittee that funds the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. What's your take on the president's recent proposals to try to do something about the 30,000 Americans who die because of gun violence in the United States every year?
LANKFORD: Yes, Republicans and Democrats alike, you don't have to be any party at all. We're incredibly grieved about gun violence in the United States.
The challenge is the things that the president has proposed at this point, even Josh Earnest, his spokesman, has come forward and said it doesn't stop mass shootings. We have to deal with family issues. We have to deal with the influence of drugs in our society, which is one of the major drivers of gun violence of every type.
We focus a lot on the mass shootings that happen, but really the drug gangs and the drug violence that is happening in many of our cities drives a lot of the gun violence. That's incredibly important for us to refocus as a nation on drug use and on the key family issues.
There are key issues that we need to deal with, for instance, the National Instant Criminal Background Check. Some of the states are not submitting their information fully. The federal government has made it so difficult to submit that information that they just don't do it. That needs to be fixed.
It doesn't matter if you are going to do a background check if the states haven't submitted a full record of all those that have committed a felony in their state into that background check. It is important some of those things get resolved.
But I would tell you, Wolf, this seems to be an issue that just is a presidential politics-type year issue to kind of distract from other things. There are ways to be able to work to solve this, but really what's happening right now is every time the president talks about more gun control issues, more Americans go buy guns; 24 million guns sold last year, 111 million were sold the year before the president took office.
He's been a tremendous salesman for firearms in the United States, because every time he talks about another executive action, there is an additional increase in gun sales. The Constitution is pretty clear on this issue. You cannot remove this basic Second Amendment right, but we should be able to do criminal background checks, as is already in the law, with full complete records.
BLITZER: Senator Lankford, thanks very much for joining us.
LANKFORD: You bet. Glad to be able to do it.
BLITZER: And we're only about an hour-and-a-half away from the CNN town hall tonight with President Obama. He's going to be addressing the issue of guns. That airs 8:00 p.m. Eastern. He's going to be with Anderson Cooper in a live town hall, 8:00 p.m. Eastern later tonight.
Just ahead, it's Donald Trump vs. Ted Cruz in a so-called birther battle launched by the billionaire businessman, as Cruz surges in Iowa just weeks out ahead the caucuses.
And old scandals resurfacing, as Bill Clinton campaigns for his wife, including a decades-old allegation of rape.
[18:28:58] BLITZER: The battle Donald Trump launched against his closest rival in Iowa right now, Ted Cruz, is raging tonight, with more Republicans weighing in on whether Cruz is even eligible to be president of the United States because he was born in Canada.
Our senior Washington correspondent, Jeff Zeleny, is joining us from Burlington, Vermont, right now, where Trump is getting ready to hold a rally.
Jeff, this is Bernie Sanders territory in Vermont. What's the latest there?
JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, we're in the heart of the Bernie Sanders territory. Not only is the senator from Vermont. Of course, he was the mayor of Burlington from 1981 to 1989.
You may be wondering why Donald Trump is here. Vermont has one of those Super Tuesday primaries. On March 1, the voters of Vermont will be coming out to cast their ballots in the Republican race. Wolf, I can tell you hundreds and hundreds upon thousands of people are gathered here.
Some Bernie Sanders supporters as well are mixed in this crowd with Donald Trump supporters. But Donald Trump may focus on Bernie Sanders, but for now, he spent all day focusing on Ted Cruz.
ZELENY (voice-over): Donald Trump isn't letting go, fanning the flames about Ted Cruz's citizenship.
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: He's got this cloud over his head. I don't think it's going to be possible for him to do very well.
ZELENY: Today, Trump sent a message to his rival, saying: "Ted, free legal advice how to preempt the Dems on citizen issue."
SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm not going to be taking legal advice any time soon from Donald Trump.
ZELENY: Never mind Democrats. It's Republicans raising questions, all over whether Cruz could face a legal challenge. He was born in Canada, but his mother was a U.S. citizen.
Trump told Wolf Blitzer that Cruz's birthplace raises constitutional concerns.
TRUMP: There's this doubt. People have doubt. I want to win this thing fair and square. I don't want to win on this point.
ZELENY: John McCain, who has tangled with Cruz in the Senate, once calling him a whacko bird, added legitimacy to Trump's wording. McCain himself, who was born outside the United States, was quick to distance his case from Cruz's, as McCain was born on a U.S. military base.
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: I think there is a question. I'm not a constitutional scholar on that, but I think it's worth looking into.
ZELENY: In Iowa tonight, Cruz brushed aside McCain's comments, saying he's pulling for Marco Rubio.
CRUZ: It's no surprise that people who are supporting other candidates in this race are going to jump on with the silly attacks that occur as we get closer and closer to election day.
ZELENY: Cruz, who has emerged as one of Trump's biggest threats, said the talk was nonsense.
CRUZ: The legal issue is straightforward. The son of a U.S. citizen born abroad is a natural-born citizen.
ZELENY: He told CNN's Dana Bash he was done addressing it.
CRUZ: I'm not going to engage in this. And the reason is simple: There are far too many serious issues facing this country.
ZELENY: One more sign the fault lines in the Republican primary are becoming clear. Just watch who's feuding with whom. It's not only Trump versus Cruz but Chris Christie versus Marco Rubio.
Christie said Rubio's too weak to be the party's nominee.
GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R-NJ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE (via phone): That's the kind of person we want to put on the stage against Hillary Clinton? I don't think so. We'll pat him on the head and then cut his heart out.
ZELENY: Rubio fired back, comparing Christie and his record as New Jersey governor to Barack Obama.
SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R-FL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Chris has a very liberal record for a Republican. Our next president has to be someone that's going to overturn all the damage Barack Obama have done to America, not continue it.
ZELENY: Now in the middle of all this back and forth today, a spokesman for Senator McCain said he is, indeed, not endorsing anyone at this point. He's not supporting Marco Rubio.
So, Wolf, a pretty intense day on the Republican side. But when Donald Trump takes the stage here in just about less than an hour or so, we'll see if he has any words for these Bernie Sanders supporters, Wolf.
BLITZER: I'm sure he will. He's not a shy guy, as you know, Jeff Zeleny. Thanks very much.
Let's get some more now. Joining us, our CNN political reporter, Sara Murray; our senior political reporter, Manu Raju. And our chief political analyst, Gloria Borger.
John McCain weighing in, in effect saying very similar things Donald Trump is saying about Ted Cruz and the birther issue right now.
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: OK. So how much does he dislike Ted Cruz to side with Donald Trump, the man who said that, as a former POW, he wasn't a war hero? I mean, the answer is a lot. The enemy of my enemy is my friend.
And Cruz and McCain have clashed consistently on Capitol Hill. Lots of folks on Capitol Hill don't like Ted Cruz. And while McCain protests a little bit and says, "Well, I was just answering a question," it's clear he knew exactly what he was doing there.
BLITZER: That's exactly what Donald Trump says: "I was just asking [SIC] a question from a reporter at the Washington post. I gave my honest opinion. I don't know if he's a natural-born citizen," referring to Senator Cruz.
MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: He essentially has taken Ted Cruz off message for two straight days. Even if Donald Trump says that that's not what he intended to do is have the effect of really putting Cruz in a negative light with his supporters.
I'll be very interested to see when the next round of polls came up -- are coming up, because we have not seen polls that have -- that have really tested the appetite of Iowa voters, particularly over the holiday season. How much does this controversy affect Ted Cruz with voters in Iowa? It will be very interesting to see in the coming days, Wolf.
BLITZER: And it's what's intriguing. And you've been covering Donald Trump, Sara, for several months now. You've been on the road watching his actions. He does have, to his credit, a unique ability to change the subject to something he wants the public to focus on, at least the news media to focus on.
SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: No matter what you think of Donald Trump, he's a public relations master. He is a guy with a background in television. He's a guy, when he was working on Trump Tower, he would call people up, and he would pretend that he was someone who worked for Donald Trump to pitch stories to magazines about the amazing tower he was building.
This is a guy who knows how to work the media, and I think that's what we're seeing. And so every time you see Donald Trump throw an attacks out there and then back away and say, "Well, I was just answering a question about this" or "I'm not the one that thinks this, just other people are bringing it up," he knows exactly what he's doing. He's an expert at public relations.
BLITZER: And all of a sudden, Bill Clinton's history is coming into play right now.
Guys, stand by for a moment. We have a lot more politics to discuss. The race for the White House, much more right after this.
[18:39:03] BLITZER: Sexual misconduct allegations that dogged -- that dogged Bill Clinton during his presidency are resurfacing right now as he campaigns for his wife, including a decade's old allegation of rape dating back to his time as the attorney general of Arkansas.
Our senior political correspondent, Brianna Keilar, is in California right now, where Hillary Clinton is campaigning tonight. Brianna, the Clintons aren't commenting on any of this, are they?
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: The Clinton campaign certainly is not, Wolf, but Bill Clinton has been asked and asked about this this week. He has responded, though, not especially directly, today, actually. When he answered a question from CNN's Sunlen Serfaty, might have been the most direct answer. He said of these questions, "They have all been answered."
Now Hillary Clinton is flat-out not addressing this topic. I actually asked her about it three times here at her event in san Gabrielle, California, earlier today, and three times she ignored those questions.
[18:40:01] KEILAR (voice-over): As Bill Clinton hits the campaign trail for his wife...
BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE U.S.: You'll never have a chance to vote for a better candidate.
KEILAR: ... accusations of sexual improprieties from years past are reemerging in Hillary Clinton's race for the White House, the former president trying to shut down the discussion at an event today.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are you at all worried about these questions unanswered, about past allegations?
B. CLINTON: They've all been answered years and years ago.
KEILAR: Also facing questions from an employee of the conservative website, The Daily Caller.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What is your reaction to Juanita Broaddrick?
KEILAR: And the candidate herself also trying to avoid the topic.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What're your reaction to Donald Trump taking aim at you over your husband's past?
HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: That's great.
KEILAR: Now one of the subjects of those scandals is resurfacing, Juanita Broaddrick, who had long claimed that Bill Clinton attacked her in 1978 when she was working on his gubernatorial campaign. She's now a Trump supporter and tweeted, "I was 35 years old when Bill Clinton, Arkansas attorney general, raped me and Hillary tried to silence me. I am now 73. It never goes away."
There was no physical evidence, and no charges were ever filed. In 1999, Bill Clinton's attorney said, "Any allegation that the president assaulted Mrs. Broaddrick more than 20 years ago is absolutely false."
On the campaign trail, a Republican state legislator asked Hillary Clinton about the allegations this week in New Hampshire.
H. CLINTON: You are very rude, and I'm not going to ever call on you.
KEILAR: Critics say Clinton set the stage for these questions with her words supporting victims of rape.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Secretary Clinton, you recently came out to say that all rape victims should be believed, but would you say that about Juanita Broaddrick, Kathleen Wiley and/or Paula Jones, should we believe them, as well?
H. CLINTON: Well, I would say that everybody should be believed at first, until they are disbelieved based on evidence.
KEILAR: Most of Hillary Clinton's opponents have stayed away from the scandals until now.
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The husband wants to come, and she wants to accuse me of things. And the husband is one of the great abusers of the world? Give me a break. Give me a break.
KEILAR: Donald Trump has been hammering on Bill Clinton's past and calling Hillary Clinton an enabler since she accused him of a penchant for sexism two weeks ago.
H. CLINTON: It's not the first time he's demonstrated a penchant for sexism.
KEILAR: Today Bill Clinton answered questions at a campaign event this way.
B. CLINTON: He's said a lot of things. I have no response.
KEILAR: Trump not letting up, his campaign putting out this Instagram video.
H. CLINTON: Women's rights are human rights, and human rights are women's rights, once and for all. Let's keep fighting for opportunity and dignity.
KEILAR: Now something that many Republican presidential candidates have kept in mind, Hillary Clinton's approval ratings were their highest, Wolf, in the middle of the Monica Lewinsky scandal. That's why so many Republican candidates think this is a terrible way to attack her.
Of course, the question is, is Donald Trump different? He talked to a radio station, WGLO, today, and he said that, if he sees female voters are offended by this, him calling Hillary Clinton an enabler, he said, "I can certainly tone it down. There's no doubt about that." We shall see, Wolf.
BLITZER: Brianna, thanks very much. Brianna Keilar, traveling with the former secretary in California. Thank you.
Gloria, a lot of us who covered all those scandals, the Lewinsky scandals, the impeachment scandal, during the late '90s, we remember vividly Bill Clinton emerge with 60 percent job approval numbers, the highest of his presidency, though it is a potential risk for Republicans right now.
BORGER: I think when you're talking about the base of the Republican Party, who's very anti-Clinton, it's not that much of a risk. I think when you're talking about the general election, it is a risk, because you can't blame Hillary Clinton, voters would say, for her husband's alleged indiscretions.
I do think what's interesting about -- about watching Bill Clinton today is that his exerting -- never thought I'd say this -- self- discipline in the way he is deflecting these questions, sticking on message. Bill Clinton goes off message all the time, and he is not doing that in this campaign. We saw him do it when Hillary Clinton last ran for the presidency in 2008. He is not doing that this time, and neither is she. So he's sticking on message about Hillary Clinton. He's not getting angry about these questions, and he's just going on with -- with his campaign for his wife.
BLITZER: I think Gloria makes a good point, Sara, that in a Republican contest, whether in Iowa or New Hampshire or South Carolina, this might be a good vocal issue for Republican candidates, but in a general election down the road, it might backfire.
MURRAY: When you go to these Trump events, there is certainly no love lost for the Clintons there.
[18:45:01] People do not like Hillary Clinton. They do not like Bill Clinton.
But what I thought was interesting was when I was traveling with Trump earlier this week, I was traveling with some voters in line about what they wanted to hear. And a couple of them told me what they didn't want to hear. And they said they didn't want to hear about the Clinton scandals. They said that opened the door to hear about the past. Past Clinton scandals and past Trump scandals and didn't want to get into that. That wanted to hear more Trump talking about the wall along the southern border, they wanted to hear more about his foreign policy philosophy.
So, when you get down to early states, Iowa and New Hampshire, where voters take this seriously, this might not be the kind of thing that moves a lot of Republicans. I think it remains to be seen.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Watch this, Manu, this Trump Instagram that was posted today on the Clintons.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANNDIDATE: Women's rights are human rights and human rights are women's rights once and for all. Let's keep fighting for opportunity and dignity.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: He's the true defender of women's rights. That's the message he's trying to send out. The Clintons are not. MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: They are not. I think the
Clintons will have to address this more fully. I don't think they can continue to just ignore this especially if Trump continues to bang the drum on this.
But I do agree with what Sara and Gloria were saying. I was up on Capitol Hill today. I talked to a lot of Republicans who are very worried about the top of the ticket if Trump or Cruz become the Republican nominee. How this will play in swing districts, swing states, purple and blue states whether you start talking about things like this, it takes them off message.
Charlie Dent, the moderate Republican of Pennsylvania, told me if one of those two men are the nominee, I'm going to have to distance myself from them in largely because of side shows like this.
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: They are afraid they're going to lose control of the Senate and potentially even the House if it's --
RAJU: At least lose some seats.
BORGER: -- Trump or -- well, lose a lot of seats if it's Trump or Cruz, and they will cut the candidate loose and run in their own direction. I've been told the same thing.
BLITZER: But they are both -- they are both two Republican front runners at least in Iowa right now. Let me just show you a little clip. Bill Clinton was giving a speech today on the campaign trail for his wife. Watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT: Keep Americans up at night. And my phone is ringing.
I'll have to call Hillary back and explain why I couldn't take it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Very candid moment from Bill Clinton. He can do that in a speech.
BORGER: Remember when Giuliani ran and the phone rang in the middle of the speech, and he actually took the call and it was his wife.
BLITZER: Mine sometimes rings, I don't take. But during commercial breaks, I'll take.
All right, guys. Thanks very much. We're going to continue to watch what's going on. And some important programming note for our viewers once again. Stay
with us tonight. We're counting down to a CNN prime time event. President Obama joining Anderson Cooper and live audience for "Guns in America" town hall. That's coming up 8:00 p.m. Eastern. A little bit more than an hour from now.
Just ahead, law enforcement training for active shooters as the U.S. sees a surge in gun massacres. We get an up close look at tactics underway right now. Will they save lives?
[18:52:09] BLITZER: President Obama's clearly making gun violence a focus of his final year in office, announcing executive orders to increase gun control. And tonight, taking part in a live town hall on the issue right here on CNN.
And the rise in mass shootings we've seen in recent years has certainly changed the way law enforcement trains for active shooter situations.
CNN justice correspondent Pamela Brown is joining us with details.
Pamela, many police officials say it's not a matter of if but when they'll be called on to respond to an active shooter.
PAMELA BROWN, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf. It's seem as inevitable to law enforcement and since President Obama took office, Wolf, there have been at least 112 active shooter situations, according to the FBI, and there's been an increasing focus on what civilians could do to protect themselves, before law enforcement even arrives on scene.
BROWN (voice-over): A man in a hoodie pulls out a handgun and opens fire on a college campus. Shots ring out as students flee.
This is an FBI training video produced to help law enforcement nationwide learn how to confront and diffuse an active shooter situation.
Since 2008, the year President Obama was elected to 2014, there have been, on average, 17 active shooter incidents every year, more than one a month. That's more than double the number from 2000 to 2007, when there was an average of a seven a year.
They can happen anywhere, anytime. Thirteen people killed at Ft. Hood military base in Texas. Six gunned down at a congress member's rally in Arizona.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Everyone was screaming that it was Gabrielle Giffords.
BROWN: Twenty-six people, including 20 children, shot dead in an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have bodies here.
BROWN: Just last month in San Bernardino, a radicalized husband and wife shot dead 14 innocent people.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Shots fired in the corridor!
BROWN: For federal and local law enforcement, there was an increased focus on training for active shooters in areas.
This rapid response training at Texas State University puts officers into the chaos in real-time.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We hear the shots and know the problem is down here. So, we start, let's go, let's go, because again, if we're coming to try to stop the active shooter, we've got to get to the active shooter.
BROWN: Authorities say it's often up to civilians to either run, hide or fight in those crucial first moments.
RON HOSKO, LAW ENFORCEMENT LEGAL DEFENSE FUND: Law enforcement responds to these incidents and it's not instantaneous. So, citizens have to be thinking about what their response is going to be. If it's a protracted incident, if they hear sirens, but there's no one helping right now.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This was a very, very graphic shootout here.
BROWN: These series of shootings have struck a chord with President Obama, fueling his decision to bypass Congress on gun control during his last year in office.
[18:55:06] BROWN: To put the mass shootings in perspective, all but six of the 160 shooting incidents the FBI looked up from 2000 to 2013 in a recent study involved male shooters and only two involved more than one shooter, more than half of these incidents ended with a shooter committing suicide or fleeing, while 21 incidents ended after unarmed citizens successfully restrained the shooter -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Pamela Brown, good report. Thank you.
Let's dig deeper with the former FBI assistant director, our CNN law enforcement analyst, Tom Fuentes, the former ATF executive Matthew Horace, and CNN law enforcement analyst, and DeKalb County public safety director, Cedric Alexander.
Tom, you have the extensive training in active shooter situations. Does the president's proposals, these executive orders, make sense? Will they work if implemented?
TOM FUENTES, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, I think the problem, Wolf, is that many of these situations are different. You know, years ago, the philosophy was to get your SWAT team organized and get ready before you go in to get an active shooter. Now, they realized after Columbine, just get in there, get police, but first a couple of police officers, they get there, try to find the shooters and neutralize them immediately. So, having training in active shooter situations is a good thing.
BLITZER: They call for a much more, Cedric, active ATF role across the country. Do they have the manpower if you will, the funds to get that done?
CEDRIC ALEXANDER, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, one thing is going to have to happen, Wolf. They resources that is going to be requested is going to have to be there, either through funding or potentially through ATF making some adjustments in terms of how they move their resources around the country. But it's something definitely needed and it's, without question, ATF should, whatever the case may have to be, they will step up and make their necessary adjustments.
BLITZER: Matthew, you worked at the ATF. Do they have the capability to do what the president wants them to do? I know you applaud the president's initiative.
MATTHEW HORACE, FORMER ATF EXECUTIVE: Well, I think it would be irresponsible for us and the president to do nothing in this crisis situation. If you give the ATF and FBI more resources to be able to execute, more vigorous enforcement, more vigorous prosecution and enhanced NICS program, I think you can't go wrong. You have to do something and the president's plan does something.
BLITZER: But, Matthew, I spoke with the congressman today, Trey Gowdy, who said there are 80,000 applications for gun purchases after background checks and a lot of them should be prosecuted, these individuals for lying on their applications and only a few hundred of them actually ever get prosecuted. Why don't more people get prosecuted for lying on these gun applications?
HORACE: Well, Wolf, quite frankly, the prosecutorial guidelines are different in every district. It's always a frustrating thing as an ATF agent to understand the strongest laws on the books for firearms trafficking yielded very small sentences. Therefore, a lot of districts' priorities do not align with the firearms trafficking investigations. Time after time, cases like that are denied.
What has to happen is, the president has to make sure that every district prioritizes gun crimes and gun purchasing, illegal trafficking and get some of these people behind bars and off the street.
BLITZER: Does he make a good point, Congressman Trey Gowdy, Tom, when the president says he's not following the law, they are not prosecuting these individuals who lie in order to buy guns?
FUENTES: Well, I think that's one issue but there's many other drug crimes not being adequately prosecuted. If you remember back in the Fourth of July weekend, then-Superintendent McCarthy in Chicago was talking about the number of fatal shootings they have where the individuals that they arrested have been arrested only weeks earlier with gun violations, having shot people, and they are back on the street in a couple of days.
So, the enforcement aspect of that has to happen at the state level, the city level, all the way up through federal government.
BLITZER: You're law enforcement, Cedric. Are you frustrated by the lack of prosecutions as far as these alleged crimes are concerned?
ALEXANDER: Well, absolutely we are, and certainly, being a law enforcement official, one thing we do ourselves, we certainly support the Second Amendment and we understand the importance of it. Who we want standing next to us, Wolf, are those who are eligible and those who legally own firearms, those who are not, none of us certainly want to be in the company of them and certainly want to do what is necessary to help bring them to justice, so that innocent people don't get hurt, but there are millions of people out there who are legal and very eligible gun owners and who are very responsible, and those are folks we want to line up with to keep us all safe.
BLITZER: Cedric Alexander, Tom Fuentes, Matthew Horace, guys, thanks very much.
Remember, we're only about an hour away right now from a CNN primetime event. There you see live pictures coming in to CNN right now. President Obama getting ready to join Anderson Cooper and a live audience for "Guns in America." That's coming up, one hour from now, 8:00 p.m. Eastern.
In the meantime, thanks very much for watching us. I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM.
"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.