Return to Transcripts main page


Interview With New York Congressman Peter King; Trump in New York; Democratic Battle; Trump Slams GOP 'Rigged System'; Clinton, Sanders Sharpen Attacks Ahead of Debate; U.S. Navy Officer Accused of Spying, Soliciting Prostitutes; Terror Horrors Prompt ISIS Commanders to Defect. Aired 6-7p ET

Aired April 12, 2016 - 18:00   ET



WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now: family affair. We're just hours away from an unprecedented family town hall right here on CNN.

Donald Trump, his wife, Melania, daughter Ivanka and other members of the billionaire family all set to take questions from New York voters just days ahead of the state's critical primary. Trump just finished a new New York rally. We're going to hear his new attacks on Ted Cruz and Hillary Clinton.

Credibility gap, a bitter new battle between Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton, the Sanders camp questioning her credibility, the Clinton camp calling it a character attack. Are the Democratic candidates heading toward all-out war ahead of Thursday night's CNN debate?

Secrets and sex. A high-ranking U.S. Naval officer accused of giving away America's secrets and soliciting prostitutes, tonight, he's under arrest as the military tries to figure out why he was spying and how he was being paid.

And leaving ISIS. Former terrorist commanders defect after witnessing horrific atrocities. Now they're cheering the U.S.-led effort against ISIS and they're telling their chilling stories exclusively to CNN.

We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

BLITZER: We're following breaking news in the race for the White House, the bitterness ramping up tonight, growing more bipartisan. The Republican front-runner, Donald Trump, holding a rally in New York that just wrapped up and continuing to lash out at the Republican delegate system. He's calling it rigged.

And Trump, his wife and children, they're all taking part in a remarkable CNN town hall meeting later tonight. They will answer voters' questions one week ahead of the New York primary, Trump leading his rivals by more than 30 points in the latest poll in New York. We're also following the arrest of a high ranking U.S. Naval officer

who worked on one of the military's most sensitive intelligence missions. Tonight, he's accused of stealing classified information and attempting to transfer it, most likely to China, as well as patronizing prostitution.

We're covering all of that, much more this hour with our guests, including Congressman Peter King. He's a member of the Homeland Security and Intelligence Committees. And our correspondents and expert analysts, they are also standing by with developments on these fast-moving stories.

Let's begin with the tumultuous Republican race for the White House.

Our national correspondent, Jason Carroll, is at a Trump rally in Rome, New York.

Jason, what is Trump saying tonight?

JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, within minutes after taking the stage, we heard some of the strongest criticism yet from Donald Trump about what happened to him in Colorado. He called the system rigged and corrupt. And he said members of the GOP establishment should be ashamed of themselves.


CARROLL (voice-over): Donald Trump angry at the GOP nominating system, which he calls corrupt, this after claiming his supporters in Colorado were shut out when that state awarded all its delegates to Ted Cruz.

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Our Republican system is absolutely rigged. It's a phony deal. This is a dirty trick. And I will tell you what. The RNC, the Republican National Committee, they should be ashamed of themselves for allowing this kind of crap to happen. I can tell you that. They should be ashamed of themselves.

CARROLL: Ted Cruz firing back on Glenn Beck's radio show today, calling Trump a sore loser.

SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Donald wakes up at night in cold sweats that people will call him losing Donald.

CARROLL: Colorado does not have a primary or caucus, instead holds a convention to choose its delegates.

Now the chairman of the Republican National Committee is also weighing in on the issue, tweeting: "The rules were set last year, nothing mysterious, nothing new. The rules have not changed. The rules are the same. Nothing different."

Polls show Trump is holding a commanding lead in New York and could be on track to take a significant portion of the state's 95 delegates up for grabs. Rival John Kasich, out campaigning at a Brooklyn matzo bakery, is running a distant second. His goal, pick up as many delegates as possible and continue to draw differences between himself and the other two candidates.


He encouraged voters not to choose what he called the path of darkness.

GOV. JOHN KASICH (R-OH), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The path that exploits anger, encourages resentment, turns fear into hatred, and divides people, and it cheapens each one of us. It has but one beneficiary, and that is to the politician who speaks of it.

CARROLL: Despite Trump's harsh criticisms of Kasich, he says he would consider him as a possible running mate, along with former rival Senator Marco Rubio and Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker. On CNN's town hall last night, Kasich said, he's not interested.

KASICH: I'm not going to be anybody's vice president. I would be the worst vice president the country ever saw. You know why? Because I'm not like a vice president. I'm a president.

CARROLL: As for Governor Walker.

GOV. SCOTT WALKER (R), WISCONSIN: I literally just heard it in the car and I laughed.

CARROLL: And for those still holding out hope for a late entry into the presidential race by Speaker Paul Ryan:

REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: I do not want, nor will I accept the nomination for our party.


CARROLL: And not likely that Senator Rubio would be willing to be a running mate either, since he repeatedly called Trump a "con man." Trump left the stage telling his supporters to keep supporting him despite what the GOP establishment may want to happen -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, Jason Carroll is in Rome, New York, for us. Thank you.

Let's get some more on Donald Trump.

Our CNN political reporter Sara Murray is joining us right now. She's in New York.

Sara, Trump launching new attacks on Ted Cruz as well as Hillary Clinton. What's the latest?

SARA MURRAY, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf. Donald Trump's campaign believes that they're going to do well in New York. They believe they're going to do well in these Mid- Atlantic states and they believe that he is going to be the nominee.

And that means they are getting ready right now to sharpen his message for a general election. And that's why you're seeing him hit the Democrats even harder. Take a listen.


TRUMP: Bernie Sanders, I will say this. For the last five weeks, you turn on the television, Sanders wins, Sanders wins. Again, Sanders wins, like seven or eight or nine. He keeps winning. And then you listen to the people and the pundits and they say, he has no chance of winning.

I say, what's going on? Because you have superdelegates. By the way, I think the Republicans have a worse system than the Democrats, but they have superdelegates. It makes it impossible for a guy that wins to win. It's a crooked system, folks. It's a crooked system.

It really is a crooked system. You know, again, I don't care who wins over there. I will take on either one of them. I sort of had my heart set on Hillary, to be honest with you. And her whole life -- remember this, her whole life has been one big lie. It's been one big lie.


MURRAY: So, you see Trump there not only calling out the system of how both sides elect their candidates, but taking a much sharper tone with Hillary Clinton than we have seen in the past couple of months. And I think we're going to hear more and more of that going forward, Wolf.

BLITZER: We probably will, Sara. Thank you.

I want to get some more on what's going on.

The Republican Congressman Peter King of New York is joining us. He's a member of the Homeland Security and Intelligence Committees.

Congressman, thanks very much for joining us.


BLITZER: Only a few moments ago up in Rome, New York, Trump went after the Republican National Committee for the entire delegate selection process. I want to play a little bit more of what he said. Listen to this.

KING: Sure.


TRUMP: The party is playing dirty and we got to show our Republican Party, you have been disenfranchised. Everybody has. You got to show the Republican Party that they can't get away with this stuff any longer.


BLITZER: What do you make of him going after the Republican Party like this?

KING: Actually, on this, Donald Trump is wrong. I mean, Donald Trump, himself, has gotten 37 percent of the popular vote. And he is going to get 45 percent of the delegates as of now. So he's doing better than his percentage would indicate.

Also, these rules were in place Donald Trump ever got into the contest at all. And in New York, Donald Trump could well be the beneficiary of the rules we have in New York, where even if he gets just 51 percent of the vote statewide in each of the congressional districts, he will get 100 percent of the delegates, even though he only gets 51 percent of the vote.

This is not -- a party is a private institution. It's a private entity. And each state has its own rules. Some have caucuses. Some have primaries. The Wisconsin primary allows Democrats, independents to vote. The Republicans in New York only allow Republicans to vote in their primary. Each state has its own set of rules. And it's not as if they're being changed to hurt Donald Trump.


He really dropped the ball, for instance, in Colorado by not having his people on the ground at those local conventions.

BLITZER: The House speaker, as you know, today, Paul Ryan, he ruled himself out as a potential presidential candidate. What do you hope to see happen if it does come down to a contested Republican Convention in Cleveland?

KING: I have a great regard for Paul Ryan. And a lot of us are disappointed. I understand why, but he would be an outstanding standard-bearer.

What's going to happen in Cleveland, God only knows. Right now, my best bet is Donald Trump will be close to the 50 percent when he gets there, somewhere between 45 and 50, maybe 47, 48 percent. And his closest competitor will probably be Ted Cruz.

What Donald Trump has going for him is there's no outpouring of love anywhere for Ted Cruz. He would only be an anti-Trump candidate. Very few people like Ted Cruz. He's not going to fall back with any reservoir of love or anything like that.

So, I would say if Donald Trump gets that close, he arrives at the convention, he will probably get the nomination, but, again, anything can happen between now and July. Right now, that's the way I see it.

BLITZER: You have called Donald Trump unqualified to be president. You said that any New Yorker thinking of voting for Senator Cruz should have his or her head examined. Does that mean next Tuesday, you're a registered Republican, you're going to vote for Governor Kasich?

KING: I will be voting and I have great regard for John Kasich. I will leave it at that. I wish John had a better chance of getting the nomination. Right now,

it looks tough for him. But, again, if people did want to send a message, it would be to vote for Kasich. But, again, I haven't decided. I can tell you this. I will not vote for Ted Cruz.

BLITZER: But so you will either vote for Trump or Kasich, right?

KING: Right. One of those two, yes.

BLITZER: And how close are you to making a decision?

KING: Oh, I don't know, Wolf. I will probably decide that day.

And, again, I'm not being coy. Really, a lot depends here on if -- John Kasich, that would send a signal if his vote is significant enough. That may be the way to go. On the other hand, I don't want to do anything that helps Ted Cruz. So, really, you know, there's no -- between Cruz and Trump, there's no great support.

There's a lot of populist call for Donald Trump. But in my mind, I have real issues with Donald Trump. I don't like Ted Cruz. I think he'd be a terrible president. So, I will just leave it at that. And I worked with John Kasich in the House. He's a good guy.

BLITZER: But you have called Trump unqualified. You say any New Yorker who votes for Cruz should have his or her head examined. So here's the question. If one of them is the Republican nominee, would you consider voting for New York state's Hillary Clinton if she were the Democratic nominee?

KING: No, I would support the nominee of the party, but the extent of my enthusiasm, again, if it was Ted Cruz, I would just support the nominee of the party, but that would be the end of it. I wouldn't go any further than that.

BLITZER: Are you going to boycott or are you going to go to the convention in Cleveland?

KING: No, right now, I intend to go to the convention.

To me, you know, we have a job to do. I am somewhat of a leader in the party, not a high-ranking one, but I'm in the party. I have been there for the last 40 years. I have been active in the Republican Party. And, also, I want to be there at the convention when decisions are made.

And, again, you know, who knows what's going to happen? If this goes beyond a first or second ballot, it could be a whole new ball game.

BLITZER: Certainly could be.

As you know, Donald Trump yesterday mentioned in that interview he gave to "USA Today" that Senator Rubio, who you had endorsed, along with Governors Kasich, Scott Walker of Wisconsin, could possibly be his vice presidential running mate picks.

Would the right choice for vice president ease some of your concerns about a potential President Trump?

KING: It certainly would, because it would show that Donald Trump realizes that, you know, in the real world, not reality TV, but the real world, that you do need people on your team, people in high positions who have experience, who know what's going on, who understand the complexity of the issues.

And if you are talking about Senator Rubio, you're talking about Governor Kasich, or Governor Scott Walker, any of those three would be an outstanding addition to the ticket and would really provide the type of leadership and experience and expertise that would go a long way, I think, toward making Donald Trump more acceptable to people beyond his 35 percent base.

BLITZER: Stand by, Congressman. There's a lot more information coming into THE SITUATION ROOM right now.

I want -- we're going to get your insight, your reaction. We will take a quick break. We will be right back.



BLITZER: Donald Trump, his wife and children, they are all poised to take questions from New York voters tonight at a remarkable CNN family town hall that begins in just a few hours. Anderson Cooper will moderate.

We're also following breaking news out of North Korea.

Republican Congressman Peter King of New York is back with us. We're going to talk about all of that. He's a member of the Homeland Security and Intelligence Committees.

Congressman, before we get to North Korea, we just want to update the actual raw vote total in this Republican contest so far, as of Wisconsin, Trump has 8.2 million votes. Cruz has 6.2 million votes. Kasich has 2.9 million votes. Trump is ahead by almost two million votes right now. What does that say to you?

KING: Listen, there's no doubt that Donald Trump has tapped into a movement in the United States, that he has generated an appeal, and he definitely has more Republicans supporting him than either Cruz or John Kasich do.

He doesn't have 50 percent, though. And that's -- it seems he has hit somewhat of a ceiling, even know what he's doing in New York, if he's at 55 or 60, those are big numbers. But it shows that he has a solid base of support and it's very tough to turn him away at the convention because those people are almost fanatically attached to him.

And I use the word fanatical in the best sense of the word.

BLITZER: Yes, they will be very, very disappointed, to put it mildly, if they feel that nomination is stolen from him if he gets close, but not necessarily close enough. So we will see what happens on that front.


Let's talk about North Korea, very disturbing developments unfolding. Our Pentagon correspondent, Barbara Starr, reporting North Korea may be preparing to launch a mobile ballistic missile.

First of all, what do you know about this, and is this type of missile capable of reaching the United States?

KING: Wolf, I really can't say what I know. And to be honest with you, I'm not certain as to its -- how far it can go.

But whether it can or not, the fact is this is a -- if it's true, it's a very, very significant move. And it's an example, again, of the danger we face from North Korea and why some type of action has to be taken, whether it's a strong, strong economic boycott with, you know, the U.S. pressuring China, but action has to be taken, because he's just almost out of control.

And this, again, would be a significant step forward for North Korea.

BLITZER: When you say some kind of action, that sort of suggests maybe military action, a preemptive strike of some sort. Is that what you're talking about?

KING: No, not at this stage.

But I think China has to take it more seriously. And it's really up to the United States. I don't mean this in a partisan way. We have to start putting more pressure, working with China. North Korea cannot exist without China. And there's various reasons why China doesn't put more pressure on North Korea than it has up until now.

One reason, it doesn't want millions of North Koreans coming across the border. But the fact is, this is becoming a threat to the world, and China has to be the adult in that region. And whatever pressure we have, we are a Pacific power. We have to work and deal and really lean on China to take more action to stop North Korea.

BLITZER: Congressman Peter King of New York, thanks very much.

KING: Thank you, Wolf.

BLITZER: Just ahead, we're counting down to tonight's CNN town hall with Donald Trump, his wife and children. They're all getting ready to take questions from New York voters. Stand by for that.

Plus, the increasingly bitter battle between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, it is heating up with just two days to go before CNN's Democratic presidential debate in Brooklyn.


[18:26:36] BLITZER: Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump blasting the

party's delegate system in a rally ahead of tonight's CNN family town hall.

Listen to what he told supporters in Upstate New York.


TRUMP: The system, folk, is rigged. It's a rigged system.

Now, you have to understand I'm not complaining about the states that I won. Those are OK. The rules are no good when you don't get democracy. The rules are no good when they don't count your vote, when they don't, like in Colorado.

The rules are no good when you have to play dirty tricks in order to pick up delegates. OK? But the system's rigged. And I will tell you what. When you look at Colorado -- and people can say, oh, well that's the way the game's played.

Look, they should have had an election. They didn't have an election. That system is set up so that the crooked politicians can make sure they get somebody in that's not, you know, part of what we're doing. This is a movement, folks.

I'm self-funding my campaign. They hate it. They hate it.


TRUMP: They don't want me to self-fund my campaign. They don't want it because you know what? They're all controlled by their special interests. They're all controlled by their lobbyists, 100 percent.


BLITZER: All right.

Let's dig a little bit deeper with our chief political analyst, Gloria Borger, our CNN political commentator and former Obama senior adviser Dan Pfeiffer, our CNN political commentator Ana Navarro, our CNN senior political analyst and senior editor for "The Atlantic," Ron Brownstein.

Guys, thanks very much.

Ana, I want you to react to what we just heard from Donald Trump that the system is rigged, except for those states he won.



You know, he's got a selective criticism of the system. When he wins, the system works just fine. When he loses, the system is crooked, the system is rigged. Look, Wolf, our system is quirky. Every state gets to decide how they want to run their state contest. Some states have primaries. Some states have caucuses. Some states have conventions.

But it is up to each state. And you have got to know what each state wants, what each state's rules are. In the same way that you have got to fill out and, you know, and go by the requirements to be on the ballot in each state, you have got to go through the specific requirements to compete at each state contest.

And I think he sounds whiny. I think he sounds infantile. But I also know that he's laying out this narrative so if he gets close to 1,237, but doesn't get quite there, he can claim that it's getting stolen from him and raise all kinds of hell at the convention. That's what he's doing.

BLITZER: Ron, Senator Cruz today called Donald Trump, he said -- he called him losing Donald, said Trump was whining over losing delegates to Cruz in state conventions.

But, as I just pointed out, we just updated the raw vote total after Wisconsin. He's ahead by two million votes. He's got 8.2 million so far. Cruz has 6.2 million, Kasich 2.9 million. That's a huge difference.

RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: It is a huge difference, but as we said many times, Donald Trump, himself, is stuck at around 40 percent of that popular vote. He's not at a majority of the popular vote and is unlikely to get there before the end.

And in fact, you know, as Representative King noted to you, his share of the delegates will exceed, in many cases, his share of the popular vote because of the winner-take-all features.

[18:30:15] Look, I would not say the system is rigged, as Donald Trump did, but I would say it is rickety. And it seems to me that, if we are moving into an era, which I think we are, where we're going to see more races that go through all 50 states, where every delegate matters, these non-primary contests, the caucuses and the conventions in many cases, I'm not sure they can withstand the level of scrutiny that they are now going to face; because in many cases, they are not being conducted at a standard sufficient to the stakes involved.

These are the rules. These are the rules this year. Donald Trump should be competing in them, not complaining about them. It probably undermines his case to the delegates to be complaining about them. But in the longer term, if every delegate is going to matter, I think there needs to be a serious internal look by the Republican Party at how these states are undertaking this very important responsibility.

BLITZER: They might have to do another autopsy report after this election cycle.

Dan, the House speaker, Paul Ryan, just came out, and he said rule him out as a presidential candidate, absolutely positively. But you know what? He sort of said the same thing when he was originally being drafted to become the speaker of the House. Has he put this to rest?

DAN PFEIFFER, FORMER OBAMA SENIOR ADVISOR: I think he is sincere in saying he is absolutely not going to run. He will not, you know, not serve if nominated or whatever the Sherman-esque thing is. But I don't think it's going to put it to rest.

This is the ultimate fantasy of a lot of the Republican establishment types who are very uncomfortable with a Trump/Cruz version of the party, and Paul Ryan is their demigod, and they'd be excited about it.

I think from Paul Ryan's perspective, this is smart. He was not going to win, even if he had been nominated. And it would have been really bad for his political future, because he would have angered the 40 percent of the party that Ron's talking about who are really, like -- what Paul Ryan represents is what makes the Trump/Cruz voters so angry about the party.

Paul Ryan is incredibly pro-trade, incredibly pro-Wall Street. You know, supports cutting Medicare and Social Security. And so the disconnect between Washington and the Trump/Cruz voters is embodied by Paul Ryan.

So getting him out of the middle of this was the right thing for him to do for his political future, I think.

BLITZER: Gloria, Donald Trump says the delegate selection process, he says, in his words, "it's a dirty -- dirty, rotten, disgusting system."

The chairman of the Republican National Committee, Reince Priebus, he tweeted last night, "The rules were set last year. Nothing mysterious. Nothing new. The rules have not changed. The rules are the same. Nothing different."

How will the Republican race be impacted if Trump keeps questioning this entire Republican delegate process? Do you see the RNC making any changes?

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: You know, look, I think the changes are up to the rules committee, Wolf, and it's up to Trump to get his people on the rules committee; and I think he -- he probably will.

I think, you know, Trump said it himself. The question here is, if you are questioning the legitimacy of the process, right, what happens if you win? Does it -- does it still remain an illegitimate process if you actually triumph and come out of the convention as the -- as the nominee?

And also, does it hurt your case, as Ron was alluding to, going into the convention if you tell these delegates, "You're part of a lousy, rotten, corrupt process, but on the other hand, why don't you all vote for me?"

I think that doesn't help make your case in the long term.

So he clearly is putting the RNC on notice. We understand he has to do that, just in case he doesn't win. But if he does, what does he then say? "Oh, never mind? You know, the process worked"? I mean, it's kind of -- it's kind of a difficult position for him to take.

BLITZER: All right. Good point.

Everyone, stand by. We have more information coming in.

I want to remind our viewers to stay with CNN tonight for a truly remarkable town hall meeting. Donald Trump, his wife, his children, all taking questions from New York voters ahead of the state's crucial primary next week. Tomorrow night, Ted Cruz and his wife will do the same thing. All starting, by the way, 9 p.m. Eastern later tonight only here on CNN. We'll be right back.


[18:39:02] BLITZER: The Democratic race for the White House is taking on a tougher tone right now with sharp new attacks between the Clinton and Sanders campaigns ahead of Thursday's CNN presidential debate. Our senior Washington correspondent, Jeff Zeleny, is following the race for us.

Jeff, both campaigns are taking fresh jabs at each other. Update our viewers.

JEFF ZELENY, CNN CHIEF WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, you almost need a scorecard here to keep track. But the headline from one Bernie Sanders press release today included a growing laundry list of issues.

He was questioning Hillary Clinton's stance on Wall Street reform, fracking, what they call a corrupt campaign finance system, and job- killing trade deals.

For their part, the Clinton campaign is calling out Sanders for his legislative record on guns and saying he simply is untested to be president. That's why both sides are bracing for Thursday when they come face to face on that debate stage for the first time in five weeks.


ZELENY (voice-over): Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign hit a milestone today.

HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I am absolutely thrilled to be here on this occasion. The one-year anniversary of my journey and my campaign.

ZELENY: Exactly one year ago, she announced her bid for the presidency like this.

CLINTON: I'm hitting the road to earn your vote, because it's your time. And I hope you'll join me on this journey.

ZELENY: But this part of the journey has been longer than she ever imagined. She didn't mark the moment with a big celebration or rally. But Bernie Sanders did. Once again, his crowds dwarfing hers on the campaign trail. SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (D-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Doesn't look like

we can get too many more people in this place.

ZELENY: The Democratic rivals are locked in a bitter duel for next week's New York primary. As Clinton flew to Florida today for three fundraisers to keep her primary campaign alive, Sanders reminded supporters in upstate New York he's raising money a bit differently.

SANDERS; We have shown the world that you can run a winning national campaign without being dependent on Wall Street and the big money interests.

ZELENY: Today in Washington, President Obama stayed out of the back and forth but made clear he believes it's time for a woman to be president.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I want them to be astonished that it was there was ever a time when women were vastly outnumbered in the boardroom or in Congress, that there was ever a time when a woman had never sat in the Oval Office.

ZELENY: But the Clinton team is hoping to slow Sanders' rise, saying he's untested and trying to upend the process by urging super delegates to jump ship.

BRIAN FALLON, PRESS SECRETARY, HILLARY FOR AMERICA: If anybody's trying to rig the system right now to overturn the will of the people, it's Senator Sanders.

ZELENY: Bill Clinton had tough words of his own for Sanders.

BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Her opponent says everybody who's not for him is by definition a member of some dark establishment. They voted together 93 percent of the time.

ZELENY: Also today, a fresh reminder the Clintons have had their eye on Donald Trump for years. Newly-released documents from the Clinton Presidential Library show that back in 1999, the president's team was trying to explain Trump's ambitions. Planning how to respond to a potential Trump candidacy in 2000, Bill Clinton was given this advice. "It may say something about the way the media covers politics these days, but I have the utmost confidence in the American people to sort out the wheat from the chaff."


ZELENY: Now there's no time to focus extensively on Trump in this presidential campaign for the Clintons. Tonight, Hillary Clinton is in Florida, raising money for her primary campaign. It is taking her away from voters here in New York, but it's critical. By now one year into her campaign, she hoped to be focused on the fall, but this primary is still consuming the lion's share of her time -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Certainly a lot of money that she had hoped she could spend in a general election. All right. Thanks very much for that. Dan Pfeiffer, Hillary Clinton attacking Senator Sanders' position on

guns. She said something yesterday that raised some eyebrows. Listen to this.


CLINTON: Most of the guns that are used in crimes and violence and killings in New York come from out of state. And the state that has the highest per capita number of those guns that end up committing crimes in New York come from Vermont.


BLITZER; Dan, the "Washington Post" fact checked that charge, finding the per capita number goes way up due to Vermont's very small population. They gave her three Pinocchios on this one. Should she be using this criticism against Senator Sanders?

PFEIFFER: Well, I think, a couple things.

First, I looked at that fact check and I'm pretty sure that Hillary Clinton was actually factually correct, and the "Washington Post" was actually being fairly subjective in trying to say that it wasn't fair; but it was certainly true.

I think the point she's making is legitimate and correct that, even when you have a state like New York that does a very good job of passing gun safety laws, what other states do affects you.

The city of Chicago where President Obama's from has had some very tough laws, but it's right next -- borders a lot of states that don't. From a political -- and that leads to guns coming into the city.

From a political prospective and a substantive perspective, this is a very legitimate point. Bernie Sanders has been all over the map on this issue. I think he is substantively wrong. It's also one where he is completely out of touch with the Democratic electorate and a lot of his supporters.

And so if we're going to be in this back and forth, you know, throughout this part of this campaign, this is a good place for Hillary Clinton to try to direct the debate.

BLITZER: Ron, the Clinton library in Little Rock, they released documents from Bill Clinton's presidency today relating to Donald Trump.

Clinton's staff prepared for a 1999 possible interview question on rumors that Donald Trump at that time would run for president. The proposed answer was this: "We go through all sorts of cycles in politics. And we're in one now where some people from the entertainment world are talking about running for president. That's not a first, by the way. So it's a free country. People can chart their own course. And the political process will sort out the wheat from the chaff. I'm not concerned about it."

[18:45:01] Was he right that the process would, quote, "sort out the wheat from the chaff"?

BROWNSTEIN: That is a surprisingly metaphysical question for THE SITUATION ROOM, Wolf.

So, I would say -- I would say what the system has done is expose both the strengths and the weaknesses and limitations of Donald Trump. On the one hand, as we've all said and as has been clear for months, he's established a deep and passionate connection with a deep portion of the Republican base, a bigger portion of the Republican base than any other candidate.

But he's not reached a majority support within the party. He's won voters without a college degree in 17 of the 21 states with exit polls. He's won voters with a college degree in 8 of 21 states with exit polls.

And when you look beyond the Republican electorate, the same presentation and agenda that has enabled them to develop that kind of hold, has produced historically high negatives among groups like millennials, minorities, college-educated white women at the core of the Democratic coalition. So, we've seen real political talent from Donald Trump. He's been a destabilizing force. We've also seen he has not really been able to do that without a high cost among the big portions of the electorate beyond those most attracted to him.

BLITZER: Gloria, new poll out among New York voters finds 30 percent of Democrats who support Bernie Sanders would not support Hillary Clinton in a general election compared to 15 percent of Clinton supporters who say they wouldn't support Bernie Sanders. Are these numbers concerning?

BORGER: Look, the Sanders voters are more anti-Clinton than vice versa, and that's really no surprise. These are young, passionate voters, but when you look at the polls in New York state, for example, the good news for Hillary Clinton is that she is easily beats all of her potential Republican opponents handily in the state of New York.

So, I don't think it's anything up expected and I don't think I'd be too worried about it if I were in the Clinton campaign. The Sanders voters will come around depending who they're up against.

BLITZER: And, Ana, the -- Bill Clinton, as you know, he's aggressively campaigns in New York for Hillary Clinton despite getting some criticism for his treatment of Black Lives Matter protesters. Today, he has three events in New York. Is the Clinton campaign seeing a boost from the former president's efforts?

NAVARRO: You know, Wolf, I think anybody who has seen bill Clinton in action knows he's one of the most skilled, able politicians in our history, certainly in our recent history. I actually think that Black Lives Matter exchange was one of the most refreshingly honest and blunt, unplugged moments of this entire 2016 campaign certainly on the Democratic side. If anything, it highlights how wary, how scripted, how guarded Hillary Clinton has been, how focused she has been when it comes to this issue. I think he raised some important issues and I think you just -- when

you balance it out, when you put it in the balance, having Bill Clinton on your side as your top surrogate, having him out there does you a lot more good than it does you harm.

BLITZER: All right. Everyone, stand by. I want to remind our viewers to join us Thursday night when Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders will face off for the final time before the critical New York primary. I'll be moderating CNN's Democratic presidential debate. We're live from Brooklyn Thursday night, 9:00 p.m. Eastern, only here on CNN.

Just ahead, a U.S. Navy officer accused of trying to sell military secrets and soliciting prostitutes. We're learning new details of a shocking new spy scandal.


[18:52:56] BLITZER: We're learning new details of a spy and sex scandal involving a U.S. Navy officer. He's in military jail tonight, facing some shocking charges.

Our chief national security correspondent Jim Sciutto is working the story for us.

Jim, some very sensitive information at risk potentially in this case. What did you learn?


Really, some of the most sensitive information on U.S. intelligence gathering capabilities, specifically, it's most advanced U.S. surveillance planes, those flying in and around China on some of those most sensitive missions. You remember, we were on one of those flights last year, and now, the U.S. military investigating the possibility that some of most sensitive secrets have been transferred to a country most likely mainland China.


SCIUTTO: He worked on one of U.S. military's most sensitive intelligence missions. Supporting spy planes including the advance Poseidon aircraft, monitoring Asia, including China. Now, U.S. Navy Lieutenant Commander Edward Lin is accused of stealing classified information about that mission and attempting to transfer it most likely sources tell CNN to the People's Republic of China.

Lin was taken into custody eight months ago in Hawaii as he was boarding a flight to mainland China.

Retired Colonel Cedric Leighton, a former intelligence officer, says a member of Lin's reconnaissance group would have been an extremely knowledgeable source.

COL. CEDRIC LEIGHTON (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: You understand the capabilities of reconnaissance aircraft and they also understand the routes that those reconnaissance aircraft are flying. So, with that kind of information the Chinese or anybody else would be able to figure out not only when these airplanes are flying, but what those airplanes can see. What they can intercept.

SCIUTTO: In a highly redacted charge sheet, Lin is accused of espionage, attempted espionage and patronizing prostitution.

The Navy alleges he passed on, quote, "secret information to a representative of a foreign government."

LEIGHTON: You want to know what his contacts were in China. Why was he going there? Was this truly a pleasure trip or was it something else?

[18:55:01] My suspicion is that it was something else.

SCIUTTO: Sources tell CNN the investigation is in its early stages. Attempts to reach Lin who is being held in a brig in Virginia were unsuccessful.

Lin was born in Taiwan and came to the U.S. with his family when he was just 14. His journey from immigrant to mid-ranking naval officer was applauded by the Navy. Lin's Facebook post shows him joining a congressional delegation to the Mideast in 2012, a young scholars visit to Taiwan in 2011, and twice visiting mainland China where he posed for a picture in Tiananmen Square, and with Chinese soldiers and sailors.

Speaking at a citizenship ceremony in 2008, Lin said, quote, "I always dreamt about coming to America, the 'Promised Land'. I grew up believing that all the roads in America lead to Disneyland."

Though Lin has been in custody for eight months now, the U.S. military still deciding whether to proceed to a court martial, but they are, Wolf, taking this case and the potential fallout from this case very seriously.

BLITZER: Jim Sciutto, thank you.

Former terrorist commanders who defected from ISIS, we have a special exclusive report.

Our senior international correspondent Nick Paton Walsh reports from Afghanistan.


NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Looking for ISIS FM's in Afghanistan's east, ISIS' radio broadcast of hate was bombed off air recently by the U.S. But here it's been coming back in the past week.

"It was there three days ago, and it's gone again," says one man. "They were talking nonsense," says another. "They're asking people to pledge allegiance and march on Kabul," he adds. This is one broadcast they recorded earlier. ISIS is trying to put

down roots here.

But every day, more Afghans want to tear them up. And that starts here with Arabistan and Zaitoun. Two months ago, we wouldn't have sat like this. Then they were commanders in ISIS.

ZAITOUN, FORMER ISIS COMMANDER (through translation): They just like beheadings. Think they are good to do.

PATON WALSH: ISIS, they say, came from Pakistan, not Iraq, and promised guns and money to their struggling group of Taliban. Their agenda: black flags, killing and looting, which they did go along with at first.

ARABISTAN, FORMER ISIS COMMANDER (through translation): They knew who was to take their money. The poor, they would arm to fight for them or kill them.

PATON WALSH: It went south fast. And they both remember the moment when.

ZAITOUN: I remember when they beheaded seven people in the bazaar, including government workers and Pakistani Taliban. I saw the long strip of wood they did it on covered in blood. They just threw the bodies away and buried. It was very un-Islamic.

ARABISTAN: My worst memory was, if you were killed fighting for them, they wouldn't hand your wife and children to a relative but put them in a camp.

PATON WALSH: ISIS recruit children here. Their own videos show another reason the two men work with Afghan intelligence who set up our interview, to get other locals to join an uprising program against ISIS.

But they say they've lacked government protection and money and that's put potential defectors off. The fight is now left just to American drones, they say.

ARABISTAN: Drones are doing a good job killing is. They target them as soon as they leave their houses.

ZAITOUN: The government hasn't made any progress in those areas. It's only the bombing that's effective.

PATON WALSH (on camera): You were in the Taliban, then in ISIS and now the American drones are bombing your own village but you're pleased about this because it's killing ISIS. Is that a strange feeling for you?

ZAITOUN (through translation): It makes us happy. We want them wiped out.

PATON WALSH: They are killers themselves who know what they're talking about. Arabistan holds up his cloak. Holes from an American helicopter attack not long ago when he was Taliban.

ISIS has shattered ordinary lives, too. Across town and in a luxury village built for rich people who never came, are hundreds of families who fled ISIS.

(on camera): Afghanistan, like many nations inflected by ISIS basically has to battle an idea, a kind of virus that appeals to minds warped after decades of war. They don't see the Taliban as radical enough, an idea that no matter how hard you battle or bomb it, it's very difficult to completely extinguish.

(voice-over): Many of their homes are still occupied and much damage is irreversible.

They killed this man's brother and then shot him in the waist as he helped his family escape. He's left unable to provide for them and ISIS still live in their home.

ISIS savagery was first glimpsed in Afghanistan in this video where they lined up opponents and they detonated a bomb below them. The man who speaks is survived by his nephew Rustam.

RUSTAM, DISPLACED BY ISIS (through translation): My brother called my father to tell him the death was on Facebook. We couldn't bury him if we didn't have a body. Its pieces are probably still lying where it was blown up.

PATON WALSH: Decade of trauma here, yet somehow it gets worse.

Nick Paton Walsh, CNN, Jalalabad.


BLITZER: Very desperate situation.

"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.