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Source: Trump Orders Supporters to Keep Attacking Judge; Sanders: 'Wrong' to Call Clinton Presumptive Nominee. Aired 5-6p ET
Aired June 6, 2016 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[17:00:10] WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Happening now, breaking news. Not backing down. Despite Republican leaders condemning his attacks on a judge and on journalists, Donald Trump digs in his heels, defying his own campaign. On a conference call with supporters today, Trump demands that they keep up the attacks.
No apologies. Even as he criticized -- criticizes the Mexican heritage of the judge in the Trump University lawsuit, Trump now says he has the same concerns about a Muslim judge. That follows his questioning of President Obama's birthplace, comments about women. Trump has a long record of refusing to say he's sorry, but with his party in chaos, has he now gone too far?
Call on hold? Hillary Clinton could lock up the Democratic nomination on Super Tuesday once the East Coast votes are counted, but Bernie Sanders is urging the news media not to call Clinton the presumptive nominee before the convention. How far will he take his fight?
And terror spies. Coalition strikes on ISIS leaders spark a wave of panic and paranoia as the terror group brutally executes accused spies within its own ranks.
I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
BLITZER: Let's get to the breaking news. Sources say Donald Trump is telling supporters to step up criticism of the judge overseeing the Trump University case. In a conference call today, the billionaire told people who appear on TV on his behalf he's not going to apologize.
Trump himself is doubling down. Not only is he sticking to his racially-charged comments about the Latino judge, but now Trump says a Muslim judge could also be biased against him.
Republican leaders are appalled and increasingly worried about the electoral impact of Trump's comments. Former primary rivals and party officials have slammed Trump's statements, but the candidate himself is unapologetic, and one of his advisers says he's only saying aloud what many in the party are thinking.
As we count down to the campaign's final Super Tuesday, Hillary Clinton needs just 26 delegates to effectively lock up the Democratic nomination. She's going all out today in California. That's the biggest prize of all.
Whether Clinton wins tomorrow's primaries or not, she'll easily go over the top. But Bernie Sanders still isn't ready to concede. He warns against calling Clinton the presumptive nominee and may take his fight all the way to the convention in July in Philadelphia. And that has Democratic leaders worried about a unity problem, just when they want to shift the focus to Donald Trump.
I'll speak with the Republican congressman, Chris Collins, the first Republican congressman to endorse Donald Trump. And our correspondents and analysts and guests, they will have full coverage of all of the day's top stories.
Let's begin with the growing backlash against Donald Trump's comments about a federal judge of Mexican heritage.
CNN's Jim Acosta is outside Trump Tower in New York City. Jim, this is now becoming an increasing tidal wave, but we're learning Trump is ready to keep it -- up the ante?
JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: It sounds like it, Wolf. We are learning stunning new details about discussions inside the Trump campaign about the candidate's comments on Judge Gonzalo Curiel. According to a GOP source who was on this conference call that Trump held earlier today, Trump told his staff and surrogates there would be no apologies, no apologies, and that they should not back down in criticizing Judge Curiel, saying it's a case of judicial activism.
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We're building a wall. He's a Mexican. We're building a wall between here and Mexico.
ACOSTA (voice-over): The swift condemnation of Donald Trump's comments on federal Judge Gonzalo Curiel is coming in from nearly every corner of the Republican Party. From former foes like Marco Rubio...
SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R-FL), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Quite frankly, I'm very disturbed of the way that he's referring to this judge, an American, born in Indiana, who he continues to raise issues about. And I hope he'll stop doing that.
ACOSTA: And John Kasich, who tweeted, "Attacking judges based on their race and/or religion is another tactic that divides our country. More importantly, it is flat-out wrong."
Even Trump supporters who have been mentioned as possible vice- presidential running mates are sounding off.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't condone the comment.
NEWT GINGRICH (R), FORMER SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: This is one of the worst mistakes Trump has made. I think it's inexcusable. This judge was born in Indiana. He is an American, period. ACOSTA: Trump is not backing down.
TRUMP (via phone): I was surprised that Newt -- I thought it was inappropriate what he said.
ACOSTA: Even though Trump is their likely nominee, the GOP's own top leaders are denouncing his comments.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is it a racist statement?
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MAJORITY LEADER: I couldn't disagree more with what he had to say.
ACOSTA: That's in part because the real-estate tycoon is not only standing firm that Judge Curiel's Mexican-American heritage should bar him from handling the lawsuits against Trump University.
[17:05:08] TRUMP (on camera): This judge is giving us unfair rulings. Now I want to say why. Well, I want to -- I'm building a wall, OK, and it's a wall between Mexico. Not another country.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: He's not -- he's not from Mexico. He's from Indiana.
TRUMP: He's Mexican heritage. And he's very proud of it.
ACOSTA: Trump has gone further, singling out other ethnic groups.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If it were a Muslim judge, would you also feel like they wouldn't be able to treat you fairly because of that policy of yours?
TRUMP: It's possible, yes. That would be possible. Absolutely.
ACOSTA: The outcry has revealed a divide inside the campaign, with one adviser telling CNN Trump's comments are "no reason to celebrate." But another adding, "He's sing good amount of people are thinking and don't want to say it."
The judge's brother, Raul Curiel, says Trump is speaking out of ignorance.
RAUL CURIEL, BROTHER OF JUDGE CURIEL (via phone): I think it's more of not knowing and yes, I would say ignorance. I don't think he's strictly outright racist like some of your Ku Klux Klan. Those kind of people are really racist, and they have no redeeming qualities. Trump, I don't believe, is that caliber of person, but he is very, very uninformed.
ACOSTA: Raul Curiel notes he and his brother were born in Indiana, raised by immigrant parents, like millions of other Americans.
CURIEL: I know my brother is not taking it as seriously as some other people might. I really don't take it that seriously either. My concern is that it's hurting other people; it's hurting our image as sons of immigrants. It hurts our people in general. (END VIDEOTAPE)
CURIEL: Now, as for that conference call Trump held earlier today with his top staff and surrogates, the candidate's orders were to keep up the criticism of the judge and that that runs counter to an e-mail that went out last night to campaign staffers and surrogates. That e- mail, Wolf, I'm told, also copied Corey Lewandowski and campaign communications director Hope Dix. That e-mail had told staffers to talk -- stop talking about the judge.
But I'm also told the campaign is very upset with former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who they felt went way off message today in criticizing Donald Trump. They are disappointed with Newt Gingrich inside this campaign tonight, Wolf.
BLITZER: He apparently was on some sort of a short list as a potential vice-presidential running mate for Donald Trump, as well. We'll see if that holds. All right, Jim Acosta, thanks very much.
Let's bring in our chief political correspondent, Dana Bash.
Dana, we're also learning that Trump has sort of a track record, and you've been going through it, insulting various groups over this past year. What do you have for us?
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, look, just the fact that Donald Trump held the conference call today and urged people who are in his corner to push back hard, that is in keeping with the kind of unconventional candidate that Donald Trump is. As unconventional as they come.
But what's happening to him now is what happens to conventional politicians. His comments needed narrative, based in part on a perceived pattern and, in Trump's case, it's racial intolerance.
TRUMP: This judge is of Mexican heritage. I'm building a wall, OK? I'm building a wall.
BASH (voice-over): A federal judge of Mexican descent who Trump wants removed from one of the fraud cases against Trump University.
TAPPER: If you are saying he can't do his job because of his race, is that not the definition of racism?
TRUMP: I don't think so at all.
BASH: Yet virtually every other Republican is suggesting that's exactly what it is, even staunch Trump supporters.
GINGRICH: If the liberal were to attack Justice Clarence Thomas on the grounds that he's black, we would all go crazy. Every conservative would say it's wrong and it was racism.
BASH: The trouble for Trump, this is just the latest in a string of incendiary comments, going back to 2011 when he infamously questioned whether Barack Obama was really born in the U.S.
TRUMP: He doesn't have a birth certificate.
BASH: And more recently, reluctance to denounce a former KKK leader.
TRUMP: Honestly, I don't know David Duke. I don't believe I've ever met him. I'm pretty sure I didn't meet him.
BASH: Trump later made clear he would disavow David Duke. Then, late last week, Trump referred to a black supporter in the crowd this way.
TRUMP: Look at my African-American over here. Look at him. Are you the greatest?
BASH: That supporter, congressional candidate Gregory Cheadle, told CNN that he wasn't offended but acknowledged others were.
Then there was Trump's controversial call to temporarily ban all Muslims from entering America.
TRUMP: Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shut-down of Muslims entering the United States.
BASH: That drew support from GOP primary supporters but was condemned by many GOP leaders.
REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: This is not conservatism.
BASH: As for Trump's inflammatory remarks regarding the federal judge...
TRUMP: He's a hater. His name is Gonzalo Curiel. The judge who happens to be, we believe, Mexican, which is great. I think that's fine.
[17:10:04] BASH: Republicans may think it's morally wrong, but they also worry it's politically destructive for the GOP, since Hispanics are such a growing force in the U.S. population, 55 million nationally as of 2014, compared to just 9.6 million some 40 years ago, according to the Pew Research Center.
And it's not only states with traditionally large Hispanic populations. In fact, the state with the biggest Hispanic growth in the last census was reliably red Alabama.
Alienating voters with racial intolerance is what several former Trump GOP opponents warned about.
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think embracing Donald Trump is embracing demographic death.
BASH: Going for votes in a rather narrow Republican primary electorate, Trump prevailed. But now he's the leader of the party of Abraham Lincoln, the country becoming less and less white, which makes his comments more and more alarming to many Republicans. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: he's got to move his game up to the level of being
a potential leader.
BASH: But based on the call that Trump had with supporters today, urging them to push back rather than give in or recalibrate, it doesn't sound like Trump is prepared to listen to that tough love from Newt Gingrich or people like, Wolf, Senator Bob Corker, who of course, is another supporter. Both of them were apparently on some kind of a vice-presidential running mate list.
BLITZER: We'll see if they still are after the criticism of Donald Trump on this specific issue involving the judge. All right, Dana, thanks very much.
Joining us now, Republican Congressman Chris Collins of New York. He was the first House member to endorse Donald Trump.
Congressman, thanks very much for joining us.
REP. CHRIS COLLINS (R), NEW YORK: It's always good to be with you, Wolf.
BLITZER: All right. So you've heard about this conference call with the surrogates, where he told them to double down on the criticism of the judge and of the journalist. First of all, were you on that conference call?
COLLINS: No, I wasn't on the conference call. But I'll say this, Wolf. This has been somewhat of a distraction as we're going forward. I think we need to put this behind us, but remember, actions speak louder than words. Donald Trump, 50 years in the private sector, has shown that race, religion and gender did not influence him when it comes to hiring the best and the brightest in his organization. The way he treats people, Donald Trump is not a racist.
BLITZER: But you don't agree, Congressman -- do you agree with his comments about this federal judge?
COLLINS: Well, what I've said before, I don't know anything about the case. Donald Trump is saying there is bias in the case. I would not have used the word "Mexican." But if the judge is biased, it's Donald Trump's right to ask this judge to recuse himself. I would not have gone as far as to bring that into the conversation. But I'll leave that up to Donald Trump and the bias piece.
But luckily, the judge has said he's not going to move forward on this case until after the election. So from my perspective, it's a distraction now. We need to get on to the fight of defeating Hillary Clinton. And the "never Clinton" mood of the Republican Party and I think the mood of the United States will make Donald Trump our next president.
BLITZER: But as you just heard, Congressman, Donald Trump isn't ready to move on. He's doubling down. He's tripling down. You heard him on this conference call. He told the supporters to continue to go after the judge. His argument is the judge is not fair because of his Mexican heritage. And a lot of your Republican colleagues believe that is a racist epithet.
COLLINS: Well, Donald Trump is a fighter, and as was state earlier, he is an unconventional candidate who has not spent time in the political world. And I would just say, again, actions speak louder than words.
Donald Trump is not a racist, but we do know is, for the future of this country, we cannot have Hillary Clinton as our president. We know Donald Trump is going to bring the jobs back to this country. He's going to stand up to our enemies across the world, whether that's Iran or North Korea.
So we need to move beyond this. The judge has said he's not moving the case forward. So this has been a distraction, and I'll certainly acknowledge that. But it's just time for all of us to move on and take the fight to Hillary Clinton as we will find out tomorrow can't even shake off a 74-year-old socialist.
BLITZER: Here's the question. I know you don't believe that Donald Trump is a racist. But the comments about this federal judge of Mexican heritage, are the comments racist?
COLLINS: Well, I'd say Donald Trump is angry with a judge that he feels is terribly biased. His attorneys have told him that the rulings are terribly biased.
Donald Trump is a fighter, and he has said what he has said. I have said, while I would not have used those words, I will defer to Donald Trump as to whether he believes that the judge is biased.
And it's time to just let go of this and let's move on. Let's focus on the disarray and the Democratic party, the fact that Hillary is not going to have the nomination locked up, the Democratic Party is fractured.
[17:15:00] BLITZER: But Congressman -- Congressman, even if he believes the judge has not been fair, there are ways to deal with that. He could ask his lawyers to have the judge recuse himself, remove the judge from the case. The lawyers have not done any of that. Is it appropriate to suggest that the judge is a racist?
COLLINS: Well, again, I'm not going to go down that road. Donald believes what he does. All I know is...
BLITZER: Let me rephrase -- let me rephrase the question. Is it appropriate for Donald Trump to make these kinds of racist comments?
COLLINS: Well, I don't view them in the racist context, because I don't believe Donald Trump is a racist. He's a frustrated business guy who thinks that he's got a biased judge.
And, again, I've said, he has used words I would not have used. But that doesn't mean his frustration isn't real, that he doesn't believe this judge is biased.
But I'll reiterate: Donald Trump is not a racist, and whether it's race, gender or religion, that does not -- that does not play a part. And he's got 50 years of history in the private sector proving the case he's not a racist.
So again, let's take the fight to Hillary Clinton. Let's talk about the Supreme Court and let's talk about her situation...
BLITZER: All right.
COLLINS: ... as the inspector general said what he said about her e- mails and the like. I think this distraction, it's unfortunate. Let's just all move on.
BLITZER: Yes, but he's not ready to move on. He's doubling and tripling down.
All right. Congressman, stand by. We have more to discuss. We'll take a quick break. We'll be right back.
[17:20:59] BLITZER: Back to the breaking news, Donald Trump telling top surrogates today in a phone conference call there will be no apologies for his racially-charged comments about a Latino judge overseeing the Trump University case. Sources telling CNN that Trump's orders came in that conference call in which he said criticism of the judge should be kept up, even though an earlier e-mail from his campaign to supporters say "Move on, move away from this whole issue."
We're back with a key Donald Trump supporter, Republican Congressman Chris Collins of New York. Did you get, by the way, Congressman, that earlier e-mail from the campaign yesterday, saying it's time to move on? Don't get back to this Trump University case.
COLLINS: No. I was down in New Orleans touring a nuclear facility yesterday, so I was not there. And I got home late last night and was out all day today. So I did not have any of that on the front end, but happy to be with you tonight.
BLITZER: Let's talk a little bit about his national security issues. As you know, last week, Republicans clearly, by and large, did not come out to defend Donald Trump when Hillary Clinton strongly attacked him in her foreign policy speech.
How serious of a problem is it, Congressman, especially as we move closer to the convention, the general election, that the number of supporters he has on this sensitive issue seems to be dwindling, if you will? You're one of the few remaining willing to go out there and aggressively support Donald Trump on these sensitive issues.
COLLINS: Well, Wolf, I think it comes back to, if you look at the Iranian deal, you look at Cuba, you look at North Korea and you see how weak President Obama has been, and obviously, Secretary Clinton was part of that administration, what a terrible deal the nuclear deal has been, the fact that we're releasing $100 billion...
BLITZER: But Congressman, why are so many of your colleagues reluctant to go on television, for example, and strongly support, get out there and aggressively make the case for Donald Trump, as you're willing to do?
COLLINS: I can't answer that, because to me the choice could not be more clear when you look at the failure of the Obama administration on the international front: turning his back on Israel, turning his back on Great Britain, cozying up to the ayatollah, going down to visit Raul Castro. That's actually an embarrassment.
So when Donald Trump says America first, one thing we are finding about Donald Trump: he is firm in his convictions. America will be first and he's going to take the fight to ISIS. He will defeat ISIS. He's going to take the fight to North Korea. He's going to make sure Iran doesn't get the nuclear bomb.
Where Secretary Clinton and Barack Obama have all but guaranteed, after this supposed 10-year moratorium, that there are no restrictions on Iran developing a nuclear weapon.
So to me, the choice could not be more clear. And I'm a strong supporter of Donald Trump, as you know. And I can't imagine why, frankly, any American who puts America first isn't a strong supporter of Donald Trump when you look at the failure of the Obama and secretary Clinton tenure over the last 7 1/2 years.
BLITZER: And he's lucky to have you as a strong supporter.
Congressman Chris Collins, my only point was after Hillary Clinton really went after him last week, a lot of your colleagues in the House and Senate, they failed to do what you're clearly willing to do: get out there and aggressively come to his defense and that was a surprise to .
COLLINS: I would encourage them to do that, though. Encourage them to all point out the differences.
BLITZER: Congressman Chris Collins of New York, as usual, thank you for joining us.
COLLINS: Always good to be with you, Wolf.
BLITZER: Thank you.
Coming up, our political experts, they're standing by to discuss what we've just heard. Can Donald Trump bring Republicans together or get past a judge's heritage?
Also, ISIS turns -- ISIS leaders turning on their own, killing accused spies within the terror group's own ranks. Stay with us.
[17:29:23] BLITZER: We're following breaking news. Sources say in a conference call today Donald Trump ordered his supporters to keep up the attack on the racial heritage of the federal judge hearing his Trump University case. This comes despite an uproar among Trump's fellow Republicans because of his attack on the judge's Mexican heritage.
Joining us here in THE SITUATION ROOM, Real Clear Politics national political reporter Rebecca Berg; our chief political correspondent, Dana Bash; our CNN politics executive editor Mark Preston; and our senior legal analyst, Jeffrey Toobin.
Dana, he's actually encouraging his surrogates to double down, triple down, go after the judge, talk about this case, even though his campaign yesterday sent out a memo to supporters: "Let's move on, move to something else."
[17:30:09] BASH: Right. Look, I mean, there's so many things to unpack with just this latest development that I think make this a vintage Trump response.
No. 1, the fact that he is saying, "I'm not going to give in. I'm not going to change. I'm going to keep on keeping on," even though, as we talked about earlier in the hour, it's not just Republican leaders who haven't necessarily been with him in a full-throated kind of way. It is Newt Gingrich, who has been on board for a long time; Senator Bob Corker, who has been very complimentary of him, even in the face of some pretty controversial things.
So the fact that he's saying, you know, push ahead to his surrogates and the fact that he's saying, "If you got some memo saying don't do this, forget it, don't listen to them. Listen to me" is so classic Donald Trump, that he is his own communicator. He is his own communications director. This is his strategy. And even if he has people around him doing what is conventionally or typically politically appropriate in terms of strategy, he wants it the way he wants it.
BLITZER: We just got a statement, Rebecca, from Dr. Ben Carson, former presidential candidate. Let me read it to you: "Every human being is an individual first rather than a member of an identity group. The moment we forget that is the moment we enter into a phase of moral descent."
So it's not just the House speaker, the Senate majority leader and other top Republican leaders Dana mentioned. Dr. Ben Carson himself is suggesting this is not a good strategy, Mr. Trump.
REBECCA BERG, REAL CLEAR POLITICS: Not at all. And moral descent is a very strong way of wording it, too. So they are not mincing words. And Dana mentioned Newt Gingrich, which I think is another terrific example of how significant this is and how bad it is for Donald Trump.
Newt Gingrich was thought to be on the short list to be Trump's vice president, potentially. He was speaking with the campaign regularly, if not every day, according to some reports. And he's out there now, saying that the only person who can beat Donald Trump is Donald Trump, because he's unpredictable, and he overstepped his boundaries with this.
So I think it's really significant. We see Republicans, even, who have supported Donald Trump coming out and saying he crossed a line and Donald Trump not conceding that he did so.
BLITZER: Mark, you and I have covered politics, presidential campaigns for a long time. It's sort of unusual for the candidate himself to get on a conference call with supporters and give the instructions, the talking points. Usually, the staff does that.
MARK PRESTON, CNN POLITICS EXECUTIVE EDITOR: Yes, it does. And look, we have come to this new level of micromanaging from the principal in this case, Donald Trump, right now, where he wants to be involved in every decision.
We've seen this in past campaigns, in Senate campaigns, to some extent, presidential campaigns. We've never seen it to this degree, though. And when somebody is so involved in every bit of the decision-making process, that's when problems occur.
Now Donald Trump right now going out and saying that "I'm doubling down. You need to come with me. Don't listen to what my staff says." That's a problem, because then the staff starts to lose confidence in the principal and in this case, Donald Trump.
BERG: And it appears that maybe they already are, because it is two allies of Donald Trump's who leaked this conference call to Bloomberg.
BERG: It is very unusual to see this, this far from election day.
BLITZER: The leaks are coming left and right on this one.
Jeffrey, how could all of this tension, the controversy actually legally impact the Trump University case?
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: You know, one of the ironies of this whole strange situation is what set it off was when Judge Curiel did Donald Trump a favor. He actually set the trial down for the last week in November, after election day. He could have set this trial down for October, if you can imagine what a circus that would have been.
But because Donald Trump wanted so badly for this case to be thrown out altogether, he went off on this tirade that we're all talking about.
In terms of what effect it will have on the trial, probably not much, because the world is going to look very different at the end of November. We're going to know who won the election. Everything is going to be in a very different posture. So I think the impact now is much more political than legal.
BLITZER: We'll see if Donald Trump has his lawyers file papers to try to remove the judge from the case, which he suggested over the weekend he might do.
All right. Stand by; everyone stand by. There's more breaking news coming in to THE SITUATION ROOM. We'll be right back.
[17:39:16] BLITZER: After dramatically winning contests in both Puerto Rico and the American Virgin Islands over the weekend, Hillary Clinton now needs only 26 more delegates to effectively lock up the Democratic presidential nomination.
While that's certain to happen tomorrow, Senator Bernie Sanders says it would be wrong to start referring to Hillary Clinton as the presumptive nominee.
Our senior political correspondent, Brianna Keilar, is in California, covering the Democrats for us. Brianna, is Bernie Sanders showing any sign at all of giving up?
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Publicly, he certainly isn't, Wolf. The Clinton campaign is urging supporters and surrogates to think of it this way: that Bernie Sanders may need a couple days to figure out what his next steps are going to be.
But talking to Sanders aides, it seems that his calculus on giving everyone who wants to vote a chance to do that would take the campaign, the Sanders campaign through the Washington, D.C., primary. That is actually a week from tomorrow.
So you see Sanders taking on Donald Trump, but he is still reserving quite a bit of criticism for Hillary Clinton.
KEILAR (voice-over): Hillary Clinton approaching the finish line courting California voters on the eve of their primary.
HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I am tired of Donald Trump insulting Americans. I am tired of Donald Trump talking down America. I am confident and optimistic about our future. But we're going to have to do some things, like elect the right person to be president of the United States.
KEILAR: In between four get-out-to-vote events in Southern California, Clinton visited a community center in Compton. And as Bernie Sanders vows to take the Democratic primary race all the way to the July convention, Clinton not so subtly urged him to reconsider.
CLINTON: We've got to be unified going into the convention and coming out of the convention to take on Donald Trump. And to repudiate the kind of campaign he is running and make it very clear that's not the kind of president or commander in chief we want.
KEILAR: After winning contests in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands over the weekend, Clinton is on the cusp of earning enough delegates to secure the Democratic nomination, just shy of 2,383. GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC NEWS: That is not racist.
KEILAR: She's hitting Donald Trump hard with a new web video featuring fresh Republican criticism of the presumptive GOP nominee.
ANA NAVARRO, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: How dare he question a judge's responsibility, a judge's adherence to the Constitution because he is of Mexican descent.
KEILAR: Highlighting his recent comments about the federal judge of Mexican heritage, born in Indiana, presiding over a fraud case involving Trump University, Trump's now-defunct real-estate program.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: If you are saying he can't do his job because of his race, is that not the definition of racism?
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: No. I don't think so. We're building a wall. He's a Mexican.
CHRIS WALLACE, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: Are you comfortable with a potential president attacking a federal judge for his heritage?
NEWT GINGRICH (R), FORMER SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: No. Listen, this is one of the worst mistakes Trump has made. I think it's inexcusable.
KEILAR: But even as Clinton focuses on the general election...
CLINTON: It's not over until it's over.
KEILAR: ... California is up for grabs. Independent voters can cast their ballots in the Democratic or Republican primary, a potential advantage for Sanders. The Vermont senator was critical of Clinton over the weekend about her family's foundation, U.S. intervention in Libya while she was secretary of state, and her Iraq War vote.
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Certainly the war in Iraq, Bush's era, Clinton's era has caused us incalculable harm.
KEILAR: It does seem that President Obama, Wolf, could be weighing in soon. His spokesman saying there are still votes to be cast in New Jersey and California, and the president will be waiting until those voters have their say before he chooses to weigh in. So that seems like it could be coming soon, Wolf.
BLITZER: All right. Brianna Keilar in Los Angeles for us. Brianna, thanks very much.
Let's get back to our political experts. Mark Preston, it's very possible, almost certain that those 26 delegates that Hillary Clinton needs, she could get after New Jersey tomorrow night closes its polls at 8 p.m. tomorrow night, before California closes its polls at 11 p.m. So what do you expect Bernie Sanders to do in the coming days? Let's say he even wins in California; they split the delegates there. He's still hundreds of delegates shy.
PRESTON: Still hundreds of delegates shy, and it's interesting that he says that you cannot call her the presumptive nominee, which is not the absolute nominee. Right? We call her the presumptive nominee until she actually becomes the nominee.
You know, Bernie Sanders has got to do a lot of soul searching. He's got to decide what his future is, not only in the Democratic Party but also in Congress and how he can harness this energy of all of these progressive activists that have rallied around his candidacy.
Who knows what he's going to do, because I'm not sure he knows what he's going to do. But I would say this: it would be very smart for the Clinton campaign and the supporters to back off Bernie Sanders, give him breathing room over the next week or so, perhaps the next two weeks, because it doesn't have to be done right now, and try to extend an olive branch by giving him time to make a decision and also to give him some influence at the convention.
BLITZER: Probably good advice.
Jeffrey Toobin, last week he said there's going to be a contested convention in Philadelphia in July. He seemed to be a bit more mellow today at his -- at his news conference.
TOOBIN: Well, I don't mean to be parsing too much like a lawyer, but there are different kinds of contested conventions. He could be saying that "We are going to contest the platform. We are going to contest what the party stands for" without necessarily saying he is going to refuse to acknowledge that Hillary Clinton is the nominee of the party.
I mean, he has also said repeatedly the importance of defeating Donald Trump. So I think he has left himself plenty of room to lead a unified party behind Hillary Clinton, while at the same time pushing to the issues that he cares about.
BLITZER: Dana, we're hearing from White House sources maybe as early as this week we will see the president of the United States actively go out there and start supporting Hillary Clinton.
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Right. The biggest, worst kept secret in Washington or maybe even in the country that Barack Obama is much more in favor of Hillary Clinton. But what it means once he gets to that point is -- is ultimately, you would think, getting out there and actually campaigning and given where his standing is right now in the Democratic Party, having him as a surrogate, you can't do much better than that in terms of getting the enthusiasm up.
BLITZER: If he can recreate that Obama coalition.
BLITZER: For Hillary Clinton, that would be huge. REBECCA BERG, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, REAL CLEAR POLITICS:
Absolutely. And of course Hillary Clinton has been running a campaign essentially to be the steward of Obama's third term. She's spoken very positively about the president on the campaign and so she certainly sees him as a very strong advocate for her policies and what she wants to accomplish. We might even see Michelle Obama out there.
BLITZER: Yes, we will.
BERG: In a recent speech, she started talking politics, which is very unusual for her. So it could be a strong squad out there.
BLITZER: All right. Stand by, guys. A quick reminder, stay with CNN throughout the day tomorrow for full coverage of the final Super Tuesday of this primary season. I'll be in the CNN Election Center as our coverage of the vote count begins at 7:00 p.m. Eastern tomorrow right after THE SITUATION ROOM.
Coming up, more reporting on the breaking news. Sources say Donald Trump told his supporters today to keep criticizing that federal judge who's hearing the lawsuit against Trump University. I'll speak with a Trump spokeswoman. That's coming up.
And up next, ISIS turns on its own members ordering executions for people suspected of being spies.
[17:51:32] BLITZER: Successful coalition strikes on ISIS leaders has sparked a wave of panic and paranoia as the group brutally executes accused spies within its own ranks.
Brian Todd has been looking into this. We must caution viewers that Brian's report contains some graphic images.
Brian, what are you finding out?
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, tonight a U.S. official tells us that ISIS is a paranoid, death obsessed organization. We've got new information from a human rights group with sources inside Syria and from an analyst who has interviewed defectors that the recent deaths of top ISIS commanders have sparked significant internal distress within the terror group and that has led to a bloody campaign of internal purges.
TODD (voice-over): In ISIS' horrific propaganda videos, indications tonight of a serious problem within the terror group. Infiltrators. Here ISIS executes alleged spies in Raqqa. They're tied to a cross and shot in public. This recent video included confessions of supposed spies, claiming handlers paid them for targeting information to pass to coalition forces.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (Through Translator): We got in touch with Abu Hayjaa and received sums of money in exchange for information about Raqqa. They also offered me a device that captures and pinpoints locations.
TODD: The three men were put in a car and blown up according to this video translated by the SITE Intelligence Group. Recently according to an opposition group with sources in Syria, ISIS' suspicions have turned inward to their own ranks.
The head of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights tells CNN ISIS executed 21 suspected fighters in an internal purge in April after one top ISIS commander, Abu Hayjaa al-Tunisi, was apparently killed by a coalition strike.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (Through Translator): The Islamic State does not fully trust its leaders. There could be cells within the Islamic State organization which belong to an international intelligence agency.
TODD: Last month an ISIS magazine said a Russian female infiltrator helped kill these and other fighters before she was caught and executed. The push within ISIS to root out internal spies may be accelerating, due to successful American strikes targeting several top ISIS militants, adding to the internal distrust.
MICHAEL WEISS, CO-AUTHOR, "ISIS: INSIDE THE ARMY OF TERROR": And that has got to drive a sense of paranoia. How is the coalition able to target and successfully kill all of these ISIS operatives and based on interviews I've conducted with people who've defected from the group, there is a complete and total sense of paranoia, that they're being spied upon.
TODD: The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights tells CNN some ISIS fighters have been giving the coalition information about potential targets because they needed money. The terror group having lost valuable oil facilities for revenue, forcing them to cut salaries. Some accuse spies, according to analysts and propaganda videos, have been beheaded, drown in pools. Other accused spies are shown with explosive cords wrapped around their necks.
MATTHEW LEVITT, WASHINGTON INSTITUTE FOR NEAR EAST POLICY: This ultra violence that the Islamic State is increasing now employing against its own is meant to instill fear. It's meant to create disincentive that no matter how bad it gets, you don't want to cross the Islamic State.
TODD: Will these executions cost ISIS to lose more fighters, possibly suffer mass defections? Well, analysts tell us tonight they don't think ISIS is quite at the tipping point yet. They say that foreign fighters especially would have a difficult time defecting because it is very tough to leave the group without getting caught and because of the possibility of long jail sentences in their home countries, Wolf, many of them feel they just don't have anywhere to go.
[17:55:07] BLITZER: Brian Todd reporting, thanks very much.
Coming up, our breaking news. His attacks on a Latino judge have infuriated fellow Republicans, but Donald Trump is now doubling down. On a conference call today with campaign surrogates, Trump says there will be no apologies and he demands that they keep up the criticism.
BLITZER: Happening now. Breaking news. Defiant vow. Donald Trump pledging he will not apologize or back down from his racial comments about a federal judge. And personally ordering his surrogates to intensify their criticism. Top Republicans are condemning Donald Trump's remarks. Is their presumptive nominee alienating Latino voters possible for years to come?