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President Obama Set to Endorse Hillary Clinton?; Fighting ISIS; Source: Trump Orders Supporters to Keep Attacking Judge; Clinton, Sanders Battling for California; U.S. Advisers Move Into Syria, Faces ISIS Threat; Zika Threat Overshadowing Rio Olympics. Aired 6-7p ET

Aired June 6, 2016 - 18:00   ET



WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Top Republicans are condemning his remarks. Is their presumptive presidential nominee alienating Latino voters possibly for years to come?

Straight out of Compton. Hillary Clinton stealing Bernie Sanders' spotlight, interrupting coverage of his news conference today to take her own questions from reporters. All of this comes as Sanders says reporters shouldn't declare Hillary Clinton the party's presumptive nominee, even if she has enough delegates tomorrow.

Is Sanders's call to fight it out at the convention coming too late?

Off the sidelines. President Obama poised to wade into the political fray with a strong endorsement of Hillary Clinton possibly this week, the president said to be eager to start campaigning on Hillary Clinton's behalf. How much will he boost her support as she prepares to take on Donald Trump?

And more than assistance. U.S. forces taking on a bigger role in the war against is. American advisers caught on video in Northern Syria carrying grenade launchers and machine guns near the front line. Is their mission expanding?

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: The breaking news this hour: Donald Trump telling top surrogates there will be no apologies for his racially charged comments about a federal judge.

Trump rocking the Republican Party right now as he alleges the judge overseeing the lawsuit about Trump University is biased because his parents were born in Mexico. And now the presumptive Republican nominee may be looking to step up the criticism, reportedly ordering his surrogates to intensify the criticism of the federal Judge Gonzalo Curiel.

And on the Democratic side, we're learning from sources that President Obama is poised to endorse Hillary Clinton possibly this week, the president said to be waiting for the final round of primaries. Democrats in six states will cast their votes tomorrow.

We're covering all of that, much more this hour with our guests, including the national spokeswoman for the Trump campaign, Katrina Pierson.

And our correspondents and expert analysts, they are also standing by.

Let's begin with the pushback Donald Trump is getting from fellow Republicans for his criticism of a Latino judge.

Our political reporter, Sara Murray, has the very latest.

Sara, Trump is by no means backing down.

SARA MURRAY, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, not only is Donald Trump not backing down. He seems he is trying to create an echo chamber for his criticism against this judge, encouraging his supporters to reiterate those comments and even suggesting, according to Bloomberg News, that his surrogates go after the reporters who are critical of him.


MURRAY (voice-over): Donald Trump is instructing surrogates to hammer home attacks like this one on a judge with Mexican heritage.

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I have a judge who is a hater of Donald Trump. A hater. He's a hater. His name is Gonzalo Curiel.

MURRAY: After a campaign memo instructed Trump supporters to steer clear of this critique Sunday night, Trump launched a call with prominent supporters today, saying he had no plans to apologize, and encouraging backers like Scott Brown and Jan Brewer to echo his criticism of the judge.

According to Bloomberg News, which first reported the call, Brewer interrupted to say they have received the opposite instruction. "Take that order and throw it the hell out," Trump reportedly said. Trump's guidance comes as GOP leaders are rushing to distance themselves from him in the wake of his attacks.

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MAJORITY LEADER: I couldn't disagree more with what he had to say.

REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: I completely disagree with the thinking behind that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's very disturbing.

MURRAY: That's after Trump told Jake Tapper U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel should be recused from a lawsuit involving the now- defunct Trump University, saying Curiel is biased based on heritage.

TRUMP: This is a case that should have ended. This judge is giving us unfair rulings. Now I say why. Well, I want

to -- I'm building a wall, OK? And it's a wall between Mexico, not another country, and...


JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: But he's not -- he's not from Mexico. He's from Indiana.

TRUMP: In my opinion -- he is -- his Mexican -- Mexican heritage. And he's very proud of it.

MURRAY: Trump telling CBS a Muslim judge may also be biased towards him because of his proposal to temporarily ban Muslims from entering the U.S.

JOHN DICKERSON, CBS NEWS: 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. Yes. That would be possible, absolutely.

MURRAY: Even former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who some view as a potential V.P. pick, says Trump went too far.

NEWT GINGRICH (R), FORMER SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: This is one of the worst mistakes Trump has made. And I think it's inexcusable.

MURRAY: Sources say that was particularly irritating to Trump, and he says he has been taken aback by the party's response.

TRUMP: As far as Newt is concerned, I saw Newt. I was surprised at Newt. I thought it was inappropriate, what he said.


MURRAY: Still, some in the GOP are holding out hope Trump will tone it down as the primary season officially winds down this week.

SEN. BOB CORKER (R), TENNESSEE: He's talking with people all around the country that are experts in this regard. And I think they know that they are in a place where this campaign has to evolve.


MURRAY: Now, Trump may be encouraging his supporters and his fellow Republicans to take his side on this, but the opposite seems to be happening. Marco Rubio, Ben Carson, and now Tim Scott have all weighed in, very critical of Donald Trump's comments.

Tim Scott, of course, is the lone African-American Republican in the Senate. He called Donald Trump's comments on the judge -- quote -- "racially toxic" -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Sara Murray reporting, thank you.

Let's get some more on the latest Trump convention.

Joining us, our senior White House correspondent, Jim Acosta.

Jim, what more can you tell us about Donald Trump's conference call with his supporters today?


Donald Trump was defiant in this conference call. While there were supporters, surrogates, campaign staffers who were saying let's change the subject, let's move on, Donald Trump was saying, no, let's stay on the subject.

I'm told by a source who was on this call earlier today, as Sara Murray said, there would be no apologies, according to Donald Trump, and that they should not back down in criticizing Judge Curiel.

In the view of this campaign, Judge Curiel is an example of judicial activism and they want to continue calling him out on that. Judge -- excuse me -- Trump's orders to keep up this criticism, as Sara said, is counter to an e-mail that went out by the campaign last night.

I am told by the e-mail, that e-mail also included Corey Lewandowski, the campaign manager, and the spokeswoman, Hope Hicks, for the campaign, that they were also copied on this e-mail. I'm also told, Wolf, that people inside the campaign are very upset that former Speaker Newt Gingrich went out there on the Sunday talk shows and started criticizing Trump.

They feel like Newt Gingrich was going off-message. Now, as for the campaign and their response to this conference call, here's how spokeswoman Hope Hicks is describing this call.

She is saying -- quote -- "It was a very positive call to discuss overall messaging for the campaign and, more importantly, to thank surrogates for their incredible support throughout the primaries as these primaries come to an end."

But, Wolf, keep in mind, Dr. Ben Carson was on that conference call. And, as you know from hearing from Sara Murray just a few moments ago, Ben Carson has also put out a statement criticizing Donald Trump on this.

So, if there's anything that is unifying the Republican Party right now, it is this almost universal condemnation for what Donald Trump had to say about Judge Curiel, Wolf.

BLITZER: Yes, Dr. Ben Carson, Dr. Ben Carson, a Trump supporter, saying: "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" -- that statement from Dr. Ben Carson.

Jim Acosta, thanks very much.

Let's get some more on all of this.

Joining us now, the national spokeswoman for the Trump campaign, Katrina Pierson.

Katrina, thanks very much for joining us.


BLITZER: All right. So let's talk about this conference call. First of all, can you name one top Republican leader who agrees with Donald Trump's criticism of this federal judge, Judge Curiel?

PIERSON: I'm not going to put anyone out on the spot, but I will say that this was a conference call. Part of this that's not being reported is at the very top of the call, Mr. Trump himself said, we have to assume the media is on the call, we know they're going to be on the call.

He told everybody on the call the media was going to be on the call. So this is no surprise.

It was very productive. It was a call for surrogates. Mr. Trump wanted to say thank you for all of your hard work and then he took questions, which is ironic, considering how the media has been reporting for months that our campaign doesn't have a communications team.

BLITZER: I assume, Katrina, you were on the conference call, right?

PIERSON: I was, absolutely.

BLITZER: All right. So once again, is there one Republican leader, a Trump supporter who agrees with Donald Trump that this federal judge is unfair because of his Mexican heritage?

PIERSON: Like I said, I'm not going to put names out there, but I will say this, Wolf.

There is a reason that Donald Trump is the Republican nominee, because what we've seen from many of these GOP leaders that have come out condemning Trump for the comments is the simple fact that they have always cowered and tucked their tails and run...

BLITZER: But Katrina, what about...

PIERSON: ... sight of controversy...

BLITZER: But Newt Gingrich?

PIERSON: ... because no one has ever asked the question.

BLITZER: Newt Gingrich has been a strong supporter.

PIERSON: But you know, this is my point.

BLITZER: What about Dr. Ben Carson... PIERSON: This is absolutely my point.

BLITZER: ... a strong supporter? These are strong supporters of Donald Trump.

PIERSON: This is my point, Wolf. It doesn't matter. It doesn't matter.

These individuals are not involved in this case. They have not talked to Mr. Trump's attorneys and they don't know the details. I have in my hand dozens of plaintiffs that said this university was excellent. They don't know the facts. They came out because the media pressure was intense and they started condemning these comments without knowing anything. Typical Republican leadership.


Donald Trump is not like that. He knows that this case should have been thrown out when the original plaintiff exited the case. In what universe when a plaintiff leaves the case...

BLITZER: But it's not about the case...

PIERSON: ... does the case continue?

BLITZER: ... so much. Katrina, it's not about the case -- what's going on in the case.

What it is, is about the judge. Is it appropriate for Donald Trump to say this judge is biased because of his Mexican heritage? His parents came from Mexico. He was born in Indiana. That's what this criticism of Donald Trump is all about, that he should not have raise the whole Mexican heritage.

He can criticize the judge for having bad decisions or whatever, not being fair, but the whole point of saying that's the result, that because he wants to build a wall, the judge of Mexican heritage, is unfair to him.

PIERSON: But that's not the point.

I understand that's what the media wants to continue to report, but I have yet to hear about the two law firms that this judge appointed. Remember, this was not the original judge on the case. The judge came in and appointed two law firms, two high-profile law firms. One, a Hillary Clinton supporter, had given hundreds of thousands of dollars to Clinton and her husband.

The other law firm that has donated to Barack Obama,, they've given $15,000 to the attorney general who's working the other case out of the state of New York, a number of decisions being made like the plaintiff leaving the case, and they want to continue.

There are a number of issues that have arised with this judge particularly. And the question is why? But the media doesn't want to ask those questions. BLITZER: You can argue the -- the merits of the case, going back and forth.

Until now, I take it Donald Trump and his lawyers have not asked Judge Curiel to recluse himself, to remove him from the case because of any bias or anything like that. They just criticized him.

But here's something fascinating. As you know, Donald Trump's sister is a federal judge in New York. If somebody were to say to her she was biased in regards to some sort of case because she's a woman, that would be -- that would be awful, wouldn't it?

PIERSON: Well, it would depend on her past and the decisions that she's made as a judge.

There is no question that there are activist judges in this country. CNN gives a platform to Black Lives Matter, and their entire premise is injustice in the system due to race. So, this idea that nobody wants to go back further and look at the decisions that this judge has made, considering the case, and again the plaintiffs who are saying exactly opposite, that is what's important here.

Ask the questions why, Wolf. There are a number of reasons why this judge...

BLITZER: Well, Katrina...

PIERSON: ... is being called out by Mr. Trump.

BLITZER: So when some of your -- some of your most ardent supporters are saying this is awful. Donald Trump, don't do this. Go ahead, move on. Some of them are even saying apologize right now. This is going to hurt you, it's going to hurt the party. The party needs Latino support out there.

When they're saying this to your campaign, does that have no impact at all?

PIERSON: I think the question you're asking me, is Donald Trump going to start saying and doing what everybody else tells him to say and do?

And the answer to that is no. There is an injustice occurring here. The media doesn't want to acknowledge that, and I understand that, because that's just the way it has always been for Republicans. But he is not going to back down just because the media wants to pressure him and call him a racist and call him names.

And it doesn't matter which GOP individual comes out and criticizes him because there. They're not a part of the...

BLITZER: Katrina.

PIERSON: ... they're not a part of the case, and they don't have the facts. And that's why Mr. Trump is the nominee. BLITZER: Now, we've reported that, yesterday, the campaign sent out an e-mail to surrogates, to supporters, move on. Move away from this case. Stop criticizing the judge. When Donald Trump on this conference call you were on today heard about that, he said, who did that? That was stupid. We have nothing to do with it.

Tell us what happened. Specifically, why was the message sent out yesterday from the campaign totally different than what Donald Trump told his supporters on the conference call?

PIERSON: Well, again, this is the irony, considering how we have been told we don't have a communications team in place.

Look, no one wants anyone saying anything until they have the facts. That is very typical and standard communication. We have a lot of surrogates out there who wanted more information, so the message was sent to say, hey, hold off, let's not talk about this until we get you the facts, which occurred today on the conference call.

BLITZER: Was that what they said, because the argument -- what we had heard in the e-mail, it wasn't phrased like that. It was -- just say, move on, we don't want to talk about this anymore. And that seemed to be totally different than what Donald Trump was saying today.

PIERSON: Yeah, for surrogates that don't -- no, not at all.

For surrogates that didn't have the facts, of course the campaign is going to say don't talk about it. Talk about something else. The conference call was today. The e-mail was sent out before that.

BLITZER: The conference call was today, but the e-mail that was...

PIERSON: If we don't have the facts, we don't want you having it.

BLITZER: Katrina, the e-mail that was sent out yesterday said something very different than what Donald Trump said today.

PIERSON: Yes, because Donald Trump spoke to the surrogates. They asked questions, he answered them, so everything should be cleared up now. That makes complete sense.

BLITZER: All right, so you're the national spokeswoman for the campaign. Does he consult with you on these kinds of issues? Does he call you? Does he ask for your advice?


PIERSON: Mr. Trump talks to everybody on his team. It doesn't matter who you are. He talks to everyone.

BLITZER: Like, when was the last -- I know you were on the conference call today. But when was the last time you had a really personal discussion about what's going on, what you can do to help him?

PIERSON: About a week ago, actually. It was a long discussion. We talked about communications. We talked

about policy. He was very congratulatory, as he said to many individuals on the call today. Mr. Trump is very invested in his staff and in his campaign. And I have been saying for months that Mr. Trump is personally invested in the success of his campaign, simply because he is personally invested in the success of this country.

BLITZER: Do you ever say to him Mr. Trump, this is a bad idea, I think we should move a different direction?


PIERSON: I think I'll keep our confidential discussions confidential.

But there have been many discussions on the campaign trail. And I got to tell you, this campaign has been one for the history books, because we don't do things the way everybody wants us to do them. And it is one of the reasons why he has been so successful. And I'm not going to tell him not to do something when I agree 100 percent with what he says and what he does.

BLITZER: All right, Katrina, stand by. There's more to discuss.

We will take a quick break. We'll be back with the national spokeswoman for the Donald Trump campaign.



BLITZER: We're following the breaking news, Donald Trump rocking the Republican Party leadership right now, as he orders his surrogates to actually intensify the criticism of a federal judge.

Trump accuses that judge of bias in a lawsuit against Trump University because of the judge's Latino heritage.

We are back with the national spokeswoman for the Trump campaign, Katrina Pierson.

Katrina, as you heard, the top leaders of the Republican Party, the speaker of the House, Paul Ryan, Newt Gingrich, a former speaker, a strong supporter, Senator Corker, Senator McConnell, the Republican majority leader in the Senate, they've all sharply condemned what Donald Trump has said about this federal judge.

If he can't get their support, who does he expect to stand beside him in the coming weeks and months?

PIERSON: The American voter, and that's really all that matters here.

You know, I pointed out earlier that this is typical reaction from Republican leaders. At the first hint of controversy or criticism regarding race, they tuck their tails and run and want to condemn immediately without even -- without even trying to understand what's happening here. But the facts are coming out. And there's one thing I do want to push back on. You said Mr. Trump ordered surrogates to do certain things. And that's not what happened, because I can tell you, the surrogates want to get the facts out. They don't want to sit here and listen to this nonsense, calling Mr. Trump a racist, because that's not what's happening here.

Mr. Trump is now the victim of judicial activism. Many people in this country know exactly what that feels like, and they don't like it.

BLITZER: As you know, Newt Gingrich, he has been very, very supportive of Donald Trump now, not just for weeks, but for months. He was actually being discussed as a potential vice presidential running mate.

Does it give the campaign pause now that even Newt Gingrich is saying he can't support the comments that Donald Trump made about this federal judge?

PIERSON: No, and here's the thing. We don't expect anyone to defend Mr. Trump's comments, particularly when they don't know what they're talking about.

Mr. Trump is going to be Mr. Trump. He has brought a situation to light that needs to be discussed, because the media is not reporting both sides of the facts here. They're only talking about what they want to talk about, which is always the race narrative.

And we are not going to let that happen. Mr. Trump's surrogates are very concerned, and they do want the facts about this case, so they can push back against the media, because the public has the right to know the truth.

BLITZER: But, Katrina, the media didn't bring up issue of this judge's Mexican heritage. It was Donald Trump who brought up that issue.

PIERSON: Absolutely.

But the media is only reporting one side of the issue. I have not heard any anchor on CNN talk about 10,000 approvals from Trump University, which you can find at, because there are tens of thousands of supporters.

Mr. Trump's attorney was one of the programs the other night talking about a 14-year-old who went to one of these seminars with his mother, made a million dollars.

BLITZER: I understand all those arguments.

PIERSON: So, it is not my fault some of the adults can't make money.

BLITZER: I understand that there were satisfied customers of Trump University, but what does that have to do...

PIERSON: Ten thousand. Ten thousand. BLITZER: What does that have to do with raising the Mexican heritage of this judge?

PIERSON: Because of the activism that we have been stating this entire time.

Again, this was not the original judge on the case. This judge was on the case. The plaintiff was removed. You have to ask yourself, if a plaintiff leaves a case, how on earth does it continue to move forward?

That makes no sense at all whatsoever.

BLITZER: So, why didn't he ask that the judge to be recused? Why didn't his lawyers ask that the judge be removed?

PIERSON: And I respect that question. It is a legal question, and I'll leave that to the lawyers to answer.

BLITZER: Katrina, thanks very much for joining us.

Katrina Pierson is the national spokeswoman...

PIERSON: Great to be here, Wolf.

BLITZER: ... for the Trump campaign.

We will have more on breaking news coming up, Donald Trump telling his surrogates it is OK to keep on criticizing the federal judge, though could it backfire on his campaign?

Plus, an endorsement by President Obama now set to be imminent. What impact will it have on the Democratic race?



BLITZER: More now on the breaking news.

Sources telling CNN Donald Trump is telling his supporters to keep criticizing the federal judge overseeing a lawsuit against Trump University. Trump claims the judge is biased because of his Mexican heritage. And Trump wants to build a wall along the Mexican border.

Let's get some more.

Joining us, our CNN political commentator, the Washington correspondent for "The New Yorker" magazine, Ryan Lizza, our chief political analyst, Gloria Borger, our CNN political commentator Ana Navarro, and "Washington Post" assistant editor David Swerdlick.

Guys, thanks to all of you for coming in.

[18:30:05] So this conference call, Ana that Donald Trump had today with supporters, saying just keep on criticizing this judge, talk about this case. He thinks he's got a winning side. What's your reaction?

ANA NAVARRO, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think he's digging a deeper and deeper hole for himself. It's been amazing the reaction that has finally come from Republican leadership today, and it's been necessary.

I think this moment with the judge has been the straw that broke the camel's back for so many of us. For a long time, we thought we had to be quiet. We thought we had to look the other way out of party loyalty. And I think Republican leadership, Republican leaders have finally understood that, if you are loyal to the Republican Party, you must be compelled to speak out against something so offensive, so wrong, so unethical, because if not, the Republican Party and these elected leaders will have to face the consequences. We'll be stuck with this dead, rotting albatross around their neck.

So it is important that they speak out. It is important they continue doing it and that they confront these discriminatory, blatantly racist statements.

BLITZER: You heard Katrina Pierson, Gloria, the national spokeswoman for Donald Trump. I said, "Can you name one Republican leader who's supporting, who's defending Donald Trump's comments on this federal judge?" She said she didn't want to name anyone.

But some of his most ardent supporters, like Newt Gingrich and Bob Corker and others, they're really criticizing Donald Trump right now, which is highly extraordinary.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: And you watch these officials twist themselves into a pretzel, right, because on one hand they have said, because they are concerned about the future of the Republican Party, they are concerned about down-ballot races, they want to retain control of the Congress. And so they have said, "We will support the nominee" or "We will support Donald Trump, since he is the nominee."

Now they have to respond episodically to some of the things that Donald Trump is saying; and because of who they are and what they believe, they have to disagree with him. And so you come to the, you know, proverbial fork in the road here.

Donald Trump, this is a civil fraud case; and Donald Trump cares about Trump University, and he wants to win this case. He is a businessman who believes he's been treated unfairly, and he wants to win this case at all costs.

These people we're hearing from care about the future of the Republican Party and their own futures, their own political futures, and so they have to go off on a different -- on a different track from Donald Trump on this, and he does not seem to be wanting to give in at all, according to this call.

NAVARRO: I mean, not to be cynical, you know, but at some point you have to live with yourself.


NAVARRO: You have to be able to look at yourself in the mirror. At some point Donald Trump is going to go away, whether it's November, whether it's four years, whether it's eight years. But you have got to continue living with your conscience. And I think that's where leaders like Paul Ryan and like others are coming down.

BLITZER: You know, it's interesting, because Marco Rubio, the senator from Florida, the former Republican candidate, he weighed in on this -- the Trump comments on the judge in an interview with a Florida TV station, WFTV. He said this: "I ran for president, and I warned this was going to happen."

DAVID SWERDLICK, ASSISTANT EDITOR, "THE WASHINGTON POST": But I think he probably warned too late. And all of these Republican elder statesmen warned too late.

Right, you have to have a conscience. There's one Republican elder statesman right now who's sitting content and is going to sleep well tonight. That's Mitt Romney. Because at a certain point months ago, he said unequivocally, unhesitatingly, that he was not interested in supporting -- in supporting Trump as a Republican nominee.

RYAN LIZZA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Mitt Romney, Ben Sasse and the people that were part of the dying "never Trump" movement...


LIZZA: ... the last 48 hours have been able to say, "We told you so."

NAVARRO: Jeb Bush.

LIZZA: Jeb Bush. George W., George H.W. said they won't support Trump. I mean, let's not mince words. This is an historic moment in American politics.

BLITZER: But we've seen this during the campaign. Trump has said a lot of controversial things...

BORGER: Right.

BLITZER: ... that would have probably gotten some other candidate out of here, but he not only survived, he thrived.

LIZZA: But Wolf, the Republican Party has at the top of the ticket, as a presidential nominee, a man who is objectively a racist. I mean, I don't think you can -- I don't think you can contradict that statement. He is saying that someone, based on their ethnic background, is not capable of deciding the law. It contradicts everything that our Constitution and our system of checks and balances and laws is based on, that someone's ethnicity is disqualifying for them.

And that -- I mean, this is unprecedented. The Republican Party has to deal with this, and it's not just, "Oh, one day we condemn what he said and we'll move on." It's much more serious than that. NAVARRO: You know what I hoped at some point? That after the primary

there would be a restart. There would be a relaunch, a reboot of Donald Trump and he'd become bigger. He'd become more presidential.

LIZZA: He would pivot, yes.

NAVARRO: What we have seen in the last three to four weeks is that he's become smaller and that you are not going to change Donald Trump. Donald Trump is what you saw in the primary. It is what we will get through November. It is what you would get if he became president.

[18:35:09] BLITZER: The Hillary Clinton campaign put out a web commercial, if you will, a video today. Ana, you're featured in there. Let me play a little clip of it.


GRAPHIC: Trump's latest statements are so extreme...

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: I don't think so. We're building a wall. He's a Mexican.

GRAPHIC: ... even other Republicans are offended.

NAVARRO: How dare he question a judge's responsibility, a judge's adherence to the Constitution because he is of Mexican descent?


BLITZER: Now, you said that on our show the other day. You're still not going to vote for Hillary Clinton. I know that. So what are you going to do?

NAVARRO: At this point I have nobody to vote for. Look, Hillary Clinton has not earned my vote. And -- but I can tell you that Donald Trump has lost my vote.

BLITZER: Well, you say at this point.

NAVARRO: Yes. I mean...

BLITZER: You can change your mind.

NAVARRO: Of course I can. Anybody can. I am a Hispanic woman. I can change my mind any moment. I can change my mind three times today, you know.

But listen, it's -- and I think that's important. I do not support Hillary Clinton, but what I do know is that I cannot live with myself supporting a man who I view as racist, who makes fun of the disabled, who makes fun of POWs, who makes fun of -- you know, mocks people like this Judge Curiel, whose life was at risk because he went after a drug cartel, a Mexican drug cartel. I just am so deeply offended by this that there is no turning back.

BLITZER: He's a former federal prosecutor before he was named a federal judge by President Obama.

BORGER: And by the way, Donald Trump's sister's a federal judge, OK? And, you know, she hasn't spoken out during -- during this campaign. But in criticizing the judiciary that way or this particular judge that way is sort of stunning to me, given the fact that his sister is a federal judge.

BLITZER: You can only imagine what his sister is saying to him.

BORGER: The other -- the other moment that was so striking to me was Newt Gingrich, who has a personal relationship with Donald Trump...

LIZZA: Not any more.

BORGER: ... is on the vice presidential list -- that's right -- came out and spoke quite strongly against what Trump -- what Trump has done.

And I think at a certain time, you have to kind of take stock of what people are saying around you. Even his own P.R. people were sending out a memo saying, "OK, we've got to stop talking about this."

But it just -- it gives us kind of a window into understanding Donald Trump's attitude towards his business and building his business and his brand and not defacing the brand at all. He wants to win this case.

BLITZER: He certainly does. But we won't know the results until after the election, as far as the case is concerned.


BLITZER: All right, guys. Stand by. Just ahead, President Obama and Senator Bernie Sanders, they spoke by phone. What did they talk about? That's next.


[18:42:50] BLITZER: Right now, all eyes on California, the biggest political prize in tomorrow's final Super Tuesday primaries, with 475 Democratic delegates up for grabs.

And tonight, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, they're battling down to the wire for every single one of those delegates out in California.

Our senior Washington correspondent, Jeff Zeleny, is joining us from San Francisco right now.

Jeff, the Democratic candidate, they're throwing everything they have at California. What's the latest?

JEFF ZELENY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, they're both sprinting to the finish line here. Bernie Sanders in the last two weeks alone has had more than 35 events. The last event of his campaign here could be here tonight in San Francisco, Wolf. Look at the lines snaking all the way around Crissy Field here, the Golden Gate Bridge just in the backdrop here.

Bernie Sanders trying to make his case he needs to win California, Wolf, and in fact he does. He needs the delegates here, but he also needs it to keep his argument alive.

Now, the Clinton campaign also campaigning equally aggressive here: nine stops alone today in California, between both the former president and Secretary Clinton. She doesn't need to win, but she's sure trying to, to finally wrap up this nominating fight.


HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We have worked hard up and down this great, great state, and I need your help tomorrow.

ZELENY (voice-over): One final day of campaigning in the long Democratic primary.

CLINTON: Get everybody out to vote tomorrow.

ZELENY: Hillary Clinton is on the cusp of becoming the party's presumptive nominee.


ZELENY: Tonight she's still fighting hard for California. Not only to finish strong but hoping to vanquish Bernie Sanders once and for all.

CLINTON: I'm going to do everything I can to unify the Democratic Party, and I certainly am going to be reaching out to Senator Sanders and hope he will join me in that, because we've got to be unified going into the convention and coming out of the convention to take on Donald Trump.

ZELENY: But Sanders is still vowing to take his fight to the Democratic convention, an improbable quest made nearly impossible if Clinton wins California. He says he's the stronger candidate to take on Donald Trump.

(on camera): Looks like you become a spoiler, though, sir.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (D-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If I win tomorrow in California, if we do very well -- and I don't know that we will, we may -- if we do well in other states, if there are super delegates out there who say, "You know what? Looking at the objective evidence of polling, looking at the objective evidence of who has the strongest grassroots campaign and can bring out the larger voter turnout, which I think is crucial for November, if some of those superdelegates begin to think it is Bernie Sanders, I think that that is not an insignificant factor.

[18:45:27] ZELENY (voice-over): Still, Sanders would need to flip nearly three-quarters of Clinton's superdelegates to surpass her total, which seems highly unlikely since Sanders has yet to sway a single one.

The rivals have battled it out in all corners of the country. Sanders winning 20 states and Clinton 24, with the final six states weighing on Tuesday, Clinton has 3 million more votes than Sanders and she holds a comfortable lead in delegates, only 26 away from the 2,383 in pledged and superdelegates she needs to win the nomination.

The Democratic Party is slowly coming together. And Clinton is embracing the history-making moment of becoming the first woman to be a party's presumptive nominee.

HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It's really emotional. It will make a very big difference for a father or a mother to be able to look at their daughter just like they can look at their son and say you can be anything you want to be in this country.

ZELENY: Her supporters worry Sanders could stand in a way of this history.

SANDERS: Is that a serious question?

ZELENY: A point he angrily reputed today.

SANDERS: To say it is sexist.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We love you, Bernie.

ZELENY: Sanders supporters insist they are settling in for a fight and hope a California victory will force the Democratic Party to take a second look. Yet today, Sanders tone seemed softer, barely mentioning Clinton's name at a press conference.

SANDERS: Let's assess where we are after tomorrow before we make statements based on speculation.


ZELENY: So, Wolf, after California, New Jersey, and four other states vote tomorrow, there will be a deciding point. But it was eight years a tomorrow, Hillary Clinton dropped out of the race. She didn't do so immediately. It took about three days after the last primaries here, Wolf.

This is a process. The Clinton campaign is giving Bernie Sanders time to work through it. The question is all of the supporters behind me, will they end supporting Hillary Clinton? Wolf?

BLITZER: Good question.

All right. Jeff Zeleny, thanks very much.

Sources are now telling CNN that President Obama is about to enter the political fray in a big way. Let's go to our White House correspondent Michelle Kosinski. She's got details. Michelle, you are hearing that the president is poised to endorse Hillary Clinton. What specifically are you hearing?

MICHELLE KOSINSKI, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Right. Yes, that's right, Wolf. And, in fact, the Democratic source just confirmed to CNN that the president spoke only yesterday by phone to Bernie Sanders. The White House won't characterize that call, they say those calls are private, but that that lines of communication have been open between the president and both Democratic campaigns for some time.

Remember, Bernie Sanders met with the president here at the White House just a couple months ago, but the timing is very interesting. I mean, imagine how that call might have gone given that we are entering what could well be the president's final hours of staying out of this race. Publicly he said he wants to wait until there's a nominee, until voters' voices have been heard.

But given that tomorrow could be pivotal, White House insiders tell us that the president is now and has been very much ready to get out there, that he has been chomping at the bit, that behind the scenes that drives him crazy at times, to hear the Republican rhetoric and to not really be out there.

Here's how the White House has been answering the many questions about could the endorsement happen on Wednesday. Listen.


KOSINSKI: Is there any reason why he would not endorse Hillary Clinton on Wednesday?

JOSH EARNEST, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Look, without knowing the outcome of those contests, I wouldn't hazard a guess.

KOSINSKI: Well, if the outcome is the opposite, then are you saying he would not endorse Hillary Clinton?

EARNEST: What I'm saying is mostly that I don't have any news to make about the timing of presidential endorsement.

KOSINSKI: Maybe I could ask it this way. Why would he not endorse somebody on Wednesday?

EARNEST: I don't know, maybe he will.



KOSINSKI: What we know about this potential endorsement is that it's not a joint appearance with Hillary Clinton, but how it happens could be interesting. Could be the president coming to the briefing room, or maybe even some kind of announcement via video on social media, Wolf.

BLITZER: We'll find out soon enough. Michelle, thank you very much. More news right after this.


[18:54:01] BLITZER: There is growing concern tonight about U.S. troops now on the ground in Syria, to advise and assist local forces in the fight against ISIS.

Our Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr has details.


BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Navy fighter jets screaming off the deck of a U.S. aircraft carrier in the Mediterranean, headed for ISIS targets in Syria and Iraq. The U.S. sending a message to a vital ally, Turkey -- Washington will continue supporting Kurds fighting along the Syria/Turkey border.

The top U.S. commander, General Joseph Votel, making clear, simultaneous attacks will continue from U.S. aircraft and local forces on the ground. Votel is holding the option, help Syrian fighters with more weapons and ammunition.

GEN. JOSEPH VOTEL, COMMANDER, U.S. CENTRAL COMMAND: If I make a determination that we need to provide them equipment beyond what we're already providing them, then I'll make that recommendation.

[18:55:00] STARR: The first of 250 additional U.S. special operations forces have now arrived in Syria. The Pentagon insists the mission is not combat.

But from Iraq to Syria, Somali and Libya, U.S. troops are now facing growing danger as the Obama administration uses special operations forces like these to advise and assist local forces. These U.S. advisers were captured on video in northern Syria, carrying grenade launchers and machine guns with noise suppressers. In Syria near Turkey, U.S. troops are also nearby, advising in an increasingly brutal battle.

The U.S. wants to close off this part of the Syria/Turkey border to keep foreign fighters from coming into Syria, and also going back out, possibly able to reach Europe with new attacks.

But little U.S. can do in Aleppo, where humanitarian disaster is emerging. The Russians and Syrian regime pounding the city, according to U.S. officials.

Russia also backing Syrian forces, near Raqqah, ISIS' capital. Approaching from the south, as U.S.-backed Syrian rebels push from the north. The U.S. so far not openly saying it would defend the rebels against Russian or Syrian forces.

PETER COOK, PENTAGON PRESS SECRETARY: They know that the engagement they have with the United States with the coalition is specific to the fight against ISIL.


STARR: And in Fallujah, where nearby U.S. military advisers are also trying to help, the estimates are, there still may be upwards of 50,000 Iraqis trapped in that city -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Barbara Starr reporting. Thank you.

Meanwhile, the threat of the Zika virus and the severe birth defects it causes are overshadowing the upcoming Rio Olympics.

Our senior international correspondent Nick Paton Walsh reports.


NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Born into a struggle that grows as they age. This clinic is in Recife, where the disease of Zika has been cruelest in Brazil, peeving with what happens when babies with microcephaly grow and so do their problems.

Unable to tell us the pains, agonies they may or may not be feeling or what we can do to help.

VERONICA SANTOS, MOTHER (through translator): It was when he was born and we faced the other people in the hospital, their expression, seeing and accepting the difference, for me, that was the hardest phase.

WALSH (on camera): So, how quickly Zika can spread here at ground zero, there's a whole different set of problems, and that's working really as the baby grow older quite what the disease means for their developments.

(voice-over): Arturo (ph) cannot eat. Doctors say his brain can't switch between swallowing and breathing properly. So, he is fed by a drip and stunted in growth. The size of a 3-month-old when he is now 8 months.

They are testing his hearing seeing if it turns his head to look. A little to the right, to the left, nothing. This is how it goes here. Every minute, discoveries that alter the child's future.

Vitoria was abandoned by her natural mother at birth, adopted by Kely a month ago.

KELY OLIVEIRA, MOTHER OF MARIA VITORIA (through translator): When we saw her, we fell in love with her. I didn't want to know what she had. That didn't matter. She is my daughter.

WALSH: And today, may change her life. She's having her eyes stimulated being fitted for glasses to find out if she can see at all. It's hard to tell what she sees, if the bright lights became real shapes.

With Lejandra (ph), it's a little more palpable. Her first sight. But still, her arms stiffen straight. Her underdeveloped brain telling them to do so.

The talk here of prejudice, days spent ferrying children between specialist doctors, but being fired from work because of the lack of state money to pull them through. This is the world that Zika brings and here and globally it is only beginning.

Nick Paton Walsh, CNN, Recife.


BLITZER: Thanks to Nick Paton Walsh for that report. That's it for me. Thanks very much for watching.

I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM.

"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.