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THE SITUATION ROOM
Trump Bows to Family Pressure, Fires Campaign Manager; Interview with Congressman Chris Collins of New York; Senate About to Vote on Gun Control Measures; FBI Releases Full Version of Orlando Killer's Calls. Aired 5-6p ET
Aired June 20, 2016 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[17:00:09] WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now:
Breaking news, campaign shake-up. Donald Trump catching everyone by surprise, firing his campaign manager after a series of damaging setbacks to his presidential bid. Will this drastic move put his campaign back on track?
"I did the shootings." The FBI releases the transcript of the Orlando gunman's chilling 911 call but sparks an uproar by omitting the names of ISIS and its leader under pressure. The agency put out a new, unedited transcript. Who made the controversial decision to edit out ISIS?
Destined to fail? The Senate about to vote on a series of gun control proposals, which new polls show are hugely popular with Americans in the wake of the Orlando massacre. So, why are the measures unlikely to be approved by lawmakers?
And piling on. Vice President Biden joins President Obama and Hillary Clinton in denouncing Donald Trump's foreign policy, sharply the criticizing the presumptive Republican nominee without ever mentioning his name. Will Trump's proposals foster extremism as Biden claims?
I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
BLITZER: We're following breaking news.
The sudden firing of Donald Trump's controversial campaign manager. Sources tell CNN Trump's family pressured the presumptive GOP nominee to oust Corey Lewandowski in an effort to reset his campaign which has been faltering in the recent weeks.
Lewandowski spoke to CNN shortly afterward. We're going to hear what he had to say.
Also breaking, the FBI just releasing a full transcript of the Orlando gunman's call to 911 in which he pledges allegiance to ISIS and its leader by name. Earlier, the agency put out an edited version that didn't include the name of ISIS and its leader drawing sharp criticism.
And we're watching developments right now up on Capitol Hill. The Senate about to vote on a series of gun control measures in response to the Orlando attack. But there's no strong possibility all of them will fail to get the 60 notes needed despite a new polls showing overwhelming public support for the measures.
We're covering all of that and much more with our guests, including Republican Congressman Chris Collins. He was the first U.S. congressman to back Donald Trump. And our correspondents and expert analysts, they are also standing by.
Let's begin with a major shakeup in the Trump campaign. CNN's Phil Mattingly is joining us with the very latest.
Phil, this all happened very suddenly.
PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Indeed, Wolf. Corey Lewandowski started the day on a regularly scheduled RNC messaging call. One person on that call making clear to CNN nothing seemed strange or different. Within hours, he would be escorted out of Trump Tower by security, according to one source -- part angry, part relieved and no longer the unlikely insurgent campaign manager for the unlikely insurgent campaign that has turned 2016 on its head.
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESUMPTIVE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: Corey, good job, Corey. Good job.
MATTINGLY (voice-over): Today, Donald Trump's embattled campaign manager Corey Lewandowski is out.
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: What happened? Why were you fired?
COREY LEWANDOWSKI, FORMER TRUMP CAMPAIGN MANAGER: You know, I don't know. I don't know the answer to that.
MATTINGLY: Lewandowski's sudden departure coming on the heels of long-running tension between him and other Trump insiders. The final straw, according to sources, Trump family members finally had enough. Trump's daughter Ivanka and son-in-law Jared Kushner were instrumental in convincing Trump to cast off his controversial campaign manager, sources say.
But Lewandowski tells CNN's Dana Bash he has no hard feelings.
LEWANDOWSKI: I had a nice conversation with Mr. Trump. And I said to him, it's been an honor and a privilege to be part of this. I mean that, from the bottom of my heart. I think as you look at how small this team has been and how close-knit this team has been, it's really important to know that there are highs and lows in every campaign and we've been through them together. And in order to be successful, we need to build that team and build
those relationships with the RNC, and utilize the resources that they have available to us. So, that's where the campaign is going and it's been a great privilege. Look, I wouldn't change one second.
MATTINGLY: The move, a clear acknowledgement from Trump that change wasn't just necessary but desperately needed as he heads into the general election. But what sources describe as a sudden move still may not be enough to calm the rest of Republican who is believe the problem isn't the staff but the candidate himself and they are pushing to dump Trump at the Republican convention next month. It's a move Trump himself blasted at a rally in Arizona.
TRUMP: So I hear they want to try and do something at the convention.
[17:05:00] Wouldn't it be funny if Trump gets record-setting votes, biggest in history, has unbelievable number of states, and somebody beat like a drum, says our nominee is -- first of all it's not legal, can't do it. Second of all, the Republican National Committee is with me 100 percent.
MATTINGLY: The idea Trump opponents say would be voting to unbind delegates to the convention, leaving them free to vote for any Trump alternative.
STEVE LONEGAN, COURAGEOUS CONSERVATIVES PAC SPOKESMAN: I don't care if we go until 5:00, 6:00 in the morning, 35, 36, 37 ballots, we're going to pick the candidate best suited to beat Hillary Clinton and advance the Republican Party. We can't allow Donald Trump to take the Republican Party down.
MATTINGLY: The convention of campaign staff drama and growing entrenched opposition is rattling the nerves of GOP donors. More than a dozen interviewed by CNN saying their issues go beyond the nominee himself but also his campaign's total lack of infrastructure. Trump, who still hasn't launched a single general election campaign ad saying he's willing to keep putting his own money up but acknowledging, amid his chaotic campaign, he needs help.
TRUMP: And, by the way, if the Republican Party -- and I hope they all come together because I want them to come together. It's great. If for any reason they get a little bit like they don't want to help out as much, then I'll fund my own campaign. I'd love to do that. I'd love to do that.
MATTINGLY: And, Wolf, the donor concerns really encapsulates the problems that the Trump campaign has been facing -- limited infrastructure, staff positions unfilled for weeks, the nascent finance operation. This was the part of the campaign Paul Manafort and Trump's children have been pushing to professionalize in recent months. Now, largely on the back of this unified move from Trump's family, they'll get that chance.
The question reverberating throughout the GOP today, though, is, is it already too late? Wolf?
BLITZER: Good question indeed.
All right. Thanks very much. Phil Mattingly reporting.
Let's bring in our chief political correspondent Dana Bash.
Dana, you sat down with Corey Lewandowski shortly after he was escorted out of Trump Tower a few blocks away from the CNN Center, the CNN bureau in New York. You had a long interview with him. Update our viewers.
BASH: Well, the headline, I think, is that even and especially after he was fired this morning, just a couple of hours later, Corey Lewandowski was still very optimistic, very positive about his now former boss, the man he has been with 24 hours a day virtually for the past year. But what Phil was talking about, the problems in finding donors to get on board, the virtual lack of a infrastructure to run a general campaign, those things that Corey Lewandowski was in charge of were big problems but it was also his personality and his persona.
I asked him about those things.
BASH: Sources who I've talked to and others have talked to said that they described you as a hot head and that you just didn't treat people right. What do you say to that?
LEWANDOWSKI: Look, I think I'm a very intense person and my expectation is perfection because I think that's what Mr. Trump deserves.
I think he deserves the very best because he has put his life and his fortune into this campaign, spending tens of millions of dollars to go do something that candidly, he didn't need to do. He's had a great life. But he wants to change the country for the better and I see how hard he has worked in this campaign. He works 18, 19, 20 hours a day consistently.
BASH: But this is -- my question is about you.
LEWANDOWSKI: Because -- I understand. Because leadership starts at the top and I see what he's put into the campaign and when I see someone who I don't think as working as hard as the person who's funding the campaign, who is the campaign principal, meaning the candidate, yes, that bothers me.
BASH: Sources from in and around the campaign have told me that they thought you were feeding Mr. Trump's worst instincts in that he -- one of your lines is, let Trump be Trump, right? But that if there was a plan in place post-primary, now that he's trying to pivot to the general, is in the general, that you would get on the plane and undercut that plane and bring out his worst instinct.
How do you respond? LEWANDOWSKI: I say why, what interest would I have in doing that, right? I think what you have to remember --
BASH: I think the suggestion is that it's who you are.
LEWANDOWSKI: Look, if Donald Trump wins, that's good for Corey Lewandowski and it's good for the country. And so, when you think about it, why would I want to do anything other than what is in the best interest of him and his campaign for the good of the country?
I've given up 19onths of my life and m family and all of the other things to make sure he's in the best possible position. And I'm not the only one. Many people have done that.
So, for anyone to insinuate that I wouldn't want the best for him, does that mean every time he asks me something, do I push back on it? No, because candidly, he has had his finger on the pulse of the American public for the last 16 or 18 months of this campaign and he has seen things that I didn't see and he knows how to message things that I don't know how to do.
[17:10:07] BASH: But should you have pushed back more in recent weeks now that it's a totally different ball game?
LEWANDOWSKI: No, it's important to push back on issues that are important. And I think you have to be very selective when you do that. Mr. Trump has had unparalleled success in the business world. He's now had unparalleled success in the world of politics.
And I think when he presents an idea, some ideas are very, very good and they should move forward. Some are pretty good and they should move forward. And the one that I really take exception to, if they are there, I let my opinion be known and anybody who knows me knows that I don't just give a yes answer. I give my opinion probably to my own detriment many times.
BASH: You know, wolf, a lot of people who are, frankly, applauding this move, people who want Donald Trump to win, who are saying that this is a long time coming, suggest that it is because Corey Lewandowski did kind of ride the wave of Donald Trump in the face of a lot of criticism during the primaries where he did well as an unconventional candidate saying that it's time to move on to a more conventional campaign.
Obviously, some of those people include Donald Trump's own family and his children, and I did ask Corey about the fact that his children seem to be instrumental in pushing for Lewandowski's firing, and I will get that for our viewers and for you in the next hour.
BLITZER: We look forward to that. All right. Dana, thanks very much. Good job.
Let's get some more right now. Republican congressman Chris Collins of New York is joining us. He was the first member of the U.S. Congress to endorse Donald Trump.
Congressman, thanks for joining us. What was your reaction --
REP. CHRIS COLLINS (R), NEW YORK: Good to be with you, Wolf.
BLITZER -- when you heard the stunning news this morning that Corey Lewandowski had been fired by Donald Trump?
COLLINS: Well, it certainly was a surprise to all of us. But with that said, Wolf, we are in a general election very different than a primary and I would say that message discipline is going to be important to keep reminding America of Donald's key message, "Make America Great Again" for all Americans, put America first, make sure we get our jobs fixed and defeat ISIS.
That message hasn't changed, but in a general election where there's different voters, 50 states, we're up against the Clinton machine, also with Obama and Biden on board, the discipline is critical and I think Paul Manafort standing to the side of Donald Trump moving forward will just ensure that the discipline is forefront as Donald takes the stage or walks into an interview.
I know myself, being new to politics a few years back, it was important for me to have someone help me stay on message, because it's very easy to get distracted and someone like Paul Manafort that I think brings that professionalism into the campaign, a general election, which is very different than -- you know, we need to thank Corey Lewandowski for what he did in helping Donald achieve the impossible in a primary, defeating 16 other opponents. But like any other organization, you know, look back at Microsoft and others, there's a point in time when the organization needs to shift and new people come in and some people exit stage left.
BLITZER: So, you're saying that Corey Lewandowski couldn't keep Donald Trump on message and it was time for him to move on?
COLLINS: Well, I do think that what Corey has done and what Mr. Trump has done is the best for the campaign moving forward and I'm just saying, Paul Manafort has a lot of experience in presidential campaigns on a much bigger scale than a primary, and I do believe Donald, his family, they want to win. We need Donald to win to keep Hillary from taking our country in the continued wrong direction it's been in.
So, I'll just say, it's a positive move for the campaign and I do believe Mr. Trump will still be Mr. Trump but perhaps more on message because he's got the winning message. You can't say it enough. Make America great again for all Americans.
BLITZER: As you know, Donald Trump has made a big point in the past of being loyal to Corey Lewandowski when they got into trouble on earlier occasions. Could this make Donald Trump look as if he's disloyal to someone who works so hard over these many months for him?
COLLINS: No. I think, again, Wolf, it goes back to Donald is an extraordinarily loyal person as he's done many times, thanked Corey for what he's done, and you've seen and heard Corey Lewandowski's comments after the fact. He's a true professional. He wants Donald Trump to win. He's still going to be a delegate going into the convention.
It's just that at this stage, it's a different campaign. The work with Reince Priebus and the RNC on a much bigger scale coordinating all of those efforts fundraising. Paul Manafort has the experience.
It's very hard to have an organization where you might have co-CEOs. At some point, who is in charge? And at this point, it's evident, it is Paul Manafort.
[17:15:02] He's got the experience. It's a good thing. Everyone will be getting the same message.
And so, we're moving on to defeat Hillary Clinton as a team united. The Republicans are united. And it's important to remember we're six weeks past Ted Cruz getting out of the campaign. That's still six weeks earlier than we thought we would be. So, these naysayers say doom and gloom, it's anything but, but here we are united.
Sure, there's been a few speed bumps, but it's only the middle of June. It's still 4 1/2 months to the election, which is an eternity in politics.
BLITZER: But, you know, Congressman, you know the Republicans are far from united. There are a lot of Republicans are still adhering to the never Trump movement, you know that.
COLLINS: There are very, very few of those. I know Mitt Romney and some others seem to be leading that charge for who knows what reason.
But no, Wolf, I would not say that at all. I know in Congress, we continue to be united with Donald. There was a concern a couple of weeks ago when Trump University was front and center but we've met with Paul Manafort last Thursday, just a couple of days ago. We had confidence of where we were going, he had a great message, we left the room and continued to be energized.
So, I think it's a minuscule number of Republicans who are in this Never Trump campaign. They are not doing any of us a service, nor are they America. But they don't -- they're not in the majority or anything close to it.
BLITZER: We've got to take a break.
But there are plenty of Republicans are out there. Forget about Mitt Romney, but George W. Bush, Jeb Bush, there are a lot that are still not on board and say they won't be on board.
But, Congressman, stand by. We have re to discuss right after this.
[17:21:15] BLITZER: We're back with Republican congressman, Donald Trump supporter, Chris Collins of New York. We want to talk to him about the breaking news about Capitol Hill. The Senate is about to vote on a series of gun control measures in response to the Orlando massacre.
Our senior political reporter Manu Raju is up on Capitol Hill right now.
Manu, tell us about these gun amendments. Are they even expected to pass?
MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: No. They are all expected to fail, Wolf. They actual resemble versions of bills that have come up in previous congresses and two of them actually came up last December, all of which have failed. Two of them deal with expanded background checks. Republicans want to add some more mental health provisions into the background check. Democrats don't like the way that's structured, don't believe it goes far enough.
The Democrats are pushing a much broader universal background checks, universal background checks, to expand when it happens and purchases are made at gun shows or made over the Internet, that has actually -- it resembles a bill that failed in 2013.
Similarly, there are two bills aimed at closing the so-called "terror gap" to prevent people who are suspected terrorists from getting guns. But Democrats and Republicans have different approaches on that. They have not been able to reach an agreement. And both of those came up for a vote in December and failed then and expect to fail tonight as well.
BLITZER: Look at these new CNN polling numbers. I want to show you this, Manu -- 85 percent of Americans believe those on the terror watch list or no-fly list shouldn't be able to buy guns. And when you break it down, look at this, 90 percent of Republicans believe that as well.
So, why aren't these measures expected to pass?
RAJU: Well, it's really structured how they get there. I mean, Republicans will say up here, too, they do not want terrorists to get guns but what they want to do is a bill proposed by Senator John Cornyn of Texas, give the FBI three days to look into whether or not someone on that terror watch list is actually a terrorist, actually use that gun in terrorism-related purchases, terrorism-related actions. Democrats say that is unreasonable. It would not do anything to solve the problem, they want to institute a broader ban to prevent folks on that watch list from getting a gun.
Now, interestingly, there is an effort to try to strike a bipartisan deal. Susan Collins of Maine is trying to move forward on something, but I'm hearing a lot of pessimism on both sides. Both Republicans and Democrats don't like what she is doing and some vulnerable Republicans realize they are in a tough spot.
Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire said she would both for both the Republican and Democratic bills, and she's on a tough reelection, Wolf. BLITZER: All right. Manu Raju, up on Capitol Hill, we'll check back with you as these votes start coming in.
Let's get back to Representative Chris Collins of New York right now, a Trump supporter.
Congressman, over the weekend, Donald Trump said he thought if more people in that Pulse nightclub in Orlando, if they would have been carrying guns, that if they had, that would have been a very, very different result, in his words, National Rifle Association disagreed with him. Trump later walked back those comments.
Here's a question: Do you think Donald Trump really knows enough about guns, gun policy to get the job do?
COLLINS: Oh, I mean, again, Donald Trump is going to be a great president, Wolf. But when it comes to gun control, here's what I find most disappointing. Every time there's a tragedy, whether it's Newtown or Orlando, we have a president and he tries to politicize every tragedy in a disingenuous way, suggesting to the American public if we passed a couple of more laws, these tragedies wouldn't occur.
Nothing could be further from the truth. And you know we have to go back to our hearts and prayers go out to the families. But when the president and where Hillary Clinton talked about if we pass this law, these things wouldn't have happened, that's shameful to politicize every tragedy.
Do we need commonsense changes? I think we are all open to that. But if you talk about, for instance, the no-fly list, we don't know how people get on it and there's no way for them to get off.
[17:25:05] There's law-abiding citizens on that list.
So, if we're going to use a list that would prevent people or delay people from getting a gun, which is a protected right under the Constitution, we have to make sure there is due process if they are a law abiding person that shouldn't be on the list but they have the wrong last name or one that's similar, there's way to get off the list. So, this is under discussions now. It is a list that no one, even the FBI can tell us where all of these names came from. They could be a next-door neighbor calling in and suggesting someone should be added to that list, and that person can't get off.
So, we need to deal with due process. This is America. If you are on the list, you have some appeals process to get off. But also, let's just go back to the beginning. It's shameful that our president politicizes every tragedy in America with some suggestion that wouldn't have occurred if we passed some other law, which is --
BLITZER: So, correct me if I'm wrong, Congressman, this is an area where you disagree with Donald Trump because that famous tweet he put out, he thought if you're on the no fly list or terror list you should not be able to go out and buy a gun.
COLLINS: If you are on a terrorist list that is accurate, that there's due process tied to it, I agree --
BLITZER: He said the no-fly list as well.
COLLINS: I would disagree right now because the no-fly list right now has no due process tied to how do you get off. First of all, how did you get on the list? Number two, if you're on it, you may not even know it and how do get off of the list? So, I think, we all agree, if you're on a true terrorist list, you should not have a gun but the no fly list is not such a list.
BLITZER: All right. Congressman Chris Collins of New York, thanks very much for joining us.
COLLINS: Very good. Good to be with you, Wolf.
BLITZER: Thank you.
Democrats, they are piling on Donald Trump. The Vice President Joe Biden is the latest sharply denouncing Trump's foreign policy.
Also, why did the FBI edit out the name of ISIS from a transcript of the Orlando shooter's 911 call only to reverse course a few hours later?
[17:31:23] BLITZER: We're following the breaking news in the presidential race. Donald Trump's abrupt and unexpected firing of his campaign manager Corey Lewandowski. Instead of keeping silent, Lewandowski dud a live interview right here on CNN earlier this afternoon loyally defending his former boss.
Let's get a reaction from our political commentator, S.E. Cupp, our legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin, our political commentator, Anna Navarro and our CNN politics executive editor, Mark Preston. Mark, what else are you hearing you're your sources about how all of this went down?
MARK PRESTON, CNN POLITICS EXECUTIVE EDITOR: Well Wolf, we've been hearing that this really came to a head this past weekend but from folks who are involved, they told me that in fact that this latest iteration to remove Lewandowski from the Trump campaign has really been going about 10, 14 days. And we've also heard that Reince Priebus, the chairman of the republican committee was one of the folks who was telling Trump that it was time for a change.
Now Wolf, we have got to acknowledge, this is not unheard of in any kind of a presidential campaign. Whenever things are not going the way that they should be going, you often see a change at the top. This is what happened with Corey Lewandowski. What makes this a little bit different is that Donald Trump literally did not have a full campaign operation in place and there are those in the Republican Party that said that he was -- it was his fault that Donald Trump hadn't, A, been on message and, B, actually put a presidential campaign in place beyond the few trusted aids that he had here in New York.
BLITZER: It also sounds Mark, as if Donald Trump's children had a huge hand in this. Were they the driving force?
PRESTON: I think at the end they were and Donald Trump who is very careful about who he takes advice from, you know, obviously he keeps his own counsel but it is his daughter Ivanka, her husband Jared Kushner who really put this over the edge. Now look, Wolf, you and I have been in the business long enough that we hear things oftentimes on the street, on the political street. This should not really come as a surprise actually that Corey Lewandowski has been removed as a campaign manager. Really what is a surprise is that it didn't happen earlier.
BLITZER: S.E., listen to all of the times Donald said he wouldn't fire Corey Lewandowski over these many months. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)
TRUMP: I have a wonderful guy, a campaign manager. You talk about discipline and you probably saw what happened today with my campaign. He's a good guy. Corey. And by the way, the easiest thing, Corey, you're fired. I can't do that. I can't do it.
BLITZER: What did Corey Lewandowski do? What did he do wrong?
TRUMP: It would be so easy for me to fir terminate this man, ruin his life, ruin his family, he's got four beautiful children in New Hampshire, ruin his whole everything and say, you're fired. Okay, I've fired many people, especially on "The Apprentice." I think that I've really hurt a very good person. And I know it'd be very easy for me to discard people. I don't discard people. I stay with people. That's why I stay with this country. That's why I stay with a lot of people that are treated unfairly. Corey, good job, Corey, good Job.
I'll stick by people and I know it's probably not even politically good for me to do but when somebody is on the line, so unfairly is that, I will stick by them. You know, the problem is, everybody dumps people when there's like a sign of a political incorrectness.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: So S.E., does this make Donald Trump look disloyal?
S.E. CUPP, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well first of all, that sign of political incorrectness were assault accusations. Let's be clear, what Donald Trump was defending Corey Lewandowski for through those days and weeks were accusations that he assaulted reporter.
BLITZER: But the charges were never put forward.
BLITZER: They were dropped, they went away.
CUPP: Correct but there is Trump bragging about how loyal he is and obviously only loyal until that becomes problematic for Trump. I would also point out, Trump was mocking other candidates, including Ted Cruz, for, you know, firing one of his campaign staffers tweeting that, you know, he was fired like a dog. So I think Trump is loyal to Trump alone and everyone else really is sort of interchangeable and sort of, you know, able to be thrown away when damaging to Trump.
BLITZER: You know, Jeffrey, I've covered campaigns for a long time. As Mark Preston pointed out, oftentimes there are shakeups in campaigns. That's not necessarily unusual.
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Hillary Clinton in 2008 had a change at the top. I don't think there are a dozen people in the United States who will vote for or against Donald Trump because of who his campaign manager is. The real issue here is what happens to Trump's campaign. Trump's campaign has no money, they have no staff, they have no communication strategy other than Donald Trump talking. This is an opportunity for them to put a real campaign structure in place. That's why this is significant. Whether the name at the top is Corey Lewandowski or Paul Manafort, I don't think most people care about. But the state of the campaign is in trouble and that's what's...
BLITZER: Will it have any significant impact on fundraising for the Trump campaign, the removal of Corey Lewandowski?
ANNA NAVARRO, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: By all accounts, Lewandowski was a brash guy with harsh edges. That being said, that's not the problem with this campaign. The problem with this campaign is Donald Trump and the things that constantly come out of his mouth. That is what's giving donors and so many republicans heartburn. Lewandowski might have given folks the hiccups but the real problem is Donald Trump and his lack of discipline of his own mouth. So I think that that's where the focus is and that's where people are having a real problem.
Reince Priebus at the RNC is doing an incredible job trying to appease donors, trying to convince them that the RNC infrastructure is going to fill in where the Trump infrastructure or lack thereof is falling behind. And both Mark and Jeff are right, that this happens in campaigns. I lived it with the McCain campaign in 2007 but it usually does not happen less than a month from the convention, four months from the election. Absentee ballots are going out in four months in a lot of states.
BLITZER: All right guys, stand by because there's more to assess. We're also going to get reaction of the vice president of the United States delivering a very tough speech today attacking Donald Trump's foreign policy, much more on that when we come back.
BLITZER: We're back with our political experts. Looking at today's dramatic developments in the presidential campaign, earlier this afternoon, vice president Joe Biden added his voice to the chorus of high-profile democrats slamming Donald Trump.
JOE BIDEN, U.S. VICE PRESIDENT: There are 1.4 billion Muslims in the world. Some of the rhetoric I'm hearing sounds designed to radicalize all 1.4 billion, willing the politics of fear and intolerance, like the proposal to ban Muslims from entering the United States, profiling Muslim-Americans, slandering entire religious communities as complicit in terrorisms, calls into question American status as the greatest democracy in the history of the world.
BLITZER: All right Mark, the vice president not mincing words. Will these attacks be effective?
PRESTON: Well, you know, it remains to be seen, will they be effective and how effective they will be. What it does show to us is, you're seeing a democratic party really come behind Hilary Clinton, rallying to her side. You've seen Joe Biden out there critical today of Donald Trump, specifically on foreign policy. We've seen president Obama do the same thing.
You're going to see this more and more and more over the coming months as we head into November. What they're trying to do, Wolf is they're trying to cast doubt in the voters' minds that Donald Trump could be a good commander in chief and quite frankly, somebody who is not really capable of dealing with other foreign leaders on really major issues.
BLITZER: Jeffrey, it seems it be a stark contrast right now between the republicans, a lot of republicans sort of tepidly supporting Donald Trump right now. The democrats, with the exception of Bernie Sanders, they're basically firing on all cylinders right now.
TOOBIN: Look at the difference between this and 2008. When you had an incumbent vice president and president, George Bush and Dick Cheney who were so unpopular, they couldn't campaign for John McCain. Here, you have Barrack Obama and Joe Biden who are actually quite popular who are using the bully pulpit available to them and will continue for the next several months to work for Hilary Clinton. It's a huge advantage. The president and the vice president are always going to be able to command an audience and you can see, they're already hard at work.
BLITZER: They certainly are. How worried should republicans S.E., be about this?
CUPP: Worried. I think if you're a voter, you can look out at the landscape and see very clearly who's for Trump and very clearly who's never Trump, who's not with trump. But I think the vast majority of Republican leaders and lawmakers have tried to be a little too cute by saying, well I'm reluctantly endorsing or I'm endorsing, I'm supporting but I'm not going to vote for. Or, well, he's better than Hillary.
[17:45:01] I don't think that keeps anyone home who is determined to vote for Trump or brings anyone out who was questioning whether he or she could vote for Trump. All it does is personally and politically protects a person who might be up for reelection. So I don't think this is having an effect of unifying the party and Democrats to a much greater degree are coming together around Hillary and against Trump.
BLITZER: Because some Republicans are still saying they'll vote for the Republican nominee and there's not even a Republican nominee yet. There's a presumptive Republican nominee. You've heard that. NAVARRO: You know, different Republicans are taking different
approaches at this. Some treat it like Lord Valdemort in "Harry Potter," he whose name shall not be mentioned. Some will say I am voting for him but I am not endorsing.
Here's the bottom line, folks. You can't be a little bit president. When you're a pregnant, you're pregnant. And if you say you're supporting Donald Trump, if you say you're supporting the nominee, if you say I'm supporting he whose name shall not be mentioned, you are pregnant with Donald Trump and you are finding out that you're going to have to defend, justify, deal with everything that comes out of his mouth.
What I would recommend to my Republican brethren is, stand by your principles, stand by what you believe. That way, if you lose or you win, you win with what you believe, with what you stand for, with what wakes you up at night and you can look at yourself in the mirror. Because they are not going to be able to control Donald Trump. The only people and the only conscience and the only mouth they can control is their own.
BLITZER: Do you agree, S.E.?
CUPP: Yes. I think if you're with Trump, whether tacitly or reluctantly, tell me and tell me why and I -- you better go and get him elected if you are saying you support him. If you don't, stand up and say, you're not with him, he doesn't represent me, he's not a conservative and I'm not going to help get him elected, and if that results in Hillary Clinton getting elected, well, I've worked with Democrats in the past and I'll hold my nose and do it. But this middle -- this middle ground is not having any effect to bring people together as a party.
NAVARRO: Nobody likes anything -- nobody like a politician with a mushy center.
BLITZER: All right. Guys, stand by. There's more political news coming up.
We're also following other breaking news. The newly released full versions of the Orlando gunman's calls to police and 911. Why did the U.S. government need two tries to get out the full version of the story?
[17:51:40] BLITZER: There's breaking news in the Orlando terror attack investigation. The FBI backtracked this afternoon, and put out a full version of the transcripts of the Orlando killer's phone calls to police and 911. This came after partial versions put out earlier touched off a political fire storm.
CNN's Ed Lavandera is on the scene for us in Orlando.
Ed, the politics aside, the calls certainly are chilling. ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: No question, and what this partial
transcript does is give a series of events that happen inside the club, three hours where Omar Mateen was inside. And it starts off with a chilling declaration where Mateen says, "I did the shootings."
LAVANDERA (voice-over): After blasting his way into the Pulse nightclub, and unleashing the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history, Omar Mateen called 911. The FBI initially released a partial transcript of the 50-second call.
RON HOPPER, FBI ASSISTANT SPECIAL AGENT-IN-CHARGE: While the killer made these murderous statements, he did so in a chilling, calm, and deliberate manner.
LAVANDERA: Mateen says, "I'm in Orlando and I did the shootings. What's your name," says the 911 dispatcher. "My name is I pledge allegiance to," what he says is initially redacted.
Investigators redacted references to ISIS and its leader Abu Bakr al- Baghdadi. Those references have been widely reported since shortly after the shooting. Even the FBI director, James Comey, confirmed them last week in a news conference.
JAMES COMEY, FBI DIRECTOR: During the calls he said he was doing this for the leader of ISIS who he named and pledged loyalty to.
HOPPER: Part of the redacting is meant to not give credence to individuals who have done terrorist attacks in the past. We're not going to propagate their rhetoric, their violent rhetoric, and we see no value in putting those individuals' names back out there.
HOPPER: But many Republicans criticized the decision. House Speaker Paul Ryan says, "Selectively editing this transcript is preposterous. The administration should release the full, un-redacted transcript so the public is clear-eyed about who did this and why." A few hours later the FBI released the full transcript without the
redactions. The transcript also included details from three phone calls with the Orlando Police Department's crisis negotiation team. In all, those calls lasted 28 minutes. Mateen told the officers, "There is some vehicle outside that has some bombs, just to let you know, and I'm going to ignite it if they try to do anything stupid."
There were no explosives, but investigators say after Mateen retreated inside the Pulse nightclub bathroom, officers on the scene handled the situation like a hostage scenario.
Investigators say after the initial shooting rampage started around 2:00 a.m., no other shots were fired until Mateen was killed shortly after 5:00 a.m.
CHIEF JOHN MINA, ORLANDO POLICE: I think there is this misconception that we didn't do anything for three hours, and I'm just trying to clarify that's absolutely not true.
LAVANDERA: And Wolf, federal investigators appear to be wrapping up their work inside and around the Pulse nightclub. They're starting to tear down all the equipment that they had brought in here to assess that crime scene. And it looks like the roadway and the area around the Pulse nightclub will be reopened soon -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Ed Lavandera in Orlando for us. Ed, thank you.
[17:55:02] The breaking news up next. Donald Trump fires his campaign manager in an effort to put his struggling White House bid on track. So what impact will Trump's drastic action have? We're going to go inside the campaign with one of his key supporters.
BLITZER: Happening now. Breaking news. Ousted. New details on Donald Trump's surprise firing of his campaign manager and the role Trump's children played in forcing their father's hand.
CNN pressing Corey Lewandowski about why he was let go and why he still sounds loyal to Trump.
Terror transcript. The FBI releases an edited version of the Orlando killer's 911 calls and then quickly reverses the decision to delete references to ISIS.
Tonight the gunman's chilling words and questions about the handling of the investigation.