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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
New Information About Suspects In Istanbul Ataturk Airport Bombings; Donald Trump to Announce Vice Presidential Pick; Washington Post: Newt Gingrich, Chris Christie Top VP Contenders; "Fix Is In": Conservative Group Slams Clinton-Lynch Meeting; 3 Sisters, Niece Killed In Airport Attack; Funeral For Three Sisters And their Niece. Aired 8-9p ET
Aired June 30, 2016 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[20:00:03] JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Good evening. Jake Tapper here, sitting in for Anderson.
We begin with breaking news this evening and a photograph. Three young men caught on camera dressed for the cold in the middle of summer. We are showing this because authorities want anyone who knows them to come forward. The question, are these the three men who turned Istanbul's main international airport into a slaughterhouse? Are they the ones responsible for so many senseless deaths, 44 and counting? So many grievous injury, so many lives upended and so many stories that will now be untold. Are they the ones?
And even as investigators try to figure this all out they're learning more about where the killers, wherever they are, likely came from. Russia, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan all by way of ISIS-controlled Raqqah in Syria.
In addition tonight along with the stories of the killers and the fallen, we are learning more about heroes such as the policeman seen here. He ran up to one of the bombers and tried to make sure that the bomber was dead, and tried to make sure the bomber could not setoff the explosive vest. We will tell you more about him in just a moment.
But first with more on the investigation here's CNN's Nima Elbagir.
NIMA ELBAGIR, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: This is a pretty typical street in the conservative (INAUDIBLE) district off Istanbul. But the estate agent who manages this property told us that he was brought in by police to confirm that the men they showed him on CCTV footage that they rented this property from him.
Up just one flight of stairs, this is it. This is where Turkish authorities have told us they believe the three attackers holed up for a month. The attackers, they say came directly from Raqqah. And all evidence the Turkish authorities currently have in their possession point toward the ISIS leadership's direct involvement in the planning, the commissioning and the execution of the attack on Ataturk airport.
We have been walking around the neighborhood trying to discover what, if anything, anyone saw. This garage is directly overlooked by the flat rented by the attackers. He has agreed to speak with us.
MUSTAFA ELISAN, NEIGHBOR (through translator): Sometimes I would see them when they opened the window to smoke and to get some fresh air, but they never opened the curtains. We have been anxious as locals here. Since a growing number of foreigners moving into this neighborhood, but of course, you can never ask who are you to someone. It's not our duty. There are police and other officials in this country who should be dealing with it.
ELBAGIR: People here are feeling worried. They are feeling tense and understandably, very few of the neighbors in this building agreed to speak on camera. But one woman described to us on Sunday, two days before the attack was launched, smelling something chemical, a strong chemical smell emanating from the flat rented by the attackers that she said filled the entire building.
It was down this street that the attackers walked toward the neighborhood square. Turkish security sources say it's here that the men flagged down the taxi that would take them on that fatal trip to Ataturk airport where horror would soon unfold. Today in the very same square life seems eerily normal.
TAPPER: And Nima Elbagir joins us from the airport.
Nima, have investigators been able to determine what kinds of explosives these terrorists used or even how they got them?
ELBAGIR: Turkey's interior minister says that it was a combination. This explosive was a combination of TNT, RDX and PETN. PETN especially is a very sensitive and very powerful, military-grade explosive. We also are hearing from our Turkish sources that this was manufactured outside of Turkey and then they were able to smuggle it in. They also, we understand, were able to spend a month in that apartment that we showed you undetected. And you saw that some of the neighbors had begun to be concerned. There was this extraordinary chemical smell that they said permeated the building but that didn't seem to be enough even though they were talking amongst themselves and some were suggesting, talking to authorities it wasn't quite enough to trigger the authorities' suspicion and so many of those neighbors.
Part of the reason they're uncomfortable speaking on camera, Jake, is they feel the weight of guilt. Should they, could they have done more?
TAPPER: Nima, thank you so much.
Continuing with our breaking news coverage. With all we're learning tonight about plain and simple, a hero. The man at the top of the frame fits the description. Someone who sees danger and runs towards it, not away from it. We have wondered all week, who is this police officer and tonight we know. We also know about two others and it's downright heartbreaking. A father and mother on their way, they had hoped to make contact with the son, their only son who had run off to try to join ISIS. They were hoping to bring him home. Now she is a widow and the son will never see his father again.
CNN's Ivan Watson has all their stories and he joins us now.
Ivan, what can you tell us about this police officer?
[20:05:20] IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, we have is name now. It's (INAUDIBLE) Durna, a police officer. And he is the man who seen in this security camera footage who appears to have brought down one of the attackers and goes to take a look at the man in the video and then realizing, perhaps that the attacker was rigged with a suicide belt explosives. He then sprint away to try to escape the blast.
Now, Mr. Durna is in hospital right now. He is being treated for injuries during that encounter and we have been told that his spleen has been removed. You know, in last night's broadcast, Jake, we talked to survivors, eyewitnesses of the attack who described the police, the emergency response workers as heroes because they literally protected the passengers and the workers at the airport from these suicidal attackers and this man is one of them.
There is another video that's emerged via the Turkish television news agency (INAUDIBLE). And that also appears to show security camera footage. And in this, you get a sense of what cold-blooded killers these men were. In this, you see a man in a corridor turning to what we have been told is an undercover police officer and almost casually appearing to shoot him with a pistol twice. Those are the kinds of men that the security guards and police officers at the airport were facing on that terrible Tuesday night - Jake.
TAPPER: And Ivan, also there's the story of a Tunisian doctor killed in the attacks while trying to retrieve his son who had just run away to try to join IS. Such a tragic story.
WATSON: This is awful. Dr. Fati Bayud (ph), he is military doctor, chief of pediatrics in Tunisia and his son Anwar, who is a medical student, had left Tunisia with his wife and said he would be an intern in Switzerland. Well, then, he informed the family months later that he had gone to Syria to join ISIS as a medic.
Now, the father was in despair, a friend tells us, and he actually came to Turkey and he was working with Turkish authorities to try to get his son back. And in fact, the son and the wife are in the custody of Turkish authorities on the Turkish border with Syria. The father, Dr. Bayud was at the airport to pick up his wife and they were trying to get the son back to see him. And the father is one of the victims of ISIS, we believe, to be ISIS attackers killed in the attack on Tuesday night here.
His son, we are told, by the Turkish foreign ministry will be returned to Tunisian authorities. A wife has survived. She is now been made a widow and that is one man's story. Dr. Fati Bayud who almost lost his son to ISIS and now seems to be yet another victim of this terrorist organization -- Jake.
TAPPER: Just horrible. Ivan Watson, thank you so much. As all of this unfolded, we are learning more about two days' worth of
U.S. and Iraqi coalition airstrikes on ISIS convoys that we are told were fleeing Fallujah. We are getting differing numbers from American and Iraqi spokes people, either way, the numbers are substantial. The U.S. military saying coalition warplanes and about 175 vehicles. The Iraqis say combined coalition and Iraqi forces destroyed 750. No word from U.S. officials on enemy casualties.
Joining us to discuss this all "Daily Beast" senior editor Michael Weiss, who is author of "ISIS, inside the army of terror" as well as CNN counterterrorism analyst Philip Mudd who is a former top official with the FBI and CIA. Also joining us, CNN global affairs analyst, Kimberly Dozier.
Thanks one and all for being here.
Kimberly, let me start with you. These attackers, we are told were from Russia, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan and you say that shouldn't necessarily be a surprised given that 7,000 fighters from Russia and central Asia have gone to fight with ISIS.
KIMBERLY DOZIER, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: All places that have proven a fertile recruiting ground for ISIS because of the government's treatment of Muslims there. So what you find is these thousands have come to Syria, and now found themselves in the situation where the noose around Raqqah is tightening slowly, that's the defacto capital of ISIS. But it is tightening. And they know that U.S. and other intelligence have been concentrating on them, probably have their names. They can't go home so they are the ones most likely to fight to the end. Suicide attacks are really right up on the kind of assignment that they would probably sacrifice themselves for.
[20:10:19] TAPPER: And Michael, you say that one of the toughest battalions within ISIS is called the Uzbek battalion. Tell us more about the Uzbek battalion and their role within ISIS.
MICHAEL WEISS, SENIOR EDITOR, THE DAILY BEAST: Well, these guys were apparently played a very important role in guarding Fallujah which, you know, the Iraqi city that has recently fallen to the Iraqi government. When we say Uzbek battalion, you know, they often in Syria and Iraq refer to one nationality that encompasses many, actually. So you know, there are Chechens in there, there is Dagestanis, obviously Uzbek and people from the post-Soviet central Asian republics.
These guys are very battle hardened. I mean, they have fought in insurgencies going back decades. I mean, Bob Baer has been talking about this on the air. He was in Uzbekistan as CIA operative at the time and knows just how tough, you know, these guys are. Some of them were linked up with Al-Qaeda. Those coming from Dagestan and then the caucuses region of the Russian federation tended to have been part of something called the caucuses emirates which is split now. There is a faction still loyal to that leadership. And then there is another faction that has pledged allegiance to Abu Bark al-Baghdadi. So Russia on its own soil, a goliath or a province of ISIS Jihadis. And there is another interesting aspect to this, too, Jake, which is
that just up to the Sochi Olympics, the winter Olympics in 2014, it was reported by the Russian independent press and now Reuter's international crisis group, I did some reporting on this myself. Russia's federal security service or FSB was actually sending Jihadis from Dagestan into Syria, the logic being better for them to blows stuff up over there than in Russia and to risk an international incident during this global sporting event. So it was known as a green corridor.
So you know, there's also the fact that some of these guys could have well been trained up in national militaries. I mean, you were talking about how cold-blooded that footage was, of a guy shooting an undercover cop. He looks like he had proper military training and not the kind of stuff you see necessarily in the cow patches of Raqqah by, you know, ISIS 14-year-olds coming over from Tunisia. It looks like a professional soldier. I wouldn't be surprised at all if one or more of these three suicide bomber his served in some capacity in their militaries.
TAPPER: And Phil, in terms of the investigation, what do you make of the fact that these men were apparently operating and planning this attack out of that apartment for a month, undetected except for that woman who smelled chemicals, just a few miles away from the airport?
PHILIP MUDD, CNN COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST: Let's not judge too quickly here, Jake. You used the word undetected. There are two characteristics se need to look at, whether the Turks knew they had operatives on their hands, I doubt it. I suspect they are dealing with the same thing we are dealing today sort of as we approach July 4th in the United States, that is there is a whole cadre of people that have support network. They come in. You have suspension. Are they providing false documents? Are they providing explosives? Do they help to transport somebody from Syria into Turkey?
When do you move against those folk there is a significant difference, Jake, whether it's in America or whether it is in Turkey between knowing that somebody is involved in a plot or understanding you have hundreds or thousands of people who are at some periphery of ISIS in having to sort through that in saying which of these people is going to conduct an attack. That's a problem for the FBI and it's a problem for the Turks.
TAPPER: Kimberly, these attackers, it is believed were trained in Raqqah, the headquarters or defacto capital of ISIS, if you consider that to be a caliphate and they were apparently able to bring the suicide vests and bombs that were used in the attack over the very porous Syrian-Turkish border. For people that may not know, talk to us about just how porous that border is.
DOZIER: Well, you hear from the White House that there's about 60 miles of that border that aren't yet sealed. It is actually lot more porous than that. Mountainous and desert in some areas. There are both official crossing points, but also a lot of as they call them goat trails or rat lines across where you can get everything from manpower across to material. Three suicide vests, that would fit in a small suitcase. That is easy to hide on a car or on a donkey.
TAPPER: Phil, from an intelligence perspective, how are you ever sure that you have your arms fully around an investigation like this. As you suggest there are so many different moving parts. And as you saw after the Paris attacks, there was there a raid, after another raid and a large nexus of people involved. I can only imagine that we are going to see the same thing happening here in Turkey.
MUDD: That's right. There's a critical piece of information just a few minutes ago, Jake, that we ought to focus on. That is the identification of individuals in an apartment. You take that and you take their phone and email and you blow it out. Who did they contact and you start them up with the network. That's the first step, Jake.
[20:15:09] TAPPER: All right, Michael Weiss, Phil Mudd and Kimberly Dozier. Thanks one and all.
Next, we are going to turn to American presidential politics including a new salvo in Donald Trump's battle with the party that is still, frankly, trying to grapple with the notion of nominating him.
Also Trump's running mate search. A new development today on the possibility that he might choose New Jersey governor Chris Christie or even possibly Newt Gingrich.
That and more when "360" continues. Stay with us.
[20:19:19] TAPPER: Welcome back to "360."
We have breaking news for you this evening on Donald Trump and his struggles to unite the Republican Party. "The Washington Post" is now reporting that Trump campaign aides are now discussing moving up the timing of the announcement of Trump's vice presidential pick perhaps even to next week to try to bring skeptical Republican officials and voters into the fold before the convention.
The Post also reports that the vice presidential contenders under the most serious consideration, Chris Christie and Newt Gingrich are thick into the vetting process with Gingrich reportedly the leading pick. All this while Mr. Trump himself complain that sometimes he feels like he is battling two parties including his own.
CNN's Jim Acosta traveling with the Trump campaign (INAUDIBLE).
[20:20:02] JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice- over): Just weeks before he is set to become the Republican nominee, Donald Trump isn't feeling like the life of the party.
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It's almost in some ways like I'm running against two parties.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No kidding. TRUMP: But I'm not sure it matters because I think we are going to
ACOSTA: Trump is now openly complaining at his rallies about his past rivals refusing to endorse him despite signing a GOP loyalty pledge to support the party's eventual nominee, a document Trump agree to himself.
TRUMP: They broke their word, in my opinion. They should never be allowed to run for public office again because what they did is disgraceful.
ACOSTA: But it's not just Trump's opponents from the primaries. GOP senators are hesitating to get onboard big time.
SEN. SUSAN COLLINS (R), MAINE: Donald Trump was not my second choice. He was not my third choice. And I'm going to see what happens at the convention. It is going to be very important to me whom Donald Trump chooses as his running mate. And that is arguably the most important decision that a candidate can make.
ACOSTA: On Trump's vice presidential search, CNN has learned New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is being vetted by a campaign. But one cautions it's not clear how high Christie is on the list. Utah senator Mike Lee in an interview with the "Huffington Post" is urging Trump to consider Texas senator Ted Cruz, but Lee is still furious that Trump once floated a bogus conspiracy theory about Cruz's father.
SEN. MIKE LEE (R), UTAH: WE can get into the fact that he accused my best friend's father of conspiring to kill JFK.
ACOSTA: And Cruz hasn't even endorsed Trump. And Trump's top message on trade remains a top worry for Republicans. Consider his latest verbal assault on Mexico. A key U.S. trading partner.
TRUMP: Their leaders are so much smarter, so much sharper and it's incredible. In fact, that could be a Mexican plane up there. They are getting ready to attack.
TAPPER: Jim Acosta is in Manchester for us.
And for anyone watching, Jim, the comment about the Mexican plane, obviously, he was making a joke.
ACOSTA: He was joking there, Jake. But it's pretty indicative of the tough trade talk he has been using all week long. You know, earlier today at this event in Manchester, New Hampshire, he said Hillary Clinton, he guaranteed it that she will approve the transpacific trade partnership. An agreement she says she opposes right now with just a few meaningless modifications.
The Clinton campaign fired back noting that Donald Trump's business products over the years have been made overseas. And from talking to people inside the Trump campaign, Jake, they understand that some of the trade talk is going to turn off a lot of Republicans out there, but the hope is that it's going to bring in some disaffected Bernie Sanders supporters and some Democrats out there in places like New Hampshire and Pennsylvania, and perhaps make up some of that difference and perhaps put her over the top of States like this, Jake.
TAPPER: All right. Jim Acosta, thanks so much.
OK, plenty for us to talk out. Joining us Trump supporter and former Reagan White House political adviser, Jeffrey Lord, Democratic Party senior official Donna Brazile, also "New York" magazine Washington correspondent Ryan Lizza, all three CNN political commentators.
Ryan, let me start with you. The "Washington Post" reporting tonight about Newt Gingrich perhaps in the frontrunner to be the VP pick for Donald Trump followed by Chris Christie, two very big outspoken personalities, controversial figures, unconventional options in an unconventional year? What do you make of it?
RYAN LIZZA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, it would certainly harken back to the days when the VP was -- had the attack to Al Gore, not that Trump necessarily needs his own attack on. He is pretty good at criticizing Hillary Clinton on his own. But each of those men would be good in debates and they would be good attack dogs against the Democrat.
Trump has said, you know, he changes his mind quite a bit, but he has said that he wants someone that knows Congress, right. He wants someone that knows Washington because he doesn't. Chris Christie obviously doesn't know Washington. He has never worked in, you know, he is not a hill guy. Newt Gingrich, of course, would. Gingrich would be mixed bad if he will vice president in a Trump administration. Obviously does not have good relationships with Democrats and he has complicated relationships even with Republicans. So if you were looking for a sort of LBJ-like figure, you know, master the senate type, you know, I think Gingrich, there are plusses and minuses there.
On the picking before the convention, you know, the danger with that is and in the convention itself is really drained of any drama, right? Because what's the big thing that happens?
TAPPER: Any positive drama. There is going to be definitely be drama.
LIZZA: But the big surprise in the eve of both convention is who the running mate is going to be and they would sort of shoot that early and you would lose that.
TAPPER: Donna, as somebody who wants Hillary Clinton to win in November, who is the last person you want Donald Trump to pick?
DONNA BRAZILE, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Somebody that could appeal to a broad, what I call a broad section of the American people. Someone who is reasonable, sensible, of course, ready to be president and no offense to -- and I know Newt Gingrich very well and Chris Christie. They are more like keynote speakers. They are not VP. I mean, they are down punchers. They remind you of Donald Trump. I don't think they will bring a lot to Donald Trump.
[20:25:10] TAPPER: Do you think Bob Corker, the senator from Tennessee, who is on --.
BRAZILE: John Thune, from South Dakota, may be the governor of Oklahoma. It may help him. It may help him not with a constituency, but somebody who not only knows Washington, but is a different set of tone. And also I think he needs a real, authentic conservative. I mean, if here I am a progressive and liberal telling conservatives that they need to pick somebody who is a conservative because when you see people like George Will. When you hear my friend Ana Navarro or Mary Matalin and many others saying that they will not support Donald Trump or even you heard Susan Collins or Mitt Romney and so many other people, I think he needs to pick a real, authentic conservative. And I'm telling you Newt Gingrich is conservative, but he is more of a keynote speaker and down puncher. I don't see him.
TAPPER: There's been some talk actually of Indiana governor Mike Pence who is a very authentic conservative about some talk him being. When you hear names on the top right now like Chris Christie, like Newt Gingrich, maybe even Scott Brown who has the rare honor of having been defeated for the Senate in two different states, Massachusetts and New Hampshire, does that concern you at all? I agree that Chris Christie and Newt Gingrich are compelling personalities, but they haven't had huge success in recent years electorally. Does that concern you at all as a Trump supporter?
JEFFREY LORD, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: And I should confess, I wrote a column in the "American Spectator" making the case for vice president Gingrich. I was Cruz fan. IT was pretty clear to me, he didn't want to do it. He has made that pretty emphatically thorough (ph).
TAPPER: I don't even know if he's going to vote for Trump.
LORD: Right. So I think Newt would be terrific. To be perfectly candid, I don't think that vice presidents other than Linden Johnson who carried Texas for John F. Kennedy, we have had vice presidential candidates who were seen as a negative, people like (INAUDIBLE) and yet their candidates won anyway. And we have had vice presidential candidates like Edmund Musky back there in 1968 and Lloyd Benson in 88 who were a plus, so-called and yet there were tickets still lost. So I really think what you want here is somebody that the president can have lunch with every Thursday, and trust. I think Joe Biden, frankly was terrific for Barack Obama as I think Dick Cheney and Al Gore were great.
TAPPER: Very interesting. Somebody who could be an actual partner in the job.
We are going to continue this conversation after the break, talking about Donald Trump's struggle to unite the party. Who is going to be for vice president?
Coming up later, a significant new development in the wake of the meeting between America's top law enforcement officer, attorney general Loretta Lynch and former president Bill Clinton, husband of the woman and presidential candidate whom Lynch's justice department is investigating. Stay with us.
[20:31:49] JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back to "360". We're talking, Trump V.P. picks right now. "The Washington Post" reporting that former House Speaker Newt Gingrich has the edge over Governor Chris Christie perhaps as of now.
Today, on the campaign trail, New Hampshire -- oh, I'm sorry, NH1's Paul Steinhauser did his best to try to pry more information out of the presumptive nominee on this topic.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PAUL STEINHAUSER, NH1 ANCHOR: During New Hampshire, Scott Brown, Chris Christie, both well known here, are they on your short list?
DONALD TRUMP, (R) PRESUMPTIVE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: Well, they both good guys, I don't want to say short list, but certainly they are great people. Scott was a very early supporter and Chris was very early after he got out. And they certainly people I want to involved.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: He could be a politician when he wants to be. We talked before the break about Scott Brown. We're back with the panel. Joining the conversation right now Alex Burns, national political reporter for "The New York Times" who today wrote a piece about Chris Christie's growing influence within the Trump orbit. Alex, welcome.
So what do you make in the reporting from "The Washington Post" that Gingrich and Christie seemed to be leading the pack for a V.P. slot? And your piece today really talked about how Governor Christie's influence was growing in the campaign. I don't know if he's going to end up as the vice presidential pick or maybe even as you've suggested, chief of staff.
ALEX BURNS, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, "NEW YORK TIMES": Yeah, Jake, you know, we reported in our story earlier today that Christie was being vetted for the vice presidency, but as you say, the real story as far as Christie specifically is concerned is his growing influence over Trump and over his, you know, potential administration really irrespective of whether he gets that V.P. role.
There are definitely people who are out there in the veepstakes, members of the Senate and members of the House whose irrelevance to Trump is going to a really a rise or fall based on whether they're his running mate.
Christie is already running his transition. He has installed his own loyalists to basically design the federal government or what it would look like in a Trump administration and he's really emerged as the essential person from within the Republican establishment who is out there and making the sale for Trump to donors, to other office holders, to folks who could potentially serve in a Trump cabinet.
TAPPER: Very interesting. And also, of course, Donald Trump bringing onboard the Communications Director who worked on the Cruz campaign. I think the person who did the social media for the Rand Paul campaign. So he's really trying to draw lots of people from lots of different campaigns.
Ryan, you just heard in Jeff -- in Jim Acosta's piece, Trump was hammering his former primary opponents for not supporting him.
RYAN LIZZA, WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT OF "THE NEW YORKER": He has a point. Well, his point -- he does have a point with -- they did all sign that pledge, right?
LIZZA: Reince Priebus, the head of the RNC ask them all to sign a pledge that you will support the nominee and when each of those men and women did that, they knew that if Donald Trump was the nominee they were saying that they would support him. I think it shows you the level of resistance and the divisions within the Republican Party, even despite that, even despite that Trump has won more votes than any Republican presidential primary candidate in history that they still won't get behind him.
And what are they thinking? They're thinking if he goes down, if Hillary's president, the day after the election, do they want to have been a Trump supporter when he leaves the scene, is it the bet now to be on his side or not?
[20:35:06] And I think that the bet that they're making is he's not going to win and so they don't want to be -- they don't want to have been seen in 2016 as being a die hard Trump supporter if he loses.
TAPPER: Donna, well, Jeffrey and I were talking before -- in the break about what I think is one of the most interesting stories of the political year and you'll probably agree is it Donald Trump's attempt to redraw the map, the electoral map, kind of -- he's not -- I'm sure he's not giving up on states where there's a large Latino population like Colorado and New Mexico, but really focusing his energy on states where there's big white working class for Pennsylvania, Ohio and Michigan, Wisconsin, does that worry you as a Democrat?
DONNA BRAZILE, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: No.
TAPPER: Not even a little bit that you don't see it as a possibly at all?
BRAZILE: Jake, look at this face. Is this a woman who worries? OK. I got gray hair but I'm not wrinkled yet, OK.
BRAZILE: No. Let me tell you why I don't worry. And, the reason is these states will be competitive, President Obama winning by two, three percentage points, that's a given. But I think, Donald Trump has done a lot of damage to -- not just his brand, but to the Republican brand. And the fact is, when you go back and look at the primary campaign, he really didn't bring a lot of new people. He was able to energize a lot of Republicans who failed to support Mitt Romney, but he didn't really bring a lot of new people. So because of that, I don't worry.
I do believe that Hillary Clinton will have an opportunity to exploit some of the weaknesses of Donald Trump's candidacy. Next week, the President will be campaigning with Hillary Clinton in North Carolina, the Vice President and Jeffrey, great commonwealth of Pennsylvania. So I think this is an opportunity for Democrats to extend the map not Republicans.
TAPPER: Jeffrey, stick with me because I know you're going to have a lot to say in this next segment.
The tete-a-tete on an airport tarmac that has set up a political firestorm. New developments tonight in the fallout from that private chat, the former President Bill Clinton had with Attorney General Loretta Lynch in Phoenix.
Stay with us.
[20:40:53] TAPPER: The "fix is in." Those are the words of the conservative good government reform group judicial watch launching a complaint this evening with the Justice Department Inspector General. The group's issue, a meeting between Former President Bill Clinton and Attorney General Loretta Lynch who just happens to be overseeing the investigation into the private e-mail server of Mr. Clinton's wife, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee. The meeting, "creates the appearance of a violation of law, ethical standards and good judgment creating broad public impression that the fix is in, "the group writes.
Even some Democrats agree that the optics of the meeting just plain stink.
More now from CNN's Jeff Zeleny.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LORETTA LYNCH, ATTORNEY GENERAL: Well, I did see the president at the Phoenix airport the other night. As I was landing, he was headed out.
JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Attorney General Loretta Lynch describing details about her meeting with Former President Bill Clinton.
LYNCH: He did come over and say hello and speak to my husband and myself and talked about his grandchildren and his travels and things like that. So that was the extent of that.
ZELENY: At the phoenix airport Monday night, the former President saw Lynch's plane on the tarmac. He climbed aboard taking Lynch by surprise. A law enforcement official told CNN, they talked privately for about 30 minutes.
LYNCH: No discussions were held in any cases or anything of that. And he didn't raise anything about that either.
ZELENY: Both sides say it was a chance meeting, a coincidence, but critics are calling it a conflict, considering Lynch is overseeing the ongoing investigation into Hillary Clinton's private e-mail server. The encounter gives fresh ammunition to those who have called for a special prosecutor. Skeptical, the Obama Administration's Justice Department can be objective. It lit up conservative talk radio today with Donald Trump leading the charge.
TRUMP: You see a thing like this and even in terms of judgment, how bad a judgment is it for him or for her to do this? I mean, who would do this?
ZELENY: The Attorney General denied the probe had been politicized.
LYNCH: It's being handled by career investigators and career agents who always follow the facts and the law ...
ZELENY: The White House said today it wouldn't second guess the private meeting and defended Lynch.
JOSH EARNEST, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The President's view is that this is an investigation that should be conducted free of any sort of political interference. And the Attorney General has indicated that that's exactly her expectation as well.
ZELENY: Yet it raises questions why Lynch would put herself in this position, given questions she's already faced about the sensitivity of the investigation.
FMR. SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM, (R) SOUTH CAROLINA: Have you ever discussed the Clinton e-mail investigation with President Obama or anyone at the White House?
LYNCH: No, sir, I have not.
GRAHAM: OK, do you anticipate that happening?
LYNCH: No, sir, I do not.
ZELENY: It's a new headache for Clinton who's off the campaign trail today at home in Chappaqua. The e-mail controversy is still weighing on her candidacy as she waits to be interviewed by the FBI.
Jeff Zeleny, CNN, Washington.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: And as you might imagine the panelists got plenty to say about all of this. Joining the conversation, Carl Bernstein, author of, "A Woman in Charge, The Life of Hillary Rodham Clinton" and a CNN political analyst.
Carl, this comes at the time where Hillary Clinton herself just acknowledged that she has a trust deficit among many, many voters, especially independents and there are a lot of voters out there who think, A, she's not trustworthy and, B, the Clintons don't think the rules apply to them and boom, this story.
CARL BERNSTEIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: This plays right into Trump's hand, but the terrible thing is the incredible lapse in judgment by both the Attorney General and Bill Clinton. It's inexplicable, it's wrong, it's improper. And she needs, the Attorney General to now recuse herself from overseeing this investigation and turn it over to the Deputy Attorney General in charge of the criminal division. It's unthinkable that she can go on being in charge of this investigation.
TAPPER: Wow. So a call from Carl Bernstein, Donna, for the Attorney General to recuse herself. And let me point out, in the past when there have been political -- politically charge investigations.
[20:44:59] First of all, John Ashcroft recused himself from the investigation who leaked Valerie Plame's identity, the former CIA covert officer. And both Senators Obama and Clinton called for Gonzalez to recuse himself during the investigation into Jack Abramoff. Should Loretta Lynch recuse herself?
BRAZILE: No. And I think all of this, you know, great, sensational coverage today is because we have nothing else to talk about. Donald Trump has not insulted anyone in the last few hours and this is a big story.
Look, basically, Bill Clinton is at the same airport, the same time with the Attorney General. Anyone who knows Bill Clinton knows that if he walks into a room or walk on the tarmac and see someone, he's going to say hello. That's the nature of this southern gentleman.
TAPPER: This was a 30-minute conversation.
BRAZILE: You know what? Have you talked to Bill Clinton lately about his grandchildren? It is a 30-minute conversation. He's in love with them. God knows they're beautiful.
I don't see anything nefarious happening. I mean -- and by the way, they had Mrs. Lynch had her FBI agents who, I guess, or whoever the agents are, the law enforcement agents who travel with her, the President has secret service, it wasn't like this was a close encounter with third kind. Her husband was also there. And they also talked about a personal friend, it wasn't Mrs. Clinton. They talked about the Former Attorney General Janet Reno. So, I don't see anything nefarious. But again, this is a big talking point on a night when we like to talk.
TAPPER: Well, I don't think it's about that. I mean, we have even Democrats like David Axelrod and Senator Chris Kuntz of Delaware criticizing at least the optics of it all.
BRAZILE: Jake, we have millions of Democrats. TAPPER: Jeffrey, I want to give Jeffery Lord an opportunity because I'm sure he has thoughts.
JEFFEY LORD, CONTRIBUTING WRITER FOR NEWSBUSTER: They've lost Carl Bernstein, then they've lost America ...
TAPPER: One second, Carl. Let Jeffrey talk and I'll come back to you.
LORD: Look, one of the first things I thought of, interestingly enough to me at least with Brexit. I mean, what was the whole Brexit business? It was about elites versus the regular people of Great Britain.
This whole business here just reeks of elitism. And, you know, hey, I can come over to the plane and have a talk. Now, you would think that the most average district attorney, anywhere in America would have the sense not to do this. I'm not ...
BRAZILE: ... get to the policy and take off?
LORD: Donna, I'm not ...
BRAZILE: I mean he walked on the plane and hello.
LORD: I'm not a lawyer, but I'm saying to you that -- or as my Democratic friends like to say so many times, the appearance of impropriety here is huge, is huge.
TAPPER: Let me bring Carl with that thing because I know he wants to weigh in. Carl?
BERNSTEIN: Well, the important thing here is that something like this shouldn't happen, that among other things Bill Clinton, the Clinton Foundation may be part of this investigation.
The Clintons have made immense contributions to American life. I don't believe that they are venal people, but they are out of touch on things like this and particularly, this trust issue.
And the most awful thing that could happen to the Democrats, it would seem to me, would be to see a neo-fascist. Donald Trump elected president of the United States with all of the dangers attended to that partly because Hillary Clinton can't get over this server problem, can't be straight forward about it.
And now, her husband is not sensitive enough to understand the implications and playing into the hands of the Clintons' vast, right- wing conspiracy enemies and they have just handed a great gift to the Republicans and to Donald Trump.
LORD: They have, indeed.
BERNSTEIN: And Donna, with all due respect ... BRAZILE: Be careful.
BERNSTEIN: This is not just by the press, just not the press.
TAPPER: Ryan, very quickly, if you can. Your thoughts on this? This does plan to the hands of those who do not pass the question.
LIZZA: Look, she had two big hurdles to get over in this campaign. She's up by seven points in average (ph) polls. She got past Benghazi. She has one big cloud hanging over her, it's this investigation. And Bill Clinton goes and hangs out with Loretta Lynch for ...
TAPPER: Who's staffing it? That's the big question? Who is ...
LORD: One thing I was ...
BRAZILE: This wasn't an appointment or meeting, he saw her plane ...
TAPPER: OK. Got to go. Thanks, everyone.
Just ahead, grief and anger in Turkey amid funerals for dozens killed in the Istanbul airport terror attack.
For each family, the loss is unimaginable. One family, we now have lost three young women, sisters and even -- and their even younger niece.
The surviving members of their family have a message for the terrorists. Meet that family, next.
[20:53:05] TAPPER: With the process of burying loved ones underway in the wake of the terrorist attack in Turkey. Tonight, we're going to bring you one family's story.
Three young sisters and their niece killed in the attack. A family decimated. Unlike dozens of other families of people at that airport, they're now left with only their grief and their anger.
Matt Rivers reports.
MATT RIVERS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: A father in mourning stands watch over his daughters' casket. A gentle hand laid on top. Her name was Huda, just 8-years-old, the light of his life killed in the airport attacks.
MUHAMMED AMIN, FATHER OF YOUNGEST VICTIM: She was very lovely.
RIVERS: She's very lovely.
AMIN: Very lovely and she loves us much.
RIVER: Killed alongside Huda were three of her aunts, all sisters. Kerime Amiri, 24, Zehra Amiri, 16, Meryem AmiriA 14.
All of them had just arrived in Istanbul to visit family. Abdulmumin Amiri was the father to the sisters and 8-year-old Huda's grandfather.
"I'm heartbroken", he says. "We are so powerless and helpless against these terrorists."
He was outside the terminal with his family waiting for a taxi. He didn't see the explosion, only its aftermath.
"I was five meters away from my girls," he says, "so I ran over. One was already dead. I took the other three to the hospital. They died, too."
Two of his other daughters and his wife were injured, but survived. They're all still in the hospital, unable to join the scores that came to a local mosque for the funeral under a bright Thursday sun.
[20:55:00] Funerals like this one have been happening across the city both yesterday and today. It is the Muslim tradition to bury victims as soon as possible.
Of course, there are friends and family here, but the majority of people here are just locals, people who worship at this mosque, here to pay their respects after an attack that hurt this whole city, the whole country.
There's so much sadness here but there's anger, too at those who would steal such innocence.
"May God damn the terrorists", said the girls' uncle. "It's not one or two or three, but four good young people. Why are they getting killed?"
On a small hill near the Mosque, the three sisters and little Huda were carried to their grave sites. Her father, Mohammed, led the way. A final act of love from a dad to a daughter.
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TAPPER: And Matt Rivers joins me now from Istanbul. Matt, I have an 8-year-old daughter. I -- it's -- this is just heartbreaking. I cannot imagine what these families are going through.
RIVERS: Jake, and when you talk to the dad of that daughter as we did before the funeral, you felt his pain. And one thing that I saw, he kept his hand on top of his daughter's casket which we were standing next to the entire interview. And it felt so paternal and instinctual. I don't even know if he was doing or knew what he was doing. But that coupled with what you saw in his eyes and the pain in his face, you really felt what this man and his family are going through. Jake.
TAPPER: This is a powerful report. Matt Rivers, thank you so much.
We'll be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)