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Trump V.P. Watch; President Obama in Dallas; Sanders Endorses Clinton; Source: Gingrich, Pence Frontrunners for Trump VP; North Korea Threatening to Attack U.S. Missile System. Aired 6-7p ET

Aired July 12, 2016 - 18:00   ET



WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Happening now, breaking news: presidential appeal. President Obama leads the nation in mourning the five police officers gunned down in Dallas. Visibly moved, he calls for unity and action. Can he build a bridge for a deeply divided country?

Mind of a killer. New details of the Dallas gunman's final moments, as new clues emerge in the investigation, including where he bought one of his weapons. What was going through his mind as he plotted his attack?

Party unity. Bernie Sanders finally endorses Hillary Clinton, appearing side by side with the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, vowing to help her defeat Donald Trump. But some Sanders supporters are unconvinced. Can Clinton win them over?

And short list. Donald Trump now said to have narrowed his list of potential running mates, even as new names suddenly crop up. We're standing by to hear from Trump. He's about to hold a rally with one potential vice presidential pick. Is an announcement imminent?

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

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

BLITZER: We're following breaking news.

An emotional President Obama calling for unity and action at a memorial for five slain Dallas police officers. They were killed in a sniper ambush during a march protesting police shootings of two African-American men. The president remembered those victims while also praising all police.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Today, in this audience, I see people who have protested on behalf of criminal justice reform grieving alongside police officers.

I see people who mourn for the five officers we lost, but also weep for the families of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile. In this audience, I see what's possible.


OBAMA: I see what's possible when we recognize that we are one American family, all deserving of equal treatment, all deserving equal respect, all children of God. That's the America I know.


BLITZER: We're also following a major moment in the race for the White House, Bernie Sanders endorsing Hillary Clinton weeks after she locked down the Democratic nomination.

But some of Sanders' most ardent supporters are not following his lead, leaving Clinton still struggling to unify her party.

We're covering this, a lot more this hour, with our guests, including the head of the NAACP, Cornell William Brooks. He's standing by live. And our correspondents and expert analysts, they are also standing by.

Let's begin with that memorial service for the five slain police officers.

Our national correspondent, Suzanne Malveaux, is joining us with details.

Suzanne, a very somber afternoon where you are there in Dallas.


And it really was an extraordinary effort by the president to give everyone something, to eulogize the deceased, to acknowledge the families, to recognize police misconduct and social injustice, at the same time praising Dallas law enforcement and law enforcement in general.

For this president, it was about Americans facing the truth while not going into despair.


MALVEAUX (voice-over): The president's words were equal parts eulogy and sermon, a call for unity, but also action.

OBAMA: I have seen how inadequate my own words have been. And so I'm reminded of the passage in John's Gospel, let us love not with words or speech, but with actions and in truth.

MALVEAUX: Flanked by Dallas police and an interfaith choir, Mr. Obama used today's memorial service for the five officers killed Thursday to address the community and the nation.

OBAMA: I'm here to insist we are not as divided as we seem. And I know that because I know America. I know how far we have come against impossible odds

MALVEAUX: The president naming each officer, spoke to their families, calling the fallen heroes.

OBAMA: When the bullets started flying, the men and women of the Dallas police, they did not flinch and they did not react recklessly. They showed incredible restraint.

MALVEAUX: But a wary and at times emotional Mr. Obama, who said he's spoken at too many memorials and hugged too many families, went further, talking candidly about race and justice in America.


OBAMA: We ask the police to do too much and we ask too little of ourselves. Race relations have improved dramatically in my lifetime. Those who deny it are dishonoring the struggles that helped us achieve that progress. But we know...


OBAMA: But, America, we know that bias remains.

MALVEAUX: Mr. Obama's speech, which aides say he wrote himself, addressed not only the shootings in Dallas. It touched on the lives of Philando Castile and Alton Sterling, two African-American men killed by police last week, the president saying officers and those they protect must find common ground.

OBAMA: Because, with an open heart, we can learn to stand in each other's shoes and look at the world through each other's eyes, so that maybe the police officer sees his own son in that teenager with a hoodie who's kind of goofing off, but not dangerous.


OBAMA: And the teenager -- maybe the teenager will see in the police officer the same words and values and authority of his parents.

MALVEAUX: On stage with the president, Dallas Police Chief David Brown, honored with a standing ovation, and former Republican President George W. Bush.

GEORGE W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Those of us who love Dallas and call it home have had five deaths in the family.

MALVEAUX: The singing and sorrow were a return for President Obama to yet another city heartbroken, his 11th trip to grieve an American mass shooting since taking office.

OBAMA: I have seen too many families go through this. But then I am reminded of what the lord tells Ezekiel. I will give you a new heart, the lord says and put a new spirit in you.


MALVEAUX: The president also acknowledged the families of all of the victims today. He was on the phone with the relatives of Philando Castile, as well as Alton Sterling. And then the president also with President George W. Bush meeting

behind closed doors with the families of those slain police officers, wounded police officers. The president now back on his way to Washington. That is where tomorrow he is going to be meeting with civil rights leaders, law enforcement officials again, Wolf, to try to come up with some ideas, some recommendations, some solutions, and at least to get these sides talking to each other to move forward, Wolf.

BLITZER: Suzanne Malveaux in Dallas for us. Suzanne, thanks very, very much.

I want to get the latest on the investigation right now.

CNN's Ed Lavandera is also in Dallas for us.

Ed, I understand new clues emerging tonight. What are you learning?

ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, we are learning new clues as to where the gun that might have been used in the deadly attack on Thursday night and early Friday morning, where that gun might have been purchased.


LAVANDERA (voice-over): Tonight, the closest look yet at the path of destruction, as the streets around El Centro Community College, where Micah Johnson launched his deadly attack, have started to reopen, blown-out windows, bullet holes in the walls of the building where police chased down the killer.

JOSEPH HANNIGAN, EL CENTRO POLICE CHIEF: Gunfire came from a window that he blew out above our dock area.

LAVANDERA: Cell phone video captured the moments inside the community college when the attack unfolded. The campus police chief says the final standoff between police and Micah Johnson occurred at the end of a second-story hallway. The robot armed with a pound of C-4 explosives moved down that hallway toward the killer.

HANNIGAN: The hallway that he barricaded himself in could not be reached by SWAT personnel. And they came up the plan of sending down a robot to save police lives.

LAVANDERA: CNN has learned that Micah Johnson purchased an AK-47- style assault rifle from a Facebook firearms group. The seller, who asked not to be identified, says he sold the firearm to Johnson in 2014 for $600.

The sale was made in a parking lot. But it's not clear if the weapon was the one used in the attack. "What I'm worried about is that the guy I met and talked to and shook hands with not only shot 11 people," the seller told CNN," but possibly did it with my gun, the gun I sold him."

In Johnson's home, police found a journal and bomb-making materials that suggested he was practicing to aim at larger targets. A federal law enforcement source says there were about 3.5 pounds of explosive materials, including a small amount of a substance called Tannerite, which the FBI began looking into several years ago after learning terrorists were interested in using it.


Other bomb-making materials were also discovered, including a can of acetone, two canning jars of black powder, hobby fuse, and three feet of PVC pipe.

Dallas Police Chief David Brown says investigators are still trying to figure out what Johnson was planning to do with this material.

Also tonight, new information in the case of Alton Sterling, a black man who was shot and killed by police officers in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Officers first used Tasers on Sterling. When he did not comply with their orders, Sterling was then fatally shot, a detective says, after police saw Sterling reach for a gun, all of this as Black Lives Matter protests continue in cities across the country.

In Atlanta, protesters marched through the streets to the governor's mansion; 16 people were arrested. In St. Paul, Minnesota, police moved to keep protesters from blocking city streets.


LAVANDERA: And, Wolf, it's important to point out that the purchase of that assault-style rifle appears to be completely legal.

Federal law enforcement sources have been telling us over the last few days there are no red flags in the ways that Micah Johnson has purchased this. Also, one other note from Baton Rouge in the case of Alton Sterling, the owner of the convenience store where Sterling was killed and the man who shot the cell phone video of that shooting has filed a lawsuit against the city of Baton Rouge and the police department, saying that he was unlawfully detained after that shooting and that the police seized his recording equipment and surveillance footage from the convenience store unlawfully, Wolf.

BLITZER: Ed Lavandera in Dallas for us. Ed, thank you very much.

There's breaking news right now. Authorities in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, have arrested several people in an alleged plot to kill local police. We're standing by for more information.

But Don Lemon has been working his sources for us.

Don, what are you learning?

DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: I have been talking to a high-ranking source down in Louisiana. Here's what they tell me, Wolf.

They said, Don, if you want to know why the big show of force, and why Baton Rouge police have been on such high alert, this is why. They said they have an active criminal investigation and they have people undercover that have been working this case. They said the Cash America pawnshop in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, was broken into late Friday night, early Saturday morning, and they said eight guns were stolen from there.

City police when they arrived on the scene, they caught one of the guys. One of the guys they caught had two of the guns. Six of the eight guns have been recovered. No ammunition, but hang on, I'm going to tell you about the ammunition in just a moment. All of these guns, by the way, were handguns, Wolf.

Those were arrested are believed to be 13 years old, 17 years old and 20 years old. They're looking for a 20-year-old missing right now with a handgun. When they arrested these guys, they said that they were looking for bullets to kill Baton Rouge police.

It is also said they were looking for bullets to kill Baton Rouge police because it's in retaliation to the Sterling shooting and also to the protests there. They're telling me all the young men who've been arrested are black males. They're all from Baton Rouge. Again, it is an active criminal investigation. They have undercover police working on this. This is why they say that they have been showing such force there and that police have been on alert going out in pairs, rather than going out solo.

Again, all handguns, Wolf, six of the eight recovered. They're looking for a 20-year-old man. They're asking him to turn himself in. A search warrant, according to our affiliate WBRZ, was served at a home in south Baton Rouge, and that's how they got some of the information and some of the guns. An active investigation happening right now in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

BLITZER: Don, I want you to stand by. You're from that area, but Cornell Brooks is with us as well. He's the president and CEO of the NAACP.

You were just there in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Cornell. This is pretty shocking when you think about this.


We are at a moment in our country, a kind of cauldron of racial apprehension and fear. And so the last thing we want to do is to speculate and create a situation where we're causing more apprehension, more fear, more suspicion. So this is a very concerning development, but we need to allow law enforcement to do what it is that they are charged with doing in terms of bringing forward the facts.

And it's a very concerning development.

BLITZER: There's been a lot of concern, as you know, in the aftermath of the shootings of these two African-American men in Louisiana and Minnesota, just as we saw supposed retaliatory action in Dallas when this one individual went on a rampage, killed five police, injured seven others.

There could be copycats or other incidents along that line. That's very, very worrisome.

BROOKS: It's very concerning.

But one of the things I think is important to note here is that those five police officers lost their lives besides peaceful protesters, a multitude of people coming together to uphold an American tradition in terms of protest.


The majority of Americans are not racially deranged. The majority of Americans are not violently mentally ill. And so we all need to be clear and calm and rational and thoughtful, and not jump to any conclusions. Let the facts emerge. This is a moment where we don't need a lot of speculation.

BLITZER: It's a very tense moment right now. You make a good point. Cornell, stay with us. We will take a quick break.

There's other information coming in right now into THE SITUATION ROOM. We will be right back.


BLITZER: The breaking news tonight: President Obama making a very emotional appeal for unity and action at a memorial for those five Dallas police officers killed in that sniper ambush.


We're back with the president and CEO of the NAACP, Cornell William Brooks.

You heard the president's speech. At one point, he said, the nation, we're not as divided as we seem to be as Americans.

What did you think?

BROOKS: I think the president was speaking as consoler in chief.

And he's done this numerous times, certainly in the temple of our democracy, offering up a kind of patriotic eulogy. And it is his effort in a moment of grief -- and I can say this having done so as a minister -- in a moment of grief, you want to speak to the people's hopes, not merely to their despair, not merely to their tears.

And so he's pointing in the direction of where we need to go as a nation and speaking to the past as evidence of where we can go in the present and in the future. Namely, we're not as bad as we were, but we can be yet better still. And he's speaking to the people's hopes.

BLITZER: He said we must reject such despair. We are not divided as we may seem. And then he said, look what I have experienced in my own life.

Here he is, the first -- our first African-American president. BROOKS: So what the president essentially is saying here is though

this may feel like a moral midnight in the country, a starless midnight, that, as the Scriptures say, weeping may endure for night, but joy comes in the morning.

That being said, the president was also frank, very honest about the fact that we have a chasm of distrust in the country between police departments and the community. He spoke about the fact that there are profound racial disparities at every point in the criminal justice system.

So the president gave a eulogy, if you will, that was candid, candid and honest and emotionally transparent, which gave it an authenticity, even as he spoke in hopeful terms. And so when he said that protesters should see in police officers, the ones who are so deserving, a parental figure, and police officers should see a young man wearing a hoodie as their son, but we as a country have to go beyond a eulogy, sermonic uplift to enact policy.

BLITZER: Listen to -- there was another president there, former President George W. Bush. And he had very powerful, beautiful words as well. Let me play a little clip for you, Cornell.


BUSH: We have never been held together by blood or background. We are bound by things of the spirit, by shared commitments to common ideals. At our best, we practice empathy, imagining ourselves in the lives and circumstances of others.

This is the bridge across our nation's deepest divisions. And it's not merely a matter of tolerance, but of learning from the struggles and stories of our fellow citizens and finding our better selves in the process.


BLITZER: He's done very few of these public addresses in the past seven-and-a-half years since leaving the White House. Those were strong words from him.

BROOKS: Very strong words.

And the fact that you have President Bush standing beside President Obama at a moment of grief and mourning and pain for the country says this about the nation. The challenge before us is not a partisan challenge. It is not a bipartisan challenge. It is a nonpartisan challenge.

It is a profoundly moral challenge. And that is to say, we as a country can come together, but we have to be thoughtful. We have to be serious. We have to address it both in terms of policies and laws, but also attitudes and beliefs. And the fact you have these two presidents standing before the country speaking to our hearts and our minds, I think this says a whole lot about the country. BLITZER: You have the -- your convention in Cincinnati coming up in

the next few days. We know Hillary Clinton will address. You have invited Donald Trump. Have you heard back from him?

BROOKS: Mr. Trump has declined our invitation, so we will hear from Secretary Clinton. We won't hear from Mr. Trump. And we...

BLITZER: Did he give an explanation why?

BROOKS: Namely, the explanation given was that they're holding their convention at the same time. We, of course, are in Cincinnati. They are in Cleveland. We were hoping that he would make the short trip from Cleveland to Cincinnati.

But I will simply say this. The NAACP, representing millions of Americans, we represent an occasion for those running for president to speak to the nation's most critical issues at a critical hour in this country. You can't run for president and not talk about police misconduct and police brutality.

You can't run for president and not talk about the nation's civil rights agenda. So this is an important moment. And our convention really will be an opportunity for anyone running for president to provide a window into not only their policies, but into their heart and character as a candidate. So it's going to be an important moment.


BLITZER: And I know tomorrow you're going to be among the civil rights leaders who will meet with the president. And we will speak with you afterwards as well.

BROOKS: Look forward to it.

BLITZER: All right, thanks very much, Cornell William Brooks of the NAACP.

A programming note, an important one. Be sure to join Don Lemon for a special CNN town hall event, "Black, White & Blue: America 2016," tomorrow night 10:00 p.m. Eastern only here on CNN.

And just ahead, more of President Obama's tributes to the slain Dallas police officers and his efforts to try to heal a divided nation.


OBAMA: Dallas, I'm here to say, we must reject such despair. I'm here to insist that we are not as divided as we seem. And I know that because I know America. I know how far we have come against impossible odds.


(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BLITZER: Bernie Sanders finally endorsing Hillary Clinton, ending their sometimes bitter rivalry, which many Democrats feared was hurting Hillary Clinton's chances in November.

[18:30:45] But even with the Vermont senator now backing the former secretary of state, some of his most ardent supporters are refusing, at least for now, to get on board.

Our senior Washington correspondent, Jeff Zeleny, is following all the late-breaking developments.

This has been a long time in coming. How did it go, Jeff?

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, a long time in coming after a long and heated campaign. But at least some of that acrimony fell between the two principles when he said these six words: "She must become our next president."

Now, some Sanders supporters in the crowd were shocked. A few others walked out. But Bernie Sanders is starting to make good on his pledge to start taking on Donald Trump.


ZELENY (voice-over): He finally said it, he's with her.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (D-VT), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Hillary Clinton will make an outstanding president. And I am proud to stand with her today.

ZELENY: Bernie Sanders jumped on the Hillary Clinton bandwagon today, showering her with praise and even a hug 35 days after she clinched the Democratic nomination.

It was an awkward dance after a long fight. Yet standing side by side spoke volumes about which party is more unified four months before election day.

HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESUMPTIVE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: ... in New Hampshire, I can't help but reflect how much more enjoyable this election is going to be now that we are on the same side.

We are stronger together.

ZELENY: Today's rally in New Hampshire had the feel of an arranged marriage, and in many ways it was, with more than a few holdouts in the crowd.

But Clinton applauded Sanders as he spoke.

SANDERS: This campaign is about moving the United States toward universal health care.

ZELENY: And Sanders returned the favor.

CLINTON: We're not cutting the minimum wage. We're raising the minimum wage!

ZELENY: They're united behind the goal of defeating Donald Trump.

SANDERS: Hillary Clinton understands that our diversity is one of our greatest strengths.

ZELENY: His message was more anti-Trump than pro-Clinton. Yet Clinton beamed today, mindful of how it felt to be on the other side of the peacemaking effort.

CLINTON: To the next president of the United States, Barack Obama.

ZELENY: Eight years after that race, the Clinton-Sanders duel has sown equally deep and passionate divisions. Several Sanders supporters like Marie Clark, told us they won't be following his lead.

(on camera): He says he will vote for Hillary Clinton. Will you?


ZELENY: Under any circumstance?


ZELENY: Sanders made clear he would work to bring his supporters along.

SANDERS: I intend to be in every corner of this country to make certain that happens.

ZELENY: Trump pledged today to go after any dissenters, tweeting, "To all the Bernie voters who want to stop bad trade deals and global special interests, we welcome you with open arms."

But Clinton dismissed Trump and welcomed Sanders' team into her fold.

CLINTON: I am proud to be fighting alongside you because, my friends, this is a time for all of us to stand together


ZELENY: And Senator Sanders said he will be standing together with Hillary Clinton. He said he'll do it in all corners of the country.

But, Wolf, late tonight Senator Sanders is beginning to realize what being a post-presidential candidate actually looks like. His Secret Service protection that he has enjoyed since February has now departed him once he returned to Washington tonight. Now he is just another senator, the junior senator from Vermont, who will be campaigning on behalf of the Clinton campaign and Senate Democrats.

One reason for him to stay in line, Wolf: because he wants to be chairman of the budget committee if Democrats happen to win control of the Senate come November -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Patrick Leahy, the senior senator from Vermont. All right. Thanks very much for that.

Let's dig deeper into all of this with our chief political analyst, Gloria Borger; CNN politics executive editor, Mark Preston; CNN political analyst, Rebecca Berg. She's a national political reporter for RealClearPolitics. And "Washington Post" assistant editor David Swerdlick.

Gloria, Hillary Clinton's speech seemed to be geared toward Bernie Sanders supporters. So what does she need to do to win over so many of those 13 million Sanders supporters, now that she has his formal endorsement?

[18:35:04] GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, today she started by trying to convince people that she's on the same page as Bernie Sanders on all kinds of issues. We've seen that play out in the Democratic platform on issues like health care, on issues like the minimum wage.

Then Bernie Sanders has to get to work, as I think he started doing today, telling people about the choice in this country between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.

And he will be involved in getting those younger voters out there, those young women in particular, those college students, to tell them that it's important they mobilize and get out there to vote to support Hillary Clinton against Trump.

You know, in the end the greatest motivator in this election for Democrats could end up being, and probably will end up being, the candidacy of Donald Trump.

And Bernie Sanders has to make that point about the choice in this election, which I think he really wholeheartedly started doing today.

BLITZER: Mark, Donald Trump was quick to tweet his reaction, saying the endorsement by Bernie Sanders of Hillary Clinton was like, in his words, Occupy Wall Street endorsing Goldman Sachs; and welcoming supporters with open arms.

Mark, will Trump be able to sway Bernie Sanders supporters, at least some of them, to join him?

MARK PRESTON, CNN POLITICS EXECUTIVE EDITOR: Well, Wolf, I can't absolutely say that you will perhaps see a few Bernie Sanders supporters who may go with Donald Trump. But overwhelmingly, they're going to go to Hillary Clinton.

And the reason why is though -- while they both talked about populism, they talked about different flavors of populism. The populism that Bernie Sanders spoke about on the campaign trail is different than the populism that Donald Trump spoke about on the campaign trail. So you're not really going to the same pool of voters, so to speak.

What is a connecting factor for them, though, is that they are angry. They're angry at Washington, and they're angry at the status quo. But as Gloria says, if we see Bernie Sanders out there on the campaign trail being forceful in his support of Hillary Clinton, I think that will go a long way, as well as having Elizabeth Warren as her wing woman, so to speak, really touting her candidacy.

BLITZER: As you know, Rebecca, a lot of those Bernie Sanders supporters, they don't like Hillary Clinton at all. They're probably accusing him of selling out right now, but she needs those supporters. She needs them badly if she's going to unify the Democratic Party and win the election against Trump.

REBECCA BERG, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: She does. And we've seen some of the hesitance among Bernie Sanders supporters, even in this event today. That woman who spoke with Jeff Zeleny saying very emphatically no, she does not plan to vote for Hillary Clinton. And so Hillary Clinton has her work cut out for her.

But at the same time, it's important to remember that there is no such thing in a presidential election, even in this very partisan political environment, as perfect party unity.

In 2012 I have the exit polling here, actually, right in front of me, President Obama won only 92 percent of Democrats. And that was without any sort of contentious primary leading up to that election.

And then in 2008 he won roughly 89 percent of Democrats. So not 100 percent party unity in those cases.

And Hillary Clinton will probably lose about that many Democrats, as well. But if she can get close to that number and unite most of the party, that would be a huge success for her.

BLITZER: It certainly would be.

David, stand by, I want to get to you in a moment. Let's take a quick break. We'll get more information right after this.


[18:43:08] BLITZER: A source is telling CNN that the former House speaker, Newt Gingrich, and the Indiana governor, Mike Pence, appear -- appear -- to be the front-runners right now to become Donald Trump's vice-presidential running mate.

We're standing by to hear directly from Donald Trump. He's about to hold a rally in Indiana alongside Mike Pence. Our political reporter, Sara Murray, is on the scene for us.

Sara, Trump expected to announce his vice-presidential pick maybe before Friday. What are you hearing?

SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf. We're still hearing the most likely day is Friday, but it's Donald Trump, and so as always, he likes to pull a fast one. He could always have another card up his sleeve. And he's clearly relished this process. As you said, he's going to be with Mike Pence tonight, continuing to add to the speculation about who the V.P. pick will be.

And all of this comes as Donald Trump is trying to cast himself as the strongest candidate in the race.


MURRAY (voice-over): With the nation mourning a string of devastating shootings, and security concerns running high ahead of the Cleveland convention, Donald Trump is casting himself as the candidate of law and order.

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESUMPTIVE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: We must maintain law and order at the highest level, or we will cease to have a country.

MURRAY: Trump taking to Twitter to frame the race as a choice between law, order and safety, or chaos, crime and violence. All while he slams Hillary Clinton as a lawless candidate.

TRUMP: Clearly, Hillary Clinton thinks she's above the law. Come November, the American people will show her that she is not above the law.

MURRAY: Trump even warning more violence may lie ahead, telling the Associated Press the incidents of the past few weeks might be just the beginning for this summer

Meanwhile, Trump continues to fuel speculation about his V.P. pick. After campaigning with New Jersey Governor Chris Christie on Monday, today, he's hitting the trail in Indiana with home state Governor Mike Pence.

[18:45:06] GOV. MIKE PENCE (R), INDIANA: Well, I'm very humbled. My whole family's very humbled and very honored to be considered for this position.

MURRAY: A man who's already drawing accolades from Washington conservatives still skeptical of Trump.

REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: I'm just as anxious as the rest of you are on who the V.P. pick is. I'm familiar with this process. I had the highest, highest regard for Mike. He's a personal friend of ours and mine.

MURRAY: And with just six days until the GOP convention, some Republicans are still publicly airing their grievances with their presumptive nominee. Nebraska Senator Ben Sasse penning an essay encouraging conscience voters rather than those choosing the lesser of two evils.

All as yet another holdout digs in his heels. Ohio Governor John Kasich plans to appear at nearly 20 events around Cleveland next week, but despite an intense lobbying effort from the Trump campaign and RNC officials, a Kasich advisor still pegs the odds of him appearing at the convention somewhere between zilch and zero.

Even vice presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich was angling to change Kasich's mind, lobbying a last-minute plea to the Kasich team, asking whether trying to convince the Ohio governor to endorse Trump was a waste of time.


MURRAY: Now, tonight is something of a try-out for us to see how Donald Trump and Mike Pence get along on the campaign trail. As you know, Wolf, the personal chemistry can be crucially important not just somebody you're going to be spending the next four months campaigning with, but also someone you could be serving with for the next four to eight years.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Important decision by Donald Trump coming up. All right, Sarah, thanks very much.

We'll stand by to hear what Donald Trump has to say tonight.

David Swerdlick, he's suggesting, Donald Trump, in an interview in "New York Times," he might pick someone that we're not even talking about right now. Do you think that's possible?

DAVID SWERDLICK, WASHINGTON POST ASSISTANT DIRECTOR: Yes, I think Trump enjoys the speculation, having the press wait on his every word. But I'm inclined to think that the reporting is right, that he's narrowed this down to a couple of interesting solid choices like Governor Pence, like former Speaker Gingrich.

I, as a political junkie, I'm rooting for Mike Pence, and also on the Democratic side, Senator Warren so we can relitigate TARP. Mike Pence was against the TARP bailout, one of the few big name Republicans to do that. Different than Donald Trump's point of view. Elizabeth Warren, of course, was the TARP committee chairman. I would like to see that vice presidential debate -- a real staunch conservative and a real staunch progressive. That would be an interesting debate.

BLITZER: Well, there will be one vice presidential debate, three presidential debates which will be fascinating, no doubt about that.

Gloria, what are you hearing about all of this? I know you've been doing some serious reporting.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, look, I think a lot of conservatives are rooting for Mike Pence. He's got impeccable conservative credentials. They all are very realistic and understand, look, Pence has a very tough re-election fight back home. This is kind of a graceful way for him to leave that should he be chosen. He's made it very clear he'd like to be chosen. You just heard Paul Ryan say that.

And at our town hall tonight, I'm sure Paul Ryan will say more nice things about Mike Pence. He's kind of a different face. D he's also somebody who can work with Congress. I think that looking at all of these sort of finalists that we've been

seeing, you know, if you look at Christie or you look at Pence or you look at Gingrich, these are all people I think in one way or another I think what Trump is signaling is that these are people who could potential be in his administration. And if a couple of them are not picked for vice president, you know, I'd look for them to be part of a so-called Trump administration, which lots of folks are saying he might announce before the election so he could give those skeptical voters a peek into the team that he would have surrounding him.

BLITZER: Yes. He's suggested he might do that. He'll announce a vice presidential candidate first, but later maybe after the convention, he would pick say this guy's going to be national security advisor, someone would be secretary of state. We'll see what happens on that front.

What are you hearing, Rebecca?

REBECCA BERG, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, REAL CLEAR POLITICS: Well, a lot of what Gloria is hearing, that mike pence is seen as a very attractive candidate in many ways for the Trump camp. I mean, in addition to his deep Washington experience, he was the fourth ranking member of House leadership when he served here in Washington. He has a record in Indiana that at least the Trump camp sees as easier to defend if he's going to be picking a governor than maybe Chris Christie's record in New Jersey, a more Democratic state. He's had to make some tougher decisions and make some compromises there.

And one interesting element of this decision, you know, Sarah Murray was talking about the compatibility aspect of this choice. Of course, you do have to have two candidates in the nominee, Donald Trump and whoever he picks as his running mate, who at least publicly can get along.

[18:50:04] And, obviously, Donald Trump and Newt Gingrich over the course of the few weeks and months have established a good rapport. But a former Pence aide pointed out to me that there could be an attractive pick in Pence because of his Midwest nice and the contrast that draws with Donald Trump's New York edge and his bombast. And, of course, usually the V.P. is seen as a potential attack dog while Donald Trump is clearly the attack dog on this campaign so it leaves the door open for someone like Pence to walk in.

BLITZER: Mark Preston, you're already in Cleveland this week before the Republican convention. The delegates, the rules committee, they're meeting. What's the latest on this never Trump, this last- ditch effort, if at all possible, and probably isn't, to do something about Trump?

MARK PRESTON, CNN POLITICS EXECUTIVE EDITOR: Well, listen, the effort to stop Trump is basically done. It was done months ago, and I think that right now, it's -- we saw the Democrats bring unity together, Wolf, up in New Hampshire today, and I think that's what you're going to see with Republicans now try to bring that unity together here in Cleveland.

Will there be some problems here? Of course. Are there going to be dissenters? No doubt about that.

But let me throw one thing out there as we talk about the V.P. pick. Think of this scenario, Wolf, if he picks mike pence as his presidential running mate, he can pick Newt Gingrich to be his chief of staff. And a lot of people would say, why would he -- why would Newt Gingrich want that job?

If you look at President Barack Obama he chose Rahm Emanuel, now the mayor of Chicago, and at the time in the House Democratic leadership to be his chief of staff basically to run the government. So that could be a very interesting one-two punch there, Wolf.

BLITZER: Certainly could be. All right. Thanks very much, everybody. Stand by.

An important programming note for all of our viewers: stay with CNN tonight -- tonight, for a live town hall meeting with the House Speaker Paul Ryan. He'll be taking questions from voters less than a week ahead of the Republican convention.

Jake Tapper will moderate it. You can see it right here on CNN at 9:00 p.m. Eastern, the Paul Ryan Town Hall.

Just ahead, North Korea's threat to attack a U.S. missile system. Now, we're getting some disturbing satellite images.


[18:56:36] BLITZER: New threats from North Korea, the United States and South Korea on edge tonight. Brian Todd is working the story for us.

Brian, what are you learning?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, tonight, new indications that the threat from Kim Jung-un could again be escalating. The monitoring group 38 North has these new satellite pictures from the past few days showing a high level of activity here in North Korea's Punggye-ri nuclear test site. Here at the north portal area, you see what 38 North says is a small vehicle parked right here, you've got supplies and equipment stacked on the ground in at least three places. You've got a mine cart right here.

Now, this portal is the same place where North Korea tested nuclear bombs earlier this year and in 2013. It's not clear if this means another nuclear attest is imminent, but a U.S. official tells us tonight they are closely watching this activity.

This comes as the North Koreans threaten a military strike against U.S. forces that will operate a missile defense battery in South Korea.


TODD (voice-over): Tonight, along the North Korean border where nearly 29,000 U.S. soldiers are stationed, a tense standoff over America's plans to deploy an advanced anti-missile system. Kim Jong- un's regime through one of its news anchors, threatening as soon as that system is set up, North Korea will attack it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): It is an unwavering will of our army to do a ruthless retaliatory strike, and turn the South into a sea of fire and a pile of ashes the moment we have an order to carry it out.

TODD: The missile system called THAAD or Terminal High Altitude Area Defense is a battery that can shoot down short and medium-range ballistic missiles, the kind that Kim has been test firing relentlessly in recent months.

A Pentagon official tells CNN tonight the U.S. and South Korea decided to deploy THAAD because of Kim's, quote, "continued belligerence".

Experts say the missile batteries will likely be set up on U.S. bases inside South Korea.

(on camera): What could they do against the U.S. and South Korean troops manning those positions? Could they strike them? Would they be vulnerable?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They could use artillery pieces and they have longer range, multiple rocket launchers which the THAAD is not designed to defend against.

TODD: Also, U.S. strategic command says it has not detected a submarine-based ballistic missile launch by the North Koreans. South Korean officials say that test over the weekend was not successful, but the prospect of the North Koreans some day perfecting submarine- launched missiles is alarming to American commanders because they're hard to defend against.

BRUCE KLINGNER, THE HERITAGE FOUNDATION: They've taken a giant leap forward by developing a submarine that could creep along coastlines and avoid U.S. naval counter action and shoot a ballistic missile at some place like Hawaii.

TODD: A capability that analysts like the North Koreans could have within five years. All of this comes as the U.S. is leveling sanctions against Kim Jong-un for human rights abuses. Tonight, Kim has retaliated, cutting off his only diplomatic communications with the U.S., a channel operated through North Korea's mission to the U.N.


TODD: Now, that could be bad news for two Americans being detained in North Korea, Kim Dong Chul and college student Otto Warmbier. In cutting off its diplomatic channel, North Korea says it's treating the handling of these two prisoners under its wartime law. Analysts say this could mean the two Americans who were sentenced to hard labor might be held for several longer than expected -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Brian Todd, thanks for that report. That's it for me. Thanks very much for watching. "ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.