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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL
Pence Accepts Trump's Invite To Run As VP; New Developments from Turkey; Interview with Saudi Arabia's Foreign Minister Adel Al- Jubeir; Donald Trump Announces Mike Pence as Running Mate; Interview with Sen. Jeff Sessions. Aired 12-1p ET
Aired July 16, 2016 - 12:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: -- the New York Hilton Hotel. So the reaction inside -- first few rows you said were Trump supporters, right?
JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right. You know, the lone standing ovation I saw throughout this entire event was when Mike Pence was talking and he said that this campaign is about making sure Hillary Clinton does not become president of the United States.
It was very interesting to watch this and be in the room. This was, once again, a very unconventional moment for Donald Trump. By my calculations, Wolf, he went on for 28 minutes in this introduction of the Indiana governor, going from one portion of his stump speech to the next, from Hillary Clinton to trade to veterans' issues.
It would sound like he was going to go back to Mike Pence, but then he would get back to his stump speech. I was standing next to senior level Republican officials who are at this event today and they were sort of chuckling to themselves in sort of bemusement as they were watching this unfold as we were.
Because you just don't see introductions for vice presidential running mates go down like this. Right now, Donald Trump and Mike Pence are shaking hands in this room. It was only at the end of this event, Wolf, that we saw Trump, Pence and their families come out on stage for their picture.
Normally when you see a presidential candidate introduce the vice presidential running mate, they stand there for a few minutes and get their shots. Donald Trump only shook Mike Pence's hand for a few seconds and walk off stage.
It was sort of a strange moment there. But I can tell you from being in the room, Wolf, we were all wondering where Mike Pence was, was he waiting in the wings, was he standing backstage. Sean Spicer who is a top official in the RNC did tweet a picture of Mike Pence standing off to the side.
But that was really our only confirmation for several minutes that Mike Pence was in the building because Donald Trump was delivering a very unusual introduction speech, Wolf. I think this is a sign of things to come. They are very much a political odd couple. Often Donald Trump in his speeches it's performance art. Mike Pence is very, very different. It is a practiced, polished stump speech that you hear from Mike Pence, something you hear from most politicians around the country.
That's why so many Republicans have flocked to Donald Trump. They like that he is different and we saw that once again today -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Yes, he said he's the outsider and he's different. But you got to admit, he get this far, look how he's done against the pretty sophisticated, pretty polished politicians, Republican governors and he's managed to be the Republican presidential nominee. It's going to be official in Cleveland this week.
I want to go out to Cleveland right now. Our CNN political director, David Chalian is over at the site of the Republican Convention in Cleveland. Anxious to get your reaction to this first joint appearance by Donald Trump and Mike Pence.
DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Yes, I agree with what's been said about the optics of the event. It was like checking a box, I need to announce my running mate rather than seizing the opportunity of, you know, brilliant stage craft and that kind of thing.
But I think on the substance, in addition to the party unity point that you have mentioned that Donald Trump specifically said -- and I realize it's not Pence running against Hillary Clinton. It's Donald Trump running against Hillary Clinton.
But he tried to make a comparison here. He said Pence was all about honor, character, honesty and Hillary Clinton was the embodiment of corruption. So in the way he introduced Pence, he used Pence and his selection as a real contrast with Clinton.
And I heard in Trump's remarks, this basically comes down to two seeds in terms of the frame against Hillary Clinton and how Pence is going to play into this. Character and competence.
So on the honest and trustworthy, we know that Hillary Clinton Achilles heel right now. We hear the beefing up of Mike Pence's character. That is a big credential and calling card that Donald Trump wanted to use.
And on competence, he went through and pointed to the Indiana record over and over again and the economy, and then Pence went out and said this is how you run something. Of course, both of them went through categorically America on the world stage and the problems we're seeing around the world and tying second Clinton's time with President Obama for all of the chaos that we see around the world right now.
So again character and competence and I think those are key frames that Trump is using and now Pence, they're hoping in the way that Trump introduced him, to supplement those.
BLITZER: To bring a little bit more of that party inside momentum to this campaign, Kayleigh McEnany is also in Cleveland, our CNN political commentator. She's a Donald Trump supporter. Do you think this was handled well, Kayleigh?
KAYLEIGH MCENANY, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I thought it was handled very well, particularly with what David pointed out, contrasting Mike Pence and his character and honesty to Hillary Clinton, the candidate of corruption in Donald Trump's words.
[12:05:01]That is key because what Donald Trump is trying to tell the American people from the very beginning of the primary is I'm someone who is outside of Washington. I'm someone who will go and change the Culture of corruption there, who will get things done.
And Mike Pence not only does he have that character and honesty, went into Washington for a decade, left untouched, doesn't have a Clinton Foundation, doesn't have a wiped server, came out untouched with his honor.
Not only is he that, this is someone who took it to Washington, who took it to Boehner when Boehner spent too much, took it to the Democrats, who took it to both parties really. So I think it was really important to paint themselves as outsiders.
And also as the candidates of law and order, that will be the second prong of the message, the candidates of character and the candidates of law and order who can put out the fires that are going on across the Middle East. I thought those two frames were very important in what Donald Trump said.
BLITZER: Paul Begala is a Hillary Clinton supporter, in fact, works for a pro-Hillary Clinton super PAC. He is one of our CNN commentators, a Democratic strategist. What was your reaction?
PAUL BEGALA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, if you are going to campaign on law and order, you ought to have a more disciplined event. It was completely disorganized. It was a narcisstic, subsistic (ph), undisciplined, unfocused event from a narcissistic, subsistic (ph), unfocused, undisciplined candidate.
This is a window into a Trump presidency. The stage craft that David mentioned, I used to do this for a living. It's bad lighting. You don't put Donald Trump and Mike Pence, your nominees for president, vice president on a stage and don't turn the lights on them. That's the least of it.
Trump spoke for 28 minutes about everything in the world, completely undisciplined. They even played the Rolling Stones song "You Can't Always Get What You Want" before they rolled out Mike Pence who is clearly the guy that Donald Trump didn't want. As a Democrat, I wish I had the time and the money just to play that as an ad for my super PAC.
BLITZER: They did though, Paul, they had a very unified position when it comes to Hillary Clinton or as Donald Trump keeps calling her, Crooked Hillary. They both were blistering in her condemnation of her saying the main reason that they're running is to prevent her in effect from being president of the United States. BEGALA: Yes, I'm pretty sure they don't like Hillary, but Hillary's campaign or somebody was already putting out a video of Hillary testifying before the House and Mike Pence praising her, which of course she did from time to time, everybody did.
She was universally acclaimed as a great secretary of state. By the way, Donald Trump said she was a great secretary of state. But I think it's fair to say here in Cleveland, in enemy territory, people are being very nice to me.
But you're going to hear a lot of Hillary bashing because that's the one thing that unites in the Republican Party.
BLITZER: Gloria, he did, Donald Trump, open up with some words, not many words but a few words about the terror attack in France that killed 84 people, and the apparently failed coup in Turkey as well.
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Right. He wasn't very specific at all about policy positions. I'm sure he'll be asked about that later. He just said, you know, we wish our friends in Turkey well. A lot of anguish last night but hopefully it will all work out.
And on France, the same thing. And then went on to kind of, you know, make his points about Hillary Clinton and you know, and this administration. But I have to say, Wolf, look, if you look at the picture today, the picture was of, as we were talking about earlier, an arranged marriage, which Donald Trump really admitted and openly said I'm an outsider.
BLITZER: Let me play that clip. We have that clip of when Donald Trump was very candid very blunt in explaining why he decided to pick Mike Pence. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: One of the big reasons that I chose Mike -- and one of the reasons is party unity. I have to be honest. So many people have said party unity because I'm on outsider. I want to be an outsider. It's one of the reasons I won in landslides. This wasn't close. This wasn't close.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: In a speech introducing his vice presidential running mate, you don't often hear the presidential nominee being as honest and candid he was right there.
BORGER: I mean, he eventually got around to praising Mike Pence's record in Indiana. But you know, this is the reason he chose him. So clearly it wasn't for love. It wasn't because they had a long standing relationship. It is because he knew that this is something he needed and he had been convinced of that and did it.
Now I think what we're going to see are questions -- and I'm sure -- this does give Hillary Clinton an opening. On the one hand Pence balancing this ticket to a great degree. [12:10:01]But on the other hand Pence is going to be asked over and over again by not only Democrats but by voters how can you change your mind on everything from trade to the Muslim band, the war in Iraq, you know, down the entire list. We saw him start to do that last night, but I think it may dog him a little bit.
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: I agree. Can I say something about that? Four years ago is a perfect example of two candidates on the same ticket, mitt romney and Paul Ryan who didn't agree on everything. The biggest difference is on immigration, which is a huge deal for the Republican base.
But Paul Ryan said you know what, we don't agree. He's the guy at the top of the ticket. He sets the rule, the policy, the agenda and I'm along for the ride.
What Mike Pence is doing here is twisting himself into a pretzel on some of the core, core issues, which I think is actually pretty dangerous, especially on the issue of trade, which is, you know, the heart and soul of Trump's economic plan and economic pitch to voters out there.
And you know, there are already clips that I'm seeing reminding us of Mike Pence on the House floor praising NAFTA talking about how great it was for jobs in his state. And now he's -- never mind that he disagrees with Trump, they can explain that, but now he's contradicting himself and flip-flopping which I think is even more dangerous than not agreeing.
BLITZER: Nia, let me play this clip. Pence said there were two reasons why he accepted this nomination, this invitation from Donald Trump to be his running mate. Here's the clip.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOVERNOR MIKE PENCE (R), VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I answered this call for two reasons. First, because I know from firsthand experience that strong Republican leadership can bring about real change, just like we've seen in the Hoosier state. And secondly, because Hillary Clinton must never become president of the United States of America.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: And that's when he got that applause line over there. I suspect we're going to hear a lot more of that in the coming months.
NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: And I think probably what's most important particularly in the GOP convention, which of course, will start next week is to talk about Donald Trump. Why would he make a good president? Why do you think he's a good man, as Pence talked about him?
Like I do think that the Hillary Clinton is terrible is a unified thread among all Republicans, but they do have to really start to paint a picture of a positive Donald Trump. What would he look like? Why would he be a great president? I think that's where Pence is going to be so critical. But again given the fact that there are all of these divisions on where Pence was on some of these issues and where Donald Trump is, that's going to be hard.
I also think it's going to be interesting to see how Donald Trump deals with the fact, according to your reporting, got forced into this pick. How does he start to deal with the fact that he is on opposite sides, that Pence's views on some of these issues like NAFTA could cause him some problems.
BORGER: Well, I think what Trump made really clear today is that this campaign is about him. It is not about Mike Pence. And by the way, vice presidential candidates, we all know this as students of politics, don't very often make a lot of difference.
People vote for the person at the top of the ticket. They will vote for Donald Trump if they like him. The choice of Pence was really more to placate establishment, unite the Republican Party for those with little doubts and it may have impact that way.
But you know, do you think Trump is going to busy himself with answering questions about how he disagrees with Pence? No. What he's going to focus is the "corruption" in quotes of Hillary Clinton.
BLITZER: Now I want to go back to Jim Acosta. He's over at the New York Hilton Hotel where this event just took place. Jim, I want to play a clip for you as well. It's not often in an introductory speech introducing the vice presidential running mate you hear the presidential nominee in this case Donald Trump, be very blunt and honest in recalling that his vice presidential running mate didn't originally support him, he supported Ted Cruz. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Well, I'm here today to introduce the man who will be my -- when Governor Pence, under tremendous pressure from establishment people endorsed somebody else, but it was more of an endorsement for me. If you remember. He talked about Trump, then he talked about Ted who is a good guy by the way, who is going to be speaking at the convention, Ted Cruz. But he talked about Trump then he went back to Ted. Who did he endorsed?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[12:15:00]BLITZER: That was a bit unusual to remember that -- a radio talk show interview that he was doing in which he said nice things about Donald Trump. We're talking about Mike Pence, even as he was supposedly endorsing Ted Cruz.
ACOSTA: That's right, Wolf. I think that was Donald Trump trying to explain away one of the liabilities that Mike Pence was coming into this vice presidential selection process, that he had endorsed Ted Cruz back in Indiana.
But remember, Wolf, Indiana was the knockout punch for Donald Trump. That's where he knocked Ted Cruz out of this race. I was at Trump Tower that night when the results were coming in and Ted Cruz exited this race to Donald Trump's surprise.
Even though Mike Pence did not support him in that primary and Donald Trump is trying to spin it there, you know, it is fairly clear he remembers Indiana well. He likes to bring up the legendary basketball coach, Bobby Knight, every chance he gets. He almost credits Bobby Knight more than anyone else in Indiana for winning that primary.
But to get back to this event, this unusual event that we saw today, Wolf, one thing we should also point out is that in addition to introducing Mike Pence and extolling the virtues of Mike Pence, I think at the top of this event what Donald Trump was saying about national security, about what's happening in nice, what's happening in Turkey, about law and order and Donald Trump holding himself up again as the candidate of law and order.
I think is just a theme that is going to be running throughout this campaign from now until November. When you talk to people inside this campaign, Wolf, they feel very strongly that this is an issue that's going to work well for them time and time again.
And Mike Pence is fairly consistent with Donald Trump on this issue. And unlike Newt Gingrich who the other night on another network was talking about potentially, you know, deporting Muslims who believe in Sharia law, something that would have driven the Trump campaign mad, given them all sorts of headaches explaining way those kinds of comments on the campaign trail.
When it comes to these very delicate national security issues, even though Donald Trump can put his foot in his mouth sometimes, Mike Pence is probably not going to do that. He's very scripted, very polished and can be trusted to sort of that very reliable and steady vice presidential running mate who won't get you in trouble -- Wolf.
BLITZER: I want to bring in Eric Bradner, our CNN politics reporter, he's in Cleveland at the Republican Convention. I'll play that clip, Eric, on law and order where Donald Trump made his case. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: We are the law and order candidates and we're the law and order party. We're going to change things around. There's going to be respect again for law and order.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: All right. Eric, you know Mike Pence. You've covered him for a long time. He seems to be a very, very polished politician, if you will. But give us a little background on this now vice presidential presumptive nominee.
ERIC BRADNER, CNN POLITICS REPORTER: Right. So Mike Pence actually began his career in media. He was a talk radio host in Indianapolis. He styled himself as Rush Limbaugh on decaf. He's very polished and a lot of that polish dates back to his talk radio days.
I thought it was interesting to hear Donald Trump bring up some other Hoosiers, Bobby Knight, Mitch Daniel, the Indiana governor before Pence. Because when you're looking at Pence, you have to keep in mind that a lot of the context of his work as governor comes in the shadow of Mitch Daniels.
The AAA credit rating, the surplus, the economic record, a lot of that is the Daniels' record. And a lot of Indiana Republicans blame Pence for sort of waging social wars that at times have risked that economic progress.
When you look at Pence's Indiana record you sort of get a sense of the depth of the disagreements that he has with Trump. It's not just trade and Iraq and what not. Pence is opposed to expanding gambling in Indiana.
Of course Trump has had casinos, including going of casino licenses in Indiana. So when you look at what Pence has done in Indiana, if Trump is making the case that he is the competent vice president.
Upon closer examination, there are going to be more questions to answer because of their pretty significant differences that have been on display since Pence took over as governor four years ago.
BLITZER: Very quickly, if he would have run for reelection, if Trump would have picked Newt Gingrich or Chris Christie and Mike Pence would have run for a second term, Trump said it would have been an easy win for him. What is your analysis? Because the polls showed it could be very close.
BRADNER: Yes. Pence was facing a really tough reelection battle. He was running against a former Indiana House speaker who came within three points of beating him in 2012 and battles over like religious freedom have damaged Pence in Indiana.
[12:20:13]And so it was going to be a tough matchup against a well- funded candidate. And to be honest, a lot of Indiana Republicans have told me that they're now more confident that one of his potential replacements, like Lt. Governor Eric Holcome (ph) or Congresswoman Susan Brooks might have a better chance of keeping the governor's office in Republican hands.
Of course, Pence is a prolific fundraiser. That's something that he can help Trump with, especially getting into some of the circles that Trump has been able to tap yet. So that's an advantage that Pence would have brought to his own reelection campaign and now perhaps can help Trump.
BLITZER: Yes. Eric Bradner knows Indiana politics, has covered Indiana politics for a long time. Eric, standby, we're going to have much more of our special coverage that will continue after a quick break. How this selection could help the Republican Party unite and a lot more. We'll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) TRUMP: I'm here today to introduce the man who will be my partner in this campaign and the White House to fix our rigged system. We are in a rigged, rigged system and to make America safe again and to make America great again.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Donald Trump, he likes to tweet. He just tweeted this. Thank you Trump-Pence 16. That's Donald Trump tweet. Thank you #trumppence16.
We have team coverage covering this moment in the race for the White House. Kayleigh McEnany is joining us from Cleveland right now. She is a CNN political commentator, a Trump supporter.
It's interesting, they agree on a lot, Kayleigh. There's no doubt about that. But on some fundamental issues, issues that Donald Trump himself raised in the 24-minute speech he gave today, they clearly have a different history.
[12:25:04]Donald Trump said he was always opposed to going into fight Iraq. Mike Pence was not. Donald Trump complained about the quote "horrible trade deals." Horrible trade deals that Mike Pence as a U.S. congressman supported. How are they going to finesse these critically important differences going forward?
MCENANY: There are some big differences, you're right, but you know, I think with any two individuals you're going to have differences. If Hillary Clinton were to pick Elizabeth Warren, there are obviously some differences there. There are differences.
That being said, the principles that undergird Donald Trump, free market principles, social conservatism, they share these in common, these guiding compasses that they both find in common. There are differences but they are not big ones.
I think at the end of the day, what Donald Trump did with this pick is he signaled to the Republican Party while I differ from the platform in certain areas, be it on trade or the tariff issue, I respect the party that elected me, I respect the party of Reagan.
I respect the platform that has undergirded this party for a very long time. This was an excellent pick for many reasons, the first of which is that it signals to Republicans that he cares about them, cares about the views and the evangelical voters who put him in this place.
BLITZER: What do you think our reporting, Kayleigh, that even after he formally told Mike Pence he was going to be the vice presidential running mate, he began to have second and third doubts, and asked some of his family members, advisers, any way I could consider. What do you think of that hesitation he apparently was showing at the last minute?
MCENANY: My inclination was this was a difficult choice. If we know anything about Donald Trump, we know he really prizes loyalty. And with that comes Chris Christie who stood behind him, the first of his competitors to really staunchly stand behind him.
I think part of him wanted to reward that, wanted to have that loyal confidant in place. But in the end, he realized that he best chance in beating Hillary Clinton is to have someone like Mike Pence there to make that character contrast, someone who has been in Washington for ten years, have a great record as governor.
At the end, he realized that this is the choice that it will best equip him to beat Hillary Clinton, one, and also the choice that is best if something were to happen in the presidency, could step in as the number one and lead this country forward. It was the pick of the day that was the most practical even though he wanted to award loyalty.
BLITZER: All right, interesting. I want to bring in our CNN delegate analyst, the former Republican National Committee chief of staff, Mike Shields, also joining us from Cleveland. So is this going to really help Donald Trump, Mike, unify the base of the Republican Party going forward?
MIKE FIELDS, CNN DELEGATE ANALYST: Yes, I think so. And we're talking about what's going to happen on the campaign trail and even further down the road in the White House. But immediately next week Donald Trump is going to have a convention here in Cleveland.
He is going to walk into a convention hall with 2,500 delegates and thousands of other supporters, many of whom were Ted Cruz people that were elected to be his delegates. I think Mike Pence is going to deliver a speech next week that's going to make them feel better.
The unbind movement has been put to rest. That's been defeated, but you still have to win over the delegates. You have to win over those party regulars. I think the biggest unifying part of the party will be next week in Philadelphia when Hillary Clinton is speaking.
That's really going to bring everyone together. But I think you saw today from Mike Pence, the speech that he gave is similar to what he's going to give in that hall and he's going to get a lot of applause from people that are conservatives that are movement conservatives, Tea Party conservatives, who may not have been locked in with Donald Trump.
And they're going to see Mike Pence as one of their own and it's going to make them feel more comfortable with his nomination.
BLITZER: Paul Begala is with us as well, our CNN political commentator, the Democratic strategist. Paul, Hillary Clinton has got to make a decision about her vice presidential running mate. You know, you're well plugged in. What do you think?
BEGALA: Well, I've taken my name out of consideration, Wolf. But I hope she's looking at you. I don't know. I do think it's wrong to presume that Hillary is going to look at this as a campaign decision. I've known her for 25 years. I watched her husband go through this and so did Hillary. The real question you have to ask is, God forbid I die, who could take over the country, God willing I live, who could be a strange partner.
You have to say -- look, she's going to win. There's a good chance she winds up the president and you have to pick somebody that's going to be a strong governing partner. That's what Bill Clinton did with Al Gore.
I asked him, he said, he told me, I'm going to pick Gore. Why he's the same age, same religion, same region, same ideology, and he said, I might die. Those three words have to animate this.
I have no idea what Donald Trump was thinking. I don't know if Donald Trump knows what he's thinking. But we know that -- from Dana's reporting that up until the last minute he was uncertain and unsettled with his decision.
And it does suggest perhaps he was asking the wrong questions, like how do I unite my party rather than if I win, how can I lead my country.
[12:30:03] BLITZER: OK, everybody stand by. We have a lot more analysis coming in, more information coming in.
Also, there are new developments coming out of Turkey right now. The threat level at an air base there is at its highest level since the attempted coup. Saudi Arabia's Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir, he is here in Washington. He's been having meetings. He is going to join us live.
We're going to talk about the failed coup, the war against ISIS and more, much more right after this.
BLITZER: In the aftermath of the attempted coup in Turkey, the FAA is banning any U.S. flights from operating in and out of Turkey right now.
I want to bring in our CNN Correspondent Chris Frates. Chris, what exactly is the FAA saying?
CHRIS FRATES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, the FAA is banning any flights into or out of Turkey. But that's not all that's happening, Wolf. We also had this morning President Obama holding a conference call with his national security and foreign policy teams. They gave him an update on the situation on the ground there in Turkey and here's what we know.
We know that the Incirlik Air Base in Southern Turkey, a key air base is now at the highest threat level and that the Turkey military authorities have closed the air space around that base that has brought air strikes against ISIS to stand still.
Now, Turkish officials are telling the U.S. that the air space will be closed until they can make sure that the government has full control over the Turkish air force. And it's really unclear how long that closure is going to last. The U.S. is looking to conduct its operations from other bases in the area.
We also heard from Secretary of State John Kerry today, he called on Turkey to ensure its investigation into what happened in this coup is lawful. And he said the U.S. is going to cooperate with that inquiry.
Meanwhile, as I mentioned, the FAA is prohibiting all U.S. commercial and private aircraft from entering or leaving Turkey and stopping any plane from departing Turkey to the U.S., Wolf.
BLITZER: All right Chris Frates, the important developments happening in that failed coup. Chris, thanks very much.
[12:35:02] The attempted military coup in Turkey certainly rattled the nation's NATO partners, including the United States as well as other countries in the region who are deeply worried about Syria, the battle against ISIS including a key U.S. ally in the region namely, Saudi Arabia.
The Saudi State News Agency SPA quoted a foreign ministry official Saturday saying that "The kingdom welcome that things are returning to normal led by his Excellency President Erdogan and his elective government and in line with the constitutional legitimacy and will of the Turkish people."
Ader Al-Jubeir is the foreign minister of Saudi Arabia, he's here in Washington and he joins me right now. Mr. Foreign Minister, thanks very much for joining us.
ADER AL-JUBEIR, SAUDI FOREIGN MINISTER: Oh, it's my pleasure.
BLITZER: So, were you rattled by this attempted coup in Turkey?
AL-JUBEIR: I believed everybody was shock and everybody wanted to know what was going on and everybody had great concerns and great commitment in security in Turkey. Turkey is a very pivotal country in the region, it's a very strong ally in the coalition against Daesh, is one of the strong ally in maintaining security and stability in the region.
BLITZER: I know you've been in touch with high ranking officials in Turkey. I assumed maybe the President Erdogan of Turkey. What's the message you're conveying to them and they're telling you about this attempted coup?
AL-JUBEIR: We are very glad that they're able to restore peace in Turkey and we hope that a normal life will return very quickly. And that the government will be able to function as it was before this unfortunate incident.
BLITZER: And we have to fix your audio to get it a little better. Let me take a quick break, Foreign Minister. We'll resume this conversation right after this.
AL-JUBEIR: Thank you.
[12:40:10] BLITZER: Welcome back. We're getting reaction to the failed coup in Turkey. A key NATO ally. Ader Al-Jubeir is the foreign minister of Saudi Arabia, he is here in Washington with me.
I want to play a clip, this is John Kerry, a man you know well, the secretary of state speaking about what is happened in Turkey. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN KERRY: SECRETARY OF STATE: As of this moment, Turkey's cooperation with us in our counterterrorism efforts, in our NATO obligations and in our regional efforts with respect to Syria and ISIS had not been affected negatively. All of that has continued as before.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: As of this moment he says. Are you worried that this disarray if you will, this failed coup in Turkey is going to undermine this war against ISIS, for example, in Iraq and Syria?
AL-JUBEIR: Not at all. I believe that the Turkish authorities will be able to restore order and stability in the country. It may take a little bit of time but I have no doubt that Turkey will ...
BLITZER: Could Saudi Arabia like other countries in the region, you've had your own problems with Turkey in the recent years.
AL-JUBEIR: We have the best relations with Turkey. Today, we have very extensive cooperation in terms of security, counterterrorism, supporting the moderate Syrian opposition. We have extensive trade relations and we have very strong political coordination between us and Turkey.
BLITZER: How is this war against ISIS from the Saudi perspective unfolding? Because they seem to be losing some ground. But you see what has just happened in Nice. They're claiming responsibility for this horrible truck terror attack, killing 84 people, injuring so many more in Nice.
Is this the new normal? Should we anticipate that ISIS, if in fact they really did inspired this attack that we're going to see a lot more of this?
AL-JUBEIR: I believe a lot of things can inspire a lot of people to do bad things. I don't believe that ISIS is gaining strength. I believe they're being defeated in Syria and they're being defeated in Iraq.
The world is focused on dealing with this threat and I believe God- willing the world will be able to destroy this threat.
BLITZER: What is Saudi Arabia doing to destroy ISIS? AL-JUBEIR: We are going after the men, the money and the mindset. We are part of the international coalition. In fact we are a founding member of the coalition against ISIS in Syria. We have arrested thousands of people in Saudi Arabia for recruiting, for trying to conduct terrorist operations. We have stifled many terrorist attacks in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. And we continue to go after them and those who support them and those who justify them.
BLITZER: How much of a threat is ISIS to the stability in Saudi Arabia, the kingdom there?
AL-JUBEIR: They are a threat to the security and the well-being of our people, like any other terrorist organization. But are they going to succeed in Saudi Arabia? No. We are determined to crush them. And God- willing we will.
BLITZER: Does ISIS have strong hold in Saudi Arabia right now?
AL-JUBEIR: Not at all. They have a small number of ...
BLITZER: We've seen some terror attacks there.
AL-JUBEIR: It doesn't take much to have terrorist attacks. Saudi Arabia is a country of 30 million people and if you have a few hundred that might sympathize with ISIS or even a thousand, that does not a country make. They will be defeated. We have taken robust action against them. We will continue to take action and we will rid our country of the scourge.
BLITZER: You have been severely criticized by some human rights group for what you're doing in Yemen right now.
AL-JUBEIR: I believe that these reports are based on inaccurate information. Saudi Arabia is committed to the world being of Yemen and the Yemeni people. We are the largest single provider of humanitarian assistance to Yemen. We are very careful in coordinating with international organizations, the supply and relief efforts in Yemen. We believe that the reports that come out from time to time about what the coalition in Yemen may or may not be doing are not based on very accurate information.
BLITZER: Because the report suggests that the collateral damage, the civilians who have been killed in your air strikes, for example, have been enormous?
AL-JUBEIR: We believe we take issue with this. We adhere to the international humanitarian law and the laws of war. We are very careful when it comes to the selection of targets. We are very careful when it comes to assessing the damage that is done. We review those operations on a continuing basis to avoid and to minimize civilian casualties.
We are something -- when an incident takes place, we review it, we put in place mechanisms to ensure that it does not happen again. Then this is how we operate. And we have members of our -- of allied countries with us in the operation center who are part and parcel of this review.
BLITZER: As you know, the U.S. government yesterday released those 28 pages that until yesterday had been classified talking about the suggestion that maybe Saudi Arabia played some sort of role in the 9/11 attacks. One of the lines in the conclusion of this declassified report, "While in the United States, some of the September 11 hijackers were in contact with, and received support or assistance from individuals who may be connected with to the Saudi Government."
You've seen the report. I want you to respond to that specific suggestion.
[12:45:01] AL-JUBEIR: I believe that the surprise in the 28 pages is that there is no surprise. The 28 pages was very clear in stating that what is here has not been vetted, what is here has not been investigated.
The congressional inquiry is not if a position the conduct such an investigation, and so therefore they don't have conclusions. The FBI and the CIA reviewed this, the 9/11 commission reviewed this. They did extensive investigations. The conclusion they came out with is that no Saudi government involvement and no involvement by Saudi government officials in the events ...
BLITZER: There was one diplomat in San Diego that was in contact with two of the 19 hijackers.
AL-JUBEIR: He was investigated and he interviewed and no links were established between him and them. What I find surprising Wolf is that for 13 years people have said, people like Senator Bob Graham from Florida have -- who led this inquiry, have said that the 28 pages have damning evidence regarding Saudi Arabia's complicitness in 9/11 for 13 years.
Meanwhile the report itself says we don't know if the links are valid. We cannot investigate these things. We can't come to conclusions. And when the appropriate agencies, the 9/11 commission and the FBI and CIA investigated those leads and came out with conclusions that say there's no there, there. He continued to mislead the public by saying there is a there, there.
BLIZTER: Very quickly because we're out of time and I know you've got to run. Donald Trump, the Republican presidential presumptive nominee. He often speaks about Saudi Arabia. What he would do as president. I'm going the play a clip for you and then I will get your response. This is Donald Trump.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP (R) PRESUMPTIVE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: Saudi Arabia, I like the Saudis. They're very nice. I make a lot of money with them. They buy all sorts of my stuff. All kinds of toys from Trump. They pay me millions, and hundreds of millions. But you know what? They make a billion dollars a day, folks. And whenever they're in trouble our military takes care, you know, we get nothing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Nothing. He says you're making a billion dollars a day and the United States takes care of you militarily and you don't respond in kind.
AL-JUBEIR: At least he likes us. The kingdom of Saudi Arabia is an ally that carries its own weight. We've always supported ourselves. We have not relied on anyone to provide any assistance to us. When you look at the Gulf War to liberate Kuwait, the kingdom Saudi Arabia they assumed the lion's share with the financial burden of that war.
When you look at other operations that have taken place in the region, the kingdom of Saudi Arabia carries its own weight. I believe that when people are in office and the campaign is over and they have access to the facts and access to intelligence briefings, I believe that their views and their opinions are going to reflect the reality of the relationship not the sound bites that may take place from time to time.
BLITZER: He likes you and you like him?
AL-JUBEIR: He provides great products and people enjoy and buying them and living in them.
BLITZER: Adel al-Jubeir, the foreign minister of Saudi Arabia, welcome to Washington.
AL-JUBEIR: Thank you.
BLITZER: Coming up. One of Donald Trump's most trusted adviser, Senator Jeff Sessions he'll join me live. What went into Donald Trump's vice presidential selection process. That's next.
[12:51:56] BLITZER: Welcome back to our special coverage, Donald Trump formally announcing that the Indiana governor Mike Pence is his vice presidential running mate. And the two men making their first appearance, joint appearance as a ticket.
Joining us now, Republican Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama, one of Donald Trump's most trusted advisers one of the first to formally support him. The decision, Trump was very honest, very blunt, senator. He says he wanted to do this for party unity. Will that achieve the Pence vice presidential selection party unity?
SEN. JEFF SESSIONS (R), ALABAMA: I think so. I mean Mike Pence is sort of at the heart and soul of the Republican voters nationwide. He's a good man. He's got good integrity, got good values. He's been on the right side of issues over time. He's shown courage, he's stood up to the establishment and he's been a leader in the house the entire Republican conference. So I think he's going to help bring this party together which is already happening.
BLITZER: But there's a long record both of these men have in their public statements. They agree on a lot of important issues but they also disagree at least according to their record, their public statements on sensitive issues like the war in Iraq, free trade, other issues. How are they going to work that out?
SESSIONS: I think they can. I think what Pence said about the war in Iraq is where I am. I supported it, I supported President Bush all the way through, and we thought through that and our soldiers were fabulous, magnificent. And I believe as Pence said, the decision to pullout all of our troops in 2011 by Secretary of State Clinton and Obama, was a big error.
BLITZER: But he keeps saying Trump that the initial vote in November 2002 authorizing President Bush to go to war against Saddam Hussein, to go to war in Iraq, and that war started in march 2003, that that vote showed bad judgment on the part of Hillary Clinton who voted for it, you voted for it, Pence voted for it. So does that take away that criticism of Hillary Clinton because Pence is on the same page as far as that vote is concern.
SESSIONS: Well I guess people will make their own choice. But I think a lot of people are uneasy about the result of that decision as time is going by. It has not been as positive as we certainly had hoped. It's a bitter disappointment in many ways, some of the things that have happened. So I think Trump is right to say I question that, I had doubts about it at the beginning. And those us of who saw it the other way, well, I acted with integrity but good people can disagree.
BLITZER: The also on free trade, now there seems to be a significant difference as far as NAFTA is concerns. Trump hates the North American free trade agreement. Did you vote for NAFTA agreement?
SESSIONS: In turn before I came to the senate, let me tell you what I think, Wolf, about the trade deals. So I voted for almost every one of them. I voted for the last big one which was a Korean trade agreement but they have not worked as promised. We have a history of these trade agreements and they undermine American manufacturing
[12:55:01] The trade deficits we were told were not increase and they've increased dramatically with China, with Korea, after those agreements occurred. So I think Donald Trump has been right. I think his instincts before those votes were more right than my vote for him.
BLITZER: Because as you know -- because Trump hates the Trans-Pacific Partnership, TPP.
SESSIONS: He's exactly right on that. I totally agree.
BLITZER: Mike Pence is on record supporting the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
SESSIONS: Well we didn't have the final bill before Mike Pence did it. But I began to see the situation differently before this vote. And I was opposed to the TPP and the fast track that led to the TPP. And I think it's not healthy. I believe Mike Pence was out of Congress, he's in Indiana as governor and I think he's going to understand, as he's indicated, that there's another side to that story. BLITZER: Take us a little behind the scenes. You flew out to Indianapolis. When did Donald Trump tell you, Senator Sessions, it's Pence?
SESSIONS: Well, I'm not going to reveal that.
BLITZER: Why not?
SESSIONS: That's a personal conversation. But he was enthusiastic every time I've talked to him about Mike Pence, totally enthusiastic.
BLITZER: Were you pushing for Mike Pence?
SESSIONS: I did not push for anyone. I gave him my best judgment of were I saw the situation and how I thought it could come out, the pros and cons of the talented nominees that were being considered.
BLITZER: Because I know you were on the inside, Chris Christie, Newt Gingrich, Mike Pence, were they the three finalists?
SESSIONS: Well, I'll let Donald Trump say that. I'm not sure how I would say that. But I do believe that Donald Trump gave this great thought. I believe he correctly understood that he needed to unify our party.
That Mike Pence will be a good president if called upon, that he's got solid values. He's got the courage to stand up against an establishment but at the same time work with people. So I think it was a good decision and he'll be a great vice president.
BLITZER: And finally because we're almost run out of time, what does it say about Donald Trump that he went to someone very different than him in terms of his personality, his background, insider, outsider, what does it say about Trump looking ahead?
SESSIONS: Well I think he can work with people that are different from him that's obvious that he can. He's been successful all of -- in his business world in doing that. I think he respected Mike Pence. I think Mike Pence is going to do a great job. He's a man of integrity, judgment and hard work and will be a great ally.
BLITZER: I'll see you in Cleveland, senator. Thanks very much for joining us.
SESSIONS: Thank you.
BLITZER: Jeff Sessions of Alabama. That's it for our special coverage. I'm wolf Blitzer in Washington. Thanks very much for watching.
CNN NEWSROOM continues with Fredricka Whitfield right after a quick break.
FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Hello everyone, thank you so much for joining me. I'm Fredricka Whitfield, welcome to the NEWSROOM. We begin this hour with breaking news. Following a failed coup attempt overnight, the FAA said U.S. planes are banned from flying in and out of Turkey. It's also banning any planes coming out of Turkey from landing in the U.S right now.
Turkey's s President Recep Erdogan says he is also now fully in control of the country after that coup attempt. His announcement follows a night of chaos that saw a Turkish police and soldiers fighting each other and lead to 161 people have been killed.
[12:59:59] Thousands of judicial officials and members of the military have been detained in connection with the plot. President Obama held a conference call with his national security team from the White House this morning to discuss the situation. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry spoke out on --