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THE SITUATION ROOM
Interview With Texas Congressman Michael McCaul; Colin Powell: Trump Is a 'National Disgrace'; A Cyber-Attack Hits the RNC; Trump in Flint. Aired 6-7p ET
Aired September 14, 2016 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Russian to interfere? Hacked e-mails revealed a damning assessment of Donald Trump by former Secretary of State Colin Powell. Russia is suspected again, and now the Kremlin is accusing President Obama of Russophobia for criticizing Trump's praise of Vladimir Putin. What did Powell's e-mails contain about Clinton?
And more troops needed? CNN has learned the Pentagon may soon send more special operations forces to Iraq and Syria, as the battle to retake a city from ISIS looms. Iraqi forces are now warning millions a major offensive is imminent. Will it force the terrorists out of Iraq's second largest city?
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.
Hillary Clinton's campaign has just released new medical information about the Democratic nomination , including her bout with pneumonia. The release comes just after her Republican rival, Donald Trump, shared new medical information and he gave a summary of a recent physical exam to TV's Dr. Oz.
Also breaking this hour, brand-new CNN/ORC polls that show Trump making gains in two critical battleground states. He now has a slight lead over Clinton in both Florida and Ohio.
We're also following a new cyber-attack believed to have been carried out by Russia, this time targeting Colin Powell's personal e-mail. In the leaked documents, the former secretary of state called Donald Trump -- and I'm quoting now -- "a national disgrace and an international pariah."
And he writes about Hillary Clinton she -- quote -- "kind of screws up everything she touches with hubris."
And new tonight, CNN has learned the Pentagon may send more special operations forces to both Iraq and Syria. They would be advising local forces in upcoming battles to retake key cities from ISIS. The Iraqi military is warning residents of Mosul city that the offensive there is imminent against the ISIS forces that occupy that city.
We are covering all of that and much more this hour with our guests, including the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee Republican Congressman Mike McCaul of Texas. And our correspondents and expert analysts, they are also standing by.
Let's begin with the new medical information just released by the Clinton campaign. Our senior Washington correspondent, Jeff Zeleny, is working the story for us.
Jeff, there's new details about her bout with pneumonia and about her general health.
JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: There is, Wolf.
Hillary Clinton's physician released this two-page letter just late today revealing that she actually was treated not only this past Friday when she was diagnosed to pneumonia, but also the Friday prior to that for that a low-grade fever and that persistent cough we heard.
She was advised to rest, which she has acknowledged she didn't follow. But her doctor said she is recovering well on the eve of her return to the campaign trail.
ZELENY (voice-over): Tonight, Hillary Clinton shedding more light on her health, trying to put her pneumonia diagnosis in perspective and questions about transparency to rest.
As she heads back to the campaign trail on Thursday, a new letter from her physician, Dr. Lisa Bardack. She says she has examined Clinton several times, including today, and she continues to improve.
Clinton has been off the campaign trail for three straight days, after falling ill Sunday at Ground Zero on the 15th anniversary of 9/11. The doctor said: "She is recovering well with antibiotics and rest. She continues to remain healthy and fit to serve as president of the United States."
With the election in 55 days, health and transparency suddenly front and center in the fight between Clinton and Donald Trump. The Clinton campaign has acknowledged not being fully forthcoming about her illness.
Initially, aides said she overheated. Hours later, her doctor said she had pneumonia and ordered Clinton to rest. She has been at home in Chappaqua ever since, as a cast of Clintons and other Democrats campaign on her behalf.
BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It's a crazy time we live in when people think there's something unusual about getting the flu. Last time I checked, millions of people were getting it every year. But I thank you.
ZELENY: An aide to the former president said he misspoke and meant to say pneumonia.
Clinton is heading back to North Carolina on Thursday, the last battleground state she visited before becoming sick last week.
HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I have been looking forward to joining all of you here in Charlotte.
ZELENY: Yet she is returning to a different landscape, a far more competitive one in her battle with Trump.
Meanwhile, the race rocked by another wave of hacked e-mails, this time from former Secretary of State Colin Powell. His salty comments offered a biting critique of the race.
On Clinton, he said: "Everything HRC touches, she kind of screws up with hubris."
Yet he saved his sharpest words for Trump, calling him a national disgrace and an international pariah.
Aides say Clinton has been following it all from her home in New York. As she received flower deliveries throughout the day, she continued briefings and continued preparing for her first debate with Trump.
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I promise, if I wanted it, I would have gotten it.
ZELENY: Secretary Clinton has been following all of the political developments, including our latest poll numbers, from her home in Chappaqua, I'm told.
She is eager to get back on the road to make up for lost time. But in that letter, her doctor also said this. Let's take a look.
"My overall impression is that Mrs. Clinton has remained healthy and has not developed new medical conditions, other than a sinus infection and ear infection and her recently diagnosed pneumonia."
But, Wolf, one senior adviser told me today the top priority of her campaign, her recovery with that first debate only 12 days away.
BLITZER: Jeff Zeleny reporting for us. Thank you, Jeff
Let's get some more on Hillary Clinton's health with CNN's chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta.
Sanjay, thank you very much for joining us.
What stands out to you in Clinton's release today? Is there anything here that paints a better picture of what her health is like?
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it gives a little bit more clarity, as I think Jeff was talking about, around this most recent health episode with the pneumonia.
We understand she got a C.T. scan, a CAT scan of her chest in order make that diagnosis at that time. It tells us more about where the pneumonia is located and how she is being treated. Those details paint a little bit of a clearer picture.
We also know over the last year if it comes to the heart, the lungs and the brain, for example, she has had a coronary calcium score of her heart that was done. The score came back zero, so her risk of heart disease is low. It says that in the letter.
She also had a brain scan done back earlier this year. That brain scan was done at the same time that she was having these sinus problems. They were looking at her sinuses. They went ahead and did a brain scan as well. And the brain scan they say also looked normal.
Wolf, we are looking at this letter of the reports or this letter of the reports, I should say, as opposed to any of the scans themselves or any of the readouts of the scans themselves. It's really just a summary.
These are not the medical records. It is not a release of medical records in any way. It's a summary from her doctor, as was given out last year. It is just more of an updated letter from one year to the next.
BLITZER: As far as the pneumonia is concerned, Sanjay, I spoke to a physician who specializes in pneumonia. She was diagnosed last Friday.
He said especially someone over 65, it could take as long as two or three weeks to fully recover from pneumonia. Is that your understanding as well?
GUPTA: Yes. It could take some time.
There's no question. There are certainly certain pneumonias and then there are even worse pneumonias, ones that can land you in the intensive care unit. And then on the other end of the spectrum are sort of the more colloquially called walking pneumonias.
This was a pneumonia that was diagnosed on C.T. scan. There was an abnormality in the right middle lobe of her lung. They identified exactly where that was. It could take some time. But she is on a 10- day course of antibiotics. She is probably four or five days now into that course of antibiotics.
You know, you can be up and about probably, but it's still going to -- she might still be tired, still might take a little of a toll on her.
BLITZER: What else would you like to know? We have received this summary, as you point out, not the actual health records. What else would you like to know about her health?
GUPTA: It is an interesting question. You are really trying to answer the question as was put at the bottom
of that letter. Is there any limitations, either physically or mentally, on someone's ability to be the commander in chief?
The things I think of certainly are cognitive function. They make mention that her mental status is good. When it comes to the heart, lungs and brain, as it turns out, this year, within the last several months, all of those have been looked at.
She had again this heart score, which was a coronary calcium score, which looked good. She had the lung C.T. scan looking for this pneumonia. They found that pneumonia, but found no other abnormalities. And then she had a brain scans. There were concerns obviously after her injury back in 2012 when she hit her head that she had some sort of persistent problems or persistent brain injury.
There doesn't seem to be any evidence of that either by scan or by cognitive testing, which they talked about previously. She is on a blood thinner, this blood thinner Coumadin. They talk about the fact that she gets the levels monitored regularly.
Now she is on these other medications as well. These are the sort of questions that need to be answered. And there's, again, a summary of some of these in the letter that's been provided.
The reason the medical records sometimes are important, though, is because sometimes you don't know what you don't know. Is there something else in there? I don't have any reason to suspect there would be. But that's why you release medical records, so someone can look at those records and make determinations.
BLITZER: Yes, that's what John McCain did back in 2008.
All right, Dr. Sanjay Gupta reporting for us, thank you very much.
Donald Trump also putting out some new medical information. He gave TV's Dr. Oz a summary of the physical exam he underwent last week.
Our political reporter, Sara Murray, is joining us with details.
Sara, this is only a summary that Trump shared. There are obviously a lot of other details missing.
SARA MURRAY, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right. And even we haven't seen the summary. He shared it with Dr. Oz, but he hasn't shared it with the public yet. It's not a full and complete medical history, which means even when we do see the summary, we won't have a sense of any medical issues Donald Trump may have had in the past, the kinds of that could potentially cause complications if he were president.
DR. MEHMET OZ, "THE DR. OZ SHOW": Why not share your medical records? MURRAY (voice-over): Tonight, Donald Trump revealing the results from
his recent physical.
TRUMP: Should I do it? I don't care.
MURRAY: Not to the public, but rather to TV personality Dr. Oz.
OZ: This is the report from?
D. TRUMP: These were all the tests. They were just done.
MURRAY: Leaving audience members to offer their best summaries of Trump's health.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: According to Dr. Oz, everything seemed normal. There were no surprises, except, again, that Donald Trump says he's on a statin, cholesterol-lowering drug.
MURRAY: But even Trump's full physical results, which the campaign plans to release Thursday, fall short of the detailed medical histories past nominees have provided to demonstrate their physical capacity to serve as president.
Trump's campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway, says she doesn't see the point of such broad disclosures.
KELLYANNE CONWAY, TRUMP CAMPAIGN MANAGER: I don't know why we need such extensive medical reporting when we all have a right to privacy.
MURRAY: But this is hardly the only area where Trump is less than transparent. The billionaire businessman is still refusing to release his tax returns, because, he says, they're under audit.
D. TRUMP: It's a routine audit. And I will release them after the audit, no problem.
MURRAY: The dearth of information means voters know little about Trump's business deals abroad and whether they will create conflicts of interest if he wins the presidency.
Today, Trump's daughter Ivanka insists the family would self-police their investments to avoid conflicts.
IVANKA TRUMP, DAUGHTER OF DONALD TRUMP: As a private business, we can make decisions that are not in our best interests. We're not beholden to anyone, to shareholders. We can say, you know what? We're going to do less deals. We're not going to do that deal, even though it's a fine deal, it's economically reasonable, because it could create a conflict of interests, and we will act incredibly responsibly.
MURRAY: But keeping the tax returns under wraps also makes it difficult to prove Trump's claim that he's given millions to charity.
D. TRUMP: I'm a good person. I give money to charity, a lot of money to charity.
MURRAY: And now the New York attorney general is investigating Trump's charitable foundation to ensure it's complying with the law.
ERIC SCHNEIDERMAN, NEW YORK ATTORNEY GENERAL: I didn't make a big deal out of it or hold a press conference, but we have been looking into the Trump Foundation to make sure it's complying with the laws that govern charities in New York.
MURRAY: An investigation the Trump campaign quickly slammed as politically motivated, releasing a statement saying: "Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is a partisan hack who has turned a blind eye to the Clinton Foundation for years."
MURRAY: Now, based on the limited information we have from both candidates, there's no reason to suspect that either of them are dealing with major health issues.
But what is striking is how little information both of them are putting forward compared to some previous nominees, particularly given they are some of the oldest major party nominees in history -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Sara Murray reporting for us, Sara, thank you.
Let's get some more on all of this.
The chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, Republican Congressman Mike McCaul of Texas, is joining us.
Mr. Chairman, thanks for joining us.
REP. MICHAEL MCCAUL (R), TEXAS: Thanks, Wolf.
BLITZER: Hillary Clinton, as you saw, just released details of her health, including her current medications, lab tests, vitals.
Should Donald Trump release at a minimum what she has released?
MCCAUL: Well, I think so.
Look, this is, I think, not without precedent in presidential campaigns. I think the health history is important. And the American people have a right to know the health of these candidates. Yes, I think the same standard should apply to both sides.
BLITZER: Hillary Clinton's campaign manager, Robby Mook, just put out a scathing statement about Trump.
Let me read it to you. "Donald Trump is hands down the least transparent presidential nominee in memory. His Dr. Oz charade is as completely unserious as his original joke of a letter written in five minutes. He continues to hide his taxes and business dealings behind fake excuses. And it begs the question, what is he trying to hide?"
Those are serious charges. I want you to react as someone who has supported Donald Trump.
MCCAUL: I don't know the health condition of either candidate that well.
But I will tell you, when it comes to transparency, I seriously -- I can't take Ms. Clinton that serious on those types of allegations, when she hid this private server, the whole e-mail controversy, 30,000 e-mails, consistently holding back information from the Congress, from the media and the American people.
So I don't think she speaks with a very credible voice on that topic. BLITZER: But do you think she is lying about her health? Is that
what I'm hearing?
MCCAUL: No, I don't think so. I don't know the status of the health of either of these candidates.
But in terms of being transparent, it's hard to -- you know, she has very little credibility, in my judgment, when it comes to transparency, after everything she did with respect to her e-mails, but also the way she handled the Benghazi fiasco as well, which has now led the a power vacuum in Libya, which now threatens the homeland directly through external operations.
BLITZER: Do you believe that Russia is behind this Colin Powell cyber-attack?
MCCAUL: We don't know at this point in time, Wolf, about that specifically.
I will tell you, I have been briefed at a very high-level classified briefing on these Russian allegations. They are very disturbing. The idea of a foreign power, particular one like Russia, a foreign adversary, attempting to mess with our elections -- and Director Comey basically told us that the motivation was to undermine the integrity of the American political electoral process.
These facts and allegations are very disturbing. The FBI has an ongoing investigation into attribution into the Russians to see where, in fact, this comes from. But so far I find them to be very disturbing.
BLITZER: These leaked Powell e-mails come in the same week that more DNC documents were released, hacked, of course, the Russia the key suspect in that cyber-attack as well.
Is Russia trying to influence this U.S. election in order to get Donald Trump elected?
MCCAUL: Well, I think the question is, are they trying to influence or just trying to undermine our electoral process?
I think the FBI director would tell you they are trying to just undermine the integrity of the process. It's important to note, Wolf, that they have not only hacked into the DNC, but also into the RNC. They are not discriminating one party against the other. The Russians are basically -- have hacked into both parties at the national level and that gives us all concern about what their motivations are.
BLITZER: Mr. Chairman, I haven't heard about any Russian hacking of the Republican National Committee. I have heard a lot about the Democratic National Committee.
But you're giving us new information. You're telling us that the Russians have hacked RNC e-mails and other documents?
MCCAUL: Yes. They have hacked into the Republican National Committee.
So, this is -- again, they are not picking sides here, I don't think. They are hacking into both political parties.
What they intend to do with that information, I don't know. It was interesting to watch Mr. Putin talk about how Russia had nothing to do with this, but how it was good to be transparent, for this to come out publicly.
I don't trust Mr. Putin. I don't trust his intentions. I think Russia is not our friend here either. They are one of the biggest cyber-offenders in the world and next to the United States are the greatest challenge that we have in cyber.
BLITZER: You're raising some serious questions.
The RNC hack, if in fact it occurred, as you say it did, we haven't seen what they hacked. In other words, the e-mails have not been released. We did see a lot of e-mails released from the Democratic National Committee that resulted in the resignation of the chair of the DNC, Debbie Wasserman Schultz.
What you're saying is, based on the information you have, they have hacked into the RNC, but they haven't released any of those documents; is that right?
MCCAUL: That's correct. But they have infiltrated both parties at the national level.
They have hacked into both parties. They have information from both parties. Why they have released some documents and not others, we don't know those intentions. And that is -- the ongoing FBI investigation's purpose right now is to do attribution.
And really, quite frankly, Wolf, I think the administration needs to come out very hard against Russia for having any role to undermine our election system and come out hard condemning these actions and taking a full retaliatory response to Russia.
BLITZER: It's just curious. If they have hacked the RNC and they haven't released anything, how do we know that they have hacked the RNC? How do you know that?
MCCAUL: Well, based upon the briefing I have. And I can't go into further detail than that, other than to tell you that they are not discriminating one party against another. They have hacked into both parties at the national level.
BLITZER: It's curious that they have released Democratic Party information, but not Republican Party information. It's curious to me. I assume it is to you as well.
MCCAUL: It's a question. We're not why they have released some documents and not others.
They could release these Republican documents at a later date and time. I think, again, I take the FBI director's word when he says that it's not really so much the influence, but rather under to undermine the integrity of our election systems and our democracy and our way of life.
That's what the Russians, I think, are trying to do here is undermine democracy itself and the United States as a whole, not just Republican or Democrat.
BLITZER: We know that Reince Priebus, the chairman of the Republican National Committee, he said in July that there has been no hack of the RNC. So, when did this occur?
MCCAUL: I don't have the exact time frame, only to tell you that both -- again, both parties at the national level have been hack into.
BLITZER: And the Republicans were informed of that hack?
MCCAUL: My understanding is that they would have been, yes.
BLITZER: Were they successful? Was it an attempted hack or a successful hack?
MCCAUL: Well, what we don't know is to the extent -- the extent of damage done and what they were able to retrieve out of the RNC itself.
That's again the subject to an FBI investigation as I speak to determine what information they got out of Republican National Committee headquarters.
BLITZER: I assume the RNC has taken steps to deal with this. Based on what you know, they have been informed. If you have been informed, I assume that Reince Priebus and his party, they have been informed. Do you know that they have taken active measures to counter this hack?
MCCAUL: Of course.
They have, as well as the DNC as well. They have taken very proactive measures to protect their systems from this kind of attack. But the Russians are being very aggressive, Wolf, in this endeavor. And I think it's to attack our way of life and our democracy and our system of elections.
And, you know, this is nothing new to Russia. They have done this before in the past to European countries. And so this kind of an old Russian playbook out of the Putin playbook. And, again, he's not our friend here.
BLITZER: It's really new information you're providing us.
The National Security Agency, Admiral Mike Rogers, he says he is concerned about possible U.S. election hacks to try to influence or affect the upcoming presidential elections, maybe other elections as well. Based on everything you know -- and you're the Homeland Security chairman in the House of Representatives -- could that happen in this election coming up in a few weeks in November?
MCCAUL: Well, it's possible. And I think that's our big concern here.
And I have been working with Secretary Jeh Johnson to help protect the integrity of the voting machines, for instance. Most of them are not connected to the Internet. That's the good news.
But the other thing I found interesting, Wolf, is that you would think, if they're trying to influence the elections, that they would be -- the states that they would hacking into would be the key battleground states. But that's not really what we are seeing here. We are just seeing an attempt to infuse chaos into our election system coming up in November and I think trying to go wreak havoc on American democracy.
BLITZER: You have spoken to Donald Trump. You have urged him to be more cautious when it comes to describing, for example, President Putin of Russia. And you mince no words in describing Putin.
Why do you think Trump keeps praising Putin?
MCCAUL: My sense is, look, Mr. Trump is a -- he is a strong personality, obviously, a strong individual.
I think he respects Putin because he is a strong national leader who is very popular in his country and is not afraid to build up his military and show force.
I think the administration currently has shown weakness and Putin has shown aggression. I have urged caution in terms of the fact that, look, if Russia in Syria -- and they have complicated things greatly because this president hasn't taken any action.
But if they're willing to go after ISIS with their strikes, which they really haven't done thus far -- for the most part, 95 percent of these strikes are against the rebel forces and to protect Assad and prop up the Assad regime -- 5 percent against ISIS.
But if they are willing to raise that number and go more after ISIS, that's a positive step. And I think that's what Secretary Kerry is trying to accomplish with this cease-fire.
But I would caution anybody running for president that Mr. Putin has his best interests in the region and not the best interests of the United States . To only thing we have in common with him is our disdain for the Islamist terrorists. And if he can help us take out ISIS, great. But he is there for another reason. And that's to be aligned with Iran and Mr. Assad in Syria, and it's a geopolitical power game, if you will.
BLITZER: One final political question before I let you go, Mr. Chairman.
In Texas, are you thinking, because there are a lot of reports out there, of challenging Ted Cruz for the Senate seat in 2018?
MCCAUL: I know there have been stories about this.
It's not of my making. I will tell you, I'm dedicated and focusing every ounce of energy that I have on unifying my party going into the November elections and making sure that Hillary Clinton is not the next president of the United States.
BLITZER: But are you considering that option of running for that Senate seat?
MCCAUL: At this point in time, I am not focused on that.
As you mentioned, I was at the 9/11 memorial service with Giuliani and Mr. Trump. And my goal is to make sure that Hillary is not in the White House.
BLITZER: Mike McCaul, the chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security from Texas, thank you very much for joining us and revealing some new information to our viewers. Appreciate it very much.
MCCAUL: Thanks, Wolf.
BLITZER: Much more on the breaking news coming in to THE SITUATION ROOM. We will take a quick break. We will be right back.
BLITZER: Following breaking news here in THE SITUATION ROOM.
First of all, we are getting new details about Hillary Clinton's bout with pneumonia, as well as her overall health. Her campaign released these new details just a little while ago, just hours after Donald Trump shared a summary of a physical exam with TV's Dr. Oz.
We are also getting -- and you just heard it here in THE SITUATION ROOM -- breaking news from the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, Mike McCaul. He has released, he has revealed now for the first time that not just the Democratic National Committee was hacked, but he says the Republican National Committee was hacked as well, even though that has been has not been made public yet.
We're trying to get a statement from Reince Priebus and the Republican National Committee. He says the Republican National Committee has been hacked presumably, he says, by the Russians, the same hackers who engaged in the hack of the Democratic National Committee.
Let's get some analysis, reaction from our panel.
Gloria Borger is with us.
When you heard that, Gloria, what did you think, because this is new information?
GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes. It was stunning to me to learn that, presumably, as he said, it's the Russians doing it, and they are equal opportunity offenders.
What we have not seen is the Republican National Committee talking about it, nor have we seen any leaked e-mails like we saw from the Democratic National Committee.
But it seems to me that serious questions have to be raised on the Intelligence Committee. And I think that's what he was talking about, about the potential for a foreign government to be trying to influence an American election on both sides of the aisle.
And we know spying goes on. We're not shocked about that. But I think that this takes it to quite a different level, Wolf.
[18:30:03] BLITZER: David Chalian, when we learned in July that the Democratic National Committee had been hacked, presumably by the Russian, and it led to the resignation of the chair, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, at the time, we asked Reince Priebus has the RNC been hacked? They denied it. They said no. But now we're learning they have been hacked. We don't know when.
BLITZER: We don't know when, the timing of this, but it's curious that both of the major political parties here in the United States, according to the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, have been hacked.
CHALIAN: You would sit back and think what will it take in Washington to actually get some bipartisan action on something? This is it. Both parties have already been indicating on Capitol Hill that they're going to work together to deal with this. Neither party believes that this is advantageous to them to have, potentially, a foreign-state actor playing in American politics on either side. And I think you're going to see the parties actually work together on this issue.
BLITZER: It's obviously a very significant development, as revealed just moments ago. The DNC e-mails, we've all read them; we've seen them. The RNC e-mails that were hacked we haven't seen them. They haven't been disclosed yet, if the Russians did it, by the Russians through some third party.
SWERDLICK: No. We haven't seen them yet. I'd say this is an area of main concern, as David is saying, for this election. But also, I think it's going to be a thorny problem for the next president, whoever that winds up being. I mean, the administration now is going to have to have some response to this, Wolf. But I think that, going forward, the idea that the Russian government potentially could be, you know, knowing information about both major political parties is worrisome.
BLITZER: And Rebecca Berg, it comes as we've now seen hacked e-mails involving the former secretary of state, General Colin Powell. And the assumption, the suspicion is the Russians did that, as well. And the fear is now growing that they could impact the U.S. presidential election by hacking various systems here in the United States.
BERG: Sure. And that threat compounded with Donald Trump's rhetoric on the campaign trail, that there's a threat that this election could be rigged, is really going to potentially threaten, jeopardize the confidence that Americans have in the results of this election.
Already we're seeing, in some polls, Republican supporters of Donald Trump. There was a recent Pew Center poll that showed only 11 percent of them are very confident that the results of this election will be legitimate. And so this jeopardizes that even further.
But I think one important point here is that Donald Trump himself has not yet acknowledged that the Russians are likely behind all of this hacking. He went on RT America, the Russian news outlet, in his interview with Larry King and said he thought that was a narrative that Democrats were just pushing. So I think this new development is going to change that.
CHALIAN: He did invite the Russians, though, to...
BERG: That's right.
CHALIAN: ... release some of Hillary Clinton's information, did he not? Did he not make that invitation?
SWERDLICK: He did, at one point.
BERG: He did.
CHALIAN: So that's some indication...
BERG: I wonder if he'll argue for the same transparency with Reince Priebus's e-mails.
BORGER: I do think now, though, that the administration knows an awful lot about this -- these hacks, and we've just discovered a new one. And they've -- and they've made the case and said that they believe that it is the Russians.
I think, now that we have this new information from Congressman McCaul, I think the American public might want to know how extensive this is insofar as we know, and how much proof there is that, in fact, it was the Russians doing this. Because I think that, you know, to Rebecca's point, is that, you know, you want to know how far the Russians are getting in their -- in their cyber-attack. And I -- and I think that that this takes it to another level where I think that the public might demand some more answers if the administration and the intelligence community feels that they can actually give it.
BLITZER: David Chalian, we're getting an initial statement, reaction from the Republican National Committee. They're saying they -- there's no known breach of the cyber equipment of the Republican National Committee, no known breach. Those are the words we're getting.
But you heard the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee. I pressed and pressed and pressed. And he said, yes, the FBI is investigating. People have known this.
But their initial reaction is they do have not -- they do not know of any known breach.
CHALIAN: Of -- known breach of? Say the language again?
BLITZER: Of the Republican National Committee cyber activities or whatever.
CHALIAN: Cyber activities. So it seems like we may have a language differential here, because...
BLITZER: Cyber network.
CHALIAN: OK. Mike McCaul couldn't have been more certain when he was saying to you that he has knowledge that the RCN has been hacked. Now, he was speaking perhaps in more colloquial terms, and the RNC is speaking very specifically about what they know or don't know. But clearly, there are going to be more questions about this.
BLITZER: A lot more questions are going to come up. And there's -- and there's obviously high interest as we get closer and closer to the U.S. election on November 8.
[18:35:16] Everyone stay with us. There's more breaking news we're following with more on the new medical information just released by the Hillary Clinton campaign. Will it put concerns over her health to rest?
Plus, how Melania Trump is trying to settle questions about whether she followed all the laws when she came to the United States.
[18:40:13] BLITZER: We're following the breaking news, the House Homeland Security Committee chairman, Mike McCaul, telling CNN just moments ago that cyber-attackers have hit the Republican National Committee, as well as the Democratic National Committee. The Republican National Committee is now reacting to the serious, serious news that we just heard from the Homeland Security Committee chairman, Sean Spicer tweeting -- he's the spokesman for the RNC, that there's been no known breach of GOP networks. Another official with the RNC saying there's been no known breach of the RNC's cyber network. David Chalian, I don't know if these are parsed words, "breached" as
opposed to "hacked," "attempted hack." But these are specific words that the chairman used, as well as the reaction we're getting from the RNC.
CHALIAN: Right. We're now going to need Chairman Mike McCaul to have a conversation with the RNC and understand the results of that conversation, because they obviously have two different points of view of what's been on.
But Chairman McCaul could not have been more clear with you that he knew this information to be true. He wasn't suspect about it. He was stating it as a fact that he was aware of. And the RNC using very specific language. So we'll have to see how they sort of get on the same page here.
But step back for a moment on what we're talking about here and how serious of an issue it is.
CHALIAN: We are talking about the American democratic electoral process and -- and a foreign state actor trying deliberately to be involved in it and in a sophisticated way. A lot of observers have looked at this -- and again, we don't have proof of exactly who's behind it, but you know, a lot of folks have looked at this and said this is a pattern of behavior that we have seen out of Russia in different countries in Europe and now applying to the United States and that our -- the sanctity of our own electoral process seems to be at risk to -- potentially to a foreign state.
BLITZER: And Gloria, the difference between the RNC and the DNC is that the Russians presumably, through third parties, leaked the information of the DNC e-mails. So far, there's been no leak of RNC e-mails.
BORGER: Right. There hasn't been, which is why we were all so surprised to hear from the congressman that there was a breach, because...
BLITZER: Well, the congressman used the word "hack."
BLITZER: He didn't use the word "breach." The Republican National Committee is using the word "breach."
BORGER: OK, hack. And so we were surprised, because -- because we didn't, you know, know about it.
Look, this is -- I agree with David. This is hugely important one way or another. If it turns out that it was only one committee and not both committees that was hacked, it's still -- it's still a huge story. I mean, I'm old enough to remember when a burglary at the Watergate was a big deal. This is on a different scale, and it's intended to effect the American elections, one way or another. And so we need to get to the bottom of this now, because there's
clearly a difference between the congressman and the RNC. And we'll have to see how they -- how they work it out. But it doesn't diminish the size of the story, which we've been looking at since we first heard of -- of the Democratic hack.
BLITZER: All right. Everyone stand by. We're going to continue our coverage of the breaking news. We've got to take a quick break. We'll be right back.
[18:48:02] BLITZER: We are following breaking news.
The House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Mike McCaul telling CNN just moments ago right here in THE SITUATION ROOM that cyber attackers have hit the Republican National Committee as well as the Democratic National Committee. The Republican National Committee pushing back saying there is no known breach of the RNC, the Republican National Committee cyber network. We are working this story and we'll get much more on this.
Our chief political analyst Gloria Borger is still with us.
Gloria, you have been talking to presidential candidates who have lost the election for your CNN special report and it's called "ALMOST PRESIDENT: THE AGONY OF DEFEAT". It will air later tonight at 9:00 p.m. Eastern here on CNN.
I want to show our viewers a clip. Watch this.
BORGER (voice-over): Take the shot, perfect title for the story of John McCain's run for the White House. Chapter 1, pick a vice president. He knew exactly who he wanted.
SARAH PALIN (R), FORMER ALASKA GOVERNOR: You can actually see Russia from land here in Alaska.
BORGER: No. Not her -- him.
SEN. JOE LIEBERMAN (I), CONNECTICUT: John McCain, our next great president.
BORGER: McCain's first love was Senator Joe Lieberman of Connecticut, an independent.
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: He's honest. He's decent. He lives his religion. And we were very closed and dear friends.
BORGER (on camera): So you did want him?
MCCAIN: Of course. But it was going to cause a problem in the convention because Joe Lieberman is pro-choice.
BORGER (voice-over): So, it was no to Joe.
Quick, find someone fresh, someone new.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They didn't manage that process well. McCain didn't manage it well. The clock ran out. And they're suddenly were left with limited choices. And in sort of McCain fashion, he threw D.
MCCAIN: She's exactly who I need.
BORGER: It was the very definition of a Hail Mary Pass.
[18:50:02] MCCAIN: Governor Sarah Palin of the great state of Alaska.
BORGER: And so, Sarah Palin met America.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Gloria, did many of the candidates you spoke with, with regret, did they have big regrets about the big decisions like that one?
BORGER: Well, John McCain says he has no regrets about Sarah Palin, and surprisingly, they didn't have regrets about the big decisions they made, Wolf.
They had regrets about their mistakes. Mitt Romney regretted the 47 percent remarks. Michael Dukakis regretted the way he answered the question about what if your wife were raped at presidential debate.
So, they had, you know, regrets about mistakes, which by the way they blame on themselves and they never stop thinking about it, Wolf. It's something they just never forget.
BLITZER: You've done an excellent job and we're all looking forward to the documentary tonight, Gloria.
BORGER: Thank you.
BLITZER: Thanks very much.
And to our viewers, be sure to watch Gloria's special report later tonight, "ALMOST PRESIDENT: THE AGONY OF DEFEAT". It airs at 9:00 p.m. Eastern and Pacific, only here on CNN.
Just ahead, Melania Trump addresses questions about whether she was in the United States legally when she first arrived.
[18:56:02] BLITZER: We got more breaking news.
We've just received a statement from the House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Mike McCaul. I'll read it to you.
Here it is, quote, "I misspoke by asserting the Republican National Committee was hacked. What I intended to say was that in addition to the Democratic National Committee hack, Republican political operatives have also been hacked."
A clarification from the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, Mike McCaul. In my interview with him, I repeatedly asked him about the RNC and DNC. He kept saying the RNC.
But now he says he misspoke. He meant to say Republican political operatives. He does not explain who those Republican political operatives are. We'll continue to work the story for our viewers.
In the meantime, there's other news. Donald Trump's wife Melania is trying to settle questions about whether she was living and working in the United States illegally when she first arrived back in the 1990s.
Our senior investigative correspondent Drew Griffin has details.
Drew, this dates back to when Melania Trump was working as a model. What have you learned?
DREW GRIFFIN, CNN SENIOR INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, the controversy all boils down to a rather controversial photo shoot Melania Trump took part in here in New York and whether or not she was legally in the country with the ability to work when that shoot took place. Earlier reporting by "The New York Post" says the shoot took in 1995, and therefore, Melania would not have had a work visa. But Melania Trump has always said she came to the United States in 1996, not '95.
Two events took place today which seemed to prove Melania Trump was telling the truth and "The New York Post" just got it wrong. Today, Melania Trump tweeted out a letter from an immigration attorney hired by Trump. The attorney Michael Wildes writes that "following a review of irrelevant immigration paperwork, I can unequivocally state that these allegations are not supported by the record and are therefore completely without merit."
The letter goes on to say, Wolf, that Melania arrived in the U.S. for the on August 27th, 1996, on a visitors visa and then got what called an H-1B visa in October of that year which allowed her to work as a model. Wolf, if she arrived in August of 1996 for the first time, obviously, it would be impossible for her to be photographed in New York in 1995, a year earlier.
The Trump Organization didn't release any visas or passport documents of Mrs. Trump. Just this letter. So there you go.
BLITZER: Drew, did "The New York Post", everybody else who was reporting on this, did they simply get it wrong?
GRIFFIN: I mean, that's what it appears. "The New York Post" is not advertising a retraction. But on its original story, it's now added an explanation, that the photo shoot in question actually did take place in 1996 and that the magazine in question came out in 1997. "The Post" was essentially a year off on both counts. In the updated article, "The New York Post" says it relied on the memory of a French photographer to the dates in question. I actually chatted with that photographer yesterday from Paris and
while he still can't remember when the shoot took place, he now says he's certain it wasn't in 1995. A public relations representative for "The New York Post" sent a statement basically claiming this entire mix up on that photographer's memory. "The Post" saying it learned just today that the photographer misspoke and online the story has been corrected to reflect that.
BLITZER: Bottom line in all this is Melania Trump was absolutely, positively here legally when she was modeling, when she was working. There was no -- there were no games that were going on.
GRIFFIN: To be absolutely clear, Wolf, that is what her attorney has said. We, of course, have asked for actual documents, the visas to prove it. They say the letter will stand.
BLITZER: Drew Griffin, with his excellent reporting as usual, thank you very much.
And once again, be sure to watch Gloria Borger's special report later tonight "Almost President: The Agony of Defeat." It airs at 9:00 p.m. Eastern and Pacific only here on CNN.
That's it for me. Thanks very much for watching. I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM.
"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.