tv Situation Room With Wolf Blitzer CNN January 28, 2016 2:00pm-4:01pm PST
in "the situation room." happening now, donald's duel. tonight's primetime presidential debate, neither front-runner, donald trump nor fox news shows any signs of backing down. trump is getting ready to hold his own event. in a big surprise, some of his rivals say they're going to attend. fight night, if trump stays off the debate stage will the republicans establishment candidates concentrate their fire on him anyway, attack senator ted cruz, or keep up what critics of their own party are calling their circular firing squad. taken for granted. with the iowa caucuses days away, the democratic race is getting hotter and angrier than ever. susan sarandon is campaigning for senator bernie sanders,
accusing hillary clinton of patronizing women and taking their votes for granted. the former secretary of state is in the situation room today and we'll get her reaction. and sabre rattling. tonight we're getting new information about what kind of surprise kim jong-un may be preparing underground. the u.s. suspects he's working on a multi-stage missile capable of reaching even the west coast. can anyone stop him? i'm wolf blitzer. you're in "the situation room." we're following the breaking news in the presidential race. the republican presidential candidates are preparing for tonight's final high-stakes debate before monday's iowa caucuses, but the front-runner, donald trump, apparently won't be there after a bitter public fight with fox news. we expect trump to skip the debate and hold his own event at the same time. at least two of trump's rivals, rick santorum, and mike
huckabee, say they'll stop by. we're also watching fireworks on the democratic side of the presidential race. senator bernie sanders exploded when he heard about the latest accusations from some of clinton's supporters. and the former secretary of state is taking our questions this hour. we'll get her response. our correspondents, analysts and guests, they will have full coverage of all the day's top stories. let's begin at the site of tonight's primetime republican debate. cnn political reporter sara murray has the very latest. sara. >> reporter: that's right, wolf, other candidates are hunkering down getting ready for the debate tonight, but donald trump isn't one of them. for any other candidate it would be considered insane to skip this last debate but folks tell me in iowa donald trump has played by his own rules thus far and it's worked out for him every time. tonight republican candidates are preparing for a showdown on the debate stage. all except for front-runner, donald trump. >> i'm not going to do the
debate. >> reporter: he'll be holding a competing political event in des moines, as he retaliates against fox news for the network's sarcastic response for his relentless criticism of one of tonight's moderators, megyn kelly. >> i was not treated well by fox. they came out with this ridiculous pr statement, it was like drawn up by a child. it was a taunt. i said how much of this do you take. i have zero respect for megyn kelly. >> reporter: meanwhile, other fox hosts are urging trump to forgive and forget. >> but i think you should be the bigger man. >> reporter: but trump has his own idea of fairness. >> it's called an eye for an eye i guess also. >> reporter: and despite fox's pleas -- >> that's what america is about, robust debate. >> that's fine. >> don't walk away from it. >> reporter: trump is moving forward with his rival event, which he says will benefit veterans. scheduling it to begin the same time, tweeting today, the debate tonight will be a total disaster. low ratings with advertisers and advertising rates dropping like
a rock. i hate to see this. fox insists no rates have changed. meanwhile, ted cruz, trump's closest rival, is preparing to be the prime target for the remaining gop opponents tonight. all while needling trump for backing out. >> gentle donald cannot handle megyn kelly. >> reporter: pushing for a one-on-one debate with the donald. >> he and i are the leading candidates in this state right now, so how about the two of us in a one-on-one debate, mano y mano. >> reporter: cruz's super pac's vowing to pony up $1.5 million for wounded warriors if trump agrees to a debate with cruz. carly fiorina upped the ante, offering to donate $2 million to veterans from her campaign if trump will debate her tonight at drake university. others are less amused by trump's latest stunt. >> this is not a show.
this is serious. >> he has brought the debate, the presidential debate, the tenor of the debate, to a historic low. >> basically this is like -- this is like a 13-year-old argument. >> reporter: but some of the struggling undercard debaters are looking to get in on the action. after the early debate wraps up, both rick santorum and mike huckabee will appear at trump's event. >> i'm delighted to join with donald trump. >> reporter: even as they wage their own campaigns in iowa. >> it's not an endorsement of donald trump's candidacy, i'm still running for president. >> reporter: now, wolf, the big question is how will this all change the dynamic of the debate here tonight? it could give some of these other candidates that we see out in the wings a little bit more talking time, but it could also mean that the knives are out for ted cruz, the other candidate who is leading here in the hawkeye state. >> all right, sara, thank you. sara murray reporting. let's go about three miles away from the site of tonight's debate.
sunlen serfaty is at drake university where they're getting ready for donald trump's special event to benefit veterans. you're outside the venue for this trump event. what can we expect tonight? >> reporter: wolf, there's still a lot of mystery surrounding this event tonight which speaks to how hastily arranged this has been by the trump campaign. the doors will open in about an hour. already on the other side of this building behind me, that's where the line is starting to form. right now about ten people in line. the first person telling us that he got there at 11:30 this morning. the trump campaign is touting this will be a sold-out event. they say they will fill up all 775 seats inside, and the main event here will start at 9:00 p.m. eastern time. that is the exact same time that the debate will be under way and starting. that's no coincidence there. the trump campaign wanted to leave that split screen, his counter program being the headline of the night. this event being billed as a fund-raiser to benefit veterans organizations, but at this hour we do not know specifically what
veterans organizations are going to benefit, get the money from tonight. the trump campaign not divulging that information at this time. i can tell you there is a lot of pushback already today from various veterans organizations, the iava saying that they don't want to be involved, they will reject any money that the trump campaign gives them tonight. they say, wolf, they do not want to be wrapped up, in their words, in a political stunt. >> so the doors open in an hour even though the actual event doesn't start for four hours, 9:00 p.m. eastern. but there's only ten people waiting in line so far? >> reporter: that's right, about ten people, wolf. we talked to the first person who got in line at 11:30 a.m. and talked to him about the antics of donald trump. he said those antics don't bother me at all. it's a bold and risky political move, but he said that makes him like donald trump even more. >> all right, we'll watch together with you, thank you. let's get some more insights on this unprecedented debate chaos. dana bash is here in the
situation room. dana, he's taking a pretty big risk, donald trump, tonight, isn't he? >> this is obviously a guy who thrives on taking risks, he's done it his whole life and for the most part it's benefited him. but this is the ultimate high wire act for him. he's betting on the fact that his support is so strong and so robust that he can leave this important opportunity for a normal politician to be on a debate stage four days before iowans go to caucus when many of them will use this opportunity to make up their minds. >> for ted cruz, donald trump's main rival right now, there's an opportunity but there's also a risk for him. >> there is. i've talked to some people in the cruz campaign. they are expecting that he will likely now be the chief harpoon taker because he will be center stage. he is going to be the front-runner in tonight's primetime debate. but, you know, the flip side, there's also a potential positive, plus for him, which is it is a two-man race in iowa, it just is. and one of the people is not
going to be there, so he has the opportunity if he chooses to really go after trump and maybe school him on some issues that conservatives might not know about and there's no donald trump there to respond, which is the rule, as you well know in debates. they don't have to abide by it. >> what does it say that donald trump, the republican presidential front-runner, is at war with fox news, which is very popular with conservative voters out there? >> isn't it incredible? honest honestly, i think the fact that fox news released that statement, the statement that made donald trump say, you know what, enough already, made him walk, talking about ayatollahs and putin, a very -- frankly something that's elementary, was surprising, i think, for a news organization but brian stelter, our media reporter, was talking about the fact that roger ailes, who runs the network, is an all-time campaign person and he was running this back and forth with donald trump like a campaign. so now we have this situation
where the two of them are at war. and it's kind of a divide of the titans, if you will, and it will be fascinating to see who wins this one. >> just when you think it can't become more bizarre, all of a sudden, at the trump event two of the republican presidential candidates who are in the second tier debate, shall we say, they're going to show up and meet with donald trump later. >> it makes me stop and think about the motto that we have when we do debates on most of the networks which is we don't want to be the story. we want to be the platform, we want to be the opportunity to use our opportunity to give voters a sense of what candidates think but we don't want to be the story and that is the polar opposite of what has happened with fox, especially with trump. >> dana, don't go too far away. coming up, hillary clinton, she's here in the situation room. we're going to speak to hillary clinton. that democratic contest getting a bit nastier and more intense by the minute. much more hillary clinton when we come back.
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in the tight democratic race in iowa, senator bernie sanders today angrily slammed hillary clinton's campaign, accusing some of their supporters of going negative against him. i'll be speaking with the former secretary of state in just a few minutes, but first let's bring in our senior political correspondent, brianna keilar. what made senator sanders so angry? >> wolf, it was the suggestion that some of his supporters would illegally increase turnout
for him in the caucuses here in iowa on monday night. it's something that bernie sanders angrily dismissed as a smear. the democratic race in iowa neck in neck and getting heated. bernie sanders bristling when a reporter asked him about concerns young out of state voters could help throw the caucuses in his favor. >> you talk about negative stuff, really? based on what did they say? based on david brock's long history of honesty and integrity? the man who tried to destroy anita hill? is this where this is coming from? >> reporter: sanders slamming david brock. it's a sign of how close clinton and sanders are in iowa, just four days from the caucuses. the former secretary of state arguing she'll get things done in washington. >> break through the gridlock, not add to it. >> reporter: her husband making the case for her in iowa. >> there's one person who said i will never make the perfect --
we've got to get the show on the road right now. >> reporter: and telling people he understands how upset americans are. >> she's angry that so many americans have not participated in the recovery. >> reporter: bill clinton campaigned in mason city across town from sanders last night while his wife attended a fund-raiser on the east coast. sanders seizing on the moment to paint clinton as too close to wall street. >> my opponent is not in iowa tonight. she is raising money from a philadelphia investment firm. frankly, i would rather be here with you. >> reporter: the two campaigns also sparring over future debates. sanders charging that clinton had a change of heart on additional debates, specifically an unsanctioned meeting next week in new hampshire now that she's trailing in the granite
state. >> now she's falling apparently behind in new hampshire and wants to change the rules. but we're willing to say if she's willing to do a number of debates later on. >> reporter: the clinton campaign today saying they're open to talks about more debates later in the spring. >> i give you bernie sanders. >> reporter: sanders also getting some backup from actress susan sarandon who campaigned with him and also offered some sharp words for clinton. >> i think that's very patronizing to women to think we all just follow our genitalia to candidates. >> reporter: sarandon delivering some of the sharpest broad sides of the campaign so far talking about hillary clinton. it's easy to be for gay rights and marriage when everybody else is, clearly trying to ding hillary clinton as she tries to emphasize decades of fighting for women, for children, but also she's emphasized lately fighting for the lbgt community,
wolf. >> brianna keilar reporting. thanks very much. joining us now the democratic presidential candidate, hillary clinton. madam secretary, thanks very much for joining us. >> thank you. it's good to talk to you again. >> as you know, the bernie sanders campaign says they won't agree to debate next week unless you agree to specific dates for three additional debates. are you willing to agree to specific dates in the spring? >> reporter: well, first, wolf, as i told you back in september, i have been willing to do more debates. i like debating. and i think it was important that my supporters, leaders in new hampshire, said they wanted a debate. they offered a time, i agreed. and i am prepared to do that. and certainly with respect to future debates, we can start talking about scheduling those, but i look forward to debating the issues. i think the voters of new hampshire and the country want us to keep debating the issues,
so i hope that we'll all three be there next week in new hampshire to talk about what our real plans are to deal with the economy and health care and rising prescription drug costs and so much else that people will talk to me about. >> so you are willing to commit to three specific dates for additional debates after new hampshire? >> oh, i've said, look, we have another one shortly after new hampshire, as i remember on the calendar. and i've said we should start looking for dates and working to get those scheduled. i'm perfectly fine with that. but first things first. we have to agree that we're going to debate in new hampshire. both the governor and i have agreed and we're waiting for the senator to decide to join us. >> so i just want to be precise. after the democratic national committee sanctions debates, you are now ready to commit to three more debates, is that right? >> well, i have been very public
in saying i would like the dnc to work with all of the campaigns, because that's what it did when it set up this schedule, and obviously we want to be supportive. but i am urging publicly that we do this debate next week in new hampshire. then i've said i am more than happy for us to start scheduling additional debates as we go through the spring in april and may and try to get those on the calendar. >> let's move on. talk a little bit about susan sarandon who supports bernie sanders. i want you to listen to what she told bernie sanders' supporters. >> i think it's very pat ronizing to think that we'll vote for any woman that gets up there. >> are you confident that the women voters will turn out for you in the way you need them? >> look, i am thrilled to have so much support from leading women in our country, from elected women, from women activists, from organizations like planned parenthood fighting
for women's rights. i'm running to be president because i think i have the best combination of experience, qualifications, plans and ability to get the job done. but i do think it's an asset to be running to be the first woman president and i want everyone, women and men in all parts of our country to join me in making sure we build on the progress we've made and not let the republicans rip away the white house and set us back. >> bernie sanders is also criticizing you for attending a fund-raiser in philadelphia at an investment firm last night while he was holding a rally, speaking to caucus goers in iowa. does that make you look bad? >> oh, i don't think so. look, i was in iowa yesterdy, all week. i'm back in iowa right now. i'll be in iowa through the caucus. i went to philadelphia for two things. some of my supporters, including my good friend, jon bon jovi, had a fund-raiser for me and i
had a long-standing meeting scheduled to meet with 50 african-american faith leaders from across our nation. and it was a wonderful conversation. we ranged widely over everything from the terrible water crisis in flint to what we need to do for criminal justice reform, how we guarantee economic opportunity and good jobs with rising incomes, equal rights and equal pay for women. it was just an absolutely stimulating and inspirational meeting. and here i am, back in newton, ready to go talk to hundreds of citizens who are still either making up their minds or learning more about what to do when they go caucus for me next monday. >> as you know, donald trump has planned a so-called special event to benefit veterans tonight at the same time the republican presidential candidates are holding their debate. is that appropriate?
do you think he should boycott that debate? >> you know, i am certainly not going to get into the machinations of the republican primary process other than to say i deeply regret the tone, the rhetoric that you're hearing not only from mr. trump but a number of the other candidates. the kinds of insulting remarks they're making about groups of people in our country, their strong opposition to the affordable care act, wanting to defund planned parenthood, coming back to trickle-down economics. you know, it's really a quite disturbing spectacle that we have going on. so whether or not they are together when they debate and reinforce these positions, which i think would be so harmful to our country, is something that, you know, they have to decide among themselves. but i'm going to continue to
point out the stakes in this election, because ultimately it will come down to one democratic nominee and one republican who are fighting for the future of america. and i strongly disagree with the direction that the republicans intend to take our country, and that's why i'm fighting so hard to be that democratic nominee, to be able to make the case that we want to build on the progress we've made and we sure don't want the republicans ripping it all apart. >> madam secretary, on national security while i have you, the pentagon now acknowledging that some u.s. troops already are inside libya and also signaling that the u.s. could get much more involved in libya soon. would you support significantly increasing the number of u.s. troops inside libya, which for all practical purposes today is a failed state with isis in control of big chunks there? >> well, i haven't been briefed on the specifics of what the defense department is
considering. there are certainly operations that special forces are conducting in a number of places throughout the middle east in support of local forces and local government authorities and also to try to help defeat isis and its affiliates. so i can't comment specifically, wolf. there has been a great effort recently led by the united nations to try to get the two factions in libya to cooperate. and, yes, there is one part of libya that has been claimed by isis. there's a great deal of concern among libyans and europeans as well as americans and others in the middle east about that. so i will -- i will hold my judgment about exactly what is being carried out until i have more information about it. >> one final question, madam secretary, before i let you go. you said it would be a great idea to appoint -- to nominate president obama to the u.s.
supreme court. have you given more thought to that possibility? >> well, i have no idea that he'd ever be interested, but it was a fascinating idea. and if i'm so fortunate enough to be president and get the opportunity to fill a supreme court vacancy, which i hope i do, then i would certainly talk to him about it. i think he has other plans for his future, but hey, it would be worth the effort. we know he's a brilliant writer, he taught constitutional law, so i think it's worth a try. >> madam secretary, thanks so much for joining us. >> good to talk to you again, wolf, thank you. >> all right. so you just heard the former secretary of state. she has given us a lot to discuss. will there be more democratic presidential debates, for example. let's bring in real clear politics national political reporter, rebecca berg, s.e. cupp and neah-malika henderson.
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we're just four days away from the iowa caucuses and the presidential candidates are scrambling for supporters with time running out. our top story is donald trump skipping tonight's primetime republican presidential debate after his escalating feud with fox news reaches a breaking point. and hillary clinton making the case to female voters she is not taking them for granted. let's turn to our experts for more analysis once again.
nia-malika henderson, what do you make of the candidates who were critical of donald trump's decision, the opportunity they have potentially for themselves tonight. >> well, the stage is all theirs tonight. we get a chance to see the folks in this race that, you know, that are there without donald trump. this is kind of the party that the rnc has always wanted to showcase without the kind of bluster and persona of donald trump hanging over everyone's heads. >> who has the most to gain potentially? >> i think rubio and cruz. they're the ones who are -- rubio vying for that establishment lane, cruz neck in neck with trump in iowa and second in those national polls, so i think they have the most to gain. but i do think sometimes we overestimate the power of debates and these moments. you talk to political scientists about this and they sort of say there's not a real effect in terms of a bump in polls in standing even if you give a great debate performance. >> how much of a target will trump be tonight, he won't be
there able to defend himself. >> if i were any one of the candidates i would make note of the fact that i showed up, i'm here, we're here to talk to you, iowa, and look who isn't. but what's so interesting, if you think back to the previous republican debates, we're here talking about what to look for and it's always trump v. someone, trump v. bush, then trump v. carson and trump v. fiorina. it was going to be trump v. cruz in this debate. were they really going to attack each other. with that gone, now as you said, that really opens the door for someone like marco rubio to have some momentum. maybe jeb bush, we'll see if he can do that. chris christie. this really does sort of sanitize the debate for these guys to talk issues and really get their personalities across. >> without trump there, will that open the door for others to go after the number two, shall we say, at least in most of the polls, ted cruz? >> absolutely, it's open season on ted cruz tonight because donald trump won't be there, so
these candidates can try to attack donald trump in absentia but they look like clint eastwood talking to an empty chair. it's not as effective when you can't draw that contrast in person. so i think by default almost ted cruz will become a target. we're seeing him starting to sweat in iowa. there was a report that marco rubio has -- sorry, ted cruz has launched negative advertising against marco rubio, feeling the heat not only from trump but also marco rubio gapi gaining s >> you were just there in iowa. one of the problems ted cruz might have is he's sending a message to the caucus goers, you know what this presidential debate and iowa may not be all that important. >> that's right buchlt he also said if donald trump wins this thing and then wins new hampshire, it could all be over. >> that's what cruz said. >> this is what cruz said about donald trump, so it is very important for him. we'll have to see what he does tonight. i think this gives all of those
folks on stage to be the big man on campus. that's the role that donald trump has played for all this time, all these many months. >> but to be sure when ted cruz said that if donald trump wins iowa, then the map is -- what he's really saying is, if i don't win iowa, then i'm done. so if you care about me, you have to care about me in iowa. and that's true. i mean that's 100%, i think, true. >> rebecca, the latest polls out of iowa show trump doing relatively well compared to cruz. it's close, certainly, but it's not by any means a slam dunk for either one of them. >> no, it isn't. and so a lot of this is going to come down, as it always does, to organization. how strong is ted cruz's organization actually. one interesting figure in a poll that i saw is he is the candidate most iowans say they have been contacted by in the lead-up to this race so clearly his organization is working hard, but can it deliver on election day and do those trump voters show up. that's the question for ted
cruz. >> we know rick santorum and mike huckabee are going to show up at donald trump's event honoring, supporting veterans after their earlier second-tier debate. that's pretty unusual. >> yeah. i just actually hautalked to th huckabee campaign and they're excited -- look, they're nakedly candid about this. to, a, be able to talk to veterans and veterans groups and veterans issues, but also to talk in a place where there are cameras. that trump event will be covered. i think most of iowa voters will be watching the presidential debate, but this will get coverage. for people like huckabee and people like santorum, of course this is an opportunity for them to after the undercard debate, trek on over a few blocks and get some coverage. >> i spoke to mike huckabee earlier today. he certainly made it clear to me and i think to our viewers that he likes donald trump a lot more than he likes ted cruz. >> and let's face it, mike huckabee, he was the darling of iowa in 2008.
rick santorum in 2012. what does he do? it looks like he won't win iowa, but he has, i think, a chance to be kind of a player in this race after he leaves the race, which will probably be, you know, i'm not going to make any predictions, but he probably won't win iowa and maybe he leaves the race after that. >> he won iowa in 2008, rick santorum won in 2012 and both of those winners are coming to the donald trump event later tonight. ladies, stand by. we have much more to discuss. the political news is still coming in. we'll take a quick break and we'll be right back.
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let's get back to our political experts. ladies, the vice president, joe biden, was rather blunt in assessing the democratic party's prospects in this election this year, speaking of the republicans. listen tomgs. -- to this. >> we may be given a gift from the lord in the presidential race here. i don't know who to root for more, cruz or -- what's that guy's name? he's having a fund-raiser for veterans tonight, i'm told. but all kidding aside, folks, you know, it's been a tough --
it's been a tough last couple cycles. but we should get up, man. there's a real shot here. >> he's being blunt. he thinks there's an opportunity, a great opportunity for the democrats. >> and he wants to have a voice in this race, right. he wants to weigh in. we've seen him do it so far talking about hillary clinton, talking about biden. in some ways i think he sounds not as bullish as other democrats in terms of their shot in 2016. i mean particularly if it's cruz or trump. democrats feel really, really, really great. they feel like they have more than a shot. >> who do you think democrats would prefer running against, cruz or trump? >> trump, i guess. but at the same time he's so unpredictable and how do you deal with this guy who's so good at media, at branding, at turning people's attention, even when, you know, even when it should be on the debate, we're also going to be talking about
what he does with veterans. >> i actually think that trump is more electable than cruz in a general. it pains me to say. but i don't know, cruz really has a very, very narrow group of fans and supporters. he doesn't have the support of the larger republican establishment or moderate republicans. trump is pulling from all different kinds of factions. and while i don't think he's capable of beating either democrat in the general election, i think he'd win more voters than cruz would. >> and that's why you see some bernie sanders potential supporters thinking maybe i'll go and vote for donald trump instead. he's tapping into the same populist streak, the same white working class streak of the electorate. and there's definitely much more room for crossover than if you look at ted cruz, who is to the far right of his party, doesn't have a lot of overlap with moderate democrats. >> this is -- you know, it's a question, the fact that trump is
not at this debate tonight. it's a question that is going to hover over these final few days before the caucus goers show up monday night. >> it's amazing, because 40% of iowa caucus goers are undecided. so it's a strange calculation. like if you're an iowa voter and you're four days out, are you going to watch a trump fund-raiser or are you going to watch the presidential debate where you might actually learn about the candidates? i'm sure he'll get some eyeballs for sure, but are those the voters that are really going to turn out monday and caucus? i'm not so sure. >> but his supporters are very loyal, donald trump's. >> they are. and they are looking at multiple data points. they have commercials, they have mailers, they have people calling their houses, they have got the local news, which is certainly going to cover this trump event. he'll make the papers, i'm sure. it's very much in keeping with trump style. >> let's see how much money they raise for veterans as well. all right, guys, thanks very much. coming up, donald trump skipping tonight's prime mime republican presidential debate to hold his own event which he
says will benefit veterans. there's new information coming in. we'll have an update live from iowa. and north korea possibly preparing to launch a missile. we'll show you new satellite images that have u.s. intelligence officials extremely concerned. make a dep-- vo: it happens so often... (box smashing) you almost get used to it. (voice on phone) main menu. representative. please hold-- representative! hello, retirement account number 61414-- here's a retirement plan built just for you. vo: which is why being put first-- you built this just for me? that's how it works. takes some getting used to. not always. join the nation. ♪ nationwide is on your side
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cnn has obtained new satellite images from north korea. it appears to show a top-secret facility being prepared for a rocket launch. brian todd has been following this story. brian is here. what are you learning? >> reporter: u.s. officials telling us they are keeping a close eye on this facility because of the fact that it had previously been used by kim jong-un's regime to test ballistic missiles.
this comes as cnn has learned new information about that north korean nuclear test earlier this month. a u.s. official familiar with the latest assessment telling barbara starr that kim jong-un's regime may have been trying to test components of a hydrogen bomb at the time. not necessarily a completely constructed bomb but components, possibly a detonateor. between that and the possible rocket launch preparations here, kim jong-un has clearly ramped up his threatening behavior. tonight intelligence agencies from washington to seoul are closely watching this facility. north korea's top-secret satellite launching station. a u.s. official tells cnn in recent days satellite imagery has revealed personnel, equipment for rockets and jewel being moved into the compoun. the place is so secret, parts are delivered by underground rail lines. >> they understand they are being watched 24/7 by satellites
from many countries. so they have invested in underground facilities to conceal their missiles. >> reporter: a launch could be imminent. north korea will likely say it's launching a satellite into space, but u.s. officials and analysts believe the regime has an alterior motive. >> what could the most dangerous possibility be? >> when north korea says they're launching a satellite, that's significant and important and a pop tentially dangerous capability. north korea is testing a missile, perfecting a missile that could launch a warhead against the united states or other countries. >> reporter: kim jong-un's missile testing is a major threat because his regime's already thought to have made progress toward miniaturizing a nuclear warhead to fit on a missile that could strike targets in hawaii or even seattle. it's not clear if they've been tested to be effective but they fact they're working feverishly toward that even has kim's
troubled allies in beijing worried tonight. >> translator: china is closely watching the current situation and is seriously concerned about these developments. >> reporter: the chinese are already furious with kim jong-un for conducting north korea's fourth nuclear bomb test earlier this month. it's part of a steep downswing in this relationship since the young dictator took power. chinese president xi jinping and his aides have never liked kim. >> they don't like the north koreans, and one of the prime interlock ters between china and north korea was kim jong-un's uncle who he publicly had executed which also caused ill will among some chinese. >> reporter: analysts say as angry as china is with kim they'll only want to punish him so much. what china fears most say collapse of kim's regime that would lead to instability at china's border and possibly millions of north korean
refugees streaming into china. they are constantly worried about that. >> you know they are. are the preparations at that rocket launch site, what are the other concerns you're hearing about? >> that group 38 north which monitors satellite images frorth north korea says the pictures indicate the north koreans may be -- may be getting ready to test a musadan missile. if that's the kaurks it's worrisome because it could be made into a mobile ballistic missile system and the u.s. and its allies would have difficulty tracking that. >> that could be very worrisome. coming up, we're awaiting donald trump's arrival in des moines where he plans to be center stage at a fund-raiser for veterans. and off the stage when his republican rivals debate. we'll go there for an update.
happening now, breaking news. trump's tv war. donald trump's fund-raiser for veterans is getting under way just three miles from the presidential debate he's boycotting as part of his battle with fox. how many viewers will trump lure away? debate drauma. with trump absent, ted cruz takes center stage. he also has a chance to seal the deal with iowa voters. can he cement the victory in monday's caucuses tonight. a meeting on the mass migration of terrorists from syria and iraq to libya. thousands of them now believed
to be building a new stronghold in north africa. how is the pentagon planning to take them on? stunning twist. the widow of a small town police officer who staged his suicide to look like a murder is indicted, charged with stealing thousands from a charity she and her husband founded. was her husband's death an effort to hide their alleged crime. i'm wolf blitzer. you're in "the situation room." this is cnn breaking news. >> we're following the breaking news. the extraordinary political drama unfolding right now in iowa. that's where front-runner donald trump not only boycotting tonight's republican presidential debate. he's staging a rival event set to draw viewers ark away from fox. we're also following the growing isis presence in libya.
sources tell cnn it was the subject of an urgent national security council meeting today at the white house. defense secretary ash carter canceling his travel plans to attend. we're covering those details much more this hour with our guests, including the chairman of the republican national committee, reince priebus and our correspondents and analysts are also standing by. let's begin with the feud between donald trump and fox news. the feud overshadowing the primetime gop debate in iowa. our chief political correspondent dana bash is working the story for us. this is happening just four days before the iowa caucuses. >> it doesn't get more crucial than this in terms of timing. donald trump is making a huge gamble that his support is strong enough he can afford to stay off the debate stage just as iowans make up their mind. >> it's called an eye for an eye. >> reporter: that's how donald trump explained on fox his boycott of their debate. he spent the day trolling fox on
twitter. tweets like the debate tonight will be a total disaster. low ratings with advertisers and advertising rates dropping like a rock. fox did spar with bill o'reilly who tried to lure him, a friend of 35 years, back with a milkshake, something the two share together with regularity. >> i want you to consider, all right, think about it. say, look, i might come back. forgive, go forward, answer the questions, look out for the folks. just want you to consider it. you owe me milkshakes. i'll take them off the ledger if you consider it. >> reporter: o'reilly challenged the billionaire on how he'd handle insults hurled his way as president if he can't handle megyn kelly. >> i'm not walk away. >> reporter: what trump says pushed him away was a snarky fox press release this week mocking trump. now the reality star will
compete with fox's debate, hold his own rally in iowa, one he says will benefit veterans. >> we'll have a tremendous event. i'll have much more than 60 seconds and we're going to raise a lot of money for the veterans. >> reporter: trump's absence from the last debate before the iowa caucuses means ted cruz will stake center stage. >> donald say fragile soul. >> reporter: he's been taking jabs at trump for boycotting, challenging the man he's neck and neck with in iowa to go mano-e-mano. a campaign cruz source involved in debate prep says they're expecting a lot more arrows to come his way tonight without trump on the stage. most trump competitors are dismissing him, skipping the debate as a childish stunt. >> i don't think he'll be mixed. >> reporter: but huckaby and santorum, relegated to the undercard stage now say they'll go to trump's rally instead of watching fox's primetime debate. >> i offered i would take his podium at the 8:00 debate.
and, you know, that's was rejected. i says i'll find something else to do at 8:00. >> reporter: ironic since santorum and huckaby both used to work at fox. huckaby even had his own show. >> i'm still running for president. >> if i can help in any way to raise money for veterans organizations, i, frankly, don't really care who is hosting it. >> reporter: some veterans aren't thrilled with trump's event calling it a political stunt. it's still unclear which veterans group or groups will benefit. cnn contacted about half a dozen of the largest groups. they said they hadn't heard from the trump campaign yet. i want to bring in executive editor mark preston outside the auditorium. this is taking place about three miles from where the republican debate will take place. set the scene where you are. >> reporter: well, wolf, i've never seen anything like this in covering presidential politics. we've seen this line that has just started to form here on the
campus of drake university. now donald trump is going to land in less than an hour now. he's going to land in des moines and be over. his event starts at 9:00. he's going to go headhead-to-head with fox news on their debate. now i have to tell you, we've seen trump people have come out, workers that are taking veterans to a separate line to get them into the hall. however, we see a lot of students here. a lot of supporters. everybody here says they'll be supporting donald trump. in addition to that, we also have ted cruz's big supporters that have offered $1.5 million if they would give to charities if donald trump will debate ted cruz before sunday. we haven't had any word back from trump whether that's going to happen. again, wolf, this is something we have never, ever, ever seen in presidential politics. >> already hundreds of people lined up. is that what we're seeing over there, mark? >> all the way down the street, well more than hundreds of people. the irony of this now is that
just a few nights ago on cnn, the democrats took the same stage. we had about 600 people in the audience at that time. trump expects an overflow crowd. and they have a large-screen television off to the side for an overflow crowd to watch donald trump's event if they can't get in tonight. looking at this line, wolf, i tell you, i think they have enough people to get inside this auditorium. >> any idea how many can fit in that auditorium tonight? mark? can you hear me? i think mark just -- we just lost mark. we're standing by. we're going to see how many can get into that auditorium. also standing by to talk with reince priebus. he's going to be joining us. we've got a lot of questions for him and our political analysts are here as well. let's take a quick break. much more right after this. what makes this simple salad the best simple salad ever?
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breaking news in iowa where two events are about to get under way. a republican presidential event and fund-raiser for veterans being put together by donald trump. the gop front-runner is boycotting the presidential debate as part of his war with fox news. he's hoping to lure viewers away with his event tonight. choining sust ining us is the c the republican national committee, reince priebus. you are out there in des moines getting ready for the debate. does it hurt the republican party that trump is holding this separate event for veterans tonight? >> no, not at all, wolf. obviously, we wish that all the candidates would compete in the debates that they qualify for. but they don't have to. like rand paul didn't a couple
weeks ago, it's up to the candidates. if it's in their interest to compete, they will. if it's not, they won't. there's a lot of reasons candidates do what they do, and i'm not going to put myself in the position to start analyzing every move made by every candidate. we've got a lot of candidates so i'd spend all day talking about the reasoning and rationale and wisdom of every move made by a candidate. >> we're showing some live pictures. long lines gathering outside the trump event for veterans. people waiting in line right now. at least two other republican presidential candidates, huckaby and santorum, after their earlier debate, they'll be going over there. what do you make of that? >> listen, i don't make much of it. it's fine. the first debate is going to be over. they may go to that other event. it's not a competition. i don't look at it that way. we have a nomination process.
the delegates on the floor of the convention are going to decide who the nominee is of the republican party. and that person in july is going to be the nominee of the party. the debates are a big part of it. so are all these events. whatever happens, happens. and we're going to be there making sure that's we're prepared for whoever that nominee is. much more so than we were four years ago. >> have you personally spoken to donald trump about his decision to skip the debate? >> no. i mean, i do regularly speak to all the candidates, but i've not spoken to donald about this debate issue. >> i know it's very late right now. less than three hours away from that debate. do you think there's still a possibility he could change his mind? >> in this cycle, i think anything is possible, wolf. you know, there certainly is a lot of intrigue and a lot of drama, but you look at the other side of the aisle and they are
up to their eyeball s over ther with what they are dealing with. we've got all the excitement and enthusiasm and youth and diversity on our side of the aisle. there's going to be two people left that are going to run against each other in a general. i think ultimately, the messages of freedom and opportunity, equality, all the things that founded the republican party are going to be the things that save our country come next january when a republican president is sworn in. >> trump says it was a public statement put out by fox news ridiculing him and his attitude if you will, that forced him to skip this debate. have you spoken to the head of fox news about that, asked him if there was some way he could apologize, something along those lines to get trump back on the debate stage? >> obviously, i've spoken -- we're here with fox, and it's a fox news debate. obviously, we've spoken to a lot of people. remember, the candidates back in
november didn't -- they wanted to be the ones involved with negotiate with the network. they're doing that. i'm just not going to get in the middle of every squabble with every reporter, every network, everything back and forth. it would take up all of our time to do that. the candidates have to decide for themselves what's in their best interest, and we move forward. >> trump says it's unfair to participate where the host organization in this case, fox, is attacking him. you understand his concern. >> well, look. i hear what he's saying, and i've heard that -- we go through this a lot. obviously, there are things written, things said in every publication where we draw the line, of course, is when a publication takes an editorial position in a debate as to be all for a particular candidate or all against a particular candidate. that's not what's happening here. it's happened in other cases, and we have to do the right
thing when it comes to these debate partners, and we've done it and will continue to do it. >> how fair is the debate going to be when the front-runner isn't participating? >> look, we've got a debate -- we have two debates. they're both going to be fair. obviously all the candidates will have an opportunity to put their positions out to the public. it's really important in iowa. the people in iowa will be watching this debate. as you know, anything can happen in iowa. there have been -- there are histories of all kinds of things that happen on caucus night that people predicted or didn't predict. in iowa, and i know for the rest of the country, but in iowa, this is a really big night and all these candidates have an opportunity to make their case. >> you are right. four years ago santorum won the iowa caucuses. he wasn't doing well in the polls going into the iowa caucuses. mike huckabee eight years ago. are you predicting we'll be
hugely surprised monday night on the republican side? >> no, i'm just -- no, i'm not saying one thing or the other, wolf. what i'm saying is that in a caucus state, where, you know, turnout is not huge, and it's different. you sit in a gym for hours and you talk and you listen to other people and you take a vote. i'm just saying in these early states, if you don't live in one of these early states, you don't realize how seriously the people here take their responsibility in choosing these candidates early on in the process. and that's all i'm saying. tonight is an important time in that process, i think, for the folks in iowa. >> which democratic candidate do you fear the most? hillary clinton or bernie sanders? >> honestly, i would normally want to take the bait on that because there's usually -- when i was asked that about joe biden i said joe biden is the harder guy to beat because he's a
person a lot of people like and you might want to have a beer with him. the problem is hillary is in all kinds of trouble. we don't know whether she'll be indicted or not. bernie sanders is someone totally a socialist that's not even a democrat. so it's -- i don't know. six to one and half a dozen. they are equally terribly flawed candidates. >> what about michael bloomberg who is toying with the idea of running as an independent third party candidate? would he hurt the gop candidate or democratic party candidate more? >> i hope he does regardless of his formula of who has to win if he gets in. he should run. then we're going to have new york in play, pennsylvania will be in play, connecticut might be in play. he has no pathway to 270 electoral votes. even if he did have some kind of pathway that he thinks, then we'll leave it up to the majority in the house to decide. tongue in cheek, obviously.
i think it would be a blessing, but he's not going to do it. >> so just to be precise, you think that bloomberg would take more votes from the democratic candidate than the republican candidate? >> absolutely. yeah, i think so. i think that he would actually help the republicans if he was on the ballot and put states in play that we used to be able to be competitive in but haven't, like up in the northeast. >> that's it. we're going to continue these conversations. reince priebus, bottom line, no chance trump surprised all of us, shows up at the debate tonight? >> like i said, i'm not predicting anything else in this cycle. i doubt it because that's what they've said. but, who knows? >> reince priebus, thanks very much. good luck tonight. >> thank you, sir. let's get more with our panel. our chief political correspondent dana bash, gloria
borger, anna navarro, a good friend of marco rubio, a supporter of jeb bush and reporter for real clear politics, rebecca berg. you are back from iowa yourself. what's the mood out there going into this big republican debate tonight? >> i think people are scratching their heads, wolf. the supporters of trump remain supporters of trump. they don't care if he's at this debate or not. i was at rallies for cruz and rubio which i ran into a lot of undecided voters. there are a lot of undecided voters right now. they are the ones saying, you know what? we think he should play, we think he should participate because we want to see them all on the stage together one last time. on the other hand, they also said we know what donald trump thinks. so this will give the other candidates a little more breathing room so we can hear from them.
they know who he is. >> that's true. >> they know who he is. >> this event for veterans, you see the long lines. people gathering only three miles from the site -- >> you wonder if the site is so long, it's going to go the three miles. >> it's very close. and i think it's also fascinating that mike huckabee and rick santorum kind of jumped on to this trump bandwagon. we're talking about mike huckabee and santorum. it was a smart move for them. >> for today. >> i don't want to be disrespectful, but it is true. and it is, in a way, telling as to where we are and how different it is from four and eight years ago when huckabee and santorum won the iowa caucuses. now they're going three miles away after their own undercard debate. they didn't pull high enough to be in the primetime debate so they can be on tv with the reality tv show. >> he's not going to be there, anna. >> dignity didn't count?
there's something to lose. >> even though donald trump will not be at the republican debate, i assume his name will come up from time to time. >> you think? >> i think he's going to be the looming presence at that debate. you're going to hear a lot of the other candidates try to say to and convince the people of iowa that donald trump not being there is an offense to the people of iowa and it's disrespectful to the people of iowa and try to make it something that's a negative. but i think you're going to hear him be attacked, criticized. and i think it's going to come up a lot. i expect the moderators will bring him up. they have questions to ask as well as to what do the other candidates think about him. it's going to be interesting because, really, until this week, until two days ago, the only guy taking him on is jeb bush. it seems that's changed in the last 24 hours. >> and cruz is really going after him. >> well, it only took him six months. >> and cruz is not mincing many words right now. he's really going after donald trump. >> he is and needs to.
ted cruz finds himself in a difficult position in iowa. he was leading in iowa at the beginning of january. now he's pretty well in second place and dropping. he needs to do something to reverse the course of his polling and attacking trump is really the only way to the top. >> here's the challenge. you want to attack trump when he's not there. you have to figure out a way to do it without sounding winy about it. and all of these candidates are struggle with that right now. and they are all going to be attacking cruz, and this is an opportunity for rubio to kind of set himself apart and get another look from people. i think this is going to be an extraordinary opportunity for rubio, if he can rise to the occasion. >> rubio and cruz are both such good debaters with such different styles, that i think it's going to be very interesting to see how they go at each other, how they interact with each other and try to rise to that number two spot. but, you know, up until now, we have seen them have nothing but
good debates, but they haven't broken through. >> laugh night bill o'reilly was really, really appealing -- some say begging, donald trump to reconsider, show up for the debate. let me play this little clip. >> i've bought you so many vanilla milkshakes, you owe me. will you just consider -- i want you to consider. think about it. say, look, i might come back. forgive, go forward, answer the questions, look out for the folks. just want you to consider it. you owe me milkshakes. i'll take them off the ledger if you consider it. >> a lot of vanilla milkshakes. i could go for one myself right now. what do you think? >> i think it's a little cold for a vanilla milkshake. look, i think -- i don't think donald trump is going to show up. i think this is going to be a good thing for donald trump. it's his world and we're all
living in it. >> you think he's going to benefit by being absent? >> i think he's benefiting already. he knows how to dominate press headlines. he's been doing that for the last 24 hours. >> do you agree? >> he could end up looking very good from all of this, but it's a risk and a calculated one. he knows what's he's doing n wants to emerge with someone as greater stature. you can either be the ringleader or clown. there's a risk he could be one of either of those. >> we have no way of knowing what's he's going to do tonight. does he show up in the spin room after? i don't think so, but you can't predict what's going to happen with donald trump anymore. >> the other phenomenon that -- out of what you just played with bill o'reilly and donald trump and the milkshakes, it's such a window, never mind into the fact there's some incestuousness going on that they've likely been friends for 35 years and have this running thing about
bets over milkshakes. >> who doesn't? >> exactly. but the whole concept of fox being in this major pickle. i don't think it's a big secret that megyn kelly and bill o'reilly are major rivals. and that bill o'reilly has him on, beg him to come back. he was tough on him. very tough on him saying if you can't handle this, guys, how are you going to handle like terrorists and people who are actually very dangerous. but just the pickle that roger ales and fox news is in right now trying to manage what they pushed away which is donald trump, in a pretty smart way. >> we're getting ready for all of these events. long lines gathering outside of the donald trump veterans event. we'll check in with what's going on over there. we're also standing by. bill and hillary clinton are speaking at separate events tonight. we'll see what they have to say. much more of our coverage after this.
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just four days to go before the iowa caucuses, the new poll hillary clinton with a y shows - five-point lead over bernie sanders. that's down from the 22-point lead she had just last month in iowa. the tightening race has the rhetoric heating up at the same time. our senior washington correspondent jeff zeleny is
joining us from iowa. the democrats are beginning to go after each other, aren't they? >> wolf, they sure are. it's on policy differences but also on a lot of process. when their next debate is going to be, how many debates they're going to have and who is going to show up. it's not just republicans. democrats are locked in their own debate over debates. >> she can't just dictate the rules of the game. >> she would be hillary clinton who wants to add a new debate in new hampshire where she's running well behind bernie sanders. >> now she's falling apparently behind in new hampshire and wants to change the rules. we're willing to say if she's willing to do a number of debates later on, fine. >> and if she's not, you'll not be there in new hampshire next week? >> that's right. >> tonight, here's what she told wolf. >> first things first, we have to agree that we're going to debate in new hampshire, both the governor and i have agreed, and we're waiting for the
senator to decide to join us. >> still unclear if that breaks the impasse. >> i am urging publicly that we do this debate next week in new hampshire, and then i've said i am more than happy for us to start scheduling additional debates. >> the bottom line, this democratic race has no quick end in sight. four days until the iowa caucuses open their race for the white house, sanders and clinton are in a fierce fight. >> i'm not just shouting slogans or engaging in rhetoric. >> but her rivals' plans aren't legitimate. >> i fear it would lead to gridlock, not action. >> she also says she wants real action, not gridlock. she says you'll bring more gridlock to washington. >> noat all. quite the contrary. we have too much gridlock right now. the idea that i can't work with republicans is nonsense. >> in iowa today, former president clinton stayed out of the democratic fight and focused
on the other side. >> you cannot be lured by the politics of division and distraction. >> but democrats have their own fight to contend with. a reporter said some clinton allies were concerned his campaign could recruit out of state young voters to iowa. >> i don't want my integrity and honesty to be impugned. i have no idea who says this. this is a lie. an absolute lie. we will win or we'll lose. we do it honestly. and i really dislike people smging we're going to bring students from out of state who are going to purger themselves by saying they live in iowa? >> he released a medical report from his doctor saying the 74-year-old senator was in very good health. you say you're in very good health. how do you feel? >> i feel -- >> you are in fighting form? >> thank god i am in very good health. >> wolf, after you talked to hillary clinton today and i talked to bernie sanders, we're
still at an impasse in the debate over debates. she says she will do one in new hampshire but a few moments ago, senator sanders issued a statement saying he'll only sign on to that one if she agrees to those debates down the road. so this impasse is going to continue here as they step up their campaigning over the weekend. wolf? >> thanks, jeff zeleny, for that. rebecca berg, what are you hearing behind the scenes? what's going on over this debate over democratic debates? >> obviously, hillary clinton wants this debate prior to the new hampshire primary. because she feels threatened. she sees polls in new hampshire like we're all seeing where she's losing to bernie sanders. she needs a little bit of a boost. in spite of the fact that her campaign hasn't been receptive to more debates. it makes a lot of sense that bernie sanders is requesting they add more debates to the schedule as a concession. that's what he's wanted all along. his team, at least, thinks it could help him be out there more. >> it was very clear from the --
you tried very hard but the nonanswers that hillary clinton gave you that they are trying to figure out how to thread this needle for the reasons you just talked about. the problem is or maybe the good news is for hillary clinton, she has been doing very well in debates. so it wouldn't be a terrible thing for her to have a debate. i think they are just trying to figure out how to sort of deal with the immediate future, iowa and new hampshire, where she very well could lose and how a debate could help or hurt her going into the next states where they hope she's expected to do better. >> he weighed in today on what's going on in this presidential contest. let me play the clip. >> may be given a gift from the lord in the presidential race here. i don't know who to root for more. cruz or -- what's that guy's
name? he's having a fund-raiser for veterans tonight. all kid aside, folks, you know, it's been a tough last couple cycles. but we should get up, man. there's a real shot here. >> what's do you think about what the vice president is saying? >> well, he speaks the truth about how it's been a tough couple of cycles. under this administration, they've been hollowed out at the state legislative level, the gubernatorial level, at the congressional level. and so what he is saying is, this may give us an opportunity to get back on our feet, win back control of the senate, potentially the house, although that's less likely. and what he's saying is, oh, these guys are easy to beat. i'm not so sure i believe that. but i think what he was talking about is the opportunities to recoup what they lost. >> what he was really saying,
only if i were running. this would be so much fun. >> i don't think that's even so much inside his head. >> we heard reince priebus once again saying what so many republicans are saying, that hillary clinton may have a legal problem because of those e-mails, the private server, the fbi investigations. they are throwing that out all the time. i don't know how serious they are. what do you think? >> i don't think it's just republicans throwing that out. it's being widely covered in the press. there are more and more revelations. it's a story that is not going away. the investigations are ongoing. it is an existing question. so i think it's a valid point to bring it up. you can't just erase the fact there's an ongoing investigation going on. >> but he raises it every five minutes, and so do a lot of republican candidates. >> if something were to happen, an indictment, the fbi comes in and there's an indictment of hillary clinton -- >> we're not talking chopped
liver. we're talking an fbi investigation. this is serious stuff. >> but put that aside for a second. even if that doesn't happen, i think the democrats who are chomping at the bit for a donald trump opponent -- >> or even ted cruz. even republicans think donald trump would be a better opponent for them for hillary clinton than ted cruz. i think everybody is so unpredictable in this electorate, not just in the republican base or democratic base, but just in the country, that they should be careful what they wish for. >> hillary clinton if she becomes the nominee say polarizing person. bernie sanders is a democratic socialist. so those are difficult things to sell. she has a long history of being a polarizing politician. >> i don't think republicans should be bringing up the e-mail issues. the best moment hillary clinton has had in this campaign so far was the 11-hour benghazi. >> that's a different issue. i want to go back to the donald trump veterans event about to
get under way. long lines of people that have gathered. mark preston, our executive political editor is out there right now describing. we have just received a statement from drake university where this event, this donald trump veterans event will take place in the sheslow auditorium. drake university has been made aware that tonight's event at sheslow has been significantly overticketed by the trump campaign. fire code limits occupancy to approximately 700 persons. therefore, based on our understanding of the number of tickets distributed, only a small percentage of ticketholders will be admitted into the auditorium. please be avised of the venue's limited seating as you plan your evening. only 700 allowed inside. several are outside. >> trump will say our cameras don't show them. >> a high interest right there. 700. a lot of people will be
disappointed they won't get in. >> the stage craft as you call it, is packing your stadium and the lines waiting outside. and the people being unable to get in. and i think that's what we're -- i think that's what we're going to see while there is a competing event will will no doubt be a little sedate and less raucous. >> let's see what's going to happen at both of these. just ahead, another story we're following. an urgent white house meeting about growing isis presence in libya. is the u.s. about to open a new front in the fight against terrorists. plus, a new twist in a shocking story. a police officer who staged his suicide to look like a murder. why has his widow now been charged? these are the hands, the hands that drive commerce, that build business across borders. these are the hands of pitney bowes, the craftsmen of commerce.
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can't find you anywhere! don't settle for u-verse. x1 from xfinity will change the way you experience tv. there's growing concern about the increasing isis presence in libya where terrorist forces are now believed to number in the thousands. sources tell cnn there was the subject of an urgent national security council meeting at the white house. our pentagon correspondent barbara starr is working the story getting new information. what are you learning? >> reporter: so much concern that defense secretary ash carter even canceled his travel plans outside of washington to attend the white house session. no word on what was decided. when carter met with the
pentagon press corps, he made clear why he is so concerned about isis in libya. >> they are establishing the installations where they train peop people. they are welcoming foreign fighters to flock there the way in years past they did in syria and iraq. and they are trying to take over the reins of the economy and taxing. that's the reason why we develop options for what we might do in the future. >> reporter: what we might do in the future. the chairman of the joint chiefs has already talked about the need for decisive military action that may be coming. no word on what that will be. some officials are pointing to increased drone strikes. the estimates right now, there may be upwards of 3,000 isis fighters in libya, and just in the last weeks and months of 2015, perhaps several hundred,
perhaps as many as 500 additional isis fighters going there. libya, why so important? just look at the geography. it is really on europe's southern border. very easy to cross over the mediterranean into europe. a lot of concern what isis may have planned from its new front in libya. wolf? >> certainly become a failed state now in the aftermath of gadhafi. barbara, thanks very much. an emotional return to "the washington post" today for the reporter jason rezaian who was held by iran for a year and a half. secretary of state john kerry was on hand at rezaian revealed some disturbing new details about his captivity. for much of the 18 months i was in prison, my iranian interrogators told me "the washington post" did not exist, that no one knew of my plight, and that the united states government would not lift a finger for my release.
today, i'm here in this room with the very people who helped prove the iranians wrong in so many ways. >> our chief national security correspondent is with us right now here in the situation room. you were there when "the washington post," they opened a new facility, a new building here, and he was the guest of honor. >> no question. there wasn't a dry eye in the room. it was obviously a happy event, but an extremely emotional event. secretary of state john kerry, he was brought to tears describing this as welcoming soldiers home, never leave one behind. jason rezaian said he was in solitary confinement for a long period of time in iranian prison. here's what he said to say. >> i'm truly fortunate to have
this opportunity to thank secretary kerry and the ambassador who negotiated with the iranians for my release and who constantly advocated on my behalf for the u.s. government. >> that effort truly down to the wire. you may remember that weekend he was released that actually had a 12-hour delay. they were meant to take off on saturday, but jason's mother and wife were meant to be on that plane. the foreign minister said we can want his wife. eventually, they were found in a military-controlled part of the airport reiterating they didn't know for sure that this exchange was going to work out and he was going to leave the country safely. >> he is back here in the united
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disgraced officer lieutenant joe gliniewicz on six felony counts for an elaborate embezzling and money laundering scheme. melody gliniewicz grieved publicly following the death of her husband, a police lieutenant in fox lake, illinois. >> he truly will be missed by all of us. >> reporter: but lieutenant joe gliniewicz's story soon unravelled. it was actually a carefully orchestrated suicide. now his authorities say his wife is a criminal. >> any comment, melody? >> reporter: melody gliniewicz, seen here in handcuffs, is accused of stealing thousands of dollars from the fox lake explorers program. a program she ran with her husband for teens aspiring to become police officers. >> the account where money was going for the explorer youth
program in fox lake had been used to fund many personal purchases. >> reporter: investigators say the couple used money from the explorers to purchase things such as a trip to hawaii, restaurant charges. the pair stole from the charity for years, but it after lieutenant gliniewicz's shocking death in september. he staged his suicide to look like murder in an attempt to cover up the alleged embezzlement. the couple discusses the illegal transactions. he allegedly told his wife use the explorer account for the flight. $624.70. >> a lot of what these monies were spent on were very unusual. health clubs, starbucks, adult
websites. >> not expenses for a group of teens? >> no. >> reporter: in a statement, melody gliniewicz's attorney says she is, quote, a victim of her husband's secret actions and looks forward to her day in court to show her innocence. gliniewicz posted the $50,000 bond yesterday. she's expected to appear in court next week. initially investigators suspected the son may have been part of this scheme, but they didn't have enough evidence to charge him. the investigation into the explorer post funds has now been closed. >> thanks very much for that report. this important note to our viewers out there. you can see much more on this remarkable story tomorrow night in a cnn special report "the secret life of g.i. joe" that airs at 10:00 p.m. eastern friday night on cnn.
you can always follow us on twitter. please tweet me at wolf blitzer. you can tweet the show at cnn sit room. i'm wolf blitzer. "erin burnett outfront" starts right now. breaking news. donald trump about to land in iowa. he is staging a rival rally against the fox debate. trump winning a major endorsement from a leading evangelical figure. an exclusive interview with jerry fallwell jr. tonight. health officials warning the zika virus is spreading, quote, 4 million cases expected. let's go "outfront." good evening. i'm erin burnett. we begin out front with the breaking news. donald trump just moments away from