tv Situation Room With Wolf Blitzer CNN April 1, 2016 2:00pm-4:01pm PDT
over to wolf blitzer in "the situation room." have a great weekend. i'll see you sunday morning. happening now, trump's troubles. he's heading into the pivotal wisconsin primary trailing in the polls and off kilter from a week of controversies. is his presidential campaign taking a turn for the worse? ruining the party. gop officials are bracing for an ugly contested convention. did their closed-door meeting with donald trump influence their plans and give them any hope for unity? i'll ask the rnc spokesman, sean spicer. sick of it. hillary clinton accuses bernie sanders' campaign of lying, telling an activist that confronted her that she's downright fed up. will the next big contest in wisconsin add to her frustration? and nuke enclosuclear terro. amid growing fears isis may get a dirty bomb, president obama is warning the world to be on guard. he has a news conference this
hour. we'll carry it live. we want to welcome our viewers in the united states and around the world. i'm wolf blitzer, you're in "the situation room." tonight, donald trump is wrapping up what's arguably been the worst week of his presidential campaign and it's not clear if next week will be any better as he heads into tuesday's wisconsin primary trailing ted cruz by ten points in a new poll. trump's opponents are ratcheting up their claims that he's unprepared to be commander in chief, citing his controversial remarks on abortion, his provocative foreign policy views, his verbal attacks and more. a day after trump met with republican national committee leaders, there are serious doubts about his promise to try to unify the party, as the likelihood of a contested convention looms. i'll ask the rnc chief strategist and communications director sean spicer, he's standing by live. we'll discuss with him. and our correspondents, analysts, they're also standing by as we cover the day's top
stories. up first, cnn's sunlen rfaty is joining us now from wisconsin. sunlen, voters there will have a say on whether trump bounces back. what's the latest? >> reporter: that's right, wolf. donald trump is planning to head to wisconsin tomorrow ahead of that very key primary for him on tuesday night here in wisconsin where he now faces this big question, what will the effects of this very rough week on him be and will it lead to any lasting damage. >> do we love wisconsin, right? do we love it. >> reporter: donald trump is facing a pivotal moment. >> wisconsin is very important. who's going to vote for trump on april 5th? >> reporter: tuesday's wisconsin primary now a big test, as the gop front-runner tries to rebound from the toughest week of his campaign. >> it's a very serious problem. >> reporter: trump is attempting to clean up his controversial comments earlier this week, when asked if women should be punished for having an abortion
if it became illegal. >> the answer is that there has to be some form of punishment. >> reporter: but he then reversed his position and now a rare admission from the billionaire. >> it could be that i misspoke but this was a long, convoluted subject. >> reporter: trump is not backing down from another firestorm he sparked this week, standing by his refusal to rule out using nuclear weapons in europe. >> europe is a big place. the last person to use nuclear would be donald trump. that's the way i feel. i think it is a horrible thing. the thought of it is horrible. but i don't want to take anything off the table. >> reporter: trump's rivals are not letting up in their attacks. >> the problem for him with town halls is he actually has to answer questions in a specific way. >> reporter: that backlash comes as trump aims to mend fences with the republican party, sitting down thursday with officials at the rnc, including chairman reince priebus. >> we talked about unity and working together and making sure
when we go to cleveland and we come out of cleveland that we're working in the same direction. >> reporter: a source familiar with the meeting tells cnn that priebus told trump that his disparaging comments about the rnc made it difficult with donors and activists whose help he'll need if he becomes the nominee. >> actually a terrific meeting, i think. and it's really a unity meeting. >> reporter: even as he talks about unity, trump isn't backing down from the campaign fight, releasing a new instagram video today targeting ted cruz. >> i think he's been just as wrong as obama if not worse. >> reporter: while ted cruz is seen on the offensive against trump, dubbing his rival a reality tv show candidate. >> donald trump is the kim kardashian presidential candidate. he sits on twitter and makes a lot of noise, but he has no solutions to fixing the problem. >> reporter: that as cruz becomes more of a target for john kasich, who has ratcheted up his attacks on the texas senator. >> the problem with senator cruz is he has no record. his record is shutting down the government and making everybody
he works with upset. >> reporter: and as donald trump continues to insist that he will unite the republican party, a poll out shows just how much of an uphill climb that will potentially be for him. only 38% of republican voters say that they will unite solidly behind donald trump. wolf. >> sunlen, thanks very much. sunlen serfaty reporting from wisconsin. joining us now the ren national committee's chief strategist and communications director sean spicer. sean, thanks very much for joining us. i know there was a major meeting yesterday. donald trump met with your boss, reince priebus, leaders of the rnc. how did it go? >> well, first i'd like to say that the chairman speaks to all the candidates in the campaigns on a fairly regular basis, so i know this was big news in washington, but on a weekly, sometimes daily basis, he's speaking to most of these campaigns. first that. second, it was a great meeting. i think that they had an opportunity to talk about the state of the race, delegate math, where the race is going,
and just share some thoughts on where things are heading from now. and on planning frankly. >> so he's had similar meetings with ted cruz, with john kasich at rnc headquarters here in washington like he had yesterday with donald trump? >> well, i mean he e-mails and calls them. so, no, if you want to talk about exactly where it was, you know, we've -- but he's met with senator cruz, he's met with governor kasich. so he's in constant contact. thisappens to be they mentioned they were going to be in town and we asked them to swing by. so i don't think this is that big of a deal. he's in constant contact with all three of the remaining candidates. >> trump was very pleased with the meeting, you heard what he said and he also tweeted this, just had a very nice meeting with reince priebus and the gop. looking forward to bringing the party together, and it will happen. will it happen? >> i think so. absolutely. every one of the candidates needs to do what they have to right now. they're focused on winning the
1237 necessary delegates to become our nominee. what unites all of them, frankly, is the fact that when we come out of cleveland, we need to come out as a united party and one thing that everyone agrees on, no matter where you are in this party, is that hillary clinton is not an option that's acceptable, so we will get together in cleveland, we will come out unified as a party and we will go on and win in november. but i'm absolutely confident of that. >> did they discuss the possibility at that meeting you had yesterday of a contested convention developing in cleveland in july? >> i didn't -- i don't think it necessarily came up that way. there was just an overall of where the delegates were now, what the math looked like going forward. so i'm not going to get into specifics, but it was much more of a general state of the race, where things are headed. >> i know the three remaining republican presidential candidates in their own respective ways, they have all walked away from that so-called loyalty pledge. i know the rnc wanted them to sign that pledge promising they would support whoever emerged as
the republican nominee, not run as a third party candidate. they have all walked away from that. how disappointed are you about that? >> well, look, i think all of them do recognize that the role the party plays is extremely important to our victory in november. i think all of them understand that unity is important. so i know that they're saying what they have to say at this point. we're in a primary, it's definitely competitive. everyone understands what's at stake. we're in a very, very key part of this cycle and i think they're saying whatever they have to say to make sure that their supporters, you know, stick with them, that they build support. look, wolf, i know the discussions on our side but as everyone watching and everyone in d.c. knows, the big rumor going around in d.c. is when hillary clinton, if she gets indicted, there's a plan afoot to try to put vice president biden in and how that's going to play. i think the democrats, what's looming on their side, if this indictment plays out, which a lot of people are speculating it is, and this sort of underground
movement to figure out how to put the vice president in the place is going to cause equal -- catastrophic shifts in what's going to happen in the democratic party. you're going to have sanders folks going nuts. so i think that like the story today may be what's happening in cleveland, but i'm confident that we're going to put on a fantastic convention and come out unified. the looming story is what's going to happen on the other side. >> when you say when she gets indicted, how do you know she's going to be indicted? >> no, i'm sorry, i said if. i think that's -- there's a lot of -- what you're hearing a lot from democrats right now is what's the plan if she does. >> if. >> i think that there's a lot of concern based on the evidence that's been presented in public that that's a high possibility. so there's no question that when you talk to people that are involved in understanding the nuances of this, there is a lot of concern on their side of the aisle about what is that plan b going to be because they realize while bernie sanders has run a phenomenal campaign and this is not the race that she expected,
they have got to figure out how they're going to ensure that he's not their ultimate nominee. >> we know that the fbi by all accounts, they seem to be getting closer and closer to wrapping up that investigation into her e-mail server. let's see what happens over the next several weeks as they wrap up this investigation. sean, as you know, there's a new poll output out by the pew research center that found that just 38% of the party would, quote, unite solidly behind donald trump if he were the nominee, 56% say disagreements with the party would keep many republicans from supporting him. that's much lower than the share of republican voters who expected the party to unite behind mitt romney, 65%, john mccain, 64%, at comparable points in the 2012, 2008 presidential campaigns. does that worry you? >> no, i think it's a very different cycle. mitt romney was a presumpive nominee in early april and john
mccain was in march in their respective cycles. this time you've got a lot of folks who are still very passionate about the remaining candidates, so it's not that odd that they wouldn't obviously still align and want their individual to win and say i'm only going to be in it for my guy. look, history has proven on both sides of the aisle that once you have a nominee, the party unites around them. again, i know that that's the big talk right now but i feel very confident that our party is going to unite. everyone understands what's at stake. hillary clinton herself the other day made it very clear that the next president could decide several supreme court justices. i think everyone who's a republican and a conservative understands the tremendous impact that that would have on the next generation of americans. >> sean spicer, i'm going to have you stand by. we have more to discuss. john king is also standing by and we'll have a closer look at the delegate count when we come back. much more with sean spicer right after this. you both have a
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we're back with the rnc communications director, sean spicer. sean, stand by for a moment. i want to take a closer look at where the republican delegate numbers stand right now. john king is over at the wall. take is through the fight for delegates in the immediate days ahead. >> immediate means wisconsin and we springboard there to new york, donald trump's home state. 739 for trump, 460 for ted cruz in second place. he's significantly back. so what happens? if donald trump can somehow win wisconsin, which is up on tuesday, take most or all of its delegates, boy, that would take the steam and the air out of the stop trump movement because they have spent so much time and
money against him in that state. two polls in a row show ted cruz with a ten-point lead. let's assume cruz wins big enough to take most or all of the wisconsin delegates. some are awarded statewide, others by congressional district. if you're winning by ten points statewide, you've got a pretty good chance of taking most or all. let's say under that scenario ted cruz gets a big win in wisconsin. then we move to donald trump's home turf of new york. one poll out shows donald trump above 50%. if donald trump loses wisconsin but can bounce back in new york and be above 50%, then he wins them all, 95 delegates in the state of new york. if that happens, trump does not want to lose wisconsin but if he can rebound with a winner-take-all scenario in new york, what does that mean? it means he's well ahead and from this point on donald trump, if he wins them all in new york, even if he gets shut out of wisconsin, at this point he would need to win about 53% of the remaining dealts. that's not easy but 53% to get
to the magic number of 1237 is doable. here's the other scenario. what if ted cruz does win wisconsin and gets most or all of the delegates and we get to new york and donald trump falls below 50%. even if he wins, this has him winning at 40 something percent. even if he comes in first, let's say john kasich came in second, ted cruz came in third. if that happens and donald trump gets only 40 something as opposed to all 95, at that point the stop trump forces will think we are almost guaranteed an open or contested convention. why? if donald trump doesn't get them all there, if he gets shut out in wisconsin or only gets a couple and has to split the delegates in new york, at this point donald trump would need 60% if that's what happens in new york. if he has to split the delegates, then he needs six in ten of the remaining delegates. doable, maybe, but much harder. so what happens in wisconsin and whether or not new york goes winner-take-all or gets split proportionally will dramatically change the math about the prospect of an open convention. if donald trump has to split
those new york delegates, you can almost start to bet on an open convention. >> wisconsin this coming tuesday, new york state two weeks later, critically important. john, don't go too far away, i want to bring back sean spicer of the republican national committee. sean, you saw that "washington post"/abc news poll. it paints a pretty bad picture for the republican party. trump right now, assuming he's the nominee, right now he has a 67% overall unfavorable rating. but take a look at the unfavorable rating he has among some key groups that republican strategists had hoped to improve on since the loss in 2012. white women, 68% unfavorable. white college grads, 74% unfavorable. young people 18 to 34, 80% unfavorable. hispanics, 85% unfavorable. african-americans 80% unfavorable. "the washington post" in reporting these numbers, they concluded with this ominous sentence that gop autopsy into what went wrong in 2012 has been
torn to shreds and scattered to the winds from the top of trump tower. is it as bad as all of that? >> well, first of all, elections are won state by state in the electoral college. when you look at that, we're doing very well, we're very competitive. again, looking at it my optically, it tells a different story. when you factor in hillary clinton, if she's the nominee, i think is nothing to write home about. her negatives are unbelievable. if you look at where it is right now, bernie sanders is winning young women from hillary clinton who wants to be the champion of women. there's a lot of groups that hillary clinton has major, major problems on. i think we at the rnc have spent our time reaching out, working with minority groups, building out coalitions in key states, in key battle grounds so that when this election turns from a primary to a general, we're going to be well equipped to hand our nominee the resources they need to grow their majority
into a winning strategy for november. >> but these numbers involving the republican presidential front-runner, donald trump right now, they're pretty bad, you've got to admit. >> well, obviously i'd love better numbers for all of our guys, but i think again they're focused on their primary, they're focused on trying to win. they're in a very competitive race right now. i'm confident that the work we've done over the last four years, chairman priebus has made reaching out to groups that we haven't done well in the past, a top priority in terms of our data with those groups and our outreach, 2014 showed that we did very, very well and were well on the way. i think when we partner with that nominee and provide the resources that the chairman has built up out in the states over the last four years, we're going to have what it takes to build a winning coalition. i'm confident of it. >> trump had a bad week, i think it's fair to say, by all accounts. as you know, his campaign manager, corey lewandowski, was charged with simple battery.
trump had some awkward comments about punishing women who had abortions, he later revised his position, changed it. said he's interested in japan and south korea getting nuclear weapons to deal with the north korean nuclear threat. how does this affect the overall republican party and its ideals? >> well, i think at this phase when we're in a primary, each of these candidates is trying to do what they need to do in representing themselves. as we go into a general election, that's when we at the rnc will continue to work with them to talk about issues and tone and things that are going to help us win in november. at this point it's up to each of these candidates to do what they have to do to win the primary. >> and then we'll see what happens out of cleveland at that republican convention. sean, you're going to have your hands full i am sure. thanks very much for joining us. >> you bet, wolf. have a great weekend. >> sean spicer is the chief strategist, communications director at the rnc. coming up, president obama on the threat of nuclear terrorism. we're standing by for his news conference. it's coming up this hour, we'll
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political commentator michael smerconish is with us as well. first of all, gloria, your reaction to what you just heard from sean spicer? >> i think he's a really good tap dancer. i think sean, when you look at the numbers you showed him about the unfavorable ratings of donald trump. >> especially those key demographic groups. >> like women and just the general population. i mean, yes, in his point is completely accurate that hillary clinton is also very polarizing and very unpopular. but when you look at the unfavorables of donald trump and the sort of primaries he's heading into, wisconsin could be a real problem for him, you know, i think that sean spicer and the rnc and reince priebus, they have got a real problem on their hands that they have to try to get under control in some way, shape or form which is why their meeting with yesterday with donald trump was so smart and so important to have because he came out with a unity theme.
>> he certainly did. he promised there would be unity. john, could the republican party see some significant changes between now and july when the convention takes place in cleveland? >> look, i think the three most important words in this conversation are i don't know, we don't know in the sense that this is such a roller coaster. if trump can get close to 1237, then that changes the dynamic of the convention. if he's very, very close, it's very hard to take it away. if he's in the 1100 range and they're trying to take it away, will the republican party see changes? the republican party will see uncharted territory where you'll have an open convention, where nobody knows what the rules will be. they'll have to rigwrite the ru for that convention. they'll want to change some of them because of the restrictions they place on nominating people. remember, even as we focus on that, there will be 55 or 57 other sets of rules. every state and territory that sends a delegation has to write its own rules. are you bound on the first ballot, what does it mean if you try to defy that pledge. so we have no clue is the answer here.
if you're in sean spicer's chair or reince priebus's chair, a little scary. >> what are the limits about what a candidate can do to try to get somebody over to his team? can you fly a plane load of people down and say enjoy the weekend? you probably can. >> they're not governed by the federal government, right? >> right, exactly. >> that convention rules committee meets a week before the convention and can come up with whatever rules they want. michael, a lot of people suggest this has been the worst week of the trump candidacy. could all these distractions and the comments we know all about this week actually mean some real trouble for his race for the white house, because in the past over these past several months we've been down this road before. he seems to have a teflon coating. >> i think they come at a horrible time for donald trump. i was paying close attention to john king as he was working the magic wall and drawing emphasis not only to wisconsin but also to new york. i would add to that list pennsylvania. i think this is the most critical juncture that's about
to play itself out. what i'm mindful of, woclf, is when you get into a state like new york or you get into a state like pennsylvania, the party establishment plays a very significant role. new york changed their rules pertaining to delegates just last year. in pennsylvania, we don't have a direct election of delegates committed to a candidate in most instances. and the point is party regulars, gop committee people, donors, are going to fill those chairs in the convention hall from those two states. if donald trump can't get there on a first ballot at 1237, i don't think that favors him on ballots two through however many it takes. >> because on the second round, a lot of those delegates as we know who are committed, who are bound boy what the states did, they become free agents. most of them on the second round, almost all of them on the third and fourth round. mark, wisconsin this tuesday, then new york, pennsylvania, all
huge contests. there are three other contests you're looking at as well. >> we're so used to having a plethora of contests every tuesday. it's going to slow down a little bit but these are very important starting this weekend. north dakota is going to hold a state convention. on board, 25 delegates. why that's important, they're all unbound. they're going to be elected. they do not have to choose a candidate. let's fast forward over wisconsin. on april 9th colorado holds its own republican convention. it starts tomorrow. they are going to pick 34 delegates in total, 21 this week, 13 on saturday. what's significant, they're all unbound if they choose to be. they can pledge themselves, otherwise they are unbound. on april 16th, the republicans in wyoming will hold their state convention. another 14 unbound. so two very important words as we head into the new york primary, right, over the next couple of weeks. electability, which is what we're hearing right now from ted cruz and we're hearing from john kasich in head-to-head matchups against hillary clinton and momentum, because it is about
momentum now. >> and these delegates, by the way, and i was talking to a delegate hunter for john kasich, charlie black. >> is that a new term, delegate hunter? >> yeah. we should do a tv show on that. delegate hunter. he points out accurately that delegates are different from primary voters. delegates care about electability. they're party people. they don't have a message to send to the national party, they are the party. so they're going to care about who they think can win in the fall, so it's a whole different game right now that donald trump is playing and ted cruz is playing and john kasich is playing. >> john kasich's only hope since mathematically he can't get to that magic number of 1237. he's hoping there's a contested convention. they say kasich might be the most electable. mark, i want to go through some global security issues with you because the president is about to speak out about nuclear weapon, the threat from isis getting some sort of dirty bomb. donald trump weighed in dramatically in recent days on the whole issue of the nato role in fighting terrorism. listen to what he said.
>> let me tell you, nato is obsolete. it was 67 years or over 60 years old. it is many countries, doesn't cover terrorism, okay. it covers the soviet union, which is no longer in existence. and nato has to either be rejiggered, rechanged, for the better. the other thing that's bad about nato, we're paying too much. we're spending a tremendous -- billions and billions of dollars on nato. >> our cnn reality check team as you know took a closer look into what donald trump is saying about nato being obsolete, not really involved in counterterrorism. what did they find out? >> let's look into his statement, wolf. by way of background, nalt owe was created in 1949 to address the threat of the soviet union. it states in part that member nations agree that an armed attack against one or more of them in europe or north america shall be considered an attack against all of them.
in the 1990s nato intervened to help stop genocide in the balkans. following the september 11th terrorist attacks nato led the military intervention into afghanistan. in october 2011 nato launched an operation active endeavor, which to this day has nato naval vessels patrolling the mediterranean and monitoring shipping to help deter, defend, disrupt and protect against terrorist activity. as far back as 2004, nato established a program to defeat terrorism that included sharing technology to protect troops, civilians and critical infrastructure. even though it was established 65 years ago in response to the soviet threat, it does in fact address the current terrorist threat. wolf, our fact check team says that mr. trump's claim that it doesn't address terrorism is false. >> everybody stand by. we're going to take a quick break. we have much more to assess, much more to discuss. we're standing by to hear from the president as well. we'll be right back.
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we're following some surprising new developments in the democratic presidential race. a greenpeace activist provoked a rare public flash of anger by hillary clinton who went on to accuse bernie sanders' campaign of lying about her. let's go to our national correspondent, jason carroll. jason, what brought about hillary clinton's flare-up? >> reporter: well, clearly it's a little bit of back and forth, wolf, about whether or not she accepted money from the oil industry, from the fuel
industry. sanders stands by that allegation, stands by that claim. looking forward, he says he's got the momentum, he's got the money. he says he's going to take wisconsin and then, wolf, he says he's going to go on and do the same thing in new york. >> thank you! >> reporter: tonight a growing intensity in the democratic primary fight as hillary clinton tries to shed rival bernie sanders. >> i just go crazy when i harry senat -- hear senator sanders and the tea party republicans railing against the exports-import bank. >> on the heels of a string of western victories, sanders is vowing to carry on until the july convention. >> if we win here in new york, we are going to make it to the white house. >> reporter: sanders is challenging clinton in her adopted home state of new york, rallying more than 18,000 supporters in the bronx thursday night. and here in wisconsin, polls show him with a narrow lead other clinton ahead of tuesday's
primary. despite his delegate gap, sanders insists there is still a path for him to win the nomination. >> you've got 60%, 70%, 80% of the vote in a state, you know what, i think super delegates should vote for us. >> reporter: sanders is likely to have the resources to push forward. his campaign saying it raised $44 million in march, eclipsing its $43 million haul from february. the hard-fought race growing more intense by the day, with clinton being confronted by a climate activist after a new york event thursday night. >> will you act on your word -- >> i have money who work from fossil fuel. i am so sick -- i am so sick of the sanders campaign lying about it. sick of it. >> reporter: sanders today rejecting the charge that his campaign is lying about clinton's donations. >> if people receive money from lobbyists of the industry, i think you're receiving money from the industry. >> reporter: the democratic rivals also trading jabs over
abortion. clinton is accusing sanders of not denouncing donald trump forcefully for his comments. >> senator sanders agreed that donald trump's comments were shameful, but then he said they were a distraction from, and i quote, a serious discussion about the serious issues facing america. >> reporter: sanders is charging clinton with misrepresenting his record. >> what secretary clinton did is take things out of context. i am 100% pro-choice. >> reporter: no doubt that sanders can draw a crowd, whether he's here in sheboygan, wisconsin, or in the bronx. going forward, he's got to win. he's got to win big in wisconsin, must win big in new york, following up with that in pennsylvania. the reality is he can draw a crowd but he still has an uphill battle ahead of him. >> he certainly does. thanks very much, jason carroll reporting. michael smerconish, you just
heard, $44 million he raised last month, 97% of that he raised online. he's got money. he can go the distance if he wants. >> and what normally drives someone out, just take a look at what happened on the republican side of the aisle. they dropped not so much when the numbers had dropped but when the fund-raising fell through the floor. and $27 at a time, wolf. he just maintains his perseverance in this. i think he does continue all the way into june, perhaps all the way to the convention. one of the things i'm now wondering is what kind of an impact, assuming she wins the nomination, what kind of an impact might he have on her vice presidential pick. >> that's a good question. and john king, you and i have been at that magic wall and you've shown us how difficult it would be for bernie sanders to beat her in terms of pledged delegates. she has a lot of these super delegates, maybe 400 more than he has right now. but can he wean them away from
her maybe. >> most think he's a weaker candidate even though the polls suggest he's as strong or stronger than her as a general election candidate. they don't think that's right. the key is can he keep winning. if bernie sanders won every single contest left, he won't, but if he won every single contest left, 55-45, hillary clinton would still lead in the delegate chase. that would scare the super delegates. bernie sanders wins in wisconsin, then battleground new york becomes huge. if somehow sanders can win wisconsin and stun her in new york, she'll still lead in the delegate game but, boy, will we be having a different conversation. two very important programming notes. tune in tomorrow morning, 9:00 a.m. eastern for smerconish. i watch it every saturday morning. and sunday morning 8:00 a.m. eastern, john king hosts a special hour-long edition of "inside politics" only here on cnn. two excellent shows saturday morning and sunday morning, catch them both. in other news, there was a chance that the brussels airport could have been reopened this
evening, but it did not. a temporary check-in hall is ready but airport workers, they are threatening to strike unless security is tightened. it's been a week and a half since suicide bombings at the airport and a subway station killed 32 people, injured 330 more. cnn's impact your world team has gathered ways you can support and remember the victims. go to cnn.com/impact and you will be able to impact your world. stay with us, we're standing by right now for president obama's live news conference. he's wrapping up a nuclear security summit dealing with the threat of isis getting some sort of nuclear bomb, some sort of radiological dirty bomb among other things. the president and dozens of world leaders, they're trying to make sure terrorists don't get their hands on nuclear material. up next, why one key leader could be a big help, but is not attending.
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we're awaiting president obama's news conference from the site of today's nuclear safety summit here in washington. the leaders of some 50 nations have been here in washington over the past few days. one key player who could help key nuclear material out of the hands of terrorists is not taking part. why is vladimir putin not here? >> one reason we all know.
vladimir putin and barack obama simply don't like each other. but the russians also feel they and their allies have been marginalized at this summit. does putin's absence give isis any kind of advantage in getting its hands on nuclear material? with the brussels and paris attacks, a clear message from isis. they can and will hit western cities and kill as many civilians as they can. and it appears isis wants to create more devastation. after the paris attacks, investigators in a raid found surveillance footage of an employee at a belgian nuclear facility. >> and that nuclear facility had highly enriched uranium but also produced raid logical sources. they are trying to take steps to try and acquire these materials. so, therefore, we need specific action coming out of this nuclear security summit. >> reporter: but at the nuclear
security summit in washington, one leader who could make a huge difference in securing nuclear material was a no-show. vladimir putin has once again snubbed president obama. >> russia's lack of participation, obviously, in our view, is, frankly, counterproductive. >> russia has more than half the world's stockpile of nuclear materials and its safeguards haven't always been air tight. >> there was an example several years ago where an insider employee at one of the russian facilities at luch was slowly taking out small quantities of nuclear material from that site. >> i've been to russia and gone to the summit at nuclear facilities. the years after 9/11, is it was very amateur the way they were holding these radioactive materials. >> reporter: experts say the russians have since gotten better at securing nuclear material. security analysts say if putin showed up at the summit, he could have shared intelligence
on how to keep isis away from nuclear and radiological material. the terror ground would have a tough time getting its hands on a nuclear weapon. but radiological material often scored in hospitals and industrial complexes is far less secure. isis can access that. and isis supporters in the u.s. haven't been bashful about where they want to strike. >> this kind of target is really their aspiration. >> mass casualty attack. clearly their aspiration. radiological bomb if it went off here. many people dead in the immediate vicinity. the much bigger deal is it would disperse radioactive material all around downtown, several block area. he would close down the city for many years. >> reporter: responding to the criticism of putin for not showing up at the summit, a russian official told us they aren't sending a bad message and there's much more to nuclear security than just this summit in washington. wolf? >> brian, they've given their own grievances for why putin decided not to show up. >> they ticked off several of
those reasons. import oont countries with nuclear material like iran, are not participating. most of the key goals of the nuclear security have already been reached so why show up. and they say the u.s. sunfairly pushing its agenda on international groups like the u.n.'s nuclear watchdog and interpol. they have a lot of grievances, but a lot of this is personal between president obama and putin. we're standing by for president obama's live news conference on the nuclear summit. that coverage coming up. alking r rheumatologist about a biologic... this is humira. this is humira helping to relieve my pain and protect my joints from further damage. this is humira giving me new perspective. doctors have been prescribing humira for ten years. humira works for many adults. it targets and helps to block a specific source of inflammation that contributes to ra symptoms. humira can lower your ability to fight infections,
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donald trump scrambling to recover from what many are calling the worst week of his campaign. he's fighting falling poll numbers. his campaign manager facing a misdemeanor battery charge and bipartisan anger surrounding his remarks on abortion. can the gop front-runner regain his footing? firing back. hillary clinton is putting her foot down accusing bernie sanders' campaign of lying about contributions given to her campaign. clinton struggles to wrap up the nomination, is the democratic race taking a negative turn at the worst possible time? and president obama opens up. the president preparing to face reporters at a nuclear security summit here in washington. we're standing by to hear his take on a broad range of important issues from fighting terrorism to the divisive and unpredictable campaign to replace him in the white house. we want to welcome our viewers in the united states and around the world. i'm wolf blitzer. you're in "the situation room."
this is cnn breaking news. >> we're standing by for a live news conference with president obama. he's hosting 50 world leaders at a nuclear security summit here in washington. he's about to speak to -- with the news media. he'll be taking questions. we'll take you there live as soon as the president begins his remarks. we're also following important developments in the race for the white house. donald trump is playing defense tonight after riding out one of the most tumultuous weeks of his campaign. he's backing away from some incendiary remarks about punishing women for having abortions if the procedure was to become illegal in the united states. also facing bad news on the polling front down double digits to his rival ted cruz in wisconsin. losing there could put a serious damper on his chances of reaching the delegates needed before the republican convention in july. our correspondents, analysts and guests will have full coverage. let's begin with dana bash with
an update on the republican race. how is donald dealing with all the bad news surrounding his campaign? >> he has been keeping a low profile except on social media. you mentioned wisconsin. he was already lagging behind ted cruz by double digits before this week. it's going to be hard for him to turn his campaign around. especially in wisconsin. but he started trying today. when all else fails for donald trump, he tries to change the subject. like he did today. >> ted cruz was my roommate. i did not like him at all in college. >> slamming ted cruz in a new instagram video after one of the billionaire front-runner's worst weeks since the campaign began. causing a bipartisan firestorm with these comments when asked if women should be punished for having an abortion if it became illeg illegal. >> the answer is there has to be some form of punishment. >> for the woman? >> glyeah there has to be some
form. >> reporter: he recanted and later added this. this was a long convoluted subject. >> reporter: but he has not taken back what he said at cnn's town hall advocating for more nuclear weapons in asia. >> at some point we have to say, you know what? we're better off in japan protects itself against this maniac in north korea. >> reporter: now trump is refusing to rule out using nuclear weapons in europe. >> europe is a big place. the last person to use nuclear would be donald trump. that's the way i feel. i think it is a horrible thing. the thought of it is horrible. but i don't want to take anything off the table. >> reporter: trump's rivals continue to blast him. >> nominating donald trump would be a train wreck. and that's not fair to the train wrecks. >> the problem with town halls is he has to answer questions in a specific way. >> reporter: kasich also went after ted cruz. >> his record is shutting down the government and making everybody he works with upset.
>> reporter: as trump sees his unfavorable ratings rise and support among women fall, he's quick to point out he is still the front-runner by a long shot and even if he arrives at the gop convention in july without winning the nomination, if he is close, it should be him. >> i think that whoever has that kind of an advantage should get it. >> reporter: but the first time politician is also learning that seizing the republican nomination takes more than just winning contests. it takes winning over delegates in some states where rules vary. sources tell cnn that educating trump about the complicated delegate process was the subject of trump's meeting this week with republican party chair reince priebus at rnc headquarters in washington. >> very actually terrific meeting, i think. it's really a unity meeting. >> reporter: priebus used the meeting to ask trump to ease up on trashing the rnc as trump did at the town hall. >> i've been treated very unfairly. i'll give you an example.
>> unfairly by who? >> i think by basically the rnc, the republican party. >> reporter: i'm told also during that meeting that the republican chairman said to trump that trump's disparaging comments you just heard there, among others, make it difficult for the chairman with donors and activists and that long term it could help the party apparatus when, if trump is nominee, he will need. so the source added to me that donald trump responded and replied he understood n he would work to unify the party. >> dana, stand by. i want to go to the democratic race. a negative and divisive tone is taking hold ahead of crucial primaries in wisconsin this coming tuesday and in new york two weeks later. jeff zeleny is tracking the increasingly nasty fight under way between bernie sanders and hillary clinton. what's the latest, jeff? >> reporter: you can feel the tension out there. not just from the candidates but also from their supporters as well. many sanders campaign rallies, the mere mention of
headquarterheadquarteillary clinton's name produces boos. after clinton lost the new hampshire campaign she urged supporters not to worry because the nomination would be sealed up in march. as the calendar turns to april today, this race is hotter than ever. hillary clinton just can't shake bernie sanders. >> this is really personal for me. >> reporter: their democratic fight isn't winding down but ramping up and expanding to new fronts. sanders and his supporters keep alive their criticism of clinton receiving contributions from the oil and gas industry. this confrontation with a climate change activist going viral. >> i am so sick of the sanders campaign lying about me. i'm sick of it. >> reporter: it offers a fresh window into rising frustration with sanders. the clinton campaign accepts money from lobbyists who work from oil and gas companies, not the companies themselves. sanders calls it a distinction
without a difference. >> if people receive money from lobbyists of the industry, i think you are receiving money from the industry. these are not just a little workermen. they are lobbyists who represent the oil and gas industry. >> reporter: today in new york, clinton struck back saying sanders isn't pro-business. >> i just go crazy when i hear senator sanders and the tea party republicans railing against the export/import bank like it's some kind of evil, you know, presence. >> reporter: the democratic rivals are also tangling over abortion. clinton accusing sanders of not properly denouncing donald trump's acertion that women who have abortions should be punished. >> senator sanders agreed that trump's comments were shameful. but then he said they were a distraction from, and i quote, a serious discussion about the serious issues facing america. >> reporter: sanders cried foul. >> what secretary clinton did is take things out of context. i am 100% pro choice. >> reporter: the root of the
tension is the length of the race. the clinton campaign once assuming the race would be all but over by now as campaign manager noted in this memo after clinton lost the new hampshire primary two months ago. write, the nomination will very likely be won in march, not february. sanders has an edge in wisconsin and is fighting hard on clinton's turf in wisconsin. he drew 18,000 supporters last night to a rally in the bronx. >> my father came to this country at the age of 17 from poland without a nickel in his pocket. >> reporter: sanders is well behind in the delegate race, but money is keeping him in the game. his campaign says it raised $44 million in march. fortifying it for the final two months of the long democratic primary. >> let's take this fight to the white house. thank you all. >> let's go right to the president of the united states. he's making a statement then will answer reporters questions.
>> -- and key international organizations. as at our previous summits, we didn't just come here to talk, but we came here to act. i know that the very technical nature of nuclear security doesn't always make for flashy headlines, but over the past six years, we have made significant, meaningful progress in securing the world's nuclear materials so that it never falls into the hands of terrorists. and i want to take a few moments to step back and lay out exactly what we have accomplished. together we have removed the world's most deadly materials from nuclear facilities around the world. with japan's announcement today we've now removed or secured all the highly enriched uranium and plutonium from more than 50 facilities in 30 countries. more than 3.8 tons which is more than enough to create 150 nuclear weapons. that's material that will never
fall into the hands of terrorists. 14 nations and taiwan, countries as diverse as argentina and chile to libya and turkey to serbia and vietnam have now rid themselves entirely of highly enriched uranium and plutonium. and particularly, i want to point out again that successfully removing all of ukraine's highly enriched uranium four years ago meant the difficult situation in ukraine the past two years was not made even more dangerous by the presence of these materials. as of today, south america, an entire continent, is completely free of these dangerous materials. when poland completes its removal this year, they'll be free of them as well. when indonesia completes its work this year, so will all of southeast asia. in other words, as terrorists and criminal gangs and arms merchants look for deadly ingredients for a nuclear
device, vast regions of the world are now off limits, and that is a remarkable achievement. we've made important progress in the united states as well. in addition to new steps i announced this morning, we've improved nuclear security and training. we've consolidated nuclear materials at fewer facilities, eliminated some 1 38 tons of our surplus highly enriched uranium, which would be enough for 5500 nuclear weapons. working with russia, we're on track to eliminate enough russian highly enriched uranium for 20,000 nuclear weapons, which we are converting to electricity here in the united states. more specifically, as a result of these summits, every single one of the more than 50 nations represented here have taken concrete steps to enhance security at their nuclear facilities and storage sites, and that includes improved physical security, stronger regulations, abiding by international guidelines, greater transparency and that
includes international peer reviews. 15 new centers have been created around the world to promote nuclear security and training to share best practices. as part of our work today we agreed to keep strengthening our nuclear facilities defenses against cyberattacks. we bolstered international efforts to disrupt nuclear smuggling. the proliferation security initiative has grown to more than 100 nations, including regular xoer ciexercises to int shipments. the united states and 36 partner countries have worked to install radiation detection equipment at more than 300 international border crossings, airports and ports, and we are developing new mobile detection systems as well. and finally as i noted this morning, we've strengthened the treaties and international partnerships that are a foundation for so many of our efforts. so again, we have made significant progress and everyone involved in this work,
especially our teams who have worked tirelessly for years, can take enormous pride in our achievements. nevertheless, as i said earlier, our work is by no means finished. there's still a great deal of nuclear and radioactive material around the world that needs to be secured. global stocks of plutonium are growing. nuclear arsenals are expanding in some countries with more small tactical nuclear weapons which could be at greater risk of theft. and as a consequence, one of the central goals of this summit was how do we build on the work that has been done so that we have an international architecture that can continue the efforts, even though this is the last formal leader summit. so even as this is the last of those leader level summits, today we agree to maintain a strong architecture, including through the united nations, the international atomic energy agency and interpol to carry on
this work and to provide the resources and technical support that is needed to continue this mission. and we are creating a new nuclear security contact group, senior level experts for more than 30 of our countries who will meet regularly to preserve the networks of cooperation we've built, to institutionalize this work and to keep driving progress for years to come. at our session on isil this afternoon, there was widespread agreement that defeating terrorist groups like isil requires more information sharing. everybody understands the urgency in the wake of what's happened in brussels and turkey, pakistan and so many other countries around the world. as a consequence, our director of national intelligence, jim clapper is engaging with european partners on deepening our cooperation. and today i invited all the nations represented at this summit to join a broader discussion among our intelligence and security services on how we can improve
information sharing within and among our nations to prevent all manner of terrorist attacks, especially those that might involve weapons of mass destruction. in closing, i just want to say that preventing nuclear terrorism is one part of the broader in private. stopping the spread of nuclear weapons and seeking a world without them. in recent days there's been no sho shortage. a great deal of work that remains from negotiating further reductions with russia to dealing with north korea's nuclear program. as i indicated in prague, realizing our vision will not happen quickly. and it perhaps will not happen in my lifetime. but we've begun. the united states and russian nuclear arsenals are on track to be the lowest that they have
been in six decade. i've released the number and role in our nuclear strategy in an historic deal we've prevented the spread of nuclear weapons to iran. an international fuel bank is being bluilt to promote civil cooperation. i'm proud of our work across the board, and we're going to keep pushing forward as i hope future administrations do to keep us closer to the day when these nuclear dangers no longer hang over the heads of our children and our grandchildren. with that, let me take a few questions, and i'm going to start with roberta rampton of reuters. >> thank you. i want to ask about iran and three weeks ago, iran's supreme leader complained his country has not been getting actual business deals since the nuclear agreement. and non-u.s. companies are saying it's very hard or sometimes impossible to do much business with iran without at some point accessing the u.s.
financial system to the u.s. dollar denominated transactions. so my question is, are you considering allowing such transactions. is that not a betray alf your ah surances that most sanctions would stay in place? >> that's not actually the approach we're taking. let me say broadly that so long as iran is carrying out its end of the bargain, we think it's important for the world community to carry out our end of the bargain. they have, based on the presentations made by the iaea this morning to the p5+1 have, in fact, followed the implementation steps that were laid out. and as a consequence, sanctions related to their nuclear program have been brought down.
part of the challenge they face is that companies haven't been doing business there for a long time, and they need to get comfortable with the prospects of this deal holding. one of the things that secretary lew and his counterparts within the p5+1 and elsewhere are going to be doing is providing clarity to businesses about what transactions are, in fact, allowed. and it's going to take time over the next several months for companies and their legal departments to feel confident that, in fact, there may not be risks of liability if they do business with iran. and so some of the concerns that iran has expressed, we are going to work with them to address. it is not necessary that we take the approach of them going through dollar denominated transactions. it is possible for them to work through european financial
institutions as well. but there is going to need to be continued clarification provided to businesses in order to -- for deal flows to begin. now what i would say is also important is iran's own behavior in generating confidence that iran is a safe place to do business. in a deal like this, my first priority, my first concern was making sure we got their nuclear program stopped and material that they already had that would give them a very short breakout capacity, that that was shipped out. that has happened. and i always said that i could not promise that iran would take advantage of this opportunity and this window to re-enter the international commune iity. iran so far has followed the letter of the agreement.
but the spirit of the agreement involves iran also sending signals to the world community and business that it is not going to be engaging in a range of provocative actions that may scare business off. when they launch ballistic missiles, with slogans calling for the destruction of israel, that makes businesses nervous. there is some geopolitical risk that is heightened when they see that taking place. if iran continues to ship missiles to hezbollah, that gets businesses nervous. and so part of what i hope happens is we have a responsibility to provide clarity about the rules that govern so that iran can, in fact, benefit, the iranian people can benefit from an improved economic situation. but iran has to understand what every country in the world
understands, which is businesses want to go where they feel safe, where they don't see massive controversy, where they can be confident that transactions are going to operate normally, and that's an adjustment that iran is going to have to make as well. and, frankly, within iran, i suspect there are different views, in the same way that there are hard liners here in the united states who even after we certify that this deal is working, even after our intelligence team, israeli intelligence teams say this has been a game-changer, are still opposed to the deal on principle. there are hard liners inside of iran who don't want to see iran open itself up to the broader world community. and are doing things to potentially undermine the deal. and so those forces that seek
the benefits of the deal, not just in narrow terms but more broadly, we want to make sure th that, over time, they are in a position to realize those benefits. david nakamura? >> thank you, mr. president. as you mentioned at the beginning of your remarks, you finished a working session with 50 world leaders about combating terrorism and groups like the islamic state. i wanted to ask you specifically about one of the prime strategies your administration is using in that effort. in the past several weeks your administration has killed well over 200 people in air strikes in somalia, libya and yen, according to the department of defense. how can you be certain that all of the people killed pose an imminent threat to the united states, and why is the united states now killing scores of people at a time rather than eliminating individuals in very targeted strikes? thank you. >> you know, we have constructed
a fairly rigid and vigorous set of criteria for us evaluating the intelligence that we receive about isil, where it might be operating, where al qaeda is operating. these guidelines involve a whole range of agencies, consulting extensively. and are then checked, double checked, triple checked before kinetic actions are taken. and for the most part, our actions are directed at high-value targets in the countries that you just described, outside of the theater of iraq and syria. in some cases, what we're seeing are camps that's, after long periods of monitoring becomes
clear are involved in and directing plots that could do the united states harm, or are supporting isil activities or al qaeda activities elsewhere in the world. so if after a long period of observation, we are seeing that, in fact, explosive materials are being loaded on to trucks, and individuals are engaging in training and small arms, and there are some of those individuals who are identified as couriers for isis or al qaeda, then based on those evaluations, a strike will be taken. but what we have been very cautious about is making sure that we are not taking strikes in situations where, for example, we think there's the presence of women or children.
or if it isn't a normally populated area. and recently we laid out the criteria by which we're making these decisions. we declassified many elements of this. we are going to be putting forward and trying to institutionalize on a regular basis how we make these evaluations and these analyses. i think in terms of the broader debate that's taken place, david, i think there's been, in the past, legitimate criticism that the architecture and the legal architecture around the use of drone strikes or other kinetic strikes wasn't as precise as it should have been, and there's no doubt that civilians were killed that shouldn't have been.
i think that over the last several years, we have worked very hard to avoid and prevent those kinds of tragedies from taking place. in situations of war, we have to take responsibility when we're not acting appropriately or where we've just made mistakes even with the best of intentions. and that's what we're going to continue to try to do. and i -- what i can say with great confidence is that our operating procedures are as rigorous as they have ever been. and that there is a constant evaluation of precisely what we do. carol lee? >> thank you, mr. president. you've spent seven years now working on nonproliferation issues, and you said in your opening remarks that you hope the future administrations do
the same and make it a priority. this week, one of the republican front-runner to replace you said that perhaps north -- south korea and japan should have nuclear weapons. and wouldn't rule out using nuclear weapons in europe. did that come up at this summit, and just generally, what message does it send when a major party candidate is articulating such a reversal in u.s. foreign policy, and also who did you vote for in the democratic primary? >> first of all, it's a secret ballot, isn't it? okay. i -- no, i'm not going to tell you now. the statements you mentioned, what do they tell us? they tell us the person who made the statements doesn't know much about foreign policy or nuclear policy or the korean peninsula or the world generally.
it came up on the sidelines. i've said before that, you know, people pay attention to american elections. what we do is really important to the rest of the world. and even in those countries that are used to a carnival atmosphere in their own politics want sobriety and clarity when it comes to u.s. elections because they understand the president of the united states needs to know what's going on around the world and has to put in place the kinds of policies that lead not only to our security and prosperity, but will have an impact on everybody else's security and prosperity. our alliance with japan and the
republic of korea is one of the foundations. one of the cornerstones of our presence in the asia pacific region. it is underwritten. the peace and prosperity of that region. it has been an enormous boon to american commerce and american influence. and it has prevented the possibilities of a nuclear escalation and conflict between countries that in the past and throughout history have been engaged in hugely destructive conflicts and controversies. so you don't mess with that. it's an investment that rests on
the sacrifices that our men n women made back in world war ii when they were fighting throughout the pacific. it is because of their sacrifices and the wisdom that american foreign policymakers show after world war ii that we've been able to avoid catastrophe in those regions. and we don't want somebody in the oval office who doesn't recognize how important that is. andrew b. >> thank you, mr. president. yesterday you met with president erdogan of turkey hours after some fairly ugly scenes at the brookings institution. i was wonder, do you consider him an authoritarian? >> turkey say nato ally. it's an extraordinarily important partner in our fight against isil.
it is a country with whom we have a long and strategic relationship with. and president erdogan is someone who i have dealt with since i came into office. and in a whole range of areas we've had a productive partnership. what is also true, and i have expressed this to him directly, so it's no secret there are some trends within turkey that i've been troubled with. i'm a strong believer in freedom of the press. i'm a strong believer in freedom of religion. i'm a strong believer in rule of law. and democracy and there is no doubt that president erdogan has repeatedly been elected through a democratic process.
but i think an approach they've been taking toward the press is one that could lead turkey down a path that would be very troubling. and, you know, we are going to continue to advise them to -- and i've said to president erdogan to remind him that he came into office with a promise of democracy, and turkey has historically been a country in which deep islamic faith has lived side by side with modernity and an increasing openness. and that's the legacy that he should pursue rather than a strategy that involves repression of information and shutting down democratic debate.
having said that, i want to emphasize the degree to which their cooperation has been critical on a whole range of international and regional issues. and will continue to be. and so as is true with a lot of our friends and partners, we work with them. we cooperate with them. we are appreciative of their efforts. and they are going to be some differences. and where there are differences, we will say so. and that's what i've tried to do here. i'll take one last question. this young lady right there. >> thank you, president. mr. president, what do you think -- >> where are you from, by the way? >> i am from azerbaijan. >> okay. >> can azerbaijan support in the
nuclear security, nuclear security issue? >> azerbaijan, like many countries that participated, have already taken a number of steps. and each country has put forward a national action plan. there's some countries that had stockpiles of highly enriched uranium that they agreed to get rid of. there are other countries that's have civilian nuclear facilities, but don't necessarily have the best security practices. so they have adopted better security practices. there are countries that could potentially be transit points for the smuggling of nuclear materials. and so they've worked with us on border controls and detection. and because of azerbaijan's location, it's a critical partner in this process.
i should point out, by the way, that although the focus of these summits has been on securing nuclear materials and making sure they don't fall into the hands of terrorists, the relationships, the information sharing, the stitching together of domestic law enforcement, international law enforcement, intelligence, military agencies, both within countries and between countries, this set of relationships internationally will be useful not just for nuclear material, but it is useful in preventing terrorism generally. it's useful in identifying threats of chemical weapons or biological weapons. one of the clear messages coming
out of this summit and our experiences over the last seven years is an increasing awareness that some of the most important threats we face are transnational threats. and so we are slowly developing a web of relationships around the world that allow us to match and keep up with the transnational organizations that all too often are involved in terrorist activity, criminal activity, human trafficking, a whole range of, you know, issues that can ultmaimately do our citizens harm. and seeing the strengthening of these institutions, i think will be one of the most important legacies of this entire process. mark, since you had your hand up, i'll call on you. one last question. >> thank you, mr. president. i wanted to ask a question about
nuclear policy. through these past seven years when pushed to rid the world of nuclear materials and fissile material, the u.s. nuclear industry has actually worked to improve miniaturization of warheads and while it's not developed new classes of cruise missiles or warhas, it's worked to improve the technology, and that's prompted some in china and russia to say, gee, we need to keep up. are you concerned the technological advances in the united states have had the effect of sort of undermining some of the progress you've made on the prevention side? >> i think it's a legitimate question, and i am concerned. here's the balance that we've had to strike. we have a nuclear stockpile that we have to make sure is safe and make sure is reliable.
and after the s.t.a.r.t. 2 treaty we entered into with russia, we've brought down significantly the number of weapons that's are active. we also have to make sure that they're up to date, that their command and control systems that might have been developed awhile ago are up to snuff given all the technology that has changed since that time. and we have to make sure that our deterrence continues to work. and so even as we brought down the number of weapons that we have, i have wanted to make sure that what we do retain functions. that it is not subject to a cyberintrusion. that there's sufficient
confidence in the system that we don't create destabilizing activity. my preference would be to bring down further our nuclear arsenal. and after we completed s.t.a.r.t. 2, i approached the russians, our team approached the russians, in terms of looking at a next phase for arms reductions. because mr. putin came into power, or returned to his office as president, and because of the vision that he's been pursuing of emphasizing military might over development inside of russia and diverseifying the economy, we have not seen the progress that i would have hoped for with russia. the good news is that the
possibilities of progress remain. we are abiding by s.t.a.r.t. 2. we're seeing implementation. and although we are not likely to see further reductions during my presidency, my hope is that we have built the mechanisms and systems of verification and so forth that will allow us to continue to reduce them in the future. we do have to guard against, in the interim, ramping up new and more deadly and more effective systems that end up leading to a whole new escalation of the arms race. and in our modernization plan, i've tried to strike the proper balance, making sure that the triad and our systems work properly. that they are effective, but
also to make sure that we are leaving the door open to further reductions in the future. but one of the challenges that we're going to have here is that it is very difficult to see huge reductions in our nuclear arsenal, unless the united states and russia, as the two largest possessors of nuclear weapons, are prepared to lead the way. the other area where i think we need to see progress is pakistan and india. that subcontinent making sure that as they develop military doctrines, that they are not continually moving in the wrong direction. and we have to take a look at the korean peninsula because the dprk, north korea is in a whole difference category. and poses the most immediate set of concerns for all of us, one
that we are working internationally to focus on and that's one of the reasons why we had the trilateral meeting with japan and korea and it was a major topic of discussion with president xi as well. okay. thank you very much, everybody. have a good weekend. >> all right. the president wrapping up his news conference using the occasion in response to a question to really slam the republican presidential front-runner donald trump on his foreign policy views. listen to what the president just said. >> the person who made the statements doesn't know much about foreign policy or nuclear policy or the korean peninsula or the world generally. it came up on the sidelines, i've said before, that, you know, people pay attention to american elections. what we do is really important to the rest of the world.
and even in those countries that are used to a carnival atmosphere in their own politics want sobriety and clarity when it comes to u.s. elections because they understand the president of the united states needs to know what's going on around the world and has to put in place the kinds of policies that lead not only to our security and prosperity, but will have an impact on everybody else's security and prosperity. >> strong words from the president. gloria, he was referring to donald trump's comments earlier in the week at a cnn town hall when he suggested maybe it would be smart for japan and south korea to have their own nuclear arsenal in the face of a challenge from the north korean nuclear threat. >> he also went on to say the
current policy is a cornerstone for american foreign policy, adding to the point that he makes, which is -- and it was clear he could barely hiding his disdain. donald trump doesn't know what he's talking about. that's exactly what the president was saying. i don't think we've ever heard it so clearly or in such great detail from the president. but there's, you know, there's no doubt that he believes that on foreign policy in particular that donald trump is uninformed and, in fact, just reading between the lines, it's almost clear that the president thinks it would be dangerous. >> and also given the forum where he is and a nuclear summit with all of these world leaders, the question that carol lee asked, which was a very good one is, was this discussed? basically, he said yes. along the sidelines, but they were talking about it because the fact is as he said, everybody around the world looks
to america, looks to american presidents for leadership. and he simply doesn't think that donald trump gets it when it comes to nuclear weapons. and, look, this is something that is not partisan. this is something that rankled a lot of republicans as well. it's not just a cornerstone of u.s. policy not to expand nuclear weapons in asia. it's western policy. >> and donald trump also said nato is becoming increasingly obsolete. that's a position the president and his administration strongly opposes as well. >> they aren't alone in that. as dennis said, this is a bipartisan thing on foreign policy. looking in the president's eye there as he was talking about this, so struck by how donald trump has gone from being a punch line and a joke to this is a very serious matter. you can almost imagine these conversations going on in the hallway there, very serious conversation, very grave kfrg conversations, and donald trump sat the middle of this.
i was struck by the president. he's been at this for so long. we're seeing in the last year of his administration, he's tying up a bunch of things. in 2005 when he was a freshman senator, he visited azerbaijan with dick lugar. a central part of his policy was cleaning up nuclear weapons. this is one more part of the thing on the checklist for the president. i traveled wutith him on that list. it's striking how much older he looks and how serious the world still looks. that's why those leader conversations were so important. >> rebecca berg is with us from real clear politics. what the president was saying is what john kasich said yesterday that donald trump not fit to be commander in chief. >> as dana says, this is not a partisan divid on this issue. donald trump expressed an opinion, a policy stance. if we could really call it that. that no one really has expressed in western politics. it's very unusual. especially heading into the key primary in wisconsin this next week, this is going to
crystallize for a lot of voters what many people suspected and hinted at but there hasn't really been a statement like this to point to that donald trump doesn't have the experience in foreign policy that is necessary and required of a president. and especially when we're at a nuclear summit. when we're talking about this issue in a very concrete sort of way. that becomes very clear. >> further than experience. he said basically, we don't want somebody in the oval office who doesn't understand the world. and, you know, you can be new to politics and still understand the world. >> the reality check is, do voters care? that's totally different. >> they said donald trump doesn't know much about foreign policy, nuclear policy, the korean peninsula or the world generally. tulsey gabbert is with us from hawaii. a member of the armed services x committee. what was your reaction? you are a supporter of bernie sanders. what was your reaction to what the president just said. >> first of all, the topic that's he was discussing is something that really is one of the greatest concerns we have
not only in this country but around the world. and this is something that i hear about from folks here in hawaii, my constituents, who react every time we hear north korea making these threats, understanding that, you know, they have these miniaturized nuclear warheads. they have these intercontinental ballistic missiles that really place hawaii and the west coast of the united states directly in their sights. this is something that's greatly concerning. i agreed with the concern that russia was not there and a part of this summit given the fact that the united states and russia are the two countries that are literally minutes away from being able to launch nuclear attacks at each other. and secondly, the point that the president made about the need for high security around these nuclear materials to make sure that they are not being sold on the black market and getting into the hands of groups like
isis and al qaeda. it's taking a hard look at where those vulnerable points exist. >> did you -- >> looking at some of these countries -- >> go ahead. finish your thought. >> looking at some of these countries where not only where they have vulnerable infrastructure, but also looking at countries like pakistan, for example, or saudi arabia, who have these nuclear materials, but who also have a very high number, a very strong presence by these islamist jihadist terrorists and, therefore, creating a greater opportunity for them to be able to get their hands on these materials to create some kind of dirty bomb which would really be a devastating results with nat that kind of attack. >> but is that realistic that isis or al qaeda or al shabab or any of these terror groups could get their hands on this so-call radiological dirty bomb, place it in an urban setting, kill a lot of people and basically make that city uninhabitable for many
years? >> i think, wolf, it's a scenario that we have to consider seriously. and i think -- which is why it was such a focus of this summit because you look at the nuclear material that exists, for example, in a place like mosul where isis holds this city and there was some kind of nuclear materials in the university there in mosul. we look at these vulnerabilities that exist in countries around the world. people have talked about concerns about european countries, but really in places like mosul and raqqah in places where these materials are accessible, and it's just a matter and a question of whether or not isis already has or when they will get that capability to create a dirty bomb that could have that devastating impact that you just talked about. >> it's a frightful scenario. keeps officials here in washington awake at night. congresswoman, stay with us.
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we're back with democratic congresswom congresswoman. she is an iraqi war veteran. what do you think of the president's justification of killing scores of suspected terrorists in somalia, libya, iraq, or syria as opposed to pinpointing going after high value targets? there's been some concern that innocent civilians, women and
children, may have been killed in those manned and unmanned air strikes. >> well, wolf, the reality is we're at a country at war. we have been at war since 9/11 when those islamist terrorists attacked us here on our soil and they continue to wage war against us. they have taken different forms in different groups. they call themselves al qaeda, al shabaab, boca haram, isis. it's important that we recognize that while the department of defense has launched some of these targeted attacks against these high value targets, against the leadership of some of these groups, and have been successful, those people are often replaced and we're dealing with armies and armies of these individuals in groups like isis
and al qaeda, and we have to take decisive action to be able to defeat this enemy. >> let me get back to the bold and blunt statement ridiculing donald trump the republican presidential frontrunner saying donald trump doesn't know much about foreign policy, the korean peninsula, or the world generally. i know your a bernie sanders supporter, but do you agree with the president ain that condemnation of donald trump? >> first, i want to add asking to the last question you asked. we recognized turkey is actually taking actions that are undermining our fight to defeat groups like isis and al qaeda through its continued bombings and attacks on the kurds who
were in northern syria who are our primary fighting partners in the ground war with isis. in regard to some of trump's statements, going pack back to concern and it is a very real concern of nuclear proliferation around the world, donald trump was asked about nuclear proliferation and asked about saudi arabia getting nuclear weapons. his response was something like, well, sure, why not. i think the big problem here is if you look at a country like saudi arabia getting nuclear weapons, this is a theocracy that is the number one exporter of this ideology that is driving these islamist terrorist attacks not only in the middle east, but in many different parts of the
world, so you can see the danger of the consequences of some of these things trump is talking about through that specific example. >> he walked back from the saudi arabia getting nuclear weapons, but not japan and south korea to deal with the north korean nuclear threat. but the whole notion not withdrawing, but reducing u.s. involvement in nato, are you okay with that? >> i think it's a big question. i mean, the question of nato, its role, why it was put in the first place, and what this organization is actually doing and its function and purpose now in today's world -- the world is very different today than it was when nato was formed originally to address the threat from the soviet union. well, the soviet union is no longer in existence, so i think this is an important conversation that the united states and the rest of the world needs to have.
what is the purpose going forward for nato? >> thanks very much for joining us. >> thanks, wolf. aloha. that's it for me. thanks very much for watching. breaking news. president obama slamming donald trump's call for nukes, charging that the gop frontrunner doesn't know much about nuclear policy or the world. plus, ted cruz beating donald trump by double digits in some polls. we'll do the math. hillary clinton accusing bernie sanders' campaign of lying. bernie sanders demanding an apology tonight. let's go "outfront." >> good evening. i'm erin burnett. outfront tonight, the breaking news. president obama slamming donald trump's call