tv Situation Room With Wolf Blitzer CNN April 20, 2016 2:00pm-4:01pm PDT
happening now, path to victory. fresh off the big wins in new york, donald trump and hillary clinton turn their attention to the next battleground states. they are closer to locking up their party's nominations and starting to focus in on the general election. as for the more presidential tone, we saw from donald trump last night, forget about it. >> hillary, you're fired. >> backup plan, the delegate numbers look bleak for bernie sanders and ted cruz with no clear path to victory, can they block the leaders and force battles at their conventions? the chairman. donald trump says he should be ashamed and is hinting he may be replaced. tonight, we look behind the scenes at the dramatic back and forth to hold the gop together. and relenting, the u.s. says despite the latest failures, kim
jong-un will not give up his more powerful nuclear weapons. i'm wolf blitzer. you're in "the situation room." tonight, fresh off their big victories in new york, donald trump and hillary clinton are working to finish off their opponents and setting their sights on each other. we're standing by for a trump rally in maryland. during his midafternoon speech in indiana, the supposedly more presidential donald trump that we saw last night was nowhere to be seen. today, trump is back to his old name calling and sparring with protesters and right now hillary clinton is campaigning in the all-important state of pennsylvania. after her crushing win over senator bernie sanders in new york, clinton is telling voters, victory is in sight. we're also following a dire new warning from a top u.s. general. he says america shouldn't be fooled by kim jong-un's latest
missile test failure because north korea's unpredictable leader is determined to develop long-range nuclear-tipped missiles. i'll talk live with chris collins, one of the rare supporters on capitol hill and our correspondents, analysts and guests will have today's top stories. let's begin with jim acosta who is waiting for the start of trump's rally in maryland. back to form after last night's big win? >> reporter: that is absolutely correct, wolf. after his blowout win in new york, he has big momentum on his side and he's hitting two more key states in indiana and maryland and a new nickname for his rival ted cruz, the spoiler. in indianapolis, a victory lap for donald trump after taking the checkered flag in the new york primary miles ahead of his
dearest rivals. >> the vote was incredible. it was record-setting and it's new york and you know what is nice? they know me. they know the good, the bad, they know everything. >> reporter: dubbed king don by the new york post, trump is not only savoring a big win in his home state -- >> we are really, really rocking. >> reporter: -- where the real estate tycoon captured most delegates, trump moves closer to the number needed for the nomination. it's being projected that he will have 1400 delegates heading into the republican convention and says this movement scares the hell out of them and that people scare them so they will do whatever they can to keep power. this system is rigged to allow party insiders to choose delegates and not the people. >> we have a rigged system, folks. >> reporter: it's a system trump insists ted cruz is just trying to exploit. >> we don't have much of a race
anymore based on what i'm seeing on television. senator cruz is just about mathematically eliminated. >> reporter: trump carried that battle cry onto twitter tweeting, now all cruz can do is be a spoiler, never a nice thing to do. i will be hillary. the response from team cruz, not so fast. >> you may have heard there was an election yesterday. and as the media are breathlessly reporting, donald trump won his home state. truly a remarkable achievement. >> reporter: the texas senator notes trump is still hundreds of delegates short of the 1237 needed to win the nomination and time is running out. >> the math is virtually impossible for donald trump. donald trump is not getting to 1237. nobody is getting to 1237. he knows that. which means this race is headed to cleveland and to a contested convention. >> reporter: cruz argues trump's
quote lap dogs in media are trying to declare the race over. >> everyone knew donald was going to win his home state and if you look at the frenzy panic that he wants the race to be over now that he's won in his home state, it shows why donald is scared. >> reporter: now, that talking points memo also claims that their officials are working delegates just as hard as the other campaigns, namely the cruz campaign, and tries to push back on the narrative that trump is too unpopular to win pointing to the sizeable negatives for hillary clinton. wolf? >> jim acosta's in maryland getting ready for donald trump's next big rally. thank you. as we just saw, senator ted cruz is trying to put the best face forward. best face he can put on his new york loss and predicting no one will reach the republican convention with enough delegates to win the presidential nomination. cnn's sunlen serfaty is following senator cruz for us. what is he saying about his strategy for stopping trump?
>> reporter: well, his strategy, wolf, is very clearly and blatantly now all about the contested convention and pushing towards a contested convention. senator cruz and his campaign, of course, now facing this very grim reality that it is mathematically impossible for them to get to 1237 before a contested convention. we saw a very clear pivot from the senator today for the first time admitting that, yes, this is where this race he thinks is going and days ago he would say in all likelihood it would head towards a contested convention. he came out very clearly today saying, point blank, this is where the race is going and really starting already to line up his arguments going forward. senator cruz making a surprise and last-minute trip down to florida where republican leaders are huddling for a three-day conference and senator cruz already really describing how he believes the state of the race is. here's what he said moments ago. >> what is clear today is that
we are headed to a contested convention. nobody is able to reach 1237. i'm not going to reach 1237 and donald trump is not going to reach 1237. we're going to arrive in cleveland with me having a ton of delegates and with donald having a ton of delegates. and at that point, it is going to be a battle to see who can earn the support of the majority of the delegates. donald is a niche candidate. he can't expand that to being a majority. to win, you've got to have a broad tent. >> and coupled with that message, sources telling cnn that the cruz campaign team, who is already on the ground down there in florida, including his campaign manager and his delegate manager, they are making the argument to the officials down there, they believe that senator cruz would be able to pump up the base and
really get more conservatives out to the poll and then past nominees, like mitt romney or john mccain would. so very clear coordination of strategy in the cruz campaign, lining up their lines of arguments going forward and pushing towards a contested convention. wolf? >> sunlen serfaty, thank you. pennsylvania is next tuesday. joining us now in "the situation room," one of the rare members of the u.s. congress who actually endorsed donald trump for president and republican congressman chris collins of new york. congressman, thanks very much for joining us. >> wolf, very good to be with you. what a great day coming off of our rally on monday, a big win yesterday. the excitement in new york but even coming down to d.c. today and the mood on the house floor with other members, they now realize for sure that donald trump is going to be a nominee and they are going to be behind donald trump. as i pointed out many, many times, they know ted cruz and they would much prefer to have
donald at the top than ted cruz. so there's some good feelings here right now. >> they are not going to use the word endorse, wolf. everyone is up for re-election. myself included. all politics are local and you're going to have, you know, 62% of my district. donald didn't carry 100%. a lot of folks focused on the re-election. they are going to support donald trump but they are probably not going to use the word endorse because that carries with it some other issues i disagreed with him on a couple of issues and i'm sure my opponent will try to swing me the other way. on good politics, most members are not going tone dors anyone but support donald trump. >> we saw supposedly a new donald trump last night in his eight-minute victory speech, one of the shortest he's delivered
so far. he didn't take any questions at trump tower in new york. he referred to ted cruz as ted cruz instead of lying ted. today he's back to his attacks on cruz calling him lying ted, as he often does. what's his strategy? to become more presidential now or to continue the attack mode which clearly has worked so far? >> well, i think, wolf, you've seen some -- i'll call it continuous improvement in his staff. he brought paul manafort on, a lot of experience there. i think you will see a more presidential donald trump. he and i talked about that monday night. donald trump is a winner. donald trump wants to win. so donald trump is going to do what it takes and clearly he's done what it's going to take to be the nominee. so you're going to see, i believe, a shifting into that more presidential mode and you've got to be who you are in your own skin. so, you know, you're going to
hear some things like hillary, you're fired. i think that's spot on. there's nothing wrong with it. he can't be something he's not. at the same time, call it more presidential we did see that last night and he was expanding his staff. i feel very good about where we're headed which is to the general election against hillary clinton. because it's not going to be bernie sanders. it's going to be hillary. >> as you know, donald trump has been critical of the republican national committee. you say the rules are the rules when it comes to delegates. at some point, does donald trump need to make peace with reince priebus and other establishments? he keeps calling it rigged, corrupt. you've heard all of his complaints. >> one thing about being a winner and winning big is donald trump does not need to go to reince priebus and the establishment. it's actually the reverse. donald trump is president of the united states and is going to be the leader of the republican party.
that's a fact. so it's amazing what happens when you're winning and you win big. donald trump being a businessman, being an executive, he's going to welcome them into the tent. he is a uniter and we will unite our party. hillary clinton is the great uniter of the republican party, progressive, liberal, socialistic. so, no, not so much donald trump reaching out to reince priebus. i'd say it's the reverse and you're already hearing and feeling some of that coming that way as some of the unity talk is beginning. they realize that donald trump is going to be the nominee. >> well, if you listen to senator ted cruz, he now says he's not going to get to 1237, the number of delegates you need to get that nomination. but he also says donald trump is going to have a contested convention and they are going to have a big fight on the convention floor. is cruz right? >> no. what you've got with ted cruz,
professional politician. skilled in the pivot. so what did he say for months and months s? he's going to get to 1237, like the insider that ted cruz is, he now knows he's not going to. so a typical pivot to be, well, now my opponent is not going to get there either. you would expect that. i'm sure he sat down with the staff and said, how do we somehow put lipstick on this pig? we lost. he got like 12 or 13%. no one thought donald was going to get 90 delegates except for me. his campaign thought he'd get 85. i said, you guys are being too conservative. he's getting 90 delegates. he got 90 delegates. in our previous math of him getting to 1237 plus, we have new york in the column at 85. we just picked up five more delegates last night. so i'm feeling very positive about where this is headed. the energy i'm feeling now in d.c. for my fellow members is extraordinarily positive. they know donald is going to be
our nominee and you're hearing reince priebus talking about the unity and bringing our partners together. he knows donald trump. and i bet you ted cruz does as well. he's not the only one not acknowledging it at this time. >> the optics at last night's victory speeches, hillary clinton, as you probably saw, was surrounded by a lot of well-known officials, democratic leaders. trump was surrounded by his family, some close friends. he leads cruz right now and the latest numbers -- and you can see it up there on the screen, he's got 8,700,000 and cruz has 6,400,000 and kasich has 3,180,000. neither cruz nor kasich can get the nomination, the 1237. at what point do republican leaders, your colleagues in the house and elsewhere, need to consolidate around donald trump? >> well, certainly when he's at 1237 they will, but i have not
seen anything from john kasich or ted cruz that would indicate that they are going to get out and that's fine. we're going to rock and roll next tuesday with the five states and move towards california on june 6th. so i don't expect they are going to get out. i mean, perhaps they should but i don't believe that's going to happen. june 6th is the magic day in california. we'll get our 1237. then the party is absolutely going to unite. but i'm feeling it here in washington, wolf. right now i've had members say that they've already pivoted in their town hall meetings. they are already moving to speaking about donald trump, the executive, donald trump who is going to have the best cabinet you've ever seen, the best and the brightest, donald trump the decision maker. my fellow members are already shifting that way in their own town hall meetings and talking to constituents on the campaign trail. >> congressman chris collins, stand by. we will continue our
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donald trump reverted after the victory speech, he's back on the campaign trail and sparring with protesters calling his opponents names. we're back with congressman chris collins. the first republican congressman to publicly support donald trump. congressman, how does donald trump focus on developing what's called a better ground game for critically important races? in pennsylvania and maryland, according to these monmouth polls, he's leading. you can him right there in maryland.
47%. 27 for kasich and 19% for cruz in pennsylvania. we showed you 44% for trump. 28 for cruz. 23 for kasich. first of all, these two important states, maryland and pennsylvania, do you think they are a lock? >> i won't ever use the word lock, not in politics. but i will say i'm highly confident he's going to carry those states much like he did new york. what you're seeing is the difference in donald trump, he doesn't have the hired staff, the ground game that ted cruz does. but what he has is an energized grassroots base. the likes of which i don't think we've ever seen in politics. so in erie county, new york, my county, buffalo, new york, where he carried almost 65% of the vote, what you had were the grassroots folks doing the ground game work. they were out rallying their neighbors. they were gathering together. there was phone trees and campaign offices open. not by the trump campaign but by
the grassroots supporters. and frankly, you know, that's a healthier situation but donald has added paul manafort and he's spending more money, frankly, in the next couple of weeks leading up to california than he has spent. so donald trump understands this is the end game and he's not going to leave anything untouched. so it's a combination of adding some of his own ground game forces but, again, relying on the grassroots, those energized people that filled the hockey arena in buffalo monday night for one of the most incredible rallies i've frankly ever seen. >> there's a large crowd gathering right now in berlin, maryland, not far from ocean city, maryland, which is where trump will be speaking. there's protesters there as well. congressman, what about indiana? that's next tuesday, may 3rd, "the new york times" reporting that donald trump was in indianapolis today and met privately with the governor mike
pence. what do you think, does cruz have a chance of winning indiana? >> well, unlike as you've mentioned pennsylvania, maryland, and certainly as we head to new jersey at the end, to use the word locks for trump, indiana is a battleground. i think to admit otherwise would not be right. there is going to be a battle in indiana. i would say it's probably too close to call. but i can tell you, too, to get to 1237, you know, indiana is not a must but if you get to 1400, maybe it is. but, no, indiana is going to be a battle. trump camp understands that. and right now certainly the focus is on next tuesday with pennsylvania, maryland and the like to get those delegates. but not every state is going to be a cake walk from here on in. but certainly next tuesday it's going to be a great night. >> you can see some of the protesters there in berlin, maryland. as you saw, according to "the
washington post," his advisers believe he can get 1400 delegates to secure the nomination. 1237 is what he needs. do you think that's realistic? >> i think he can get there. some of the math that we put together got to 1265 and very, very conservative. for instance, we had new york at 85. he got 90. a couple of other states, you know, some winner takes all, i don't think we put any numbers in. 1400 is doable but i can promise you, we can take 1237 right now, call it a game and be done. >> a win is a win, as they say. >> yeah. >> congressman, thank you very much for joining us. >> nice to be with you. >> chris collins. coming up, cnn goes one on one with the chairman of the republican national committee. he promises to be a neutral player at the convention in cleveland in june. what does he think of trump's claim that the nominating process is rigged? (bear growls)
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don't fall for directv. xfinity lets you download your shows from anywhere. i used to like that song. donald trump has been an outspoken critic of the rnc and now reince priebus is being criticized as he faces one of the most contentious campaigns in history. >> i want to do a quick lightning round with you. >> okay. >> word association. >> oh, great. >> great. here we go. >> these are trouble. >> i say john kasich. you say -- >> great governor. >> ted cruz? >> smart. >> donald trump. >> big. >> meaning?
>> everything he does is big. >> you are laughing. why are you laughing. >> this is chairman of the rnc and spontaneity is not usually your friend. >> and that's the least of your problems. >> hey, it's reince. >> without a doubt, reince priebus, the mild-mannered 44-year-old lawyer from wisconsin, has the toughest job in politics this year. >> chairman? >> good morning. >> working 20-hour days. >> you should come. >> preparing for the possibility of a contested convention. >> i think the system is working. >> reporter: and navigating the gop through the year of trump. >> the system is rigged. >> it's a crooked system. >> the republican national committee. they should be ashamed of themselves for allowing this crap to happen. >> nonstop damage control. >> i find it to be rhetoric and
hyperbole. this is a very normal system that we've been using for many years. >> sometimes you can't fix it. sometimes you send a four-alarm fire and sometimes it's not burning as bad as it was. >> you are the man in the middle. and you have donald trump doing his thing and then you have the gop establishment, whatever that is. >> that's a word that apparently no one can quite define. but, yeah, i understand it. >> all those people over there who are not on the same side. >> yeah. >> as donald trump. is saying, well, it's all your fault. how did you let trump -- why did you get rid of it? >> look, being in the middle, you have to accept the fact that there is a thousand opinions. i mean, i'm so used to it that i
don't -- i don't even care. it doesn't bother me. >> you're not pulling out your hair? >> not -- no, i'm not. people assume, oh, you must be miserable. you've got a horrible job. i'm not seeing it that way. i'm not pouring bailey's in my cereal. this is fun. >> reporter: in fact, the day we spoke with him, he raised $1.2 million with just a few phone calls. >> let's talk about money. >> reporter: took a brief break for hoops. >> all right. i'm going to take you guys down. >> we have a shot off this wall. >> there we go. come on. >> reporter: and showed off his prized possessions. the gavel. >> the gavel. this is when i actually won in 2011. >> reporter: ever attempted to use it? >> well, i don't have to try that hard. this is a chair that was used at
the convention that clint spoke to. >> reporter: really? >> yeah. so when this all happened, you know, i obviously was perplexed when i was watching it. >> reporter: you and everyone else. >> because i was down behind the stage most of the time. i leaned over the balcony to look and see the center teleprompter and it was blank. and i thought, oh, my gosh, there's nothing on that screen. he's just winging it. i left, went back behind the stage and said, get me the chair. >> reporter: he also keeps three items nearby that he says are critical for getting near the day. the greek or thouthodox litergy this. >> the brewer schedule on top because i will put on, you know, mlb tv and have that in the background if i need to not watch the news.
>> reporter: other escapes? spending time with his family. >> try to eat with cameras in your face. >> reporter: and he plays the piano really well. ♪ so you just goof off. that's what i do. that's how i play. >> reporter: but priebus admits that he's always been a proud political nerd as early as third grade and used the gop to woo his wife. >> you went to prom together but, sally, on your first date, he took you to a political dinner. he took you to the lincoln day dinner. swept you off your feet. >> right. >> what kind of first date is that? >> it's crazy. i think he tricked me. i think he tricked me and i ended up at the political event, which i didn't know about it at
first because he told me we were going to the movies. but, you know, it was pretty boring. it's pretty bad. but we did go to the movie after ward and we had a great time. >> and he says you can't say you didn't know what you were getting into? >> right. i did. >> reporter: that said, neither one of said that their lives would be consumed by the roller coaster of donald trump. >> reince is very strong. he has a thick skin and let's it roll off his shoulders. you know, he's tough. he doesn't tolerate a lot of drama. >> reporter: including rumors that he might try to convince one of his best friends, speaker paul ryan, to be a so-called white knight candidate in a contested convention. >> he would kill me and i wouldn't do it and i agree with him. you have to want to actually be president of the united states. he doesn't want to be right now. he's not going to have a floor operation to get it done. it won't happen. >> he said, if i do that, he'll
kill me. >> yep. yep. >> yes, i would. >> reporter: an old political pro told me to be rnc party chairman, you're either the bravest person in town or the craziest person in town. which is it for -- >> it probably requires a little bit of both, especially these days. reince is -- i put him in the bravest category. >> reporter: brave or crazy, priebus insists his only concern is being neutral. for the record, are you conspireing against donald trump? >> of course not. of course not. >> reporter: is there a plan to steal the nomination? >> no. there's nothing to steal. either you have the votes or you don't. >> reporter: and you will be at peace if he is the nominee? >> i'm going to be at peace with whoever the nominee is because i know that nominee will beat hillary clinton. >> and jamie is joining us live from new york. do you expect that reince priebus will continue to engage in this back and forth with
donald trump? >> you know, wolf, i think it's going to be one day at a time. but if trump keeps charging that the party is corrupt or up to shenanigans, watch out for some late-night tweets. you know, priebus is concerned about one thing and that's the party's reputation. and he's going to hit back if he thinks something is unfair. that said, perhaps more important, is how hard he's trying to show that the party is neutral. that's really the reason i think he let us come behind the scenes. he wants the word transparent is his favorite word right now. >> it's a good word. certainly it is. as we get closer to what could be a contested convention in cleveland, jamie, what is his plan for the next few months? >> i would think two things. i think he's ordering heavier body armor. those attacks are likely not to stop and even though he told us that he isn't pouring bailey's
on his cereal yet, i took a peek in the fridge in his office, let's just say it is well stocked. he is prepared. >> good piece. jamie, thanks very much. i didn't know he was such a good pianist. i learned something about reince priebus. i follow him on twitter and he always has something interesting to say. jamie gangel, thanks very much. coming up, bernie sanders is regrouping after a disappointing finish in new york. is the democratic challenger ready to retool his strategy ahead of the critical primaries next tuesday? then, a recent missile test failure in north korea doesn't make kim jong-un any less dangerous. like @sirloinking who writes, "just came home with $85 worth of groceries with names like, goats beard, pawpaw and that vile weed kale.
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senator bernie sanders is facing a much narrower path to the democratic nomination after his double-digit loss to hillary clinton in new york. the candidates are now fighting for nearly 400 delegates in five states preparing to vote next tuesday including the biggest prize, pennsylvania. our senior washington correspondent joe johns is following the contest. he's in philadelphia for us. joe, what's the latest? >> reporter: here in philadelphia and just across town, hillary clinton is at an african-american event with
attorney general eric holder talking with a high-profile democrat who bridges them to come together behind hillary clinton. but one democratic who is not listening tonight is her opponent bernie sanders. >> you have proved once again there is no place like home. >> reporter: tonight, hillary clinton is taking a big step forward in her bid for the democratic nomination after her resounding victory in tuesday's new york primary. >> the race for the democratic nomination is in the home stretch and victory is in sight. >> reporter: clinton, with an eye on unifying the party is reaching back to her rival. >> and to all of the people who supported senator sanders, i believe there is much more that unites us than divides us. >> reporter: but still throwing subtle shade at sanders for his lack of policy details.
>> we have seen that it is not enough to diagnose problems. you have to explain how you'd actually solve the problems. >> reporter: even as she remains locked in a fight with sanders, clinton is looking past him. ramping up the attacks on her potential general election rivals. >> donald trump and ted cruz are pushing a vision for america that's divisive and, frankly, dangerous. >> reporter: clinton's victory netted her 31 more delegates than sanders and leaves her just 453 shy of the total needed for the nomination with superdelegates factored into the equation. >> i congratulate secretary clinton on her victory. >> reporter: despite facing a steep climb in the delegate count, sanders insists he still has a path to the nomination. >> there are five primaries next
week. we think we're going to do well and we have a path for victory which we are going to fight to maintain. >> reporter: another 384 delegates will be up for grabs next tuesday when five eastern states will hold primaries. sanders campaign is conceding that it will need to up its game if it hopes to put a dent in clinton's delegate convention. >> if we do well next week, we can get back on course to have a pledged delegate lead before the voting ends. >> reporter: after sanders' loss, he headed to vermont. >> we need to take a day off. >> reporter: while clinton is campaigning in pennsylvania, she's focusing on gun control, holding an event with former attorney general eric holder and releasing an ad featuring the daughter of the slain principal at sandy hook elementary. >> no one is working harder to reform our gun laws than hillary clinton. >> reporter: the sanders
campaign may have taken the day off but they are showing no signs of slowing down. they have three events here in the state of pennsylvania scheduled tomorrow with a stop in scranton and the e-mail for fundraising continues. so bernie sanders sending signs that he wants to fight on. wolf, back to you. >> joe, thank you. joe johns in philadelphia. coming up, a very stark new warning from the men in charge of countering north korea's aggression. he says kim jong-un is just as dangerous as ever. how can the united states stop the young dictator without provoking a violent retaliation.
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military officials are warning that north korea is likely to overcome recent setbacks to its ballistic missile program and attempts to stop the regime may lead to dangerous retaliation from kim jong-un. brian todd is tracking the latest developments. >> reporter: tonight we learned u.s. officials are anxiously watching what's going on with north korea. right now, we're in a dangerous window of time. just two weeks, a massive communist party gathering in pyongyang. at that gathering, kim jong-un will claim to solidify his power. it is believed between now and may 7th, kim will make dangerous moves, possibly displaying advances of his nuclear program or his improving missile capability. the american commander hwho wil be tasked with countering kim jong-un has a dire warning, don't be fooled by a recent test that failed. >> this is like watching someone ride a bike and falling off,
eventually could become a bmx champion. we can't underestimate the hazard emerging on this. >> reporter: he says kim and his commanders will be able to fire long range nuclear armed missiles quote, if they're not stopped. >> sanctions haven't stopped him. how do you really stop him? >> we have to look at the cyber problem. they developed one, we can overmatch them, that's something worth targeting. second, global concern of black market, they're lacking currency. every embassy, every concern worldwide is focused on bringing our currency home to north korea. if we can interfere with that something fierce. >> reporter: and there's another option. according to former military officer tony schaefer, sabotage. >> best approach is using special operations forces, go about sabotaging technology development as well as creating circumstance for failure of the tests to set them back further and further. >> reporter: that brings risk of
retaliation from unpredictable north korean leader. on that front, general brooks has his own blunt assessment of kim jong-un, saying he appears more risk tolerant, arrogant, and i am pull sieve than his father. he has no voice of reason on his side. >> to counter balance him and counter that advice, it is not evident he is able to receive advice. >> anybody that seems to disagree with him or offer advice, they get executed. they get purged. >> reporter: a staggering number of officials in his inner circle have been taken out. more than 80 according to south korean intelligence. it is that recklessness that has officials and experts worried. >> there maybe an accident or miscalculation. he may fire a missile, pieces that land on territory with populations. >> reporter: experts say important understanding that his father and grandfather had that young kim doesn't appear to have is the idea of deterrents.
the realization that if north korea really provokes the u.s. or south korea, they'll be hit hard in retaliation. this leader experts say either doesn't get that, isn't being told of that danger, or simply doesn't care. >> brian todd reporting. thank you. donald trump returns to form, reviving nicknames for ted cruz and hillary clinton and sparring with protesters as they try to give a speech. can he lock up enough delegates to win the republican nomination? it's intelligent enough to warn of danger from virtually anywhere. it's been smashed and driven. it's perceptive enough to detect other vehicles on the road. it's been shaken and pummeled. it's innovative enough to brake by itself, park itself and help you steer. it's been in the rain... and dragged through the mud.
donald trump returns to the stump, once again let's insults fly. hillary clinton winning big, saying she's going all the way. she and trump are turning their eyes toward the general election. we're standing by for a trump rally, set to begin. recharging. bernie sanders suffers a crushing defeat in new york, vows to stay in the race all the way to the convention. big loss for ted cruz. now conceding contested convention is his only chance. have cruz and sanders gone from underdogs to spoilers? secret terror file. debate rages over allowing families of 9/11 victims to sue the saudis. questions swirling around 28 secret pages in the congressional nine investigation. do they contain evidence of a saudi role in the terror attacks? top billing. hair yet tub man pulls ahead of andrew jackson, being added to
the $20 bill. alexander hamilton stays on the front of the ten. what changes are in the works for the back of the bill? we want to welcome our viewers around the united states and around the world. i am wolf blitzer. you're in "the situation room." donald trump back on the campaign trail, fresh from his resounding win in the new york primary. he is about to hold a rally in maryland, one of five states holding republican primaries next tuesday. trump launching fresh attacks on rivals after striking a more presidential tone in a victory speechless than 24 hours ago. we are following controversy over more than two dozen secret pages in the official congressional investigation into the 9/11 terror attacks. they're under renewed scrutiny as congress weigh as bill that allows families of 9/11 victims to sue saudi arabia. some of them believe the kingdom
played a role in the terror attacks and also think the evidence may be contained in the heavily redacted pages of the investigation. we're covering all of that much more this hour with our guests, including chairman of the house oversite and government reform committee, congressman jason chaffetz. and our analysts are standing by. we have the latest on the republicans. donald trump claims the race is essentially over after his new york win. >> reporter: that's right, wolf. donald trump tonight is sending a very clear message that he is ready to move on and move ahead, saying that senator cruz should be mathematically eliminated from the primary. senator cruz saying it is not over yet, and also admitting for the first time today now his only path forward is through contested convention. tonight donald trump is taking a victory lap. >> we had a great night last night in new york. >> reporter: keeping his foot on
the gas when it comes to rival ted cruz. >> lying ted cruz, lying ted. lies, oh, he lies. >> reporter: and his potential general election opponent hillary clinton. >> i love running against crooked hillary. i love that. better. better. bernie wouldn't be as much fun. >> reporter: the gop frontrunner boosted his bid for the republican nomination with a blowout victory tuesday in his home state. >> we don't have much of a race any more. >> reporter: trump swept nearly all of new york's 95 delegates, shutting out ted cruz from getting even a single delegate. >> i am millions of votes ahead. millions. millions of votes ahead of lying ted cruz. i'm about 300 delegates ahead of lying ted. >> reporter: he is now making the case that he's the only candidate left in the gop race with a mathematical shot at winning the nomination.
>> senator cruz is just about mathematically eliminated. >> reporter: trump accusing cruz of staying in the race to stand in his way, saying ted cruz is mathematically out of winning the race, now all he can be is a spoiler. never a nice thing to do. on the ground ted cruz saying not so fast. >> upon winning his home state, donald trump with the characteristic display of humility declared this race is over. manhattan has spoken. >> reporter: downplaying the significance of trump's win. >> everyone knew donald would win his home state. if you look at the frenzy panic that he wants the race to suddenly be over, now that he won in his home state, it shows why donald is scared. >> reporter: cruz concedes his only path is through contested convention. >> i will come in with a ton of delegates, donald will come in with a ton of delegates, and it
will be a battle to see who earns the majority of delegates. >> reporter: kasich hangs his hopes on contested convention. >> nobody is going to get enough delegates. >> reporter: while trump looks to win the 1237 needed to clinch the nomination before the convention, focusing on five potentially favorable east coast, mid-atlantic states voting tuesday, and in indiana on the first week of may. trump says the only way he will be denied the nomination is if the game is stacked against him. >> it is a rigged, crooked system that's designed so the bosses can pick whoever they want and that people like me can't run and can't defend you against foreign nonsense. >> reporter: and while donald trump does have a path toward get to go the magic number, 1237, before the convention, it
is such a steep climb for him, according to cnn's calculations, trump would need to win 58% of remaining delegates to do so. wolf? >> sunlen, thanks very much. she's in pennsylvania. let's bring in jim acosta. trump, more presidential tone last night didn't last long. he is back on the attack today. what's the latest? >> reporter: that's right, wolf. after his landslide win in new york, he is rolling and clearly on the attack as you just said. today as sunlen mentioned, he is hitting two more states on the campaign counter, indiana and maryland. i can tell you there are thousands crammed into this high school gymnasium. but thousands more in an astonishing line outside of this venue. as you said, wolf, that softer tone we heard from trump last night did not extend into today.
he referred to ted cruz as lying ted as we heard in sunlen's piece. as for the battle cry about the delegates being rigged, there's no let up on that front. not only the candidates are saying that, his surrogates repeat that line of attack as well. wolf, we obtained a campaign memo from the trump campaign. it slams the republican establishment in no uncertain terms. put it on screen. it says this movement scares the hell out of them and the people scare them, so they will do whatever they can to keep power. the memo goes on to say the system is rigged to allow party insiders to choose delegates and not the people wolf, the memo boldly projects the gop frontrunner will have 1400 delegates heading into the republican convention. that's a big number. that we have not heard from the campaign before. that talking points memo shows trump officials are working delegates across the country just as hard as the other campaigns, namely the cruz campaign, and trying to push
back on that narrative that trump is too unpopular to win. the memo goes on to say look at the sizable negatives for hillary clinton. she also has a big popularity problem. the trump campaign and donald trump are trying to make the case that popularity does not always equal electability. >> they would be thrilled with a 1400 delegate count but very happy with 1237 as well. jim acosta, stand by. let's get more, jason chaffetz of utah is chairman of house oversite and reform committee. thank you for joining us. >> thanks, wolf. >> i assume you heard trump's victory speech, it was brief, 8 minutes, sort of presidential. spoke about senator ted cruz, didn't talk about lying ted. today he is back to lying ted. what's your reaction? >> he got a night's rest, got back to business. what i love about donald trump, he is always negotiating,
putting you back on your heels. the republican party, you have to remember, he is bringing millions more people into the process than we had before. look at nevada. twice as many voted than when mitt romney ran. we have to be careful with this. i am not endorsing him, not endorsing ted cruz, staying out of it at this point. >> john kasich? what about kasich. >> they can stay in the race as long as you want. you have to go through the finish line. >> you say he is bringing, i think there were a record number of republicans that showed up yesterday in new york and voted and trump did remarkably well. take a look overall. we did a head count so far. all the contests, utah, more than 35 so far. cumulative votes. trump has 8,728,000, cruise 6 million, john kasich i can 3 million. if he is up by millions of popular votes all over the
country, up in delegates, gets very close to 1237 delegates, can they still deny him the nomination? >> it all comes down to voting. the delegates have different rules in different states. republican party in general believes in states' rights. how they do it in wyoming or utah or new york is different than say california. when they get to that convention, what i think the party needs to do, they need to explain the rules, if it goes to second or third ballot how that works. >> it is clear. they can change the rules. there's a week of meetings of the republican rules committee before the convention, they can change the rules, but supposedly 95% of pledge delegates, you have to vote the way they pledged on the first ballot. second goes down to about half. 50% can become free agents. >> i don't think changing rules will go over well at all. there would be a lot of frustration. but you know, this is the dynamic that's going to make cnn light up on election night because people will want to tune
in to see how it plays out. >> do you think you can support donald trump if he is the nominee? >> i will support, republicans will rally. there's no way we are supportive of hillary clinton becoming the next president of the united states. if there's one thing that will unite the party and even diseffected democrats, it is hillary clinton. >> he has been the frontrunner for months, he is leading in delegates, almost 300 more than cruz. 2.3 million more votes. normally in a situation like this, you have somebody doing that well, the party consolidates, rally around the frontrunner and move on to get ready for general election. that isn't happening because it is donald trump? >> i think he has a lot to offer. i think there are a lot of conservatives that have a voice and objectively that ted cruz is more conservative than donald trump, but again, we are bringing a lot of new people into the party, there's a lot more enthusiasm there. i went to nevada, i saw the enthusiasm gap. there wasn't much enthusiasm for hillary clinton and bernie
sanders, and i think republicans are actually in a pretty good spot. donald trump puts people into play that weren't there before. >> how do you explain that, the motivation, the base, the impressive -- you have to give him credit, he has come from being a billionaire real estate guy to being the frontrunner and maybe the republican presidential nominee. >> i think authenticity, telling it like it is, should be a lesson for everybody involved and engaged in politics. they want somebody that exemplifies their frustration and anger with how the country is going. most recognize the country is off track, they want it on track. somebody stands up, says i am going to make america great, stand up to the bullies, domestic, internally or foreign, there's a lot to like there. but ted cruz has a good message, too, wins state after state as well. >> didn't do well in new york. >> nobody expected him to. >> he got zero delegates out of 95.
that's pretty sad. >> again, it is donald trump's home turf. everybody expected it. it is the problem marco rubio had in florida. you have to win your home state. each of the three left won their home state. >> you endorsed marco rubio. you wanted him. he dropped out. some republicans, high profile republicans are saying they're going to skip the republican convention in cleveland. they don't want to go, maybe because they don't want to be associated with donald trump. what about you? are you going? >> i will be out of the country, doing my job. i trust the voters, they can figure it out. i am in congress, i have enough of a megaphone. the voters, i will let them have at it. i will be overseas. >> normally people want to go, republicans want to go to convention and celebrate the leader of the republican party who is the republican nominee? >> i don't know who that will be. we will be watching cnn or whatever. >> sounds to me havi, haven't endorsed donald trump, i spoke to one of your colleagues last
congressman that supported donald trump so far. he says on the floor talking to people, they're seeing that he is going to be the nominee. they're beginning to come around to that. are you sensing that? >> chris collins was the first republican in the house to endorse donald trump. again, what unites us as much as anything is deep seeded desire, imperative to beat hillary clinton come november. we will get united by the time we get out of summer and there will be no doubt in our ability and desire to attract more centrist type people. >> ask you what donald trump needs to do to unite the republican party. stand by. congressman jason chaffetz is with us. we will resume the questioning after this. oh. henry! oh my. good, you're good. back, back, back.
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we are standing by for a donald trump rally about to get under way in maryland. their primary next tuesday. back with the chairman of the house oversite and government reform committee, jason chaffetz from utah. what advice would you give donald trump, how can he unify the republican party behind him, assuming he gets the republican nomination? >> we don't want to be taking friendly fire, we want to take aim on the democrats the contrast in policy. as paul ryan says we have an aspirational agenda. whoever the nominee is, that's who i intend to support, we have to rally behind that and win the independent people. >> chairman of the key house committee now, department of homeland security inspector general, probably saw the report released yesterday, the u.s. secret service is strained now, in their words, employees
leaving faster than the agency can hire special agents. that's shocking given the responsibility they have to protect the president of the united states, vice president and families, all of the candidates now. what is your reaction when you read that? >> it is stunning. this administratio and secretary jeh johnson have not made fundamental changes they need to. myself and elijah cummings arm in arm have been investigating this a long period of time. they're not making those adjustments. the mission panel, independent group came after the guy was able to jump the fence, get into the white house. the board recommended they plus up some 300 agents and officers, but guess what, they have less people now than they did before that. more than 70% of the time someone has a scheduled day off, they're called in to work. >> is it a matter of money? >> no, no. >> is the president in danger because of this? >> i think the agents and
officers are extremely overworked, tired. you don't want agents coming in so grumpy. there's a reason attrition is at an all-time high. can't seem to hire fast enough. they need to do, bring in u.s. marshalls, fbi agents and others to supplement in an election year. >> does it effect security? >> yes, absolutely. it puts people at vulnerability. you have an officer with a gun near the president, they're not alert, attentive, happy, you have a situation that could be potentially very dangerous, and you have to put these people on the road between the presidential candidates in an election year and the president and first family, traveling internationally. huge strain and they have not solved it. >> saudi arabia, the president is visiting saudi arabia now. fourth visit to saudi arabia since taking office. he arrived there and apparently they snubbed him at the airport, didn't send a high level official, sent a little regional leader, if you will. seen as a snub. the u.s. saudi relationship now
is strained. what do you think needs to be done to fix it? >> they're a critical partner in proximity with iran, they're upset they did that deal with iran. we have critical things to work out with saudi arabia. as it relates to information on the 9/11 report, i would vote to open that up. >> have you read the 28 pages? >> honestly, that happened before i got into congress, i have not. we err in this country on the side of openness and transparency. >> would you believe there was official saudi involvement in 9/11? we know 15 of 19 hijackers were saudi. do you believe someone in a high position in the government was involved? >> i hope not, but i want to read the report like the rest of the american people. truth will surface. let's vote for open transparency. >> this legislation that would allow american citizens to sue the saudi government.
president says he is going to veto it. >> a, open it up to read it, b, should be able to do that. relief through the courts is part of the american way. >> jason chaffetz, thanks for coming in. we are standing by for donald trump's campaign rally in maryland. we expect to hear from the republican presidential frontrunner soon. plus, hillary clinton. is she in the home stretch to the democratic nomination after her big win in new york? you do all this research on a perfect car then smash it into a tree. your insurance company raises your rates. maybe you should have done more research on them. for drivers with accident forgiveness, liberty mutual won't raise your rates due to your first accident. just one of the many features
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protesters and supporters in berlin, maryland, not far from ocean city, maryland, they're there, donald trump getting ready to address a rally inside. these are live pictures from the protesters and the supporters. they're clearly beginning to gather there. let's get more on the republican race, joining us, senior washington correspondent jeff zell man, and gloria borger and david swerd lick. this leaked memo, talking about that we saw the trump campaign that we got a hold of, they predict he is going to get well past 1237, the number of delegates needed first ballot to get the republican nomination.
they think he could get 1400. is that realistic or bravado? >> 1400 may be a little high, but truth of the matter is, wolf, after trump's victory last night in which he got lion's share of the delegates, i don't know what it turned out to be, 89 out of 95 delegates, and he is going into a host of states in the northeast, you know, pennsylvania, maryland, connecticut, delaware, rhode island, would look good for him. i think donald trump is the only one who has any mathematical possibility of getting to 1237 before the convention. if he doesn't get to 1237, he may get close enough so he can convince enough superdelegates, between 150 and 200 of them, to vote for them, and get over the finish line. >> the republicans have 5% of superdelegates available, 95% of
pledge delegates. his victory speech was brief, 8 minutes, concise, very presidential, if you will. a different tone, senator cruz, not lying ted cruz. today he went back to lying ted and all of that kind of stuff. what's going on here? >> what's going on is he still needs to win primary votes out there. primary voters in indiana and other places like the donald trump that's come before them, they're not ready for president trump if that should happen, they want this red meat. wolf, think we have to give it more time to see how he calibrates this so-called presidential trump versus candidate trump, and if he went out there suddenly sounding like he was a person of washington, that's not the red meat they want. you see the campaign becoming more grown up and elevated. the whole operation in terms of delegates and campaign structure, this is a different
donald trump. we have to give it a few more speeches to see how far it goes. is pivoting to howl take on hillary clinton and others. why should he spend time in the mud with ted cruz. he is doing it a little bit to get people going, but it is a shift. >> give him credit, it worked so far over many months going back to june, the lying ted, crooked hillary, all of that. it got him this far, i assume he wants to finish it off. >> he is not going to hesitate to pull it back out if he needs it. they tried to tone it down. victory speech night, it was iowa, they went back to red meat, they didn't have lying ted and little marco at that time, but there were insults. trump's brand of this sort of nonideological, nonsocially conservative republicanism just wears better in new york. it is his home state, it will wear better in the northeastern states. >> you think he will do well in
the next five states. >> yes. this is just much more fertile ground for him and less fertile for ted cruz and his brand of republican. >> even ted cruz is acknowledging mathematically he can't get to the 1237. kasich for awhile can't get it. only trump can get to it. the other two say they're staying in to get to contested convention. >> you don't hear cruz saying kasich, get out of the race. he kind of wants to keep kasich in the race. cruz is playing an inside game. he understands his only shot is the second ballot. if trump loses on first ballot, he believes all bets are off. i think talking to people inside the trump campaign that they believe that cruz's case becomes weaker if the margin is larger, and if trump is ahead of cruz, even if he doesn't cross that finish line, but if this margin
is a couple hundred ahead of cruz, how can cruz make that case credibly to delegates that he's the choice of the people. what the trump people are trying to do is rack up the wins. i think it comes down to states like indiana, which cruz has a shot at, and california. paul manafort, a trump person, said that if cruz doesn't win indiana, he ought to get out. he kind of laid that out. >> nebraska comes between the two. that's the key. indiana, nebraska, add those together, could be a big boom for ted cruz. you sort of feel like we see where this is going. republican leaders -- >> a lot of delegates at stake in california, new york, pennsylvania, all due respect to your home state of nebraska. >> you add indiana and nebraska together, that's a big primary. this is what donald trump is talking about, not back room
conventi conventioneering, but red states, going into california, ted cruz knows the math. he is no longer asking john kasich to get out. he needs all of the reinforce. to keep donald trump from going there. >> that's the only hope there, to go to second ballot. see what happens in cleveland. stand by. we are showing viewers live pictures. donald trump is getting ready to attend the rally in maryland. maryland holds its primary next tuesday. there are supporters and protesters there. police are in between. we are watching what's going on. we will be right back. go ahead... leave the competition behind. lexus gs 350 and 200 turbo. there's no going back.
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a dramatic change in the democratic race for the white house. hillary clinton a commanding lead in the primary. but saying he'll challenge her all the way to the convention. jeff zeleny has the latest. that was a huge loss for bernie sanders. >> particularly in a state where sanders talked about winning. they didn't manage expectations well. now bernie sanders must decide what's next. he took the day off in vermont, saying he needed to recharge. democratic leaders are
increasingly worried about tone. they're worried about hillary clinton as she makes it to the poll. >> the race for the democratic nomination is in the home stretch and victory is in sight. >> reporter: hillary clinton looking ahead, a triumph in new york commenting her position as the likely democratic nominee. an intense battle with bernie sanders suddenly giving way to an olive branch. >> to all of the people who supported senator sanders, i believe there's much more that unites us than divides us. >> reporter: sanders insists he's not going anywhere, telling supporters in a fundraising appeal today we still have a path to the nomination, and our plan is to win pledge delegates in the primary. just saying it doesn't make it so. the map, always a challenge, is now a firm roadblock for sanders. the big crowds who rallied across new york raised expectations for a punishing 16
point defeat. tonight, clinton leads by 253 pledge delegates, with superdelegates she moves closer to the magic number of 2383 needed to clinch the democratic nomination. >> sanders concedes they're a little short. >> we are a little behind in delegates than where we hoped to be. >> reporter: after a raucous night filled with attacks on clinton. >> secretary clinton has given speeches behind closed doors to wall street firms for $225,000 a speech. must be an earth shattering speech! >> reporter: a subdued sanders arrived home to vermont where he said he intended to recharge and rest, but not rethink his campaign. >> no. we think we have the message that is resonating throughout this country. we have come a long, long way. we have taken on the entire democratic political
establishment. >> reporter: the democratic establishment is growing restless, worrying sanders could be a spoiler by attacking clinton's honesty and in teg tree. the communication director for clinton told reporters sanders has been destructive and is not productive to democrats. particularly suggesting clinton is corrupt. a line of attack republicans are already seizing on. for now, clinton is taking a more subtle approach. >> under the bright lights of new york we have seen that it is not enough to diagnose problems. you have to explain how you actually solve the problems. >> reporter: making clear her eye is once again on november. >> donald trump and ted cruz are pushing a vision for america that's divisive and frankly dangerous. >> reporter: the clinton campaign is pivoting ever so gently to the fall campaign at least privately.
after next week's contests, advisers believe they'll have an insurmountable lead in pledge delegates. there's a sense of urgency. she needs to prepare her image. her negative attributes outweigh positive ones by 24 points. if she becomes the democratic nominee, she's more bruised than she would have imagined. >> she's moving ahead. gloria, how does hillary clinton's big win in new york yesterday change the dynamics? >> well, she's now the prohibitive favorite. she wins with democrats. bernie sanders can't win unless he starts winning with democrats. this was a close primary. didn't have independent voters, primaries that are coming up are closed as well. that's a problem for bernie sanders. maybe he will do okay in rhode island. she becomes a prohibitive favorite. she runs like a democrat in diverse urban areas. that's where she wins. that's how you win the presidency if you're a democrat. i think the hill became steeper
to climb. >> his real only hope is to flip the superdelegates, 15% of delegates at the democratic convention of philadelphia are superdelegates, more than 700. right now by our estimate, hillary clinton has almost 500. he has about 50 or so. he's got to convince superdelegates to flip. >> and he thinks he can do that by saying he is a better general election candidate, that he's a stronger candidate against donald trump because he can bring in independents and new voters. the difference here from 2008, when some superdelegates switched, they went to the winner, not the person behind in pledge delegates here. so it is an uphill battle. the real question facing bernie sanders is how he conducts his campaign the rest of the time. does he become a protest candidate with a message to deliver or does he become someone who sort of blows up the process here. he has not been that candidate all along. he hasn't shown that he wants to destroy the process. he wants democrats to hold onto
the white house, but it is a moment of reflection for bernie sanders, and he has supporters out there, too, that do not like hillary clinton and want him to win. >> it was evident at the debate in brooklyn the other day. david, yesterday the speech at penn state before the final outcome, he was tough on hillary clinton. today he is resting, recharging his batteries at his home in vermont. tomorrow he goes back out on the campaign trail. we will watch closely his tone, how toughest going to be on her. that will be significant, isn't it? >> i think tone is right. the clinton camp and other democrats have started to send out messages that they would like to see him tone it down, try to recognize that at some point democrats will have to unify. but at the same time i actually think the clinton camp would be okay if he is coming after her on policy, as long as it is not personal. they had trouble, clinton camp had trouble when they tried to pivot to trump, like december, trying to call trump sexist.
seems to me they've done well sparring with sanders for awhile, may want to continue that until the convention. >> you saw up close during your debate, wolf, bernie sanders gets under her skin, and it has difficult for her to kind of swipe it away and not pay much attention to it. i think she's going to try to do that more and more, and not get engaged in battles over who is qualified, who has judgment. it doesn't do her any good. i also don't think it does bernie sanders any good. he has to get young voters enthusiastic about hillary clinton. that's going to be his job. >> she's got an ad about gun control referring to sandy hook. let me play a clip. >> my wedding was one of the last things i planned with my mom. it was a very bittersweet day. my mom was the principal of sandy hook school. she was murdered trying to protect the children in her care
from the gunmen. no one is fighting harder to reform our gun laws than hillary clinton. she's the only candidate that has what it takes to take on the gun lobby. she reminds me of my mother. she isn't scared of anything. >> i am hillary clinton, i approved this message. >> going to be a powerful ad, especially in connecticut, one of the five states next tuesday that has a primary. >> no doubt. i have seen on the campaign trail erica has been campaigning with her, she's a powerful advocate. that's a raw subject. the challenge is everyone's mind is made up on this subject. it is hard to move people. the gun issue is something that bernie sanders was at odds with the democratic electorate in new york, he held his ground at the debate. i think in connecticut, this is a sensitive issue, going forward bernie sanders is not where democrats are on the issue in some respects. they agree on most things, but it is hard to imagine a more powerful image than that. >> indeed. david, shifting gears, the $20
bill, you have been in favor of harriet tub man being on the $20 bill. >> that's right. i had an opportunity to write about that a year ago, now it is happening. i understand the arguments people made against it, some say leave well enough alone with andrew jackson, others say we like harriet tubman, but why is the $20 bill the way to do it. seems to me whether she had full citizenship or rights in her time, she is an american hero. >> you're happy about it. >> hamilton, he survives on the $10 bill. >> survives. he is on broadway. okay? >> have you seen hamilton on broadway? >> not yet. i am dying to see it. >> dodged a bullet on that $10 bill. secret pages in congress's
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show show me more like this. s. show me "previously watched." what's recommended for me. x1 makes it easy to find what blows you away. call or go online and switch to x1. only with xfinity. listen to this. we're monitoring the crowds gathering outside of donald trump rally in maryland right now. there are supporters, there are also protesters facing off with police in between ahead of trump's first event since winning the new york primary. it's actually a second event. earlier one in indiana today. this is the second event. we're also following growing tension on a very, very different story right now
between the united states and one of its most important middle east allies, saudi arabia. president obama is there tonight, but he was apparently snubbed upon his arrival. our white house correspondent, michelle kosinski is traveling. the saudi relationship showing some serious signs of strain. >> reporter: that's right, wolf. this is president obama's fourth trip to the kingdom, more trips than any other u.s. president ever. also his last trip. so it was interesting to see him arrive and king solomon not there to greet him, even though the king had been there earlier to greet other leaders coming from gulf states. the white house is pushing back on this, though. they said originally the plan was to have a bigger ceremony and a lunch with the king. but the white house decided to arrive later in the day. so they're not calling this a snub. in fact, they came out of the bilateral meeting with the king this afternoon, feeling really good about it. the white house says this was unusual, and they don't think they have had a similar such meeting with the saudis before.
it was more than two hours long. they said it was broad, it was not perfunctory, as these things often are. in fact, they're calling it a pick clearing of the air on many of those issues that have caused so much tension between these countries. and that's not to say that solutions came out of this on the big differences that remain, or that even every detail was discussed. i mean, that glaring saudi threat they would dump nearly a trillion dollars in u.s. assets if legislation were passed that would allow american terror victims to sue the saudi government, the white house says that didn't come up. what did come up was iran, iraq, syria, yemen. even that magazine article that came out recently in the atlantic in which president obama raised concerns over whether he even sees saudi arabia as a legitimate ally, over when he thinks saudi arabia is pulling its weight in the fight against isis. the white house sees this, at least, as some progress in the relationship if not on the big differences that still divide these two, wolf. >> michelle kosinski reporting
from saudi arabia, traveling with the president. thank you. and as she just noted, the president's visit comes amid serious efforts by families of 9/11 victims to sue the saudi government. some believe the country may have played a role in the terror attacks and there may be evidence in more than two dozen secret pages of a official u.s. investigation. our security correspondent, jim sciutto, is working this for us. jim, causing a lot of additional strabs now in this critically important relationship. >> no question. you heard michelle say white house officials claiming they cleared the air on these many differences they have. but the question of these 28 pages is particularly explosive, because it revives lingering allegations that some senior saudi officials either knew about or helped fund the al qaeda in advance of the 9/11 attacks. and this tension is something the president felt the moment he landed in riyadh. >> reporter: if an official reception can speak a thousand words, today's greeting for
president obama in riyadh by the foreign minister, rather than the saudi head of state, might perfectly capture the troubled state of u.s.-saudi relations. no one among the dozens of american and saudi officials involved can ignore that the state visit comes as the u.s. senate considers a rare bipa bipartisan bill that would allow the families of 9/11 victims to sue the saudi government. >> it's very simple. if the saudis were complicit, if the saudi government was complicit in terrorism, then they should pay the price. >> reporter: at the center of the family's case are 28 heavily redacted pages of the congressional investigation into 9/11. which detail allegations that wealthy saudis tied to the royal family funded al qaeda in the run up to the 9/11 attacks. former senator, bob graham, served on the senate intelligence committee, and supports the legislation. >> there are literally thousands of documents that provide some
insight as to the saudis' role in 9/11. and my position is, all that information should be made available to the public. >> reporter: the saudi position remains that the 9/11 commission already exonerated the government to saudi arabia. >> if you look at the commission report, it deals specifically with saudi arabia's role that there was not a saudi nor any official role in this situation. >> reporter: and to highlight its opposition, the saudis are now threatening to oh sell nearly $1 trillion in u.s. assets if the law passes. ostensibly, to protect those assets from being frozen in any potential lawsuits. for his part, president obama says he has a, quote, sense of what's in those 28 pages. but opposes the legislation. arguing it would put the u.s. at risk. >> we are also opening up the united states to being continually sued by individuals in other countries. >> reporter: for victims' families, however, it's simply about justice delayed.
>> so watch the president sitting with the people of saudi arabia that may have funded the attacks that killed my husband and 3,000 others is very hard to watch. >> reporter: today the supreme court ruled in favor of victims of terrorism in cases against the state of iran by a 6-2 vote. the court clearing the way for them to collect nearly $2 billion from iran's central bank, money currently held in new york. that ruling has no legal bearing on the saudi victims' legislation, which i should note, wolf, the president has hibberted he might veto if it passes both houses of congress. >> yeah, getting closer and closer to passage. it's got a lot of bipartisan, democratic and republican support. but the administration, jim, they adamantly oppose it. they fear it could backfire, hurt u.s. diplomats, is that right? >> that's right, diplomats or soldiers, imagine a drone strike that kills civilians, bringing on cases like this really across the world. that's the administration position. >> thanks very much, jim sciutto, reporting for us. thank you. remember, you can always follow us on twitter.
please tweet me at wolf blitzer and tweet the show at cnn sit room. join us tomorrow in the situation room. i'm wolf blitzer. erin burnett "outfront" starts right now. next donald trump speaks live in this hour on the heels of a landslide victory. can he clinch the nomination before the convention? plus donald trump's talking points. a major projection. and after hillary clinton's big win, what is next for bernie sanders? his campaign manager is "outfront." let's go, out front. ♪ good evening to all. i'm erin burnett. the breaking news, donald trump, the man of the hour, about to rally thousands of supporters coming just one day after a landslide victory in new york. these are live pictures of that trump rally. the event on maryland's eastern shore, a very conservative part of that state. just ten miles from