tv Situation Room With Wolf Blitzer CNN August 4, 2016 2:00pm-4:01pm PDT
seriously. our cdc experts are on the ground working shoulder to shoulder with florida health authorities. there is a very aggressive effort under way to control mosquitos there and pregnant women have been urged to stay away from the particular neighborhood we're focused on. we will keep working as a team to slow and limit the spread of the virus. i want to be clear, our public health experts do not expect to see see the kind of widespread outbreaks of zika here that we have seen in brazil or puerto rico. the kind of mosquitos most likely to carry zika are limited to certain regions of our country. but we cannot be complacent because we expect to see more z zika. most people have very mild symptoms, but for pregnant women
it can be worse. we need to help puerto rico deal with their zika crisis and it costs money. the new trials for humans costs money. i have proposed an urgent request for more funding back in february. not only did the republican led congress not pass our request, they worked to cut it. then they left for summer recess without passing any new funds for zika. meanwhile, the people on the front lines have been making due. now the money we need to fight zika is running out. the situation is getting critical. without funding, nih clinical trials and the possibilities of a vaccine which is well within
reach, could be delayed. so this is not the time for politics. more than 40 u.s. service members have now contracted zika overseas. we now of o 1500 cases and that includes nearly 500 pregnant william. it is present in almost every part of puerto rico, and now the first local transmission in florida and there will certain i will be more. and meanwhile, congress is on a summer recess pap lot of foa lo talk about protecting americans from threats, zika is a threat, especially to babies. i want to call the members of congress and tell them to do their job. deal with the threat and help protect the american people from zika. with that i will take some questions, i'm going to start
with someone who just assumed the second most powerful office in the land, jeff mason, the new correspondents association president. >> thank you, sir. hardly powerful. and happy birthday. as islamic state loses territory, you and other officials said it is becoming a more traditional terrorist group. are you satisfied that the united states and it's allies have shifted strategy sufficiently to address that change. and secondly, given your comments about donald trump this week, are you concerned he will be receiving security briefings about isis and other sensitive national secure issues? >> i am never satisfied by our response. if you're satisfied that means it is resolved and it is not.
we just spent a few hours looking at what more can be done. it is absolutely necessary for us to defeat isil in iraq and syria. it is not sufficient, but it is necessary. so long as they have those bases, they can use their propaganda to suggest that somehow there is still a caliphate being born. and that can insinuate itself in the minds of folks that may be willing to travel there or carry out terrorist attacks. it is also destabilizing for countries in the region at a time when the is already unstable. i am pleased with the progress we made on the ground in iraq and syria. we are far from freeing mosul and raqqa. we have shown that when it comes
to convention that fights, isil can be beaten with partners on the ground, so long as they have the support from coalition forces that we have been providing. in the meantime though, you're seeing isil carry out external terrorist acts. and they learning something, they adapted, from al-qaeda. at a much more centralized operation, and tried to plan very elaborate attacks. what isil figured out is if they can convince a handful of people, or even one person to carry out an attack on a subway, or at a parade, or you know, some other public venue, and kill scores of people as opposed to thousands of people, it is still creating the kinds of fear
and concern that elevates their profile. so in some ways, rooting out these networks for smaller less complicated attacks is tougher because it doesn't require as many resources on their part or preparation. it does mean that we have to do even more to generate the intelligence, and to work with our partners in order to degrade those networks. and the fact is that those networks will probably sustain themselves even after isil is defeated in raqqa and mosul. but what we learned from our efforts to defeat al-qaeda is that if we stay on it, our intelligence gets better and we adapt as well.
and eventually we will dismantle these networks also. this is part of the reason why it is so poimportant for us to keep our eye on the ball, not panic, and not succumb to fear. isil can't defeat the united states of america, or our nato partners. but we can defeat ourselves if we make bad decisions. as painful and as tragic as these attacks are, that we're going to keep on grinding away, preventing them, where ever we can, using a whole government effort to knock down their propaganda, disrupt their networks, take their key operatives off of the battlefield, and that eventually we will win.
but if we start making bad decisions, indiscriminantly killing civilians, for example, instituting offensive religious tests on who can enter the country, those kinds of strategies can end up backfiring. because for us to win this fight, the clash of civilizations between islam plays right into the hands of isil and the perverse interpretations of islam they're putting forward. for mr. trump, we're going to go by the law which is that --
tradition and the law, that if someone is the republican nominee for president, they need to get security briefing so if they were to win, they are not starting from scratch in terms of being prepared for this office. and i'm not going to go into the details of the nature of the security briefings that both candidates receive. what i willay is that they have been told these are classified briefings. if they want to be president, they have to start acting like president, and that means being able to receive these briefings and not spread them around. >> are you worried about that? >> i think i have said enough on that. >> mary bruce. >> thank you, mr. president. what is your response to critics that say the $400 million in
cash you sent to iran was a ransom payment? is it a pew coincidence that a payment held up for four decades was suddenly sent at the same time that the american prisoners were released, and can you assure the american people that none of that money went to support terrorism. >> it has been interesting to watch this story surface. some of you may recall we announced these payments in january. many months ago. they were not a secret. josh did a briefing on them. it was not a nefarious deal. and at the time, we explained that iran had pressed a claim before an international tribunal about them recovering money of
theirs we had frozen, that as a consequence of working it's way through the international tribunal, it was the assessment of our lawyers that we were at a point where there was significant litigation risk and we could cost ourselves billions of dollars. it was their advice and suggestion that we settle. that's what these payments represent. it wasn't a secret. we were completely open with everybody about it, and it is interesting to me how suddenly this became a story again nap is point number one. point number two, we do not pay ransom for hostages. we have a number of americans being held all around the world. i meet with their families. and it is heartbreaking. and we have stood up an entire section of interagency experts that devote all of their time to
working with these families to get these americans out. but those families know we have a policy that we don't pay ransom. and the notion that we would somehow start now, in this high profile way, and announce it to the world, even as we're looking in the faces of other hostage families whose loved ones are being held hostage, and saying to them we don't pay ransom, defies logic. so that is point number two. we do not pay ransom. we didn't here and we won't in the future. precisely because if we did, we would start encouraging americans to be targeted, much in the same way that some countries that do pay ransom have more of their citizens being taken by various groups. point number three.
the timing of this was in fact dictated by the fact that as a consequence of us negotiating around the nuclear deal, we had diplomatic and negotiations with iran for the first time in several decades. the issue is not so much that it was a coincidence, as it was that we were able to have a direct discussion. john kerry could meet with the foreign minister, which meant our ability to clear accounts on a number of different issues at the same time converged. it was important for us to take advantage of that opportunity both to deal with this litigation risk that had been raised. it was important for us to make sure we finished the job on the irani iraq nuclear deal, and since we were in conversation, it was
important to push hard to get the americans out. let me make a final point on this. it has now been well over a year since the agreement with iran to stop it's nuclear program was signed. by all accounts, it has worked exactly the way we said it would work. you'll recall there were all of these horror stories about how iran was going to cheat, it would not work, they were going to get $150 billion to finance terrorism, and all of these scenarios, and none of them have come to pass. and it is not just the assessment of our intelligence community, it is the assessment of the israeli community, the country most opposed to the deal that acknowledges this is a game
changer and that iran has abided by the deal, and they no longer have the sort of short were term graek out capacity that enables them to create nuclear weapons. what i'm interested in is if there is news to be made, why not have some of the folks predicting disaster say you know what? this thing worked. that would be a shock. that would be impressive. if some of these folks who had said the sky is falling said we were wrong, and we're glad that iran no longer can break out in short-term and develop a nuclear weapon. but of course that wasn't going to happen. instead we have the manufacturing of outrage and a story that we disclosed in january. and the only bit of news that is
relevant on this is the fact that we paid cash. which brings me to my last point. the reason that we had to give them cash, is precisely because we're so strict in maintaining sanctions, and we don't have a banking relationship with iran, that we could not send them a check. and we could not wire the money. and it is not at all clear to me why it is that cash, as opposed today a check or a wire transfer, as made this into a new story. it may be because it kind of feels like some spy novel or, you know, some crime novel, because cash was exchanged. . the reason cash was exchanged is because we don't have a banking relationship with iran.
which is precisely part of the pressure that we were able to apply to them. so that they would ship nuclear material out and close down a bunch of facilities that, as i remember, two years ago, three years ago, five years ago, was people's top fear and priority that we make sure iran doesn't have break out nuclear capacity. they don't, this worked. josh letterman? >> thank you, mr. president. donald trump says the election will be rigged against him, challenging the core of our democratic system. can you promise the american people that the election will be conducted in a fair way, and are you worried that comments like his could erode the public's faith in the outcome of the election. if he does win, and you just
declared him unfit, what will you say to the american people? >> at the end of the day, it is the american people's decision. i have one vote. i have the same vote you do. i have the same vote that all of the voters eligible all across the country have. i have offered my opinion, but ultimately it it is the american people's decision to make collectively. if someone withins and is president, my constitutional responsibility is to peacefully transfer power to that individual and do everything i can to help them succeed. it is -- i don't even really know where to start on answering this question. of course the elections will not be rigged. what does that mean? the federal government did you want run the election process. states and cities and
communities all across the country are the ones who set up the voting systems and the voting booths, and if mr. trump is suggesting there is a conspiracy theory that is being propagated across the country, including in places like texas, where it is typically not democrats in charge of voting booths, that is ridiculous. we do take seriously our responsibilities to monitor and preserve the integrity of the voting process. if we see signs that a voting machine or system is vulnerable to hacking, we inform those local authorities who are running the elections that they
need to be careful. if we see jurisdictions that are violating federal laws in terms of equal access and are not providing ramps for disabled voters, or are discriminating, or violating civil rights laws, the justice department will come in and take care of that. this will be an election like any other election. and you know, i'm -- i think all of us at some point in our life have played sports or maybe just played in a schoolyard or a sand box and sometimes folks, if they lose, they start complaining they got cheated. but i have never heard of someone complaining of cheating
before the score is tallied. my suggestion would be, you know, go out there and try to win the election. if mr. trump is up 10 or 15 points on election day and ends up losing, then maybe he can raise some questions. that doesn't seem to be the case at the moment. barbara starr. >> thank you, mr. president. on the question of isis expansion that you have been talking about, because you see them expanding around the world, because you see them trying to inspire attacks, what is your current level of concern about the homeland. you talked about the protection measures, but what is your assessment about the possibility of your own intelligence advisories suggesting it's possible, about the direct isis threat to americans, and if i
may follow up, what is your assessment today as you stand here about whether donald trump can be trusted with america's nuclear weapons? >> on your second question, and i'll sort of address this to any additional trump questions, i would ask all of you to just make your own judgment. i have made this point already multiple times. just listen to what mr. trump has to say and make your own judgment with respect to how confident you feel about his ability to manage things like our nuclear triad. >> as i recall, i just answered a question about this a couple days ago and i thought i made myself clear. i don't want to keep repeating it or a variation of it.
i obviously have a very strong opinion about the two candidates who are running here. one is very positive and one is not so much. and i think that you will just hear any further questions directed to the suggest, i think you will hear variations on the same thing. what i can say is this is serious business. and and the person in the oval office and who our secretary of defense is, and our joint chiefs of staff and our outstanding men and women in uniform report to. they counting on someone with te temperament and good judgment to keep america safe.
that should be on the minds of voters when they go into the booth in november. in terms of the threat that isil poses to the homeland, i think it is serious. we take it seriously. and as i said earlier, precisely because they are less concerned about big spectacular 9/11 style attacks, because they have seen the degree of attention they can get with smaller scale attacks using small arms or assault rifles, or in the case of nice, france, a truck. the possibility of a lone act or a small cell carrying out an attack that kills people is real. and that is why our intelligence
our law enforcement and military officials are working around the clock to try to anticipate potential attacks. to obtain the threads of people who might be vulnerable to brainwashing by isil. we are con trained here in the united states to carry out this work in a way that is consistent with our laws. and presumptions of innocence. the fact that we prevent a lot of attacks as effectively as we do, it is a testament to the work these folks are doing. they work really hard, but it is
always a risk. some of you may have read the article in the new york times today, last night online, about a individual in germany that n confessed and gave himself up, and then explained his knowledge of how isil's networks worked. there was a paragraph in there that some may have caught, we don't know for a fact that it is true, but according to this reporting, the individual indicated that isil recognizes it is harder to get operatives into the united states. but the fact that we have what he referred to as open gun laws, meant that anybody, as long as they didn't have a criminal record that barred them from purchase, could go in and buy
weapons. that made a home grown extremist strategy more attractive to them. and those are the hardest to stop because if smin doesn't have a record, if it's not triggers something, it means that anticipating their actions becomes more difficult. this is why the military strategy in syria and iraq is necessary but not sufficient. we have to do a better job disrupting networks, and those networks are more active in europe than they are here. but we don't know what we don't know and it is conceivable there are networks here that could be activated. we also have to get to the messaging that can reach a troubled individual over the internet, and do a better job of
disrupting that. and what i told my team is that although we have been working on this now for five, six, seven years, we have to put more resources into it. this is -- this can't be an after thought. it is something that we have to really focus on. this is also why -- how we work with the muslim american community, the values that we affirm about their patriotism, their sacrifice, and our fellow feeling with them is so important. one of the reasons that we don't have networks and cells that are as active here as they are in certain parts of europe, is because the muslim-american community in this country is extraordinarily patriotic. and largely successful.
and fights in our military, and serves as our doctors and our nurses. and you know, their communities in which they are raising their kids with love of country and a rejection of violence. and that has to be affirmed consistently. and if we screw that up, then we're going to have bigger problems. >> thank you, mr. president. yesterday you commuted the sentences of 214 federal inmates. the largest single day grant of communations in the history of the american presidency. i wanted to ask you about your clemency process. you talked about this as low level drug offenders that got sentences. about a quarter also had firearm offenses. can you reconcile that for us and given that previously in
your presidency you sent a memo saying there was a predisposition against firearms. and the other side is pardons. you have granted more since calvin coolidge. why is that? is the focus on communations taking energy away from pardons? >> and finally just one other thing on pardons, many of them have reserved the end of their term for their politically sensitive pardons. sni appreciate the question because i have not been able to talk about this and this is something that i'm proud of. it is my view, shared by
democrats and republicans align that in many quarters that as successful as we have been at reducing crime in this country, the extraordinary rate of incarceration of nonviolent offenders as creating it's own set of problem that's are devastating. largely men, some women, are taken out of those communities. kids are growing up without parents. it perpetuates poverty and it is disproportionally young men of color being arrested at higher rates, charged and convicted,
and imprisoned for longer seasons. and so ultimately the fix on this is criminal justice reform. i hold out hope that the bipartisan effort in congress can finish the job, and we can have a criminal justice system at the federal level that is both smart on crime, effective on crime, but recognizes the need for proportionality in sentencing and the need to rehabilitate those that commit the crimes. even as that low process goes forward i want to talk about what has been stalled over the course of several years.
you commute somebody and they commit a crime, and the politics of it are tough. everyone republican the willy horton ad. the bias of my predecessor website and a number of my advisors early in my presidency was "be careful about that." i thought it was important to send a clear message that we believe in the principals behind criminal justice reform even if we ultimately need legislation. we have focused more on commutations than pardons. i think it will be roughly in line with what other presidents have done, but standing up this process required a lot of effort
and energy and it's not like we got a new slug of money to do it. so we have limited resources. the primary job of the justice department is to prevent crime and convict those who committed crimes and keep the american people safe, and that means you have had extraordinary and herculean effort. and we have been able to get organizations around the country to participate to screen and help people apply. and the main criteria i tried to set is if under today's laws, because there have been changes in how we charge nonviolence
drug offenses, today their sentences would be substantially lower than the charges they received if they got a life sentence, but a u.s. attorney or a justice department indicates today they would get 20 years and they already served 25, we try to screen through and find those individuals that have paid their debt to society, that have behaved themselves, tried to reform themselves, and we think have a good chance of being able to use that second chance well. on the firearms issue. what i have done is to try to screen out folks who seem to have a propensity for violence. and these are just hypothetic s hypotheticals. there may be a situation where a
kid at 18 was a member of a gang, had a firearm, did not use it in the offense that he was charged in, and there is no evidence that he used it in the offense he was charged in, but he had an enhancement, and he is now 38 and has an unblemished prison record. went back to school, got his g.o.d., went through drug treatment, has the support of the original judge that presided, the support of the warden, the family that loves him. in that situation, the fact that he had 20 years earlier an enhancement because he had a firearm is different than a
situation where someone is engaged in armed robbery and shot somebody. in those cases, that is still something that i'm concerned about. our focus really has been on people who we think were over charged and people who we do not believe have a propensity towards violence. and for your last question about last minute pardons that are granted, the process that i put in place is not going to vary depending on how close i get to the election. it will be reviewed by the pardon attorney. it will be reviewed by my white house counsel, and you know, i'm going to, as best as i can, make
these decisions based on the merits as opposed to political considerations. and jim is retiring after 30 years at nbc. he did a great job, covering the department of defense. i want to thank gym for the extraordinary career, the extraordinary job, and he gets the last question. >> thank you, first back to isis and iraq and syria. your very own national counter terrorism operation has found that despite what was dealt to them on the battlefield, there is as much as 18 operation
bases, do you feel any personal disappointment that there has not been any more progress, and in your discussions with the u.s. military and intelligence asi agencies, do you have any new ideas how to deal with isis? every time there is a terrorist attack i feel disappointment because i would like to prevent all of them. and that is true not just when it is in europe or the united states. you read stories about attacks in lebanon, information, or parts of the world that don't get as much attention, they get my attention. that is someone's kid, somebody's mom, someone going
about his business. and that was and mindlessly, this person was murdered. so i have not gotten numb to it. it bugs me when it happens. and we are constantly pushing to see if there are additional ideas that we can deploy to defeat this threat. now it is important that we recognize terrorism as a tactic that has been around for a long time. there was some terrorist activity, somewhere in the world, that was brutal. as much as i would like to say that during my eight year
presidency we could have eliminated terrorism completely, it is not surprising that has not happened, and i don't expect it to happen under the watch of my successors. i think pause of our extraordinary efforts, the homeland is significantly safer than it would be. in some ways this is arguing the counter factuals, but the attacks we prevent i take great satisfaction in. i don't think there is any doubt that had we not destroyed al qaeda that more americans would have been killed. and we might have seen more attacks like we saw on 9/11.
and we have maintained vigilance recognizing that those plates still remain, but it is harter for them to carry out the attacks like that than it used to be. we have seen these lower level attacks, carried out by fewer operatives, or a individual, with less sophisticated and less expensive weapons can do real damage, and that, i think, points to the need for us to not just have a military strategy, not just have a traditional counter terrorism strategy and bust up folks before they carry out their attacks, though it is still necessary and we have to
be more and more sophisticated, it still requires us to have greater cooperation with our partners around the world, but it points to the fact that we will have to do a better job in draining the ideology that is behind these attacks. that right now is emanating largely out of the middle east. and a very small fraction of the muslim world, a perversion of i'd lamb that has taken root and been duturbo charged over the internet, and for those that don't even know anything about islam and are not practicing in any serious way, but have all kinds of psychosis and lash on
to this as some way of being important and magnifying themselves. that is tougher. that involves both changes in geo politics in places like syria. it requires cultural changes regions that are going through generational chances and shifts. it requires psychology and thinking about how do these messages of hate reach individuals and are there ways in which we can intervene ahead of time. and all of that work is being done, and we have the very best people at it. and each day they're making a
difference and saving lives. not just here, but it is a challenge precisely because if you're successful 99% of the time, that 1% can still mean heartbreak for families. it is difficult because in a country of 300 million people in the united states, if 99.9% of people are immune from the hateful ideology, but one tenth of 1% are following, that is dangerous. it will be a challenge. i just want to end on the point that i made earlier. how we react to this is as important as the efforts that we take to destroy isil, prevent
these networks from penetrating. you can't separate those two things out. the reason it is called terrorism as opposed to just a standard war, is that these are week enemies that cannot match us in conventional power, but what they can do is make us scared. and when societies get scared, they can react in ways that under mine the fabric of our society. it makes us weaker and more vulnerable, and credits politics that divide us in ways that hurt us over the long term. and so if we remain steady and steadfast and vigilant, but also
take the long view and maintain per speaktive and remind ourselves of who we are and what we care about most deeply, what we cherish, what is good about this country, what is good about the international order and civilization that was built in part because of the sacrifices of our men and women. if we remember that, we will be okay. but we're still going to see these kinds of tragedies and we're going to have to keep working on it until we make things better. you may only because it is your retirement. but i hope it is not too long, i'm going to be late for my birthday dinner. >> happy birth day by the way.
you e luted to the negotiations between the u.s. and russia to some military and military cooperation. presumably in exchange for whatever russian influence could be imposed for a variety of reasons. i'm sure you're not surprised that some in the military are not supportive of that deal, some think it is a deal with the devil. what makes you so confident that you can trust the russians and vladimir putin? >> i'm not confident. the civilian death and destruction that we have seen carried out by the assad regime. and they may not be able to get there because they don't want to
or they don't have sufficient influence over assad. so we go into this without any blinders on. we're very clear that russia has been willing to support a murderous regime, and a individual in assad that is clinging to power. it is an entire advanced society. so when you're trying to broker any kind of deal with a individual like that, a country like that, you have to go in there with skepticism. on the other hand, if we are able to get a genuine cessation
of hostilities that prevents indiscriminate bombing, that protects civilians, allows for humanitarian access, and creates a have to try. i've been wrestling with this thing now for a lot of years. i'm pretty confident a big chunk of my gray hair comes out of a lot of syria meetings. there's not a meeting i don't end by saying is there something else we can be doing that we haven't thought of? is there a plan f, g, h, that we
think would lead to a resolution of this issue so that the syrian people can put their lives back together again and we can bring peace and relieve the refugee crisis taking place. the options are limited when you have a civil war like this. when you have a ruling who doesn't care about his people. when you've got terrorist organizations that are brutal and would impose their own kind of dictatorship on people.
that's a difficult situation we have to deal with. there's going to be some bottom lines we expect for us to cooperate with russia. that means restraint on on the part of the regime that's not forthcoming. we probably saw some lives saved. the violations of this have grown to the point where it just barely exists particularly in the north western part of the country. we're going to test and see if we can get something that sticks. if not, then russia will have shown itself very clearly to be an irresponsible actor around the world stage that's
supporting a murderous regime and will have to answer to that on the international stage. all right. thank you very much. >> we want to welcome our viewers in the united states and around tr world. i'm wolf blitzer. we discussed so many issues include the war against isiisis zika. lots to assess with all of our reporters, analysts. i want to start off with jake tapper. the president was briefed at the pentagon by the top general, military commanders and he offered a balanced assessment.
>> whether or not the united states can trust russia. very interesting in a lot of respects. first of all, his acknowledge that he's not sure we can trust russia but also referring to how they were going to test this. the cease-fire he acknowledged. some people think the cease-fire barely exists. there's a lot of people who think that the cease-fire has already failed and that russia has already shown its colors. it was an odd combination of pessimism and still trying to continue the cease-fire. on isis rgs one of the thi, one thought was interesting is when it comes to how the isis cannot match up when it comes to power but they can scare us in the united states and the response of the western world needs to be appropriate and measured in perspective. one thing was interesting was his acknowledgement that isis
cannot be just defeated milltarially. even if they succeed in wiping isis off the face of the map, it's no longer just about iraq and syria. he had a new construct. usually the question is are you safer than four years ago. are you safer than you were eight years ago be p the president using language that was at the homeland is significantly safer than it otherwise would be if we had not taken actions. it's not that we're safer than four or eight years ago but it's safer than we would have been if we hadn't done what we did. >> he made it clear that the u.s. is making significant process in defeating isis, it's going to be a long struggle, the
war would continue the threat to the u.s. homeland would continue. >> he said we're going to continue to see especialpisodic these types of terrorist attacks that have been seen over the last few months and years. there was no promise of an end of this. >> let me bring in david axelrod. he was also asked about comments that drumonald trump has made at this election could be rigged. the president said i don't know where the start from there. when you heard that exchange, what went through your mind? >> well, i don't think the president -- the president was trying to be muted. more muted than he's been. you didn't need any guide to lead you to through what he was saying. on that particular question he said he thought it was ridiculous. he pointed out that elections are run state by state and to
suggest some vast conspiracy is a little bit ludicrous. he said just listen to what he has to say and make a judgment as to how comfortable you feel about his ability to manage the nuclear triad. it was a low key comment but it said a lot. >> he was asked by barbara starr with donald trump having his finger on the nuclear button. he has to start receiving daily intelligence briefings. the president said he wasn't enthused by that. >> he said if you want to be president, you should act like a
president. it was sort of back of the hand to donald trump. >> our senior political analyst, former advisor to four american presidents. what did you think of the nature of the president's comments about donald trump today because the other day he said he was unfit to be president of the united states, woefully unprepared to be president of the united states. today he was a bit more restrained. >> absolutely. he was a bit more muted. the contrast between an obama press conference and what we've been seeing out on our politics. we didn't have the pyrotechnics of a trump rally. we didn't have the excitement of a hillary clinton rally. we had a president who seemed tired, subdue and even bored at times. there was something about the contrast of how he presented
himself that was reassuring. he was measured, calm and seemed to be on top of his material. that, i think, is what people are looking for in a president. one of the reasons his poll numbers are going up is people are getting nostalgic as they look at the alternative at the moment. the other thing that just came out again and again, having worked with presidents, you heard the beginning of his press statement about here's what we're doing. we're doing everything we can on the battlefield. we're making progress but still having these problems at home with the lone wolves. normally a president will say i'm announcing these three new steps. instead, he just come out of a meeting where he spent two hours asking what more can we do. he's being realistic. there's not a lot more to do. we have to step up our intelligence but we have to change our culture and change our messaging. those are long term. you had a sense that he's frustrated but he thinks he's
done the best job possible. >> jim, the president also spoke extensively about all the reports the u.s. paid $400 million to iran on the very same day that four american hostages, prisoners were released. he defended that. he insisted no ransom was paid and strongly defended the iran nuclear deal saying it worked. he made a poent i've been hearing. >> the hostages and the american prisoners were released when they made the initial $400 million payment which was frozen. it was in cash. the president said the reason it has to be in cash was because sanctions had worked.
iran did not have access to the international banking system so we couldn't do it by wire transfer. we had to do it old school. it allowed us to talk to iran about other things including americans held in captive and these frozen assets before. the trouble is even his own justice department saw the obvious appearance, at least, of releasing those american prisoners on the same day that plane full of cash goes to iran and even if you did, and this is true, have separate negotiating tracks, when it happens at the same time, it's difficult to fight the impression that it was a quid pro quo. historically, iran has played
this game before. they wouldn't have released them unless the money was released at the same time. the president fighting back against that. the president saying he asked this rhetorical question which is really a pie in the sky question, saying wouldn't it be great if those critics who said all these bad things are going to happen and iran is going to cheat, wouldn't it be great if they publicly said today that iran has abided by the terms of the deal. that is something i've heard from intelligence officials and something israeli officials have said. we know that's something very unlikely to happen here in washington. >> jake, what did you think of the president's defense of his decision to provide that $400 million to iran on the very same day that those four american
prisoners, those hostages were released and the president insisting this was not ransom. >> he wakes up on his birthday, with the highest approval rating since his second term. you saw and this is a contrast as david noted from what we're seeing on the campaign trail, a very measured response. he obviously, took issue with the wall street journal report and the follow in the media about this $400 million. said this is something he announced in january. he thought it was interesting. that's where he let the media criticism dropped. i find it interesting it happened. we announced it, et cetera. it is true that the deal cut,
the settling of this complaint that was in the hague, it was announced in january. a lot of americans will take his word for it and also the measured tone that he brings. >> we want to welcome our viewers in the united states and around the world. i'm wolf blitzer in "the situation room." the president wrapped up a one-hour news conference on several key issues including the iran nuclear deal and the payment of $400 million to the iranians on the very same day that four american prisoners were released. the president insisting this was not ransom. you've learned it's not just $400 million that was provided to the iranians but the balance of that money was provided as well. >> that's right. that initial 400 million dollar
was an iranian trust that when that failed iran deal went sour in the 1970s. the money was put in trust. this is the money that iran has claimed is interest. you've heard the president and others say that the irans with they thought they it was not in cash. iran has access to the international community. what officials are saying is if you look at everything that went down that day, wolf, not only the implementation of the iran deal, the settlement and officials, they say it's what iran's least priority. they really wanted was to lift
those international sanctions. the u.s. did make this payment and clear accounts. it was really the priority and they say that everyone here, the political climate is making too much. >> the administration says back in the 1970s and '78, 79, the then shah gave the united states $400 million for weapon purchases. those weapons were never delivered. they say the $400 million provided then with compounded interest became $1.7 billion. that's why they got the $400 million first and the 1.3 billion later. that's the argument that the
administration says. the president wrapping up his eight years in office. where will isis fit into his legacy? >> obviously, the whole scope of these eight years and how this story has evolved when we got to washington and i was with him at the time. there are 180,000 troops deployed in iraq and afghanistan. he brought many of them home. some are still there. the situation has morphed the iraqi regime. created conditions that exploded. he spoke today about syria and the decisions he made. bringing those troops home and some of those steps will be part
of the legacy and the ongoing struggle with isis and terrorism will be part of that legacy as well. >> barbara starr is with us, our pentagon correspondent. you asked the president in a very important question about isis. was his answer up to speed? was it what you thought he should deliver? >> i think i was struck by his repeated theme which we have not heard a lot about which is the expansion of isis far beyond iraq and syria. isis said to be in some 18 countries. he talked about you still have to defeat them there but what about this expanded threat. we have seen all of these attacks in europe, bangladesh, the middle east. what do you do about all of
that? that's the much tougher problem. what about the homeland. they talk about the homeland is safer than it might have been without additional security measures of recent years. they have helped significantly. i thought it was very telling when we asked about the possibility of a threat to the u.s. homeland. he said i think it's serious. he does believe clearly that they have to keep an eye on these isis networks and operatives that may be inside the united states. no proof of it. they could behere. he made the point that these people could be without a criminal record, no gun violations. they could go out and buy weapons. it's one of the things that makes it so hard to track these people down. the president making it clear he's very much holding up the notion that there is an isis
threat to the yiet. wolf. >> he would be in control of nuclear weapons. he did not give a flat yes in his response. >> i thought that was perhaps the most fascinating. the president saying that he has very strong feelings again about donald trump's ability and temperament to be president of the united states. he's talked about this repeatedly. i brought it back to the question but do you believe he can be trusted with america's nuclear weapons. i just want to read quickly what we did get from the president. he said, let me quote, he says just listen to what mr. trump has to say and make your own judgment with respect to how confident you feel about his ability to manage things like our nuclear triad. for a president, a sitting president of the united states, people can make their own judgment. many people may believe that falls far short of an
endorsement of mr. trump's ability to handle the nuclear arsenal. >> the president also said he has no choice making sure donald trump and hillary clinton receive daily intelligence briefings because that's the law and tradition with nominees of the major parties. he seemed a bit more toned down. >> in that non-news conference you'll remember him saying that he thought donald trump was unfit to be president. he didn't repeat that today. he almost seemed to not want so many questions on donald trump. i think he got about three or four and he almost seemed to say this is what i'm going to say and anybody else who wants to ask, you can refer to what i'm about to say now. i think the white house might be
concerned about him giving too much air time to donald trump. they probably felt like this setting with matters of national security, not wanting to waste too much time talking about donald trump. >> he was also asked about donald trump. >> it's a ridiculous claim. he sort of laughed it off. plenty of opportunities for him to do that. the president's eye is on the ball. he's not forgotten about the real threat to the homeland.
a large selection of the population is worried about this election. 46% think it's not going well because of national security issues. donald trump is doing pretty well on national security questions in polls right now. leading hillary clinton. one reason the president made this a big focus. >> he always going on vacation. goes up to martha's vineyard. it happens to be his birthday. he's 55 years old. he decided to do it at the pentagon. talk about the optics and why he decided to do this news conference at the pentagon. >> i think one of the reasons is he had a meeting there and it
was a briefing on isis and so he was going to be there. the white house is definitely sensitive to accusations that the president doesn't take the threat of isis seriously enough based on some of the comments he's made where people have objected to times he's attempted to say keep this in perspective. this president has never meant to belittle that and he's skeptical of the constant drum beat that the sky is falling. one other thing in his reluctance to go after donald trump, there are people in the white house who don't want him to go after trump every time he speaks. don't want that to be the centerpiece of the message he's giving to the american people.
i guess the reason is political capital, and the president has some, his poll numbers are up. highest job approval rating since the beginning of his second term. it's a very valuable commodity. there's not an endless supply of it. it can be squandered quickly. if the president were to make every single press conference from now until election day about how much he dislikes donald trump and how unfit he thinks he is, then people might start tuning it out. he really wants to be an effective surrogate for hillary clinton in september and especially in october. he doesn't want to just be another talking head on television. he wants to be the president of the united states. people really take notice and i think that there is an effort at the white house to protect that political capital, protect that commodity so that when it is really needed in october when
this race will likely tighten significantly, and who knows what's going to happen. hillary is up a lot now, but anything could happen. that said, you want to make sure that you deploy it when you need it. >> our poll shows he's at a high 55% job approval number. it's similar to what president clinton had at this late term and similar to what ronald reagan had at this late stage. everybody stand by. we're going to have much more in the breaking news. let's take a quick break. we'll be right back. this is the summer. the summer of this. the summer that summers from here on will be compared to. get out there. find hotels at up to 50% off and more ways to save at expedia.com/save50. to discover what we it's learn on the track... doesn't stay on the track.
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donald trump: i could stand in the middle of 5th avenue i'm hillary clinton and i approve this message. and shoot somebody and i wouldn't lose any voters, okay? and you can tell them to go f--- themselves! you know, you could see there was blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out of her wherever... you gotta see this guy. ahh, i don't know what i said, ahh. "i don't remember." he's going like "i don't remember!"
we're following the breaking news, president obama speaking out about donald trump a little while ago. the pentagon news conference. the president confirmed the republican nominee will receive classified intelligence briefings every day. that's in keeping in tradition with the law. the president also said if donald trump wants to president, he should start acting like a president adding he hopes donald trump won't share that classified information. trump was appearing more presidential today mostly avoiding the most controversial remarks at a campaign rally. jason carol is joining us. trump returned to his focus almost exclusively on hillary clinton. >> reporter: he did. in some ways he was a much different donald trump that we saw here today in portland. not as much of the name calling. we did hear him talk about a number of issues. the issue of illegal immigration. a corner stone to his campaign. he talked about the danger of letting in immigrants.
he also continued to raise questions about how that $400 payment to iran. donald trump looking to steady his campaign after several rocky day of taking aim at hillary clinton. >> hillary clinton, further more, can never be trusted with national security. >> reporter: and attacking the obama administration's $400 million payment to iran but still repeating the false claim that he saw video of the transfer taking place. >> the tape was made with the airplane coming in. the airplane coming in and the money coming off. that was given to us by the iranians. you know why the tape was given to us, they want to embarrass our country. they want to embarrass our president. >> reporter: this as the gop nominee tries to reassure voters
and republican leaders weary of his recent series of missteps that his campaign is moving in the right direction. helping him make the case, a big july fund raising haul. >> we're raising a lot of money for the republican party but small contributions. i think it was $61 each. >> reporter: trump's rhetoric catching up with his running mate being challenged by an 11-year-old roboy on whether hi role is to tone down trump's words. >> donald trump and i are determined to work together. we have difference styles. differences this style, matthew, should never be confused with differences in conviction. >> reporter: pence and trump do have a slit when it comes to support for house speaker paul ryan with pence endorsing ryan wednesday, a day after trump said he wasn't ready to do so. ryan, today, shrugged off the non-endorsement. >> the only endorsements that i
want are those of my own employers here in the first congressional district. >> reporter: ryan also opening the door of potentially not backing trump in the future. >> none of these things are ever blank checks. that goes with any situation in any race. >> reporter: pence refused to endorse two other republicans trump has criticized, john mccain and kelly ayotte. both seeking re-election this year. >> i look forward to supporting republican candidates in the days and weeks ahead all over the country, and so does donald trump. >> reporter: there was no evidence of frustration with trump's candidacy among republicans. mike hoffman who is facing tough re-election released a tv ad vowing to take on trump. >> if he's the president, i'll stand up to him. >> reporter: hillary clinton is leading in three key states. up nine points in michigan. 13 points in pennsylvania and 15
points in new hampshire where that deficit could also spell trouble for republican senator kelly ayotte's re-election bid. trump campaign chairman said the dip is no surprise. >> we had a bounce. we knew the democrats would have a bounce. >> reporter: wolf, we'll see if trump has more to say about that $400 million payment to iran when he has his rally tomorrow in wisconsin. as for what happened here today, at one point a group of protesters stood up and held up pocket versions of the constitution. they were escorted out. this is a reference to kazir khan. family who stood up during the dnc and held up a version of the constitution. >> we just lost the connection with jason. he was wrapping up his point. i want to get some more on all of this now. joining us the trump campaign
senior add vvisor. thanks very much for joining us. >> thank you. >> let's get through a lot of questions raised today. >> i'm not going to go into details of the nature of the security briefings that both candidates receive. they have been told these are classified briefings. if they want to be president, they got to start acting like president. that means being able to receive these briefings and not spread them around. >> clearly, congressman, he's concerned about donald trump getting the briefings although he will receive the briefings. your reaction. >> i think the president is putting on his democrat hat and putting on his partisan hat.
he absolutely was acting in that statement. i think for obviously the president of the united states is going to be concerned about national security, but you can tell the way he phrased that is he was trying to cast doubt on there's no question about where president obama stands in this election. any clever jab or a slight that he doubt he can put over the trump campaign, he's going to do that. i think also he wanted to take the attention away from the $400 million in cash that was sent to iran. senator tom cotton has sent a letter to secretary lou and kerry about it asking some very pointed questions which if the president will be up front about the 400 million in cash then i hope he'll answer those questions and focus on those sorts of things and maybe back off his partisanship in the election. >> you did hear the president go in depth in explaining that $400 million transaction to iran and
depending the iran nuclear deal. he went point by point and made his case. you heard him say that. >> i heard him say that's old news which is a very clinton-esque tactic when you're caught doing something. oh, no, we've reported that at the time. we've gone down that route before with bill clinton. we need to have secretary kerry and lou go down to the hill and talk to the senators and the house and make sure that they have answered all these questions and this was not ransom money. i think it also raises the question of $1.7 billion payment transfer to iran in general. i don't think the american people have focused on how much money we will be paying iran as part of this nuclear deal. it opens up the whole question about the nuclear treaty with iran which hillary clinton has embraced and donald trump is saying he's going to rip it to
shreds and start all over. the president has opened up a condition of words that be american people will want know about far beyond the 400 million in cash. >> in january when the deal was announced the president and secretary of state, john kerry, did say the 400 million was part of the deal, part of a bigger $1.7 billion the u.s. was providing to iran because of a long standing dispute going back to the days of the shah. they didn't say it was being provided on unmarked cargo plane but they did talk about the 1.7 billion deal. >> i think it's just a topic that the american people may want know more about. certainly, it is a defining difference between the trump campaign and the clinton campaign. is this a deal that the american people are going to be happy about ten years down the road or going to be very leery in
dealing with a nuclear iran. to me, the president really does not want to talk about this. the fact he brought it up and brought up in the same press conference that isis is now in 18 different countries and a threat to the united states of america. that is scary. two things the trump campaign will talk more and more about, it's the economy and the failed foreign policy which hillary clinton was an architect of. remember, isis did not exist when they came to office. isis was a birth or creation that happened under their watch and now for it to be well beyond its original borders, it's a thing that all americans are going to be concerned about as we go into the election. >> isis is an option of al qaeda in iraq.
donald trump has been saying there's video of that $400 million cash transfer to iran on the same day four american prisoners were released. let me play the clip. >> the tape was made. you saw that with the airport coming in. nice plane. the airplane coming in and the money coming off, i guess. that was given to us by the iranians. you know why the tape was given to us? because they want to embarrass our country and they want to embarrass our president. >> the only video that we've seen are the video of some plane in geneva at the time the detainees were released. we haven't seen video of the transfer of this money inside iran. i think that's pretty clear. why is donald trump keep bringing this video up? >> you know, i can't answer that question, wolf. when you're dealing with iran and countries like this, you're
going to have a lot of false information. it underscores why the president of the united states should be forthcoming with here's what we did and you may remember we did this if january. i'm going to give full details again. i'm sending my top secretaries down to the hill. they will talk to senator tom cotton and we'll answer the questions. if there's a video out there, then we'll talk about it. i do not know all the details of it. i know that when you deal with iran and you identity them as a new ally, you'll have problems like this which, again, underscores the uncertainty that has been created in our foreign policy under the current administration. >> the only video is the plane in geneva. i think the trump campaign is suggested that. that's why it's curious why he keeps speaking about video released. we haven't seen it. it hasn't been on television. let me get to these poll numbers for you. new polling in new hampshire,
for example, shows hillary clinton ahead. you can see it right there by 10 poi -- 15 points. how worried are you about the poll numbers that shows not only nationally but in key battleground states hillary clinton leading decisively. >> you know, one thing that we have learned coming out of cleveland and philadelphia is how fluid this campaign is. we had a great bounce coming out of cleveland. we knew that would not last. we knew that hillary clinton would get a great bounce out of philadelphia. she's enjoying that bounce right now. obviously, last week wasn't a great week for us. the reality is the american people are still going to be focused on the economy and the fact tough 95 million people who are not in the labor force right now who should be. you have 43 million people on food stamps. you have the lowest homeown homeownership rate since the
1950s. as we go into november, people will put aside the side shows and say what is the central issue. central issue is my income and job opportunities have shrunk under the barack obama/hillary clinton administration policies. i want change. if i'm going to vote for change, it's going to be donald trump. >> the former house speaker from georgia, trump supporter, newt gingrich said this about donald trump in an sbeinterview. he said he can't learn what he doesn't know because he doesn't know he doesn't know it which is making fun of donald trump, wouldn't you say that? >> i'd say it's very poetic. you can barely follow but you can follow it. you know what i think we have here is have a guy who came up through the new york business community. it's a tough community. there's a lot of brashness that you have to have to do business
to be successful as donald trump has been. what we're seeing is the transition from a guy who is leaving the private sector and kind of a bare knuckles kind of street brawl approach to now transitioning to the public sector where you have to be a lot more careful with what you say and what battles you pick and choose. i think we're getting there. it's going to take a while. the things that americans have liked about donald trump is that by saying these thing, he underscores the fact he's not bought and paid for by washington lobbyists which hillary clinton cannot make that claim. when you have a change agent, a guy not from the establishment, you have to love him warts and all. i think america will have to choose do you want change, do you want a stronger economy. do you have a better foreign policy and you have to go with donald trump. if you like the status quo than hillary clinton is there to carry on the baton of barack
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conferenc conference. michelle some major news. >> this was president obama not wanting to be overly raw, raw. we didn't hear phrases like isis is desperate or on the run. his tone was very much acknowledge that branches of isis have spread and even if isis is defeated, it's going to take a lot long. where he got feisty is when he answered his critics, namely and specifically donald trump. >> president obama defended his isis strategy. >> isis has not had major successful operation in either syria other iraq in a full year. even isil's leaders know they will keep losing. their messages to followers is they may lose mosul and they are
right. we'll keep driving them out until they do. isil turns out not to be invincible and they will be defeated. >> reporter: he pushed back against critics who called a 400 million dollar cash payment to iran a ransom payment. >> we have a policy that we don't pay ransom. the notion that we would somehow start now in this high profile way and announce it to the world even as we're looking into the faces of other hostage families who's loved ones are being held hostage and say to them that we don't pay ransom defies logic. the reason we had to give them cash is because we're so stripped in maintaining sanctions and we do not have a banking relationship with iran that we couldn't send them a
check. we could not wire the money. it's not clear at all why cash as opposed to a check or wire transfer has made this into a news story. >> reporter: the president weighing in again on the 2016 presidential race and calling out donald trump. >> i've made this point already, multiple times. just listen to what mr. trump has to say and make your own judgment with respect to how confident you feel about his ability to manage things like our nuclear triad. >> with respect sir, it suggests you're not confident. >> i obviously have a very strong opinion about the two candidate who is as who is runn. one is very positive, and one is not so much. this is serious business.
the person who is in the oval office and secretary of defense and are joint chiefs of staff and are outstanding men and women in uniform report to. they are counting on somebody who has the temperament and good judgment to make decisions to keep america safe and that should be on the mind of voters. >> reporter: at times the president had a mocking tone talking about donald trump. laughing a bit in his answers. even though he technically didn't answer barbara starr's answer, do you trust donald trump with nuclear codes. he made his answer very clear. >> he did. let's dig deeper now.
david, the president was asked about donald trump's assertions that these elections in the united states may be rigged. listen to the answer. >> sometimes folks if they lose, they start complaining they got cheated. i've never heard about somebody being cheated before the game was over or before the score is even tallied. my suggestion would be, you know, go out there and try to win the election. if mr. trump is up 10 or 15 points on election day and ends up losing then maybe he can raise some questions. that doesn't seem to be the case
at the moment. >> donald trump keeps talking about a rigged system. is he going to keep on doing this? >> i think it will. it seemed to be effective for him in the primary. he won but it was a popular theme. what i see president obama doing in the press conference is a preemption. the president is pre-exempting trump's rigged claim. >> jackie, do you think donald trump is questioning the election system before the election because he's preparing his case in case he loses? >> it seems that way. i think that's why you hear a forcible defense of the system from president obama as well as from republicans. this goes to the core of how the united states elects presidents. you heard some of his staff and
supporters start talking about what might happen. try to gin up this discontent ahead of everything. >> ron, there's a fresh round of polls from key battleground states that show hillary clinton with very comfortable leads over donald trump. the most recent poll in new hampshire, especially gloomy for donald trump. hillary clinton at 47%. trump at only 32%. she's up by 15 points. how does donald trump overcome that kind of deficit. >> i would start by saying i think his argument that the election will be rigged is placing a bad bet for him. it's the kind of rhetoric that fires up his base. one of the biggest problem s the majority of the country thinks
he's not qualified by temperament or experience. this idea of questioning the election before it happens will reenforce the doubts especially as the democrats trying to paint him as a figure who will threaten democracy itself. what you're seeing in the state polls that came out today as well as the national polls that came out is the consolidation of a very powerful democratic coalition against donald trump built around two elements. one is huge deficits for him among non-white voters and historic deficits among the college educated voters. no democrat has won college educated whites in a presidential election. today in the polling in pennsylvania, hillary clinton was leading him by 30 points among college educated whites. the number was 28 points in that poll that you cited in new hampshire. you're seeing these two elements of society viewing trump as
unacceptable as president today and him relying on his big numbers among blue collar whites. it's simply not enough in most states. pennsylvania is a good example where his deficit in the dist b suburbs, you can't overcome that by his growing strength in southwest pennsylvania, the kind of industrial areas. declining industrial areas where he's so strong. >> david, a lot of republicans are deeply worried that trump could have a negative affect on some down ballot races. kelly ayotte is the incumbent republican. maggie hassan is at 50%. kelly is at 40%. how worried are republicans right now that if trump does not do well atop the ticket, others will follow? >> i think they have to be worried on a case by case basis especially in statewide races. when you're talking about
smaller race, a lot of republican seats are safe regardless of the circumstances with trump. in new hampshire, it's not quite as surprising as it might be if the challenger was an unknown commodity. speaker paul ryan say in an interview that his endorsement of donald trump wasn't necessarily a blank check, does that threat of losing someone like paul ryan hold a lot of significance with trump? >> it's hard to say because you think if it did he wouldn't have sort of challenged paul ryan earlier this week. for paul ryan this is all about his agenda and this is all about having someone in the white house that can let him pass his agenda and, you know, sign it into law.
if it looks like donald trump is going to challenge him in any way why -- why waste his time with supporting him in he has a great relationship with mike pence, and i think they're really leaning on that at this point. right now trump is an unknown quantity to paul ryan because he hasn't followed through on some things they've talked about like party unity, for example. >> guys, thank you very much. just ahead a serial shooter. a man blamed for seven deaths in just four months strikes again opening fire on a father and a child seemingly at random, but there may be a critical difference in this latest attack. will it help lead police to the killer? bed of this competitor's truck.m awesome. yeah! first, let's check out the aluminum bed of this truck. wooooow!! holy moly. full on crack here. now let's check out the steel bed of the silverado. i'd expect more dents. no holes.
>> a serial shooter suspected in seven deaths over the last four months has struck again, but now there may be a critical new clue for investigators. cnn's brian todd is working the story for us. brian, these shootings are frightening a lot of people in the phoenix area. >> they certainly are. the city of phoenix is again on edge with new information that this shooter is still at large. he has terrorized that city for almost five months. tonight the fbi, the u.s. marshals and the phoenix police are ramping up their efforts to catch this man before he kills again. he seems to choose his victims randomly, approaches them
quickly at night and blast them with a semiautomatic handgun. tonight, phoenix police tell cnn the serial shooter in their city has struck again. >> a 21-year-old man and a 4-year-old boy were in a car. it was during that time that we believe the serial street shooter shot at the car. fortunately, neither the man or the child were struck. >> that was on july 11th. it's taken weeks for investigators to establish that this was indeed the same man who they say has killed seven people in nine attacks since march. children have been targeted twice including 12-year-old malia ellis shot and killed as she listened to music inside a car. authorities have raised the reward to $50,000, put out this sketch of a suspect. police tell us he's likely a hispanic man in his 20s, tall and thin. profilers say he's a narcissistic psychopath. >> what we have here is a person who cares not about anybody else, but himself. he gets a big thrill out of anything that draws attention to him. he wants to feel powerful and in
control. he has no empathy whatsoever. >> reporter: and no apparent connection to any of his victims, but he does have an m.o. police say some of the shootings were in phoenix, and near maryvalley. >> he's comfortable in both of these areas of the city, east and west, maybe because he knows a place to park that he considers safe and far enough away, maybe he's lived in the neighborhood or worked in the neighborhood. >> investigators are looking whether the gunman works in a mechanic shop or car sales lot. police believe he has access to multiple vehicles two are described as a white cadillac or lincoln-type vehicle or a bmw sedan from the late '90s or early 2000s. he approaches in a car and gets away in a car. how can this killer slip up? >> think the biggest mistake this particular individual might
make is that he's starting to think he's invisible like he's a phantom. this composite has been out there and nobody's turned me in. they talk about my vehicles. nobody's turned me in. >> reporter: but there could be a critical new piece of information tonight. phoenix police tell us that unlike his previous attacks in his last attempt they don't believe the shooter got out of his car. that means explosive residue can likely be detected from his car in the seats and interior lining. that could be an important clue for police if they can just find that vehicle, wolf. >> brian, how specifically have they linked this last shooting to the others. >> reporter: it seems to be all about his gun. a source close to the investigation telling us shell casings at the scene of the last shooting match the other shootings. police say he always seems to be using a semiautomatic handgun. >> that's a very, very disturbing situation. let's hope they wrap this up in phoenix in the not too distant future. people are nervous there, understandably so.
brian todd, thanks very much for that report. and that's it for me. thanks very much for watching. i'm wolf blitzer in "the situation room," erin burnett "out front" starts right now. "out front" next, president obama breaking news firing back at donald trump's charge that the election is rigged calling him rbiing and a late-breaking poll showing hillary clinton's lead doubling since the convention. he's seen video of a plane delivering hundreds of millions of dollars to iran, video even his staff says they don't have and the zika virus spreading to california. two babies born with serious birth defects and we'll go to the front lines of the fight tonight. let's go "out front." goo good evening. i'm front tonight, the breaking news. president obama calli