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tv   Situation Room With Wolf Blitzer  CNN  August 3, 2015 2:00pm-4:01pm PDT

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voters, but courting billionaires. >> the big question -- what will the rich guys and gals giving these huge sums expect from the candidate who wins? that's it for "the lead." i'm jake tapper. i'm turnic it over to brianna keilar in for wolf blitzer in "the situation room." i'm jake tapper. \s they find isis is as strong as ever, suggesting little progress against the terror group, even as the president authorized new air strikes that may draw the u.s. deeper into a conflict. search expands as investigators try to find the search for a plane wing, searchers are looking for other debris that may have washed ashore. we'll take you aboard one of search boats. airliners at risk after close calls, homeland security warnings that terrorists could use drones. could flights be targeted.
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wolf blitzer is off. i'm brianna keilar, you're in "the situation room." a classified intelligence assessment offers a grim conclusion about the war with isis, suggesting is the terror group may be as strong as it was a year ago, despite thousands of air strikes. that comes as the united states may soon be drawn deeper into the bloody war in syria, where groups include isis are fighting one another. president obama has approved the use of american air support for u.s.-backed syrian rebels. those rebels have already come under attack and u.s. aircraft have already responded. are american personnel facing a greatest risk? i'll be speaking with congressman adam shiv of the intelligence committee and our correspondents, analysts and guests are standing by with full coverage of all of today's top stories. we begin with syria and pentagon correspondent barbara starr. tell us what you're learning. >> brianna, the pentagon now
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says it believes the first of the u.s. trained and equipped syrian refbls have been killed in that al qaeda-backed attack in northern syria. the u.s. is going to great lengths to say those rebels, the u.s. has their back, but they have a very big target on that back. smoke rising from a u.s. air strike in northern syria, launched to protect american-trained rebels under attack from an al qaeda linked group. the first strike since president obama approved air cover to protect rebels under attack from any group. al qaeda, the assad regime or isis, a hint of the expanded mission in the works for days. >> i think we have an obligation to support those fighters when when they go into. >> what if the assad regime attacks the u.s.-backed rebels. we have cautioned syria in the past not to engage u.s. aircraft, and the syrian regime
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would similarly be advised not to interfere. >> the strike here in northern syria the is the area in u.s. kror harris, air strikes are being used to shut down the last major border crossing into syria near aleppo, to keep fighters and weapons from getting to raqqa, the isis stronghold. they are seeing more and more difficulties of getting their fighters into northern syria. >> despite -- a classified assessment bleakly concludes eye says is as strong as it was a year ago when air strikes began, but is no longer making huge advances on the ground. the number of fighter down slightly. the president says that is progress, but in iraq, even as the uss struck a facilities making vehicle-borne bombs, the defense intelligence agency has its own grim assessment, one
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official say, quote, the official in iraq between iraqi security forces and isil is in stalemeat. after nearly 6,000 air strikes and a year of bombing and syria and iraq, fundamental questions of whether the strategy will ever be successful. and, you know, the pentagon has warned for the last year that air strikes alone would not defeat isis, but the head of the defense intelligence agency now also saying the question has to be asked about whether iraq can even come back as a single nation, or it will fracture into secretary violence. brianna? >> barbara starr at the pentagon, thanks. the u.s. and turkey are not cooperating closely when it comes to the war in syria. let's get a closer look from cnn chief national security correspondent jim scuitto. jim? >> turkey has always been key to the u.s.-led coalition fight against isis wanting a nato island to the long border here,
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but also the incirlik air bakes, the u.s. has long wanted to fly air strikes out of here, much closer. this is something the administration has now anounced it will be doing, flying air strike in support of moderate rebels on the ground, this inclusion the u.s.-train rebels there, a small group, as well as the so-called 30th division, and we saw the importance of that air campaign when at the end of last week those troops were attacked in the town of azas, and is the nisra front. this is happening as the coalition partners are now expanding their role along the border. they're building what they're calling a safe zone along the
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border, the idea to make this an eye says-free zone, and cooperation from the u.s.-led air campaign, turkish forces on the ground as well as the modern sishian rebels, but the attack at the end of last week, not just from isis, but also from the front, showing the many challenges they will face as they open up a new front in this war against isis. >> jim scuitto, thank you. secretary of state john kerry is in the middle east, trying to sell the iran nuclear deal, but back home an epic battle is under way. let's turn to cnn global affairs correspondent elice labott. are you seeing, elise, the secretary make in the progress here? >> secretary kerry did get a carb, but key endorsement. he seemed to be pretty persuasive in assure the important allies that the u.s. would prevent iran from gaining
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a nuclear weapon even if it violated this nuclear deal. diplomats tell me there was little to be contained from criticizing the agreement. it seems like it could be a done deal. the main concern really is that iran would use the windfall of billions expected from the lifting of sanctions in oil revenues to create more chaos in the region. they have been focused on security concrete american security guarantees if iran were to expand its support for terrorism invite region, and if you remember that camp david summit with president obama, the president has promised help with missile defense, more military aid, increased intelligence sharing, and today the qatari foreign ministerry sell -- a badly needed diplomatic victory for kerry and the u.s. >> what about the domestic fight we are seeing here over in the iran deal. you have both sides going all out. >> and pro-israel advocacy
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groups flooding congressional offices with calls, e-mails, employing -- spending millions on tv ads, polls, they'll be taking the case to lawmakers on their home turf during the summer recess, so they've employed the all hands on deck approach to combat them. everything from classified briefings with secretary kerry, breakfast with vice president joe biden, focused now on undecided democrats to make sure that president obama's veto would stand against republican opposition, which is why president obama himself has been having one-on-one meetings with key democrats who are on the fence to watch. i think one key senator to watch is new york senator schumer, on tap tore the next majority leader. all he'll say right now is he is studying the deal. >> elise labott, thank you so much. a kei national security voice in washington has just come from studying the deal to
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say he is favor of the iran deal. he's the senior democrat on the house intelligence committee, congressman adam schiff, you're a key voice, ranking democrat on the house intelligence committee. we had you on before and you were waiting and seeing where it ended up what have you learned that now has you saying let's do this. >> it took several weeks, really months to study the proposed agreement, to meet with officials, to get a sense, how likely we are to catch them cheating if they cheat in the future. what the alternatives are, and we're all looking through the -- it's difficult to see exactly what happens if congress rejects the deal, but i came to the ultimate conclusion that the deal basically creates a road block for iran getting the bomb, certainly for the next 13 or more years.
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that was a significant achievement. when i weigh that against the murky future without the deal, the deal makes sense. >> you still have concerns, and you support the deal, but you say there are elements that are deeply concerns. you cite the lack of robust access to the sites of iran's past military work on nuclear weapons, meaning how far have they come? how close would they be to break out? and then the permissible scope of the enrichment after 15 years, because there is -- you say that the administration should work with congress. is that realistic? considering the spike we are seeing? >> it is realistic, probably frankly won't be a vote on the deal, but there's ways to strengthen that going forward. but making sure that iran knows they will never be permitted to have highly enriched uranium, not today, not 15 years from
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now, not 50 years from now. if they go that path, we are going to stop them with force and by working with our allies, israel and our gulf allies to contain any use of iran's newfound wealth for destructive activities. >> what repercussions could you realistically expect should iran cheat on this deal, considering you wouldn't expect to get at the u.n. level support from russia or from china? >> they can snap back the sanctions on inown in full or in part. so we got that, something iran bitterly fought. that means if we conclude alone that iran is cheating, we have the power to reimpose those sanctions. we still need to get the others on board, but i think frankly if we can make the case about iran cheating, we have a very good chance of a strong and robust,
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even enhanced sanctions regime. i might add this, too, you have to compare it to the alternative. congress rejects this deal, the sanctions certainly erode, if not collapse. we won't get others on board if we reject this deal. >> there are a lot of people looking at this deal domestically and are not on board. opposition in fact has doubled since june, according to an nbc news/"wall street journal" poll. what do you say to people who are saying this isn't a good idea? >> i say, look, the primary objective is to keep iran from getting the bomb. this agreement i think as a practical matter makes that near impossible for iran. if we don't go forward with a deal, we're looking at an urn certain future where iran goes back to enriching, it will spin up a knew gen race of centrifuges, and we won't have eyes on a nuclear program. that's the alternative. there are tradeoffs. iran will have a lot more money,
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and i'm not just concerned about this frozen fund, but rather the fact that our economy will grow, and annually there would be increased revenues. that means they can use the resources for bad stuff. whiff to mao mea it clear we'll meet that with reaction. >> now that we have the president signing off on air support for syrians rebels if they do come under attack, do you consider this a new phase in this war? >> well, i think the turkish change is really the new phase. the administration's commitment that we will protect they defense department trained forces, that's the right decision. as a practical matter it's the only decision, and i think bashar al assad would be crazy to try to interfere that. he doesn't need a new powerful adremember sear. probably the pivotal event is the decision by turkey to get
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more fully into the fight, to close down that border with syria, and to go across that border with its aircraft and strike isis targets. >> it is u.s. had committed to striking isis from the air, has been do so in iraq for some time, but now there is this move to syria. we did not see that before, and the administration had stopped short of doing that because of the risk. you see this effort expanding. it seems like it's happening without some sort of xre hence sieve explanation of where it's going. >> this is a very tough problem to discuss as well as to fix, because you have parties that are fighting with us, and fighting against us all the at the same time. you have the turks now more engaged in the fight against isis, but now also engaged in a fight with the kurds, which are our allies, and that's very troublesome. you have iran, which is causing all kinds of sectarian problems
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in iraq. >> but in terms of the u.s. plan to deal with which of what the end game looks like, what the objective is. >> ultimately i think it's a political transsession that phases assad out. there are now major cracks in the allied regime. support for assad i think is declining, i think even the russians are beginning to acknowledge that russia will never controlled -- it's inevitable. there's simply no way he will rule all syria again. >> you say it would be smart of him to not engage with they u.s. jets, but what if something happens, what if a u.s. plane is shot down, how does the u.s. respond? >> this is the risk, and we run that risk right now. we are doing sorties over syria as we speak. our pilots are at risk, and the nightmare of all night mares is the terrible tragedy that happened to the jordanian people. there's a profound risk of
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escalation. you can imagine what our reaction would be if that happened to one of our pilots. many more questions for you ahead. stick with me. we'll be back with more from the ranking democrat on the house intelligence committee? just a moment, here in "the situation room." it takes a lot of work... to run this business. but i really love it. i'm on the move all day long... and sometimes, i just don't eat the way i should. so i drink boost® to get the nutrition that i'm missing. boost complete nutritional drink has 26 essential vitamins and minerals, including calcium and vitamin d to support strong bones and 10 grams of protein to help maintain muscle. all with a great taste.
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california is with us. his state is battles massive wildfires. first let's talk about what president obama said today, citing some of those fires and other natural disasters, unveiling a major new plan to fight climate change. it will means new rules for some power plants. cnn's senior white house correspondent jim acosta has the details. jim? >> president obama is touting his climate change plan as a major step in the steps against global warming. pointing to wildfires, droughts crippling the american west and threat of severe thunderstorms, president obama offered his remedy to the planet's weather worries. >> if we don't get it right, we
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may not be able to reverse. i believe this is such a thing as being too late. >> the president's proposal dramatically curb carbon emissions from the nation's coal-burning power plants by nearly one third by the year 2030. the white house says the claimant change data is undeniable, noting 14 of the 15 warmest years on record have come this century. i don't want millions of people's lives disrupted and this world more dangerous because we didn't do something about it. that would be shameful of us. >> it's a legacy defining issue that president obama has chased since seven years ago. >> this is a moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and or planet began to heal. >> but reps charge the plan to unilaterally order these massive changes will you the epa rather than working with congress, will kill jobs and drive up energy costs. >> i'm not going to sit by while
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the white house takes aim at the lifeblood of our state's economy. >> for the first time they have extended this to require states in a very coercive way. >> democrats sense a potent issue labeling gop candidates as climate change deniers. >> if you look at the last 15 to 20 years, i think most scientists in regards what they believe is the larger question would say there vanity been a noticeable change in recent times. >> last year donald trump tweeted this expensive build has got to stop. with that kind of opposition, the white house is bracing for legal challenges that could last year. >> i have no doubt that special interests and the politicians in their pockets will fight tooth and nail against this specific rule. >> the president will continue this push right through the end of the year. later this summer he'll become the first u.s. president to visit the alaskan arctic, then
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will continue talking about this issue with pope francis and china's president in the fall, culminating with a major international summit in paris. it will be a very big issue for the next several months, brianna. >> jim acosta, thanks so much. we're back now with congressman adam schiff of california. you represent this state. i know you're in southern california, but in northern california, the state is battling these dangerous wildfires. with the president's plan today, we're hearing criticism, we're hearing some states who say they're not going to go along with this. you have critics who are saying they're going to tie this up in court. is this going to work, this plan? >> it's got to work. the many has to make this fight. my state is burning, and i think many people in the capital aren't willing to do anything about, under the capitol is literally under wear. we have record droughts in the west, the worst start to the fire season in many years. this problem is not going to go
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away and we can't afford to wait too long. >> would you prefer that congress would have a say in this? this is him taking executive acts. >> absolutely. congress ought to have a saying. the reality is we are not. we are only good at essentially the status quo. we are at two dysfunctional a body. that's a terrible shame, but the problem of the world go on. the president has to use what tools he can within the constitution to do something about this global problem. thens has got to play a leadership role. so i applaud what he's trying to do. i'd like to see the congress meet him in a constructive way to try to work together to deal with this challenge. >> isn't part of it sometimes democrats as well as republicans who take issue with some of these proposals? >> it can be a bipart sand and parochial problem. we've democrats sometimes in the gulf region or others in and around motor city who opposed
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kaveh standards requiring cars to be more fuel efficient. so yes there are problems even within the democratic caucus. we're going to have to make progress on this. we don't want to wait until we reach a tipping point. >> it's tough. i covered the cap and trade vote that never even made it through both houses of congress when they were both democratic. >> i remember it well. >> congressman schiff thank you very much. we're coming up with more debris sightings as is volunteers join the search. we have cnn live there on reunion island. later, a scary new warning about the possibility of terrorist attacks using small unmanned drones. i've smoked a lot
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tell us what the found. >> hi, brianna. people across the island are combing the beaches, looking for clues, volunteer their time, but so far they found a bunch of trash. for example yesterday some eight police officers turned up to a nearby beach to collect what later turned out to be a twisted piece of a ladder that the australians are saying has nothing to do with mh370. nevertheless people are not deterred. they are searching by land and they are searching by sea. i was out earlier today with a search-and-rescue volunteer team. they were looking -- combing the waters defact the they didn't have the kind of technology necessary to find debris. they were dedicated to this effort. the team's captain telling me that the people on this close-knit fact oriented island feel a connection to mh370, not
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just because of the wing flap, but because people are shocked and appalled at the idea of a disappearing plane, the idea of not knowing what happened to loved ones. so they're going to continue this effort. they're going to remain vigilant in the days and weeks to come. brie an that. >> erin mclaughlin, thank you so much. wild the missing airliners may have crashed miles from the is it coast, they're encouraging searchers to keep looking. cnn's brian tot has more details. brian? >> they're encouraged to keep looking not only near reunion island, but also near the seychelle aisles and ma uritia. on reunion island.
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people comb the shorelines looking for any clues, what skerritt believe is probably a piece of the missing plane's wing. tonight on the ground graphers tell cnn this could be the new front line for the search for mh370, which is why they're looking not only off reunion island, but near madagascar, the seychelle islands, and mozambique. the reason -- the gyre. >> it's a permanent circulation pattern in the indians ocean that runs counter clockwise, starts off the coast of australia, moves north, and i could up in the southern equatorial current before it turns south and returns. >> van gurley says other parts could not found, seats or other inserts with characteristics
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which would cause something to float. experts say this may by why this piece made it to reunion island. objects could also be found in the other direction. >> looking at the overall current patterns, some debris could end up over here where we're talking now, but orders could end up here. >> ocean graphers say based on the drift analysis, search teams should maintain their search for mh370 in the area off perth, australia, but they warn of a possibility the families of those missing should prepare for. >> it is possible this is the only thing they'll ever find or recognize from mh370. that's just the way the ocean behaves, with the difference in currents, winds and storms and whatnot. this could well be the only piece that survived.
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>> experts point to another mysterious case in that same region, the sinking of the australian worship, the "hmas sydney" it went down off the freemantle, australia, right off the -- right near super pers. now despite a massive search by the royal australian navy, there was no confirmed discovery from any of that vessels in the months and years after the disappearance, no bodies, nothing. search teams didn't find this wreck until 2008. asserts say a big ron for that is because the ocean currents are so inconsistent in that area. >> wow, brinen. i wonder if you've got even more pieces that you find from mh370, do you necessarily get more answers? >> you really don't necessarily get more answers. they say if this is from mh370,
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unless the main wreckage is discovered, niece this flaperon or other pieces will solve the main mystery. i've got to find the main future los angeles. >> brian todd, thanks so much. with us now in "the situation room", we have the former managing director of the national transportation safety board, also a cnn aviation analyst, peter goelz. we have cnn safety analysis, david saucie, and david gallo, from the oats graphic institution, also a cnn contributor. we are going to pepper them with questions about mh370 and these findings, after a quick break.
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we are following new developments in the mystery of malaysian airlines flight 370, the search for possible debris is expanding now off east africa, as volunteers look for any pieces from the missing jet, experience from around the world are preparing to examine what may be a wing flap that washed up on reunion island last week and has been shipped noun to france. we're back with our aviation experts, david saucy, david gallo and peter goelz. there are reports that some of people on the island field a responsibility to participation, but certainly i would imagine this would be a concern to you if you have a lot of people who maybe aren't part of as onnized
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search who are perhaps picking up pieces of evidence. >> if peel need to go out and do that, that's okay. it would be very rare if we were to find another piece on reunion sometimes in the next 24, 48 or 72 hours. if people want to look, it's worst taking a look to see if lightning strikes twice. we were extraordinarily lucky to find this piece. >> that would be rare all of this time, a year and a half, later. >> that's right. >> you have the minister saying they have this location and it was consistent with drift analysis. is that your view of this? >> sure, generally that's the -- well, the proof is in the pudding. that's where the piece ended up, and if can be, in terms of distance and time, you can say that it fits well with the paren-day underwar search areas.
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>> you saw in our last report how unpredictable these currents are in this region. would you expect a lot of pieces from mh370, that they could be all over the ocean there? hundreds, maybe even thousands of miles apart? >> yeah, brianna, i agree with what peter said earlier, we're lucky this happened, we pulled on the this piece 500-plus days later. they're out there someplace. the question is where. even though the currents are pretty consistent, counter clockwise, the ocean does disperse things in a funny sort of way. we hope we get lucky again. david, i wonder what the process is right now. certainly if you were on the ground in reunion island or in francis, working with inspectors, what would you be
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doing right now? >> in toulouse, it takes a day of who is coming in, get the background checks, because we're talking about forensic investigation, it's not a casual observation about this or that. does it belong 777? now they're looking at mower things in depth. how much twist there is? very critical measurements of whether the piece itself has been deformed in whatever direction, trying to determine how it was removed from the aircraft, if it was before the accident, in the air, or if it was after the accident once it was in the water. a lot of detailed work going on. >> are you surprised it was this piece, assuming all of this with the caveat this is from 370, but we do believe it's from a 777, are you surprised this would be the piece that might wash up somewhere? >> well, i would expect a piece like this to wash up somewhere if the aircraft exceeded its normal operating speed. if it reaches what we call a
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trans-sonic range, it creates a lot of flutter, it's almost at mach 1, and the wind has exceeded that, creating huge shockwaves, and then they start fluttering and fall off as the airplane starts to disintegrate. if that's what happened, i would expect to see this kind of debris. >> what does that tell us, if this is something that could be ripped off, peter, does that tell us -- it seems like perhaps other parts of the plane could be very far away from this, right? >> it gives us a hint about what happened. i think david is right. you look at this piece. there doesn't appear to be a lot of compression damage, meaning it was attached to the main part of the aircraft when it hit the water. i agree, it looks like it came torn off in flight, but, you know, the investigators on wednesday, the first thing they're going to do is confirm
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that it's from the aircraft. that should not be a painstaking job. that would be done fairly quickly before the end of the day. then they're going to weong with the electronic microscopes. they're going to tell us how this piece separated from the aircraft. >> with electron microscopes. we'll be waiting on wednesday. peter goelz, david soucie and david gallo, we pressured your expertise. really, this is too close from comfort. >> a mile back, there was a drone just under the southwest side of the airport here. >> just as we're seeing a new rash of close calls between airlinesers and drones, homeland security officials warn police to be on the lookout for terror attacks using drones. steep terrains, dozens of out-of-control wildfires. stand by for the latest from california's fire lines. but your dell 2-in-1 laptop gives you the spunk
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the department of homeland security just issued a new warning about the possibility of attacks by terrorists using small, unmanned drones. this comes as federal aviation officials confirmed a third close call involving drones and airliners heading into new york city's jfk airport. i want to bring in cnn justice correspondent pamela brown for the latest on this. listening to this, these are very -- it's very scary how close these calls were. >> very alarming, brianna. in the wake of these recent drone incidents are department of homeland security as you mentioned recently sent out a warning to law enforcement across the country about risks associated with drones and their potential to be exploited as a
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terrorist weapon. the warning about drones detailed in a department of homeland security bulletin to police comes on the heels of a series of close calls between unmanned aircraft and passenger planes. overnight, the pilot of a shuttle america flight reported spotting a drone near the plane's wing just as it was landing at new york's jfk. >> continue straight ahead on bravo and monitor ground to the left. >> bravo -- that drone is on the edge of the runway. >> reporter: sunday's incident was the third in three days over new york skies. drones coming dangerously close to planes. >> yeah, about a mile back there was a drone flying just under the southwest side of this abandoned airport here. >> reporter: on friday the crew of delta 407, with more than 150 on board, told air traffic control it spotted a drone as it was over an old air field, where
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drones are not allowed. >> what altitude would you say that was? >> i would say about 100 feet below me, just off the right wing. >> reporter: that same day a jet blue flight landing at jfk was surprised by a drone passing just below its nose. >> it was one of those four-bladed drones. color or direction, i'm not sure, man. it just popped right underneath our nose. >> reporter: today new york senator chuck schumer says he's had enough and wants the federal aviation administration to require all drones to carry software that keeps them out of the way of planes. >> you can build into the software of a drone at nominal cost a program that doesn't let them fly in certain places. within two miles of an airport. over the empire state building or the pentagon. it's cheap, it doesn't interfere with hobbyists and others who want drones or need drones. and it will help solve the problem. >> all of these planes landed without incident. but dhs is concerned these close
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calls could turn into something much more concerning in the future. >> with good reason. pamela brown, thank you so much. coming up, wildfires raging out of control in california. thousands of people have fled their homes. we'll take you live to the fire zone. and trump in front. the billionaire leads the republican pack, but is he ready for a fight at the first gop debate? you premium like clockwork. month after month. year after year. then one night, you hydroplane into a ditch.
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fire emergency. thousands forced to three as massive wildfires burn out of control in california, charring hundreds of square miles. can more than 9,000 firefighters
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gain the upper hand amid brutal conditions? we're live in the disaster zone. federal support. fbi and atf agents are embedding with baltimore police as the city reels from a deadly spike in crime following the riots after the death of freddie gray. can this drastic move end the murder epidemic sweeping the city? "biding" his time. efforts to draft the vice president into the presidential race gaining momentum as questions grow about hillary clinton's vulnerabilities and unfavorable ratings, will joe biden enter the 2016 race? trump and center. donald trump stealing the spotlight as new polls affirm his front-runner status and rival republicans scramble to assure a spot in the main gop debate three days from now. will trump cement his position, or implode under pressure? we want to welcome our viewers in the united states and around the world. wolf blitzer is off. i'm brianna keilar. you're in "the situation room."
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we are following the desperate situation in california where almost two dozen wildfires are burning. many of them out of control. more than 13,000 people are under evacuation orders this hour as thousands of firefighters work in scorching temperatures to stop the flames. we're also following a major potential shakeup in the race for the white house. growing efforts to draft vice president joe biden to challenge hillary clinton for the democratic nomination. surprising new developments combined with concern about hillary clinton's unfavorable poll ratings has speculation swirling about biden's political future. we're covering the day's top news this hour with our correspondents, our expert analysts, and our guests. we begin with those wildfires burning out of control in california. cnn's stephanie elam is in colusa county, northwest of sacramento, where the largest blaze, the rocky fire, has
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burned more than 93 square miles. >> reporter: it is a really big fire we're talking about, brianna. 60,000 acres, they say, have burned. they're also saying they have containment of 12%. but there is one big issue here for these firefighters and that's the weather. at least 21 major fires raging in california. fuelled by lightning, gusty winds, and low humidity. more than 9,000 firefighters on the ground and in the air coordinating all available resources to battle the flames. >> the term that i'm using is historic. the reason i say that is there are firefighters that have 20, 25, 30 years on the job that have never seen fire behavior like we've seen the last couple of days. >> reporter: the largest blaze, the rocky fire. it has torched some 60,000 acres in three counties just north of wine country. only 12% contained, california fire officials say at least
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6,000 structures are threatened. crews on the scene scrambling to build control lines and maintain the perimeter. in some cases, this means setting fire to remove fuel for the inferno. >> last night we burned out much of the grass so by the time the actual wildfire burned there we have a much larger area to make a stand. >> reporter: but the conditions are daunting. a severe four-year-long drought, and 100-degree heat, are a deadly combination. a u.s. forest service firefighter from south dakota was killed while working a fire in modoc county. governor jerry brown has declared a state of emergency and evacuations have been ordered for more than 12,000 californians. and as you take a look at what is happening with my hair, it's how i measure the wind. you can see it's really picking up here and that is a problem. the wind picks up in the afternoon, the daylight hours, and that wan spread embers from
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branch to branch. a lot of this area out here, they are telling me has not been burned before. at least they don't know when it last burned. with this drought, this really dry kindling out here that makes for really good fire-burning material and that is what they want to curtail as best they can, brianna. >> it's hard to fight those dry conditions and that wind. stephanie elam in the fire zone, thank you so much. i want to bring in cnn's paul ver cammen. he has more how these crews are trying to fight the rocky fire. >> reporter: you're talking about fighting the fire and the wind. if you look behind me, the result of excellently choreographed back fires. we had crews go into this area about 35 yards up this mountainside and start a series of backfires. all of it, as we said, expertly thought out, planned out before. first it was an orange county crew using a mix of what they call torch mix which is gasoline
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and diesel. then another crew went below, several of them, from l.a. county, and they set a fire along that road behind me to meet those flames. why did they do this? because they want to cut off the fire's advance, of course. and there's nothing like fighting fire with fire. if you get nice, dark, black zones like that behind me, you are giving the fire no chance to go ahead and do what we do right here, which would be to jump this road on the eastern plank of the fire and cause more mayhem. so they've built a pretty good stand here, put up a pretty good stand right here, brianna. >> it's so interesting, some people made think to have to light other fires, basically fighting this fire with fire. right? >> reporter: absolutely. it's part of a really important strategy here in california. there are opportunities, of course, to go ahead and try to drop water on fire. and of course get hoses out there. but look at how difficult it is to get up in this terrain. firefighters talking the last couple of days about just how tough it is. it is steep.
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you've got these winds coming up. you've got really, really difficult access points. we're in an extremely rural area. not a whole lot of road. so fighting fire with fire, certainly an option. as you look behind me, extremely well executed. >> paul vercammen, stephanie elam also in the fire zone. stephanie, you've covered so many, unfortunately, of these wildfires here in recent years. speak a little bit to what people who -- you're in a rural area. paul's in a rural area. but there are many people who are maybe not too far from there or they're worried that this fuel is just going to go up in flames and encroach on their properties, on their homes. what are people going through and what are their concerns at this point in time? >> reporter: we heard some of that yesterday. there's no cell signal where we are. we're out in a rural area watching this fire, this rocky fire. but still, there are a lot of people who live within these confines. and while we took off down
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highway 16 here yesterday, our sat truck operator stayed behind, we want to make sure a big truck is safer. he was in place, firefighters told him to move. he could hear people in the house above them yelling "grab this, grab this!" anxious because they knew the fire was cresting that way. they stay as long as they can to protect their property, but at some point you've not to make that call and get out of there. that's a problem with this fire. it is not acting in the way that other fires have acted. normally at night, humidity rises, the temperature goes down. it gets cooler in california overnight. it actually was cool when we got out of here about 4:00 in the morning. but that has not happened. over the weekend, the fire almost doubled at the nighttime hours and that is really odd. so because of that it's been a much more difficult fire to fight. and making it harder for people to be able to get back into their homes. that being the case, the evacuation area expanded today, brianna. >> it is so dry with those drought conditions there in california. stephanie elam, thanks so much.
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talking to us there from colusa county in the fire zone. i want to talk to ken pinlot, joining us on the phone, director of the california department of forestry and fire protection. ken, just give us a sense of where we are at this point. what's the latest? >> both reporters on the ground painted the picture. we're in extremely dry conditions across all of california. four years of drought. all of the fires, including this rocky fire, are burning with just explosive rates. many of our firefighters who are veterans are saying they've never seen fire spread the way it's spreading. >> and so i was in the sacramento area just a few days ago and i could smell the wildfires as they were starting and i could just look around and see, no one is watering lawns. they are conserving. but it also means those conditions are just really terrible when you're talking about the brush, when you're talking about trees. is this just sort of a disaster waiting to happen?
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>> well, it's really what we've been saying for the last two years as we've been monitoring conditions of the vegetation. it is extremely dry. we had over 500 lightning strikes over the weekend in northern california. and literally 80% of those lightning strikes started fires. so imagine that much fire across the landscape, being that dry. >> tell us -- i certainly wonder about people whose homes may be in danger here. how many people are you concerned about at this point? how close is this to encroaching on where humans are in a great way? >> well, as we talked about another rocky fire in particular, which is our fire that's closest to most of the urbanized areas, almost 13,000 people evacuated right now. that includes almost 500 residential structures. so we're absolutely concerned. that's why we have evacuations going on on both sides of the fire that are of most concern. we're watching.
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24 homes have been destroyed to date. 26 outbuildings. obviously we would like to limit that and keep that as the number. but as a precaution we want to ensure we've got evacuations on the sides of the fire that are of most concern. >> we see your crews are hard at work and we certainly wish you luck as you battle this rocky fire and also the other blazes in the area. thanks so much, ken. >> thank you. >> let's go to the cnn weather condition. allison, it's interesting, you just heard that report where you've actually got increased fire activity overnight, which is pretty unusual when the humidity increases and the temperatures drop. >> yes. now, one thing we want to note is the wind plays a huge factor in that as well. even an uptick of 3 to 5 miles per hour could be enough in causing that to spread very, very quickly. one thing we want to take a look at is we will take a look at the california drought that we've been having. that's playing a huge factor.
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beneath me you can see that we have four of the top five most populated cities in california are under either an extreme or exceptional drought. so already that ground is basically baked, which allows those fires to spread much more quickly than if you had at least a few pockets of moist soil, which they absolutely do not. and 95% of the state is considered in a severe drought. again, it doesn't even have to be in those higher tiers. we just have a lot of the area that's already baked on the ground. right beneath me, you can see we are burning -- looking at at least 20 active fires. the one in question right here is the rocky fire. the reason that is particularly of interest is that's where we have the largest amount of acres, over 60,000 acres burning. it's only 12% contained. it was recently 5% contained so they are making at least some strides. but we have almost -- over 2,000 firefighters working this. and over 19 helicopters that are trying to be able to improve some of these conditions as
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well. now, the one thing to note is going to be the weather forecast. so let's take a quick look at that. here is your three-day forecast over the next couple of days. now, notice monday, tuesday, wednesday, we still expect very sunny conditions and no rain chances in sight. but one good thing that may help, we talked about this earlier, is the wind. we are not expecting the winds to increase. really, if anything, they're expected to decrease over the next couple of days to below 10 miles per hour. now, while that may not necessarily be rain that they need, it may allow the firefighters to be able to contain a little bit more of the fire and get a better hold of it over the next couple of days. >> let's hope certainly that they can get the upper hand and have that opportunity. all right, thank you so much. really appreciate that. just ahead, there's new urgency, new hope in the search for missing malaysia airlines flight 370 as tests begin on a suspected piece of wreckage. republican presidential front-runner donald trump making the rounds. is he trying to lower
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there's new urgency and new hope in the search for missing malaysia airlines flight 370.
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the discovery of a suspected piece of debris from the plane has officials curing vast new swaths of the ocean for possible wreckage thousands of miles from where this plane is believed to have gone down. cnn aviation correspondent rene marsh is working this story for us. what are you finding out? >> tonight the search expands for anything that resembles a part of an airplane. regular people are joining the search. preparations are under way to determine if that one promising piece discovered last week is a match for mh-370. reunion island shoreline being searched inch by inch. every object that washes ashore scrutinized by investigators looking for parts of the missing malaysia airliner. the hunt for even more aircraft debris has now expanded to nearby islands. cnn on board a boat with volunteers looking for anything floating at sea that could belong to a plane. so far, nothing is promising as
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this find which officials now confirm is a piece of a boeing 777's wing. >> it's a mowing 777 part. but whether it is mh-370 or part is yet to be verified. >> reporter: wednesday, investigators will begin running tests to verify if it's part of the missing plane. the french lab where the flaperon will be examined has sophisticated equipment and experts to quickly identify which plane it belongs to. the paint is one of the many things they will examine. >> unfortunately, until we find the main wreckage on the bottom of the ocean, none of the pieces that we find in between now and then are going to solve the riddle or satisfy the government agencies or the families involved. >> reporter: steve wang's mother was on board mh-370. he tells cnn he still listens to
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her last voice mail. but even if this is confirmed to be part of the missing plane, wang says it won't bring closure. >> i think the only closure will come at the time when they find the plane and find everybody and find the truth. >> reporter: malaysian officials and french investigators met today in paris ahead of wednesday's tests which could ultimately determine if this is the first piece of tangible evidence connected to aviation's biggest mystery. there's a storm system in the area that could hamper the search for more debris. it will be breezy, the water choppy. oceanographers and our meteorologists say that the ocean will get churned up but that doesn't necessarily mean that more debris from this potential -- potentially part of 370 will get washed up. >> some have said it's like a lightning strike, maybe it won't strike twice.
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we're going to dig deeper. former fbi assistant director and cnn law enforcement analyst tom fuentes, former faa safety inspector david soucie, cnn's aviation analyst miles o'brien, jeffrey thomas, managing director at airlineratings.com. david, give us a sense how long it would take for investigators, once they get started on wednesday, to determine whether this flaperon is indeed from mh-370? >> that identification piece is going to take a matter of minutes, honestly. there is an identifying part on it. they've told us there is a serial number and a part number. it's going to start with 113w. that will distinguish to it a 777 and that specific part. the rest of it will take quite some time trying to figure out how it was torn off the aircraft, if it was post or pre-collision with the water. >> do you have a sense, miles, what the search area, how it may change when you're looking at
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this coming onshore on reunion island? you have searchers scouring the waters around mauritius, 110 miles east-northeast of reunion. coast guard in the seychelles, 1,100 miles north of reunion island. what do you think happens to this search area? >> well, i do think it should be aggressively searched, brianna, because there is very likely to be other pieces that are in the general vicinity of this piece. it's hard to imagine just one item of debris coming off of a 777 in a crash like this. but it's a big ocean, as we've learned from the search of the underwater search off the coast of australia. having said that, this is an opportunity i think to get out there and see if there's some other pieces, see if they can shed a little bit more light on the mystery. maybe also help scientists as they try to use those drift models to sort of reverse engineer where it came from originally. it's a lot of time and a lot of
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ocean. so it's very difficult to pinpoint it much more than we know. but it's worth a try. >> tom, this is just one piece. we've been talking about this. it's like a strike of lightning, a lot of experts say. they don't know that more debris might wash up there on reunion island. but now you have this search beyond reunion island. does it seem to you that it's coordinated? keeping in mind what's going on in france with the investigation, do you feel this is cohesive? >> i think we haven't heard enough about how they're coordinating the air search. what we expect is that the currents that brought that piece to reunion have brought other pieces, either in reunion beaches, to reunion beaches, or the seychelles or mat gas car or the shores of africa. how many aircraft are available from these different countries and who's coordinating that effort, i don't think we know enough about that to say it's well-coordinated or not. >> it's an important part of this process, to make sure that it is. >> absolutely. >> we saw that in the initial
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search as well. rene, what are you hearing about this investigation? do you have people who are saying, you know, this is a great sign, maybe it will yield more? are they trying to say, you know what, this may not, this may just be one little thing and we can't be sure it leads to other clues? >> well, i think most people who you speak to would say, ideal situation you need more than one piece. but in the absence of any other evidence, they'll take this. i just learned a short time ago from a source close to the investigation that tomorrow, the investigators will all be getting together. they're going to be or they're expected to be talking about the game plan for how they go about examining this one piece of potential evidence. could potentially wecht to it mh-370. we know that's happening tomorrow. and then of course we know wednesday, the actual analysis will begin. >> jeffrey, talk to us about the search off of perth. some people may look at this,
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the west coast of australia, and they'll say, hey, reunion island is quite a ways from this. but we're talking about a current that goes counter clockwise in a circle and so it's very important to look at this wide area. how are things going in that area of the ocean? >> look, brianna, absolutely. in fact, before i answer that question specifically, the university of west australia in march, april last year, assuming that the plane landed or crashed where we believe it did, predicted that debris would end up on the east coast of africa, reunion island, mauritius, around about this time. it also predicted that debris would end up on the south coast of australia around as far as south australia and even as far as tasmania. because it drifts both ways. but to get back to the actual search itself, it's about 1,800 kilometers, 1,500 miles southwest of perth. it's on a long line of about
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1,000 miles. and it's about 120,000 square kilometers, which is being searched, and they're approximately halfway through that search. they've done about 58,000, 59,000 square alcohol tears. they say if they have to search the entire area of highest interest, it will take them another 12 months. >> another 12 months. that is some timeline. jeffrey thomas, thanks for joining us from australia. thanks to david soucie, tom fuentes, rene marsh, miles o'brien. growing signs the vice president, joe biden, may be about to join the democratic race for the white house. is that going to happen? we don't know. maybe some signs. there is a move under way to draft him and it's gaining momentum. plus, the deadly crime wave sweeping baltimore in the wake of the freddie gray riots or the riots that followed the death of freddie gray, prompting a rare and dramatic move by federal agents.
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i'm a senior field technician for pg&e here in san jose. pg&e is using new technology to improve our system, replacing pipelines throughout the city of san jose, to provide safe and reliable services. raising a family here in the city of san jose has been a wonderful experience. my oldest son now works for pg&e. when i do get a chance, an opportunity to work with him, it's always a pleasure. i love my job and i care about the work i do. i know how hard our crews work for our customers. i want them to know that they do have a safe and reliable system. together, we're building a better california. all eyes on donald trump. the republican presidential front-runner ahead of the first debate of the campaign in just three days. the questions now, which republican rivals will share the stage with him and is trump himself trying to lower expectations? cnn's athena joins is in
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manchester, new hampshire, where a voter forecouple is taking place. what's the latest on donald trump? >> reporter: he's leading in yet another poll. out today. while trump has been winning in the polls, he's also warning his fans and his detractors that he doesn't have any experience on the debate stage, so he doesn't really know how it's all going to go come thursday night. with the first republican primary debate just days away -- >> i'm not a debater, i've never debated. >> reporter: front-runner donald trump is making the rounds trying to lower expectations for his performance. he's also expanding on his critique of president obama, action plaining why he thinks america won't see another black president for generations. >> i think that he has set a very low bar and i think it's a shame for the african-american people. and by the way, he has done nothing for african-americans. >> reporter: all this as trump leads the gop pac in recent polls. he's at 26% in the monmouth
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university poll out today. more than double the support of former florida governor jeb bush and wisconsin governor scott walker. >> thank you! >> reporter: trump's favorability numbers are on the rise. with 52% of republicans now saying they view him favorably. that's up from 40% three weeks ago. but when it comes to battling the rest of the field on the debate stage, the typically confident real estate mogul told cbs -- >> i'm not a debater, i don't stand up and debate like these politicians. >> reporter: but he's not afraid of a fight and walker says he's ready. >> i don't back off of anything. >> reporter: trump's poll position means he's assured a spot at center stage thursday night when the top ten candidates face off in cleveland. in fact, the top eight spots appear utah set, with new jersey governor christie, ohio governor kasich, and former texas governor rick perry vying for the final two spots based on cnn's poll of polls. fox will decide who's in based on an average of poll standings come tomorrow amp.
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christie says he's feeling good about his chances. >> i'll be very happy on tuesday when the ten names come out and i'm in there. >> reporter: with trump dominating the debate, some candidates are looking for creative ways to get noticed. including texas senator ted cruz. >> of course in texas, we cook bacon a little differently than most folks. >> reporter: using an online video to showcase his culinary and firearm skills. >> machine gun bacon, ha ha ha! >> reporter: something you never thought you'd see on tv. tonight's forum is a forum, not debate, so candidates will appear on stage answering questions one by one. still it's a chance to practice talking about their policy positions in a concise way. trump is skipping tonight's event. one reason he gave was too many candidates are taking part. for his part he has said you can't "artificially prepare" for something like a debate so it doesn't sound like he's going to be doing any rehearsing ahead of time. >> huh, maybe not surprising
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though, athena, thank you so much. i want to get more with senior washington correspondent jeff zeleny, political reporter sarah marie, republican consultant alex castellanos. thanks for talking about this. jeff, you look at this strong standing in the polls that donald trump has. how does this affect the entire field going into this very important debate? >> brianna, first and foremost it means he will be at center stage literally. the leader of the polls is in the middle. jeb bush will be on one side, scott walk over the other. all the attention will be on mr. trump from the beginning to the end. but even beyond that, he will certainly get the most time. if you're mike huckabee, someone else who happens to be lucky enough to make it on the debate stage on the ends, the best way to get the most type is saying something about donald trump, perhaps. so i think this is going to revolve around him. one thing to keep in mind, this is essentially a tv show. he is the only one on that stage, or one of two i guess,
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mike huckabee as well, who knows television. he's been on "the apprentice," other things. i expect he'll use some of his tv skills. >> how will donald trump get used to all this attention? >> speak about that. because if the candidates who are not doing as well in the polls or even close to doing as well as he unless the polls can capitalize on having a moment with him, it's high risk, it's high reward, perhaps? >> it is. and that's a good way to get your fingers burned. donald trump is sucking up all the oxygen, the anti-establishment oxygen, in the room. you don't want to attack that, you want to harness that heat to fuel your engine. >> so make an appeal to disaffected voters rather than attacking the guy they're following? >> if you think donald trump is not going to make it all the way, you want those voters to end up in your court. you give donald trump's message a hug but you keep your distance from the messenger. you don't want to get into that
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fistfight. you post up against jeb bush, who's probably seen as the establishment candidate in this field. >> and so how do you do that? because that's one of the things i'm looking for with these candidates. how do you channel the allure of donald trump? what kind of message do you incorporate if you're a candidate that donald is working for him? >> you say, look, we're all disgusted with washington, democrats and republicans, they don't listen, they don't love us, they don't care. our country's going down the drain and they don't do anything. well, let me tell you, donald trump may be right about that, but let me tell you what we're going to do. and you take the ball from him. and you execute. you say, here's how we make real change happen in washington. >> check out these polls, sarah, that we're seeing. this is the latest monmouth university poll surveying republican voters. and it shows just what a lead he has. more than 2-1 over his closest competitor jeb bush. then there's walker. then you've got this basically
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big tie with the rest of the guys in this poll. what do you make of these numbers? >> i think the reality here is this is a big lead. we're talking about a 14-point lead. this is not a within the margin of error thing. that means this isn't just an angry, disaffected, white man vote. we're talking about a donald trump who is appealing to more quarters of the republican party than any of us really expected him to early on. so that means you do have to be really careful about how you're attacking him. because you're not just worried about offending an angry white guy here and there. you're worried about offending 1 in 4 republican primary voters. >> very good point. why is he seeing this bump? we look at a new fox news poll, his popularity is growing, standing at 26%. what is he harnesses that others aren't? >> i think first and foremost is the attention. he's getting, as rand paul said i think rightly so, if others of us would get as much attention as donald trump we'd be doing better as well. that's part of it. alex said earlier, it's this outside washington, this
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washington can't do anything right, government can't do anything right. i think that's why -- if you're a senator on that stage, if you're of washington, it's a little bit tough tore make the argument. if you're scott walker, a governor, you can sort of run on washington. but donald trump, that's exactly what he's been doing. he's saying, the whole system's a mess. people like his bravado and his -- how tall he stands. but don't you think people want specifics from him? that's what i'm wondering. >> it's funny, that might be a trap for trump but i kind of doubt it. i think trump can say, you know, i don't know how to lay bricks but i build skyscrapers. i'm the get it done guy. i might hire some of these turkeys here on the stage to do some of that policy stuff and all that, but it's going to be fantastic. i'm going to build it fantastic. >> that's a word you might here. >> as long as he remains the get it done guy, he can probably get away without having a lot of policy specifics. >> stay with me, we're going to talk about joe biden. might he get in the race?
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some people close to him as you've reported, jeff, want him to. we'll see if the democratic field might get a little more crowded after a quick break. how's it progressing with the prisoner? he'll tell us everything he knows very shortly, sir. as you were... where were we? 13 serving 14! service! if your boss stops by, you act like you're working. it's what you do. if you want to save fifteen percent or more on car insurance, you switch to geico. it's what you do. no student's ever been the king of the campus on day one. but you're armed with a roomy new jansport backpack,
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we are watching a potentially huge shakeup in the democratic race for the white house. growing pressure on vice president joe biden to challenge hillary clinton for the party's nomination. there's speculation about biden's plan and it is ramping up, especially now that a friend and aide to his late son, bo, has joined the super pac trying to draft the vice president into the 2016 campaign. i'm back here now with my political ban nel to talk about
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this. sarah, you look at this recent quinnipiac university poll and you see that 57% of voters say hillary clinton is not honest and trustworthy. you look at what they say about joe biden and they say he is, 58% of them, almost 6 in 10. and also this issue of whether he cares about the my problems, as voters were asked about that, very important, they overwhelmingly say biden, not as much with hillary clinton. is this sort of the weaken that those around biden are eyeing? >> clearly these are not good numbers for hillary clinton. if you are joe biden and familiar with what it takes to run for president, you can wait a little longer, watch these numbers and say, these are looking pretty good for me, this is a reason for me to run. the one caveat that i would say is, clinton's numbers were much better before she became a candidate. it's much easier to trust your secretary of state, it's much easier to trust your vice president, than when they become an actual candidate for the presidency. joe biden's numbers could take a hit if he decides to get in the race as well. >> politics don't always wear
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well on politicians once they get into campaign mode. we hert in this report from the "new york times" that beau biden, his son who he was so close to who recently died, said that once he realized he was going to die that he wanted his dad to run. how much does that matter to the vice president? >> i think it weighs on him incredibly. he was so close to his son. his oldest son. and of course he's had so much tragedy in his life. and beau was there along with his other son hunter through all of that back in the '70s when his first wife died. beau is central to his life. i think something like that must weigh very heavily as it's a central part of his decision-making. the friends and advisers of his that i have spoken to, they say that that is why they really do not know what he's going to do because this is something that's so personal. this is not out of a survey, a public opinion poll, this is something much deeper, more personal. how deep was that promise the vice president made to beau? i think that is something we
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cannot discount at all. >> you said something in the break fascinating to me, alex, because i've heard a lot of people say, joe biden and hillary clinton would be grabbing from the same pie of voters, they're in the same lane when it comes to their policy positions. you actually think he could really make a play, a populist play? >> i do. there's populist anger burning through both parties. bernie sanders for the democrats, donald trump for the republicans. hillary doesn't fit that slot very well. but joe biden, "every guy" joe who rides the train, who understands my problems? yes, he could. so i think there is a vote for him. >> you think that he could pull from bernie sanders' support, maybe, from some of that -- what is really where the enthusiasm in the party is? >> "working-class joe." that's what the democratic party says it's about. >> some say abc, anybody but clinton. >> good point. just ahead, federal agents embedding with baltimore police as the city reels from a deadly spike in crime following the riots that came after the death
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of freddie gray. can this drastic move end the murder epidemic sweeping the city? a powerful new dell 2-in-1 laptop, and durable new stellar notebooks, so you're walking the halls with varsity level swagger. that's what we call that new gear feeling. you left this on the bus... get it at the place with the experts to get you the right gear. office depot officemax. gear up for school. gear up for great. but i've managed.e crohn's disease is tough, except that managing my symptoms was all i was doing. and when i finally told my doctor,
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staggering crime numbers in baltimore, 45 homicies in july alone. it was the city's deadliest month in more than four decades. crime has spiked in the wake of the riots following freddie gray's death in police custody.
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now a mayor move -- fbi and atf agents embedding with police in a drastic effort to stem the violence. miguel marquez has more. what prompted them to announce this effort? >> reporter: they had a horrible july and worse beginning in august. nine shootings, two of them fatal in the first weekend of august. murder rates up 56%. as of late july. 94% up, the number of nonfatal shootings. if you look at the neighborhood where freddie gray was arrested and where the bulk of the riots were, the nonfatal shootings are up 159% for the year. the murder rate in that area, up a staggering 175%. it is horrible in baltimore. here's how the new police commissioner says they are going to deal with it. >> we are putting analysts and detectives and prosecutors in a room together to sort out the puzzle pieces of some of these cases in baltimore, these
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violent strands where the same people over and over and over again are involved in violent crimes. >> now, two individuals works agents from each of the following agencies, fbi, dea, after the accident atf, the secret service and the u.s. marshals, all lendsing a hand, basically looking for ways to charge people that are already on the radar in baltimore so that they can get more and more criminals off the street. >> will this actually help control this violence, get it under control? >> reporter: it's going to take a lot more. look, arrests are still not up to where they were last year. i checked those today. last july 2014, arrests were about almost 4,000 arrests per month by baltimore police. they have rebounded a little bit since may. still, just under 2,000 arrests by baltimore police. they are going to have to get arrest numbers up, have to get more aggressive in policing and they are going to need more help from if feds and everybody across the board. >> i want to get more from evan
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peres, and don lemon as well as sonny has tin. we have tom fuentes. he haven, to you first. what more can you tell us about this plan? it's unusual, right, embedding federal officers with local police? >> right it's usually done the other way around. usually you have local police embedded in task forces run by the feds n. this case, there is an effort to try to boost morale there, trying to get the homicide unit in the baltimore police department to realize they have got the support of the federal government here. the atf is also assigned ten agents from around the country to work with the baltimore police department's ceasefire units. these are -- this is a quluunit police officers working cases targeting about -- roughly 100, several dozen people who are on
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the radar believed to be causing a lot of the violence in this city. i have got to tell you, miguel mentioned a little bit of this, but you know, the problem in baltimore is that people -- criminals in baltimore have no fear of leaving their home carrying a gun right now. >> yeah. >> it used to be that, you know, if you are a criminal and you had a fear of perhaps a stop and frisk or that you are going to encounter police, that you didn't leave home with a gun. >> right. >> but now they are leaving home because they know they are not going to get stopped. and when they have a beef with someone else they settle it immediately because they have a gun on them. >> so they are operating without limits, tom. >> exactly right. the major cities have stopped stop and frisk because it offended the community, people didn't like it, the police were racist in use it. just as evan has said and what the people on the street know and people in baltimore and chicago and washington is they are going out the door with their guns or knives and not having the slightest worry that a police officer is going to take it away from them.
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this movement here to put a handful of federal agents in the baltimore police department is almost next to worthless. the reason in the past that we had police officers embed with the fbi and become part of the fbi-run task forces is so we could treat those gangs as mafia gangs, as mafia faemgs use the rico statute of the federal government, use federal prosecutors, use all the sensitive sophisticated organized crime technique at the fbi's disposadisposal, wire tan uncover operations, checking, monitoring e-mails, all of that and then identify these people and put them in federal prison not in the baltimore jail where the black gorilla unit runs the prison. >> don, elaborate. >> the police chief said most of the violent crime is committed by a small group of people who spend hashedly any time in jail
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and that there needs to be more changes and oversight at the federal level. i don't know that it's worthless what they are doing but i think at this point they have to try something to have as many murders as they have had so far this year exceeding last year. >> sonny, weigh in on that. i talked with the police chiefs earlier. they are having a summit, including prosecutors. bring that perspective to the table here. >> to be clear n west baltimore, this particular area of baltimore, it has been crime ridden for some time, certainly not to this excontinued tent. but i do think that police can act in a way to help prosecutors and also to solve crime without crouching on people's constitutional rights. and so my sense is that something -- this is a move in the right direction because you have guidance from federal law enforcement, perhaps teaching these detectives things and tool that they haven't used before like the seeko statute and using i think those tools to combat
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this sort of gang violence which is probably what we are seeing. don is right. the bottom line is generally when you look at prosecutions of violent crime it's usually committed by a small group of people in a particular neighborhood. not necessarily everyone is committing crime. i think this sort of targeted analysis, targeted policing should be rather effective. i actually disagree with tom. i don't think this is sort of much ado about nothing. i think when you are talking about streamlining the police department, adding federal -- not oversight but adding federal agents that can teach them how to approach this sort of gang violence in a different way i think that could be a game changer. >> don -- >> it's not just baltimore. it's happening in cities all across the country. crime is down in most cities. but violent crime is on the rise. and that's happening in a lot of cities, not just baltimore. >> all right. don, tom, evan, sunny, thanks so much to all of you. great panel, even though we do have disagreement. that's part of it.
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don you will be back with much more at 1:00 p.m. eastern on your program, cnn tonight. er you can always follow us on twitter. tweet the @sit room. erin burnett out front starts right now. out front next, where is donald trump? nearly all of the republican candidates gathering at this moment on stage together for the first time. noticeably absent, mr. trump. is it payback? and the search for mh370 expanding tonight. investigators about to analyze the debris that is almost certainly from the doomed plane. plus, as outrage grows over the killing of cecil the lion, another american is accused of illegal hunting in zimbabwe. are americans now being targeted? let's go out front. ♪

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