Return to Transcripts main page
THE SITUATION ROOM
FBI Agent Attacked During ISIS-Related Search; Pentagon Plans for the Worst in War Against ISIS; Interview With South Carolina Senator and Presidential Candidate Lindsey Graham; Graham's New Memoir Reveals His Personal Life; Experts: Killing Terror Leader May Bring Retaliation. Aired 5-6p ET
Aired June 17, 2015 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[17:00:13] WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Happening now: ISIS plot an FBI agent is attacked by a knife-wielding alleged jihadist during a search in New York City, as court documents reveal chilling details of what authorities now call an ISIS-inspired bomb plot.
A key lawmaker is warning now of a lot more attacks on U.S. soil, leading up to July 4.
Strategy setback. The Pentagon brass is preparing for the worst in the war against ISIS. Why military planners are gloomy about the prospects of getting local Iraqi forces to stand up to the terror group.
No biological proof. Rachel Dolezal, the former NAACP official, outed as white by her parents, says there's no scientific evidence that they are really her parents.
And Donald Trump on the trail. The tycoon turned presidential candidate makes his first campaign stop in the first primary state of New Hampshire.
I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
And let's get to the breaking news. A new warning of ISIS-inspired attacks here in the United States, leading up to the Fourth of July. The House Homeland Security Committee chairman, Mike McCaul, says to expect, in his words, a lot more small-scale attacks.
That comes as an FBI agent is attacked during the search of his -- of a New York home tied to an ISIS investigation. Officials say the suspect is a jihadist, who is arrested after pulling a knife. The search stemmed from the recent arrest from a student charged with plotting to set off a bomb in the New York area.
Also breaking now, local militia forces say they have taken a -- and cut a very important the Pentagon is still planning for the worst there, and in Iraq when the ISIS onslaught continues.
I'll talk to Republican presidential candidate, Senator Lindsey Graham. He's standing by live. And our correspondents, our analysts and guests, they're also standing by for full coverage.
Let's begin with the breaking news. The attack on an FBI agent during an ISIS-related investigation. Our justice reporter, Evan Perez, has been digging into this. Evan, what are you learning?
EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, tonight, this man, Fareed Mamuni, seen here in an old photo, is facing charges of attempted murder of a federal officer. Mamuni is 21 years old, and the FBI says he's admitted to being an ISIS supporter and being part of a broader plot to carry out bombings in New York.
Earlier this morning, the FBI went to his family's home in Staten Island to conduct a search, and as investigators began their work, he walked downstairs and lunged at an FBI agent, stabbing him several times with a large kitchen knife. The agent was wearing a protective vest and wasn't seriously hurt. According to the FBI Mamuni told him that he had plans to travel to Syria to join ISIS. He knew the FBI was watching, and he had plans to attack law enforcement if they tried to arrest him.
He is also involved in a plot with a 20-year-old college student from Queens who was arrested in a bombing plot on Saturday. Possible targets included New York landmarks and the George Washington Bridge. And the FBI says, Wolf, that these men were -- who were researching how to build pressure booker bombs.
BLITZER: And what are you hearing about this notion that maybe more of these kinds of small-scale ISIS-related attacks could be coming in the days and weeks leading up to July 4?
PEREZ: It's definitely a warning that I've been hearing from law enforcement officials both here on the East Coast and on the West Coast in recent weeks, Wolf. They say that the threat level is as high as it's ever been, and the concern is a couple of major events that seem to attract attention. The Fourth of July and the forthcoming -- the upcoming visit by the pope, which is in September.
Their concern, that many of these ISIS supporters, who already are out there, reading the stuff online, getting inspired to carry out attacks will do those attacks tied to those events.
BLITZER: It seems every few days, there's another ISIS-related arrest here in the United States.
BLITZER: All right. Thanks very much for that, Evan. Meanwhile, militia forces battling ISIS in Syria. They're now claiming success, saying they've regained ground from the terror group and have locked the crucial route to its center of power. But there are also fresh indications from top U.S. military and defense officials that overall success in both Syria and Iraq is a very long way off, if it's achievable at all.
Let's go to our Pentagon correspondent, Barbara Starr. She's got the very latest. What are you hearing, Barbara? BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, you're
absolutely right. The Pentagon has been very much saying it's going to take a long time to defeat ISIS. But today on Capitol Hill, the Pentagon had an additional message for Iraq: patience will not last forever.
[17:05:10] STARR (voice-over): Desperate refugees fought to escape, but now Kurdish and other militia forces claim to have retaken a northern Syria border town. If they can hold it, it cuts a vital ISIS supply line right to Raqqah, ISIS's self-declared capital, the place where the U.S. suspects Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the ISIS leader, may be hiding.
Cutting that supply line could help stop the flow of everything from foreign fighters to components for powerful IEDs. But the defense secretary and the chairman of the joint chiefs are still planning for the worst. Now raising what might happen if the current U.S. strategy of expanding training and advisory teams doesn't work.
GEN. MARTIN DEMPSEY, JOINT CHIEFS CHAIRMAN: We can continue to build this network which would be applicable to Plan A, and in support of Plan A, but also accessible to us if Plan B becomes necessary.
STARR: Plan B for Iraq goes into effect if Iraq collapses into sectarian violence.
ASHTON CARTER, U.S. DEFENSE SECRETARY: If that government can't do what it's supposed to do, then we will still try to enable local ground forces if they're willing to partner with us to keep stability in Iraq, but there will not be a single state of Iraq.
STARR: That doomsday scenario is still far off. The more immediate concern is a snag in the crucial U.S. effort to train Iraqis to fight for themselves.
CARTER: We simply haven't received enough recruits. Of the 24,000 Iraqi security forces we had originally envisioned training at our four sites by this fall, we've only received enough recruits to be able to train about 7,000. We must see a greater commitment from all parts of the Iraqi government.
STARR: The U.S. making clear to Baghdad there is a limit to American patience.
DEMPSEY: I would not recommend that we put U.S. forces in harm's way simply to stiffen the spine of local forces. If they -- if their spine is not stiffened by the threat of ISIL and their way of life, nothing we do is going to stiffen their spine.
STARR: And on the Syrian side of the border, also problems. That program to train moderate Syrian rebels in trouble, not enough people showing up, growing concern that Bashar al-Assad's regime is about to collapse. And it is so concerning that Dempsey revealed today he's been talking to the Israelis next door about their border concerns, their refugee concerns if the Syrian regime collapses.
BLITZER: So Barbara, I want to be precise. They were ready to train what, about 24, 27,000 Iraqis. Only 7,000 so far have shown up, is that right?
STARR: Rough figures. That's exactly what is happening now. They did say that they are having some success in the last several days with Sunnis showing up for various training and advisory programs.
One of the things they're trying to do in Anbar province is to get those Sunni tribal leaders to get their people to sort of come into the fold to reject ISIS and join up with the Iraqi government, and with the U.S., but Wolf, this is a very slow process. This has all been going on for months. The track record not looking like it's proceeding very fast.
BLITZER: All right. Barbara Starr at the Pentagon, thanks very much.
Let's get some more now from Republican senator and presidential candidate Lindsey Graham of South Carolina. He's a key member of the Senate Armed Services Committee. He's also, by the way, author of a brand-new memoir, a very revealing e-book entitled "My Story." We'll talk about that story. It is an amazing story.
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: And it's for free. So you can't -- it's not a bad deal.
BLITZER: You're not going to make a million dollars on the book. But it is a very revealing story. And I've known you for a long time. A lot of the stuff you review is brand-new to me and I'm sure to a lot of our viewers. We'll talk about that.
You just heard Barbara's report, that the defense secretary, the chairman of the joint chiefs saying they were ready to train 24,000 Iraqi troops. Seven thousand of them show up.
I'm told also, of those 7,000 that actually showed up to be trained, a lot of them, they just desert and run away as soon as they're trained. What's going on over here?
GRAHAM: I don't blame anybody for not joining us after we cut and ran on them. I mean, at the end of the day, people in Anbar province rose up against al Qaeda and Iraq with our help. The surge did work. We pulled out. The places collapsed, and nobody trusts America anymore. And there's no substitute for American leadership.
As for General Dempsey's statement about the Iraqi spine, you know, you're presiding over the collapse of the entire Mideast. You have no strategy. If this is what you're recommending to the president, shame on you. If the president has put you in this box where you can't do better, shame on him.
BLITZER: So it sounds to me you have little confidence in General Dempsey. [17:10:01] GRAHAM: I would fire everybody.
BLITZER: Including the chairman of the joint chiefs. He's retiring.
GRAHAM: General Dunford (ph) I met with today. And he says if we don't get control over this, there will be a tsunami of ISIL fighters throughout the region, coming here, Lebanon and Jordan, that the effect of the status quo continuing for another year is a tsunami of home-grown terrorists and fighters joining ISIL all over the world, because they're winning.
BLITZER: But if the Iraqis themselves don't have the will to fight ISIS, why should the U.S. go in there and fight ISIS?
GRAHAM: Well, we know what works. The surge did work.
BLITZER: But then the U.S. left. It collapsed.
GRAHAM: Guess what? I said if you leave too soon, it will collapse. Everybody who knew anything about Iraq told President Obama that if you leave too soon, this is a fragile moving in the right direction state. He was applauding Iraq in 2012.
But everybody, including me, said if you leave and pull all our troops out, the place will go to hell. He's got nobody to blame but himself, because he turned down sound military advice. General Dempsey, to his credit, recommended 10,000 troops to follow on.
BLITZER: You want 10,000 troops there now. There are about 3,500 either there already or on the way. You wanted to go up to 10,000.
GRAHAM: Yes, I want to -- I want to contain and eventually destroy this threat.
BLITZER: You think the U.S. could do that with 10,000 troops in Iraq?
GRAHAM: I think if you had -- if you had more American troops, it would help the Iraqi army fight, even take the fight to ISIL more effectively. It is in our national security interest to destroy these guys.
BLITZER: What about the other regional players, like the Saudis, the Emiratis...
BLITZER: Why aren't they -- they have an interest in defeating ISIS.
GRAHAM: They don't need to go into Iraq, because you're opening up a can of worms if you send the whole region into Iraq, but they're the key to Syria. If you don't look at Iraq and Syria as battle station making a mistake, you can never hold Iraq unless you deal with Syria. So the region should help create a force to go into Syria. You've got to look at it as one unit.
BLITZER: Here's what a lot of people are worried about right now. Haider al-Abadi, the new prime minister of Iraq, you know where he is this week.
BLITZER: He's meeting...
GRAHAM: That's where I would be if I were him.
BLITZER: He's meeting with Rouhani and the ayatollahs. And there's a lot of concern that Iran is emerging as the major strategic winner in Iraq, despite the U.S. effort over this past decade plus.
GRAHAM: I said, when we pulled out in 2011, the Iranians would be dancing in the street if they believed in dancing. Everything is predictable. Everything that's happening, people predicted. It's no surprise to me this is happening. Iran is clearly the biggest winner.
BLITZER: So is he a close ally of the Iranians right now, Haider al- Abadi? Like Nuri al-Maliki, his predecessor?.
GRAHAM: The only thing between Baghdad and ISIL is really the Shia militias. The Iraqi army is a sectarian army; it's disintegrated in terms of capability. The only effective fighting force on the ground is Shia militias controlled by Iran.
BLITZER: Senator, stand by. We've got more to talk about, including your new memoir. I want to talk about this Iran nuclear deal. I know you spoke out on that earlier today.
Much more with Lindsey Graham when we come back.
[17:17:50] BLITZER: We're back with the Republican senator and presidential candidate Lindsey Graham of South Carolina.
You spoke out today on this proposed Iran nuclear deal. Are you there with the president?
GRAHAM: Well, I want a good deal. If he got a good deal, I'd be with him.
But Secretary Kerry -- Secretary Kerry called me today and tried to walk back the statement yesterday. He said that the possible military dimension of the Iranian nuclear program has to be disclosed to the international...
BLITZER: He said yesterday that you shouldn't be fixated on that. Time to move ahead.
GRAHAM: What he called me to say that that quote was taken out of context, that he's standing by the idea of this and non-negotiable part of the deal, to find out what they've done militarily. Because you don't know the past dimensions of it. You don't know what kind of program you have to control.
BLITZER: You're still open-minded? GRAHAM: Well, I hope it's a good deal, but it better be any time
there were inspections. That's for darn sure.
BLITZER: Let's talk about your new e-book, entitled "My Story." A very personal account of your life. A lot of stuff I didn't know about. You detail, for example, what it was like growing up in the segregated south, that African-Americans couldn't buy a beer. They could buy a beer in your parents' bar, but they couldn't actually drink it there. You were a little kid growing up seeing that.
GRAHAM: Yes, you know, I grew up. We had a liquor store, a bar, restaurant and a poolroom. I ran the poolroom later on.
But yes, back in the '60s, you know, it was a local bar. But African- Americans would come in and buy the beer and leave.
I never went to school with a black kid until I was in sixth, seventh, eighth grade. So, you know, times have changed for the better in South Carolina. We've got Temp Scott (ph) and Nikki Haley. So I've seen from the worst of times to better, we're not there yet, but we're moving in the right direction. I'm proud of my state.
BLITZER: And you also tell a very moving account. You were in college. You were in your 20s, early 20s. And all of a sudden, both of your parents within a relatively short period of time, they pass away. And you have a young sister who was, what, 12 or 13 years old?
GRAHAM: She was thirteen. My mom died in '76. My dad died in '77. Neither one of them finished high school. They were the greatest people. They loved us unconditionally. We lived in the back of the liquor store till I was in high school, all in one room.
But things were pretty good in '75. We went on a vacation to Disney World, which was just like going to the moon for us: a plane ride, going to Disney World. And a few months after that, my mom was diagnosed with Hodgkin's Disease, and she passed by June.
So I went from, like, the best of times to completely absolutely devastated in about 18 months. If it wasn't for my family, friends or faith -- and faith, I would not be sitting here today.
BLITZER: You helped raise your little sister.
GRAHAM: Yes, she was 13. And yes, we're close. More like -- real close. But I had an aunt and uncle help me. The story is life is fragile. We're all one car wreck away.
And what do people do without aunts and uncles? My family was very supportive. I went from a high to a low like you wouldn't believe. My we were wiped out. 15 months after my mom dies, my dad dies, my sister is 13. I felt really sorry for myself. I was very angry, but the more I've done in my live, the more I look back and say it's not what I've lost. It's what I had. I'm a lucky man, to thank my parents, a loving family, and so many friends who lent me money when I was broke. You know, that's the story of Lindsey Graham. BLITZER: You also tell us, for the first time about a love affair you
had with a Lufthansa flight attendant. If you were elected president, you would be the third bachelor. James Buchanan, Grover Cleveland got married. He came in as a bachelor, got married while he was president in the 1880s.
BLITZER: You would be the third.
GRAHAM: We're due.
BLITZER: What happened to that flight attendant?
GRAHAM: Well, she -- her mother was elderly in Vienna. I wanted to go back to South Carolina, and she wanted to stay in Vienna.
But that time in my life, you know, I was raising my sister. I had gotten through law school. The Air Force had stationed me in South Carolina so my sister could finish high school.
When she was in college, for the first time I had some time to myself. And I enjoyed being a prosecutor, traveling all over Europe. I met Sylvia, some other nice people, young ladies over there. That was probably the best time in my life.
But you know, at the end of the day, everybody's got a story. A lot of people have had it worse than I have. Check it out at LindseyGraham.com.
The one thing I've learned: life is fragile. You can be up here one day, down here the next, and if I get to be president, that will -- that will stick with me, I promise you.
BLITZER: You've got some excellent personal stories in here, and I recommend people read it. They'll learn a lot about you. I learned a lot about you, and as I've said, I've known you for a long time.
Senator, thanks very much for joining us. Good luck on the campaign trail.
BLITZER: The book is entitled "My Story." It's an e-book. Go ahead and read it.
Coming up, Donald Trump hits the campaign trail. The new Republican candidate is about to make his first stop in the primary state of New Hampshire.
And Rachel Dolezal, the former NAACP official outed as white by her parents, now says there's no biological proof that they really are her parents. Stay with us. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [17:27:36] BLITZER: The United States has had some stunning success recently in taking out in top terrorist figures, including the No. 2 overall leader of al Qaeda, who led its deadly Arabian affiliate.
But experts now believe that cutting off the head of the snake won't necessarily kill this particular snake. Brian Todd has been looking into this for us. Brian, what are you picking up?
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, the death of the top al Qaeda leader in Yemen, Nasir al-Wuhayshi, is considered the most significant leadership kill since Osama bin Laden. Another top leader once affiliated with al Qaeda, Mokhtar Belmokhtar, may also have been killed recently.
But tonight, a jarring reality check from intelligence officials and analysts, who are saying it's not enough to do serious damage to the terror group.
TODD (voice-over): Two significant decapitation strikes from the air. U.S. forces target prominent terrorist leaders Nasir al Wuhayshi, head of al Qaeda's most dangerous branch, killed by a drone in Yemen.
Mokhtar Belmokhtar, a former key al Qaeda leader in North Africa, may have been killed in Libya. They both led high-profile attacks that had targeted and, in Belmokhtar's case, had killed Americans.
The recent operations against them seen as crucial victories in the war on terror, or are they?
JENNA JORDAN, PROFESSOR, GEORGIA TECH UNIVERSITY: I they it's likely to November have much effect on the group at all.
SETH JONES, RAND CORPORATION: The snake will continue to move even without the head.
TODD: Tonight analysts who track terrorists are warning those organizations are not likely to be crippled from these decapitation strikes. In some cases, experts say, taking out a terrorist leader can provoke a counterstrike.
JORDAN: A group will carry out attack immediately following, A, to signal that the group is still effective and they haven't been weakened, but additionally, to show their sense of retaliation, to retaliate against the death of key leaders.
TODD: Another reason decapitation strikes have limited effect: analysts say groups like Wuhayshi's Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, or AQAP, have groomed others to replace leaders who are killed.
JONES: They are run, to some degree like major corporations. They have a leadership structure. They have successors. They're arranged in a range of categories from finances to propaganda. They keep records. They keep sometimes detailed records. They've got spreadsheets. They use Excel. TODD: And in AQAP's case, it didn't take look for the next CEO to be
named: Qasim al-Rimi, in his mid-30s, an experienced recruit and attack planner. Until his leadership, what are the chances AQAP will continue to launch operations against America like the 2009 underwear bomb attempt and the cartridge bomb plot?
[17:30:14] JONES: Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula will continue to target the United States. It will continue to fight against the Houthis and again other organizations including the Islamic State in Yemen and will still have the same ideology.
TODD: A U.S. counterterrorism officials told me it wouldn't be surprising if AQAP's new leader, Qasim al-Rimi, maintained the group's ability to attack. But the official pushed back on the nothing that this is all a game of Whack-a-Mole, saying anytime an experienced terrorist leader is taken off the battlefield, the group loses knowledge; it loses tradecraft. When it comes to replacements, it's not as simple, this official says, as plug and play -- Wolf.
BLITZER: All right. Brian, thank you.
Let's bring in our national security analyst, Peter Bergen; and our CNN counterterrorism analyst, Phil Mudd. He's a former CIA official.
Peter, you wrote an opinion piece for CNN.com. Among other things, you write, "American counterterrorism officials have had much to celebrate in recent days," but you also explain why killing off some top leaders might not necessarily prove to be all that important.
PETER BERGEN, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, yes. The leader of ISIS, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, was completely unknown to almost anybody a couple years ago, three years ago. And there have been plenty of leaders of al Qaeda and Iraq, which became ISIS, who have been killed, taken off the battlefield; and ISIS is stronger than ever.
Now, you know, the counter-argument is a campaign that removes a lot of the leaders, as we've seen with al Qaeda central in Pakistan, yes, that is pretty effective. But you know, of course, Wuhayshi was an important person in that organization, but they have a succession plan. But if you take out, you know, 30 of their top leaders over time, that does have an effect.
So it's not an either-or situation. But one, you know, drone strike that takes out a leader, it's not, you know, a huge transformational event. A campaign that takes out many is going to work in the long term.
BLITZER: Phil, I'm anxious to get your thoughts on this. Because there's one school of thought that actually says that the high-profile visibility of taking out some ISIS -- or al Qaeda leaders could wind up actually strengthening ISIS or al Qaeda, for that matter, in certain countries, propaganda-wise. PHIL MUDD, CNN COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST: Absolute complete utter
nonsense. I think Peter is dead on. There's a couple things you've got to think about here.
No. 1, it's not taking out one leader. We used to be ridiculed in CIA where we took out every single No. 3. It wasn't the individuals; it was collectively taking out an entire generation of leaders. If you look at the al Qaeda leadership in Pakistan today or Afghanistan today, that leadership is decimated, not because we took out one, but because we took out all of them.
So I agree: taking out one might not be entirely effective. That's not the strategy here. The strategy is to eliminate an entire leadership and, by the way, support people like the Iraqi military so well you're swatting away the mosquitos who are the leadership of ISIS. The military is draining the swamp, the geographic area where they operate.
You know, the last thing I'd say, Wolf, is the alternative to taking them out is not taking them out. So if you've got an expert who wants to argue with me that eliminating a terror leader is a bad idea, the counter argument is so you're going to leave them on the ground and continue plotting? I don't get it. I wouldn't do that.
BLITZER: All right. Philip Mudd, thanks very much.
Peter Bergen, thanks to you, as well.
Coming up, we're getting some explosive new developments in the Rachel Dolezal story, officials in the city where she was the head of the NAACP just accused her of misconduct and harassment.
And we're also awaiting the Republican president candidate, Donald Trump's, first campaign stop in New Hampshire. Will Republicans in the first-in-the-nation primary state take him seriously?
BLITZER: Breaking now, explosive new developments in the wake of Rachel Dolezal's resignation as the head of the Spokane, Washington, chapter of the NAACP.
In a newly-released report, Spokane city officials now accuse Dolezal of misconduct and workplace harassment while she served on a volunteer police ombudsman commission. Spokane's mayor just called for her immediate resignation from the commission.
Dolezal, who's portrayed herself as black, resigned from her NAACP post on Monday after her estranged parents said she is white. Our national correspondent, Suzanne Malveaux, is here in THE SITUATION ROOM with more on this controversy.
What's the latest?
SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. We have the report here, Wolf. And it's important to know this independent investigation, this began back in May, so this was before it was revealed that Ms. Dolezal was white.
There were allegations that, in her capacity as a volunteer member of a police oversight committee, she engaged in what they called behavioral misconduct during interactions with city employees. And what the report here says, it amounted to workplace harassment and abusing her authority.
MALVEAUX (voice-over): Rachel Dolezal in hot water, Spokane's mayor and city officials calling for her immediate resignation from a volunteer commission that oversees police.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Commissioner Dolezal has breached her duty to keep identifying information confidential, and to break confidentiality is just flat-out wrong.
MALVEAUX: New revelations from Rachel Dolezal continue to drive the national conversation, and social media firestorm, over racial identity.
[17:40:06] RACHEL DOLEZAL, FORMER PRESIDENT, SPOKANE CHAPTER OF NAACP: I definitely am not white. I -- nothing about being white describes who I am.
MALVEAUX: Describing herself as black, Dolezal is now challenging her white parents to prove that her birth certificate is legitimate.
R. DOLEZAL: I haven't had a DNA test. There's been no biological proof that Larry and Ruthanne are my biological parents.
MALVEAUX: Dolezal's parents are now taking a break from the spotlight, releasing this statement instead, saying, in part, that "We hope and pray for a continuing global conversation on the issues of identity and integrity, which will resolve in the recognition that truth is a kindness."
Dolezal says she's already through with them.
R. DOLEZAL: So what I say to them is, you know, I don't -- I don't give two (EXPLETIVE DELETED) what you guys think, you know? You're so far done and out of my life.
MALVEAUX: Ezra, Dolezal's adopted black brother, says it's come to this, because Rachel feels trapped.
EZRA DOLEZAL, RACHEL'S BROTHER: She's too nervous to just admit that she's not been telling the truth, which is why she keeps on making up more and more lies to help that story.
MALVEAUX: Dolezal now admits there are some things that she said that were not true, like being born in a teepee or going to South Africa.
DOLEZAL: That is definitely a misrepresentation that I will own. I've never been to South Africa and yes, I wasn't whipped, but I was physically abused. MALVEAUX: An accusation Dolezal's parents vehemently deny.
Dolezal is now also talking about her sexual identity. And the comparisons some have made between transracial and transgender.
DOLEZAL: And I'm bisexual. And so, you know, I've dated men and women. And I finally had a chance to read Caitlyn Jenner's piece, you know, in the magazine, and really just -- and I cried. I cried, because I resonated with some of the themes of isolation, of being misunderstood.
MALVEAUX: But what now from all those years as a civil rights activist and former NAACP leader? Participating recently in a Black Lives Matter rally in Baltimore and in this lengthy interview last year, addressing the burdens and stereotypes that come with being a minority.
DOLEZAL: You're on display whenever you're out in public. So the only place that it's -- you get a break from that is at home.
MALVEAUX: Again, Dolezal is struggling now to maintain her support, her credibility within the Spokane community.
Now, so far, the NAACP has come to her defense. And part of the problem here is this independent investigation cites, is that Dolezal was not adequately neutral in her volunteer position to police the police, because she was such a strong advocate as head of the NAACP. She actively participated in these protests and ended up revealing some of names of those accusing the police of wrongdoing publicly. Those things you cannot do.
But part of that was as part of her advocacy with the NAACP. So it will be very interesting to see, Wolf, if the NAACP still comes to her defense for being kicked out of this position.
BLITZER: Suzanne Malveaux, thanks very much for that report.
Let's get some more insight now. Joining us, our CNN anchor, Don Lemon and CNN legal analyst, Sunny Hostin.
Don, Dolezal says Caitlyn Jenner's story in "Vanity Fair" resonated with her, because she felt similarly misunderstood and isolated. She says since she was 5, she actually felt black. What's your response to that?
DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: How much time do you have, Wolf?
BLITZER: Not much, but give us your best answer.
LEMON: I gave this woman the benefit of the doubt in the beginning, and I didn't want to, you know -- because everybody was coming at her and judging her. I just think -- I think all of our viewers should Google the term "projection" in psychology. And I think that's what's happening, is she's projecting onto other people things, onto herself and onto other people.
I think it's ridiculous now. I just think it's absolutely ridiculous. Again, I gave her the benefit of the doubt. She calls her parents "Ruthanne and Larry." I don't care how mad I am with my parents. I haven't spoken to them sometimes for weeks. I still call them Mom and Dad.
So I just think that there is some sort of weird disconnect happening with this woman. And I agree with the -- most people in the transgender community. She's trying to co-opt their message, and by doing that, and people buying into that, she's going to set the movement back 100 years.
BLITZER: Sunny, she also says there's no biological proof her parents really are her biological parents. What do you make of this defense she's making?
SUNNY HOSTIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Yes, I think that's interesting, just because her parents or the people that claim that they are her parents, according to Rachel, have said that she was not born in a hospital, that she was born in a home in the woods that they had. And so, you know, perhaps she does have that question, because she wasn't born in a hospital. There weren't any medical personnel around her, and there hasn't been a DNA test.
I suspect that perhaps she should have that DNA test, because she is troubled.
And you know, I will say that, as a multiracial person myself, I do believe that race can be very fluid, and self-identity can be very fluid. And I think freedom of self-identification is very important. It's something that I talk about oftentimes. But I think that that freedom of identification has to be built on authenticity and honesty.
HOSTIN: And because of all of the deception and the many lies, some that she's admitted to, some that she has not admitted to, that in and of itself causes me to question what she is claiming is her true identity because I don't think that we have authentic responses from her yet.
LEMON: Right. Yes.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: She was interviewed, Don, as you know, on camera last year, and spoke about getting, in her words, privilege as a light-skinned person. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RACHEL DOLEZAL, FORMER PRESIDENT, SPOKANE NAACP CHAPTER: I'm very light skinned. I think that there's a certainly light-skinned privilege that I've noticed. Some white people approach me as a safe person to talk to.
(END VIDEO CLIP) BLITZER: What do you think about that?
LEMON: Again, I think she's delusional now. As I said, I stick to the same thing. I gave her the benefit of the doubt. I did not want to be harsh on her like everyone was coming. I think she's delusional and I think she needs help. That's as simple as that.
BLITZER: Does she owe, Sunny, an apology to the public out there? She now admit at least to some lies. Never having been to South Africa. Earlier she claimed she had been to South Africa or having been whipped for that matter. Does she owe the public an apology?
HOSTIN: I think so. Again, I mean, there may be some pathology here. There may be some psychological problems. Many people have been mentioning that. But I think at this point, because she has lied in her position, she lied when she said that she -- you know, well, she says that she --
LEMON: It looks like about everything, Sunny, she's lied.
HOSTIN: I --
HOSTIN: Yes, I know, I'm trying to parse them --
LEMON: I know. You're trying to be nice.
HOSTIN: I'm trying to parse them all out.
LEMON: But the reality is that she has lied so much to the public, she's lied to her family. She's lied to --
HOSTIN: She has been very --
LEMON: She's been --
HOSTIN: She's been very deceptive.
LEMON: As Montel said --
HOSTIN: And I think she owes the public an apology.
LEMON: Montel says she's a con artist. I'm not going to go as far as that but that's the perception from someone like Montel Williams. And if you look back at her own actions --
BLITZER: All right.
LEMON: -- she has admitted that she has lied about a lot of things.
HOSTIN: She has.
LEMON: I think she is delusional and I think we're giving her more credence that we should now.
BLITZER: All right. Guys, we're going to have more on this story coming up. Thanks very much, Sunny Hostin, Don Lemon.
Don will be back of course later tonight, 10:00 p.m. Eastern. He'll have a lot more on "CNN TONIGHT."
Coming up here on THE SITUATION ROOM. We're awaiting newly declared presidential candidate Donald Trump's first actual campaign stop in New Hampshire. Stand by.
And ahead, also, the manhunt for a pair of murderers, widening again as sources reveal a surprising warning from the woman accused of helping the killers escape.
[17:52:26] BLITZER: The 2016 presidential race, the newly declared Republican presidential candidate, Donald Trump, he's about to make his first campaign appearance in the first of the nation primary state of New Hampshire.
Our senior Washington correspondent Joe Johns is joining us from Manchester right now.
Set the scene for us, Joe.
JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, it's been a busy 24 hours for Donald Trump appearing here at Manchester Community College in New Hampshire. It's expected to be similar to his appearance last night in Iowa.
A healthy crowd showing up here in Manchester, I asked people on their way in what they see attractive as Trump as a presidential candidate. The answer more than once was that he is a businessman and the country needs to be run more like a business.
Now while this is New Hampshire, and there are a lot of independents in the crowd, they, like other people, also say they like the straight talk. The Trump persona that he projects. The fact that he's made a fortune in business. Less likely, they say, to be bought than some other politicians.
He's calling out Democrats and Republicans sometimes in a very personal way, sometimes, more on policy, asking questions like how you can vote for this guy? Why can't he answer a question? And he talked about Jeb Bush last night in Iowa. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I watched Jeb Bush yesterday. He can't even put on a tie and jacket. He's running for president. Maybe he knows something that I don't know.
Rubio was really weak on immigration. His poll numbers plummeted. And all of a sudden, he says oh, I'm very strong in -- well, in a way he is. I think he's a highly rated person and by the way, I have better hair than he does, believe me. And it is my hair.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
JOHNS: Trump attracts a lot of attention and he has a lot of money. He can use that to push some top-tier candidates into the second tier, which is a hard place to survive if you aren't self-financing like he says he will -- Wolf.
BLITZER: A big crowd over there? A little crowd? It looks like you've got a bunch of people behind you, Joe. What does it look like?
JOHNS: Yes, it's a decent sized crowd. I'd say more than 100, probably less than 250. But people are still coming in. We expect Trump to arrive soon and he's going to take questions, they say.
BLITZER: All right. We'll see what he says.
Joe, thanks very much.
We're going to hear a lot more from Donald Trump this coming Sunday. He's Jake Tapper's guest on CNN's "STATE OF THE UNION" Sunday morning at 9:00 and then again at noon Eastern.
[17:55:05] Coming up, an FBI agent is attacked by a knife-wielding alleged jihadist during a New York City search as court documents now reveal chilling details of what authorities call an ISIS-inspired bomb plot.
And as the search expands for two escaped killers there are stunning new revelations about their alleged accomplice and her relationships with both of them.
BLITZER: Happening now, New York attack plot. A second ISIS supporter is under arrest accused of planning to bomb local landmarks. Tonight, new details on the charges and the suspect's alleged attempt to kill a federal agent with a knife.