Return to Transcripts main page
THE SITUATION ROOM
Interview With California Congressman Adam Schiff; Donald Trump Speaks Out; Historic Iranian Nuclear Deal Reached. Aired 18-19:00p ET
Aired July 14, 2015 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
Many Iranians are celebrating the historic new deal that limits the country's nuclear activity and lifts crippling sanctions. But there is intense debate tonight about whether the agreement makes the world safer or more dangerous.
Just hours after the U.S., Iran and other nations announced the pact, critics are poring over the fine print. The agreement is more than 100 pages long. It still must be reviewed by the U.S. Congress and Iran's supreme leader. President Obama is reaching out to opponents, including the Israeli leader, who is calling the agreement, and I'm quoting Netanyahu right now, "a historic mistake."
This hour, we're exploring all the tough questions about the deal and the ramifications. I will speak to the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, Congressman Adam Schiff. He's standing by live. Our correspondents and analysts, they're also standing by live as we cover all the news that's breaking right now.
First, let's go to our global affairs correspondent, Elise Labott. She has new information, new details on this deal -- Elise.
ELISE LABOTT, CNN FOREIGN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, as soon as the deal was announced, it was a battle of who won and who lost. Iran says it won international legitimacy for its nuclear program, while the U.S. and its partners argue this is a win for curbing Iran's nuclear ambitions. Both are right.
LABOTT (voice-over): A historic moment capping more than a decade of diplomacy, after the latest round of 18 days of intense and often fractious negotiations, both sides claiming victory in a deal they hope would transform the Middle East.
MOHAMMAD JAVAD ZARIF, IRANIAN FOREIGN MINISTER: I believe this is a historic moment. We are reaching an agreement that is not perfect for anybody, but it is what we could accomplish, and it is an important achievement for all of us.
LABOTT: Secretary of State John Kerry called the final product proof the U.S. has held out for a good deal.
JOHN KERRY, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: Good for Americans and good for our partners, our friends, our allies, good for the future of the Middle East, and good for the peace of mind of the world. That is what we pursued and that is what we insisted on for the long months of hard negotiations. And that is precisely what we believe we have achieved today.
LABOTT: The deal curbs Iran's enrichment of uranium and reduces its stockpile of nuclear fuel, converts its underground nuclear site into a research facility and limits Iran's research of advanced nuclear technology for the next 15 years.
U.N. inspectors get more access to Iran's nuclear program, but must give 24 days' notice for suspicious sites, a stipulation that will anger critics.
In exchange, a windfall for Iran. Billions of dollars in U.S. and European Union sanctions will be lifted as Iran makes good on the deal. A U.N. embargo will end after five years, eight years for Iran's ballistic missile programs. But U.S. sanctions on terrorism and human rights will remain.
On the streets of Tehran, celebrations. Iran's president predicted a -- quote -- "new chapter" in his nation's relations with the world, but for Israel, one of the -- quote -- "darkest days in history," Prime Minister Netanyahu calling the deal a stunning historic mistake to which Israel is not bound.
BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER: The world is a much more dangerous place today than it was yesterday.
LABOTT: As expected, three Americans being held in Iran and a fourth who went missing are absent from the deal, their families left waiting.
LABOTT: And the danger is that today's battle of narratives will end up being a battle of interpretation. If all sides are not on the same page about what was agreed to upon, it could open up a Pandora's box when it comes to implementation of the deal. That's the real danger.
BLITZER: That's the key right now, implementation. We will see how that works out. Elise, thanks very much.
Also tonight, we're learning more about President Obama's efforts to reach out to key U.S. allies to discuss their concerns about this Iran nuclear agreement. That includes phone calls to the leaders of Israel and Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. The president has also scheduled a news conference for tomorrow as he works to sell to Congress and to the American people this deal.
Let's bring in our senior White House correspondent, Jim Acosta, who has got more -- Jim. JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Wolf,
President Obama is putting his legacy on the line with this nuclear deal with Iran.
While the White House is confident the deal won't be blocked by Congress, the president's critics are not holding back, predicting this agreement will fail and posing a major nuclear threat to the world.
ACOSTA (voice-over): When it comes to the fallout over the Iran nuclear deal, it's all on President Obama.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Because of this deal, the international community will be able to verify that the Islamic Republic of Iran will not develop a nuclear weapon.
ACOSTA: The president's global sales pitch has begun with a call list that includes Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, leaders in Europe, Saudi Arabia's king and Republicans in Congress.
REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: The deal that we have out there, in my view, from what I know of it thus far, is unacceptable.
ACOSTA: The White House strategy, flood the Iran debate zone, with social media showing all of the ways the agreement will block Tehran's path to a nuclear bomb. The president's loudest critics say the billions of dollars in sanctions relief coming Iran's way will do just the opposite.
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: They're going to put it in their war machine. This is a death sentence for the state of Israel if this isn't changed.
ACOSTA: But if the deal works, it's an Obama legacy showpiece, right up there with health care reform, same-sex marriage and Cuba.
Congress has 60 days to review and block the deal. But much of that time will be during lawmakers' August recess, pushing a likely showdown to September.
OBAMA: I am confident that this deal with meet the national security interests of the United States and our allies. So I will veto any legislation that prevents the successful implementation of this deal.
ACOSTA: Leaders from both parties already have problems with the deal. Consider the dispute resolution process, which may take 30 days to break through any Iranian opposition to inspections at suspicious sites, 30 more if the U.N. gets involved.
SEN. ROBERT MENENDEZ (D), NEW JERSEY: The deal doesn't provide for anytime/anywhere inspections.
ACOSTA: The president phrases it differently.
OBAMA: Simply, the organization responsible for the inspections, the IAEA, will have access where necessary, when necessary.
ACOSTA: Others wonder what happened to the president's comments in 2013, when he suggested Iran would give up some of its facilities.
OBAMA: We know that they don't need to have a underground fortified facility like Fordow in order to have a peaceful nuclear program.
REP. ED ROYCE (R), CALIFORNIA: The president told us that Iran doesn't need to have an underground facility like Fordow in order to have a peaceful nuclear program. Yet this military complex will now stay open.
ACOSTA: But the big question comes down to this. Do the deal's opponents in Congress have the two-thirds vote needed to override a presidential veto? The answer from both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue is that, no, they don't.
The president likes to say he will live long enough to see if this deal fails. Now it's all but certain he will have that chance. The president will have more of a chance to talk about this tomorrow when he holds a news conference here at the White House. The vice president goes up to Capitol Hill to brief House Democrats -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Major selling campaign under way right now. We will see what happens over the next 60 days. Jim Acosta, thanks very much.
Many critics of the nuclear deal are especially worried about the eventual lifting of the arms and missile embargo on Iran. Tonight, some of those concerns are being shared by top U.S. military officials.
Our Pentagon correspondent, Barbara Starr, has more on this important part of the story.
What are you learning, Barbara?
BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, let's get right to it. The Pentagon has been taking a very hard line in public on lifting any restrictions on Iran's conventional arms and its ballistic missile program.
Just one week ago, listen to what the chairman of the Joint Chiefs had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEN. MARTIN DEMPSEY, JOINT CHIEFS OF STAFF CHAIRMAN: Under no circumstances should relieve pressure relative to ballistic missiles capabilities and arms trafficking.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STARR: Now, Dempsey and Defense Secretary Ash Carter are now saying, look, the agreement has been reached and it will depend on Iran's behavior.
But they're also behind the scenes very much making the point that a military option to strike Iran will be preserved if it were to become necessary. And another four-star general testified on Capitol Hill earlier today, talked about the fact that as sanctions are lifted, it opens the door, this general said, to Iran having more money to engage in activities like terrorism.
All the things that the Pentagon is so worried now about Iran continuing to do this, continuing to engage in destabilizing activity, and already, Wolf, consider this. Russia has said it will complete an arms sale to Iran of a very sophisticated air defense system that might have the capability to track U.S. or Israeli aircraft flying over Iran -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Can they do that within the next five years? Because we're told by this agreement, and if you go through the fine print, the first five years, the arms embargo, conventional weapons remains in effect. The first eight years, ballistic missile, anti-defense missile system in effect remains in effect. Can the Russians break that embargo right away?
STARR: Well, the Russians are saying they will in fact, they have publicly said they're going to proceed with the sale of this air defense system because they believe they can go ahead and do it. But this is the kind of thing that has people worried.
What are the interpretations? What are the rules of the road? What can Iran engage in? And, remember, Iran has a huge illicit weapons trade as well. They regularly, the U.S. says, supply arms to groups like Hamas and Hezbollah. They have an arms relationship with North Korea that's very much under the table. A lot of concern that separate from this nuclear deal, Iran still very much in the weapons business.
BLITZER: Yes, they're funneling a lot of money to Bashar al- Assad's regime in Syria and to those Houthi rebels in Yemen right now fighting the Saudis, so there's a lot going on.
Barbara, thanks very much.
Let's get some more on what's going on. Joining us is the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, Congressman Adam Schiff of California.
Congressman, thanks very much for joining us.
REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D), CALIFORNIA: Thank you. BLITZER: This is the deal. It's about 150 pages if you go
through all the annexes. I assume you have gone through it, you have read it and you have studied it.
SCHIFF: Well, I'm just starting to study it, I think, as most of us on the Hill are.
It is a lot to go through and of course a lot is subject to interpretation. And I just got off the phone before your show with Ambassador Rice to talk about what's between lines of this agreement. I know that all of us -- and I know this is a bigger hope than the reality -- will take time that this really merits. This is probably one of the significant votes we're going to have maybe of the decade. And we ought not to rush to judgment that this is either a really good deal or a really bad deal.
BLITZER: So, did Susan Rice, the president's national security adviser, convince you to support the president?
SCHIFF: I'm not convinced yet. There are still questions that I want to answer in terms of just how quickly, for example, can we get inspectors to a disputed site?
What is the mechanism? Is it really enforceable in terms of snapping back sanctions? Why was it necessary to provide this relief to Iran in terms of its conventional weapons and ballistic missiles? I understand the history, that that was part of the nuclear sanctions. But, nonetheless, it has a very non-nuclear purpose. And I'm sure that was subject to negotiation and debate and I think that concession is one that troubles many of us.
BLITZER: The deal says to get to a suspected site, if the IAEA wants to go someplace, whether to a military facility or some other facility, the Iranians will have 24 days to consider it before they let anyone go.
That's a lot of time, 24 days.
SCHIFF: It's a lot of time, particularly if you look at the possible military work that Iran will do on a weapons program.
I'm less concerned with the enrichment activity. I think if they're enriching at a hidden site and we get there, whether it's 25 -- 24 days or more, we have the technologies to be able to detect that. What I'm more concerned about is if they're doing R&D on advance centrifuges that is not permitted or if they're doing work on a nuclear detonation device, those things are more difficult to detect, easier to hide.
And that's where those delays could be very critical.
BLITZER: You're on the Intelligence Committee. You're privy to the most sensitive information. Is this the whole deal, what they have released publicly? It's now online. Or are there secret, secret parts of this deal that maybe you would be informed about, but the American public wouldn't? SCHIFF: There are secret aspects about it in terms of some of
the protocols that the IAEA may use and certainly our intelligence capability to divine whether they're complying with the agreement aren't things that are going to be talked about, except in the broadest terms in public.
We will be getting classified briefings on this, as well as briefings on what we know of Iranian intentions. Do they intend to comply? Do they intend to cheat? If they are going to cleat, what is the likely method of cheating and where would that occur?
BLITZER: Stand by, Congressman. We have much more to discuss. I have got a lot of technical questions that our viewers are really interested in as well.
Much more with Congressman Adam Schiff when we come back.
BLITZER: We're back with a top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, Congressman Adam Schiff.
We're talking about the new nuclear deal in Iran, the sharp criticism coming in from some key U.S. allies and from many members of Congress, mostly Republicans, but some Democrats as well.
You heard Barbara Starr's report that the Russians now want to go ahead and sell a sophisticated military package to Iran, even in advance of lifting the formal U.N. arm embargo supposed to be lifted after five years, conventional weapons. Are the Russians allowed to do that?
SCHIFF: I don't think they are allowed to do that, but it is something the Russians have been threatening to do for some time.
Even in the absence of this agreement, they were threatening on sell this system, which is obviously very worrying to us, very worrying to Israel, because should it be necessary to take military action, these are systems that could shoot down our aircraft or Israeli planes.
BLITZER: The deal says that the U.N. arms embargo for conventional weapons shouldn't be lifted for five years, for ballistic missiles shouldn't be lifted for eight years.
But they also -- there is a loophole saying if the Iranians show good behavior, they can be lifted even earlier, both of them. Is that OK with you?
SCHIFF: Well, this is a profound concern of mine.
And it's something that really wasn't the focus at least as far as we could tell in Congress of the negotiations. It seemed to come on the agenda late. I think the Iranians had been raising it from time to time. But it wasn't necessarily a part of this agreement.
Iran obviously got this last concession. But it is very worrying, because they're going to have tremendous resources now to support their proxies. They have been successful at evading these weapons embargoes nonetheless. But this will now make it legal, much more accessible to get these weapons.
There are still embargoes on -- for example, they're providing these weapons to the Houthis. There will still be embargoes against supplying Hezbollah. Those haven't made much difference. Now they will get greater access to these weapons after five years. And they can provide that greater access to these bad actors.
BLITZER: There's the other concern. The Israelis expressed this. A lot of people expressed this concern. They are going to be getting $100 billion, $150 billion in the frozen assets that are lifted, plus billions more in oil exports which will now be flowing. Iran is a major oil exporter, potentially the fourth largest oil reserves.
How worried are you that they will spend this money to promote terrorism, to promote various groups, whether Bashar al-Assad's regime or the Hamas or Hezbollah or the Houthis, some of these other groups?
SCHIFF: I am very concerned about it. I think the two major downsides of the agreement -- then I will mention the plus side -- are first they will be armed with all these resources to support all these bad actors in the region.
And in terms of Syria, they're hemorrhaging money and getting a lot of their people killed. So this infusion...
BLITZER: To help Bashar al-Assad.
SCHIFF: To help Bashar al-Assad.
So that's a great concern that that is going to just continue to fuel this conflict, as well as destabilize other parts of the region. The other major downside is they remain a threshold nuclear state when this is all said and done. And when that short period -- and 10 to 15 years isn't very long -- expires, then they can really gin up their enrichment program.
But on the positive side -- and again we have to evaluate this not against an ideal, but against the alternatives -- it does mean that Iran is not going to go back to the 20 percent enriched uranium it had before this negotiation began. It means that the amount or uranium they have on hand is going to be dramatically reduced. The breakup time is going to be dramatically reduced.
And the fact of the matter is, even though these sanctions brought Iran to the table, it never stopped Iran's program. That's what we have to weigh. We have to weigh this against the alternative. And I think that alternative comes down to one of two things, either new sanctions that force Iran back to the table to make new concessions or Iran that spins up its centrifuges again until we get to a red line. And then you have the likelihood of a military conflict.
BLITZER: You're confident -- and you're a member of the Intelligence Committee -- if comes to that dire scenario, the U.S. using military force to try to destroy Iran's nuclear program, the U.S. has the capability to achieve that goal?
SCHIFF: We have the capability to achieve that goal for a period of time.
We can't destroy it indefinitely. But I will say this other factor that we have to weigh in the agreement. And that is having these additional inspectors, having them help us identify the sites of where they're doing this nuclear work, that would greatly facilitate a military strike if that ultimately became necessary.
BLITZER: The chairman of your committee, the House Intelligence Committee, Devin Nunes, he doesn't like this deal. He put out a statement earlier today saying he has got deep, deep concerns about it, as do almost all of the Republicans in the House of Representatives. He is privy to the same intelligence that you are. Right?
SCHIFF: He is, absolutely.
BLITZER: How good is U.S. intelligence on what Iran is doing right now?
SCHIFF: And I think the chairman and my views are frankly based more on our opinions of the likelihood of success of this agreement or failure of the agreement than anything the intelligence can tell us. Our intelligence is pretty good.
And it's certainly better than it has been. But after our disastrous intelligence on Iraq, and in light of the fact that sometimes the cheating we have discovered in Iran hasn't been by virtue of our intelligence, but rather by virtue of opposition groups that have leaked that information, we can't have utter confidence in our ability at any given time to detect exactly what Iran is doing.
So there are limits to what we can do. We're a lot better at it than we used to be, but, nonetheless, we I think need to be circumspect about our ability to precisely what Iran is doing.
BLITZER: One final question. Was it a mistake for the U.S. not to demand that those four American citizens being held prisoner by Iran be released as part of this deal?
SCHIFF: All of us would have liked to have seen these four Americans released.
I can't say that it was a mistake, because making them part of the negotiation makes them an even bigger bargaining chip in something that ought to be completely unrelated. But I would hope that there is an understanding that, this deal haven't been completed, that these Americans will be released. I hope that's understood.
BLITZER: All of us hope that, indeed.
All right, thanks very much, Congressman Schiff, for coming in.
SCHIFF: Thank you, Wolf.
BLITZER: Just ahead, President Obama has been speaking to the NAACP about criminal justice, racial profiling, even as the case that fueled anger over police violence is settled. Stand by. You will hear the president's message.
And CNN's Dana Bash caught up with Donald Trump today. As usual, he isn't mincing his words about anything, including the Iran nuclear deal.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The Iranians are very good negotiators. The Persians are always great negotiators. They're laughing at us back in Iran.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: With the new Iran nuclear deal under his belt, at least for now, President Obama is shifting gears tonight to another priority, criminal justice reform.
He spoke at the NAACP Convention in Philadelphia just a little while ago, addressing the fate of African-American men within the law enforcement system.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: Too many places, black boys and black men, Latino boys and Latino men experience being treated differently under the law.
OBAMA: And I want to be clear. This is not just anecdote. This is not just barber shop talk. A growing body of research shows that people of color are more likely to be frisked, charged, detained.
African-Americans are more likely to be arrested. They are more likely to be sentenced to more time for the same crime.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Let's bring in our justice reporter, Evan Perez. Evan, this is all part of a narrative the president has been
trying to establish recently, right?
EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE REPORTER: That's right, Wolf. And, you know, for some time, this issue was left to the Justice Department, to Attorney General Eric Holder, the former attorney general, to handle. And the White House really kind of veered away from it.
But now, you see the president really taking it, because I think he knows, he recognizes as he comes to the end of his presidency that this potentially has one of the biggest chances for him to have real impact for years and years and decades to come. And he cited the numbers -- 5 percent of the world's population lives in the United States of America, 25 percent of the world's prison population is what the U.S. is responsible for. So, those numbers are meaningful also. One in 35 African-American men is serving time in prison right now.
And so, for good or for bad, there's a real moment that he is facing because we have Republicans like Rand Paul, we have governors in Georgia and Texas. Republican governors, libertarian governor who's are seizing this moment to reduce prison populations. They're reducing the way we handle drug crimes and low level crimes. So we'll see how this works out. Not now, not five years from now but ten years from now, perhaps, we'll be able to judge what the president is doing and what the impact of this will be.
BLITZER: And the president's speech today comes on the heels of the Garner family reaching $5.9 million settlement with the city of New York after Eric Garner's death. Talk a little about that.
PEREZ: Well, that's right, Wolf. The city of New York has been doing a lot of these settlements in recent years. We have a few numbers that we can put up on the screen.
In 2013, the total number of settlements for the NYPD was $137.2 million. We have some big settlements that they've had in the past. Abner Louima was for $8.7 million. If you remember, he was one that was brutalized by NYPD officers at a station there in New York. Amadou Diallo was killed by New York police officers. His family got $3 million. Sean Bell, a $3.25 million settlement.
This is not an unusual move to get families to be awarded these settlements by the NYPD.
The question now is, what happens with the ongoing investigation? There's a Justice Department investigation into this death of Eric Garner. We're told that the Justice Department investigation could wrap up soon. It is something that, you know, a lot of people, as you know, Wolf, there is often a lot of questions as to whether or not you can bring civil rights cases. This one, I'm told, is one that it is looking very closely at trying to figure out how to bring charges, Wolf.
BLITZER: Evan Perez, thanks very much.
Let's discuss what's going on. Joining us, our CNN anchor Don Lemon, CNN law enforcement analyst, the former FBI assistant director, Tom Fuentes, and the trial attorney Monique Pressley.
Guys, thanks very much for joining us.
Don, the president spoke about momentum building for reform. He also spoke about the very tough job police face.
Is the president, from your perspective doing enough, as he tries to shape his legacy, as he should be as far as these struggling communities are concerned?
DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: I think he is. I mean, we can always do more. Each of us can.
But, Wolf, remember, we had this conversation some months back when he started that our Brothers Keeper program. And I think this is all part of it. This is just one of the phases, the next phase, I'm sure not the last phase, where he talked about the inequities that young -- especially young men of color phase, both black and Latino men. And I think this is a continuation of that.
And talking about the school -- what he said the school to prison pipeline that often happens in our country. I think the president is right on the mark with this. He may get some criticism from Republicans. But this is something -- this and also where he talked about, sentencing guidelines or sentencing equality, if you will, I think he may have some support from Republicans, Rand Paul and other Republicans in the Congress who are also supporting him in this, and who are proposing similar type legs.
BLITZER: Is the president, Tom Fuentes, right when he says that African-American boys and men are treated differently under U.S. law?
TOM FUENTES, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, I think it's going to -- you have to take a look where we're talking about, Wolf, and that's part of the problem with this.
[18:35:00] If we get specific, let's say Baltimore for an example, the outrageous murder rate going on there. Former Commissioner Batts said 95 percent of those murders are committed by young black men against other young black men.
Now, if the police will put a stop to that, they'll have to approach these young black men and take their guns and knives away from them. And so, they're more likely to get arrested. They're more likely to get hurt if they resist arrest. There's more likely to be violence.
This is problem. And it's not just Baltimore but that reflects many communities. What I've been asking is, what is the specific remedy in communities like that for the police to bring down a murder rate without the potential of violence against the people that are committing the murders?
BLITZER: Monique, I want to you respond to what we heard from Eric Garner's mother today. They accepted a settlement, $5.9 million, from the city of New York in connection with the death of Eric Garner. But listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GWEN CARR, ERIC GARNER'S MOTHER: Don't congratulate us. This is not a victory. The victory will come when we get justice. Then, we want to have a victory party.
We've been asking the federal government, which we've been asking them for a whole year to come and take the Eric Garner case, because as you know, at the grand jury, we didn't receive justice. Even though my son said he couldn't breathe 11 times -- 11 times he said he couldn't breathe. And they chose not to indict. Where is the justice?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: I want you to react to that, Monique.
MONIQUE PRESSLEY, TRIAL ATTORNEY: It is hard to argue with what she's saying, as the president finished saying in his speech. When you have a criminal justice system that disproportionately affects African-American males, then it's not justice. It is an injust system.
And I understand her point, $5.9 million doesn't bring a son back. But in addition to that, that kind of settlement taxes a city. Who pays for this? Taxpayers.
So, when we're thinking about change in the criminal justice system, a victory is not for one family to get a settlement or a judgment. A victory is for there to be an overhaul of the criminal justice system.
I like what the president said. He gave us three C's -- community, courtroom, and cell block. We need reform in each of those areas. Not just one.
BLITZER: The -- I want to you respond, Tom Fuentes. The New York City Police Union president, Ed Mullins, wrote an op-ed at "The New York Post". He called this settlement $5.9 million obscene because no police officers in New York City were charged in question with any criminal wrongdoing.
FUENTES: I think that's strong to indicate obscene. I think that it's going to be bound to happen when the police encounter somebody, even if he resists arrest. What happened in this case, when the final outcome is that that person dies at the hands of the police or the hands of the first responders who didn't resuscitate him in time and all of that. You know, you're going to have a settlement like that.
What you saw in the videotape looked terrible. The outcome was terrible and I'm not surprised.
BLITZER: Don, you're there in New York. What's your reaction?
LEMON: Well, in many people's estimation, this is not a lot of money for what happened. Originally, initially, the family had sought $75 million. And gave the city until Friday which is this upcoming Friday, the one-year anniversary of Mr. Garner's death to pay it out. They hadn't filed a lawsuit. They -- what they did was file a claim with the intent to file a lawsuit.
This is part of this controller's strategy as Evan said, to settle these lawsuits so that taxpayers aren't having to pay as much money out of their wallets and the families don't have to go through these long court battles, these painful court battles, because the attorney, the young lady you have on your set now, is exactly right. This affects all of us. This is everybody's problem.
If your family member doesn't die but you happen to live in New York City, you're going to feel the effects because the money is coming out of your pocket as well.
BLITZER: Don Lemon --
LEMON: So, the police departments must be overhauled in some way when it comes to this manner.
BLITZER: All right. Don, thank you. Monique Pressley, Tom Fuentes, thanks to you as well.
An important note to our viewers, Don will be back with much more on all of this, all the day's important news later tonight, "CNN TONIGHT", 10:00 p.m. Eastern.
Just ahead here in THE SITUATION ROOM: Donald Trump claims the top spot in a brand new Republican presidential poll. But is there more to the numbers that meets the eye?
And Hillary Clinton, she's now -- well, one of Donald Trump's targets. The mogul-turned-candidate tells our Dana Bash why when it comes to Hillary Clinton, he is taking the gloves off right now.
[18:44:06] BLITZER: Tonight, the Donald Trump phenomenon only seems to be growing and his Republican rivals have more reason to be deeply concerned. A brand new nationwide poll of Republicans shows Trump now leads the field with 17 percent support, edging out Jeb Bush with 14 percent. The other candidates are all in single digits.
But the survey also shows that Trump is the weakest competitor against Hillary Clinton compared to the other leading GOP candidates.
Our chief congressional correspondent Dana Bash caught up with Donald Trump today. She pressed him on several important topics.
Dana, tell our viewers how it went.
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, let's start with Iran. That was actually a unifying event for Republicans on the campaign trail. They all criticized him. When it came to Donald Trump, he made it a little bit more personal.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BASH: The president said that it's not built on trust. It's built on verification.
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It's not true. It's absolutely not true.
[18:45:00] BASH: How do you know that?
TRUMP: They can do whatever they want to do, because I know many of the people involved in the negotiations.
The Iranians are very good negotiators. The Persians are always great negotiators. They are laughing at us back in Iran.
And why didn't we get our prisoners back? Why didn't someone say, where are our prisoners? Nobody is even talking -- we have four people that are in prison that shouldn't be. Why couldn't they make that part of the deal? It would have happened quickly, easily if you had the right messenger, and that should have actually happened earlier. That should have happened at the beginning of the negotiation. Plus, we shouldn't have given them money back. We're giving them billions of dollars. We shouldn't have given their money back.
BASH: So, you're in the White House, you're in the Oval Office. Iran and the specter of them having a nuclear weapon is in front of you, what do you do?
TRUMP: Well, first of all, it wouldn't that be soon and second of all, what I would do is I would have made a deal not from desperation. I would have doubled and tripled up the sanctions. I would have made a much better deal. I would have also gotten our prisoners back.
I'm not saying relative to nuclear. That's a big deal. But to me, it's a big deal because it represents something. We make a deal, we don't even get these four people back that shouldn't be there? I think it's terrible.
But it's emblematic of the way they negotiate. It's like Sergeant Bergdahl. We get a traitor named Sergeant Bergdahl, and they get -- look what they get, they get their five guys they most wanted anywhere in the world. Who makes deals like this?
And by the way, with Bergdahl, six people died trying to get that traitor back. So, we get Bergdahl and they get five guys they wanted? That's not the way you deal.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BASH: Now, another question that I asked Donald Trump about, Wolf, was the issue of his campaign asking the FBI to investigate whether a threatening tweet may, may have come from Mexican drug lord, the one who just escaped from prison, Joaquin El Chapo Guzman. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BASH: The whole issue with the Mexican drug lord who broke out of prison. Can you tell me with the threat that you believe you got in your conversations with the FBI?
TRUMP: Well, I've had threats because I'm talking about Mexico. I have great respect for the Mexican leaders, because they're much smarter and more conning than our leaders and they're making much better deals.
And I have a theory that Mexico doesn't care so much what I say about the border, which is horrible, the border. They care more about what I'm saying about trade, because they are making trade deals with the United States that are just stripping us of our money, our jobs, our people. What they are doing to the United States in trade.
And I have a theory that Mexico is calling a lot of shots. And I also know, I'm suing Univision now for $500 million, I have a very -- you know, I have an unbreakable contract. I also think that Univision takes its marching orders absolutely from Mexico.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Dana, you also had a chance to speak to Donald Trump about Hillary Clinton. He seems to be escalating the rhetoric against her.
BASH: He absolutely does. I asked him about her because, just about an hour before we spoke, he put out a statement very, very critical, saying she's desperate, she's sad and she's nervous about issues like immigration.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BASH: You put out a very harshly worded statement about Hillary Clinton today. Why the gloves come off with Hillary Clinton?
TRUMP: She did it with me. She talked about my tone. And I said basically, it's not about tone. We're too worried about tone in this country and that's why we're getting beaten by everybody.
It's about results. You have to get results. They're worried about the tone. The voice raised a little bit.
Look, she's got problems, I will tell you. She's got another Obama situation coming up. You know, when she ran against Obama, it was like, who was Obama? And all of a sudden, they end up, she's got --
BASH: Who's her -- who's Obama this year?
TRUMP: Well, it looks like Bernie Sanders. It looks like somebody. I mean, she's not doing very well. I can tell you. Every -- she's getting shot down every month that the polls come out.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BASH: And he added the last person that she wants to face is Donald Trump.
BLITZER: Lots more coming our way. I want to you stand by, Dana. Gloria Borger is here. Jeff Zeleny is here.
Let's take a quick break. A lot more to assess right after this.
[18:53:27] BLITZER: All right. This just coming, in President Obama again speaking up about the criticism of the Iran nuclear deal. Listen what he just told Thomas Friedman, the columnist of "The New York Times".
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: I think the criticism is misguided. Let's see exactly what we obtained. We have cut off every pathway for Iran to develop a nuclear weapon. The reason we were able to unify the world community around the most effective sanctions regime we've ever set up, a sanction regime that crippled the Iranian economy and ultimately brought them to the table was because the world agreed with us that it would be a great danger to the region, to our allies, to the world if Iran possessed a nuclear weapon.
We did not have that kind of global consensus around the notion that Iran can't enjoy any nuclear power whatsoever and as a member of the non-proliferation treaty, NPT, their argument was, "We're entitled to have a peaceful nuclear program".
(END VIDEO CLIP
BLITZER: Let's get some analysis from what we just heard. Joining us once again, our chief congressional correspondent Dana Bash, our chief political analyst Gloria Borger, and our senior Washington correspondent Jeff Zeleny.
Jeff, the president has got the tough selling mission right now up on Capitol Hill, although probably in the end he might get the votes needed.
JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: He does have a tough selling mission. He said he wanted a robust debate. Well, that's, in fact, exactly what he's going to get. I was up on the Capitol Hill for most of the day. It's Republicans who are very -- you know, harshly objecting this across the board.
[18:55:00] But Democrats are so skeptical. Even Hillary Clinton when she came out, she said, "I applaud the effort", but she did not make clear that she supports the deal. Of course, she will in the end, but that is what is going to block and override of the veto, those Democrats protecting their seat, threaten the veto and, boy, he will veto if Republicans have --
BLITZER: All of the -- all of the Republican presidential candidates, Gloria, including Rand Paul now, have come out against this deal.
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, and it's not surprising. They are using it to say that the president is weak, that he didn't cut a good deal as Donald Trump said to Dana Bash that the president is not a great negotiator, right? So, you know, the Republican unified opposition is not, you know, really wasn't in question.
What was interesting is Hillary Clinton because she didn't come out overwhelmingly and say -- I completely endorse this. I think it's terrific.
You know, even though she was there at sort of the get go on this, she's been a little more muscular on Iran than the president, more skeptical. So, I think she's trying to navigate her way. I think she'll get to yes --
BORGER: -- eventually and a lot of Democrats will follow her lead on that.
BLITZER: Let's get to Donald Trump for a moment, Dana. You spoke to him today. This new poll, this "USA Today"/Suffolk University poll, he's number one. Take a look at this -- 17 percent for Trump, 14 percent for Jeb Bush, Scott Walker, everybody else in single digits.
Are the other Republican candidates really taking him seriously now?
BASH: If they don't, it's at their peril, I mean, they really don't have any choice. And you heard Jeb Bush come out today and he was extremely outspoken about Donald Trump in a way we haven't seen before, that he and his campaign were reluctant to do because they were worried about, you know, kind of giving him more legs than he had.
Well, he's got legs. He's running.
And so -- and so, he came at them and tried -- do you have the sound byte?
BLITZER: Yes, I want to play this clip, Gloria and Jeff. I want you to listen to Jeb Bush speaking about Trump.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JEB BUSH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: And on our side, there are people that prey on people's fears and angst as well. I don't know about you, but I think it is wrong. I believe we need to unify our country, we need to stop tearing, separating ourselves by race and ethnicity and income. We need to focus on the things that tie us together, and whether it's Donald Trump or Barack Obama, their rhetoric of divisiveness is wrong.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: All right. Gloria?
BORGER: Look, I think what you've seen from Jeb Bush is the realization that he has to address Donald Trump, the elephant in the room, not because he thinks Donald Trump is going to beat him but it's very clear that Donald Trump is driving the conversation right now in the Republican Party and Jeb Bush disregards it, as Dana said, at his own peril, and wants to distinguish himself from Trump.
BASH: If I can say one quick thing, he's clearly decided to use Donald Trump as a foil.
BASH: I mean, Jeb Bush -- his whole campaign is about a grown up Republican Party, different kind of Republican Party, one that reaches out. So why not use Donald Trump to show that he is a different kind of Republican and do it explicitly?
BLITZER: But, Jeff, to his credit, Donald Trump, he just announced not that long ago, he's really doing well nationally among registered Republicans, but he's also doing well in Iowa and New Hampshire, the first contest.
ZELENY: He has. I mean, the reason he's doing pretty well in national polls, the name recognition. But let's -- a little bit of a reality check of this poll. They are within the margin of error, Donald Trump and Jeb Bush are within the margin of error.
But I'm watching for how much he's going to campaign in Iowa and out there. He's still not been -- he's doing most of his campaigning on television. He's not doing a lot of it at the retail level, but that is going to come.
It is a real concern but these other Republicans aren't getting any attention. So, that's sort of their worry. You don't hear much from Marco Rubio. Others who are out there who are campaigning.
But Rick Perry should be credited for starting this off. He was the first one to call out Trump, even with the video, and now, Jeb Bush is following.
BORGER: You know, the question is whether or not Donald Trump becomes a nominee and I don't think he will be, is the long-term impact on the Republican Party and the way voters perceive the Republican Party, particularly those voters they need in a general election to win a presidential race. And I think that's what gives the anxiety to the sort of establishment Republican candidates, as well as the establishment Republicans in Washington.
Republicans are interested in an insurgent candidate now. I think they didn't think it was going to be Donald Trump, but there is an appeal, particularly among the self-identified conservatives and very consecutives that we saw in this poll. Donald Trump appeals to them, and rank and file Republicans have to find a way to address that anger without being angry.
BLITZER: All right. We're going to continue our analysis and discussion, all of that in the days and weeks to come. Guys, thanks very much.
You can always follow us on Twitter. Please tweet me @wolfblitzer. Tweet the show @CNNSitroom. Be sure to join us again tomorrow right here in THE SITUATION ROOM. You can watch us live or DVR the show so you won't miss a moment.
"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.