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THE SITUATION ROOM

Interview With Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton; Donald Trump Speaks Out; ISIS in Florida?; Iran Deal Debate; Trump to CNN: Won't Fire Aide for Rape Concert; Off-Duty Cop Caught on Video Abusing Driver; New Video of Sandra Bland Before Jail-Cell Death. Aired 6-7p ET

Aired July 28, 2015 - 18:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[18:00:14]

WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Happening now, breaking news: ISIS in Florida. The feds announce a new arrest, saying the terror group influenced the plot to bury a bomb in a Key West beach and explode it. I will ask a top member of the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee what he's learning.

Sinking support. Secretary of State John Kerry gets grilled about the Iran nuclear deal, as many Americans turn against and Iran's supreme leader sends an ominous message to President Obama.

Rape outrage. Donald Trump is talking to CNN, giving his first interview since a top aide was forced to apologize for a comment about rape that was explosive and flat-out wrong. Stand by to hear from Donald Trump as he faces yet another firestorm for his presidential campaign.

An officer unhinged. An eye-opening, eye-popping new video surfaces of an off-duty policeman stopping a driver and threatening his life. What does this case reveal about law enforcement gone wrong?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I didn't know you were a cop.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

BLITZER: The breaking news tonight, Donald Trump now speaking out for the first time since a top aide apologized for explosive remarks about rape, comments he made while defending his boss against the decades- old rape accusation.

Stand by to hear more from CNN's new interview with Donald Trump.

Also breaking, the influence of ISIS reaching into Florida with an alleged plot to attack an iconic island town. A Key West man now under arrest, charged with attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction against Americans. The U.S. Justice Department said he planned to hide a bomb in a backpack, bury it on the beach and then explode it. I will ask Senator Tom Cotton what he's learning about the threat. He is a leading member of the Senate intelligence and Armed Services Committees.

Our correspondents and analysts are also standing by as we cover all the news that is breaking right now.

First, let's go to our justice reporter, Evan Perez. He has the very latest -- Evan.

EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, tonight, federal prosecutors say that 23-year-old Harlem Suarez was an ISIS supporter who was plotting to bomb a beach in Key West.

Suarez allegedly obtained what he thought was a backpack bomb yesterday from an undercover FBI agent. He discussed buying components, including nails, to use in this bomb. Suarez also recorded a martyrdom video in which he said, "We will destroy America, divide in it two. We will raise our black flag on top of your White House. Any president on duty, we will cut his head."

The FBI was investigating him in May when a pawnshop in Key West called to tell agents that Suarez had bought an AK-47 over the Internet and arranged for it to be shipped to the store. He never took possession of the weapon because of a clerical problem. According to the FBI, investigators first began investigating Suarez after he sent a Facebook friend request to someone seeking to recruit them to join ISIS.

And, Wolf, this makes 51, the number of people who have been arrested and charged with supporting ISIS just since the start of this year.

BLITZER: You say this plot allegedly was supposed to happen on July 4 or around July 4?

PEREZ: That's right. That was in one of the recorded statements that he made with an undercover agent. He talked about carrying out this attack some time around July 4. He also talked about carrying out an attack in Miami as well.

BLITZER: And we heard last week from James Comey, the FBI director, ISIS now a bigger threat, terror threat to the U.S. homeland than al Qaeda.

PEREZ: This illustrates that.

BLITZER: Yes. Evan, thanks very much.

The extent and threat from ISIS prompting NATO to hold a rare emergency meeting today and the U.S. and its allies publicly expressing solidarity. But there are cracks behind the scenes.

Let's go to our Pentagon correspondent, Barbara Starr.

What are you learning, Barbara? BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, good evening.

Tonight, the U.S. and Turkey are urgently talking about how to cooperate on fighting ISIS. But it is the militaries of both countries left to figure out how to make it happen.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

STARR (voice-over): Turkish warplanes pound Kurdish targets, this time in Northern Iraq, after a round of airstrikes inside Syria. It comes as NATO held a rare session to hear Turkey's rising concerns over the terror threat it faces along its border from both ISIS and the Kurds.

JENS STOLTENBERG, NATO SECRETARY-GENERAL: All allies stand in solidarity with Turkey.

STARR: The U.S. wants to focus on the fight against ISIS, but the Turkish president making clear, he is also going after Kurdish militants exposing his government.

[18:05:03]

RECEP TAYYIP ERDOGAN, TURKISH PRESIDENT (through translator): Those who walk in the countryside and in big cities wearing masks and carrying guns will get the necessary response from our security forces.

STARR: The Obama administration willing to back Turkey against Kurds, known as the PKK, a group Washington already labels as a terrorist organization.

The Pentagon still trying to work with moderate Kurds and the Turks in Northern Syria to fight ISIS. U.S. military planners are now finalizing how and when the U.S. will conduct airstrikes from bases in Southern Turkey, providing essential air cover to highly effective Kurdish fighters, Syrian rebels and protect civilians on the ground.

COL. PETER MANSOOR (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: We are going to be walking a very fine line with the application of our airpower. It is hard to specifically just target ISIS targets when you have Turkish troops now on the border.

STARR: The newly proposed safe zone is envisioned to be a 68-mile strip along Syria's border west of the Euphrates River, reaching toward Aleppo. But it is still not clear how the U.S. and Turkey will resolve their different goals.

MANSOOR: I'm sure they realize we're not going to attack the Kurds, but they will. And so this is going to be a tightrope that we're walking with the Turks.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

STARR: So it all sounds like a great idea. Have an ISIS-free zone on that Syrian/Turkish border. But right now, one of the major questions is how will the U.S. even find enough moderate Syrian rebels to work with in that area, Wolf?

BLITZER: So far, they have only trained about 60 troops, pro-U.S. troops inside Syria, is that right?

STARR: Yes, that's right. They have started, they say here at Pentagon, that second class, second group of moderate Syrian rebels now beginning to undergo the training. But, look, it is a long way from back up to that border to get them, to get them equipped and most importantly if they are going to fight, they are going to want protection from the U.S. if ISIS or if the Assad regime comes after them -- Wolf.

BLITZER: They have been recruiting moderate Syrian rebels for a year and so far the U.S. has managed to train 60. That's obviously not very impressive. All right, Barbara, thanks very much.

Tonight, there's also new trouble for the Obama administration and its campaign to win support for the Iran nuclear deal. Take a look at our exclusive new that CNN/ORC poll. It shows 44 percent of Americans say Congress should approve the agreement, but a majority, 52 percent, oppose the deal.

On Capitol Hill today, Secretary of State John Kerry, he got an earful from Republican critics. Even some Democrats are publicly raising red flags about the nuclear deal.

Our global affairs correspondent, Elise Labott, is joining us with more on what happened today -- Elise.

ELISE LABOTT, CNN FOREIGN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, last week, Secretary Kerry got a grilling from the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. We thought this committee, the House Foreign Affairs, is usually a little bit tamer. But it got very acrimonious at times. The chairman, Ed Royce, really using the clock against Secretary Kerry, cutting him off for time. Take look at this contentious exchange.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. ED ROYCE (R), CALIFORNIA: We're presuming Iran is going to change its behavior. And that behavior did not change last weekend when they were channeling again, death to America.

(CROSSTALK)

JOHN KERRY, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: Mr. Chairman, please, with all due respect, we're not presuming any such thing. There is one objective. Make sure they can't get a nuclear weapon.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LABOTT: And it's not just Republicans that were treating him a little bit like a reluctant witness, cross-examining him. Wolf, Eliot Engel, a very prominent Democrat, also coming out very critical about the deal in this hearing today. BLITZER: We're also learning more, as you know, Elise, about a

controversial tweet which has just appeared from Iran's supreme leader, the Ayatollah Khamenei. Tell us about that.

LABOTT: That's right. Even as this administration, Secretary Kerry on the Hill trying on defend the deal, and at some times defending Iran. Check out this tweet from Iran's supreme leader. It appears to have an image of President Obama with a gun to his head. It says, "If any war happens, the one who will emerge loser will be the aggressive and criminal U.S."

So even the supreme leader, Wolf, providing ammunition to Republicans on the Hill today grilling Secretary Kerry.

BLITZER: All right. Elise, thanks very much.

Joining us now, a very vocal critic of the Iran nuclear deal, Republican Senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas. He's a member of the Armed Services and Intelligence Committee. He is also an Iraq War veteran.

Senator, thanks very much for coming in.

The rhetoric is intense. You have caused some of it with your comment. You said Secretary Kerry acted like Pontius Pilate in this nuclear deal, the judge who oversaw Jesus' trial, authorized his crucifixion. What do you mean he acted like Pontius Pilate?

SEN. TOM COTTON (R), ARKANSAS: Well, Wolf, for 2,000 years, Pilate has been a parable for someone who washed his hands of his responsibility.

[18:10:07]

And at the end of these negotiations, it appears that John Kerry washed his hands of his responsibility to reach an agreement on all of the critical issues. Two of those critical issues are where Iran tested allegedly detonators for nuclear weapons at a military base and their other past weaponization work.

Apparently, we couldn't reach an agreement on the central issues and we kicked it to the IAEA to have these two secret side deals with Iran. We don't know what is in those deals. We don't know if it is going to provide adequate inspections and verifications of Iran's obligations. I don't see how Congress can go forward without knowing the details of those two central agreements.

BLITZER: Which is a fair point, which is a good discussion. You can have a serious debate on both sides. But the name-calling is getting so intense. The former governor of your state of Arkansas, Mike Huckabee, saying the president is moving the Israelis toward the door of the oven, a reference to the Holocaust.

Why not tone down the rhetoric and deal with the facts? Pontius Pilate, that's a pretty ugly statement about the secretary of state.

COTTON: Well, I don't question Secretary Kerry's motives. I don't question President Obama's motives. And we're all in this together.

You just saw that tweet of Barack Obama with his gun to his head -- a gun to his head from the supreme leader. And when Iran goes in the streets and they chant, they don't chant death to Democrats or death to Republicans. They chant death to America.

But, as we learn more and more about this deal, there is no doubt that this deal is going to pave the path for Iran to get a nuclear weapon. And it may be in part because John Kerry refused to take on the responsibility to reach an agreement on every single deal.

(CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: And I understand you can criticize him on that, but do you want to revise and amend -- or amend that statement about Pontius Pilate?

COTTON: No, Wolf, Secretary Kerry had a responsibility to represent America's interests and to reach an agreement on every single point. He did not. He apparently watched his hands and kicked it to the IAEA, even though Iran has thwarted the IAEA for years on this very issue.

BLITZER: All right, so I will take it you don't want to revise or amend that statement.

Let's talk about the secret part of the deal. You heard Marie Harf. I don't know if you heard her, the State Department senior adviser. She was here an hour ago. And she said: "Everything will be made known. All the secret arrangements between IAEA and the Iranian government on the inspections, the U.S. has been briefed. The secretary of state has been briefed, and all 535 members of the Senate and the House, if they want to be briefed, they will be briefed on that."

Is that good enough?

COTTON: Wolf, I have had repeated briefings, both in my role as a senator, but also on my role in the Armed Services Committee and the Intelligence Committee.

And I can tell you there is virtually no clarity from the administration about these secret side agreements. At first, the existence was secret, but the contents are still secret. There's been published reports, for instance, just earlier today that we are going to allow Iran to take samples of soil or other environmental elements themselves and send it to the IAEA.

That would be like the NFL letting football players take their own urine samples for drug testing and mail to it Roger Goodell. The American people wouldn't accept that as a credible system. I don't see how Congress can accept this as a credible inspection system until we know the exact details that are in those two secret side agreements. BLITZER: They say they're going to share that with you in a

classified format, because the IAEA, the International Atomic Energy Agency, doesn't want all that information made public.

Here's the question. Assuming they share all secret aspects, side deals of this arrangement, is that adequate for you?

COTTON: Well, Wolf, I have said there's two points about the IAEA's position that this is an agreement between IAEA and Iran.

First, U.S. law requires that every agreement between any of the parties in this overall deal have to be submitted to the United States Congress, first. And, second, this is an unprecedented deal, so you can't cite precedents of the IAEA dealing with countries like South Africa that wanted to cooperate.

This is truly unprecedented. We have to know in Congress on behalf of the American people the exact details of those two side agreements, in my opinion, before we can move forward and cast a vote.

BLITZER: All right, we will see if they share that information, if you're satisfied with the briefing eventually, presumably, you and your colleagues will get.

I want you to stand by. We have more to discuss, including a possibility maybe those four Americans in Iran might be released. We will talk about that, a whole lot more with Senator Cotton when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[18:18:24]

BLITZER: We're back with the breaking news. A Florida man, a young man, only 23 years old, under arrest, accused of plotting to explode a bomb in a backpack on a Key West beach.

The U.S. Justice Department says he was in fact inspired by ISIS, wanted to do so allegedly on July 4.

We're back with Senator Tom Cotton. He's a leading member of the Intelligence and Armed Services Committee.

I interviewed the FBI director, James Comey, last week. He said flatly ISIS now represents a bigger terror threat to the U.S. homeland than al Qaeda does. You agree with him?

COTTON: I think Director Comey has a point. I would break it down into two ways, Wolf.

First, just by sheer volume of the threats we face, the Islamic State is the greatest threat to our homeland from a terrorism standpoint. In terms of the magnitude of the possible attack, though, I would still say that al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula is a greater threat just because of the skill they have in bomb-making and other techniques. But they're both terrible threats and that's why we have to be on offense, not on defense, because here in Key West, the FBI and our intelligence officers once again did a great job, but, ultimately, it only takes one terrorist to get through to kill Americans.

BLITZER: So ISIS can inspire through social media a lone individual to go out and randomly kill people, But AQAP, al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, potentially could still blow up a plane.

COTTON: Take down aircrafts, for instance.

BLITZER: That's a significant development.

Are you on board with the latest developments involving Turkey's about-face, allowing U.S. warplanes to take off from Turkish air bases to attack ISIS targets in Syria? Turkey is now doing so. But at the same time, Turkey is also going after Kurdish targets. And the Kurds, as you know, they have been very, very forceful in their battle against ISIS in support of the U.S. position.

[18:20:07]

COTTON: Well, it is a welcome development that our NATO ally Turkey is going to allow to use Incirlik Air Base, which we have had for decades in Southern Turkey, to conducts airstrikes in Syria.

BLITZER: Because they have refused until now.

COTTON: They have refused until now. That means that our pilots have been flying from over 1,000 miles away, which limits their capabilities, limits their payloads. This will be much more effective.

But as you point out, Wolf, the politics of this on the ground are more complicated. Turkey and the Kurds, especially the PKK, have their differences. In the meantime, Turkey also is going to be very focused on Assad's regime. And this is why all roads ultimately in my opinion lead back to Iran, because it is Iran's support for Assad over the last four years that has made the situation in Iraq so -- or in Syria so much more complicated and has helped the Islamic State have the time and the space to rise to power.

Unless we get serious about addressing Iran's regional ambitions in places like Syria, then our allies are never going to be confident that we have a strategy for the region.

BLITZER: Do you believe Iran -- they're going to get a windfall of cash right now, assuming this deal goes forward, the sanctions are lifted, tens of billions of dollars which the and U.S. the other allies hope they will use domestically for education, infrastructure, whatever, housing.

But you know as well as do I that some of that money is going to be used to promote Bashar al-Assad's regime, for example, their close allies in Syria. COTTON: A lot of that money will be used to promote Assad in Syria, the Houthis in Yemen. It will be used to support Shiite militias in Iraq, the kind of militias that use very lethal roadside bombs.

BLITZER: What can be done to prevent that?

COTTON: I think Congress should vote down this deal and start by not giving them tens of billions of dollars.

BLITZER: Well, presumably, the deal is going to go forward, even if it is rejected in the initial vote. The House and the Senate getting a two-thirds override of a presidential veto seems pretty difficult.

COTTON: Well, the vote count doesn't yet have enough to sustain a presidential veto.

But, Wolf, the point you make is one reason why this deal is so dangerous for U.S. interests. Putting aside -- let's just put to the side the nuclear threat that Iran could pose, even if they follow the deal in eight, 10, 15 years, in the meantime, they are going to get tens of billion of dollars in sanctions relief. And even if a small fraction of that goes to support Shiite militias in Iraq or Hezbollah in Lebanon or Assad in Syria, it will deeply undermine our position in the region and deeply, deeply concern our allies who are already very concerned about America's sticking power.

BLITZER: Senator Cotton, thanks for coming in.

COTTON: Thanks, Wolf.

BLITZER: Just ahead, Donald Trump's first interview since a top aide apologized for controversial remarks about rape. CNN's Don Lemon is standing by with more of his conversation with Donald Trump.

Plus, a new video captures a police officer getting aggressive and threatening a driver -- why this case isn't like many others.

Stand by.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[18:27:23]

BLITZER: Tonight, Donald Trump is responding for the first time to the newest controversy surrounding his presidential campaign.

He is telling CNN he won't fire a top adviser who was forced to apologize for explosive comments about rape. Stand by for more on the firestorm, our brand-new interview with Donald Trump. That's coming up.

The billionaire is dominating the 2016 spotlight, even as the Republican candidates gear up for the first debate of the season, a forum that will be crowded and complicated next week.

Tom Foreman is taking a closer look at all of this for us. What are you seeing, Tom?

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Wolf.

The way the campaigns are scrambling, you would think the Republicans were going to pick their candidate next week, not almost a year from now at their convention in Cleveland. But the field is so crowded and the importance of grabbing a seat on the stage is so high, the gloves are off and the fight is on.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

FOREMAN (voice-over): Call it the Republican Thunderdome; 16 candidates have officially entered the GOP race. But with only 10 podiums for the first debate, a half-dozen will be shoved off of the stage. So who gets a spot?

The latest CNN poll of polls, an average several respected polls, offers some clues. At the top, Donald Trump, Jeb Bush and Scott Walker are all in double digits and sure to be included. But below them, it starts to get messy.

MIKE HUCKABEE (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: He's so naive, he would trust the Iranians and he would take the Israelis and basically march them to the door of the oven.

FOREMAN: Mike Huckabee, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio and Rand Paul are all at 6 percent, a solid showing, and they will likely make the cut.

But then comes the bottom nine duking it out for the three remaining slots. FOX, which is hosting the debate, hasn't revealed precisely which polls it will use to decide who is on the stage, so contenders are crunching the number every way they can to see if they can secure a place. Attacking the front-runner, Donald Trump, is the most popular strategy.

GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R-NJ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I just don't believe that the skills that you're talking about that Donald has are transferable to a governmental setting. I just don't.

RICK PERRY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: He offers a barking carnival act that can best be described as Trumpism, a toxic mix of demagoguery and mean-spiritedness and nonsense.

FOREMAN: Whether such flamethrowing statements are political stunts or not can be debated, but, unquestionably, some of those polling at 3 percent or below will find themselves out of the main fight even before it begins, when the bell sounds for the all-important first debate next week.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

[18:30:12] FOREMAN: Now FOX is saying all of those who do not make it onstage will get a chance to talk to voters in a separate forum. But in this contest, you can be assured that will not satisfy any of those who do not make the cut. Especially, Wolf, whoever is No. 11. BLITZER: We'll see who makes the top ten. And then the second tier.

Thanks very much for that.

Now to Donald Trump's first interview since one of his top aides was forced to apologize for claiming there's no such thing as the rape of a spouse.

Trump spoke to CNN's Don Lemon, who's joining us now with some of that interview.

Don, good work. Tell us what he told you.

DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: He said a lot. And I want to say that, you know, that Michael Cohen before we get to that, apologized, saying that he was upset. He was angry. He should not have said that. He released a statement earlier today, but he has not gotten back in front of cameras, as he had been talking about Donald Trump.

But then today, just a few moments ago, I got a chance to interview Donald Trump. And Tom Foreman is right: that debate is next week.

And Wolf, I wanted to know if he was ready for it, because there's going to be a timer. There are going to be people up there. Other people who are gunning for him. And he's not used to talking and having people cut him off. We're used to that. The other candidates or the politicians may be used to that. But he certainly isn't.

He had a very interesting answer. I'm not sure if he fully sort of understood the magnamity [SIC] of what is going to happen next week. But here's how he answered.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

LEMON: Now this debate is coming up. Are you ready for it?

TRUMP (via phone): I have absolutely no idea how to answer that question. I am me. I don't have pollsters. I mean, I have a lot of money. Much more money than all of them put together and all of their phony contributions put together. But you have to understand. I want to be me. You know, they pay pollsters millions and millions of dollars. You know that better than anybody. And they won't answer a question. You see with Jeb Bush, with the simple question that was asked about Iraq, it took five days to get the answer out.

And I think Jeb is probably a nice person. I don't really know Jeb, but I think he's probably a nice person. But you can't rely on pollsters every time there's a question. The same thing with Hillary Clinton. I mean, she doesn't want to answer any questions. She doesn't deal with the press. Everything is done by pollsters. And you know, my expression, if the pollsters were any good, why are not they running for office?

LEMON: But Donald, you're going to be up on that stage. You're going to have a timer. You're going to be up against the other candidates. Are you preparing? Do you have a debate coach? Are you ready for this? TRUMP: I am what I am. I am what I am. I mean, a debate coach.

Romney had a debate coach and Obama had a debate coach. Frankly, I thought Obama was terrible, but Romney got worse and worse every time there was a debate. And by the time they had the third debate he was catastrophic. I don't know what happened to him.

I have to be myself, Don. And if it's not good enough, that's OK. I'll have -- you know, I'll go on to other things. I'll ride into the sunset and do some more buildings and create some more jobs, and that's OK. I'm doing this because I want to make America great again. And that's why I'm doing it.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

LEMON: OK. So what was interesting to me, Wolf -- I'm not sure if you picked up on that -- he said, "I'll ride off into the sunset." I've never heard Donald Trump speak like that. At least not in this particular race.

So later on in the interview I clarified. I said, "It's -- you know, it's a long haul; it's a slog. Are you getting tired?"

And he said no; he was invigorated. But certainly, I needed to clarify that, because he sounded like, "If I don't do well in this debate, then maybe I'll think about bowing out." Maybe he will. But, you know, it certainly sounded interesting to me.

BLITZER: Yes, it sounded like he was very mellow.

LEMON: Right.

BLITZER: It was sort of unusual. I've been interviewing Donald Trump for many years, and you're absolutely right. He did sound a new note.

I want you to stand by, Don. I want to expand our conversation. Our political reporter, Sara Murray, is here; our political director, David Chalian; our senior legal analyst, Jeffrey Toobin.

Let me start, you've listened to Donald Trump for a long time. Didn't he sound a bit mellow there in that interview with Don?

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: He did. And I think he's doing something very interesting, Wolf. He did it over the weekend in Iowa also.

Donald Trump is finally doing something that politicians do: set expectations, play the expectations setting game. Over the weekend in Iowa he said, "Hey, I've never debated before. I may not be good in this format." You never hear Donald Trump express anything but total confidence. So the fact that he's saying that he may not sort of hit it out of the park is a very rare thing for Donald Trump, and it's the one thing that I've heard him say where he sounds more like a regular politician.

BLITZER: And he certainly didn't fire Michael Cohen, Sara, one of his counsel, one of his top aides who said those things. Cohen, of course, formally apologized and regretted making that comment.

SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: It's been interesting to see them sort of walk the line on this today. Reporting on his earlier, his campaign manager said, "Look, Michael Cohen doesn't work for the campaign. He works for Donald Trump's Enterprises, and it's not the campaign. And the companies are separate things. And, you know, that's just the way it is."

But it's clear that Michael Cohen is in Donald Trump's inner circle. And they -- it was clear that he was not going anywhere, and they needed to clean up this mess. And I think that's what we saw with Michael Cohen's apology. That's what we saw with Donald Trump today. "Look, he was angry. Am I going on fire him? No. Do I agree with him? No."

BLITZER: It also sort of underscores that Trump is a loyal guy to his top aides. In this particular, Michael Cohen is a lawyer. What he said was -- I take it, you're a lawyer, factually incorrect when he said, "You can't rape a spouse."

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Right. I mean, unfortunately, it's only in the 1990s that all 50 states came to that conclusion. I mean, it's a relatively new development. But it is universally acknowledged now that that is -- that is the law in all 50 states. Of course, husbands can rape wives.

But I think, you know, we may have to recalibrate our whole idea about gaffes and sort of, is it going to hurt the campaign? These controversies don't seem to hurt Donald Trump. You know, when he said those terrible things about John McCain, that really was burying his campaign, people like Donald Trump. There are people. There are those who are supportive.

BLITZER: You know, Don, you spoke to him today. So you got his sense, in our new -- in that new Monmouth poll in New Hampshire. He's what? At 24 percent. Jeb Bush is at 12 percent. Everybody else is in single digits. He's doing remarkably well. And that poll was done after the John McCain P.O.W. comments.

LEMON: And he's doing doubly well than Jeb Bush, right? He's doubling his points, 12 and 24. And also in the CNN poll, the same thing.

Listen, I have said since the beginning, and I think there are others. I think there are others who are not in political circles, who don't speak politicalese every day, who are not in Washington who they understand the nerve that Donald Trump has touched in American society. People who are tired of canned candidates.

Maybe he said some things wrong. Maybe you don't agree with him, but at least he's saying it. He's not giving talking points, and he's not couching every word in political correctness and what other people may think of him. He's the guy who's saying it and that is, many people in the American electorate like that.

BLITZER: And one final thought. The notion that he is now the Republican presidential front-runner. You have no doubt about that.

CHALIAN: No doubt about that. That is clearly his position. He solidified it. He's defying political gravity right now, and his entire trajectory has been upwards. So right now he is the front runner for the nomination. If you project forward, you can see potential problems with a general election candidacy. But inside the Republican nominating electorate, he is striking a chord.

BLITZER: All right. It's pretty amazing when you think about it. All right, guys, thanks very much.

By the way, to our viewers out there, you can see all of Don's interview with Donald Trump later tonight, 10 p.m. Eastern on the program. "CNN TONIGHT WITH DON LEMON." Don will join us, by the way, shortly. We've got more to discuss.

Also coming up, a policeman threatens to put a hole in a driver's head. The shocking confrontation, all caught on video while the officer wasn't even on the job.

And authorities also released new video of Sandra Bland in a Texas jail. What, if anything, does it reveal about her death?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[17:42:46] BLITZER: Tonight, another shocking video has surfaced, this one showing a police officer getting aggressive with a driver. This time it's an off-duty police officer, and both the officer and the driver are white.

Brian Todd is here with the video and the story behind it. Tell our viewers what happened.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, tonight this police detective is being investigated over this incident, and he and his police department are under significant pressure.

The video shows the detective moving very menacingly toward the motorist, who said at certain points he thought his life was in danger.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TODD (voice-over): One angry motorist snaps at another. But this is no standard road rage incident, and the guy in the white tank top is not just any hot head.

MICHAEL, DRIVER: I didn't know you were a cop.

STEPHEN LEBERT, POLICE OFFICER: I'll put a hole through your (EXPLETIVE DELETED) head. I'll put a hole right through your head.

MICHAEL: OK, OK, OK.

TODD: The man in white threatening the motorist is Stephen Lebert, an off-duty detective in the Medford, Massachusetts, Police Department. This incident captured this past Sunday night from a camera on the motorist's dashboard.

At first the motorist backs up, fearful.

LEBERT: I'll put a hole right through your head.

MICHAEL: OK, OK, OK.

TODD (on camera): That kind of a threat. Acceptable under any circumstances?

ADAM KASANOV, FORMER NYPD TRAINER: Well, let me say that under these particular circumstances, I think it is a problem if the person in question who was being stopped was unaware that the officer was a police officer and then backing up, possibly concerned for his safety.

TODD (voice-over): Lebert doesn't appear to pull his badge at one point, but it's not clearly seen. Moments later, despite the motorist's politeness and pleas for understanding, the detective keeps on threatening.

MICHAEL: I'm sorry. I didn't see that sign. This is my first...

LEBERT: (EXPLETIVE DELETED) You're lucky I'm a cop. I would beat the (EXPLETIVE DELETED).

TODD: In the video, Lebert insists the motorist was driving dangerously.

LEBERT: You almost hit that car head on, when you went through the rotary.

TODD: The motorist, who would only call himself Michael to the media, admits he took a wrong turn into an intersection but was clearly shaken by the detective's anger.

MICHAEL: It was definitely nerve-racking when someone is like, "Hey, I'm going to shoot you." Digging for his gun, telling me he's going to shoot me. And I'm like, "A bit extreme, don't you think?"

TODD: Medford Police Chief Leo Sacco says Detective Lebert's been placed on administrative leave with pay during an internal investigation.

LEO SACCO, MEDFORD POLICE CHIEF: This was a bad situation. It is troubling to watch one of my officers involved in that.

TODD: This isn't the first time Chief Sacco's been troubled by Lebert's behavior.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That your brother?

TODD: July 2012, Lebert confronts a man filming a routine police street engagement.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This isn't the first time Chief Sacco has been troubled by LeBert's behavior.

[18:45:03] DETECTIVE STEPHEN LEBERT, MEDFORD POLICE: Is that your brother?

TODD: July 2012, LeBert confronts a man filming a routine police street engagement, licks his finger and tries to smudge the man's lens. LeBert keeps smiling eerily into the camera and tells him what he should do with his brother.

LEBERT: What you should do is just take him up on the railroad tracks and tell him to lay down.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

TODD: Detective LeBert could not be reached for comment on either incident.

Chief Sacco tells CNN when the video of that 2012 incident was brought to their attention, then Officer LeBert got a verbal reprimand and some counseling. Chief Sacco says he can't justify what happened in either incident but he does say that LeBert is a good detective who does solid work -- Wolf.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Brian, there was also another incident back in the 1990s where the same officer's judgment was in question, right?

TODD: That's right. LeBert was more loosely involved in this particular incident, Wolf, in the early 1990s. A man sued LeBert and he sued LeBert's uncle. He claimed that LeBert and his uncle, who was also a police officer, came to his house in uniform and the uncle beat him. Stephen LeBert was accused of not doing anything to stop that.

This apparently came after LeBert's wife told him that that man had said on her. The LeBerts lost that civil lawsuit but settled on appeal. Stephen LeBert did not have to pay anything in that case.

BLITZER: All right. Brian, thanks very much. I want to talk about all of this, the new video.

Joining us, our CNN anchor Don Lemon, our legal analyst Sonny Hostin, our law enforcement analyst Tom Fuentes, and our senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin.

Tom, let's watch the video. It is very dramatic. Watch this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LEBERT: Pull over.

Pull your car over. I'll put a hole right in your (EXPLETIVE DELETED) head. Pull your car over. MICHAEL: I didn't know you were a cop.

LEBERT: I'll put a hole right in your (EXPLETIVE DELETED) cop.

MICHAEL: I didn't know you were a cop.

LEBERT: I'll put a hole right through your head. Pull over.

MICHAEL: OK, OK, OK.

LEBERT: Not only am I a cop, but a (EXPLETIVE DELETED) Medford detective. You went through that (EXPLETIVE DELETED) rotary.

MICHAEL: I didn't see a sign. I didn't see a sign.

LEBERT: Give me your license.

Don't worry. There will be a cruiser here in two seconds.

MICHAEL: I'm sorry. I didn't see that sign. This is my first time --

LEBERT: You're a (EXPLETIVE DELETE).

You're lucky I'm a cop because I would be beating the (EXPLETIVE DELETED) out of you right now.

MICHAEL: Jeez.

LEBERT: Give me your license.

MICHAEL: I just want to let you know --

LEBERT: Give me your license!

MICHAEL: I also want to let you know --

LEBERT: Give me your license!

MICHAEL: OK. I also want to let you know I also have a dash camera.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Wow, pretty dramatic, Tom. You used to be a street cop yourself before you join the FBI. This guy has 30 years experience on the job. He is now on administrative leave. What's your analysis?

TOM FUENTES, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, I believe, Wolf, that, you know, his behavior is completely out of control. First of all, he is in plain clothes, shorts and a tank top. So, you know, a motorist is going to be fearful when somebody comes of their car screaming and threatening to put a hole in your head. You know, that's pretty severe.

Had that motorist had a gun, you know, you might have this officer shot and killed and he probably would have brought that on himself for what he's doing. So, I just think it is completely outrageous, what he's doing.

BLITZER: Don, we've watched a lot of these videos. Both these men are white, as you know. What's your reaction to what it demonstrates in this case about policing in some of these communities?

DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: Well, it sort of proves what I said yesterday about the Loretta Lynch investigation. That there should be an investigation to what happened to Sandra Bland. And what is happening with people bringing awareness to police officers' behavior around the country. That everyone can benefit from it. Not just people of color.

And that, to borrow a phrase from Lindsey Graham, that cops can be jackasses and many of them are. And so, when you were in that situation, I think you do exactly what that young man did, you say, yes, sir, I didn't know you were an officer, what have you, even though the officer is completely in the wrong. He is wearing cut-off jean shorts and he's wearing a tank top. He is clearly on a power trip.

And so, this brings light to that police officers around the country, we need to examine the powers that they do have and how they conduct themselves.

BLITZER: Sunny, you're a former prosecutor. Legally speaking, where does this case go from here?

SUNNY HOSTIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYS: Wow. You know, I think, is that Jeff giggling?

I think when you look at a case like this, there is no question in my mind that there should be some sort of criminal responsibility. I certainly think there's going to be civil responsibility. I think to the larger question, Wolf, I think what we're seeing over and over again is this real crisis in confidence in our law enforcement officers. We're seeing it all over the country. We're seeing it in the south, in the middle of the country. We're seeing it in the north.

And I think it goes to prove the point that we need reform in all of our police departments. We need more training. We especially need, I think, a change in police culture.

We're talking about in this instance, an officer that's been with the division for, what, 30 years? And so, this is really part of the police culture, at least for this officer and perhaps in this department.

[18:50:00] And so, my sense is that he is probably training people on how to police.

This same officer had issues in 1990, had issues in 2012, just three ago, and then we see this. And I think it also underscores the need for body cameras and dashcam videos perhaps not only on police cruisers but also on civilian cars, because but for that dashcam video -- LEMON: He's lucky he had that, Sunny.

HOSTIN: We won't be even talking about it, exactly.

LEMON: Yes.

BLITZER: Let me ask Jeffrey Toobin to weigh in.

What's your analysis?

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Well, I just think, you know, it is yet another example of how these phones and these little cameras, dashcams phones are transforming law enforcement and giving us a very ugly picture sometimes of how law enforcement works. If I can just focus on one word in that, it's rotary.

You know, as a former Massachusetts resident, rotary is what they call round-abouts in Massachusetts. They are difficult to drive and even for locals, much less new arrivals. So, I have a special degree of sympathy for that guy who was driving because, you know, rotaries are difficult. It's easy to get mixed-up and the fact he was abused this way is just appalling.

BLITZER: All right. Guys, stand by. We want to take a quick break.

I don't want to leave the viewers with the impression that all police are bad, 99.9 percent of police are good. They help. They protect us. But obviously, there are some bad apples out there as there are in every profession.

We'll take a quick break and much more right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[18:56:06] BLITZER: We're back about police tactics, race, justice, newly released video of Sandra Bland also before she died in a Texas cell.

Sunny, we're getting into the new look of video showing Sandra Bland in jail. Authorities saying they released the video because of misinformation being reported. They also they've received threats.

What's your take on this decision to release the video, the authorities saying this is the best way to get the truth out there?

HOSTIN: You know, I think it's very important actually. I think the public because of this crisis and confidence with law enforcement officers that we've been talking about all year for a couple years it feels like now, Wolf, I think it's important because viewers, the public, they want transparency. I can't begin to tell you how many e- mails and tweets from viewers and from people I know questioning this particular case.

There are a lot of conspiracy theories, certainly, but there are other people that are just thinking, how could this happen? How could someone who seemed to have everything to live for kill herself in a jail cell? It doesn't make sense to most people, and I think, you know, releasing any and all video is a step in the right direction.

BLITZER: What's your analysis, Jeffrey?

TOOBIN: More information is better than less. I don't think this video tells us anything particularly important but, you know, obviously, the circumstances of her death are highly controversial and many people have strong feelings about it to the extent we can get more information into the public domain, that's important as well as a serious inquiry with the people who saw what went on and get them, I hope, under oath about what really happened.

BLITZER: They also released, Tom, this so-called jail medication form pointing out she asked for Tylenol twice. There you see it up on the screen. What does that say about what was going on?

FUENTES: Well, it just makes you wonder if she's having a headache like many people would have and just ask for it. You know, that's one thing. I think the autopsy released that shows that she had marijuana in her system.

My question there would be that she doesn't die for several days, so where did she get the marijuana? Was that -- was she already under the influence of marijuana during the traffic stop and had so much in her system that it hadn't washed out three days later when she dies and they do the autopsy?

So, you know, I would have questions just about her physical condition from the beginning of this when she gets put in jail to the time that she actually dies and they do the autopsy.

BLITZER: Don, we saw Sandra Bland being emotional in the video. You spent a lot of time studying it. Does it tell us more about her story, what possibly could have led to her death?

LEMON: Well, you know, I wrote a column today talking about suicide and harm and many people think there is some rhyme or reason.

And I hear you, Sunny, she has so much to live for. But it never makes sense when someone commits suicide and the official cause of her death is suicide. There is nothing to indicate otherwise. The video doesn't show anyone going into her cell. I understand the need for transparency and there is a crisis and

confidence, but I almost wish we would not bow to the conspiracy theories, because we add more fuel to the flame and people that the will do this.

If you look at this logically and look at the evidence, it adds up. The cops should not have put her in jail. We can debate that. What happened inside of the jail cell is well-documented. You see the video, there is no -- nothing that went on that was untoward. It is what it is.

HOSTIN: You know, Don, I think it's a little too early and premature to say that all is said and done and it is what it is. This is an ongoing investigation, and I think that we've got to be very careful -- (CROSSTALK)

LEMON: If you logically follow it, you can see what happens.

HOSTIN: We can't say that we don't know -- that we know what happened in that jail cell. It's too soon.

BLITZER: All right. Don is going to have a lot more on this later tonight, 10:00 p.m. Eastern.

That's all the time we have this hour. To all of you, thanks very much for watching.

"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.