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Hillary in Trouble?; Donald Trump Set to Hold Town Hall; Source: 2011 Email to Clinton on Benghazi Raised Concerns. Aired 18- 19:00p ET

Aired August 19, 2015 - 18:00   ET

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


[18:00:04]

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Tough new questions tonight about crime, race and justice.

And cheaters exposed. Millions of people who used an adultery Web site now can be traced online. Turns out many of them work for the U.S. government or the U.S. military. Is there a national security threat?

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

Americans soon will see how Donald Trump respond to questions from voters instead of reporters. Tonight, the Republican front- runner holds his first town hall meeting as a presidential candidate. CNN will carry the event in Derry, New Hampshire, carry it live.

Also tonight, we have a new interview with Donald Trump predicting that the investigation of Hillary Clinton's e-mails will be, in his word, devastating, devastating to her campaign. Our exclusive new poll shows Trump now trails Hillary Clinton by just six points if they were in a face-off in a general election today, this as Hillary Clinton's unfavorable ratings hit a 14-year high and the race for the Democratic nomination tightens.

I will ask Clinton spokesman, Clinton campaign spokesman Brian Fallon about all this and more. He's standing by live. Our correspondents and analysts are also standing by to cover all the news that is breaking right now.

First, let's go to our political reporter, Sara Murray. She's joining us from New Hampshire.

Sara, set the scene for us tonight on Donald Trump's first town hall as a presidential candidate.

SARA MURRAY, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Sure.

Well, voters have started trickling in. They're pumping up the country music here, getting people ready for Donald Trump. They're expecting a big crowd tonight. The campaign tells us they have 1,500 RSVPs for this event and they just started advertising it on social media earlier this week. Obviously, that many people will not fit inside the venue. We

are expecting a little bit of an overflow outside. But this is really going to be one of the first big retail politics events Donald Trump has done since announcing his candidacy. And like you pointed out, it's a way for voters here to quiz Donald Trump about the questions that are at the top of their mind.

An interesting thing about a place like New Hampshire is you never know what a voter is going to ask.

BLITZER: Also, Sara, it's interesting that Jeb Bush not far from where you are, what, only 10 miles away, he is also holding a town hall in the same state obviously around the same time -- same time. Set the scene for us about that.

MURRAY: Yes, creating a little fun for us reporters, because there are two big town halls happening here tonight.

Look, I think that inevitably there are going to be crowd comparisons between Jeb Bush's event and Donald Trump's event. When you talk to the Bush campaign, they say they're not super worried about the Trump crowds. They don't think that their voters are likely to defect to go to Donald Trump. They still sort of think he is a blip in this race, that he is not going to be in it for the long haul.

That said, his super PAC is spending $10 million on the airwaves in early states, including New Hampshire. You don't do that if you are not worried.

BLITZER: Well, when you have $100 million as a super PAC has already raised, that is not necessarily a lot of money. He's going to be spending a lot on the ads. Thanks very much, Sara. We will get back to you.

We have Donald Trump's first response to our exclusive new CNN poll that suggests he would be very competitive in a general election against Hillary Clinton. Trump sat down for a one-on-one interview today with CNN's Chris Cuomo.

Chris is joining us from New York right now.

Chris, you spent a lot of time with him. You have spent some time with him in the past. How did it go today?

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Different than expected. You are going to see a different Donald Trump here. I might even use a word you would never attach to him ordinarily in politics, which is softer. He comes to this interview as a front-runner, as someone with expectations on him, you could even say something to lose, quite a change in terms and events for him as coming out such an outsider.

So, tonight, you are going to hear him talk about the poll, but just as important as what he says is what he does not say. Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) CUOMO: The latest CNN/ORC poll, you don't get more accurate than

that, it has you for the first time considered competitive in the general election, six points separating you and Hillary Clinton. You must be shocked.

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, it's not my focus right now. Right now, I have 16 other people that I'm looking at, and that's not my focus, but indirectly it probably is.

And I think that Hillary is going to have a hard time being in the election, based on what's happening with the e-mails, the servers, maybe even the speeches. I think it's going to be a very hard thing for her to overcome.

When I look, Chris, at what happened with Petraeus on a much smaller level, great general, wonderful guy, everybody loves them, and they have destroyed his life over much less, in terms of confidentiality, in terms of importance, much less and far fewer. And it would seem hard to think that somebody could have a much worse situation than him and escape.

[18:05:08]

CUOMO: Well, the factual distinction would be that that was classified information with Petraeus, and he knew it and he used it. Here, we do not know yet that Hillary Clinton was doing the wrong thing or mishandling classified information. Does that matter?

TRUMP: But it looks like it was, and it certainly looks like it was very high-level information.

And what's the purpose of it? It's always skirting the edge. What's the purpose of it? In the end, she had something in mind. She didn't want people to know or something, but what is she doing? Why is she doing it?

CUOMO: You think this is going to really hurt her long-term?

TRUMP: Oh, I think it's devastating. I think it's devastating for the election, but I think her bigger problem is not the election. I think her bigger problem is going to be the criminal problem.

CUOMO: Really? You really think that this could turn out to be a criminal situation for Hillary Clinton? Because there's no reference of that from the investigators right now.

TRUMP: I don't think I'm the only one. The FBI is involved. They only do criminal. I don't think I'm the only one.

Now, maybe it's somebody on her staff, but, look, it's either criminal or it's incompetent. It's one or the other. There's either gross incompetent or criminal, and neither is acceptable to be president.

CUOMO: I feel like you're skipping the headline. You're six points from Hillary Clinton. Nobody would have expected that. You're kind of glossing over it. Why? Shouldn't you be saying, six points, I can't believe I'm not ahead?

TRUMP: That's one thing I could say, I guess.

I think we will do very well against Hillary. Hillary's record as secretary of state was a disaster. She was in favor, totally in favor of the Iraq War, which is obviously not a good sound bite. I think we're going to do very well.

And, as you know, I have been against it for years, the Iraq War. I said you're going to decimate Iraq, Iran will take over the Middle East and take over Iraq, which is exactly what's happening, and somebody's going to come over and take over the leftover oil. And who did that turn out to be? ISIS.

So if you look at 2004, exactly what I said happened. So call it vision. I have to call it vision, because I'm trying to get elected. First time in my life, I'm trying to get elected, right? I'm a politician all of a sudden, but there was a certain vision. I have gotten a lot of credit for it.

They made a terrible mistake, and then they made a terrible mistake the way they got out. And, in my opinion, they made an even worse mistake not keeping the oil.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Let's talk a little bit about this.

Chris is still with us.

Chris, this is a full-hour interview we have that will air later tonight. And -- but getting back to the point, he is suggesting, what, that she is going to potentially face criminal charges in connection with this? Is he going that far?

CUOMO: Yes, now, that's the Trump that we are familiar with. Right? He's pushing the facts to suit his argument against Hillary Clinton and to his supporters that will probably resonate.

However, there is not a real -- a lot of connection or attachment to what we are learning from the investigation in terms of what he is saying. It doesn't match up so far.

But I think just as instructive, Wolf, as what he is saying is what you don't hear him saying. I would won a year of lunches off of you, Wolf, if we made a bet about whether or not I would have to prod Donald Trump to brag about his situation in a poll vs. Hillary Clinton. But he showed a lot of restraint. Why?

I would suggest it's because he is going through a transition of being just someone who is loud to someone who wants to be perceived as a leader. You even heard himself in there call himself a politician. This is a different Donald Trump.

BLITZER: It certainly is. And we are looking forward to the full interview later tonight. Chris, good work. Thanks very, very much.

The full interview, the Chris Cuomo interview with Donald Trump, it will air later tonight, 9:00 p.m. Eastern and Pacific. Our viewers will want to see it. The "SPECIAL REPORT: The Donald Trump Interview" is what we are calling it.

Also tonight, our CNN/ORC poll shows 56 percent of Americans think Hillary Clinton was wrong to use a personal e-mail account while she was the secretary of state.

The controversy appears to be having an impact on her support in the presidential race.

Let's go to our senior Washington correspondent, Jeff Zeleny. He has got the latest numbers in the poll.

Tell us about those numbers, Jeff.

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, of course Hillary Clinton knew a coronation wasn't coming her way. But she surely couldn't have expected this. Bernie Sanders is rising. Her numbers are falling. In the middle of it all sits Donald Trump, who has gained legitimacy as a candidate and now he is within arm's reach.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It's all entertainment. I think he's having the time of his life, you know, being on that stage.

ZELENY (voice-over): Hillary Clinton and other Democrats have been all smiles at Donald Trump and his influence on the Republican presidential race, but look who is smiling now. Donald Trump is not only leading the Republican field. He's within striking distance of Clinton in our new CNN/ORC poll.

CLINTON: We have turned over the server.

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Somebody has got a big problem. And it looks like it's Hillary.

ZELENY: In a head-to-head matchup, she now leads Trump by only six points, tightening dramatically since summer began.

In June, she held a 24-point advantage, in July, 16 points. But Clinton can't get ahead of herself. She has a Democratic primary fight on her hands. She wins support from 47 percent of Democrats, falling below 50 percent for the first time in our poll. She now leads Bernie Sanders by 18 points. But since July, a change of fortunes, Clinton has fallen nine. Sanders has climbed 10.

[18:10:08]

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (VT-I), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I don't mean to be self-serving here, but I think it's fair to say that there's a lot of excitement in the Bernie Sanders campaign right now.

ZELENY: One other warning sign for Clinton, her unfavorable ratings are at a 14-year high, with only 44 percent holding a positive view of her. She's been unable to shake the controversy dogging her campaign over the decision to use a private e-mail server as secretary of state.

CLINTON: My personal e-mails are my personal business, right?

QUESTION: You were the official in charge. Did you wipe the server?

CLINTON: What, like with a cloth or something?

(CROSSTALK)

CLINTON: I don't know how it works digitally at all.

ZELENY: Her frustration showing through Tuesday in Nevada.

CLINTON: Nobody talks to me about it other than you guys.

ZELENY: Yet, for all the questions, Clinton is still in a president of strength. When tested again any of her potential GOP rivals, she wins, beating Jeb Bush by nine points and Carly Fiorina by 10.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ZELENY: And that is a good piece of context here.

Secretary Clinton still is in a stronger position than any of her rivals. But one more element of uncertainty, a majority of Democrats, 53 percent, say they want Joe Biden to get in the race. We will find out next month if he will -- Wolf.

BLITZER: He is seriously considering it, as we are told by his friends and associates.

Thanks very much, Jeff, for that report.

We are also getting new information tonight about the investigation into Hillary Clinton's e-mails.

Our justice reporter, Evan Perez, is working his sources.

Evan is with me here in THE SITUATION ROOM.

What are you learning, Evan?

EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, we now know at least one of the e-mails that sparked Hillary Clinton's e-mail scandal, a 2011 e-mail forwarded by Clinton adviser Huma Abedin to then Secretary of State Clinton, describes the deteriorating security situation in Eastern Libya and possible evacuation plans for American officials from Benghazi, including the U.S. envoy Chris Stevens. He was later killed in the Benghazi terrorist attacks more than a

year later. The Huma Abedin e-mail was publicly released in May. But the e-mail raised concerns with the inspector general for the intelligence community because it contained classified information about potential evacuation plans at the time.

The Clinton presidential campaign says today while it may have contained classified information, the e-mail itself was labeled as being unclassified. So neither Huma Abedin, who forwarded the e-mail, or Secretary Clinton, who received it, would have known that it was classified.

The Clinton campaign says this is one reason why this shows the entire scandal is overblown. Now, Wolf, the FBI began investigating the Clinton e-mails as early as May. And then months later the inspector general flagged four separate e-mails and asked the FBI to investigate. And, Wolf, again, the, despite all this controversy, you know, critics would look at this and say, if you look at what is contained in these e-mails, it should have never been sent on a private e-mail server.

BLITZER: Because it is sensitive information.

PEREZ: Because it contains sensitive information.

BLITZER: All right, thanks very much for the report, Evan Perez.

Let's get some reaction from the Hillary Clinton campaign.

The press secretary, Brian Fallon, is joining us right now.

What is your reaction to the report this that Evan just shared with us about this Huma Abedin e-mail describing some sensitive information. The U.S. ambassador at the time in Libya, he was a special envoy at the time in a very dangerous area, talking about moving him around, that's pretty sensitive stuff given the security concerns.

BRIAN FALLON, CLINTON CAMPAIGN SPOKESMAN: Well, Wolf, what I would say is that in many conversations that we have had today -- I spoke to Evan earlier today. This is causing a lot of people to rethink the nature of the inquiry that has been reported by the inspector general.

The reason why I say that is because this e-mail is already publicly available. It's been out in the public sphere since May. The fact that this, in fact, is what the inspector general had in mind when he made his referral to the Justice Department is actually causing a lot of people to suggest that there is not much there there.

The underlying e-mail, as Evan mentions, was marked unclassified. Huma Abedin, who is Secretary Clinton's aide, was not the originator of the e-mail. In so far as the information, though it was marked unclassified, may not have belonged on a low-side e-mail system, it was a career Foreign Service officer that sent the e-mail initially. And that was a responsible person who knew the difference between

classified and unclassified information. So we would say that this e- mail, it has been affirmed by the State Department that it was neither classified at the time. Nor is it classified today. You could go on the State Department Web site and look it up for yourself. It exists in entirely unredacted form.

People can judge for themselves. The fact that it actually surfaced today that this is what the I.G. is looking at, I think, is causing a lot of people to rethink the seriousness of this investigation.

BLITZER: But there are other e-mails that they're looking at right now, including this one e-mail that was released, an e-mail that was forwarded to Hillary Clinton, the secretary of state, by Jake Sullivan, who now works on her campaign, national security adviser to the then-secretary of state.

[18:15:02]

That was released. But half of all it has been redacted. It was subsequently classified as secret, no foreign. I'm sure you have seen that e-mail as well.

FALLON: Sure.

This e-mail as well was one that is already out in the public domain. It's true there were a few lines in the underlying e-mail that were redacted when the e-mails were made public in May. But as the State Department said at the time, that e-mail too is one that none of the underlying information was classified when it was sent.

This is an ex post facto decision made at the request of the FBI because it may potentially concern some ongoing law enforcement action. But, again, as the State Department is on record saying, none of the information in that e-mail was classified at the time it was sent.

And that's consistent with what Hillary Clinton and our campaign has been saying from the beginning.

BLITZER: Looking back, though, she agrees, I assume she acknowledges that it was a blunder, a mistake early on when she became the secretary of state for four years to use a private server for her main source of e-mails, for her only source of e-mails with her top aides.

FALLON: Well, certainly, Wolf, she has said multiple time,s, including yesterday, that she regrets the decision. And if she had to do it over again, she would do it differently.

But it's easy to see how she could have made a decision, given that previous secretary of states had also operated on private e-mail. Existing members of the President Obama's Cabinet, until a few weeks ago, acknowledged that they used personal e-mail. This was not a strange decision for her to make. But she has admitted if she had to do it over again, she would do

it differently. Importantly, though, Wolf, with respect to what the I.G. has made a referral about, it would be happening regardless of whether she used a personal server or not, because again the underlying e-mails originated on the state.gov system, on the unclassified system.

And that's because the senders of them knew that they were not dealing in classified information.

BLITZER: Well, here's the question. It is not just the inspector general for the State Department, the inspector general for the U.S. intelligence community that made the referral to the FBI to take a closer look at all these e-mails. And I guess what you are suggesting is that they're wrong to even make the referral; is that what I am hearing?

FALLON: So what we are saying, Wolf, is that this is the nature of classification system in the United States government today.

A former Justice Department official actually published an op-ed yesterday suggesting that what we are really learning from this whole saga is the fact that different agencies within the administration, both operating in good faith, can have entirely different perspectives on what information is classified and what isn't tells you everything you need to know about a sort of system that is bent in favor of overclassification.

And so the inspector general of the intelligence community has his opinion, State Department has a different opinion. What that means is that people in good faith can come to different conclusions and what that certainly means is that nobody at the State Department did anything wrong.

BLITZER: Are you confident there will be no criminal investigation, forget about the secretary of state, but of any of her aides?

FALLON: Wolf, as far as we know in terms of what the Justice Department has said and how they're describing this, it is not even a criminal investigation at all.

They have gone to lengths to describe it as a noncriminal review that certainly does not have Hillary Clinton as the subject. And what their main concern has been as they have expressed it is just to make sure that the residual server and the thumb drive that on which copies of the e-mails were kept is in safe storage. We had previously negotiated the terms of the storage of those items with the State Department.

As soon as somebody else in the government said they would like to revisit that arrangement, we handed it over. We are making every effort to voluntarily comply with what is going on. But the State Department's own description is that it is noncriminal.

BLITZER: Based on what you know, Brian, the stuff, the e-mails that were deleted by the secretary of state, not released to the State Department, the FBI now has that server. Will they be able to recreate what was deleted?

FALLON: Oh, I don't know.

But, I mean, the only -- her -- as she has expressed, all of the work e-mails were turned over. Those are the ones that belong as a matter of public record. In fact, she erred so much in favor of turning more over, that the State Department has already identified 1,200 e-mail that it says were overly inclusive, that were actually personal in nature. And so they have returned them to her.

So, she made every effort, 55,000 pages of e-mails. She made every effort to comply with the State Department's request. No other secretaries of states have done the same thing that she has in terms of turning over e-mails that they had from their personal account previously. But in terms of what the FBI's capabilities are, I don't know.

But, again, I think that they will find more e-mails to the extent they're going through her -- the ones that were personal in nature if they were able to retrieve them, I think that they would just be finding more e-mails expressing her preference for iced tea and maybe her inability to operate the fax machine, as we have seen in some of the e-mails that have already come out.

(CROSSTALK)

[18:20:03]

FALLON: Of the e-mails that have come out, we are now into the third round of productions and there has been absolutely nothing controversial about any of the underlying e-mails that have come out.

BLITZER: Well, I guess that is a subject for debate as I am sure you are aware.

You used to work at the Justice Department. You know presumably that when the FBI starts an investigation, you don't know where it going to wind up, right?

FALLON: That's true. But all we can go on is what they have publicly said. And they have publicly characterized as noncriminal and security related in nature. I will take their word for it.

BLITZER: One final question. Joe Biden, how does the secretary feel about the vice president maybe throwing his hat in the ring?

FALLON: Hillary Clinton herself and everybody affiliated with our campaign has deep respect and admiration for Vice President Biden. There's a number of people on our campaign who actually worked for him directly. So there is deep admiration and respect for him.

And he has more than earned the opportunity to take his time and make a decision. And we are just going to continue to operate our campaign in the way that we always have, which is to presume that we are going to have a competitive race regardless of what the rest of the field looks like, and we're going to continue to communicate our message of seeking to lift middle-class wages and build an economy that rewards hardworking Americans so that they can share in the record profits that corporate CEOs are enjoying right now.

BLITZER: Brian Fallon is press secretary for the Hillary Clinton campaign. Brian, thanks very much for joining us.

FALLON: Thanks, Wolf.

BLITZER: We're going to get a different perspective, retired NATO Supreme Allied Commander General Wesley Clark. There he is. He is standing by live. We will get his thoughts. He once ran for the Democratic presidential nomination himself.

And we're standing by. We will hear from Donald Trump. He is getting ready for his first town hall meeting as a presidential candidate. Lots of news happening today right here in THE SITUATION ROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[18:26:38]

BLITZER: The Republican front-runner, Donald Trump, is preparing to hold his first town hall event since becoming a presidential candidate, as our new CNN poll shows he would be competitive with Hillary Clinton if the general election were held today.

Let's bring back our senior Washington correspondent Jeff Zeleny, along with our senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin, out national political reporter Maeve Reston, who is joining us, as is the retired U.S. general, the former Democratic presidential candidate Wesley Clark. He was the NATO Supreme Allied Commander.

Very quickly, General Clark, you're a former Democratic presidential candidate yourself. I know you are supporting Hillary Clinton for the Democratic presidential nomination. What is your take right now on the appeal, the enormous appeal among Republicans that Donald Trump is showing?

WESLEY CLARK, FORMER NATO SUPREME ALLIED COMMANDER: I think it is a function of celebrity. He has been on television. He is getting enormous coverage right now.

He strikes a chord of people who say there is a lot of things that need to be fixed in this country. This guy looks like he has been a successful person in life and business. Maybe he is the right guy to articulate these concerns and maybe fix them. I know you can feel that appeal.

But you know, Wolf, what they say in politics your greatest strength is your greatest weakness. What happened thus far is this whole surge on Donald Trump is a function of his -- it's celebrity and lots of media coverage. When people really get into this and say what kind of a businessman was he, what kind of a person is he, is he the right person to lead the country, the Republican viewpoint may be very different.

BLITZER: The Hillary Clinton e-mail controversy, you dealt with classified information your whole career leading up to becoming the NATO supreme allied commander. Was it smart for her to go ahead and have this private e-mail server to do all of her e-mail activity during four years as the nation's secretary of state?

CLARK: Well, I think you always have a problem when you are in a high position because you still have a personal life. You still have family. You have friends. You have other things.

And then people are sending you information that they think is not classified. But it might be classified. So it is not what you are sending, it's what they're sending you. And it's almost impossible to control this. Whether it had been on state.gov or her personal private e-mail, it would have been the same set of issues.

I think what is going to happen when all this is said and done is, there are going to be a lot of people in the State Department who say, gee, I didn't know that was classified. But, Wolf, every department seems to have a different standard. Different people in the department have a different standard.

I have known Hillary over 30 years. I am very confident that she is not holding anything back. I am very confident that she never would have abused that system by trying to send classified e-mails that anyone thought were classified over her private e-mail. This is a -- this is the kind of controversy that swirls around you when you are doing well and people want to take you down.

BLITZER: You go way back, as you point out, with Hillary Clinton, back to Arkansas, where you grew up as well.

Maeve, you are doing a lot of reporting on what is going on right now. There are a lot of analysts out there, a lot of people who are saying she hasn't answered all the questions. What are you hearing?

(CROSSTALK)

MAEVE RESTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think -- we were just with her in Iowa over the weekend.

I'm sorry.

Well, we were just with her in Iowa over the weekend. And there are a lot of Democratic voters out there who are hearing a lot of these details of the e-mail investigations and not knowing exactly what the facts are, what she did, what she shouldn't have done.

[18:30:19] I think that the concern that we're hearing among Democrats is, you know, that this is one more piece of sort of the Clinton image over many years, that the rules don't apply to them, that they have, you know, different rules that they go by.

And I think a lot of Democrats -- as you're looking to other people like Joe Biden, or Bernie Sanders -- are saying is she really the strongest nominee that we have? And that's not a good thing for her. I mean, her campaign does not want to be talking about this issue right now. They want people to be focused on what she's talking about out on the campaign trail.

BLITZER: All right. Stand by, Maeve. Jeffrey Toobin is with us, as well. Jeffrey, we're told, by the way, we're only a few minutes away from his Q&A with reporters. Donald Trump in New Hampshire. That sets the scene for his first formal town hall with voters in New Hampshire.

Quickly, you've studied the Supreme Court. You've written excellent books on the Supreme Court. You're a legal scholar, I must say this. Can you do what Donald Trump says you can do, change the 14th Amendment to the Constitution, get rid of the birthright clause, which automatically grants citizenship to children of illegal immigrants in the United States if they're born in the United States? Can you do that through statute, passing legislation in the House and the Senate? Or does it require a constitutional amendment?

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: It probably requires a constitutional amendment. But the Supreme Court has never addressed this issue directly. Back in the 19th Century, there were a couple cases that dealt with it. But you know, that's long time ago, and those precedents wouldn't necessarily be followed today.

The 14th Amendment itself was designed to give birthright citizenship to everyone who was born here. It was designed to overturn the idea that slaves were not citizens.

But this precise issue regarding parents of illegal immigrants, it does seem it is -- I'm sorry, with parents who are illegal immigrants -- they -- it would probably require a constitutional amendment. But it has never been settled for sure.

And certainly the question would be -- if the Congress were to pass such a law -- which does not seem likely, the court would have to decide whether it's valid or not.

BLITZER: We're going to take a quick break. We're waiting for Donald Trump. We'll take that Q&A. But very, very quickly, before I end this subject, there is one exception, maybe at least maybe more than one exception. Children born in the United States from visiting foreign diplomats who are serving in the United States, they're not automatically granted U.S. citizenship.

TOOBIN: Right. And that's the argument. That once you have a certain set of exceptions which are established by law, and that is one, could you have others? And that would be the argument in favor of a statute and the birthright citizenship.

BLITZER: All right, guys. Stand by. We're awaiting Donald Trump. There you see the podium there. He's going to take reporters' questions. Much more right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[18:37:48] BLITZER: All right. Take a look at: this live pictures coming in from New Hampshire.

Donald Trump, the Republican presidential frontrunner, about to go into that room, go to the microphone and answer reporters' questions. That sets the stage for his first formal town-hall meeting as a presidential candidate. We're going to have live coverage. We're standing by to hear from Donald Trump. There you see the picture.

Let's bring back General Wesley Clark, retired U.S. NATO supreme allied commander, himself a former presidential candidate, Democratic presidential candidate.

When you hear Donald Trump say he gets his military advice from some retired military officers -- Jack Jacobs, retired colonel, on TV Sunday shows; from John Bolton, a former U.S. ambassador to the U.N., who's on TV shows -- what does that say to you?

GEN. WESLEY CLARK (RET.), FORMER U.S. NATION SUPREME ALLIED COMMANDER: Well, you know, I think Trump is trying to do the best he can. Jack Jacobs is a good friend of mine. I know him very well. He's got -- I think he's got great judgment. That doesn't mean that Donald Trump is going to take it.

I've listened to what Donald Trump said on the Middle East. And honestly I can't figure out whether he's going to bomb them or put troops in or, or -- or try to steal the oil by inserting oil companies. I just don't know what he thinks he's going to do there. He's said a lot of different things.

And -- but this is part of his appeal, is that he gives expression to a lot of things that other people think. And when you actually roll through it, it might not be a very sound policy. And if you really tried to implement it, it might be against the law; it might be infeasible. You might not get an oil company who would volunteer to risk their personnel to go in and fight with you in Syria to try to steal 200,000, 300,000 barrels of oil a day off the pipeline.

But, you know, he's saying, he's venting people's ordinary frustration.

And so I'm looking forward to hearing what people ask him today. I wonder if they're going to be satisfied when he says, "Here's what I'm going to do, and you're going to love it." I mean, it's a great sales pitch. But you know, is it real? And is it deep? And is it feasible?

BLITZER: I'm always -- I'm always interested in, as you are, hearing what the voters, the people out there in New Hampshire, are going to ask, as opposed to what the reporters at this news conference, they're about to ask.

Stand by, General, for a moment.

Maeve, you've covered all these political stories for a while. This is his first town-hall presidential campaign event, as we say, a formal town-hall. It looks, based on what he told our own Chris Cuomo today in that full interview that will air at 9 p.m. Eastern later tonight, he's becoming more serious and not as bombastic, shall we say, as he has been. Are you getting that sense, as well?

[18:40:20] RESTON: Yes, definitely. I mean, I think maybe Donald Trump is the most surprised person out of all of us that he's continuing to stay up in the polls and bring in new support.

Obviously, today the -- we were looking at our polls and showing him with increasing strength against Hillary Clinton.

I think that he figured out after the first week or so, though, that he does have to look more like a serious candidate. Actually put some policies out there.

And to the general's point, I mean, a lot of what he said just doesn't make a lot of sense. So he's going to have to explain more of that to -- to voters.

BLITZER: All right, hold on for a moment. Here's Donald Trump. He's going to start answering some questions.

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Hello. Yes. How are you?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (UNINTELLIGIBLE)

TRUMP: Well, they have to say that. I have a great relationship with the Mexican people. Many of them work for me. They buy my apartments. But if I'm running Mexico, I'm saying the same thing. Because I have to.

Because what they're doing to the United States is unbelievable. Both in trade and in the border.

You know, Nabisco just announced that they're leaving Chicago. They're moving to Mexico. Nabisco.

So, if I were involved with Mexico at a high level or the head of Mexico, I would be saying the same thing.

Look, we have to straighten out our country. Our country is a mess. And whether it's China or Mexico or Japan, we have to straighten out our country. I'd be saying the same thing, yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes or no? Do you think the American worker, undocumented (UNINTELLIGIBLE) -- should be deported?

TRUMP: Here's the story. Very simple. I don't give yes or no. It's not that easy. You know, for you it's easy. Let me tell you, not that easy.

It's a horrible situation that we've placed ourselves in. We have thousands and thousands of illegal immigrants in our country, not only taking jobs, but many of them are causing problems beyond belief. And you see that all over. We have to straighten out the problem with illegal immigration.

It starts with getting the bad ones, you know the gangs in -- you saw it, the gangs in Baltimore. You know that, right? Did you see the people? You have illegal immigrants in many cases. In Chicago, illegal immigrants. The bad ones are getting out fast. Day one. If I win, day one of my presidency, they're getting out. We're getting them out. And we're getting them out fast.

Over a period of time, we're going to work on numerous things.

The first thing is building a wall, which Mexico will pay for. OK. We're going to build it. I know how to do it. It's going to be a real wall, not a toy wall like we have right now. That's 10 feet tall and it's a fence. We're going to have a real wall.

And people are going to come into our country. And I want people to come in. I want people of great talent to come in. But I want a lot of people to come in. They have to come in legally. They've got to come in. If we don't have them come in legally, we don't have a country. We don't have borders, we don't have a country. They have to come in legally. I want them to come in. They have to come in legally.

All right. Go ahead, David.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) You want to build a giant wall. And if you build a giant wall, why worry about (UNINTELLIGIBLE)? You're going to keep illegal immigrants out. Why have...

TRUMP: There's a very big -- there's a very big question as to the anchor babies. They've been talking about it for years. There is a very big question as to whether or not the 14th Amendment actually covers this. We're going to find out whether or not it does.

Changing the 14th Amendment would take years and years. It's a long, drawn-out process. A lot of people think that it is absolutely, in terms of anchor babies, that it is not covered. So we're going to find out.

But look, here's the story. Here's what happens. Wait a minute. Wait, wait, wait. Here's what's happening.

A woman is going to have a baby. They wait on the border. Just before the baby, they come over to the border. They have the baby in the United States. We now take care of that baby: Social Security, Medicare, education. Give me a break. It doesn't work that way. The parents have to come in legally.

Now, we're going to have to find out what's going to happen from a court standpoint. But many people, many of the great scholars say that anchor babies are not covered. We're going to find out.

Yes. Yes.

REPORTER: There was a conference today with other candidates here about the federal government intrusiveness (INAUDIBLE)

TRUMP: Well, I think large portions can be. I am not a Common Core person. Jeb Bush wants Common Core. I want local education. And I think large people -- large groups, and large portions can be shut down, absolutely. I have no question about that.

You look at the Department of Education, they have done such a poor job. We're number 25 or 26 or 28 or 32, depending which you look at, in the world. We spend, one thing we are number one at, that's a definite number, we spend more money per student than any country anywhere in the world. And we're way above number 25 in the world.

So, we are terrible at education. But we spend more money than anybody else. The Department of Education has done a terrible job.

I happen to be a person that does not believe in Common Core. I believe the people of New Hampshire, locally, locally should work mostly on the education. Do we allow a little pieces -- yes. But, largely, it should be shut down.

I am very surprised to hear that other of the candidates don't want it touched, because that really does surprise me.

(CROSSTALK)

TRUMP: Say it again?

REPORTER: (INAUDIBLE)

TRUMP: Have I gotten under Jeb Bush's skin? I don't know.

I will tell you this, you mention the word skin. He said the other day, one of the dumber things I have heard ever in politics, when talking about Iraq. That we, the United States, he said have to show them that we have skin in the game in order to go into Iraq.

We have lost $2 trillion, thousand of lives, wounded warriors who I love all over the place, and he is talking about we have to show them we have skin in the game? And every time a shot is fired they run because they're practically is no Iraq.

And Iraq whatever that is, is being taken over by Iran after us spending trillions and lives and warriors, wounded warriors. For him to say that we have to show them that we have skin in the game is one of the really dumb statements.

I would say his other dumb statement is an act of love -- that they come here for an act of love. And I would say between Common Core, his act of love on immigration, and skin in the game with Iraq, that's the third one that we have now added. I don't see how he is electable.

On top of that, he talks about women's health issues and he's against women's health. Now, he then comes back a few hours later and says he misspoke. But he is bad on women's health issues.

Nobody is going to be better on women's health issues than Donald Trump.

Yes?

REPORTER: You seem to see the world fairly clearly divided as winners and losers.

TRUMP: No, I don't at all. I have a much bigger heart than other people. And frankly than probably any of the candidates I have heard so far.

(INAUDIBLE)

TRUMP: Excuse me?

REPORTER: Have you ever failed?

TRUMP: Not often. If you want to know the truth -- have I failed? Not often.

REPORTER: (INAUDIBLE)

TRUMP: Who was?

REPORTER: Two men involved, brothers were arrested allegedly beating up a Hispanic homeless man. They told cops it was OK because you were right on immigration. In addition to the Megyn Kelly alleged death threats, are you worried that you're inciting violence?

TRUMP: I don't know anything about death threats for Megyn Kelly, you tell me about that. I haven't heard that.

REPORTER: Reports that she's been threatened by your supporters.

TRUMP: I have no idea about that, in all fairness.

(CROSSTALK)

TRUMP: Excuse me. Excuse me. Take it easy. I have no idea about death threats for Megyn Kelly.

REPORTER: What about the Boston brothers who beat up --

TRUMP: I haven't heard about that. I think that would be a shame. But I haven't heard about that.

I will say, the people that are following me are very passionate. They love this country. They want this country to be great again. And they are very passionate. I will say that. Everybody here has reported it.

Yes. Go ahead.

REPORTER: Have you heard --

TRUMP: Go ahead, what do I think about what?

I think Heidi Klum is a very nice person.

REPORTER: Have you heard about the secret deal that was cut with Iran, over allowing Iranian inspectors (ph) to their nuclear facilities? What do you think about?

TRUMP: I think it's crazy. I think the whole Iran is the dumbest deal that you can imagine.

[18:50:00] I think it's going to go down as one of the worst deals in the history of this country, maybe of the world. It is a total and complete catastrophe. You know, it is beyond even talking about.

So, it is hard to believe that people actually -- do we have negotiators, do we have anybody that knows what they're doing? Not only the 24 days, which by the way it is much more than that, 24 days to start the clock takes a long time.

Not only the fact that they still have our prisoners, every aspect of that deal is incompetent. And it's a deal that shouldn't be approved. And the amazing thing is even if it is not approved now, they get $150 billion, plus, plus, and they're going to use that money for terror all over the world. It is one of the great dumb deals of our time.

REPORTER: White House assures there were no side deals, and yet we find out in fact there was.

TRUMP: Well, I'm not surprised. I'm not surprised to hear there are side deals. The White House doesn't know what they're doing.

That's been proven, whether it is Obamacare with a $5 billion Web site, the White House truly has no clue what they're doing and the Iran deal is a disaster. It's a disaster.

It's going to lead in my opinion, nuclear proliferation, it is going to -- so many things are going to come out of that deal for the bad, and I'll tell you, Israel is in big trouble. Probably something will happen because Israel, I don't know how Israel can live with that deal.

(CROSSTALK)

REPORTER: Martin O'Malley today is in Las Vegas and staging an event in Vegas with some of the employees at your hotel, trying to get them to unionize. Do you have any response to what Martin O'Malley --

TRUMP: Well, I know nothing about him. I think he has less than 1 percent on the poll.

I did see my beautiful building, tallest building in Las Vegas, I'm very proud of it, most beautiful building in Las Vegas. I know he was in front. As you know, we have beaten, we've won, let me say a nicer word, we won with the employees. Let's see what happens.

We have employees that love us. They decided not to go union, and that's a great honor as far as I am concerned. You know, they love me, they love us.

Martin O'Malley was there to try to get publicity, which he desperately needs, and I think he was the one that said lives don't matter. White lives don't matter. I mean, is he the one that apologized almost in tears because he made a mistake of saying? Is that the same Martin O'Malley we are talking about? I think he should be ashamed of himself.

I heard he was in front of one of my buildings to try to get some publicity, I think it was in Las Vegas.

Yes?

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: All right. We're going to continue to monitor Donald Trump. Let's take a quick break. Much more right after this.

TRUMP: No, we're not. I have respect for Ted Cruz and he's been very supportive --

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[18:57:31] BLITZER: All right. Donald Trump still speaking, answering reporters' questions. He's ridiculing Mitt Romney right now. Let's listen in.

(CROSSTALK)

REPORTER: You're the frontrunner, when will we hear about the state of your health.

TRUMP: I actually saw a doctor. I had a physical the other day. They said you are really good. You can all hear. Would you like to hear it? I would do that anytime. Yes, very good. Knock on wood.

(CROSSTALK)

REPORTER: Your father died after a long battle with Alzheimer's.

TRUMP: He was 88 when he developed it and he died at 94.

REPORTER: (INAUDIBLE)

TRUMP: No, not whatsoever.

He was 88. My mother was 88, 89 and she was in amazingly great health. So, my father -- and my father, too, was in great health. They lived long lives.

Yes?

REPORTER: Mr. Trump you said earlier in this press conference you would support women's health. Can you give more specifics on that, and do you think other candidates in the Republican race of out of touch on health issues? TRUMP: Well, I think Jeb Bush is totally out of touch on women's

health issues, I mean, totally, because he basically said he wasn't going to fund it. Now, he came back after his pollster told him, oh, you made a mistake, he came back a few hours later, when he said he misspoke. But I'll be very, very strong, very powerful on women's health issues.

(CROSSTALK)

TRUMP: Who do I see as strongest? You know, it changes from -- the only thing constant is Trump. I mean, all of them change on the bottom, going up and down like yo-yos. I have been up there a long time. And I hope I'm going to be up there a long time.

You know, I read a lot of phony reports, couple reports in the paper saying, oh, well, when Donald Trump gets tired of doing this, he's doing great and leading the polls, but at some point -- I'm not going anywhere, folks.

I'm not doing this for my health. I'm doing this to make America great again. And "again" is a very important word. Very important word. I'm not going anywhere. I'm not going anywhere.

I got a lot of money. I don't need people funding me like the other candidates. I have people coming up all the time wanting to give me millions, $5 million last week I turned down from one man. I said I don't want your money.

And I think that resonates with people. I really think it resonates with people.

(CROSSTALK)

TRUMP: Excuse me?

REPORTER: Sanctuary cities --

TRUMP: Oh, sanctuary cities. It is a disgrace. What happened in San Francisco and other places, sanctuary cities should be de- funded and should be just gotten rid of.