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THE SITUATION ROOM
Clerk in Same-sex Marriage Fight Freed from Jail; Clinton Finally Says She's Sorry for E-mail Server; Trump Ad Ridicules Bush for Putting People to Sleep; Trump Ad Ridicules Bush for Putting People to Sleep; Police: 3 Men on Video Questioned, Not Involved in Police Shooting; British Drone Strike Foiled High-Profile Attack. Aired 5-6p ET
Aired September 8, 2015 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
TAPPER: That's it for THE LEAD. I turn you over now to one Mr. Wolf Blitzer. He's right next door in a place we like to call THE SITUATION ROOM.
[17:05:12] WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now: out of jail. A Kentucky clerk who was locked up for refusing to issue same-sex marriage licenses is now freed. But she's not free to keep defying a federal judge and the Supreme Court. What happens when she goes back to work?
Low energy. Donald Trump says Jeb Bush is putting people to sleep. But Trump's new attack ad might rouse some angry passions at the upcoming Republican debate.
Still no suspects a week after the killing of an Illinois police lieutenant. Surveillance videos may not be panning out, but investigators say DNA recovered from the shooting scene is raising a red flag.
And targeting the queen? Britain's prime minister defends a drone strike that took out two British ISIS members in Syria, saying they were plotting high-profile attacks at home. Could the prime minister himself have been a target?
I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
We're following breaking news in Kentucky. Just a little while ago, Kim Davis, the county clerk who refused to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, walked out of jail. Fighting back tears, Davis told a crowd of supporters don't let down.
Two presidential candidates, Republicans Mike Huckabee and Ted Cruz, they were at the jail. We're also following important new developments in the deepening mystery of who killed a beloved police officer in Illinois. Today, officials revealed they're analyzing what they describe as a significant DNA clue. They've also ruled out three people seen on surveillance video near the scene of the killing.
Our correspondents and analysts, they've been working their sources. They're standing by with full coverage of the day's top stories.
But let's begin with the breaking news in Kentucky. Let's go to our correspondent, Martin Savidge. He has the very latest -- Martin.
MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, this was a day that nobody, and I mean nobody, could have predicted the outcome. It went completely off the rails, mainly because of the judge's ruling. The same judge that sent that clerk to jail today issued an order saying that Kim Davis could go free.
This as you have not one but two Republican presidential candidates that came to this very tiny town, thousands of people that were urging her freedom, all of it upstaged when Kim Davis herself walked out onto that stage. In the minds of many Christian conservatives, a full- blown hero. Here's what she had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KIM DAVIS, COUNTY CLERK: You are a strong people. Just keep on pressing, don't let down. (UNINTELLIGIBLE) Because he is here. I love you guys. Thank you so much.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SAVIDGE: Kim Davis was very emotional at times. You could clearly say -- see that she had been one troubled by her imprisonment, but also so greatly overjoyed by the crowd that was waiting for her.
But here's the whole story now. It's the fact that the judge has said that she cannot go back and do as she was doing. In other words, she is forbidden in any way to prevent marriage licenses to same-sex couples from being stopped. That's what got her in trouble in the first place.
Her attorneys say she is unrepentant and, in fact, her mind has not changed, even if she does have freedom. They are implying that, when she goes back to work, she will once again try to interfere or stop those marriage licenses, and if so, Wolf, it means we could start this all over again -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Because the judge in this order specifically stated, "Defendant Davis shall not interfere in any way directly or indirectly with the efforts of her deputy clerks to issue marriage licenses to all legally eligible couples.
And so basically, if she tells her deputies, no more marriage licenses for same-sex couples, she'll be in contempt of court. Presumably, unless she resigns from her job, she'll go back to jail, right?
SAVIDGE: Right, she's not going to resign. That's something the attorneys have already made very clear. That's not in the cards. She is going to go home. She is going to be with her family. She's probably going to take a day or so to simply catch her breath.
But what comes after that is it really almost anyone's guess. The attorneys say that she's going to have a formal statement later. Clearly, they want to carefully go over those words so as not to anger the judge once more.
But stay tuned.
[17:05:03] BLITZER: We will certainly. All right. Martin Savidge on the scene for us. Thank you.
Kim Davis's attorney says Davis never wanted to be in the national spotlight, but she certainly is in the national spotlight right now. Davis now is under, as we said, a judge's order not to interfere in any way directly or indirectly with her deputies when they issue marriage licenses for same-sex couples.
Let's get the latest, a little analysis from our senior legal analyst, Jeffrey Toobin. So where do we go from here, Jeffrey?
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Legally, the situation is actually very simple, Wolf. Same-sex couples have a right to get married in Carter County, Kentucky, and every other county in the United States. What Ms. Davis has to do is allow those couples to get married. If she does, whether through her own signature or through the signature of her deputies, then the legal situation is over.
But if she stops those couples from getting married, as is their right, Judge Bunning has made it quite clear, he's going to lock her right back up, because these couples have a right to get married.
BLITZER: Her lawyer is also suggesting that those licenses that have been issued while she was in jail over these past few days, her lawyer insists they are not valid, those marriage licenses, those certificates. What do you say about that?
TOOBIN: Well, you know, this is a narrow question of Kentucky law. And, you know, I don't want to pretend that I know this law inside and out, but you know, the clerk usually does not have to sign all marriages herself. The deputies handle most of this, so the fact that the deputies -- the deputies did those certificates seems like it would not be a problem.
But if she continues to obstruct, there really is no doubt what's going to happen here, is that she's going back to jail.
BLITZER: Jeffrey Toobin, thanks very much. We'll stay on top of this story.
We're also following important new developments involving the Democratic and Republican front-runners in the presidential race. Let's bring in our CNN political reporter Sara Murray. She's got more on the latest developments. And what a day, Sara, it's been.
SARA MURRAY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Today Hillary Clinton is going further than she ever has. Now she's actually saying it was a mistake to use that private e-mail server as her Democratic rivals gain.
MURRAY (voice-over): Joe Biden racing up the polls. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I hope you run, man. I hope you run.
MURRAY: But playing coy on whether he'll actually jump into the presidential race, saying he's still waiting on a key endorsement.
JOE BIDEN (D), VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I have to talk to my wife about that. I've got to talk to my wife about that.
MURRAY: Biden's rise as Hillary Clinton is slipping. The former secretary of state drawing 42 percent support from Democrats in a new Monmouth University poll, her worst national showing yet, as Biden surges to 22 percent and Bernie Sanders draws 20 percent. Clinton still struggling to fend off controversy over her use of a private e- mail server, telling ABC News today it was a mistake.
HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: That was a mistake. I'm sorry about that, and I take responsibility. And I'm trying to be as transparent as I possibly can.
MURRAY: Going a step further than her comments in late August.
CLINTON: I know people have raised questions about my e-mail use as secretary of state. And I understand why. I get it. So here's what I want the American people to know. My use of personal e-mail was allowed by the State Department. It clearly wasn't the best choice.
MURRAY: On the Republican side, a battle for frontrunner could be brewing. Retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson hitting the trail for the first time since rising to the top tier, while Jeb Bush, floundering in the polls, shells out half a million dollars for his first TV ad.
JEB BUSH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If you want more D.C. politicians or more self-promoters, you've got options.
MURRAY: And Donald Trump lashes out on Instagram, labelling Bush a bore.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Jeb, for all your sleeping needs.
MURRAY: Trump managing to stir up controversy today without even campaigning. According to "The New York Times," Trump tells the author of a forthcoming biography that his experience at military school gave him "more training militarily than a lot of guys that go into the military."
MURRAY: Now Trump is back on the campaign trail tomorrow right here in Washington, D.C., where he'll be holding a rally with Ted Cruz and Sarah Palin, protesting the Iran deal -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Should be a lively, lively event up on Capitol Hill. All right. Sara, thanks very much.
So let's get some more. Joining us now in THE SITUATION ROOM, our new senior political commentator, David Axelrod. He's a former senior adviser to President Obama.
David, thanks very much for joining us. Let me play a little bit more of that Trump Instagram video that went out today. Watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Having trouble sleeping at night? Too much energy? Need some low energy?
BUSH: They have an HSA in some companies. Some companies don't. I think the norm ought to be...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Jeb, for all your sleeping needs.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: All right. A lot of us remember back in 2007, 2008 you ran a successful social media cane [SIC] -- social media campaign, I should say, for President Obama.
Donald Trump, he's calling on Jeb Bush for being low-energy, does that often; he's putting people to sleep, he says. Is that what voters want? Is this going to work for Trump?
DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: You know, that remains to be seen. I'm pretty doubtful about that. I think it's something that gets on TV. And that's what he wants. And this has been a persistent theme of his, vis-a-vis Bush.
But it's interesting. He's sort of raising Bush even as he tries to level him. And he's identifying Bush as his chief opponent, which is precisely what Bush would like. And it may end up being that after some of these primaries eliminate the rest of the field. In certain ways, this plays to Bush's advantage.
BLITZER: What would you -- how does -- you're an experienced political strategist. How does Bush fight this, because he doesn't seem to be doing a very effective job, looking at the poll numbers?
AXELROD: Yes, I think that he needs to -- Bush is building this thing for the long term. He needs to show this energy in this next debate. He's clearly decided that taking on Trump and making himself the anti- Trump is advantageous, because there are other guys who'd like to ultimately emerge in that center right column: Senator Rubio, Governor Kasich. He feels that this gives him a bit of an edge in that battle.
But it's going to take some time to see whether this Trump star loses its luster. And as the others -- as the others peel away, they'll be more available to vote for Bush. His job is to capture. And as I said last week, he's headed to a confrontation in New Hampshire, and I think most likely with Governor Kasich.
BLITZER: All right. You poked a little fun at a "New York Times" story today about Hillary Clinton's plan to show more humor, greater heart, more transparency. You tweeted this. You said, "Today's New York Times story on HRC" -- Hillary Rodham Clinton -- "read more like The Onion: Her detailed plan to show more authenticity and spontaneity. #JustDoIt."
Tell us what -- give us a little thought of what you mean by all of that.
AXELROD: You know, I absolutely hate stories about tactics: here's what we're going to do. Just do it. Don't tell; show. And particularly when you're talking about showing more humanity, heart, spontaneity, authenticity.
Now in fairness, the Clinton people say that wasn't their intent in the story, and the story got sort of taken in a different direction than they intended. But they provided the quotes that allowed that to happen.
Look, I believe Hillary Clinton is still a substantial favorite for the nomination. You call to Iowa, and you talk to people on the ground there, and she's building the kind of organization you need to win those caucuses. She was at 88 percent among Democrats. Another poll came out today, she was 71 among Democrats in your latest poll. Another poll, Monmouth, came out today. She was at 71 among Democrats, quite high.
But she does have problems, and one of them is this issue of spontaneity and authenticity. And the way not to deal with it is to say, "My plan is to become more spontaneous and authentic."
BLITZER: Yes, I think you make an excellent point there.
Stand by. We have a lot more to talk about, David, including this latest interview that she granted today. Hillary Clinton now getting very, very close to apologizing for that e-mail controversy. Stand by.
[17:18:16] BLITZER: Hillary Clinton today got very, very close to formally apologizing for using a private e-mail server while she served as secretary of state for four years.
We're talking to the man who ran Barack Obama's successful campaign against her back in 2007, 2008. He then became a senior advisor to the president, our senior political commentator, the former Obama advisor, David Axelrod.
Listen to what she told ABC News just a little while ago about her decision to use that private e-mail server.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CLINTON: That was a mistake. I'm sorry about that. I'm trying to take responsibility, and I'm trying to be as transparent as I possibly can.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Yesterday she told A.P. she -- there was no need for her to apologize. So what's going on here?
AXELROD: Well, I think they're trying to kill this story as best they can.
You know, the problem here, Wolf, is that when you have a story like this, the imperative is to get to the bottom of it very quickly, make whatever concessions you have to make, and move on.
And this has been handled in a serial fashion, so that her answers have evolved over time. And it's prolonged the story and turned it into kind of a sport among the media and certainly among the Republican opponents. I think she's trying to bring this thing to an end so she can be heard on other subjects. But she needs to have a consistent answer.
BLITZER: It seems like almost on a daily basis, the story sort of escalates. Now there's an FBI investigation, all the investigations on Capitol Hill. The U.S. intelligence community is now raising questions that she did, in fact, receive top-secret classified information, even though she said she never did. It doesn't seem to be going away any time soon, does it?
AXELROD: No, and I don't think the Republican Party will allow it to go away any time soon. I think it will be a big subject of discussion at that hearing on October 22. And I expect that is going to be an opportunity for her, as well, to try and deal with it in a comprehensive way.
[17:20:12] BLITZER: When you were serving as a senior adviser to the president, did you ever e-mail with her?
AXELROD: I had a few e-mails, but I think some of them have been shared with the public. But you know, when I e-mailed with her, I knew she -- it had come from a nongovernment e-mail. What I didn't realize is that she wasn't using a government e-mail. And that's the -- that's the question here. Most public officials have private e- mails and public e-mails, but they do most of their public business on the public e-mail.
BLITZER: Did anybody in the White House know that all of her business was done on a private e-mail server? She had no state.gov e-mail account?
AXELROD: Wolf, I can't answer that. I can't speak for everybody in the White House. All I know is that I didn't know. And I suspect most of my colleagues didn't know either.
BLITZER: All right. Let's move on and talk about this new Monmouth University poll. Democratic voters nationwide, Hillary Clinton -- we'll take a look at this. She's dropped from 52 percent to 42 percent. That's her lowest number so far.
Joe Biden is not even official running. He went from 12 percent in August to 22 percent, and Bernie Sanders went from 16 percent to 20 percent. How much trouble is she in? AXELROD: I don't think she's in a crisis situation. I don't think
she's in a freefall. I think her numbers were artificially high to start with, so they're coming back to earth.
And I would say this, Wolf. I don't think there's a candidate on either side of the aisle who still wouldn't trade places with her. She's the odds-on favorite to win a Democratic nomination. She will be, because of the demographic advantages that accrue to the Democratic candidate in a strong position, if she is the Democratic nominee.
But she clearly has problems. She has problems primarily because she hasn't conveyed a compelling overall overarching message. A lot of position papers, a lot of trees, but she hasn't yet described the forest in a way that people have internalized, and I would -- you know, in sports -- I know you're a sports fan. In sports, you try and put your player into a position to maximize their talents and minimize their liabilities.
She's not a great speech giver. She's not a great reader of ads direct to camera. What she is good is, in the repartee with voters, with individual people, they need to put her in more of those kinds of situations, and put her in a position to succeed where she's not speaking through a seven-second sort of editorial political delay, which so often seems to be the case.
BLITZER: Would it be smart for the Democratic Party if Joe Biden, the vice president, jumped into this race?
AXELROD: I don't know about that. You know, it's hard for me. He's a friend. I admire him deeply. I think he's been a great vice president. It's awfully late. You talk to people in Iowa, and it seems early, but it's awfully late to begin any kind of organization it takes to win the Iowa caucuses.
You know, Barack Obama was a dynamic candidate, but if we hadn't started organizing Iowa in March of 2007, he wouldn't have won the Iowa caucuses. Biden has no organization in Iowa today. I suspect some would peel off of her if he ran. But I still would make her the favorite to win the caucuses. I still would make her the favorite to win the nomination.
BLITZER: David Axelrod, welcome to CNN. Good to have you on our team.
AXELROD: Thank you. Great to be here.
BLITZER: All right. Thanks very much.
Coming up, much more politics, as Donald Trump ridicules Jeb Bush for being low-energy, accusing him of putting people to sleep.
And a week after the killing of an Illinois police officer, DNA recovered from the shooting scene may offer a strong new lead in the case. We're staying on top of it. You're in...
[17:28:24] BLITZER: A lot to discuss in presidential politics. This afternoon's breaking news: After months of saying she has nothing to apologize for, Hillary Clinton today finally said she's sorry she used a private e-mail server while she was the secretary of state.
And a new blast from Donald Trump, ridiculing Jeb Bush for putting voters to sleep.
We're joined once again by CNN political reporter Sara Murray. Also joining us, our political commentator, Ana Navarro; and our senior political analyst, Ron Brownstein. He's the editorial director of "The National Journal."
Ron, David, I thought he was pretty honest, pretty blunt in offering his advice about what's going on right now.
RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: No, I think he was, and, you know, I agree with his broad kind of description of the Democratic kind of race to the extent, you know, it has become that.
Sanders is in a strong position in Iowa and New Hampshire but faces big demographic challenges once you get beyond those virtually all- white states.
And Joe Biden, there's an enormous amount of affection and respect for Joe Biden in the Democratic Party. But if you look at the polling over the last year, even the new polling out today, it's not like there's an enormous groundswell that is demanding that he runs. I think the interest in him is largely a function of the concern about Hillary Clinton.
And to the extent -- and I think the pivot, really, about whether he will be a factor in the race has more to do with her and what happens to her ability to right her ship than it does with his own ability to build a kind of a compelling campaign.
BLITZER: Ana let's talk a little bit about Jeb Bush. I know you support Jeb Bush, you like Jeb Bush. You're friends with Jeb Bush. But watch. I'll play it once again, because it's pretty intriguing, Donald Trump's latest Instagram video going after Jeb Bush.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
[17:30:00] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Having trouble sleeping at night? Too much energy? Need some low energy?
BUSH: They have an HSA in some companies. Some companies don't. But I think the norm ought to be...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Jeb, for all your sleeping needs.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: All right. How does Jeb Bush fight that? ANA NAVARRO, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: You know, I think by being
Jeb Bush, and I think he has begun to fight it. It's a real issue. It's taken some hits. You know, he's taking hits. It's kind of sticking.
And so I think Jeb needs to show that he's got the energy, that something that is a little vexing for those of us that know him. As governor, he was known for working 16, 18 hours a day, seven days a week, and this attack is coming from Donald Trump who lives in New York City and doesn't show up to interviews and the media there. He does it from his living room couch or something.
You know, maybe Jeb's definition of energy isn't really being full of hot air. Maybe that energy that Donald Trump has could be better used learning the names of terrorist leaders who want to hurt the United States.
BLITZER: Well, what was so powerful in that little Instagram, Sara, was, he was talking Jeb Bush, and this woman who was sitting there was falling, was asleep. That sort of makes Donald Trump's point.
MURRAY: Yes, I mean, I they could say, this was a working mom; she was up early. But it's certainly not the optics you want.
The interesting thing to me is we just saw Jeb put out his own video on Instagram where he's going after Trump. I find it so fascinating that you're seeing Donald Trump and Jeb Bush go after one another on a day where Hillary is out there apologizing for using a private e-mail server. So you really are starting to see this fight center in between the Republican Party instead of going after the Democratic frontrunner.
BLITZER: Ron, go ahead.
BROWNSTEIN: Can I have one point, Wolf?
BROWNSTEIN: Real quick. In the end, Jeb Bush and Donald Trump are not really competing for the same voters. If you look at these two new polls that are out in Iowa and New Hampshire, the NBC/Marist poll, Donald Trump is nearing 40 percent in both states among non-college white men. Blue-collar white men are the absolute foundation of his candidacy.
Jeb Bush if he recovers, is going to be much more of an upscale candidate. His trend is much more likely to be concentrated among white-collar voters. And his real competition there is John Kasich and to some extent Marco Rubio and Chris Christie.
His challenge is that Trump is defining him for the entire electorate. But in the end he's probably not going to recover by taking away voters directly from Trump. It's by making himself a plausible alternative to some of the voters who are most resistant to Trump in the first place... NAVARRO: I think this works great for both of them. There's 17
candidates on the Republican side. We keep talking about two of them. So this daily analysis of the new episode of the Trump/Jeb telenovela is a good thing for both of them.
BLITZER: You think it's good for Jeb Bush that Trump is, what, near 30 percent in Iowa or New Hampshire, for that matter, and Jeb Bush is way, way down there, with 5, 6 percent?
NAVARRO: Look, Jeb's got staying power, right? He's not going to return out of money; he's got structure. And he's...
BLITZER: But even in New Hampshire...
NAVARRO: There's a lot of other...
BLITZER: John Kasich is even doing better than him now.
NAVARRO: Yes, but there's a lot of other people who are way down in the polls and who don't have the staying power. We just read today that Rick Perry, who's a much better candidate this time around, is losing staff, can't pay headquarters in South Carolina.
NAVARRO: So this is going to begin to whittle down. And if it comes down to Jeb and Trump, it's I think, a good contest.
BLITZER: Sara, watch this. This is Jeb Bush's own Instagram response to Donald Trump.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: She surrounded herself with very good people.
BLITZER: Who would you like representing the United States in a deal with Iran, with this regime there?
TRUMP: I think Hillary would do a good job. Hillary's always surrounded herself with very good people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: All right. So that's his response.
NAVARRO: And I love any Instagram hit that has a cameo by Wolf Blitzer.
BLITZER: That was an interview I did with Donald Trump several years ago.
MURRAY: But look, it comes before they're supposed to have this big rally, Donald Trump and Ted Cruz, even Sarah Palin here in Washington, D.C...
BLITZER: That's tomorrow.
MURRAY: ... on the Iran deal tomorrow. And for him to then come out and say, you know, "I think Hillary Clinton would be a great person to have negotiated this," there are plenty of Republicans who don't like Hillary Clinton, who essentially see her as a proxy for Barack Obama, and I think that this is an argument, obviously, the Bush campaign has decided will be potent to use against Donald Trump.
But to your point and to Ron's point, Jeb Bush and Donald Trump don't really seem to be competing for the same voters, but Donald Trump and Ted Cruz, who will be appearing together, are definitely competing for the same voters. I think it will be really interesting to watch how they navigate the stage together, because Cruz has really been trying to be nice to Donald Trump while picking off his supporters.
BLITZER: What do you think is going to happen tomorrow with this rally against the Iran nuclear deal? Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, Sarah Palin, a whole bunch of others, they're showing up there, Ron.
BROWNSTEIN: You know, I think it will be very boisterous, and public opinion has not been kind to the deal. I mean, it has slightly deteriorated in the Pew numbers that are out this afternoon from where it started. A lot of skepticism in the country.
And I think you'll see, you know, kind of that outsider voice being very loud; and Ted Cruz trying to identify himself as part of that by joining Donald Trump and Sarah Palin.
[17:35:10] The problem is, eventually eceventually ventually Ted Cruz does have to get past Donald Trump. If Donald Trump wins the Iowa caucus, which traditionally, in the last three cycles -- 2000, 2008, 2012 -- the Republican race has followed a pretty clear pattern. Iowa basically anointed the most conservative finalist in the race. New Hampshire anointed the more moderate finalist in the race.
And if Donald Trump fills that slot in Iowa, it's very hard to see where Ted Cruz subsequently emerges, even with all of his focus on the southeastern states. So sooner or later, Ted Cruz, Scott Walker probably have even more incentive than Jeb Bush to take some of the shine off of Donald Trump, particularly among conservatives, and particularly in Iowa.
BLITZER: That's not going to happen tomorrow here in Washington. We'll stay on top of it.
All right, guys. Thanks very much.
Remember to stay with CNN for the second Republican presidential debate. It will air right here on CNN, September 16 -- That's a week from Wednesday -- live from the Reagan Library in California. CNN will also host the first Democratic presidential debate on October 13 in Nevada.
Coming up, investigators may be drawing blanks with surveillance videos, but a week after the killing of an Illinois police officer, crime-scene DNA may be giving them a strong new lead.
And new evidence of Russian troops and equipment arriving in Syria, already torn apart by civil war and an ISIS reign of terror. Now the U.S. is warning that Russia risks a confrontation.
[17:41:07] BLITZER: After the shooting of an Illinois police lieutenant, investigators are now drawing a blank with surveillance videos, but they may have a strong new lead. Our justice correspondent, Pamela Brown, is joining me with the latest. What are you learning?
PAMELA BROWN, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, we're learning today investigators said several videos they once considered significant proved useless. But now, they're pinning their hopes on a new clue: DNA taken from the crime scene several days after Lieutenant Gliniewicz was shot and killed.
BROWN (voice-over): Today investigators say three men seen in videos near the scene have no connection to the crime, a major setback in the search for the killer of Lieutenant Joe Gliniewicz.
CHIEF GEORGE FILENKO, COMMANDER, LAKE COUNTY MAJOR CRIMES TASK FORCE: We have located those individuals through our investigative process, interviewed all of those individuals, and we have confirmed that we believe, at this point, they were not involved in this.
BROWN: With so few clues, investigators are now focused on DNA recovered from the crime scene.
FILENKO: The one thing I can confirm is the DNA we recovered is not Lieutenant Gliniewicz's DNA. So that raises a red flag.
BROWN: The officer's squad car did not have a dashboard camera. And so far, no eyewitnesses have come forward to corroborate Gliniewicz's radio call that he was pursuing two white men and a black man.
FILENKO: We are continuing this investigation, based on the information that was provided to us from day one, that Lieutenant Gliniewicz identified three individuals that he pursued into a heavily-wooded area. Officers responded to back him up, and they found him murdered -- I'm sorry, killed.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Forward march!
BROWN: Police say Gliniewicz's gun was found near his body, and a source tells CNN it had been fired.
(on camera): How many bullets were fired from the gun?
FILENKO: I'm not at liberty to reveal that at this point.
BROWN: Does it appear that the gun was used for self-defense or that the suspects actually used the gun to kill the officer?
FILENKO: You know, again I'm prohibited because of the criminal investigative aspect of this case.
BROWN (voice-over): Today Fox Lake police said they have not yet received the final autopsy report, and until they do, they're not ruling anything out.
FILENKO: We're proceeding as if it were a homicide. No idea or thought or theory is taken for granted.
BROWN: And as Lieutenant Gliniewicz was laid to rest yesterday with thousands of mourners in attendance, today Chief Filenko says that he remains optimistic that he will find the killers of Lieutenant Gliniewicz -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Let's hope that happens. Thanks very much, Pamela Brown reporting.
Meanwhile, there's growing concern in the Obama administration over Russia's growing military presence in Syria. And with new evidence of Russian troops and equipment in a country torn apart by civil war, a brutal regime crackdown, and an ISIS reign of terror, the United States is warning Russia that it risks a confrontation.
Let's get the very latest from our Pentagon correspondent, Barbara Starr.
What are you learning, Barbara?
BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, the U.S. is watching as Vladimir Putin's troops turn their eye on Syria. The big question now is what is Moscow's next step?
STARR (voice-over): A Russian-made armored vehicle spotted on the move inside Syria, painted in Russian army camouflage.
Just the latest indication of what the U.S. fears is an imminent Russian military buildup to prop up Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
JOSH EARNEST, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The United States is concerned by reports that Russia may have deployed additional military personnel and aircraft to Syria. Precisely because it's difficult to decipher their intentions.
STARR: U.S. satellites have observed at least three massive Russian Antonov aircraft offloading building supplies and air-traffic control equipment and another Russian aircraft bringing in personnel, all in recent days.
[17:45:02] U.S. Defense officials say they expect eventually to see more than 1,000 Russian troops running the air base and possibly launching airstrikes against moderate rebels Assad is fighting.
And if Moscow moves ahead --
EARNEST: These deaths could lead to greater loss of life. They could increase refugee flows and risk confrontation with the counter ISIL coalition that's operating inside of Syria.
STARR: A frightening prospect for this bloody civil war. The U.S. had hoped Russia was coming around to the idea that Assad needed to go. But concerns of a Russian change of heart prompted a weekend telephone call from Secretary of State John Kerry to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.
JOHN KIRBY, STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESMAN: The most productive thing that Russia can do for the conflict in Syria is to stop aiding and abetting Bashar al-Assad.
STARR: Russian military action could prompt even more Syrians to flee to the safety of Europe.
COL. CEDRIC LEIGHTON, U.S. AIR FORCE (RET.): If we think that the refugee crisis in Europe is very bad right now, it's going to get 10 times worse than it currently is, and this is why it is exceptionally important to put a lid on this very, very quickly and prevent the Russians from actually exercising a kinetic option in Syria.
STARR: Now the U.S. is emphasizing -- the Obama administration -- it doesn't know exactly what the Russians may be up to here, what they are planning. But if they were to engage in airstrikes, one of the big concerns is they will not be precision strikes and even more civilians could be at risk -- Wolf.
BLITZER: All right. Barbara, thanks very much. I know you'll stay on top of this for us.
Coming up, an unprecedented British drone strike got two British ISIS members in Syria. Were they actually plotting an attack on the queen?
And Donald Trump mocks Jeb Bush for being, quote, "low energy," saying he puts people to sleep.
[17:51:37] BLITZER: Britain's prime minister is defending an unprecedented drone strike carried out against British ISIS members in Syria saying they were plotting high profile attacks at home. There's some strong suggestion that the target of those plots was Queen Elizabeth.
Brian Todd is here in THE SITUATION ROOM. He's been digging into this story.
It's pretty amazing. What are you finding out? BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It is, Wolf. Tonight, neither the
Prime Minister David Cameron nor other British officials who we pressed will say flat out that Queen Elizabeth was an ISIS target but Cameron has implied that events this summer attended by the Queen were likely on ISIS' hit list and he used that as justification for ordering a surgical strike on ISIS militants that has put him on hot water at home.
TODD (voice-over): An unprecedented politically risky move by Britain's prime minister -- taking out two of his own citizens, ISIS militants on the battlefield. It's the first time the British government has ordered such an attack. A targeted drone strike inside Syria. The recent strike near the ISIS stronghold of Raqqa killed British nationals Ruhul Amin and Reyaad Khan, who had appeared in an ISIS recruiting video.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Your family, your wife, these people who you claim to love. If you really love them, then martyrdom is what you do for them.
TODD: Prime Minister David Cameron didn't ask parliament's permission for the strike.
PETER BERGEN, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: That's taking a page from the American playbook where President Obama authorized the assassination of the American citizen Anwar al-Awlaki born in New Mexico, became a leader of al Qaeda in Yemen.
TODD: David Cameron defended the hit on the British ISIS operatives by saying there was a terrorist, quote, "directing murder on Britain's streets and no other way to stop him." Cameron hinted at devastating high profile plots that Reyaad Khan was allegedly involved in.
DAVID CAMERON, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: Plots to attack high profile public commemorations, including those taking place this summer.
TODD: Pressed by CNN, British officials would not say which public events were targeted or who was in ISIS' sites. But there were three significant World War II commemorations this summer. The E-Day in May, a Battle of Britain Tribute in July and VJ Day in August. All three attended by Queen Elizabeth.
RAFFAELLO PANTUCCI, AUTHOR, "BRITAIN'S SUBURBAN TERRORISTS": If ISIS or another terrorist organization were able to strike the Queen or David Cameron, it would be a huge coup for them. And it would show that they have the reach to be able to strike back against the governments that are taking out some of their leadership figures.
TODD: Cameron himself might have been a target. He attended a VE Day event. Cameron also implied those militants were plotting future attacks. One ISIS terrorist who was helping Reyaad Khan plan attacks in Britain, according to Cameron? Junaid Hussain. He was killed in a U.S. drone strike in Raqqa last month. Hussain was a top ISIS recruiter, also from Britain, believed to have inspired ISIS sympathizer Elton Simpson to attack the Mohammed cartoon drawing in Garland, Texas.
BERGEN: ISIS wants to do both. They want to inspire members and also direct plots in the west to the extent that it can.
TODD: Now while no officials will say on the record that the Queen or David Cameron were specifically targeted by ISIS, some experts believe that if ISIS was in fact going to hit those public events in Britain this summer, they would likely have been on the kill list -- Wolf.
BLITZER: What a story that is. All right, Brian, thanks very, very much.
Coming up, a Kentucky clerk who was locked up for refusing to issue same-sex marriage licenses is now free but she's not free to keep defying a federal judge and the United States Supreme Court. So what happens when she goes back to work?
[17:55:02] And Donald Trump ridicules Jeb Bush saying his low energy is putting people to sleep. But will that arouse some angry passions at next week's GOP debate?
BLITZER: Happening now. Breaking news. Out of jail. The Kentucky clerk who refused to issue same-sex marriage licenses walks free with two presidential candidates cheering her on. With gay weddings now going forward in her county, what if anything did she accomplish?
Wild race. Joe Biden is gaining, Hillary Clinton is sliding, Donald Trump is attacking again, claiming in a new video that Jeb Bush is putting people to sleep.
False leads. Police reveal that several clues in the death of a veteran police officer haven't panned out. Now they're looking at new DNA evidence as the mystery grows and suspects remain at large.