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Trump Reverses Position on Torture; Romney: 'I Couldn't Wait any Longer' on Trump; Murder Weapon in the OJ Simpson Murder Trial Found? Aired 5-6p ET

Aired March 4, 2016 - 17:00   ET


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have to do better so that, as we do exploration, as we do innovation, we're also accountable with the funds.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm a stone-cold...

[17:00:08] SCIUTTO: Our show comes to an end with a performance from the San Francisco mime troupe...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How did all of this happen?

SCIUTTO: ... recipients of more than $100,000 taxpayer dollars from the National Endowment for the Arts.

So Congressman Russell, which of these programs do you think is the most wasteful, the worst?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's just all worst when it wastes your money and mine.


SCIUTTO: That's it for "THE LEAD." I'm Jim Sciutto, in for Jake Tapper. I turn you over to Wolf Blitzer. He's in THE SITUATION ROOM.

WOLF BLITZER: Happening now, breaking news. Reversal of torture. Donald Trump does a 180 on how he'd deal with terrorists as commander in chief. After suggesting he would use torture and target the families of terrorists, Trump now insists he would not order troops to violate international law.

Trash talk. After another debate brawl, Trump and his rivals, they're back on the campaign trail with no let-up, though, in their vulgar attacks. As they rip into one another, are they also ripping apart the Republican Party?

Flint fight. On the eve of Super Saturday, the Democrats are tuning up for Sunday's CNN presidential debate and the delegate-rich Michigan primary that follows. Can Bernie Sanders find a way to rebound against Hillary Clinton?

And blade stunner. A new twist in one of America's most sensational murder cases. Los Angeles police now say a knife allegedly found at the former estate of O.J. Simpson now undergoing testing more than 20 years after Simpson was acquitted in the killings of his ex-wife and her friend.

I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

BLITZER: The breaking news, a dramatic turn-around from Donald Trump today on how he would handle terrorists as commander in chief. After suggesting as recently as last night -- last night's debate that he was in favor of torture and would target terrorists' relatives, Trump now says he would not order the U.S. military to violate international laws and treaties.

Meantime, Trump's GOP rivals, with backing from 2012 nominee Mitt Romney, are teaming up to try to take down the front-runner. From the debate stage to the campaign trail, they're carrying out a bruising assault on his honesty, his character, his business dealings and maybe even his manhood.

Trump is hitting right back and hitting back hard, lashing out especially at the candidates he calls Little Marco Rubio and Lying Ted Cruz.

Meantime, an extraordinary development in the murder case that gripped America a generation ago. Los Angeles Police now say they're examining a knife said to have been found at the one-time estate of the former football star O.J. Simpson, who was acquitted in the 1994 killings of his ex-wife and her friend.

Police say a former officer received the item back in the '90s and kept it. Forensic tests are now underway.

Our correspondents, analysts and guests, they'll have full coverage of all the day's top stories.

We begin with the Republicans and Donald Trump's sharp reversal on torture. CNN's Athena Jones is up first.

Athena, Trump's turnaround comes less than 24 hours after he appeared to double down on torture, so what happened?

ATHENA JONES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, Trump has been talking tough about torturing and taking down terrorists and even their families for months. He's also been criticized for months about his changing positions on key issues. Today's reversal marks yet another shift by Trump.


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We should go for waterboarding and we should go tougher than waterboarding.

JONES (voice-over): Tonight Donald Trump changing that opinion, reversing his stance on torture. The brash billionaire releasing a statement saying he understands "that the United States is bound by laws and treaties, and I will not order our military or other officials to violate those laws and will seek their advice on such matters." That after Trump was pressed on his campaign promise to target not just terrorists but their families, in violation of international law.

TRUMP: I'm a leader. I've always been a leader. I've never had any problem leading people. If I say do it, they're going to do it.

JONES: On the trail today, Trump not letting up in his criticism of his rivals.

TRUMP: You know that in Florida, they hate Little Marco Rubio so much...

JONES: And not letting go of Marco Rubio's comment about the size of his hands.

TRUMP: So when Little Marco spews this crap about the size of my hands, which are big, those hands can hit a golf ball 285 yards, right?

JONES: After lacing Thursday night's debate with locker-room innuendo.

TRUMP: He referred to my hands. If they're small, something else must be small. I guarantee you there's no problem. I guarantee you.

[17:05:06] JONES: Trump and his rivals engaging in a raucous, insult- filled face-off.

SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Donald, please, I know it's hard to interrupt, but you've got to try.

TRUMP: Yes, I know it is. But it's not what you said in the op-ed.

CRUZ: Breathe, breathe.

TRUMP: Lying Ted.

JONES: Ted Cruz and Rubio unloading a series of attacks on Trump's temperament, his business dealings and his immigration proposals, a concerted effort the seemingly unstoppable GOP front-runner.

CRUZ: I think the American people understand that yelling and cursing at people doesn't make you a tough guy.

RUBIO: He has spent a career convincing Americans that he's something that he's not in exchange for their money. Now he's trying to do the same in exchange for their country.

TRUMP: Wrong. You're wrong.

JONES: But later all three contenders standing by their pledge to back a man they spent the entire night arguing isn't fit to lead the country.

Trump today continuing to defy normal political rules, announcing he will skip an appearance tomorrow at a major conservative gathering outside Washington, adding a campaign event in Kansas instead.

Rubio took the opportunity to tweak Trump.

RUBIO: He really doesn't belong at a conservative gathering. Donald Trump is not a conservative.

JONES: And despite pledging to support the billionaire businessman if he becomes the nominee, Rubio is still making the case that Trump is hurting the party.

RUBIO: We can't win if we have to spend six months convincing our own to vote for our front-runner, to vote for our nominee. And if we don't win, that means we're going to wake up to the news of President Hillary Clinton.

JONES: Campaigning today in Maine, Cruz is throwing cold water on the prospect of blocking Trump at a contested convention, calling the idea a pipe dream.

CRUZ: In my view, a brokered convention ain't going to happen. And if the Washington deal-makers try to steal the nomination from the people, I think it would be a disaster. It would cause a revolt.


JONES: And we know that Trump has bought ad time, TV ad time in states coming up this month: Michigan, which votes on Tuesday, and Florida, where voters hit the polls the following Tuesday. These are his first ad buys in these states.

And according to Kantar (ph) Media, Trump has only spent a total of just over $12 million on TV ads. That's a fraction of what his rivals and the super PACs supporting them have spent -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Certainly is. Athena, thank you.

Let's bring in our Pentagon correspondent, Barbara Starr.

Barbara, what do you think Trump -- why do you think Trump released this statement reversing, apparently totally reversing, his position on the use of torture?

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, look at what's been happening for the last several days, Wolf.

Trump has been talking about waterboarding in fairly general terms. But last night, he really shifted ground on this. He basically said he would order it and that the U.S. military, the troops, will do what they're told, that they would not refuse him. But this is potentially setting up a huge battle between -- you know, if he became commander in chief and the troops he commands, because waterboarding is illegal under U.S. law and international law.

If troops get an illegal order, even from a commander in chief, they are obligated to refuse it. And if they can't carry out their orders, they have to next face the possibility of resigning from the U.S. military.

One official I talked to early this morning, after listening to the debate last night, said he believed there could be a wave of resignations if this had all gone through.

Trump, of course, has backed off now. But what you saw is something very unprecedented: a potential commander in chief setting up a real conflict with the troops, saying until he reversed himself, that he would order the U.S. military to do something that is illegal -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Barbara, have officials at the Pentagon, military and civilian, been taking what Trump has been saying seriously or do they tend to brush it off as simply politics?

STARR: Well, you know, the U.S. military, the top commanders, they have a very firm rule. The U.S. military does not get involved in taking positions, especially in presidential elections. The U.S. military is apolitical.

So technically, you've been seeing a lot of eye rolling. Nobody wants to talk about it. People don't say what they think very much when they are in uniform, because they're not supposed to.

But I will tell you, I think there was a shift after what Donald Trump said last night. I talked to a lot of people in the Pentagon all day long. When I came into work this morning, you began to hear a very different tone. You heard a tone of concern that, if he became commander in chief, they would be pressed into doing something illegal and they would have to decide -- every troop, every soldier, sailor, airman, Marine -- would have to decide whether they could continue to serve. That was what Trump set up until he changed his mind today -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Barbara Starr at the Pentagon, thanks very much.

Joining us now is Katrina Pierson, the national spokeswoman for the Trump campaign. Katrina, thanks very much for joining us.


BLITZER: This was a reversal, a major reversal on the part of Donald Trump, right?

[17:10:02] PIERSON: Well, technically, this was not a reversal. Mr. Trump still supports waterboarding and going after terrorists.

What he said in this release was basically clarifying, because he was taken literally when he said he would make an order, and they would follow it. He was clarifying that he would not violate any current laws or treaties that are currently in place.

BLITZER: Because he said that he supports not only waterboarding, which is regarded as torture, at least by many people, but also go one step further and do even more. That's what he has said in the past. Today he says, "I'm only going to do what the law allows me to do." PIERSON: Exactly. He still supports those measures. But he's just

saying that he would follow the current laws and treaties that are in place. Because he was taken literally when he said, "I would give the order, and they would do it."

BLITZER: Because as you know, the U.S. military never even wanted to do waterboarding. That was a CIA-led operation, but it was completely stopped during the Bush administration. He supports waterboarding.

It looks like he's made a 180-degree flip on this. That's what -- that's what people are suggesting.

PIERSON: Well, that's what's being reported. But again, Mr. Trump is very serious when it comes to combatting terrorism, as he mentioned. They are drowning people in cages and chopping off Christian's heads and selling their children into slavery. So for us as a country to say, "No, we're not going to do anything to them" I still think is appropriate. So Mr. Trump is clarifying.

BLITZER: Why didn't he originally say -- why didn't he originally, "You know what? I'm only going to do, as commander in chief, what international law, international treaty obligations and U.S. law allows me to do as commander in chief. I'm not going to order U.S. military personnel, for example, to do anything that would be illegal. He could have said that early on. He didn't.

PIERSON: Well, he could have, but again, Mr. Trump is not a debater. He's not a politician. He doesn't give canned speeches, which is why you see the clarification that came out of the campaign that night. You get 60 seconds to answer a question, and he gave the answer he gave, which is why we put out...

BLITZER: Because even in the debate last night, he said, "If I order them to do it, if I say it -- if I say do it," he said -- this is a direct quote -- "If I say do it, they're going to it."

And you heard the anger...


BLITZER: ... that was developing among senior U.S. military personnel, who were saying, you know what? They should not and they don't have to, and they won't do anything that's illegal.

PIERSON: Well, absolutely, which is why he realized they took him literally, which is why he put out the statement.

BLITZER: Let's move on and talk about this other notion that, yes, go after and kill, as the Obama administration does; they target terrorists. But he has gone one step further in saying, "You know what? Maybe their families, women and children who happen to be there, it's OK to go after them, as well."

Now he's backing away from that, as well. That looks like another reversal. PIERSON: Well, again, it's all within the guidelines of the law.

Every administration does get with their team of lawyers and Security Council and discusses "What can we do?" and then goes to Congress and gets the approval.

Mr. Trump wants to go after terrorists as rough and as aggressively as they go after the United States. So what he's saying is he wants to go after them with the full force of everything that we have, but still keep it within the guidelines of the law.

BLITZER: Because the terrorists are using totally illegal acts of terror. He doesn't want to engage in acts of -- he doesn't want to do to them what they want to do to us.

PIERSON: No. No, but he definitely does want to hold them accountable. And the only way to do that is to go get them. In the case...

BLITZER: But not necessarily the children of these terrorists or the wives of these terrorists or relatives or innocent bystanders. He wants to avoid those kinds of...

PIERSON: Innocent bystanders are completely different. What Mr. Trump is talking about, those family members, like we saw with San Bernardino, where the family lived in the home where the IEDs were found. Those people who are conspirators, co-conspirators to these types of attacks need to be held accountable.

BLITZER: That has to be proven in a court of law.

PIERSON: Absolutely.

BLITZER: Law enforcement, presumably, is checking that out. As far as I know, nobody else has been arrested yet.

PIERSON: No, not yet. But that's what Mr. Trump was talking about. When we know that there is a possibility that a relative or a family member was involved, then we need to go after them, as well.

BLITZER: There's another issue I want to get to, but let me take a quick break. This whole issue, apparently he's been making some changes on his issues -- on his position on immigration, as well. Stand by, Katrina. We have a lot more to discuss. We'll take a quick break right after this.


[17:18:19] BLITZER: We're back with Katrina Pierson, the national spokeswoman for the Trump campaign.

Katrina, there seems to be some confusion where he exactly stands, Donald Trump, on immigration. He's referred himself to what he calls tug and pull as far as negotiations are concerned. He says he's willing to negotiate on the issue of immigration. How far is he willing to go? PIERSON: Well, in "The Art of the Deal," Mr. Trump always talks about

leaving yourself room. With immigration specifically, he talks about whether the wall being 10 feet tall or 25 feet tall.

What happened in the debate last night is a little bit confusing, because Mr. Trump's website does not classify highly skilled workers with HB-1 visas. When Mr. Trump received that question, he was asked about highly skilled workers, which he wants more of; and that requires being able to pay your own way.

However, Megyn Kelly was asking about HB-1 visas, not necessarily highly-skilled workers. Mr. Trump wants to eliminate HB-1 visas but wants to include highly-skilled workers.

BLITZER: But he's hired hundreds of these foreign workers under these HB-1 visas to work at his hotels.

PIERSON: Well, those are HB-2s. Those are seasonal workers. Completely.

BLITZER: And he's So he's OK to hiring seasonal foreign workers as opposed to people living here in the United States.


BLITZER: He's willing to give the foreigners preference over the Americans?

PIERSON: Well, not necessarily preference. I've heard that there were 300 applications that were sent into this club. But not 300 seasonal applications. The HB-2 visas are actual seasonal. They come in and they go back.

BLITZER: There are a lot of of Americans who would love a seasonal job at the Mara Lago club in Palm Beach, for example.

PIERSON: Well, that's what they say. Like I said, they say there's 300 applications, but they don't say that there were 300 applications for seasonal work, just for jobs in general.

Mr. Trump and other businesses do utilize these concepts when they can't finding enough work at that point in time for seasonal workers. Mr. Trump does 100 percent support bringing in highly skilled workers but not expanding HB-1 visas.

BLITZER: Explain why he won't authorize "The New York Times" to release that off-the-record interview he gave them in which supposedly, at least according to reports. he has a totally different view on immigration than what he says publicly.

PIERSON: You have to know when this first came out, that was the day before the election. This was just another attempt to try and place doubt...

BLITZER: Before which election? PIERSON: Before the last primary election, Super Tuesday. And this

is just another way for people to try to put doubt in the minds of voters and to say, "Mr. Trump, release the tapes so that no one has doubt."

In case you haven't noticed, Mr. Trump supporters don't doubt him. He's not going to succumb to the public pressure of the media or his opponents. The tapes will not be released.

BLITZER: But if he has nothing to hide, why not release it and end it?

PIERSON: Because there's nothing to show. Mr. Trump has been very specific. Even Byron York sat down and did a specific interview with him about a week after that "New York Times" article where he talks about some things being negotiable, not everything is in stone, with the exception of the core parts of his policy, which is exactly why Governor Jan Brewer and Sheriff Joe Arpaio and Senator Jeff Sessions have endorsed Mr. Trump.

BLITZER: I want you to listen to Marco Rubio, because he remains, obviously, adamantly angry at Donald Trump. Listen to this.


RUBIO: Nothing surprises us anymore. This man is -- as I told you, I mean, he's injected a level of vulgarity into the political discourse that we've never seen.

And as far as, you know, what I -- I said something -- first of all, I didn't say what he's saying, and I said it one time. He's personally attacked a disabled journalist, I mean, everyone basically. That is no one he has not personally attacked, sometimes in the most vulgar way.


BLITZER: Your reaction?

PIERSON: I mean, this is a candidate that is really struggling. He's won one caucus. He was supposed to be the GOP's golden boy this cycle, and it's just not working out for him. He's losing in his own home state.

He's out there calling Mr. Trump a con artist, when the definition is selling people one thing and then having another thing come from it, which is exactly what Marco Rubio did. He promised the voters of Florida he would not back amnesty, and as soon as he was elected, not only did he back amnesty, put his name on it and then stop showing up for work. And now he's in trouble.

BLITZER: Yes. But yesterday Donald Trump promised that if Marco Rubio is the nominee, he'll support him.

PIERSON: Mr. Trump was the first one to sign that document saying that he was going to support the GOP. And now we see the elites doing exactly what they do every time, and it's do as I say and not as I do.

BLITZER: Katrina Pierson, thanks very much for coming in.

PIERSON: Great to be here.

BLITZER: We've got a new interview with Mitt Romney. Our Gloria Borger sat down with Mitt Romney today. He speaks about a possible contested convention and a whole lot more. We'll be right back.


[17:26:56] BLITZER: There's more breaking news in the presidential race. Today Mitt Romney sat down with our chief political analyst, Gloria Borger, to discuss the 2016 race, the possibility he could end up as a Republican nominee, and especially why he decided to take on Donald Trump.


MITT ROMNEY (R), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: I wanted to remain as a neutral umpire, if you will, calling balls and strikes and some fouls. And I've done that along the way. But over the last several weeks, some of the things Donald Trump has said and done, both on policy as well as temperamental things have suggested to me I just couldn't wait any longer.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Do you think it's too late, though?

ROMNEY: You know, I don't know what impact these things have politically. But I do know that when my grandkids say, "What did you do to stop Donald Trump?" I want to be able to say something. I wasn't going to sit on the sidelines until the very end.

BORGER: At the debate, the other candidates said that they would support Trump if he became the nominee. Is there any circumstance under which you would?

ROMNEY: Well, I can't imagine supporting Donald Trump for president or Hillary Clinton for president, either one. I'll hopefully be able to find a conservative on the ballot who I can vote for.

BORGER: Did party leaders looking back, and I guess yourself included, misread their own voters in the Republican base by betting on the fact that perhaps Donald Trump would simply implode of his own free will?

ROMNEY: Oh, I don't know about other people. I certainly paid attention to Donald Trump. I didn't expect him to do so well.

BORGER: Right.

ROMNEY: But he has tapped into an anger, which is very much understood. What he's done with that anger, however, is not to build it into resolve and high purpose but instead to take it down a very dark alley. And that, I think, is unfortunate. But I don't think you can write off any candidate. I thought Jeb Bush

would do better than he did. I like Jeb a lot, thought he would be able to gain a lot of momentum, but that didn't happen. Donald Trump has. And at this stage we say, all right, he could easily become the nominee, probably most likely to become the Republican nominee at this point, but I think there's a better choice out there.

BORGER: Who is it?

ROMNEY: Well, Marco Rubio is the right person in Florida, John Kasich is the right person in Ohio.

BORGER: Here we go.

ROMNEY: And Ted Cruz is right anywhere where he's leading right now, or where he's closest to Donald Trump.

BORGER: When are you going to choose one?

ROMNEY: Well, it depends in part on how the process continues. I expect that after March 15, it may be clearer who is going to be the, if you will, the person who opposes Donald Trump most effectively. And so I would anticipate endorsing at that time. But let's say all three are doing about the same.

BORGER: Right. Then what?

ROMNEY: Well, then I'd probably encourage whoever's doing best in a particular state to get the support there and do that state by state. And that would lead to an open convention, where you'd see the delegates selected make the final decision.

BORGER: So this contested convention, is this a scenario that you're actively looking at?

ROMNEY: Oh, I think it's a realistic scenario. A lot of people have thought that for some time.

BORGER: Likely? Likely?

[17:30:01] ROMNEY: You know, I think it's more likely than not that we will have a nominee before the convention that's Donald Trump. I think he has a much stronger shot of getting the 1,237 delegates than not.

But, you know, the debate last night was not good for Donald Trump. He showed that he cracks under pressure and I think that may begin to open the door for some people who are looking for a different path.

BORGER: Are you referring to a contested convention which has a first ballot, then people are unbound after that, second ballot?

ROMNEY: Well, I'm going to begin by campaigning for people who I believe in and encouraging people to vote for folks who I think would be a better nominee than Donald Trump, but at a convention, sure, I'd be one of the people encouraging delegates to get behind someone who I thought could win in November.

BORGER: If there is a contested convention would you allow your name to be put into nomination?

ROMNEY: That's not going to happen. What's going to happen in a contested convention is that people who are running for president and who have delegates are going to be able to battle with one another. You know, to be nominated even, to even have your name put in, you have to have eight states that nominate you.

BORGER: But they can change those rules. They can change those rules at the beginning of --

ROMNEY: You know, there always this one of a million scenarios and maybe, Gloria, they'll nominate you. But I don't think -- you may be out of 100 million, I'm one out of 10 million. It's just not reality.

BORGER: But would you allow it?

ROMNEY: I'm not going to even go there. I have no interest in talking about that. I'm going to talk about the people running for president and who have the best shot of actually becoming our nominee.

BORGER: So you are effectively the leader of the stop Donald Trump movement now. And I have to say that you were someone who sought his endorsement in 2012. I don't have to remind you about that, and then you tweeted that you sort of regretted that and that you said that four years ago, quote, "The things he says now about the KKK, Muslims, Mexicans, disabled, I would not have accepted his endorsement."

But when he endorsed you, he was kind of the godfather of the Obama birther movement, wasn't he? I mean, wasn't that bad enough?

ROMNEY: Well, no, I think that's very different than calling Mexicans rapists, than saying that Muslims are not going to be allowed into the country as immigrants, that mocking a disabled reporter, that going after women and saying, oh, she asked tough questions because she was in her menstrual cycle. I mean, this is -- this is highly offensive. And --

BORGER: Well, the birther thing was offensive.

ROMNEY: He had a belief that President Obama wasn't born in this country. I said that I disagreed with him. There are political views about one another where we're going to disagree. But what he has said during this campaign, that George W. Bush is a liar, that John McCain isn't a hero? He said some things that are completely, totally outrageous.

BORGER: Well, I think Obama would think it was offensive that, you know, that Trump was saying he wasn't born here but --

ROMNEY: You know, really -- the funny thing about Donald Trump's whole birther thing, and I said this to him, is it would have made no difference. Barack Obama's mother was American. It was a whole ridiculous thing that Donald Trump was pursuing and it's -- I think characteristic of what you see now.

BORGER: CNN has done a report which says that he is now going to -- for a general election should he become the nominee start raising money.

ROMNEY: It's amazing, isn't it? That all during the primary he has criticized his opponents by saying, oh, they're raising money from folks and they're going to have to respond to and report to those folks. And he's self-funding. Well, now we learned, no, he's not really planning on self-funding. He's only been loaning money to his campaign which he can get back if he's the general nominee -- general election nominee. It's a form of hypocrisy that I think people will find shocking.

BORGER: Do you regret you didn't run?

ROMNEY: No. As I looked at that stage last night, and I spoke with my wife, she's on the other side of the country, we talked by phone. It's like, she said, aren't you glad you're not up there with the kinds of things that are being said? It's so degrading, so demeaning. Mr. Trump has taken this campaign in a very deep gutter, and I hope somehow we're able to come out of that gutter.


BLITZER: Gloria is with us right now along with Real Clear Politics national political reporter, Rebecca Berg, and our CNN political commentator, Ana Navarro.

Gloria, excellent interview. There's a lot to assess based on that interview. Based on all the other developments today. Let's take a quick break. Much more right after this.


[17:38:24] BLITZER: We're following the breaking news in the presidential race. Mitt Romney continuing to lead the stop Donald Trump efforts, speaking with our chief political analyst, Gloria Borger. She's here along with our other experts, Rebecca Berg and Ana Navarro.

Gloria, he didn't completely, completely categorically rule out the possibility of a contested convention. He could step in.

BORGER: Well, he said I don't want to go there. You know, I don't want to talk about that, I have no interest in it. I don't -- you know, he started his speech yesterday by saying, I'm not a candidate for president. And you know, I specifically said, would you allow your nomination to be raised on the floor and he just sort of pushed it aside. So it's clear to me that his first choice would be maybe one of those other guys. The second choice might be Paul Ryan, whom he loves, who's the speaker of the House.

So I don't think he's actually running for something, but I do think that he and his folks are looking into this. He said it was realistic, that a contested convention was realistic, although he thought Trump is likely to be the nominee.

BLITZER: Do you agree that Trump is likely to be the nominee, that that Trump train has left the station and it's not going to be stopped?

ANA NAVARRO, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I agree that the Trump train has left the station, but I do think that there's going to be a lot of attempts to stop it. I think that --

BLITZER: Could any of those attempts succeed?

NAVARRO: Well, Wolf, you know, he might not get to the magic number of delegates that he needs. I mean, that's also a very realistic option. And then what happens? Then you have no choice but some sort of brokered --

BLITZER: Rubio has to win in Florida, otherwise he'll drop out. You live in Florida. Is he going to win in Florida?

NAVARRO: Look, he hasn't said. John Kasich has said that if he doesn't win Ohio --

[17:40:01] BLITZER: He's got to win at that March 15th winner-take- all.


NAVARRO: But Marco Rubio has -- I have not heard Marco Rubio explicitly say that if he doesn't win Florida, he drops out. Now I think --

BLITZER: But it's pretty humiliating if he doesn't win his own state.

NAVARRO: I think it's devastating.


NAVARRO: I think it is, you know, the end of the rope at that point if you don't win your own state. You cannot make the argument --

BLITZER: And you're a friend of his.

NAVARRO: Yes, but you can't make the argument if you don't win the state that you're going to win nationally. And I think it's a litmus test for the other three non-Trump candidates. Ted Cruz passed that test already. John Kasich and Marco Rubio are facing it March 15th. And I think that's why you're seeing, you know, Marco is treating the Florida race as if it was a state race, not a national race.

BLITZER: Rebecca, after the debate last night all of a sudden we see Donald Trump walking back some of his statements, doing a 180 for example on torture, telling the military you're going to obey my orders, whatever those orders are, even if they're not legal. Today he's saying, I would only order legal -- legal orders. What do you make of this? REBECCA BERG, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, REAL CLEAR POLITICS: Well,

I would think that his supporters sort of have a high tolerance for those sort of things because Donald Trump has not been consistent throughout the campaign on his policy positions, nor are his positions in this campaign really consistent with the policy positions he has expressed over the course of his very long career and his long career in the public eye.

And so of his supporters, this probably doesn't matter very much to any of them because this is kind of what they expect of Donald Trump. They think of him as someone who will shift his positions based on what is convenient for him politically and what is most advantageous. But for people who are undecided, if they are undecided at this point, if there is anyone left, that's going to matter. And so anyone taking a look at Donald Trump might think twice.

BLITZER: Gloria, there's an important CNN presidential debate Sunday night, you and I will be there in Flint, Michigan. Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton, they're going to -- how tough does he have to get now to start scoring some points? Does he have to bring up -- does he have to really go after her on the e-mail server, for example?

BORGER: He won't.

BLITZER: Or does he lay off on that sensitive issue?

BORGER: We heard him talk about, you know, release the transcripts of your speeches. The problem that Bernie Sanders has is that his entire narrative is as somebody who is not a politician. And what a politician would do would be to attack her on her e-mails and to attack her on the transcripts of the speeches. And what he says he wants to do is just draw the contrasts on the issues, which is what he's going to continue to do. But he kind of has boxed himself in as a candidate because who he is, is unconventional.

And I think if he were to move off of that, he would start looking inauthentic and his whole pitch is that I am who I am. So I don't expect him to really start attacking. He will do the contrast, as he calls it, but I don't think you're going to see him start suddenly saying, oh, by the way, you're under investigation by the FBI and that's going to kill you. He's not going to do that.

BLITZER: They'll debate substantive policy differences.

BORGER: Right.

BLITZER: But they're not going to get personal, for example.

NAVARRO: And when you compare it to what's going on, on the Republican side, I think the contrast is just dramatic, right? I mean, you've got, you know, two folks and they are debating policy. They're debating policy very strongly at times and very heated debate. But it is nowhere near the deterioration of the process, the disrespect for the process that is going on, embarrassingly, on my side of the aisle.

BLITZER: This Democratic contest, Rebecca, is going to continue. He's got $40 million ready to go.

BERG: He does. We talk a lot about the Republican contest and how this could potentially drag on to the convention, but I don't think we should dismiss the idea of the Democratic race carrying on until their convention as well.

BLITZER: I think you're right.

NAVARRO: And, you know, what's interesting, they've been bringing out his wife lately. I saw her on your show yesterday.


NAVARRO: I saw her on "THE LEAD" today. I think that's a very smart move because she softens up his hard edges.

BORGER: Well, Donald Trump is bringing up Melania these days, too, right?


BERG: That's also a smart move.

BLITZER: Spouses are going out there. Maybe Bill Clinton will start doing some TV interviews as well. We're going to have him if he wants a choice.

All right, guys, thanks very much.

The big CNN Democratic presidential debate live from Flint, Michigan, this Sunday night, 8:00 p.m. Eastern only here on CNN.

Coming up, Donald Trump's latest flip-flop. We're looking at why he just revised something he said during last night's debate.

Also coming up, a major surprise in the OJ Simpson case. Has the murder weapon turned up at last or is it all just a hoax?


[17:48:47] BLITZER: We're following a totally unexpected development in the sensational murder case against O.J. Simpson.

Brian Todd is here in THE SITUATION ROOM with details of the stunning new discovery. Tell our viewers, Brian, what happened.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Stunning, Wolf, tonight the LAPD is investigating whether they may finally have the murder weapon in their possession. They've had several leads on the weapon that went cold and finding it is reported to have been an obsession with the LAPD. Now they're now examining every microfiber on a knife that found its way to them through a bizarre sequence of events.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Not guilty of the crime of murder. TODD (voice-over): It may have been the most crucial piece of

evidence missing from one of the most remarkable criminal trials in American history. The knife used to kill Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman. Tonight a shocking revelation from the L.A. Police Department. Police say they're now examining a knife allegedly found at the Rockingham Estate where O.J. Simpson lived at the time of the murders.

CAPT. ANDREW NEIMAN, LOS ANGELES POLICE: This is a double homicide that is still open and ongoing. It is being treated as we would all evidence.

TODD: Police say the knife was found in the 1990s by a construction worker, possibly at the time the Rockingham house was being demolished. There was an L.A. police officer working off duty nearby on a movie project, police say. The construction worker they say gave the knife to the former officer and told the officer he'd found it on Simpson's old property.

[17:50:06] The former officer, according to police, held on to the knife until very recently.

NEIMAN: I was really surprised. I would think that an LAPD officer, if this story is accurate as we are being told, would know that any time you are -- you come into contact with evidence that you should and shall submit that to investigators. So I don't know what the circumstances are why that didn't happen.

TODD: O.J. Simpson was acquitted of double murder in October 1995. During the trial the fact that no knife had been found was a major setback for the prosecution.

DR. LAKSHMANAN SATHYAVAGISWARAN, CHIEF MEDICAL EXAMINER-CORONER, LOS ANGELES COUNTY: Would be six-inch long blade, single-edge cutting blade, with a blunt edge up to 1/8 inch in width and about 3/4 inch wide.

TODD: The revelation comes as there's heightened interest in the 20- plus-year-old case, driven by a new mini-series on FX, "American Crime Story: The People vs. OJ Simpson."


MARK GERAGOS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: If this knife has evidentiary value, and I suppose that would be a fitting capstone to this case in the intersection of the entertainment meets real-life in our culture.

TODD: Tonight police are not saying what kind of knife they now have, where it was found on the property or how it was kept over the years. But they are checking it for blood, fingerprints and DNA.

(On camera): How much could the DNA have degraded in that time and how tough would it be to recover decent evidence from it?

DANIELE PODINI, FORENSIC DNA EXPERT, GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY: Blood stain, well-preserved, can last for many, many decades. Whereas if it's human -- if the environment is humid, there's a lot of rain, it's exposed to varying temperatures, that decreases the chances of obtaining a DNA profile.


TODD: L.A. Police are not revealing the name of the former officer who may have held on to the knife for all those years. Now if he knew this was potentially crucial evidence in a case that is still open, legal experts say he could face criminal or civil charges.

One person who will not be facing new state charges as a result of this is OJ Simpson. Since he was acquitted of double murder in the case the laws of double jeopardy apply and he cannot be tried again.

Wolf, maybe a civil trial in federal court. Maybe.

BLITZER: During the trial, Brian, there was a knife that the defense team had at one point, right?

TODD: That's right. It was a 15-inch knife with a retractable blade. At one point prosecutors thought that it might be the murder weapon. OJ Simpson had purchased it at a cutlery store just a few weeks before the murders. But after the defense produced that knife, forensic tests revealed that it was in pristine condition, no scratches, blood stains. Prosecutors never introduced that knife as evidence.

We'll see if they've got the real weapon tonight.

BLITZER: Brian Todd, thanks very much.

So let's bring in the former FBI assistant director, our CNN law enforcement analyst, Tom Fuentes and CNN senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin, who covered the OJ Simpson trial and wrote a book about it, "The Run of His Life: The People versus OJ Simpson."

So, Jeffrey, what do you think about this development? You really think it could be the knife?

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Well, it is certainly tantalizing information. You know, the key fact is whether there is any biological DNA evidence of the victims on the knife. Even if there was evidence of OJ Simpson's DNA, that wouldn't prove anything if it was, in fact, found on his property. The key issue is, is there any evidence related to the victims?

And even then, you would have to determine the chain of custody which after two-plus decades will certainly be very difficult.

BLITZER: The Simpson estate, Tom, as you know, was demolished in 1998. The murders occurred in 1994. How long could a knife like this potentially contain clues that forensic scientists would look at, DNA, blood stains, fingerprints that might be useful?

TOM FUENTES, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, it can be a short time. It can be maybe up to a couple of decades. You don't know if it's in the soil, the soil would degrade it very quickly because of acid and other material in the soil. You know, the chain of custody is important here because where has that knife been. Was it in the soil until the demolition of the house in '98. Who is this construction worker that he had it reported in a secure location? Then did he give it to the police officer at the time who put it in a secure location.

So we don't know everybody that's handled it. Every time it's been handled or put in a box or wrapped up in any way that's going to remove skin particles, hair follicles and possibly the blood degrading as well. So I think it's very difficult that it's been preserved all this time.

BLITZER: Do they know for sure, Jeffrey, the type of knife that was used to kill those two people?

TOOBIN: Well, the medical examiner who did the autopsy made several general conclusions about the kind of knife. But it's not like -- other kind of forensic evidence where you can pinpoint exactly the kind of weapon. They know the kind of knife, they know generally what kind of knife it was but they certainly can't pinpoint a brand or precisely how many inches the knife was. There was a lot of testimony about that at the trial.

[17:55:07] BLITZER: Yes. I certainly remember that. And you remember a lot better than I do.

Jeffrey, thanks very much. Tom Fuentes, thanks to you as well. We'll stay on top of this story. We'll see where the forensic investigation points to.

Coming up -- Donald Trump does a sharp reversal on how he'd deal with terrorists as commander-in-chief after suggesting he'd use torture and target the families of terrorists. Trump now says he would not order troops to violate international or U.S. law.


BLITZER: Happening now, breaking news. Torture twist. Donald Trump changes his stance on torture less than 24 hours after saying in a presidential debate that military commanders would follow his orders to waterboard terror suspects. Now Trump is vowing the obey the U.S. law banning waterboarding.